Army to set up 72 ranges to train sharpshooters Oct 25, 2011 NEW DELHI: The Army has decided to set up "baffle ranges'' to ensure its soldiers can be properly trained to become sharpshooters. The force has been grappling with a steep decline in availability of firing ranges due to rapid urbanization and growing environmental and safety concerns. Civilians being killed or injured by stray bullets from firing ranges has long troubled the Army, which has seen inhabitations come up around its once-secluded 62 cantonments and other military establishments around the country. Consequently, the 1.13-million force has got the defence ministry's nod for construction for 72 baffle ranges, which require less than 50 acres of real estate as compared to about 500 acres needed for conventional small arms practice firing ranges. "Apart from less land, baffle ranges use a system of ground barriers, side-walls, baffle walls and stop-butts to stop or trap misdirected or ricocheting bullets. They can prevent casualties and accidents due to stray bullets,'' said an officer. There are a few baffle ranges in places like Bangalore and Chandimandir, constructed by the Terminal Ballistic Research Laboratory, but the plan is to go in for them across the country, including the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Army is also battling a shortage in larger ranges like field-firing ranges (FFRs) and manoeuvre ranges to train soldiers for use of heavier weapons. Of the 104 FFR ranges it once had, it is now left with only 66. ``With notifications of many ranges steadily expiring, it becomes extremely tough to get re-notification due to environmental laws and safety concerns,'' said another officer. The force also wants to establish long-range FFRs to practice the use of artillery guns and rockets with a range up to 90 km. For division-level exercises of battle-groups, it is banking upon two new ``manoeuvre ranges'' at Shahgarh (Rajasthan) and Narayanpur (Chhattisgarh) - the latter is located in the middle of a Maoist stronghold. Similarly, as earlier reported by TOI, IAF is also finding it tough for its fighters to practice air-to-ground bombing in at least four of its seven ranges - Dolland Mukh Range (Assam), Tilpat Range (UP), Singpur Range (Gujarat) and Sarmat Range (Madhya Pradesh) - due to spurt in civilian air traffic and urbanization around these areas. India provides training facilities to armed forces of some countries like Singapore, where land and airspace is a scarce commodity. For instance, Singapore's mechanized and artillery forces train at Babina and Deolali ranges, while its fighters exercise at West Bengal's Kalaikunda airbase.