A "Range Card" is a rough plan of the terrain around a weapon position and is a sketch of the assigned sector that a direct fire weapon system is intended to cover. Range cards are prepared immediately upon arrival in a position, regardless of the length of stay, and updated as necessary. Two copies of the range card are prepared. One copy stays at your position and the other is sent to the platoon headquarters. A range card aids in planning and controlling fires and aids the crews and squad gunners in acquiring targets during limited visibility. It is also an aid for replacement personnel or groups or squads to move into the position and orient on their sector. The individual or gunner should make the range card so that he becomes more familiar with the terrain in his sector. He should continually assess the sector and, if necessary, update his range card.
To prepare a range card, the firer/gunner must know the following information.
• Sectors of Fire.
• Target Reference Points (TRP).
• Dead Space.
• Maximum Engagement Line (MEL).
• Weapons Reference Point (WRP).
• Weapons symbol, left and right limits, and north seeking arrow.
Steps on how to Prepare a Range Card (DA Form 5517-R Feb'86):
1. Orient Range Card - Orient the card so both the primary and secondary sectors of fire (if assigned) can fit on it.
2. Unit Description - Complete the marginal information at the top of the card. Enter unit description such as squad, platoon, or company. Never indicate a unit higher than company.
3. Assign Interval/Distance Between Circles - Your index distance should reflect weapon system range. For example if the range is reflecting data for an M4, you would not want to use 100m increments for the distance between each circle. Using 100 meter intervals will allow firers to provide enough terrain detail to allow for employment out to the M4 weapon system's Max Effective Range for a Point Target - 500m, and Max Effective Range for an Area Target - 600m.
4. Draw a Rough Sketch of the Terrain to the Front of Your Position - Include any prominent natural and man-made features that could be likely targets.
5. Draw Magnetic North Arrow - Orient the range card with the terrain, and draw the direction of the magnetic North arrow. Use the lensatic compass to determine magnetic north; and sketch in the Range Cards' Magnetic North Arrow box.
6. Identify Weapon System Symbol - Place weapon system on dot located at the bottom of range picture.
7. Identify Sector of Fire - By drawing right and left limit arrows. Include azimuth along line drawn for your left and right limits. Also, reflect left and right limit information in the Range Cards Data Section.
8. Complete the Range Card Diagram by Adding the Following (see range card example below):
• Sectors of Fire. A sector of fire is a piece of the battlefield for which an individual is responsible. Firers may be assigned a primary and a secondary sector. Leaders use sectors of fire to ensure fires are distributed across the group's area of responsibility. A sector of fire is assigned to cover possible enemy avenues of approach. Leaders should overlap sectors to provide the best use of overlapping fire and to cover areas that cannot be engaged by a single weapon system. The leader assigns left and right sector limits using prominent terrain features or easily recognizable objects such as large rocks, telephone poles, fences, or stakes.
• Target Reference Points (TRP)- Leaders designate natural or man-made features as reference points. A individual uses these reference points for target acquisition and range determination. Some reference points may also be designated as target reference points. A TRP is an easily recognizable point on the ground (natural or manmade) used to initiate, distribute, and control fires. The company or battalion designates TRPs, and group and squad leaders also should designate TRPs. TRPs always should be visible. These also may be useful as indirect-fire targets. TRPs should be visible through all spectrums available to the unit. They must be easily identifiable to the defender during daylight. TRPs must be heated so they can be recognized with thermal sights, and they must have an infrared signature so they can be recognized through night vision devices.
• Dead space - Dead space is any area that cannot be observed or covered by direct-fire systems within the sector of fire. All dead space within the sector must be identified to allow the group leaders and squad leaders to plan plunging fires to cover the area. Leaders must walk the engagement area to identify dead space and walk the area to ensure positions can confirm the amount of area that is visible.
• Maximum engagement line (MEL) - The MEL is the depth of the sector and normally is limited to the maximum effective engagement range of the weapons systems. However, it can be less if there are objects that prevent the individual from engaging targets at maximum effective ranges of his assigned weapon. To assist in determining the distance to each MEL, the individual should use a map to ensure that the MELs are depicted accurately on the range card. Identifying the MEL will decrease ammunition expenditure during an engagement.
• Weapons or Gunners Reference Point (WRP) - The weapons reference point (WRP) is an easily recognizable terrain feature on the map used to assist leaders in plotting the vehicle, squad, or weapon position. The WRP is used to assist leaders in plotting positions and assisting replacement personnel in finding positions. Show the WRP as a line with a series of arrows, extending from a known terrain feature, and pointing in the direction of the weapon system symbol (Figure 6-29). Number this feature last. The WRP location is given a six-digit grid. When there is no terrain feature to be designated as the WRP, show the weapon’s location as an eight-digit grid coordinate in the Remarks block of the range card.
• Weapons symbol, left and right limits, and north seeking arrow. Weapon Symbol. Indicates the type of weapon that the range card was designed for. Magnetic North. Take the range card and orient it with the assigned sector of fire. Use a lensatic compass to determine magnetic north. Keep the range card oriented to the sector of fire and draw the magnetic north symbol in the appropriate direction in the Magnetic North box. Left Limit and Right Limit. Left and right limits are imaginary lines from the gunner's firing position to a designated point on the ground. Use terrain features when possible to designate left and right limits. Other recognizable objects such as a building or other man-made structures can be used. The area between the left and right limits depicts the gunner's sector of fire or area of responsibility.
9. Complete the Range Card's Data Section as follows:
• Position Identification--List primary, alternate, or supplementary positions. Alternate and supplemental positions must be clearly identified.
• Date--Show date and time the range card was completed. Range cards, like fighting positions, are constantly updated. The date and time are vital in determining current data.
• Weapon--The weapon block indicates weapon type.
• NO (Number)--Start with L and R limits, then list TRPs and RPs in numerical order.
• Direction/Deflection--The direction is listed in degrees. The deflection is listed in mils.
• Elevation--The elevation is listed in mils. Range--This is the distance, in meters, from weapon system position to L and R limits and TRPs and RPs.
• Ammunition--List types of ammunition used.
• Description--List the name of the object (for example, farmhouse, wood line, or hilltop).
• Remarks--Enter the Weapon Reference Point WRP data. As a minimum, WRP data describes the WRP and gives its six-digit or eight digit grid coordinate, magnetic azimuth, and distance to the position. Determine the location of your gun position in relation to a prominent terrain feature, such as a hilltop, road junction, or building. If no feature exists, place the eight-digit map coordinates of your position near the point where you determined your gun position to be. If there is a prominent terrain feature within 1,094 yards (1,000 meters) of the gun, use that feature. Do not sketch in the gun symbol at this time. Using your compass, determine the azimuth in degrees from the terrain feature to the gun position. (Compute the back azimuth from the gun to the feature by adding or subtracting 180 degrees.) Determine the distance between the gun and the feature by pacing or plotting the distance on a map. Sketch in the terrain feature on the card in the lower left or right hand corner (whichever is closest to its actual direction on the ground) and identify it. Connect the sketch of the position and the terrain feature with a barbed line from the feature to the gun. Write in the distance in meters (above the barbed line). Write in the azimuth in degrees from the feature to the gun (below the barbed line).