Fort Bragg has a new long distance range--range 61. Despite having another 1,000 meter range, this is the only range on Bragg where snipers will be able to shoot the .338 Lapua, the latest sniper rifle.

Fort Bragg has a new long distance range--range 61.

Though Bragg has in excess of 100 live fire ranges, the constant developing technology and training methods means Soldiers need more space in which to train.

“We are getting weapons systems that are more and more efficient, more and more lethal, so we need greater distances to shoot at,” said Wolf Amacker,

Installation Range Officer. “When I was in the Army, a 1,000 meter range was all you needed. Now it’s barely good enough. We’ve only got a couple of 1,000 meter ranges on Fort Bragg.”

Despite having another 1,000 meter range, this is the only range on Bragg where snipers will be able to shoot the .338 Lapua, the latest sniper rifle.

People had asked Amacker where they could fire this weapon, but they just didn’t have the proper facilities.

“We made a couple of other places, but you could only put one or two people there. It was very, very narrow. Here I could put 30-40 people across and let them shoot,” said Amacker.

What makes this range capable of taking live fire when the other 1,000 meter range cannot is its strategic location in relation to other ranges’ surface danger zones.

Every bullet fired has an SDZ which includes the maximum distance that round could travel and dispersion left and right, said Amacker. Regulation dictates that people and facilities cannot be in an SDZ.

“Those areas are designed so that a round only has a one in a million chance of getting out of that. That’s how safe the Army wants to be.”

While the other 1,000 meter range has automated targets, the snipers prefer to use steel. This new range will not have any automated targets, opting instead for the prefered steel.

While the range is technically ready for use, Amacker wants to wait until until they build the sniper tower and the grass has grown a bit more to take the impact from the bullets.

He said the tower should be completed within the next 70 days.

The tower will be 70 feet high and will have a level every 10 feet with different shooting platforms including a low wall, and a rooftop.

“Snipers shoot from so many different positions, so many different places,” Amacker said. “There’s a lot of different things you have to consider about the trajectory of the bullet when you shoot up or when you’re shooting down, so it’s critical they have a place to practice that.”

The whole process of developing the range took about four years, three of which was spent working towards environmental approval. He worked with the Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Branch to ensure they considered endangered species on the land, erosion control, and preserving the wetlands.

“Nothing is easy on Fort Bragg. You have to be very determined. Most of my people say hard headed and stubborn,” Amacker said.

Once that was complete, it took them less than a year to build.

Forestry removed the trees and wrote a contract to sell the timber that had been cleared from the range. Amacker’s maintenance crew levelled the range to allow for people to move around on it, while maintaining some of the natural terrain. They added a concrete known distance wall with lifters for targets.

The process could have taken longer-- and been a lot more expensive.

The standard is to put in a request to the Army. They determine whether or not you meet the requirements, but for Amacker, that process is too slow.

It’s also more expensive.

The cost to have the Army Corps of Engineers build a 1,000 meter known distance range is about $5 million. Amacker and his team at range operations were able to build the range for about $550,000.

Amacker is very proud of his team, he said.

“My maintenance crew was designed and formed just to maintain targets, not to be able to do this, but they’re all hard workers and want to try to do things,” Amacker said.

“They’re just so talented.”