Taking the Shot

Spec Ops Shooting

Ultimate Firearms Training Guide

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The world does not come crashing to a halt if a military sniper misses a shot. It's merely a fact of life that imperfect range and wind estimation, sudden target movement, rough trigger release, or a host of other reasons will cause misses at great distances.

But the military sniper attempts imperfect shots at times because they're the only shots he has, or the target, if hit, is so valuable that it deserves even an "iffy" shot. When you have an enemy full colonel visible at 800 yards in a gusty crosswind, I assure you, you will attempt the shot.

Usually, these kinds of engagements involve no other friendly lives, and a miss becomes only a "learning experience" for both sniper and target alike. If a military sniper only attempted "sure thing" shots, he would lose a lot of effectiveness because many of the "unsure" shots would have been hits, too, and against distant or unlikely targets that would never appear as sure things at close range. Enemy colonels are far more likely to be found at 800 yards beyond the enemy's front line than at his nearest bunker.

In dramatic contrast, a police sniper must never be allowed the leeway to miss. When he misses, a hostage dies, a suspect escapes, or a fellow officer loses his life, all on national television with follow-up in the newspapers.

Pressure? It's tremendous. As I wrote in an FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin article, a police sniper's duty places him in "the loneliest spot in the world." Lives, careers, fate, self-respect—it's all on the line and determined by exerting 3 pounds' pressure on a trigger.

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