The military use of the Táborfalva Shooting-Range-and Drill Ground has a more than 130 year-old history.
The use of the first lands for military purpose was recorded in the contracts of livery of seisin in 1875, signed by Mrs. Várady Franciska Csurgay, as bargainor. At that time, an extent of 1500 acres land, paid off by the Military Treasury, was occupied for military use. After this, the first drill and musketry training of the army had been started in at the shooting-range.
The military base and the shooting-range could be found under the title of "Baracken Lager" (Barrack Camp) on the 1886's maps. The next enlargement of the military land can be connected to the year of 1912: this time the Military Treasury bought a piece of land from Palóczi-manor, increasing the size of the shooting-range and drill ground to 4000 acres. In the next periods, the area was increased even more with the purchased lands, and by the 1930s, 5600 acres of land had been occupied for military use. The title of the area had been changed then to Shooting-Range Camp, and later to Örkény Camp. During the time of the Monarchy, the land was mainly used for experimental shooting of artillery devices. Until the beginning of the First World War, only the Artillary Research Institute used the area for military purposes.
After the war, the aspects for using the land were extended. Besides military engineering experiments, the Training Corps for Riding-masters-and Coachmen of the Royal Hungarian Army also used the land. At that time, hussar trainings, horse trainings and cavalry drillings were held at the area. The border-line of the shooting-range, the firing-lines, the service firing shooting-ranges, the titles and borders of the gallops can be traced well on the 1930's map. The South-east side of the drawing of the Örkény Camp troop drilling ground is bordered by Lake Madaras, while the North-west side of it is bordered by Dabas-Gyón. The success of the rider trainings could not be proven better than the fact, that Captain József Platty had won a bronze medal in show-jumping in the 1936 Summer Olympics, Berlin, and he had been trained at Örkény Camp before. Miklós Horthy himself had a penchant for using the so called gallop. Until the beginning of the Second World War, the specific activity on the area was the operation of the riding camp. In 1944, during the war, the Soviet Army installed a military army on the living space and operated a surgery in the officer's club, and a kitchen in the school.
From the beginning of the 1950s till as late as 1991, the 6th guards motorized artillery, which belonged to the Southern Army Group of the Soviet Army, had been staying in the garrison. The Soviet Army mainly performed shootings with T-55 tanks on the area of the drilling ground located near to the base. The units of the shooting-range, which had been established at that time, can be found there ere now. The inhabitants of the nearby towns and villages still remember to the intensive nature of the soviet usage, because the through traffic was closed for the whole day during those times. Shooting of long-range and large caliber guns required the buying of safe distances, dangerous directions and areas. The shooting range and drill ground had got its current size by the year of 1967, since the families living in the safe range had been successfully removed by then. The drill ground is 22,5 km long from the base till the end of the safe range, but its total length including the driving path is 27 km.
The first buildings of the Drilling base had been built in the 1968-70s. Some years later the operators of the shooting range had established the first electric system, so owing to that, the shifting of the targets could be performed by electric control during military trainings and shootings. The artillery subunits were the first who appeared on the area from the Hungarian arms. Artillerists fired to the target area with 122 mm canons using indirect laying, and with 100 mm tank-busters and tanks using direct laying. Drillings of larger troops (battalion, division, regiment) were not a rare thing, either. During those times, the military presence and the number of drillings and soldiers were much higher than nowadays. Drillings that last for months and a strength of more than a thousand men together was not a rare thing. Most of the technical equipment were transported by rail to the base, and several trains reached the unloading siding. The shooting-range did not have an established road-system at that time, so the advances were performed by the help of orientation points.
Since 1996, the United States Army had been present for more than 3 years at the base and at the shooting-range. Shootings had been mainly performed by tanks and helicopters. They used M-1 Abrams tanks and a type of personnel carrier named Bradley for transportation on the roads of the shooting-range and drill ground. The operational troops and equipment for the Yugoslav Wars had been trained here.
By the 1990s, the total division regarding the use of the shooting range and drill ground had taken shape, the different areas according to that are: forefield "manoeuvring part", middle part "battalion shooting range" and the rear part "safe range". The titles of the areas show the nature of their use, and according to that, in the manoeuvring part: soldiers perform troop movements by vehicles or without them, driving drillings, commandery occupying, camouflaging, military survey studies, route-march, survivor and patrol tasks. This part includes the field for chemical protection practice, the scouting battle path obstacle course and the shooting-range hill. The area of the shooting-range had to be divided into several sectors in order that soldiers could employ the chances given by the area with their weapons the best way. A hand-grenade throwing place for throwing hand-grenades, a detonating yard for smaller detonations, a detonating ground for larger detonations, and machine-carbine, machine-gun, grenade thrower, military vehicles and mine-thrower sectors had been established. An electric cable system had been established on the target area, enabling the operation of the target-moving engines to be performed by computer control. A special area were provided for the helicopter rockets, tank canons and howitzers due to the destructiveness of grenades.
The current use of the drill ground is mainly affected by the fact that the number of military corps and the number of soldiers are continuously decreasing from the beginning of the 1990s, now this number is less than 250000, so the number of drillings and the size of the area used for it have been also decreased. There are not that much arrivals and movements of rubber-tyred or tracked war vehicles, tanks, transport vehicles, tractors, technical machines on the roads of the drill-ground, than it were before. The statistics of the activity of the present Táborfalva Shooting-Range and Drill Ground could be read several years back, so it is ascertainable, that the number of days used for shooting is 70-75, and the number of soldiers arrived for the drillings is 2500-3000 in a year, and those numbers are far less compared to the drillings held in early days, with 15 shooting days and 1500 soldiers in every month. The present typical range of activity at Táborfalva Shooting-Range and Drill Ground is performing trainings for missions. Soldiers and troops have to equally meet the requirements for serving abroad. The upmost aims of the present drillings and shootings are the professional application of individual and collective weapons, dealing with the difficulties of the terrain and creating team spirit. During the past 5-8 years, the following participants were trained for their missions: Yugoslav Wars: KFOR, SFOR; Afghan: ISAF, PRT, KAJA; Iraqi: IFOR; Cyprian: UNFICYP. Among the nearby corps, mainly the soldiers from the military stations of Szolnok, Kecskemét, Hódmezővásárhely and Debrecen arrive for the drillings.
Almost the entire area of Táborfalva Shooting-Range and Drill Ground belongs to the Natura 2000 network, so the military use strongly focuses to the routes of the road system. In order to protect the wildlife living in the shooting-range, The Bakony Training Centre of the Hungarian Defence Force has been providing fire-fighting tasks with an up-to-date MAN-type fire-engine and 5 personnels during shootings since 2005. Our primary task is to extinguish fires often caused by the munitions of weapons as soon as possible.
Major László Bártfai
Head of the Military Base