SDZ’s Continued

We are continuing our discussion on Surface Danger Zones or SDZ’s. This is important to know, because to get certain range concepts approved by your range officer at range operations, you will have to show that you have done the due diligence and can execute the training safely. Reference our discussion from last week if you have any questions on the SDZ terms are, and where they can be found in DA PAM 385-63, dated April 2014.

So for those of you trying to do this at home, if you were trying to put together a reflexive fire range for an M4 firing M855A1 on Fort Bragg, you would reference table 4-8 of DA PAM 385-63 (found on adobe page 48). You can find it in the ‘current publications’ folder in the learn more tab at the top of this page.

Table 4-8 tells me.that Distance X (also known as the gun target line) is 3,521meters at the elevation for Fort Bragg ( a little above sea level). If you are looking at the table, you’ll notice that as the elevation increases, distance X increases. At 7,000 feet elevation (easily achievable in Afghanistan) distance X has added on 800 meters to the SDZ.

Distance Y for the M855A1 is listed in the table as 3100 meters. Since we have the potential for maneuver on this range, it has to be a batwing SDZ, which also means we use angle Q. Angle P in this case is 60 degrees for earth, this means that if we include the five-degree dispersion area off the gun target line, we have a 130-degree arc from the firing point where a projectile has a one in a million chance of escaping.

Angle Q starts at distance Y and comes back towards the firing point. Distance W is a line drawn offset a certain distance from the dispersion area. In this case, it is 400 meters. Where angles P and Q intersect with distance W is what creates the bat wing. The excess lines are then erased to create the SDZ.

Keep in mind, this is for a single firing point with a single target. Multiple firing points with multiple targets will increase the complexity of the SDZ, as will the factors of prevailing cross winds or headwinds. But the basic concept is still the same.

Now that I’ve talked you the how to make an SDZ by hand, there are several resources that can help you create and reference them digitally. There is a website you can go to to create them called you need to have an account established to do it, but it is worth it if you are doing a lot of range planning.

Another resource is the Maneuver Center of Excellence’s SDZ app. It talks you through from simple to complex SDZ’s, and has an SDZ builder to help you understand how the process works. Picture two¬†shows the menu of the app. Picture¬†three shows what to type in to get it on google apps.

To sum up, we’ve discussed what reasons you would need to create an SDZ, the process you go through to create one, and some resources available to assist the process. We will discuss how Surface Danger Zones conflict, and what happens when they do.

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Raymond Miller
82nd Airborne Division Small Arms Master Gunner: primary weapons trainer, force modernization for individual weapons, and range liason for the 82nd.