WASHINGTON — Nevada Army National Guard soldiers will no longer be forced to travel out of state for annual weapons qualification following an Army decision to build a small-arms range at Hawthorne Army Depot.
Nevada Guard members were being forced to travel to bases in California, Arizona, Utah and Idaho to receive training and weapons qualification for M-16 and M-4 rifles, and M-9 pistols due to a lack of a specialized range in the state.
“When I found out our soldiers had to travel hundreds of miles out of state to train, I knew we had to do something to fix this,” said Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Getting a small-arms range has been a top priority for the Nevada Army National Guard, said Maj. Gen. Ondra Berry, commander of Nevada’s National Guard troops, in a statement released by Rosen’s office.
Rosen said the cost to the Army to build the range would not exceed the costs of transporting soldiers out of state to train for qualification, roughly $500,000 per unit (between 25 and 50 soldiers), per year. There are roughly 3,200 Nevada Army National Guardsmen in the state.
Original plans by the Nevada National Guard to build a small-arms range would not have been completed until 2030, relying in part on state money.
During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last month, Rosen brought the lack of a small-arms range in Nevada to the attention of Army Secretary Christine Wormuth and Gen. James McConville, the Army chief of staff.
They later confirmed to Rosen that the Army would create an interim range at the Hawthorne facility this year, and a permanent range by fiscal year 2025. The facilities would be federally funded.
Earlier plans for the range had identified Hawthorne Army Depot, southeast of Reno, as the location for the facility.
Hawthorne is an ideal Army facility to house a marksmanship qualification range here in Nevada, said Capt. Emerson Marcus, a spokesman for the Nevada Army National Guard in Carson City.
“Army standards for marksmanship qualification now demand a ‘pop-up’ range with targets that move up, down and back down during a soldier’s qualification,” Marcus said.
Ideally, the Nevada Army National Guard would like to have a second small-arms range in Southern Nevada, due to the size of the state and the concentration of population centers in the north and south, Marcus said.
This story has been updated to correct an earlier version that mistated the cost of transporting soliders out of state to train for qualifications.