Ready, aim, fire: NBK opens high-tech shooting range

With four separate ranges, a computerized target system, marksman training simulators and an environmentally safe ventilation system — the new small arms range at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor is on the cutting edge of technology.

After nearly two years of construction, the $12 million facility officially opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday and will be used to train 17,000 personnel a year who require small arms training.

“This is a time for celebration,” said Capt. Douglass Biesel, NBK’s commanding officer. “Everyone has been really, really waiting for this.”

He added that it was a plan-design build and took a real team effort in not only planning and designing it, but its maintenance is a unique pilot project that includes five years of maintenance in the construction contract.

“We’ll factor lessons learned and make sure (the range) will be sustained for a very long time in the Northwest,” Biesel said.

Each of the four small ranges are indoors and feature 12 firing lanes each. They are constructed with state-of-the-art equipment including bulletproof walls and ceilings. To guarantee that all spent lead is captured, collection systems were installed to ensure the facility is environmentally safe. The facility also has classrooms including a room for trainees to clean their weapons.

“It’s really quadrupled the capacity at any one time,” Biesel said.

The 43,500-square-foot facility is one of the Navy’s largest. Each of the four ranges feature a maximum distance of 25 yards with the capability to handle weapons ranging from 9 mm and .45 caliber pistols to M-16 rifles, shotguns and machine guns. All of the armories at NBK will be consolidated at the new facility which will feature more than 25 armory safes.

“(The range) has fantastic capability,” Biesel said. “This is a long-awaited day.”

The new range replaces the two ranges at 387-acre Camp Wesley Harris which dates back to 1940. The facility only has one indoor range and one outdoor range that can only be operated at limited times. The new range at NBK-Bangor can be operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

There’s also the ongoing clean-up of the site which has been polluted by 65 years of accumulated lead shot in its earthen berms.

“They’d be out in short-sleeved shirts in the rain,” said Matthew O’Neill, NBK security officer, of those practicing at Camp Wesley Harris. “It was not a great environment for practicing, but this is going to be nice.”

According to one NBK official, it has not yet been determined if the aging range will remain open or not.

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