Range Cards are used by infantrymen when they are in a fixed position to help indicate the ranges to objects in front of them. The typical infantryman becomes very proficient at creating a range card throughout their career simply because of the sheer number of range cards they end up creating. Each time a fighting position is occupied, a range card is created and then passed back to the next up in the chain of command so that they can evaluate the lanes of fire, and determine if there are any gaps in their defences or other things to be aware of. These cards can end up looking something like this:
The example above is from the US Army, but the Australian Army also uses range cards and today we are looking at two versions of the reusable range record card from 1988 and 2002:
A US training manual explains how they are used in service:
A range card is a sketch of the assigned sector that a direct fire weapon system is intended to cover. A range card aids in planning and controlling fires and aids the crews and squad gunners in acquiring targets during limited visibility. It is also an aid for replacement personnel or platoons or squads to move into the position and orient on their sector. The individual soldier or gunner should make the range card so that he becomes more familiar with the terrain in his sector. He should continually assess the sector and, if necessary, update his range card. The range card is always being updated.
The Australian cards are made of a thin plastic that allows a pen to be used to fill them out, and then wiped off and reused later in the way that traditional card examples cannot. The original version is on the left, and the revised version on the right, easily determined by the pair of holes at the top to allow it to be stored in a binder or hung up with a piece of string next to a firing position. The only other change I can see is moving the box for Magnetic North to the top right hand corner of the card:
The backs of the cards show useful information on estimating angles with your hands and how to mark up the cards with common military symbols:
Range cards are used throughout training and in actual combat. The Australian Army places a lot of importance on the individual soldier’s marksmanship and shooting technique reaches its zenith at the Combined Arms Training Centre:
The Combined Arms Training Centre at Puckapunyal has hosted some of the best combat marksmen from the Army, Navy and Air Force for the Australian Army Skill at Arms Meet (AASAM). The ADF’s premier service weapons shooting competition has occurred annually since 1984. Director AASAM Lieutenant Colonel Craig Burn said the competition had evolved from a traditional sports shooting activity into a more operationally based approach.
“We’ve turned more into a capability based shooting competition,” he said. “Our primary reason for pulling it together is focused on Army, so we can determine a champion shot, test our skill at arms and validate elements of doctrine. We can look at it, if you will, as a litmus test of shooting skills across the Army. If you as a soldier want to be recognised, this is where you will be recognised.”
Lance Corporal Scott Clark, of 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, was awarded the Champion Shot of the Army. “It was a very competitive year. It came down to myself and another competitor and who’s in the same boat – he comes here every year,” he said. “Thankfully I’m part of a unit that takes training for these types of competitions very seriously, so I started training about a month out from competition. We’ll do maybe two weeks at the marksmanship training range, we’ll do a week at the 25-metre range perfecting our close quarters shoots, so we are well prepared when we get here and that’s why as a team we are so competitive.”
The best competitors drawn from the Army top 20 shots will now form the Australian Army Combat Shooting Team for the international component of AASAM.
Range cards in the Australian Army are now printed as part of the cardboard packaging that contains a batch supply of 5 individual ration packs. On the back of the range card is now printed a gun piquet list template.