Smoking

Spec Ops Shooting

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It's better that a sniper candidate not be a smoker, but this is a choice best left up to the sniper, not to those who would select him. Smoking should not be used as a basis for exclusion, any more than consuming alcohol or drinking coffee, all of which affect sniper performance to some extent.

The sniper must recognize how smoking impacts his trade. In daytime his cigarettes will generate smoke and smell, while at night they create a visual signature. His marksmanship can deteriorate if he's denied nicotine at a critical moment, while his sense of smell may not be sufficient to detect odors associated with hostile activity or danger.

A pack-a-day smoker builds high levels of carbon monoxide in his blood, which reduce 20 percent of the normal night vision at sea level, an effect that increases with altitude; by 10,000 feet, he's lost 40 percent of his night vision.

I'd encourage snipers to quit smoking, but I'd also suggest that coffee drinkers switch to decaffeinated for steadier nerves.

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