History

The United States War Department approved the construction of a rifle range on April 10, 1918, adjacent to Fort Caswell, NC, for small arms training of soldiers “in view of the immediate necessity for instruction of men destined for over-seas duty” in World War I. After World War II, the rifle range was declared surplus and sold. Since then the elements have taken a toll on this piece of history.

The documents and attachments for this request are shown below. Click on each image to enlarge.

Blueprint from 1918 showing existing rifle range and proposed new rifle range.

Blueprints from 1918 showing proposed new rifle range and location.

National Register of Historic Places

On December 31, 2013, the Fort Caswell Historic District and the dis-contiguous Rifle Range Target Pit was officially added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The following is copied from the National Register of Historic Places:

Rifle Range
Fort Caswell Historic District
Brunswick County, North Carolina
N. side of Foxfire Trace, between Pinehurst Drive and Bunker Court, Caswell Dunes Development
1918
Contributing Structure

A World War I rifle range, also called a rifle pit or rifle butt, which was part of Fort Caswell is located a little over two miles to the west-northwest of the west boundary of the main historic district. The structure is located in a vegetated dune area in a residential section of the Caswell Dunes resort. This land was formerly part of the Fort Caswell military installation. The long concrete structure is mostly below grade and is composed of three sections that together measure a total of 184 feet in length. It is open on top and the north wall is taller than the south wall so that the side walls slope from north to south. From the interior the north wall is 9 1/2 feet tall and the south wall is 6 1/2 feet tall. The outer walls range from about 8 inches to 1 foot thick. The structure’s width varies among the three sections.

The easternmost portion, which served as a storage room for target supplies and tools, is 10 feet wide and about 14 feet long. This portion originally had a roof but it is gone. A square opening pierces the east end, while a doorway on the west end leads to the center section. The center section is 4 1/2 feet wide and 76 feet long and served as the walkway between the storage room and the target area at the western end. The westernmost portion is nearly 14 feet wide and 94 feet long. A door opening connects the center and western sections. “May 20th, 1918” is inscribed in the south wall of the middle section.

During World War I, the military used the rifle range for target practice. A soldier-operated mechanism that held the targets was located in the westernmost section. Armed soldiers, who were several hundred yards north of the structure, would attempt to shoot the targets, which were moved up and down by range operators in the pit.

See https://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/places/pdfs/13001025.pdf for the complete registration form.

What is a rifle range?

These images of other rifle pits can help to visualize the Fort Caswell Rifle Range during WWI.

If you stood on the firing line in 1918, which would have been located near the Caswell Dunes subdivision bridge at the entrance to the Arboretum, you might have seen something like this.

Troops marking targets inside a pit.

This soldier is standing inside a tunnel between a pit and a storage room.

Soldiers resting inside a pit.

Finally, here is a great view of a rifle range in England.