Glossary Of Sniping And Marksmanship Terms

Spec Ops Shooting

Ultimate Firearms Training Guide

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ALTERNATE POSITION: A backup position selected by a sniper to which he can displace and still shoot into his original sector of fire. A sniper should have several alternate positions. (See Primary Position and Supplementary Position.)

AVENUE OF APPROACH (AA): A road, path, or open area across which the enemy could advance toward you, depending on whether he's mounted or dismounted. Snipers should cover dismounted avenues of approach.

BACK AZIMUTH DETECTION TECHNIQUE: A technique to identify an enemy sniper's position by inserting a cleaning rod or dowel into his bullet hole, noting the angle of trajectory to estimate the range, then recording its reverse azimuth to determine the direction from which the shot was fired. (See Triangulation Detection Technique.)

BACKSTOP: Any material through which your rifle's bullet will not pass, located behind your target's location so that bystanders, hostages, and other friendly forces will not be endangered by friendly sniper fire.

BALLISTIC ADVANTAGE: A concept whereby a sniper should seek engagements only when he's at least 400 yards away from his quarry and beyond the effective range of enemy riflemen. Although he's not out of danger, he has a much higher probability of surviving enemy counter-sniper fire.

BALLISTIC COEFFICIENT: A rating system based on a bullet's weight, shape, and ability to retain velocity. The higher the rating— expressed in decimal points—the higher the bullet efficiency at long range. For instance, the Federal 55-grain 5.56mm BTHP rating is .206, while Federal's 7.62mm (.308) Match 168-grain is .484—meaning the heavier bullet will perform better at extended ranges. However, identical-weight bullets of the same size will have different ballistic coefficients if they are of different styles: a 180-grain 7.62mm round nose has a ballistic coefficient of .205, while the same weight 7.62mm boat-tail's coefficient is dramatically better, at .535!

BALLISTICS: For purposes of marksmanship, knowledge of data concerning the trajectory, velocity, and energy of bullets.

BASE: See Mount.

BEANBAG: An old sock or small cloth bag filled with a dry material, such as sand, and placed below a rifle butt's heel so it can be squeezed to lower or elevate the rifle for precise aiming.

BIPOD: A two-legged support attached to the rifle forearm for better stability. It should never be attached to the barrel.

BOAT-TAIL BULLET: An aerodynamic bullet design shaped like a boat, with a pointed tip and gradually tapered to a flat base. Boat-tail bullets have better long-range accuracy than other bullet designs.

BODY ARMOR: Various kinds of vests designed to protect wearers against injury from fragmentation and small-arms fire.

BORESIGHT: An optical device inserted in a rifle muzzle to tentatively zero a rifle scope by setting its crosshairs coaxial to the rifle's bore. This greatly speeds subsequent live-fire zeroing. Also called a "collimator."

BULLET DROP: The ballistic measurement of how far a bullet drops, at 100-yard intervals, were the barrel pointed perfectly parallel to the earth. A baseline trajectory used for computing other ballistic data.

BULLET DROP COMPENSATOR (BDC): A knob mounted atop a rifle scope by which the shooter can adjust elevation without rezeroing the weapon so that he can fire quickly ac varying distances and aim directly at the target instead of "holding." Some Bullet Drop Compensators use internal cams to synchronize adjustments for specific bullets at specific distances.

BULLET TRACE: Also called "bullet track," this is a tiny but visible wisp of trail left through mirage by a bullet's shock wave.

CALLING A SHOT: The practice of "calling" where your shot impacted just after firing but prior to observing it through a spotting scope. Ic develops a keen, almost subconscious ability to accurately "know" if your shot was dead-on, right/left, or up/down purely by how it "felt" when fired.

CANTING: Turning or dipping the barrel slightly right or left, usually as the result of a bad sight picture or improperly mounted scope. This results in bullet trajectory obliquely departing from point of aim as distance increases.

CATASTROPHIC BRAIN SHOT: A special one-shot kill to the brain stem or neural motor strips that kills so instantly that body reflexes cannot react. Used in hostage rescue situations. (See Immediate Incapacitation.)

CENTERFIRE AMMUNITION: Ammunition that detonates by striking an exposed primer in the center of the cartridge base. All military and big-game rifles use centerflre ammunition.

COLD BARREL ZERO: As distinct from where a series of bullets may impact after a rifle's barrel has warmed, the cold-barrel zero applies only to the exact impact of the very first round, which could be several inches different. Police and counterterrorist forces zero their weapons for the cold-barrel zero. (Sec Zero.)

COLLIMATOR: Another name for a boresight.

COMEUPS: Expressed as full MOAs or 1/4 MOAs, you must "come up" in elevation to go from one range to another range, usually in 100-yard increments. For example, to go from 100 yards to 300 yards you must come up 5.25 MOAs, or 21 1/4 MOA clicks, but only if you're firing Federal Match .308 168-grain. Comeups are calculated for a particular round, so the MOA increments are not the same for military 7.62 Match, for example, as for Federal .308 Match.

CONCEALMENT: Natural or man-made features, such as bushes or ditches, that offer concealment from observation but not always protection from fire. An ideal route to a sniper's hide should have both cover and concealment. (See Cover.)

COUNTERSNIPING: Various techniques and tactics to eliminate a sniper, or at least limit his effectiveness, ranging from blinding him with smoke to firing a wire-guided missile at him. The most natural and flexible countersniper system is a friendly sniper team operating in a countersniper mode.

COVER: Natural or man-made features—such as buildings or thick trees—that offer protection against small arms but not always concealment from observation. An ideal route to a hide should have both cover and concealment. (See Concealment.)

CUTTING SIGN: Tracking term meaning to cut back and forth across a quarry's likely route until discovering "sign" of his passage. (See Sign.)

DECOY TARGET: A countersniper technique that attracts an enemy sniper's fire so as to locate his position and eliminate him.

DOMINANT EYE: The ability of one eye to focus more intensely than the other, causing the second eye to compensate by misaligning itself slightly. For best marksmanship performance, a sniper should determine his dominant eye and use this eye for aiming.

DOPING THE WIND: A competitive shooter's term, meaning to estimate the wind accurately and adjust sights for correct compensation.

DRAG BAG: A heavily camouflaged rifle case dragged behind a low-crawling sniper in a Ghillie suit so he has both hands free for picking his way through brush.

ENERGY: The amount of potential energy a bullet can deliver at various distances is expressed in foot-pounds. A foot-pound is the amount of energy required to lift 1 pound, 1 foot.

ENGAGEMENT: One shot or a series of shots fired by a sniper from one hide during one short period.

ENGAGEMENT SEQUENCE: A standard series of steps a sniper takes from the instant he detects a target until he fires. This is practiced to ensure that the sniper has taken into account range and wind and prepared himself for a likely one-shot kill.

EXIT PUPIL: The cone of clear vision created at the rear of an optical device, such as a spotting scope. It is measured by dividing the objective lens diameter in millimeters by the magnification. For example, 50mm divided by 10 power equals an exit pupil of 5. To match the size of human eye pupils in low light, an exit pupil should measure 5 to 7. (See Relative Brightness and Twilight Factor.)

EXTERNAL BALLISTICS: That portion of a bullet's travel after it exits a muzzle but before impacting a target. (See Internal Ballistics and Terminal Ballistics.)

EYE RELIEF: The distance between a shooter's dominant eye and the rear (ocular) scope lens from which he can clearly see the entire scope field of view. It's usually about 3 or 4 inches.

FEINT: The deceptive technique of creating the impression that you are where you are not or that you intend to travel a route that you actually will not use.

FIELD OF FIRE: An area relatively free of obstructions into which a sniper can fire, ideally up to the maximum range of his weapon. A superior could further limit this by designating within it a sector of fire. (See Sector of Fire.)

FIELD OF VIEW: The angular measurement of how wide an area can be observed through an optical device. Spotting scopes have a very narrow field of view, rifle scopes a wider field of view, and binoculars an even wider one.

FINAL FIRING POSITION (FFP): The U.S. military term for a sniper's hide, the concealed position from which he engages a target within a field of fire. Ideally, the FFP also incorporates ballistic protection (cover) and suitable terrain over which to withdraw or displace after firing. (See Hide.)

FLEETING TARGET: A target that only-exposes itself for a few seconds, then disappears and reappears. For both police and military snipers, this is the kind of activity a target most often will display.

FLUTED BARREL: A barrel on which thin grooves have been cut along its outside, long axis. It allows for a greater external surface for cooling while also creating better rigidity.

FOLLOW-THROUGH: A shooter's continuous concentration and nonreaction after firing a shot so he develops a mental and physical habit of no disruption whatsoever at the instant of shooting.

FRANGIBLE BULLETS: A bullet design intended to completely fragment on impact and thus impart 100 percent of energy into the target. The most commonly seen type is the Glaser Safety Slug, manufactured as both riñe and pistol cartridges. While devastating on soft targets, prefragmented ammo has almost zero penetration of even thin cover such as wooden doors and thus has limited usefulness for sniping. Also called "prefragmented ammunition."

FREE-FLOATED BARREL: A barrel that does not touch the rifle's forearm, for better accuracy. The barrel "floats" freely, unimpeded, with a 1/8-inch clearance recommended.

FREE RECOIL: The technique of heavily sandbagging a rifle and touching it only with your finger when firing to improve consistency.

GHILLIE SUIT: An elaborately camouflaged coverall originally used by Scottish gameskeepers to catch poachers, adopted for use by snipers. In a well-made Ghillie suit, a prone sniper is virtually invisible, even in thin cover.

GLASS BEDDING: Applying liquid fiberglass or epoxy between a rifle's action/receiver and the stock for the snuggest possible fit. This eliminates any "play" between action and stock. Quality sniper rifles incorporate glass bedding.

GOOSE NECKING: The undesirable practice of stretching one's head up above the rifle cheekrest (and thereby losing the stockweld) in order to see through a scope. Corrected by using a different buttstock, installing a strap-on cheekrest, or using an adjustable cheekrest. (See Stockweld and Turkey Necking.)

GROUND SURVEILLANCE RADAR VECTORING: Using friendly radar to detect enemy forces in darkness, then maneuvering night vision-equipped friendly snipers either into position to engage the enemy or around the enemy if his forces are too numerous. (See Remote Sensors.)

HARDBALL BULLET: Also called "full metal jacket" or "metal case," this bullet design uses a hard metal covering over a lead core so the round does not expand on impact, as required by the Geneva Convention. All military ammunition is hardball.

HIDE: The temporary or permanent position a sniper occupies to engage a target. A hide should have excellent concealment and cover, good observation, fields of fire, and a "back door" through which the sniper can invisibly displace to another hide position after engaging. Depicted on a map as a triangle with a scope crosshair inside. (See Final Firing Position, Primary Position, and Surveillance Hide.)

HIGH-POWERED RIFLE: A term that distinguishes more powerful rifles from .22-caliber rimfire weapons. All big-game and military rifles are high-powered rifles.

HOLD: Compensating for wind or elevation by purposely aiming high/low or right/left instead of changing the setting on your scope. This is the fastest means of engaging multiple targets at assorted distances. (See Kentucky Windage and Tennessee Elevation.)

HOLLOWPOINT BULLET: A bullet design in which a cavity has been reamed in the tip so that on impact it expands dramatically, increasing the delivery of energy to a target, similar to softpoint bullets.

IMMEDIATE INCAPACITATION: The desired effect of a bullet fired during a hostage-rescue operation so that the subject instantly is incapablc of firing a weapon or otherwise endangering anyone. (See Rapid Incapacitation and Catastrophic Brain Shot.)

INFRARED (IR) SCOPE: A night observation device that needs an infrared light for illumination. These infrared lights can be detected by other IR optics as well as Western Starlight-type night vision devices, making them very dangerous to use. Since the IR devices generate detectable energy, they are called "active" devices, while Starlight ones generate no detectable energy7 and are called "passive" devices.

INTERNAL BALLISTICS: A bullet's acceleration and travel in a rifle's chamber and barrel. (See External Ballistics and Terminal Ballistics.)

KENTUCKY WINDAGE: A vintage American frontier term, meaning to hold rifle sights right or left of a target to compensate for the effect of a crosswind. (See Tennessee Elevation.)

LEAD: The side width of the human body— which this book finds to be 12 inches—used to estimate how far a sniper should lead a moving target. For example, at 500 yards a sniper must aim two leads ahead of a walking man and four leads ahead of a running man.

LEADE: The smooth, unrifled gap in a rifle's bore between the chamber and the start of the rifling. A sniper-quality weapon should have a leade that's so short the bullet need not "jump" into the rifling since this degrades accuracy.

LIGHT-GATHERING ABILITY: The misstated ability of a lens to gather available light, an important factor for dusk/dawn and night

shooting. What it actually refers to is light transmission through the lens, which is determined by how wide the objective lens is, how finely ground is its surface, and the quality of its lens coating. (See Twilight Factor.)

LOCK TIME: The amount of time between the sear releasing the firing pin and its striking a cartridge's primer. Short lock time is desirable for a precision rifle so that there's no time for weapon movement after the shooter pulls the trigger. Lock time typically is .0022 to .0057 of a second.

LOT or LOT NUMBER: One batch of ammunition made up at the same time and using the same run of subcomponents. A sniper uses ammunition of the same lot number to enhance consistent performance.

MACHAN: A comfortable "tree seat" developed in India for tiger hunting that uses straps and ropes lashed between tree branches.

MAD MINUTE: A countersniper technique first used in World War I in which all of a unit's weapons are fired simultaneously for 1 minute at any possible position a concealed enemy could use. (See Recon by Fire.)

MATCH-GRADE AMMUNITION: Ammunition manufactured to much closer tolerances than regular ammunition to produce rounds that consistently perform to the highest of standards. (See Premium-Grade Ammunition.)

MAXIMUM EFFECTIVE RANGE: The greatest distance at which a weapon can inflict casualties, based on boih the energy of a bullet and the weapon's inherent accuracy.

MIL: An angular measurement equal to 1/6400 of a circle, or 3,375 Minutes of Angle. The mil is a handy measurement since it subtends 1 yard at 1,000 yards and therefore facilitates range estimation.

MIL DOT: A tiny dot of very exact angular width in some scope reticles, such as the M3A1 Leupold, and used for range estimation. Beware: the M3Al's mil dot is actually 3/4 mil in diameter; it's the distance from center of dot to center of dot that is 1 mil.

MILITARY CREST: The area along a ridgeline just below its actual crest, preferred by military units for occupation or movement because soldiers and positions will not be silhouetted against the sky.

MINUTE OF ANGLE (MOA): An angular width normally used to describe shooting and scope adjustments since 1 Minute of Angle almost exacdy equals 1 inch at 100 yards (1.047 inches), 2 inches at 200 yards, 3 inches at 300 yards, etc. When a shooter says he has a "halfminute rifle," he means it will shoot 1/2-inch groups at 100 yards. Scope adjustments are similarly described, so that a 1/4 MOA scope requires four "clicks" to move the impact 1 inch at 100 yards, two clicks to move the impact 1 inch at 200 yards, etc.

MIRAGE: In shooting terms, the reflection of heat waves from the earth's surface, which may obscure long-range visibility, but also allows a sniper to estimate wind speed by observing mirage through his spotting scope.

MOUNT: Also called a "base," this is the intermediate adapter that connects a scope to a rifle. Quality bases should be of machined steel and use hex screws for a snug fit. Scope rings attach the scope to the base, and these, too, should use hex screws.

MUZZLE BRAKE: A recoil-reducing device attached to the barrel that deflects blast down and/or backward to "pull" the rifle slightly forward. While it definitely reduces recoil, it also accentuates the more visible effects of muzzle blast, thereby increasing the chance of being detected by enemy observers.

MUZZLE CROWN: Polished, smoothly finished rifling at the muzzle, done during manufacture to ensure the unimpeded, consistent exit of bullets. Some muzzles have a recessed crown to reduce the chance of "dinging" any rifling edges during normal use.

MUZZLE ENERGY: A bullet's kinetic energy measured in foot-pounds as it exits a rifle muzzle. Since this is based on a bullet's weight and velocity, energy decreases significantly as the bullet slows and typically is charted in 100-yard increments during its entire flight.

MUZZLE VELOCITY: A bullet's speed when it leaves a rifle's muzzle, in feet per second (fps). This speed declines significantly during flight and thereby causes a reduction in kinetic energy and energy transmitted on impact.

NATIONAL MATCH: A term applied to ammunition and certain firearms to distinguish them as having been modified for higher-precision shooting. For rifles and pistols, this means expert gunsmiths have fine-tuned them for match-type accuracy.

NATURAL LINE OF DRIFT: Based on human nature and terrain, this is the route human beings most naturally would take from one place to another. Usually this means humans will walk parallel to streams, down the middle of valleys, and along ridgelines. In wartime, this would include enemy soldiers walking slightly inside woodlines and crossing danger areas at the narrowest possible points.

NIGHT OBSERVATION DEVICE (NOD): Any of many night vision sights and scopes that intensify available light to "see" in darkness, which caused them initially to be called "Starlight" scopes. Also termed "passive" devices since they don't need infrared light or any other detectable energy.

NO FIRE AREA (NFA): An artillery fire planning term, meaning an area in which no fire may be placed without the permission of the unit that created it. Used by sniper teams to create safe havens in their area of operations. With the team's okay, forward or aerial observers can call artillery or airstrikes on sudden targets in the NFA without time-consuming coordination. (See Sniper Operations Area and Sniper Skirmish Line.)

OBJECTIVE LENS: The front/forward lens of an optical device. (See Ocular Lens.)

OCULAR LENS: The rear/back lens or "eyepiece" of an optica] device. (See Objective Lens.)

OPERATION ORDER (OPORD): A written order following a five-paragraph format that addresses situation, mission, execution, service support, and command and signal. A commander issues an OPORD to subordinates to ensure that all are executing his common plan, with internal coordination.

ORDINATE: The maximum height above a horizontal surface that a bullet rises while in trajectory to a target. For example, the ordinate of a Federal .308 Match round that impacts a target at 300 yards is 7.23 inches.

PARALLAX: The tendency for scope crosshairs to shift and change the point of impact if the shooter moves his head. Not a problem with new quality scopes of about lOx or less, but can be a problem above lOx unless the scope has an adjustable objective lens.

PERMANENT WOUND CHANNEL: The path of permanent tissue damage left by a bullet, usually an inch or two in diameter. When this channel passes through vital organs or nerve tissue, significant injury or death results. (See Temporary Wound Cavity.)

POINT-BLANK RANGE: Exploiting the flat phase of a particular bullet's trajectory so a shooter can hit targets with almost no high or low holds. For example, Federal .308 Match does not begin plunging until 400 yards; therefore, by

setting his scope at 300, the shooter can ignore correct range estimation and holds, instead aiming dead-on at all ranges to 300, and yet never miss by more than about 7 inches-—an acceptable standard for hunters but never for a sniper.

POSITIONAL SHOOTING: The correct practice of firing from the standing, kneeling, sitting, and prone positions for maximum stability and best accuracy. A sniper prefers firing prone supported since it's the most stable position.

PREFRAGMENTED AMMUNITION: See Frangible Bullets.

PREMIUM-GRADE AMMUNITION: Commercial rifle loads of closer tolerance and therefore closer to true match-grade loads than typical ammunition. Federal Premium, Winchester Supreme, and Remington Extended Range rounds are three examples. While a sniper prefers match-grade ammo, he may be outfitted with a weapon—such as .243 or 7mm Magnum—for which match-grade ammo is not available. (See Match-Grade Ammunition.)

PRIMARY POSITION: The hide a sniper initially uses in a deliberate defense, from which he can engage targets in an assigned sector of fire. The sniper also should select "alternate" and "supplementary" positions to which he can displace after firing from his primary position. (See Alternate Position and Supplementary Position.)

RANGEFINDER: An optical/mechanical device to determine the range to a target. The four basic types are a parallax lens, which is focused until the target is clearly visible and results in a distance readout; mil dots or special lines in a scope's reticle, which allow the user to calculate range by measuring the height or width of an object at or near the target; a simple height scale in a scope reticle, such as found on the SVD rifle's PSO-1 scope; or a laser measuring device, which employs an invisible beam that reflects off the target.

RAPID INCAPACITATION: Term used by the FBI 10 describe the need for a bullet to disable a suspect quickly so he no longer can resist apprehension or pose a threat to arresting officers. (I have added to this concept "Immediate Incapacitation" to distinguish hostage-rescue situations in which a suspect must be neutralized instantly.)

RATE OF TWIST: Term to describe rifling by the distance in inches a bullet passes in the barrel during a single rotation. A 1:7 twist means a bullet rotates once for each 7 inches it travels. A .308 sniper rifle typically has a 1:10 or 1:12 rate of twist, with the latter preferred.

RECOIL LUG: A wide, heavy steel lug attached below the barrel at the front of the receiver through which recoil is transmitted to the rifle stock. The contact between lug and stock must be true and snug to ensure the action and barrel do not twjst during recoil.

RECON BY FIRE: A countersniper technique in which friendly snipers fire several rounds into the most likely enemy sniper hides in hopes of hitting him by chance. Typically, this will result merely in suppressing the sniper or causing him to move, but it will not eliminate him. Depending on the situation, a commander could have all unit weapons join in the re con by fire. (See Mad Minute.)

RELATIVE BRIGHTNESS: Term describing the ability of an optical device to transmit light. Relative brightness is computed by squaring the exit pupil so that an exit pupil of 5 results in a relative brightness of 25. (See Exit Pupil and Twilight Factor.)

RELEASE POINT: The point along a route at which a subelement or accompanying group leaves the main body to follow its own route. For instance, a sniper team initially could accompany a squad for security or to deceive any observers, then separate invisibly at the release point.

REMOTE SENSORS: Remotely monitored sensors emplaced by hand, air, or artillery. Of interest to snipers because such sensors can be used to maneuver them into an engagement of enemy at night or in areas not otherwise observable by friendly forces. (See Ground Surveillance Radar Vectoring.)

RETICLE: Another word for "crosshair," the post, dot, or intersecting lines in a scope with which a shooter aims.

RIMFIRE AMMUNITION: Usually found only in .22 rounds, a cartridge that has an internal primer detonated by a firing pin striking the cartridge's rim. By contrast, military and big-game rifles use centerfire ammunition.

RIMLESS CARTRIDGE: A high-powered rifle cartridge whose base is no wider than the cartridge's side, a design that facilitates feeding into the chamber. U.S. and NATO military rounds are rimless.

RIMMED CARTRIDGE: A cartridge—most often .22 caliber—whose base is wider than its side, a design that simplifies extraction. Although long obsolete for military use, the Soviet SVD's 7.62x54mm cartridge is rimmed, the only such military round in use today.

ROUND-NOSE BULLET: A bullet design that presents the maximum width of the bullet to a target on impact, which imparts greater "knockdown power" or energy. Because of their blunt design, round-nose bullets tend to lose velocity quickly and drift in crosswinds, with a resulting decline in long-range accuracy. Usually found in civilian hunting rounds with a softpoint nose.

SCOPE: An abbreviated term for "tclescopic sight." Rifle scopes can be divided into two basic types, fixed-power and zoom, each of which has pros and cons.

SECTOR OF FIRE: An assigned area into which a sniper places his fire. Usually, this is a portion of a wider field of fire, but in some cases the sector of fire could be as wide as the sniper's entire field of fire. (See Field of Fire.)

SHOOTING PLATFORM: A bench or table constructed so a sniper can fire prone through an upper-storv window from deep inside a room.

SIGN: Tracking term meaning any indicator of human activity, from a footprint to a candy wrapper. A tracker follows sign, not necessarily tracks. (See Cutting Sign.)

SILENCER: An obsolete term for a suppressor, no longer used because no device totally silences a firearm. (See Suppressor.)

SNIPER: A specially trained marksman equipped with quality opdcs and a target-grade weapon who employs stealth and fieldcraft to engage targets at ranges greater than those of the conventional rifleman. Due to his equipment and observation training, the sniper is an excellent intelligence source. (See Spotter.)

SNIPER DATA CARD: A detailed record of ballistic data, developed and periodically modified, on the performance of a particular sniper rifle while used by a particular sniper. This detailed record enables the sniper to know his weapon intimately, allowing him to understand its performance in all weather conditions, at all ranges, and against a variety of targets.

SNIPER DEMOLITION AMBUSH: A remote-controlled, command-detonated ambush using a series of claymore mines aligned along a route likely to be used by the enemy. The sniper detonates the claymores using a single long-range rifle shot.

SNIPER OPERATIONS SECTOR (SOS): A sector assigned exclusively to a sniper team for independent operations and marked on maps by a thick border with "SOS" on each side. The sector's usually about a 3- to 5-kilometer

square, large enough for the team to stalk, hide, engage, and evade. (See No Fire Area and Sniper Skirmish Line.)

SNIPER RANGE CARD: A detailed skctch of a sniper team sector of fire, including all prominent terrain, likely enemy avenues of approach, cover the enemy may use, and dead space, with range estimates so the sniper can engage targets quickly.

SNIPER SKIRMISH LINE: An assigned line on a map showing that a sniper team may maneuver up to 1 kilometer from it while stalking, hiding, shooting, and evading. Depicted as a jagged line ending in arrows, similar to a reconnaissance screen. (See Sniper Operations Sector and No Fire Area.)

SNIPER TEAM: Usually a two-man team of qualified snipers, with one man acting as spotter while the other snipes, and rotating responsibilities. Team composition could vary by mission and MTOE (Military Table of Organization and Equipment).

SOFTPOINT BULLET: Also called "dumdum" bullets, this design uses an exposed lead tip that expands on impact, thus increasing the amount of energy delivered to the target for far more damaging effect. It is outlawed by the Geneva Convention for combat use but legal in domestic counterterrorist and criminal situations. Softpoints frequently are preferable because they more quickly dissipate energy and fragment, lessening danger to bystanders.

SOG: Using the cover name "Studies and Observation Group," this was the U.S. military's top-secret unconventional warfare task force during the Vietnam War, composed mostly of U.S. Army Green Berets used in cross-border intelligence forays and raids into Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam.

SPOTTER: A trained sniper and member of a two-man sniper team who helps the sniper detect and identify targets, then adjust his fire on the target. He's also responsible for close-range security. Spotter and sniper duties rotate. (See Sniper.)

SPOTTING SCOPE: A single-lens scope, usually of 20 power or greater and used with a tripod for long-range observation, adjusting the sniper's fire, and reading mirage for wind speed and direction.

STALKING: The ability to move silendy and invisibly, which incorporates camouflage, selecting the best route to a hide, physical fitness, and self-discipline. A sniper must be a master stalker.

STOCKWELD: The habitual placing of a shooter's cheek at the exact same spot on his stock, shot after shot, so that his eye relief and scope picture become consistent. By "welding" his eye to one spot, a rifleman improves consistency and therefore accuracy.

SUBTENDS: The amount an angular measurement equals at a given range. For example, 1 Minute of Angle subtends 3 inches at 300 yards.

SUPPLEMENTARY POSITION: A sniping hide to which the sniper may displace after firing from his primary or alternate positions. Unlike the alternate position, the supplementary one does not allow firing into the sniper's primary sector of fire; from a supplementary position, he shoots in a different direction/sector of fire. (See Alternate Position and Primary Position.)

SUPPRESSOR: A device that uses baffles and fine meshing to dissipate and slow the escape of gases from a weapon muzzle and thereby reduce the normal muzzle report. (See Silencer.)

SURVEILLANCE HIDE: A hide selected and prepared for observation only, and therefore its field of view and concealment are the most important selection criteria. Used by both military and law enforcement sniper teams, in the case of the latter especially for the surveillance of remote airfields, clandestine drug labs, and borderlands.

TARGET DETECTION: A series of observation techniques the sniper team uses to pick out concealed or obscured targets.

TARGET IDENTIFICATION: The sniper's ability to identify a detected target and thus determine the target's priority. For instance, knowledge of enemy uniforms and formations enables the sniper to identify leaders.

TARGET PRIORITY: The declining order in which a sniper engages targets so that he shoots the most important ones first. Target priority will vary according to day and night and the situation. An enemy sniper is always a friendly sniper's first priority target.

TEMPORARY WOUND CAVITY: The dramatic expansion of soft tissue that results from a bullet's passage, sometimes 10 inches or more in diameter. This phenomenon is impressive but only temporary and does not usually cause rapid incapacitation or death. (See Permanent Wound Channel.)

TENNESSEE ELEVATION: To compensate or "hold" high or low to hit targets beyond or short of a rifle's zero—the trajectory correlation to Kentucky Windage. (See Kentucky Windage.)

TERMINAL BALLISTICS: That part of a bullet's flight when it strikes and passes through a medium until aU energy is depleted, and deals extensively with wounds. (See Internal Ballistics and External Ballistics.)

THROAT: Inside a rifle's bore, the entrance to the rifling, just forward of the chamber and leade. Although it's commonly said that a rifle's bore loses accuracy or wears out after a certain number of rounds have been fired, it's primarily the throat that degrades due to the heat, flash, and pressure of firing.

TRACKING: One of two techniques for engaging moving targets. The shooter swings with and ahead of the target, holding an appropriate lead for the target's speed and range. (See Trapping and Leads.)

TRAJECTORY: The arched path a bullet follows from a rifle's muzzle until it hits the ground. The steepness of this arch varies depending on the angle at which the shooter holds the rifle—and this, of course, will vary according to how far away his intended target is located.

TRAPPING: One of two techniques for engaging moving targets. In this technique, the shooter picks a point ahead of the target, holds steadily on the point, then squeezes off a shot when the target arrives there. (See Tracking and Leads.)

TRIANGULATION DETECTION TECHNIQUE: A countersniper technique used to determine an enemy sniper's location. It involves pinpointing the enemy's direction of fire from two separated locations and plotting these on a map so as to identify a point through triangulation. Friendly snipers then scan this area for likely sniper positions until he is located and eliminated. (See Back Azimuth Detection Technique.)

TURKEY NECKING: The undesirable practice of stretching your neck forward or back in order to see through your rifle scope properly. Corrected either by lengthening the burtstock or changing the scope eye relief. (See Stockweld and Goose Necking.)

TWILIGHT FACTOR: A means of measuring an optical device's low-light resolution and magnification, which is probably a more useful way for comparing scopes, binoculars, etc., for night use. Measured by multiplying the objective lens diameter by the device's power, then computing this figure's square root. For a lOx

scope having a 40mm objective lens: 40 x 10 -400, which has a square root and twilight factor of 20. (See Exit Pupil and Relative Brightness.)

VELOCITY: The speed at which a bullet travels, in feet per second (fps). The combination of velocity and bullet weight determines a round's kinetic energy.

WALL OF GREEN: The maximum distance you can see in a rural area, depending on thickness and breaks in the vegetation. This roughly jagged, semicircular "line" is where you focus mind and vision while walking in order to detect hostiles before they detect you.

"WHAT IS IT?" DECOY: A curious object placed in a location covered by fire to lure inquisitive enemy soldiers into a sniper's sights. The object could be the guts of a damaged radio, a flag, etc. To be most effective, this ambush technique should draw the enemy into a spot he doesn't think could be hit by long-range fire and have no indicators of any hostile presence. Decoys are best emplaced during darkness. (See Decoy Target.)

WIND DRIFT: The lateral distance a bullet drifts in a crosswind, measured in inches at various distances. Some bullet shapes, such as round nose, are more susceptible to wind drift, but others, like boat-tail, are less affected.

YAW: The twisted, unstable departure of a bullet from its horizontal axis or trajectory, which results from perhaps nicking a branch or grazing a bone. These wild centrifugal forces debilitate accuracy, but the tumbling bullet inflicts buzzsaw-like damage in flesh.

ZERO: The adjustment of an optical or open sight so that a bullet precisely hits a target at a given distance. Police usually zero their rifles for 100 yards.

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Hunting Mastery Selected Tips

Hunting Mastery Selected Tips

Deer hunting is an interesting thing that reminds you of those golden old ages of 19th centuries, where a handsome hunk well equipped with all hunting material rides on horse searching for his target animal either for the purpose of displaying his masculine powers or for enticing and wooing his lady love.

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  • dallas
    What is the term that a sniper uses when they collect there brass?
    13 days ago

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