The Art of Scout Sniping
There are many different views of snipers. Many have been created by Hollywood action films such as Shooter or Sniper. People have come to believe that a sniper is a cold blooded assassin, shooting people from miles away with a single shot. These views along with others are mainly false and depict the scout sniper in the wrong way.
The definition of a scout-sniper is a specialized reconnaissance soldier who is trained to gather information and also eliminate means of transportation for the enemy and enemy personnel itself with well placed shots while staying undetected. The purpose of the sniper is to pick apart the enemy by taking away its transportation, fuel, ammunition, and leadership. They undergo intense training to obtain the ability to do so and still remain undetected.
There are two soldiers in a scout-sniper team; the sniper and the spotter. The sniper is usually the least experienced and his sole purpose is to fire on a target if needed or gather information. To achieve this, the sniper uses the following; a sniper rifle, binoculars, and a ghillie suit or some form of camouflage. The sniper rifle is usually his branches choice. In America, the Army’s scout-snipers use the M24 and the Marines use the M40A3. Both of these rifles are modelled after the Remington Model 700 and chamber a .308 win. bullet which has an effective range of 850+ yards. The sniper may choose a special applications rifle such as the M82, for long distances or for anti-material shots. These special applications rifles’ chamber a larger calibre bullet to travel farther distances and pack a larger punch if shooting at a material object like a car. To shoot at such extreme distances, snipers attach scopes to there rifles. These scopes provide magnification and a reticule for aiming. Many reticules contain some sort of range estimation.
Another one of the sniper’s tools is the ghillie suit. The ghillie suit is a normal set of BDU’s (battle dress uniform) with burlap sowed on. The suit works by breaking up the snipers outline to provide better concealment and also holds natural vegetation to allow the sniper to blend into his environment. Breaking up the outline of the human body is important because eyes are naturally attracted to the outline of humans. The binoculars simply allow the sniper to observe at long distances in clarity. The spotter carries/wears a ghillie suit, radio, spotting scope, assault rifle, and log. The spotter carries an assault rifle unlike the sniper’s sniper rifle because the assault rifle provides a higher rate of fire if the team in spotted by the enemy. The spotter’s ghillie suit’s purpose is the same as the snipers. Spotters use radios to relay enemy movements and information back to normal infantry troops or intelligence centres. This radio could also be used to direct in air strikes or artillery. The spotting scope is a powerful monocular allowing the spotter to spot enemy elements for the sniper or observe for information. It is different than the sniper’s scope because it provides a wider view of the area allowing the spotter to see more than the sniper can. The log used to record the sniper’s shots, enemy information, and draw sketches of certain places for Intel. The spotter’s main purpose is to spot enemies for the sniper to eliminate and have the snipers back if they get in a fire fight. The sniper and spotter both go through intense training. Scout-Sniper courses are known to have very low passing rates and fail complete classes. In these courses men are trained to make and use ghillie suits, shoot accurately and effectively at long range under pressure, and estimate range. Range estimation is a key point because a bullet drops over distance; therefore the sniper needs to know what distance he’s shooting at to make the right kind of shot. Snipers and spotters also go through intense physical training in the course. The sniper and spotter are like brothers; anywhere one goes the other follows throughout their careers in the military.
The origin of the sniper dates back to an old 1600’s British sport in which men would hunt a bird called snipe. The snipe were extremely hard to shoot because of there elusiveness when alarmed. This forced the hunters to make ghillie suits, learn how to move slowly, and remain undetected by the snipe’s high alertness. The hunters gained the nickname, “sniper” which later carried on the military. In the American Revolution, a well known British sniper had an aim on George Washington and when he could have pulled his trigger, George turned around. The sniper refused to shoot a man in the back and arguably saved the United States through his dignity without even knowing it. A well known scout-sniper is Carlos Hathcock who served as a Marine during Vietnam. Carlos created the United States first sniping school at Camp Pendleton and set the base for many other snipers to go off of.
Many people do not know of the more overlooked mental aspect of sniping. When a sniper pulls the trigger on a man he sees that man up close and personal through his scope. The sniper often has been watching that man for a large period of time and may have seen him with his family and may feel like he knows the man. The sniper is in complete control of this man’s life and the man doesn’t even know it. For many this is enough to make them not pull the trigger and that’s why they aren’t fit to become snipers. Snipers use a term originally thought of by Carlos Hathcock that describes why they kill their targets; snipers say that they are not killing a man; they are eliminating a threat to their own brothers (fellow soldiers) lives. Snipers have to keep this in their minds to keep from letting an enemy go. In the 1792 Olympic Games Israeli athletes were held hostage by terrorists. Many do not know that German police snipers were watching the terrorists the whole time. After watching the terrorist for four hours, when it came time to pull the trigger, the snipers couldn’t because the felt so attached to the men holding the athletes hostage. As a result the athletes were killed. A Force Recon Marine Scout-Sniper’s quote sums up what a sniper has to feel when he shoots someone. When the sniper was asked in an interview what he felt when he shot a man the sniper simply shrugged and replied, “Recoil.”
I hope by reading this you have learned a little bit about what the sniper is about, what his job is, what tools he uses, and what he mentally goes though. Snipers aren’t cold blooded assassins but rather well tuned soldiers trained in the art of camouflage and long ranged observation. A sniper who cannot perform recon is rather a long range shooter and doesn’t deserve to have the name Scout-Sniper.
Information provided by : Deathfromamile