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Spec Ops Shooting

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grass in the hide so you could turn and even move a bit without touching any foliage. Your barrel doesn't protrude from the foliage; you pruned just enough leaves to allow firing without any visible muzzle blast. And you even put an 18-inch square of wee canvas below the muzzle to prevent any dust from being kicked up.

So that you could shoot prone, you shoved some dirt aside or filled a sandbag. Perhaps you had to lay a flat rock beneath your bipod legs for better stability in soft soil. To keep your minds active, you and your spotter simulate engagements, with him detecting a target and talking you into it. On the hour, you rotate the responsibilities we've listed in the box on page 407.

Note that the spotter is much busier than the sniper—indeed, in a hide it's the sniper who is somewhat resting so that his mind and body are better prepared for shooting.


It's wise always to give the enemy a target for his wrath, a false position to take the counterfire that's certain to come.

The enemy usually will have a fair idea of where your shot originated, probably to within 20 or 30 degrees. Depending on how terrain and weather affect your muzzle blast, he'll likely guess your distance to within 100 or 200 yards. Within such a sector, he'll instantly shoot up any obvious sniper hide, hence my repeated warnings about being inconspicuous.

But the corollary to blending in is to ensure there's something else nearby that will divert his fire away from you. Capt. H.W. McBride, the World War I sniper, usually located his hide beside or below a natural dummy position. He wrote at length of a barn that the Germans repeatedly blasted, but it was well above and to his rear. The only advice I add is to make sure you're not too close or a long or short round might hit you.

If there's no natural dummy position, you must construct one, which doesn't need to be very elaborate. Just a few straight lines in ihe midst of foliage can do the trick, such as stacking a few logs or scraping together an ankle-high berm. And recognize a long-known aspect of deception: it's far easier to reinforce what your opponent thinks already than it is to get him thinking something entirely different.

Recall, too, that there's nothing like a bit of movement to attract attention. During World War II, a Japanese sniper would jerk a distant bush with a string to divert fire, a tactic that caused his opponents not to cooly conclude a bush was moving but to declare excitedly, "There he is!" On a more subtle level, Captain McBride often tied a piece of red cloth to nearby barbed wire because it invariably drew German observers' attention away from his hide.

Anticipate how the enemy will view your area, how he will scan it, what he'll see. And remember that, psychologically, he needs the gratification of returning your fire.

In addition to providing long-range, precision fire, the continuous, parallel mission of both police and military snipers is intelligence gathering. They are especially well suited for this role due to their excellent optics and special observation training as well as their ability to operate invisibly in an opponent's rear.

Some sniper team operations are devoted purely to reconning an area, which implies

Sniper Hides

The SAS hide. From the front, there is no visible sign of its occupation. It's so low that you low-crawl into it.


walking and exploring, or surveilling, which involves covert; observation from a fixed location. Such surveillance is conducted from a hide, but it's slightly different from a sniping hide since you don't intend to fire from it, and clear observation is the overwhelming criteria for selecting its location.

When abandoning a surveillance hide—just like a sniper hide—be sure to erase any sign of your presence.

We've illustrated three distinct types of surveillance hides, but no matter which design is used, it should be so well camouflaged that an opponent can pass within 10 feet and not detect it.

The SAS Hide

This hide has been used by the British SAS along Northern Ireland's southern border to detect IRA gunrunners and suspects crossing from the Irish Republic.

Snipers Hide Pic

The igloo hide, showing how it's hollowed out.

It's very effective because it's placed in knee-deep foliage that seemingly is too short to conceal a team. The team cuts natural camouflage and carefully drapes it or ties it to create an 18-inch-high cover, beneath which the team crawls into position. Do not add a poncho roof because when wet it will reflect light and even dry it creates a dangerous silhouette.

The SAS hide is positioned to exploit existing shadow and preserves natural foliage as much as possible.

The Spiderhole

When there's not enough concealment above the ground, go below it. Not only does a spiderhole provide concealment, but it protects you against small-arms fire.

Concealment of displaced dirt is a major consideration; throwing it over a wide area usually is the best solution. The hole should be kept small to produce minimal dirt and to hold down construction time.

The spiderhole cover is superbly camouflaged and fits flush. In Vietnam, where Communist Vietcong guerrillas frequently employed spiderholes, it was almost impossible to spot one until you actually stepped into it.

The Igloo Hide

This hide works well in dense foliage that is all but impassable for a walking man. The snipers low-crawl into the foliage from the

Sniper Hides
The spiderhole.
Trained Snipers Hiding

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