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KEVLAR HELMET: Whether police or military, a sniper doesn't usually wear a helmet because it makes stalking more difficult and surrounds his head in a distinct outline. Police snipers usually leave their Kevlar helmets at the precinct, but it may be worth bringing along if responding to a hostile sniping incident. When accompanying a unit, military snipers should wear the same uniform, including a helmet, to avoid distinguishing themselves and becoming a target for enemy snipers.

GAS MASK: Military snipers should bring gas masks if the enemy has a toxic agent capability. Police snipers normally don't need masks because even if a location is gassed during an assault, the sniper hide will be too far away to be affected.

BODY ARMOR: Because it's hot and heavy and hard to camouflage, military snipers don't usually wear body armor. However, the frequency of improvised explosive devices (TEDs) and car bombings in today's war zones make this a sensible precaution when traveling in military convoys or while assigned to stationary security duties. Covertly emplaced snipers, who'd likely come under heavy attack if their position was compromised, could be well served by body armor, too. As a general rule, though, body armor does not lend itself to stalking and low-crawling. A police sniper would rarely have need of body armor except, perhaps, if confronted by a rifle-armed perpetrator or while supporting a raid against suspects armed with long guns.

EAR PROTECTION: A sniper must train as he will fight, so during range practice he wears unobstrusive, internal ear protection rather than clumsy earmulfs. This way he won't change his stock spotweld if he must shoot without any hearing protection in combat.

RAPPEL GEAR: Every sniper needs his own rappelling harness, gloves, carabiners, and figure eight. A rope is not necessary because in a police agency it is tac team gear and in the military it is an air assault rigger's responsibility.

KNEE AND ELBOW PADS: For low crawling and climbing over fences or kneeling in sharp gravel, a sniper needs knee and elbow pads. The best I've ever seen were made from wet suit rubber and Velcro fasteners, but any style is good provided it stays in position and is of a subdued color.

GROUND PAD: A self-inflatable foam pad is a necessity, not a luxury, for snipers. Bare winter earth will suck warmth from your prone body, and a scalding summer rooftop can preclude staying in a prone position. The Therm-a-Rest ground pad will insulate your body and make cold or heat more tolerable. I prefer the half-size because it's much more compact to carry yet still protects most of the body.

HAND WARMERS: These don't merely keep you comfortable in low temperatures, they also preserve your trigger finger's critical sensitivity. Chemical hand warmers have a long shelf life, while some are even reusable. They also can be placed inside your shirt to keep your chest and trunk area warm.

INSECT REPELLENT: Even in urban areas, mosquitoes can harass you and disrupt concentration while surveilling or aiming. Most police tac team members have no need for repellent, but of course, entry team members don't occupy a hide for hours on end.

SLEEPING BAG: In addition to its traditional use, a sleeping bag placed atop a ground pad enables a sniper to lie motionless comfortably even in subzero temperatures. Some new fillings are on a par with goose down in effectiveness.

INSECT HEADNET: Florida or Louisiana lawmen or GIs serving in a tropical climate may appreciate a headnet to keep buzzing insects away from eyes, mouth, and nose. In SOG, we never wore headnets even in the worst Cambodian swamps, but harassing insects need some getting used to, perhaps more time than you have, making a headnet worthwhile.

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