Facial Pastes and Sticks

No veil or Spandoflage can substitute for correctly applied facial coloration. When used properly, a camoed face doesn't look like it's been painted; it no longer looks like a face at all.

Here are the basics for applying coloration. First, realize that the human eye sees dark colors as receding, or going away, but it interprets light colors as advancing, or sticking out toward the viewer. Therefore to trick the eye, reverse the high and low points of your face, using dark or light colors.

The concave, inward places—around the eyes, inside the ears, the inward folds of the chin, and beside the nose—color these light so they look like they're advancing/protruding.

Camouflage FOR SNIPING 379

Next, make dark rhe naturally protruding places—the nose, chin, cheeks, and forehead— and they'll look receding.

You'll find it much easier if you apply light colors first, because you can be sloppy and later fix ir up when you add the darker shade. Also remember thai nature isn't symmetrical, so don't balance the right and left sides of your face. Just let an irregular pattern emerge on its own, and only tie it all together as you finish. Make sure you finish and cover everything, including eyelids, moustache, nostrils, behind the ears and neck, and so on. Nothing is left flesh colored.

And Talking about flesh colors, black snipers should follow these steps and use the same shades and techniques. Attempts I've seen to exploit natural dark skin rones didn't camouflage as well as covering it with camouflage shades.

Military camouflage sticks work well but sometimes become so tacky that you've got to mix mosquito repellent with them before you can spread them. My preference is civilian paste, which is much faster and easier to apply and available in more colors. If this is your preference, too, just be sure not to apply it too thick or it becomes shiny and reflects light.

When no paste or stick is available, you can burn cork or use ordinary barbecue charcoal to

Pastes, sticks, and compac shown here are used by most U.S. military 8nd police snipers.

Wrong facial camo (L) highlights face and is symetrically balanced, while face at right is

SNIPER GLOVES. Top to bottom: green cotton; most popular snug-fitting aviator gloves with Nomex and leather; Spandoflage; and cotton with silicone nubs.

at least darken your face as a poor but minima] alternative. But no matter what you use, employ the buddy system to inspect it and fix it when sweat and toil wear it off.


Many snipers wear gloves for warmth and to protect fingers from insect bites and thorns. If you don't wear gloves, your hands must be camouflaged with as much detail as your face.

Solid black gloves create the same distinct outline problems as headgear, while tan or green solids can be acceptable if they fit the background and match your clothes.

Treebark and Realrree pattern gloves work fine, but Spandoflage gloves seem too thin to last long in a field environment.

Many snipers (including the author) prefer £ Nomex pilot's gloves because of their snug,

Camouflage for Sniping 381

Camouflage for Sniping 381

Marine Sniper Shooting Sticks
Excellent Ghillie suit and positional camouflage, but this sniper's uncamouflaged rifle compromises his location.

Much better. This sniper has camouflaged his rifle and immersed himself in natural foilage.

comfortable fit. You can tone down the green-gray color with spray paint.

For any of these gloves, remove the trigger finger material and glue or sew the cut edges to prevent further unraveling.


Where snipers and police on surveillance details tend to let camouflage standards slip is when it comes to concealing a position.

The first rule in effective positional camouflage is to improve what nature already put there rather than to artificially create concealment. Therefore, try to locate your hide in a natural dip that has good shadows and adequate foliage. One trick is to pull bushes slightly and tie them in strategic locations with clear fishing line rather than cut foliage,

painted in camouflage colors, ranging from dark shades for northern areas to desert tans for Iraq and Afghanistan. Most of this painting has been done at depot-level, applied by technicians who properly degreased and prepped surfaces, and used the correct kinds of oil-based, mane paints. Should you be in a military unit or law-

enforcement agency that frowns on painting a weapon, you still can modify its color without "damaging" your rifle. Simply cover it with an appropriately colored tape intended for bows or guns, available through archery stores and sporting goods catalogs. Many military PXs sell camouflage duct tape, but beware, check this

Camouflage Tape Sniper RifleCamouflage Tape Sniper Rifle

If you cannot paint your rifle or optics, another option is to cover it with camouflage tape.

tape to make sure it doesn't harm meta! surfaces and won't melt on a hot barrel. Some of it's even reusable.

If you tape, make sure you don't compress the barrel against the forearm, which would degrade the free float. Instead, tape the barrel lengthwise and tape the forearm separately. I then tie on random burlap strips as the final effect. Be sure to reverify the zero after taping; my zero always shifts when taping and untaping my Remington.

When camouflage tape's not available, wrap your weapon with torn-up strips from old fatigues, thereby matching your clothes with your rifle's color pattern. I actually prefer to wrap my rifle scope and spotting scope with cloth, which is easier to apply and remove than tape. You can either tape or sew the ends.

And when it comes to wrapping your rifle scope, be sure the cloth or tape doesn't interfere with the zoom or focus rings or BDC and windage knobs. If you're concerned about reflections off the objective lens, install a sun shade/hood or KillFlash filter rather than draping cheesecloth, which would reduce resolution and brightness.

Although a great deal of attention is paid to painting and camouflaging the sniper's rifle, some other critical gear often isn't camouflaged at all—but it should be. I'm talking about spotting scopes, tripods, and bipods. Many a time I've seen a perfectly painted rifle, but hanging under its forearm is a pure black Harris

Camouflage for Sniping 38S

bipod. Or, while in position, both sniper and spotter lie there, practically invisible, and there's a totally uncamouflaged spotting scope. These should have similar camouflage—color and type—as all the other gear, or they become target indicators that an enemy sniper can use to locate you. Paint them, wrap them with colored cloth or tape, string some burlap that's the same size and style as your Ghillie suit. Make them as well camouflaged as everything else.

Webgear and rucksacks are probably the easiest items to camouflage since there are so many loops and ties to attach burlap, and spray paint absorbs so readily into the material. Just apply paint and strips and tape as needed to make a camouflage having the same pattern, colors, and texture as everything else.

One special touch I use is sewing on a piece of military camouflage screen to the back of my webgear and to my rucksack, keeping it fairly close so it doesn't snag on brush. This improves camo considerably when you're lying prone or low-crawling.


In 1968, many years before anyone even heard of it, our covert actions unit had FLIR—Forward Looking Infra-Red—viewing systems aboard our MC-130 aircraft. These were virtually the world's first FLIRs, used by our planes to fly covert night jumps and resupply missions into North Vietnam. It was a tremendous advantage being able to see through the foliage, night or day, which helped foil a number of attempts by the enemy to play our captured agents back against us or to lure our teams and planes into traps. Yes, FLIR was a great technological advantage.

The problem today is that the FLIR genie is out of the bottle. Many countries—-both friendly and not so friendly—have FLIR or similar thermal-imaging technologies that can be used against Special Ops and sniper teams. The latest handheld thermal imager weighs only 1 pound—and that's counting the battery! What's a sniper team to do?

Thermal Signature With Ghille SuitMarine Snipers Ghillie Suits

Viewed through a FUR, a sniper wearing a special Custom Concealment Ghillie suit (upper right) is largely devoid of a heat signature.

temperature or make it close to the temperature of things around you—think of it as another way of camouflaging yourself into your surroundings—then the FLIR won't be able to distinguish you. There's a true story about a Marine sniper gunny at Quantico who purchased an item at a flea market for 82 and used it to hide from a multimillion dollar thermal detection system—with several congressmen watching. Yes, FLIR can be fooled.

A thermal detection-resistant Ghillie suit has been developed in Britain that vents and deflects body heat to reduce the wearer's thermal image. I'm not sure how effective it actually is. On this side of the Adantic, Custom Concealment makes two Ghillie suits specially modified to enhance their resistance to thermal detection. Examining FLIR photos of demonstrators wearing these suits, I don't think there can be any question that the heat signature has been reduced, and quite a bit.

An even more novel approach has been that of a Greek defense contractor, Intermat Group SA, which developed an antithermal cream. Applied to exposed parts of the body—face, arms, and hands, where heat is registered by a FLIR most easily—the dense cream blocks heat dissipation, thereby reducing the wearer's thermal signature. This is a serious product from a serious manufacturer that already makes paints and specialized coatings for helmets, uniforms, and vehicles to reduce their detection by IR systems. They may actually have something, since all the FLIR images I've seen are brightest at the very spots thai this cream would cover.

Overall, I wouldn't be too concerned about FLIR since it is more of a future threat than it is a current one. And if the day comes that an enemy uses FLIR against us, we'll already have the techniques and the technology to counter it.

stepping into a spotlight, with a much magnified likelihood of being spotted. Even slight movement in an isolated sunbeam can be detected by the human eye because it contrasts vividly against its background. And the shadow your body could generate may magnify this danger because afternoon or early-morning shadows are up to three times your body size.

Think of the isolated sunlight and moonlight you see in woods as natural spodights that you must always sidestep. Also recognize that shadows closest to such bright patches are the darkest and most concealing because an observer's eyes will contract according to the brightest light in his Held of view.

Finally, realize the tremendous advantage you have while operating behind enemy lines. The danger to you is constant, so you know you must practice stealth continuously. Your enemy, however, only appreciates his true situation when he actually encounters you—and if you're very stealthy, that encounter is one round fired at great distance.

Snipers cannot possibly stalk continuously. Not only would they never arrive anywhere traveling at a snail-paced low crawl, but the physical demands of stalking would soon exhaust them. And snipers cannot march greac distances while in Ghillie suits since they'd eventually become heat casualties instead of an effective fighting force.

Realitv is that a sniper team compromises by adjusting its mode of movement to the situation and available concealment. A team only stalks while moving into or out of a hide, while closing with a target of opportunity, or while evading the enemy. The rest of the time, which is most of the time, the team's moving cross-country in search of hides and shooting opportunities or returning to friendly lines.

Perhaps 1 can better distinguish stalking and cross-country movement by comparing a sniper to a crocodile. As a croc, you generally swim steadily and invisibly beneath the water, raising your eyes every so often to see if there are pickings worth slipping ashore. When, at last, you spot an isolated sheep resting obliviously in the noonday sun, you deliberately and silently stalk a short distance from the water, seize your unalerted quarry, then rush back beneath the concealing waves.

A nearby shepherd may scream, throw stones, and run to the water's edge, but it is too late. You have plucked your prize and disappeared into terrain where he dares not pursue you. And so with the sniper.

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