Damage to Electronic Targets Cancel CMP EIC Match

posted on June 21, 2017
In a major disappointment for nearly 100 competitors, the CMP canceled the June 17 Excellence-In-Competition match when significant damage was done to the electronic target system.

Thus, many traveled to shoot a match that was not successfully completed. Multiple targets were damaged when newly-trained CMP target workers damaged several interconnecting cables on the target line while raising and lowering target carriers. Diagnostics showed several targets were showing errors, but technicians believed many targets could be salvaged and some were repaired.

Damaged CMP e-target cables
E-target cables damaged during the match. Clearly visible are the pins that were pulled out of the screw-in connectors.

The losses cut the range from 35 to 19 serviceable targets. Match staff and competitors agreed to shrink the size of the range, re-squadding shooters into more relays on the remaining working targets. After repairs were made, firing continued with the prone rapid fire stage at 300 yards. When firing was complete, a handful of shooters received inconsistent information on their monitors. A re-fire was conducted for that group and many of the re-fire group still reported target errors.

It became clear that the initial damage to the target communication system was worse than originally thought. It was explained to competitors that it was impractical to go any further and canceled the match. CMP offered refunds to all competitors or the option of crediting their entry fees to a future match. The match did not count toward the competitors’ EIC match total for 2017.

EIC rifle competitor at Camp Perry
A rapid fire competitor sends one of 10 rounds downrange in the sitting stage of the June 17 EIC Rifle Match.

CMP officials said, “It was lack of preparation and human error and not the performance of the target system that stopped this EIC match in its tracks.”

What happened

For the first time, and in anticipation of installing KTS electronic targets across all ranges at Camp Perry in 2019, CMP installed a set of electronic targets to fit into the target carriers on Viale Range. The wood 2x4 uprights which normally hold cardboard target backers were removed to make room for the KTS target frames. The e-targets were locked in and pinned in place to limit movement and to protect vulnerable electronics below the berm wall.

From CMP: We knew the connecting cables would need considerable care during transitions and we shared that with the young and exuberant range crew. Unfortunately, speed and efficiency was a priority over care for the cables.

CMP e-target circuit board
The e-target circuit board handles shot location calculation, XY coordinates on the target, the temperature of the sound chamber, shot value and more.

Each target contains a circuit board at its base and four acoustic sensors in the target’s four corners. Multi-conductor cables carry low voltage and communications information from target to target. All the bullet impact information sensed by the targets is communicated wirelessly via WiFi to monitors on the firing line. The targets are wired in clusters of five―“daisy-chained” the length of the target line.

The summer range crew, some of whom are accustomed to speedily pasting and putting paper targets back into the air, got a wake-up call on June 17. Since the targets are heavy, they must be mounted in the “up” position, which takes away the normally easy servicing of pit-pulled targets.

CMP e-target cables
Cables carry power and communications from target to target the length of the line. The loss of one cable can take out five adjacent targets.

The crew planned to use ladders to change target faces on transitions from 200 to 300 and 300 to 600 yards during the match. However, when the ladders proved to be slow and cumbersome, the crew opted to un-pin, lower and re-face the targets and send them back up. During that maintenance period, many of the cables got caught on frames and other obstacles and were either torn from connectors or the connectors and wiring were pulled from the circuit boards.

This catastrophic failure was a difficult learning lesson for the CMP. In a post-match review, it was determined that:

  1. The crew was overzealous in its desire to quickly raise and lower the targets to get them ready for the 300-yard stage.
  2. Had the cables been longer and/or handled with care, the damage could have been completely avoided.
  3. A better procedure needs to be developed to gain access to the target replacement centers without putting the crew or target equipment in harm’s way.
  4. There was too little preparation time on an active rifle range to setup and practice target maintenance.

Editor's note: The CMP is working hard to bring e-targets to the masses. There will be hurdles, such as what happened at this EIC match, but ultimately they are on the right track with the way they handled the situation.


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