The role of the sniper is usually misunderstood by the general public. In countless movies and video games, the sniper character is a sneaky lone wolf who uses an exotic takedown rifle that matches in a briefcase and is supplied with a red laser sight. He mutters some cliches under his breath like “one shot, one kill” before taking out the entire villain’s henchmen with perfect headshots. In reality, the job of a sniper is less glamorous and more demanding – it’s patients professionals who spend hours (or days) quietly observing a goal from a distance. Most of the time, nothing happens and nobody realizes they were ever there. On the rare occasion that a shot have to be fired, a sniper’s response is basically depending on reading environmental aspects, checking data graphs, and listening to information provided by a trained observer. And a single mistake or a minor miscalculation at one in all these moments might be truly catastrophic.
Sniper Festival 2022
To learn more about skilled sniper skills, I attended the ninth Annual SniperFest skilled training event in Peoria, Arizona. SniperFest, presented by TacFlow Academy in partnership with Arizona Tactical Officers Association (ATOA), is open to law enforcement and military snipers from everywhere in the country and includes training blocks led by various instructors. Rob Pettorsson z Cadex defense he was kind enough to lend me a Cadex rifle and a few 6.5 Creedmoor ammo so I could attend a number of the training segments in person.
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The first block was led by Juan Ospina, an instructor for GPS Defense Sniper School and former USMC recon sniper. The focus was on the fundamentals of shooting, so students did a precision 21-point exercise that quickly revealed trends in our shot placement. The up-and-down blow distribution is frequently a byproduct of improper respiratory control, so it is suggested to exhale forcefully and shoot when the lungs are empty. If you have to wait greater than a couple of seconds on this state, breathe again to forestall tremors. The left-right arrangement often indicates muscle tension that affects the natural aiming point, so chill out and be sure that you might be fully comfortable before shooting.
This was followed by the Overwatch Standards course by the TacFlow Academy, which tested accuracy with a wide range of timing exercises – from standing to kneeling, from sitting to standing, quickly organising a tripod, transitioning between multiple targets, and so forth. Each student did the exercises after which turned into the observer role while their partner did the identical.
Our third session was on tracking skills and was hosted by Freddy Osuna, a former USMC recon sniper and founding father of Greenside Training. These skills apply to each hunters following the moose and law enforcement officers following the trail of a fugitive. For snipers, learning to acknowledge environmental cues, akin to disturbances in the bottom or foliage, may help determine the bad guy’s direction of travel and forestall counter-sniper ambushes. Osuna told the scholars to stop continuously to listen for audio cues, akin to the warning cries of birds, and really helpful using binoculars or a low-magnification 8-10x monocular to quickly scan the sectors before proceeding. (Keep an eye fixed out for more detailed articles on Osuna’s tracking and surveillance program in the longer term.)
Finally, we went to the ridge overlooking the dry riverbed to practice shooting from position. He was taught by Tim and Regina Milowicz, experts in the sector of precision shooting from a series of precision rifles. The students went through stages that included shooting over the sting of a sloping surface (akin to the roof of a constructing), leaning against rocky terrain, and positioning themselves behind barricades of various heights. Effective shooter-observer communication was crucial here as removed from ideal positions led to some misses which needed to be corrected based on the observer’s feedback.
SniperFest ended with a contest where snipers from agencies from everywhere in the United States faced off against one another to realize the best rating within the shortest time. This event gave me an insight into the challenges snipers (and their spotters) face and the grueling training they undergo to fulfill them. For more information on the subsequent annual SniperFest event, keep watch over the ATOA website, aztac.org. And if you must hone your long-range sniping/accuracy skills, take a look at the TacFlow Academy website at tacflow.com.