Education

Carl Hapeman at a Rifle Range, World War I, c. 1917


Historical Context
The mass production of weaponry in the years preceding and during World War I allowed countries to create enormous armies.  However, soldiers could not simply be given uniforms and equipment and expected to perform all of their duties right away.  Before going off to battle, soldiers of all military branches went through specific training.

One skill that soldiers needed to learn was how to shoot properly and accurately.  Although technology made guns more accurate and easy to produce, this meant little if a soldier did not know how to use his gun effectively.  To train new soldiers how to fire their weapons, many facilities used rifle ranges.  Because soldiers were expected to be able to hit targets from a distance, a rifle range required a large, open area.  Additionally, since the bullets used in American rifles and machine guns could easily travel for six miles, a backstop was needed to stop the bullets at the end of the range.  Finally, ranges are often surrounded by a barrier so that people do not accidentally enter the shooting range.

In this photograph, Mr. Hapeman is sitting at the downrange end of the rifle range.  The frames to his left are for holding the targets, and the numbered signs at the top of the dirt backstop are in place so that soldiers at shooting stations on the firing line know which target is their own.  The safety fence surrounding the rifle range can be seen in the background.
 
Essential Question
Why is training an important component of success?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and evaluate the effectiveness of this training.
[click to enlarge]
Carl Hapeman, New York State Archives, NYSA_A0412-78_B03_F05_Hapeman
Document Description
Carl Hapeman at a rifle range, World War I, c. 1917.
Questions
  1. What is the purpose of a rifle range at a training facility?
Historical Challenge
Based on what you know about World War I, how would a rifle range prepare soldiers for what they needed to do in war? What aspects of battle could it not prepare soldiers for?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: You have been put in charge of planning the construction of a new rifle range. It needs to be wide enough for 16 shooters, and each shooter needs 5 yards of space. The length of the range needs to have 200 yards of open space, with 10 yards for a backstop. Find the width, length, and area of the range. Then, find the perimeter required to put a fence around it.
Resources
  1. Wilson, H.C. Rifle Range Construction: A Text-Book to Be Used in the Construction of Rifle Ranges, with Details of All Parts of the Work. Wilmington, DE: E.I. du Pont de Nemours Powder Co., 1909.