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Range safety observer Petty Officer 2nd Class LaMarcus Hopsen sits in front of Naval Air Station Sigonella’s range safety computer at the base’s new firing range, which opened Monday. With the computer, Hopsen can control safety devices, lighting and each of the 10 targets.

Range safety observer Petty Officer 2nd Class LaMarcus Hopsen sits in front of Naval Air Station Sigonella’s range safety computer at the base’s new firing range, which opened Monday. With the computer, Hopsen can control safety devices, lighting and each of the 10 targets. (Jason Chudy / S&S)

Range safety observer Petty Officer 2nd Class LaMarcus Hopsen sits in front of Naval Air Station Sigonella’s range safety computer at the base’s new firing range, which opened Monday. With the computer, Hopsen can control safety devices, lighting and each of the 10 targets.

Range safety observer Petty Officer 2nd Class LaMarcus Hopsen sits in front of Naval Air Station Sigonella’s range safety computer at the base’s new firing range, which opened Monday. With the computer, Hopsen can control safety devices, lighting and each of the 10 targets. (Jason Chudy / S&S)

An M9 pistol, safety goggles and hearing protection sit in front of a target at a firing position at the Sigonella firing range. Base executive officer Capt. Dale Carson cut the ceremonial ribbon and fired the first round at the $1.3 million facility Monday.

An M9 pistol, safety goggles and hearing protection sit in front of a target at a firing position at the Sigonella firing range. Base executive officer Capt. Dale Carson cut the ceremonial ribbon and fired the first round at the $1.3 million facility Monday. (Jason Chudy / S&S)

NAS SIGONELLA, Sicily — The air station hit the mark this week when it opened a state-of- the-art indoor firing range.

The 10-lane, $1.3 million facility at the base’s weapons facility will allow sailors to earn their weapons qualifications on base, rather than traveling to the Italian military’s firing range at San Pietro, an hour’s drive away.

The facility opened Monday meets the base’s “training needs but saves the command time and money,” said Roberta Preston, general engineer with the public works project management office.

Sailors will be able to fire pistols, rifles and M-60 machine guns at the range, which has 8-inch thick concrete walls and a steel ceiling.

A granulated rubber bullet trap also cuts down on the amount of airborne lead released when the rounds hit the back of the range. What lead is expended is drawn into an extensive ventilation system that traps it before it leaves the facility.

A computerized range control system also provides a few extra safety measures for shooters.

“This controls everything,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class LaMarcus Hopsen, sitting in front of a computer screen in the range control room.

“[It controls] targets, lighting and safety devices,” he said about the computer system, which showed graphic representations of the 10 targets.

Hopsen made a few mouse clicks and all 10 targets moved back a few yards and then turned sideways. A couple of more clicks and the targets moved again.

Individual targets, or groups of targets, can be selected and moved together.

Before Monday, Hopsen said, the classroom portion of the weapons qualification would have to be done at the base the day before the shooters went to the range. Now, the training can be done the same day in a sound-proof classroom at the front of the facility.

“This will be a lot better,” said Hopsen.


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