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sniper training
What Qualities Make Good Sniper?
A 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 for himself."
--Vernon Harrison


This article is reprinted with permission by the author; Thomas Bruner.
CVT thanks him for sharing this material with our students and visitors.


What 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:
- Patience
- Independence
- Hunting experience
- Cleverness
- 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
- Stealth
- Awareness
- Knowledge of ballistics
- Marksmanship
- Ability to keep learning
- Discipline
- Meticulous preparation
- Attention to detail
- Understanding his enemy
- Exploiting his enemies weaknesses
- Knowing when to shoot and when not too.
-
Record and data keeping skills
- Evasion skills
- Stay still for long hours

A 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.

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Gallery - Vern and his students at work on the rifle range.
What Qualities Make a Good Sniper?
The Importance of the Snipers' Spotter/Observer