Miramar Marines Maximize Lethality on Innovative Range
10 Feb 2023

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. – For generations, Marines on the rifle range have pulled down targets in the pits, marked shot placement, and sent the targets back up to be scored and reviewed. However, this process has evolved into something much more advanced at MCAS Miramar.

At the air station, there are no Marines sweating in the target pits. The Marines benefit from the newest Location of Miss and Hit technology, which involves fully automated targets. In September, MCAS Miramar updated this LOMAH technology to provide more efficient and effective combat marksmanship training to support the combat readiness of MCAS Miramar and 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

LOMAH technology itself isn't new; it has been on military ranges since the early 2000s. It involves a single bar placed on a target to detect the vibration of a round. Data from the vibration is combined with data on the speed of the round, which is recorded by a laser at the firing line. These two sets of data feed into a computer algorithm that determine the precise placement of each round.

Hathcock Range was already using LOMAH technology prior to September, but updates to the system were made when the range temporarily closed for other range modifications required by new Marine Corps Annual Rifle Qualification standards.

According to Sgt.Gregory Bobb, the staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the rifle line at Hathcock Range, the previous LOMAH system was less advanced and didn’t have some key features in the new system.

“The new system paints a very, very clear picture of how a shooter is doing,” he said. “The old system had this little Gameboy screen, and you couldn’t see much.”

Gunnery Sgt. Christophe Nelson, the operations chief at Hathcock Range, said coaches now have tablets that organize shooting data into patterns that can help show them show the shooters how to correct problems with breathing and trigger control.

“Instead of having to take aggregate data collected off the shooter’s score, you can see it on the tablet,” said Nelson. “This allows a shooter and coach to make a better, educated guess as to what’s wrong.”

The LOMAH technology also delivers immediate feedback to the firing line, which is the best part, according to Nelson. The system immediately shows a grouping without having to rely on Marines pulling targets and marking them for coaches and shooters to track, he said.

Without the need for Marines scoring targets, the time Marines spend at Hathcock Range is drastically reduced.

“Changing personnel between the pits, moving Marines, all of that just eats up your time,” said Bobb. “Now we can funnel through everyone much faster. Even on the new course of fire.”

Bobb added that the system has eased the burden on coaching staff, allowing one instructor to monitor two shooters on a single tablet -- again, speeding up the process even further. As a result, Hathcock Range personnel don’t have to work the long hours of other ranges as often.

“I talked to a friend recently who’s a coach, and I asked him what their normal start time is,” said Bobb. “He said that they pull weapons at 4:30 a.m. and don’t leave until 6 p.m.”

The personnel on Hathcock Range arrive at 6 a.m. and after working with shooters, cleaning, and performing regular maintenance, often leave around 4 or 5 p.m., he said.

Not only is the system faster and more efficient, but also much more accurate. The digital system providing the data avoids the human error that can occur when a Marine is scoring targets.

“The room for error on the system itself, I think is accurate up to 17 millimeters,” said Bobb. “There’s no error from a human taking score.”

Hathcock Range has around a 38% expert rate. The electronic range helps shooters because they don’t have to move between different yard lines like on a traditional range. The targets move on their own, allowing shooters to control their breathing and get comfortable in their shooting positions.

“More ranges like this could benefit the Marine Corps as a whole because the transparency between coaches and shooters allows for greater, in-depth, hands-on training,” said Bobb. “The Marines understand what they’re doing, and in return, we produce more lethal Marines.”

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar