What It Takes to Be a Good Sniper

By David Reed


Basically, it takes three things to be a good sniper, and a wicked shot is the least of them. Discipline and cunning are the important qualities. Snipers do not (usually) roam around looking for people to shoot. They do not shoot non-combatants, i.e. women and children, other unarmed persons, livestock, windshields, and houses, etc. The sniper is either alone, or with one to three other people, depending on the mission requirements. Taking shots at targets not worth shooting only increases the risks of being discovered, captured or killed. Discipline and patience are essential qualities to have when faced with a shoot or not to shoot decision.

Ask yourself this -- Do you have a hot temper? Do you anger quickly? Anger causes the pulse to quicken, which we will discuss later, and may cause careless or irrational behavior, all of which are bad. Do you like to hunt? Do you like to hunt alone? Have you ever spent an entire week alone? No television, no phone, no friends, no family, no nothing? Have you ever gone camping alone? In a remote area where you saw no one? How did it make you feel, what did you think about? What did you do while you were there? How many times did you masturbate? How often did you eat? Was there a difference in your mental state on the first day and the last? Snipers are not necessarily "loners." In fact, someone who has problems relating to other people may not make a good choice.

Why is all of this important? A sniper may stalk a target for days to get a shot. He may never get it. Could you abandon the mission without shooting anything? The window of opportunity for a shot may last only 3 seconds. If you are daydreaming, fooling around, eating, or anything else you will not be successful. You should be studying the kill zone and waiting for your shot. This is why a spotter or second shooter is so desirable. It is very hard on the eyes to use binoculars or a spotting scope for more than 20 minutes at a time. You and your partner can take turns. You can't change positions while in your hide. You must remain still at all times to avoid detection. This sounds easy but it's not. Think of a small child who is just learning to fish. It's impossible for them to leave their line in the water for more than a minute or two without pulling it out to check it. If you have hunted deer you know how hard it is to hold still in a deer blind. It might be easier if you knew that your prey would shoot you if it saw you first. But it is very easy to relax when you think that no one can see you.

What does the word "cunning" mean to you? To a sniper it is everything, and it affects everything he does. Cunning alone can make a sniper successful. A sniper must decide where to position himself, how to get there, how to leave, what to take with him, how to camouflage the hide, where to place alternate hides, and what to do if something bad happens. A sniper must be able think an entire shoot through from beginning to end and set it up in a manner which will produce results. Anyone who has watched enough television has seen a million wrong ways to do this. Snipers do not shoot from rooftops, open windows, or a prominent terrain feature. These are the places that will immediately draw attention and return fire. A rooftop can be a hard place to escape from too, as would a climbing stand used by deer hunters.

Marksmanship is the final element. A sniper must be able to engage targets at as long a range as is possible under any circumstance. Distance equals escape time. Surprisingly, people who have never before fired a rifle can become excellent shots with proper training. Old habits are hard to break, and this applies to shooting methods as well. In order to develop adequate shooting skills an individual should be prepared to fire between 5,000 to 10,000 rounds of ammunition during long and arduous practice sessions. A good coach is essential. If you don't know how to read shot strings you will not know what you are doing wrong.


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