Instruction: Observation: "Target Detection" Observation Exercise

Richard Wheeler edited this page Aug 11, 2017 · 1 revision

What is this exercise?

"Target Detection" is an exercise that is used to train you to detect objects in the environment.

Exercise description

Trainees have between 20 minutes to one hour to observe a space in which 10 known targets have been hidden.

References for this document

"obervation v07" on the ificouldseewhatyousee YouTube channel was used to create this exercise. It was in turn created from the following videos found on YouTube:



You cannot perform this exercise on your own. You need at least one instructor, and depending on the group size two or more instructors may be useful.


This exercise should be carried out outdoors.

Exercise can be carried out in any type of environment with regards to vegetation, although pirority should be given to environments that trainees are likely to encounter in their other training and/or in operations.

Distance from trainees to targets might be as far as 50m (approximately 164 feet). Space for trainees is not fixed, but each trainee must be situated such that each has a clear field of view of all targets. Space for targets in not fixed, but should be large enough such that targets are not jumbled too close together. Depth of target space should not be too great unless trainees are orientated towards space on a slope in such a way that they can easily see the entire depth of the space.




You need a collection of 10 objects to serve as targets.

In a military learning context, these objects might include (but are not limited to):

  • Large flashlight
  • Large knife or bayonet
  • Sheath for knife or bayonet
  • Mortar shell
  • Claymore antipersonnel mine
  • Large battery (example BT-70082 battery for AN/PRC-113 manpack radio)
  • Canteen
  • Cup for canteen
  • Cleaning rod for rifle

Trainee Equipment


  • Paper
  • Pencil with eraser or pencil and seperate eraser
  • Optics, which may include
    • Binoculars
    • Spotting scope
    • Telescope
    • Telecopic scope for weapon system
  • Appropriate support for higher power optics (spotting scopes and telescopes), which may include
    • Backpack
    • Improvised and/or homebuilt tripod with beanbag or other stabilization tool
    • Commercial tripod


  • Depending on weather conditions, trainees may also choose to use commercial or homebuilt tools to protect their drawing from the elements as they work
  • In a military context, trainees frequently wear functional clothing related to the task in which they will be performing observation. For instance, trainees in a sniper course may wear a ghillie suit while drawing. Instructors and trainees may decide that there is a similar type of functional clothing that is appropriate to the context that they are training for, and that this clothing should be worn while drawing.


Progress of the exercise

Prior to the start of the exercise, instructor(s) hide the 10 targets in the exercise area. If trainees are already on site they must turn their backs to the exercise area while this set-up is taking place. Once targets are in position, trainees set up their individual position. When the group is ready, the instructor gives the group the instructions for the exercise. The exercise begins and the trainees spend the first part of the exercise period drawing a panoramic sketch of the exercise area. Once this sketch is complete, trainees shift to locating and drawing the location of targets. When the exercise period is complete, the instructor either collects the trainees' sketches, grades them and returns them to the trainees (in the case of a test) and then shows the trainees the location of the targets, or simply shows the trainees the location of the targets and allows them to self-grade (in the case of a practice). Trainees then clean up their individual area and the exercise area.



Depending on your familiarity with the location and the best spots to hide targets, this could be a 10-minute task or it could be an hour task.


10-15 minutes, less with experienced trainees who have already taken this exercise


Between 20 minutes and one hour. In the case of longer sessions, drawing the panoramic sketch is limited to 10 to 20 minutes.

Scoring, feedback, and questions

Time for scoring depends on group size and scoring methodology. If you choose to have the trainees self-score, which is appropriate for practice sessions, this can be folded into feedback. If you must score for testing purposes, you will need to budget time to interpret the trainees' drawings.

Feedback in this context consists of the instructor(s) pointing out the hidden targets and explaining the visual characteristics that could give away their location to the observer. This might take as little as 30 seconds per object or might run longer. Expect to take at least five minutes and probably more.

Time for questions depends on group size and is left to instructor discretion based on other training requirements.


Trainees must successfully detect and draw the locations of seven out of the 10 targets (70%).

Trainees must score at least 70% on at least three out of four (75%) record test sessions.


Trainees may repeat this exercise anywhere from four to 25 times during a five week period.

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