Camp Atterbury Pit Guide
A View From the Pits
by TJ Kackowski
Truth be told, I find the pits to be a lot of fun…AFTER the targets are assembled and the racks running smoothishly. There are brief periods of frantic work as targets are dropped and marked, or scored, or cleaned, then run back up. The work is all the more frantic when there are only a handful of pit workers compared to the number of shooters, but enjoyable none-the-less. Why do I find it enjoyable? Because it becomes a personal race against the clock. You work out your routine with your targets and try to do the work a little faster each time.
When you’re done with your targets, you take a look around to see how you can help someone else, or tidy up the area, or just rest, eat a snack and listen to all that’s going on around you.
Sometimes you just stare at the ground in front of you and find the remains of a bullet … how did that get there? What caused only the tip of the jacket to be ripped off leaving the steel core intact? Your mind wanders a bit, then you hear “CEASE FIRE! CEASE FIRE! CEASE FIRE!” broadcast over the radio and it’s back to work.
Sometimes the routine is interrupted by a call from the line requesting information about a particular target. Sometimes the pit workers send unsolicited information about a target back to the line. Sometimes you get a request/urge to doctor up a target.
Generally there’s a constant stream of banter from the pit workers. It’s always good hearted and fun to engage in. Towards the end of the day, as the workers fatigue, the banter slows down, but never completely ceases.
There’s more, but as has been stated by many others before me … what happens in the pits, stays in the pits.
Nuts & Bolts
- An (Atterbury trained) RSO with the Range Book must be present at the Pit Shed during check-in. There should be a key to the man door into the Pit Shed in the Range Book.
- Document the condition of the target frames, the Pit Shed, and the target racks with whoever is sent down from RC. This includes operation of the garage door, and stuff in the shed. Do not let them leave without agreeing to condition, writing it down on the form, and signing the form. Take pictures if necessary.
- Document the condition of the Porta-Jon with whoever is sent down from RC. Take pictures of the overall condition of the inside, and also the inside of the waste tank (be sure to hang onto your phone, eyeglasses, keys, etc. as you peer inside!). Document any deficiencies like broken items and especially things that should not be in the waste tank, like trash, empty soap dispenser, etc. Do not let them leave without agreeing to condition, writing it down on the form, and signing the form.
- Keep the signed form in the Range Book for use during check-out.
Stuff You Should Find in the Shed
- Brooms & dust pans
- Target frames
- Paper targets (that we use to make a clean backer for our targets … more on this later)
Preparing the Targets
- The current method is to attach the large paper targets found in the shed face down (target side down) onto the plastic backer attached to the target frame. It will take two targets to cover the backer; attach the bottom sheet first, then the top sheet. To attach the sheets, use a paint roller to run around the edges with wall paper glue, then a line from corner to corner making an “X”. Set the bottom sheet first, then the top sheet, and then run the roller of glue on top of the bottom sheet to secure the bottom edge of the top sheet.
- After the backer has a nice new clean surface, attach the Revere’s Riders “D” target approximately covering the center of the top target (you can easily make out the center of the target on the backside). Yes, you’ll use the same roller and glue, just cover the entire back of the “D” target.
- Staple a round white target disc to the center of the “D” target. The white disc is about 6” diameter. The center of the “D” target is located on the centerline of the target, and approximately 6” up from the bottom of the target).
- Depending upon wind conditions, you might have to use duct tape to keep the edges of the target background secured to the target backer.
- Set the prepared target frames into the previously prepared rack.
Preparing the Target Rack
- There’s a lot to check on the rack to make sure it’s functional.
- First try to run the rack up without any weights. If it doesn’t move without weights, see what can be done to make it work.
- Verify the chain is attached to both sides of the rack.
- Verify there are rollers on each side of the rack.
- If the rack cannot be easily repaired, move on to the next one.
- Add weights to the rack. Three plates seem to be the magic number.
- Run the rack with the weights. If there is any problem at this point, it will be with the center bar. Lube works, apply liberally to the side facing the Pit wall (this is where the weights will rub). If lube isn’t enough, beat to straighten … tread lightly with the beatings … these bars have had a tough life and we don’t want to be the people who break one.
- Set the target frames into the rack and run it up for the shooters to ventilate.
Preparing the Work Area
- At each target, set out at least three (3) sighter discs and golf tees. Five to six at each target is better.
- Set out several strategically placed trash bags. You’ll find several metal hooks on the pit wall that make wonderful hangers for the trash bags.
- Set out a roll of black pasters and a roll of tan pasters for each pit worker.
- Set out a stack of witness targets and a loaded stapler for each pit worker.
- Set out at least two sharpies for each pit worker.
- Set the Pit Box somewhere near the center of the targets being manned.
- Set the Bucket O’Tools somewhere near the center of the targets being manned.
Preparing the Pit Workers
- Each pit worker should have their personal gear located in the vicinity of the targets they are tending. There are benches and chairs located in the pits, relocate them as needed to provide work / storage / sitting surfaces.
- Each pit worker will need ear and eye pro.
Clean Up (End of Day 1)
- Remove the target backers from the racks and stand them up against the wall of the pits (under the overhang) to protect them from any weather or accumulating any serious condensation overnight.
- Bag up any loose trash and take it with you.
- If you were tidy during the day, the Pit Box and Bucket O’Tools will be ready for the next day. If you weren’t it is best if somebody organize them overnight for the next day.
- There is no need to call Range Control for an inspection of the Pit Shed if you’re returning the next day. Just be sure to lock it up.
Clean Up (End of Event)
- Wait for the shooters to arrive to take the targets out of the rack, remove the targets, and remove the staples.
- While waiting for the shooters to arrive, clean-up your personal gear.
- While waiting for the shooters to arrive, gather up all the stuff that belongs in the Pit Box and Bucket O’Tools.
- Set out extra trash bags for the trash paper generated when the targets are removed from the backers.
- After the shooters arrive, set them to work stripping the targets from the backers and removing the staples from the backers. After the backers are clean, have the shooters transport them to the shed.
- After the target backers are all stored in the shed, sweep the floor.
- All the trash generated in the pits must be taken with one of the RR volunteers to be properly disposed of.
- Contact Range Control to have somebody inspect the pits.
- An (Atterbury trained) RSO with the Range Book must be present at the pits during check-out.
- The completed, signed form in the Range Book is what will be used by the Atterbury inspector to complete the check-out.
- After everything is approved by the inspector, sign the inspection sheet and reinsert it into the Range Book.
- Return the Range Book to the OIC.
Bucket O’ Tools
Consumable items need to be checked before each event. These items are noted in orange italics.
- 1 ea. – 3 lb sledge hammer
- 1 ea. – 20 oz. straight claw (rip claw) hammer
- 1 ea. – 24 in. pry bar
- 6 ea. (minimum) – needle nose pliers
- 4 ea. (minimum) – staple guns & staples (T-50 size)
- extra pins for target rack weight plates
- 1 can (minimum) – spray lube (Blaster white lithium grease)
- 1 can (minimum) – spray penetrating oil (PB Blaster)
Not actually in the Bucket O’Tools, but still essential pit items.
- wall paper glue/paste (3 gallons minimum)
- roller & roller cover to apply wall paper glue
- the roller cover definitely needs to be fresh, perhaps also the roller
- long handle for roller
- paint tray
- the paint tray may also need to be replaced for each event
Everything in the Pit Box is a consumable item, and needs to be checked before each event.
- “D” targets
- 6” round white target disc (1 per “D” target)
- witness targets
- 3” white/black sighter discs
- orange golf tees
- black pasters
- tan pasters
- masking tape & wide tip black permanent markers (these items can be used in lieu of black and tan pasters)
- fine tip permanent markers
- roll of trash bags
- black construction paper (8-1/2” x 11”)
- duct tape
- 1 bag – zip ties
- 1 ea. – 6 in. diagonal cutters
- Not in Pit Box (but essential pit equipment)
- MOA measuring sticks
Running the Pits
Pit Boss—in charge of making sure everything gets done. It’s not necessary for the Pit Boss to be an Atterbury trained RSO, but that sure doesn’t hurt. The Pit Boss is also in charge of radio communications with the CRSO.
If there aren’t enough volunteers to man the targets, the Pit Boss will need to man some targets. However, if there are enough volunteers to man the targets, the Pit Boss should be walking the target line with a notebook and pen in hand. Taking notes when the line requests information about a particular target, and when particular information is noted by the volunteers manning the targets to relay back to the line. Without the written notes, communication between the line and the pits can become tedious as requests to repeat information are sent back and forth.
Target Grunts—there to prepare and man the targets. Duties include every menial task imaginable.
Student Volunteers—there to do even more menial tasks than the Target Grunts. Typical duties include, but are not limited to the following:
- hauling target backers from the pit shed to the target racks
- removing target backers from the target frame and standing them against the pit wall at the end of Saturday
- placing the target backers back into the target racks Sunday morning
- pulling staples from the target backers at the end of the event
- pulling the paper targets off the backers
- hauling the target backers back into the pit shed
The ratio of Target Grunts to targets varies. However, three (3) targets per Target Grunt is a good ratio. Less is always desirable, and more is manageable. Three (3) targets isn’t a number that was pulled from the ether; it’s based upon data acquired from the most recent Atterbury event. We had a 90 lb., 16 yr. old girl running 3 targets all day long on Sunday. Even with a wonky target rack, she never fell behind, never complained, and never stopped smiling. Given this information, it’s beyond comprehension that a full grown adult cannot also manage 3 targets.
How manning the targets works for me …
- When it’s time to mark or score the targets, pull down all your targets first. Then starting with the last target dropped, do what needs to be done at that target, then run it back up. Repeat until all your targets are in the air.
- If it was a sighter round, you insert sighter discs and run the target back up. When the command to clean the targets is received, again drop all your targets first. Then starting with the last target dropped, remove the sighter discs, patch the holes, and then run the target back up. Repeat until all your targets are in the air.
- If it was a scoring round, you’d have a witness target stapled in the lower right hand corner of the target frame. After dropping your targets, instead of inserting sighter discs you’d mark the appropriate spot on the witness target, patch the holes, and then run the target back up. Repeat until all your targets are in the air.
- Witness targets—first mark the witness target with the target number and qualifier number. When actually scoring the target, using your sharpie, put a dot in the approximate area where you find a bullet hole in the target, regardless if it’s in the black or not. Only mark what you find on the target; sometimes there’s 10 holes, sometimes more or less than 10 holes. Pit workers don’t judge, we only record what we find. Adding comments like how many MOA a group is from target center can be helpful to the shooter.
Rants and Raves
Do not ever, for any reason what-so-ever, try to use cans of spray adhesive in lieu of wall paper glue/paste to affix the targets to the target backers. If anybody even suggests this idea, they should be banished from Revere’s Riders, no, the shooting community, for all eternity.
With the proper tools, materials, and personnel in the pits, preparing the target backers before noon on Saturday is not a problem. Notice there are 3 items necessary for this to be accomplished. If any one of these items is missing, then all bets are off.
Any student who wants to help in the pits should be encouraged to do so. Making a stint in the pits mandatory is up to the discretion of the Event Director. If enough students do arrive in the pits to help, then the Target Grunts will become Target Supervisors of the students. The Target Supervisor will make sure that the students know what needs to be done, how to do it, and to insure that everything is done to standards.
The students on the line should really pay attention to the information relayed back from the pits. At the last Atterbury event, there was one student who was high on EVERY string of fire. Good groups were being produced, but all the shots were in the “head area” of the target. Had this student dialed their optics down as informed by the pits, their shots would have been in the center of the target, and would have resulted in less misses.
A fully stocked Pit Pack is something every Event Director should provide to the Pit Crew. Such wonderful surprises were found as we explored the different pockets and compartments in the hairy pack prepared by Mrs. S. The yummy snacks were the best. We didn’t get to play with all the goodies, and I truly wish we had broken into the bubbles … I really love playing with bubbles … next time for sure.
That’s all for the moment.