Digital Indoor Range Training

 ‘Section - Enemy party deploying across the bridge, lay down fire...armour seen between the trees. It’s heading for the bridge.’

Under heavy fire the infantry section tried their best to fend off the hostile enemy. Unfortunately by the time they fired their Short Range Anti Armour Weapon (SRAAW) it was too late and the enemy tank was already upon them.

Thankfully the soldiers under fire were just students on a the digital indoor range operator’s course held in the Curragh Camp. The enemy tank and infantry were just part of the scenario. The system can simulate multiple scenarios from a rifle range practice right up to FIBUA exercises. It is an excellent training facility for recruits, refresher training and for troops going overseas.

Currently, the Defence Forces has five digital indoor ranges located in the DFTC, the three brigades and the Naval Service. They are designed for small arms and anti armour training, and soldiers operate real, though modified (they fire a laser rather than a bullet or missile). Soldiers can use standard issued infantry weapons like the 5.56mm Steyr Assault Rifle, the 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG), the 84mm Short Range Anti Armour Weapon (SRAWW) and the 84mm Carl Gustav Anti-Tank Gun. The weapons are the real thing and the handling and drills are the same. You still have to put on the magazine, take off the safety and cock your weapon. The weapons are connected to the system via an electronic and compressed air feed. So, when the trigger is pulled, the firer gets the same recoil as they would if firing live ammunition. When the soldier squeezes the trigger, he fires an infrared signal, which is picked up by built-in sensors in the projector. This relays the fall of shot back to the instructor’s computer, who will then determine whether the shot was a hit, a miss or what damage was done.

For anyone not familiar with the system, it looks like a giant computer game. You can see enemy troops taking cover, deploying from helicopters, armour moving against your position and the system also determines the weather, with wind, rain, thunder and lightning. As well as the realism that the scenarios offer, the digital range also has a playback facility. Instructors can go through the playback with the student and analyse where they went wrong. They can check if they holding the weapon correctly, whether they squeeze the trigger properly, and was it in his shoulder.

Studies have shown that young soldiers (recruits, apprentices and cadets) who go through their drills and practice on the indoor digital range before going onto the live range become better marksmen. Even the student operators agreed, their weapons skills have vastly improved over the duration of the course. It might only be a simulation, but it is preparing you for the real thing.

Find out more about life On Duty in the Defence Forces