Making Each Shot Count

Many years ago, while training Southeast Asian mercenaries, I'd challenge a student to assume his sexiest "assault" stance and riddle a nearby silhouette with full-auto fire. Gleefully, he'd tuck his M16 or AK-47 beneath his armpit and, "brt-t-t-t-t-t-t," 30 rounds would rip through the air—but go only God knows where. The amazed students, upon examining the intact silhouette, could see that, despite sound and smoke, a lot of bullets carelessly sprayed will hit nothing. My point exacdy.

In order to become a superb sniper, a rifleman must zoom in his consciousness from having had none while blasting at full-auto to having a bit of focused attention at semiauto to being able to concentrate keenly on each round fired as a sniper. Each round.

A sniper does not fire patterns or groups or average shots. He fires one shot over and over and over, and develops certain one-shot habits during practice fire that will carry over to real-world shoodng.

The sniper conditions himself to regard each round fired in practice as a single, final event with an exact beginning, a definite end, and a precisely measured result.

During range fire, he removes each round individually from its box, loads it individually, fires it as a single event, calls it to his spotter, observes the results of that one shot with a spotting scope, then records its exact point of impact in his record book.

He analyzes the results of each shot so even the slightest inaccuracy is correcdy attributed to a bit of wind, breathing, trigger control, and so

Sniper Trigger Control

MARKSMANSHIP TIPS. (1) Never let your barrel touch anything; (2) use only the most sensitive portion of your trigger finger; (3) place a beanbag below butt for precise hold; (4) maintain correct eye relief for a consistent sight picture and to eliminate parallax; (5) time allowing, improve stability with the sling; (6) stay conscious to the danger of canting; and, if available, (7) choose the support of a sandbag over that of a bipod.

on. Ego has no impact; the sniper and spotter honesdy and objectively diagnose the shot. Then the shooter plans his next shot and applies what he has just learned to improve the results.

It also may be useful to dry-fire between each live-fire shot, a habit that has helped me a lot.

No more than five rounds should be fired into a single impact point to better focus the shooter's concentration. This also prevents confusion about which hole resulted from which shot.

Finally, during any practice session don't let yourself slide into mindless "banging away," even if you have plenty of ammo available. Indeed, most law enforcement snipers I know fire no more than 20 rounds per monthly training session—but each shot is a quality shot.

Ford Sickle Mower DiagramSniper PositionSniper And Spotter Position

This Marine's sniper rifle fits snugly in his spotter's shoulder for a sitting-supported position.

mean? To start with, understand that your rifle forearm—fiberglass or wood—is hard. If you attempt to support it against a log or wall, it won't be very steady because something hard wobbles or slides against another hard surface. You must put something soft between your hard forearm and that hard log—say, your field jacket—to become stable. Get what I mean now?

You need something soft that will conform, that "gives" a bit against that hard forearm, for the steadiest, stablest support. Your ilesh is relatively soft and gives enough to be worth placing your hand between the rifle and a hard supporting surface. A sandbag is soft support, too, but also adds weight and density for better steadiness.

But hard to soft also enhances accuracy by damping the violence of recoil. If you've ever made the mistake of balancing your rifle on a fence post or a bare log and fired, you know what I mean; the recoil bounced your rifle wildly about, an effect that can begin even before your bullet exits the muzzle. This is begging for inaccuracy.

Most supported firing situations can be enhanced even further by employing a properly adjusted sling, but this isn't always suitable or possible. Due to the time required to adjust it and the occasional difficulties of fitting in a shooting location while using a sling, I think of a sling as the "support of last resort." The major exception is shooting while standing» which dramatically improves with a sling.

What about bipods? No question, a bipod is an excellent means of support when 3'ou have a flat, relatively stable surfacc beneath it. But you must stay alert to the danger of canting when using a bipod. And even when the bipod is folded forward, be careful to use the forearm and not the bipod bottom as the surface in contact with your support.

This Marine's sniper rifle fits snugly in his spotter's shoulder for a sitting-supported position.

Kecksburg Ufo New EvidenceSniper Supported Position

panying photographs, the rifle is placed in the natural padding of a muscled area of the neck, the shoulder, or thighs., which offer the greatest degree of steadiness. Then the supporting person braces himself to remain both motionless and in solid support. This works fine and safe if the support man is wearing hearing protection and keeps his eyes closed when his teammate fires. (A special note from my attorney: do this at your own risk.)

The proper way to support your rifle by hand-cushioning it against a tree or comer is shown at right. Note that it's actually the hand that's supporting the rifle, and the forearm is separated from the hard surface by the soft hand.

An unusual supported position that I developed myself enables you to use the flat surface of a wall for excellent stability. As demonstrated by our DEA sniper on page 211, stand with your back to the wall and both your heels about 12 inches away from it. Now, lean back, off balance, with your shoulders solidly into the flat surface. You should have anywhere from 40 to 55 percent of your weight in your shoulders and the rest in your feet. I've found this position quick to assume and a remarkable improvement over the standing position. It works against trees, too.

Expedient support can be added to many

Corner support has rifle touching hand, not corner.

places simply by stringing a rope, a line, or even a tow strap that's taut enough to support your rifle. Even if there's no place to tie a line, you can pound nails into two walls and string the support line between.

One technique used by African plains

This tripod may appear unbalanced on uneven ground, but it gives great stability and support.
Note the intervening sandbag on this Army sniper's tripod.

• Extend the tripod legs as little as possible to minimize wobble.

• To improve stability, hang a sandbag inside the tripod, beneath its head.

Don't balance your rifle on the tripod because that creates a kind of see-saw effect. For most shooters, there's better stability to pull the rifle closer to you, leaving just the forearm in contact—especially if you have a small sandbag in the cradle. If the legs are not of uniform length or not adjusted exactly for uneven ground, don't worry too much—with practice you can learn to lean your body forward or back a bit for a kind of equilibrium akin to isometric tension.

It's tough to quantify, but from using one myself I'd estimate that a tripod doubles your realistic effective range compared to firing in these positions without support.

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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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  • uta
    How many rounds are shot per army training session?
    2 years ago

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