Qualities Make Good Sniper?
note from Vern about
this article on sniper training:
"It isn't often that I find something about
rifles and shooting really worth quoting. When I do
I want to share it for the benefit of the entire community.
I get asked a lot what it takes to do the job of the
military or law enforcement sniper. It's not a question
that can be answered easily.
This article answers only a few of the questions people
ask. The remainder, each potential sniper has to answer
This article is reprinted with permission by the author;
CVT thanks him for sharing this material with our
students and visitors.
makes a good professional sniper?
How does he think? Is he a crazed gunman or a cold-blooded
killer? A judge, jury and executioner?
What is he thinking when he makes that shot?
Does he care about his victim? Why has he even
been hated by his own military or misunderstood by
his own department?
These are all questions many asked about the professional
sniper. A professional sniper is a special kind of
soldier or police officer. He has to be a very focused
individual. When he shoots, his mind has to be uncluttered
from any thought except making the shot.
The famous sniper Carlos Hathcock used the statement,
"Getting in to my bubble." He cannot think about what
he is shooting at or identifying with the target.
He cannot feel anything about the target at the time
of the shot.
Afterward, that can be different. He does care. In
a hostage situation, he must think in terms of saving
a life or lives rather than taking a life.
It is the same for the military sniper. He knows if
he kills, especially a valuable target, it will save
his comrades lives. Some men can only shoot in the
heat of combat. An expert shot may not be able to
be a sniper. Hunting experience helps, but some hunters
would not make good snipers.
The sniper must shoot, with the fact in mind that
his quarry does not even know he is there. Some men
cannot do this and are not suited to this. A sniper
must have unusual patience and be able to stay still
for long hours.
In a hostage situation he is the first and last on
the scene and must stay the full course of the incident.
This takes extreme patience.
Snipers and sniper teams are usually on their own
and must be able to make decisions without orders.
The sniper, both police and military, must know when
to take the shot and when not to.
Snipers must be keen observers, paying attention to
details and being aware of their surroundings and
everything that is going on around them. A military
sniper must be clever and be able to deceive his enemy
as to his position. He must make his enemy think he
is somewhere where he is not.
A good sniper must be able to adapt to different combat
situations and adapt his camouflage to his area of
operations. He must know how to exploit the terrain
around him to his advantage. He must know how to hide
and build suitable hides for his mission.
A military sniper must be an advanced infantryman
able to call in artillery and air strikes. Knowledge
of map reading, compass and GPS is a must. He should
be trained as a forward observer and in reconnaissance.
He must know how to exploit his enemy's weaknesses.
A sniper must be meticulous in his preparation; planning
routes for both insertion and evasion. He must understand
the concept of stealth, cover and concealment; being
able to stalk for long distances without being observed.
A sniper must be an expert shot and have a thorough
knowledge of ballistics and know what effects the
environmental conditions have on his bullet flight
and how to correct for this. He should be meticulous
in record keeping and have basic drawing skills.
Sniping is a constant learning experience, a sniper
must be able to keep acquiring knowledge to enhance
his skills and abilities.
Many military personnel do not understand how to exploit
the role of the sniper and his value to them. Over
the years and through wars, he has been thought of
as a coward, shooting from long distance in cold blood.
Also the term "sniper" has been used by the media
for people that have killed and murdered from a distance
even though they were never considered trained military
or police snipers. The term as had a derogatory meaning
for many years.
This has led to a distinct disliking of him, even
among his own units. This is gradually changing as
officers are being trained in sniper deployment, and
ongoing sniper programs have been developed.
This is a short summary of some of the qualities of
a good sniper:
- Hunting experience
- Ability to adapt to different situations
- Make decisions on his own
- Keen observation skills
- Field craft skills and knowing how to use all types
of camouflage effectively
- Knowledge of ballistics
- Ability to keep learning
- Meticulous preparation
- Attention to detail
- Understanding his enemy
- Exploiting his enemies weaknesses
- Knowing when to shoot and when not too.
and data keeping skills
- Evasion skills
- Stay still for long hours
sniper must also know his own weaknesses and how the
enemy will more than likely respond to him.
He must expect to be treated differently if captured
than the average infantryman.
In summary the trained sniper should be an exceptional,
disciplined marksman with exceptional training both
in the field and with the rifle.