What is a sniper, what are his tasks?
By David Reed
A sniper is an expert rifleman trained in the techniques
of the individual soldier and assigned the mission of sniping. A sniper
needs many skills. He must be physically and mentally hard, a crack shot,
and must be able to --
Locate and identify sounds.
Use cover, concealment, and camouflage.
Use maps, sketches, aerial photos, and the compass.
Recognize enemy personnel quickly.
Move without detection.
Endure long periods of waiting.
Your Mission as a Sniper
Your mission as a sniper is to shoot key enemy personnel
-- leaders, gunners of crew served or automatic weapons, communications
specialists and radio operators, observers, and enemy snipers. In the absence
of these priority targets, fire on any targets of opportunity. You must
also collect information for your intelligence officer.
Employment of Snipers
Plans must be made to properly locate sniper teams. Other
troops in the area must avoid these areas. The use of snipers must be incorporated
into the tactical plans of the unit commander.
You should carry only mission essential equipment. Besides
your weapon, you may need binoculars or spotting scope, watch, map, compass,
and camouflage clothing.
Much has been written about sniper weapon systems. The best
caliber is not necessarily the flattest shooting, longest-range cartridge.
You have limits in the amount of ammunition that you can carry, because
of space and weight considerations. Re-supply is an issue to consider.
Field reloading equipment will allow you to make your own ammunition when
you need it. But reloading has its disadvantages. It takes time, and the
extra equipment is heavy. Equipment used by sport shooters is out of the
question. Such equipment is designed for use on a bench. You must be able
to load using a volume, not weight, of powder. You must use tools designed
to be portable and accurate. You must also practice until you are sure
you can make reliable, consistent ammunition. Other sources of resupply
are cartridges in standard use by other weapon systems, including the enemies
Every rifle has a distinctive sound. If you choose a rifle
that sounds different than those used by others in your area of operations,
you will call attention to yourself. If you choose a system that your enemy
uses, you must be careful to let others in your unit know the area in which
you will be. Failure to do so could result in friendly fire, and "friendly
fire" never is when you are on the receiving end.
Your mission will dictate the equipment you carry. Most sniper
teams employ rifles that are designed for the types of missions that they
will be assigned. If resupply is not an issue, and you will not be in the
area long, a .300 Winchester Magnum makes a very good choice. It is expensive
to shoot and load and heavy in bulk. .308 Winchester (7.62x51mm NATO) is
a popular choice because the ammunition is plentiful, recoil is light,
and more ammunition can be carried. Other systems are employed in special
A good spotting scope is essential. Yes, there are laser
range finders that are very good for long range shooting. But one must
never take them for granted; good range estimation is something you must
be able to do without mechanical or optical aids.
Finally, you will need tools for the observation and scouting
aspects of sniping. You should carry the following: camera, tape recorder,
pencil, and notebook for recording intelligence, a map of the area, compass,
camouflage paint, and weapon cleaning supplies.
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