Staring at the Crosshairs is Derrick Bartlett's second published work regarding law enforcement sniping. It is a follow-up companion to his 1999 Snipercraft: The Art of the Police Sniper. Both books are very similar in style, content, and format, so I'll review both of them here. Both books are relatively small (less than 200 pages or so) collections of various thoughts, ideas, concepts, and war stories Derrick has collected over his twenty-one year career in police special operations, or as serving as the founder and director of the non-profit organization Snipercraft, Inc. I have personally trained with Derrick and hold his training classes and contributions to the sniping community in high regard. That said, his books leave something to be desired if someone new to the craft is looking to purchase a book that will help them better understand the nuts-and-bolts (no pun intended) of the profession, or how to best craft policies regarding the selection, training, equipping, and employment of snipers in the police tactical environment. If the reader has a solid background and formal instruction in police sniping, then the books are useful as a secondary text to expand their knowledge of the craft.
Derrick's books fit in their own niche - they say a little bit about everything, but provide nothing in great detail. The two books are primarily an encapsulation of his personal opinions and philosophy regarding police sniping. They are definitely not technical manuals for sniping, nor are they dedicated guides or handbooks for tactical commanders or police administrators. There are nuggets of information for all types of potential readers - duty slotted snipers, team commanders, and administrators - scattered throughout the two books, but there is not enough information in either volume to justify the price to any one of the three prospective types of readers. Additionally, there are far better books available that cater to these three specific readers; Mike Lau's The Military and Police Sniper, and Stewart Meyers' A Guide to Police Sniping are far better for police snipers and commanders, while Meyers' Police Sniper: Administrative Policy and Training is a better choice for Commanders and Administrators.
I regard Derrick's books as secondary texts for the police sniper and their supervisors. The previously mentioned books provide a far more detailed and solid foundation in critical issues pertinent to the sniper and supervisor and should be purchased and studied at length before buying Derrick's books. Derrick's books provide tips and tidbits to further build upon the foundation; they do not provide the foundation. In this context, the books serve a useful purpose. Potential readers should be advised that Derrick's writing style is not 100% polished and the editing in the books is lacking. There are small grammatical errors scattered throughout both books, but they do not take away from the information Derrick is trying to share.
In closing, I found both books to be of interest, but only if the reader has a solid background in police sniping and policies. Both books are small, so the price you pay is a bit steep for what you get in return. Personally, I think Derrick should combine both books into one volume and charge twenty dollars - at that price any reader (sniper or administrator) would get their money's worth.
The views presented in this article are solely the author's and do not represent any official views or endorsements of the U.S. Government.
Scott (not Powers) is a former Federal LEO and Military Officer with extensive tactical experience. He is currently an international security advisor to the Government of Colombia.