Maneuver Conf 2016 Most Impressive Display, Marathon Targets

Posted on: October 5th, 2016 by Will Rodriguez 1 Comment

Marathon Targets likely impressed me the most of all the displays at Ft. Benning’s 2016 Maneuver Conference.  It can potentially revolutionize our small arms ranges and small unit training up to company level while tremendously increasing our Soldiers and Marines marksmanship capabilities.  Today, unless our troops are given access to very limited and expensive range complexes the only opportunity they have to shoot a moving target is often limited to combat itself.  Marathon’s Smart Targets can change that.

Marathon Smart Targets delivers eight robot targets in a trailer to your range.  It takes one operator to control the eight robots and the trailer serves as a charging and storage facility.  The chassis of each target is armored up to withstand up to 7.62 fire and the life sized mannequin type targets are instrumented to react a variety of ways to hits.  Marathon Target’s proprietary target sensors allow for each target to be programmed to “die” after a certain number of hits or even require specific location hit(s) to the target.  The area instrumented for specific hits aligns with the cylindrical region running from one’s head down to the groin.  These areas include but are not limited to critical hit areas like the brain, throat, and center chest area, areas shooters are taught to engage when trying to stop a target.   When “killed” the robot target drops to a 45 degree angle and stops moving.

The benefits to having moving targets are pretty obvious…

More here.

Marathon Target


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  • YankeePapa

    …Punching holes in paper at known ranges is only the first step in troops mastering small arms.  Once they know how to sight in and have a good grip on shooting in controlled conditions… time to move on.  

    …In the Marine Corps I had been issued an M-14 on June 13, 1968… my first full day at recruit training (see image of my receiving weapon…)  Qualified using the M-14.  At Infantry Training Regiment (ITR) we used M-14s and only briefly “fam-fired” M-16s.  Only “unconventional” shooting with the M-14s was at the night range.  

    …Those of us who were basic infantry (0300) moved on to BITS for our specialty (0311-Rifleman in my case) 0331-machine guns, 0341-mortars, 0351-special weapons (flamethrower, etc…)  We got our first regular issue of M-16s.  After properly sighting in the weapons, none of our shooting would be punching paper at known distance ranges.  

    …Pop-up targets as we were moving up a trail… First trail full auto, spray and pray… second… short bursts… third… rapid fire.  We quickly learned that out of an entire (20 round in those days) magazine… as few as two rounds might hit with spray and pray… Short bursts would double that… and firing rapid fire, almost every round would hit… and not take very much longer.  

    …In Rhodesia at COIN (counter-insurgency) training with the BSAP a number of approaches were taken including a “bush trail…”  One man with FN with instructor a foot behind him.  Upper third sections of “advancing enemy soldier” targets barely showing in brush, behind logs, etc.  Timed exercise… points for hits… kill shots… (“double-tap” required) and completing the course in the required time.  I had a good day of it… spotted every position and got all kill shots… had second best time through course.  

    …Another, somewhat more unusual, training exercise had squad size unit at proper intervals on a trail in patrol formation.  We were “ambushed” by another unit (uh… blanks all around…) and quickly went to ground.  After about thirty seconds a whistle blew and the “patrol” froze in place.  Instructors went from lad to lad with upper 1/3rd of advancing soldier target and placed them exactly where we were… showing exactly how much we had to expose to return fire.  

    …They then had us get up and we were evacuated to positions *behind* the “enemy…”  The enemy then fired at our positions (FN’s, though they had one M.A.G. machine gun… as in generic photo below, but much better cover…) as they could best see them… or guesstimate based on our return fire.   Of course there were variables that were not taken into account… Not a practiced and polished patrol team… No deployment beyond cover… Had the enemy been terrs, they would have broken off and run once we were under cover and blazing away… and most importantly… execrable marksmanship of terrs… who would have fired full auto… and almost invariably high.  Still, the object was to demonstrate what might happen.  

    …The team that I led did the best… largely because we were the first… and some clown among the “enemy” got excited and fired too soon… causing the rest of his detail to do the same.  

    …The results?  First two lads were pretty much in the open and had to choose minimal cover.  Their targets were shot to shreds.  I was third in line… those behind me not even scratched.   As for me… I was required to shout orders (not anywhere as needful in a well oiled team…)  This wasn’t my first picnic, and I really hugged the ground among cover and did not fire from the same place twice.  

    …The ground near my cover was massively shot up… so too the logs I was behind.  Nobody hit me with an aimed shot… but… one round ricocheted and struck my “avatar” sideways (called it a “keyhole” shot) right between the running lights…

    …The most dangerous “ambush” from Rhodesian terrs was if the unit not yet located… but trapped, with almost certain discovery in its future.  Of course many might break and try to run… or fire too soon… but if they were better than the average terr group and waited til the last moment… 

    -Yankee Papa-