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Marines with 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion prepare to fire during the defensive engagement portion of their Table 6 gunner qualification May 3, 2012, at Range 500. (Official USMC photo by Lance Cpl. Ali Azimi)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Ali Azimi

3rd LAR tests LAV skills with annual qualification

3 May 2012 | Lance Cpl. Ali Azimi

The sound of the M242 was deafening when it fired from the LAV. It echoed throughout the range. Inside the vehicle, the sound reverberated off the metal walls, increasing its volume. Metal shells fell to the ground after every sabot round was fired.

Marines with 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion qualified in Table 6 of gunner qualifications at Range 500, May 3, 2012. Marines completed both offensive and defensive engagements, shooting at mobile targets more than 1,000 meters downrange with their light armored vehicles.

Table 6 consisted of night and day portions, six engagements in the day followed by four at night. Crews were evaluated on their ability to identify their targets and hit their mark using the proper weapons system that corresponded with the type of target. The LAVs shot both in stationary positions and on the move.

“There’s really no substitute for doing live fire practice and that’s the only way you can really train for combat,” said 2nd Lt. Evan S. Munsing, platoon commander, 3rd LAR. “We have the (Advanced Gunnery Training System), which is a computer simulation inside of a building. It’s good and helps you prepare for the range, but the only real way to get the feel of the driving and putting rounds down range is to actually execute the range itself, get familiar with your weapons system and how to employ it.”

The first portion was the defensive engagement. The LAVs drove up to a berm, facing down range.

 As the vehicle stood at the top of the berm, ready to fire, it was in the hot position. After firing, it would recede to behind the berm for cover, known as the cold position. The Marines would then acquire their next target and move back up the berm. This process was repeated until all the targets were taken down.

Their hits and misses were recorded both visually and electronically. While the LAVs shot, up in a tower behind them, their shooting was evaluated. Marines sitting at the top of the tower used an electronic telescope to see the targets being fired on down range.

The targets also had sensors attached, recording every hit and sending the information to contractors running the range.

The next portion of the table was the offensive engagement. The LAVs moved both laterally and downrange shooting at the targets as they popped up.

With the completion of the offensive engagement, the 3rd LAR Marines were done with the day portion of Table 6. The next was the night, where Marines had to hit their targets in the dark, using thermal vision systems to guide them.

“Practice makes perfect,” said Lance Cpl. Austin Richard, gunner, 3rd LAR, after completing the offensive engagement portion. “The more practice you get, the more experience you get; the better you get.”

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