As a member of the Military Book Club I buy books just about every month. After browsing the monthly catalog I pick out whatever looks interesting. A while back the club was offering The Techniques and Equipment of the Deadly Marksman Sniper by SGM Mark Spicer. I checked the appropriate box on the order sheet and waited for it to arrive.
What I received was a wonderful surprise. After amassing a library full of "Sniper" books that are largely catalogs for products or services offered by their authors, I finally got hold of a real sniper book written by a real sniper. The content is high-octane information presented in an easy to read format with great diagrams and pictures.
Before going any further let me give you some details.
Sergeant Major Spicer writes with a no-nonsense style typical of a professional soldier. He is articulate without being wordy. After eighteen years of service in the British army SGM Spicer doesn't mince his words. He makes some statements that might upset some folks in the community, but it's my bet that the Sergeant Major couldn't care less. He tells it like it is.
The forward is worth reading twice. Harry M. Furness, Sniper Sergeant in WWII, wrote it. This man has been there and done that. His views are worthy of serious consideration. Again, these are the words of a man that doesn't have to imagine what combat is like for a sniper-he lived it.
Chapter one is entitled The Role of the Sniper. In this chapter the author succinctly describes the history of sniping. He provides just enough background to prepare the reader to move on. On page seventeen the author makes an interesting statement: "The role of the sniper has over the years been confused with that of the sharpshooter, with the likes of police marksman being labeled snipers when they are not." After some explanation the author goes on to say, "Therefor the police marksman will never reach the level of his military counterpart."
SGM Spicer goes on to explain that the sniper is not a Special Forces soldier. He writes that the Special Forces soldier is a "jack of all trades and master of none," while "The sniper is the master of one and, as such, is a threat to all enemy's Special Forces."
In this chapter the author stresses the absolute need for high standards of training. "High sniper standards worked in all-out war and they will still work today if commanders will allow the correct training environment to be created and not expect every student to pass."
Chapter two deals with selection and training. The author makes no bones about the arduous nature of sniping. He describes sniper training as "...without a doubt the hardest field-craft and basic- skills course in the world." SGM Spicer writes that shooting skills should be taught first because "If a man cannot master the high standards of shooting required, there is no point in teaching him anything else and wasting limited resources." This chapter contains some of the best diagrams and illustrations associated with sniper skills I've ever seen.
The author devotes the next chapter entirely to camouflage and concealment. This is the finest work on the subject I've ever read. This chapter alone is worth the price of the book.
Chapter four is about shooting techniques. The author covers the usual topics here and, again, does it with terrific illustrations and photographs. He writes disdainfully of range flags: "This is no doubt very useful on the range or to all the paper-shooters out there whose sniper experience is limited to the number of competitions they have attended this year, but the author has yet to find an enemy who is thoughtful enough to put up range indication flags for the sniper's use."
The last chapter is about tactical deployment. Here the author touches on sniper operations as they relate to typical battlefield as well as urban environments, OOTW (Operations Other Than War) and insertion methods. He again stresses the sniper as a specialist in his own right.
After reading this book cover to cover I still find myself drawn to it. With each visit I find another bit of useful information. This volume will remain as one of the most re-read books in my library. No sniper library is complete without this book.