Becoming A Sniper(Article)

KBar666

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Becoming A Sniper
We used to call a bloke who worked for us "Sniper's Dream" and "Google Head" because of his unnaturally oversized cranium. Even the most pinheaded of humans are prime targets for a marksman with the skill of former Navy Seal sniper, Brandon Webb though. Men under his training recently executed the three pirates who held a US shipping captain hostage off the coast of Somalia. Here, he tells us the life and training behind one of the military's coolest professions...


The cold morning air hung thick in the Afghan valley. Each warm exhale of breath would briefly fog the outside corner of my riflescope as I waited and maintained a clear view of my target. I could make out a middle-aged man, in traditional Afghan dress, with a crook in his step, perhaps a wound and story from another conflict. Intense training in the elite US Navy SEAL Sniper course had taught me to be patient, wait for a perfect shot, control my breathing and then execute.

At that moment in time I reflected internally, I alone held this man's life in my hands. Firing long range it is critical to account for all environmental and ballistic factors, wind, temperature, barometric pressure, degree of latitude, bullet velocity and the deviation caused by the earth’s rotation (known as “the Coriolis effect”).

Every detail of this shot had been programmed into my handheld computer, which then gave me a firing solution. My scope was adjusted and in sync with my environment. With a one centimeter movement of my right index finger, I was about to deliver this man's death. I would come to learn that every kill would be burned into memory like frames in a movie. Breathe, focus, squeeze. As I stared at his lifeless body, steam was slowly rising from the bullet hole in his chest. The shot was more than a kilometer away; he was gone without ever hearing the report of the rifle.

As a former Navy SEAL Sniper, sniper instructor and eventually course manager (head master) of the secretive US Navy SEAL sniper course, I am intimately familiar with the patience and skill required to simultaneously execute the three pirates who held a US shipping captain hostage off the coast of Somalia. It took the SEAL sniper team less than 10 hours to deploy, get half way around the world and complete their mission, start to finish. Another day at the office...

The 21st Century Sniper is a mature, intelligent shooter who leverages technology to his deadly advantage. He has spent thousands of hours honing his skills. He is a master of concealment in all environments, from the mountains of Afghanistan to the crowded streets of Iraq. He is trained in science and left alone to create the unique art of the kill. To the sniper, the battlefield is like a painter's blank canvas. It is his job to simultaneously utilise tools, training and creativity to deliver devastating psychological impact upon the battlefield. And it is he alone that is left with the intimacy of the kill.

What does it take to make a Navy SEAL sniper? The SEAL course is arguably best in class. It is the most challenging and technically advanced course in the world. Just looking at the accomplishments of the course graduates is justification enough. Few people outside of US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) know this of course. What you will not read about on Wikipedia or anywhere else, is that the Navy SEALs currently have the most accomplished sniper in SOCOM, with over one hundred confirmed kills to his credit.

We seek out a special breed of man; a man who is willing to crawl over the hot desert floor for hours, as slow as a snail, through his own bodily waste to set up on his target. A man who will then wait hours and more for that perfect shot. A man with the will and patience of a sniper.

The US Navy SEAL course is divided into three phases over 90 days, and tests to the highest standards in the world.

In the first phase, the candidate learns the latest in digital photography techniques, computer image manipulation/compression and satellite radio communications. Historically the sniper would sketch a target in detail and record notes with pencil and paper. In the 21st century the sniper leverages technology to his advantage, he uses the most advanced digital SLR camera systems, small handheld computers, and the most advanced ballistic software in the world to record target information and produce an accurate firing solution.

Phase two is the Scout portion of training. The name of the game is stealth and concealment. In this phase the sniper learns the art of camouflage, small unit tactics, patrolling techniques and most importantly how to get in and get out of hostile enemy area undetected, without leaving behind the slightest sign he was there. We often fail candidates who leave behind the slightest trace; a bullet casing left behind will get you sent home.

Towards the end of this phase we introduce advanced marksmanship fundamentals and a system of mental management utilized by the top athletes in the world. Mental management gives the students the tools (whether or not they use them is up to them) to cope with adversity and also a system to rehearse and practice their skills perfectly through mental visualization techniques.

To prove the value of mental management and rehearsal I would often relate a true story related to the topic. A Navy fighter pilot was shot down in Vietnam, captured and imprisoned for years in the famous prisoner of war camp the "Hanoi Hilton". The pilot was an avid golfer back home and to get through the extremely demanding situation he would shoot rounds of golf in his head.

For years he would play his favorite courses perfectly in his mind. Eventually liberated and back on US soil, the first thing this pilot did was jump out of the military ambulance and onto the golf course. After explaining away his ragged looks (he was tall man and extremely skinny from malnutrition) he shot nine holes of golf at 1 under par. This was shocking to those that witnessed the event and when questioned about how this was possible, the pilot replied "Gentlemen, I haven't hit a bad shot in 4 years!”

Phase three is the sniper portion. We spend hours in the classroom learning the science behind the shot, ballistics, environmental factors, human factors and calculating for wind, distance and target lead, later putting the knowledge to practical application on the shooting range. The student’s train and test with moving and pop-up targets in high wind conditions out to 1000 meters.

As part of the training we put the shooters in the most stressful and challenging situations imaginable. We look for signs of high intelligence, patience and mental maturity. Then we intentionally (often unknown to the candidate) place the shooter in adverse and unfair situations to test their mettle.

An example of this would be the "edge" shot. Individual trainees are lined up on the shooting range and are told they have four minutes to run 600 meters set up on the firing line and wait for their targets to appear sometime between four minutes one second and an hour. We always send a target up right at three minutes, usually right when the shooters are just getting set up on their lanes and identifying their fields of fire. Often times a shooter will take his eyes away for a split second to wipe sweat from his brow, then drop down on his scope to see his target disappear and his opportunity gone.

The peer pressure is intense and shooters often breakdown in frustration at a missed shot. They eventually learn to control their feelings or they don't move on. As instructors we keep detailed student records and document everything. A large percentage of SEAL candidates don't make it through the course and just getting a billet is extremely competitive. No one wants to go back to his SEAL Team a loser having failed out of the course.

However, this course is one of the few courses you can fail as a SEAL and not be looked down upon by your teammates. This is because the SEAL course is renowned as one of the toughest and most challenging courses in the world. Over three months and seven day 100-hour workweeks go into the training. It takes extreme perseverance to graduate with the title of SEAL sniper. To this day, and even in comparison to my combat tours, it was one of the most stressful events of my life. It is the main reason I decided to chronicle the experience in detail in my upcoming novel.

The SEAL snipers who took those fatal shots deployed from the eastern coast of the United States, flew across the Atlantic and parachuted with full kit into darkness at 12,000 feet, into the deep warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Once in the water, they then rendezvous with US Naval forces off the coast of Somalia.

Once aboard ship, the SEAL officer in charge (OIC) took command of the scene; then hours later under cover of darkness, on a moonless night, shooting from large ship to a small moving lifeboat, the snipers took three lives with three shots. In a split second it was over, with the flawlessness and ease that comes with prior experience, countless hours of training and rehearsal. We have a creed in the SEAL Teams that I continue to live by to this day. "The only easy day was yesterday".

Brandon Webb is a former Navy SEAL who spent his last tour of duty as the Naval Special Warfare Sniper Course Manager. He spent over a decade with the SEAL Teams and saw action in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. He left the SEAL Teams to found the Wind Zero Group, Inc. (www.wind-zero.com). He is under contract to write his memoirs and is also working on a signature sniper game for the next generation gaming consoles. For more information visit www.brandontylerwebb.com.


Aritcle Source:
http://www.maxim.co.uk/sport/features/17128/military_cool.html
 

Ajax

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"The SEAL course is arguably best in class. It is the most challenging and technically advanced course in the world. "

And the pissing contest starts............now:)
 
B

Boondocksaint375

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Of course it's the best.....according to someone who hasn't done other courses :uhh:
 

HoosierAnnie

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All y'all with that crosshairs on your profile are hot damn shit with a rifle and ya don't brag about it. I don't care if you're USN, USA, USMC or USAF.

But hummmm who's won the recent Top Sniper competitions hummmmmmm (Yeah yeah RB I know "fuckin' amateurs")
 

KBar666

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Ok... I would like to say now that just because I posted the article does not mean I'm saying so and so is better than this and that. I simply put up what I thaught was a good article.

I agree that all military snipers kick major ass.

So all I have to say is please don't kill me for what was written in the article by someone else.:eek:
 

JJOIFVET

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Ok... I would like to say now that just because I posted the article does not mean I'm saying so and so is better than this and that. I simply put up what I thaught was a good article.

I agree that all military snipers kick major ass.

So all I have to say is please don't kill me for what was written in the article by someone else.:eek:

No one is going to kill you bro. Good article, you know there will be things said when you have a forum full of Type A personalities. Thick skin is a good thing to have here. There was one SWAT sniper team that kicked some major ass in one of the last comps though. We have to give some of those bubbas some credit.
 

KBar666

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No one is going to kill you bro. Good article, you know there will be things said when you have a forum full of Type A personalities. Thick skin is a good thing to have here. There was one SWAT sniper team that kicked some major ass in one of the last comps though. We have to give some of those bubbas some credit.

OK got it.

While I agree with you guys to give credit where credits is due.(This may be opening me up to incoming,but in this I case I will have shoved my foot in my mouth so I deserve it) To my knowledge SEALs haven't competed in the annual Top Sniper Competition.

Anyway lets be real completing any of schools is a major accomplishment and should be respected.
 
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08steeda

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Have any Seal's participated in Top Sniper? I know that they do not showcase all the shooters and there are some who don't get in front of the camera, right!?! I am asking, I haven't a clue! But I am curious!
 

SAWMAN

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Army wins sniper competitions because SEALs aren't there. (SEALs just don't tend to break away for many competitions)

As a SEAL Sniper, we were allowed to go to the various sniper courses from other service branches. I did the Marine Corps Scout/Sniper course in addition to the SEAL Sniper course. Some of the other SEALs hit the Army courses, etc. Some SEALs go to all the different Sniper Schools, but most only go to 1 or 2, because so much of the material is the same after a point. It's personal preference.

I've worked with and trained snipers from every service branch, as well as top foreign CT sniper units and top U.S. Federal agency snipers and local law enforcement SWAT snipers.

Due to this wide exposure to various snipers, I've developed the observation that they're all good guys doing the best they can with what they've got.

No matter who you are, what your unit designation is, or anything else, what matters most is how effective your training is. Effective training, along with significant real-world experience is what makes one sniper better than the other. That's why you'll see overlap in ability from one unit to the next. Are there Marine Snipers who are better than some SEAL Snipers? You bet. Are there SWAT Snipers that are better than some Army Snipers? Probably. It depends on how much they each get to train.

One thing that's pretty universal, though: At the top (Tier-1) level, the snipers are ALL full-time and have a big enough budget to shoot as much as they can, (year-round) all over the world. They hire the best people in the world in various professions to personally teach them the insider secrets regular military sniper units don't get. They don't just have a sniper rifle, they each have a huge rack of sniper rifles, the same way a mechanic has a tool box full of tools for various applications.

The fact the Tier-1 units train full-time, with the best equipment, hire the smartest people in the world to give them inside scoop, conduct constant "full-mission-profile" tests, have to beat out the rest of the spec ops community to get there, etc, makes them better than regular military snipers, period. If that hurts anyone's feelings, that was not the intent. It's just the plain truth. If you want that level of expertise, put in your application for one of those 2 units. Even in peacetime I was gone over 300 days each year. It's not for everybody, but if you want to be the best, you have to put out to get there.

Other than that, the snipers in regular units with the most natural talent can do a lot with that, especially if they have the will to train in their off time in addition to what they're allowed to do on duty. That can help increase a sniper's ability, even though the budget may be limited. Studying and doing dry fire drills are free. Motivated snipers will test themselves and train at every opportunity to do the best with whatever they've got. I say, we have enough targets out there for everybody. If you're a sniper (from ANY Coalition unit) I wish you the best. You're an asset to the team.

Hold Hard!

~SAW
 

SAWMAN

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HAHA, it looks like we hit a sore spot. I will put my units snipers against anyone, even the Tier one guys.

Yeah, guys always say that about the next level until they get there and see what all they didn't know was going on. You don't know what you don't know. It's human nature.

Like I said, we have a lot of good snipers in the fight from every service branch. There's enough enemy for everybody to get some.
 

JJOIFVET

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But I do know what I know, and I know they go to the exact same school we go to especially in the army, and I know the guys in my company train just as much as them because they are dedicated Sniper Teams. Thats all these guys do as well. Either way, I agree military snipers are damn good. But you have to give it up for some of the SWAT guys, they are pretty damn good too.
 

SAWMAN

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But I do know what I know, and I know they go to the exact same school we go to especially in the army, and I know the guys in my company train just as much as them because they are dedicated Sniper Teams. Thats all these guys do as well. Either way, I agree military snipers are damn good. But you have to give it up for some of the SWAT guys, they are pretty damn good too.

First off, let me keep this in proper perspective. I have every confidence your unit's snipers are damn good. If they're down range getting some good work done, God bless each of them to the max. In fact, I wish I were right there with them.

Next, Sniper School is not what makes the sniper. It's only a basic indoctrination on what the job will be about. There's sooooo much more that comes after that. Your unit's snipers will readily testify to that.

Because I know your snipers are good, I would suspect at least one of them will one day screen for CAG. Keep in contact with him and, once he's made it there and has gotten onto a sniper crew there, ask him if it's the same level as he had worked at in SF. Then, when he tells you he had no earthly idea what all was involved at that Tier-1 level until he got there and saw it first hand, get back on here and tell everyone you finally understand what ole "SAWMAN" was getting at.

Until then, I say we really don't disagree on anything. It's just that things are not known until the next level is actually achieved. There's a reason DEVGRU has a bigger budget than all the other SEAL Teams, combined! There's a reason there's a "unique" chain of command, a unique budget and a unique mission. There's a reason they screen from the best and only take very few. If the lesser level units were as good, why would Tier-1 exist? Trust me, there's good reason. Are your guys good? Yep! Will they get better if they make it to Tier-1? Absolutely.
 

KBar666

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Oh man I can see I'm going to have screen any articles I plan on posting here more closely.:doh:
 

JJOIFVET

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Dude, I know all about the Unit. Didn't mean to get your panties in a bunch. The CIF guys work off a massive budget, but I am not going to argue with you since you seem to have been there done that.
 

JJOIFVET

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Hey it is what Type A personalities do best. Pissing contests and my dick is bigger than yours. It is always fun to have a pissing contest every once in a while. I have seen guys get into fights over stupid shit like this. It makes me laugh. It is no big deal to me, because you can tell guys take pride in their work, and that is a good thing. We all still fight the same enemy.
 
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