October will mark 29 years since attending the USMC Scout Sniper School. It seems like a lifetime ago, especially when you consider the changes that have taken place. From the MOS designation of 8541 to O317, to the amount of quality training current Marine Snipers receive. If you consider the last 10 year, we have seen precision rifle doctrine move at warp speed. No longer are we taking a deep breath, letting it half way out and holding it.
While sniper training is less about marksmanship and more about getting there and getting back. Here at Sniper’s Hide we tend to focus on the shooting. The shooting is the exciting part of the program. It gives you instant feedback vs being cold, wet and hungry living in a hole in the ground for 3 days. With the shooting you have the rifle, the scope, the laser rangefinder, the software, the kestrel, all those awesome James Bond gadgets. The reality of sniper school is, a large number of students fail Land Nav. There are very few stories about staying up all night to finish a 30 page TEWT, or Tactical Exercise without Troops. The first question is always, What Rifle did you use, was it the Unertl Scope or S&B ?
It’s always about the gear and less about the gut check.
I have been fortunate in those 29 years to turn my love for everything precision rifle into a career. Much of that started in the Marine Corps, but it continued when I launched Sniper’s Hide in the fall of 2000. It kept me in the game and for that I am grateful. I can bounce ideas and discuss precision rifle shooting with liked minded folks from all over the world. Here is what this taught me….
After Vietnam there were significant changes to the Sniper program which began when they created a formal school system. One problem, they continued to fight the previous war with training and doctrine. All that changed after 9/11, precision rifle shooting took a monumental leap in both technology and doctrine. We are faster, and more effective than anyone would have imagined. No longer is it a strict sniper / spotter mindset, but one more geared towards deploying two effective shooters. In hindsight it seems weird to me to keep one man out of the fight and behind a spotting scope. Changes in body position and recoil management helped the individual shooter see the results of his shot without the need of a spotter. It’s a key goal today for many new shooters.
By going outside the system, the US Military was exposing themselves to competitive shooters who had more flexibility with equipment and training. You were shooting because you loved it and chased accuracy with a passion. This movement changed military shooting on several levels, and I am glad I was able to be a small part of it. Everything from 3GUN to PRS Style shooting has made its way into today’s military training.
The basics still matter, it’s all about the Fundamentals of Marksmanship. I tell people who want to know about advanced classes, it’s just the fundamentals faster, and from less than perfect positions. This is what separates a good shooter from a great one. Can you perform on command, and from a variety of positions. We can teach anyone to shoot accurately from the prone, are you equally as effective when things are working against you ?
A big focus for me at Sniper’s Hide is education. I’m all about passing on solid data so people can make an informed decision. It’s more than just regurgitating the same stale information handed down year after year. Shooting is one of the longest running games of telephone and over time you have a lot of mis-information hanging in the air. We need a filter. Stories get told, data gets corrupted, and soon that new shooter is out there struggling because he is trying to copy something he heard at the range or read on the internet. We’ve been successful at combating this thanks to our no-nonsense attitude. When it comes to filtering out bad data we do our best to set the record straight. Also with the our Premium Account you get access to the Online Training Lessons. We been doing these video based lessons since 2009 and they’re really well received by all our members. Instead of the 5 minute trailers you see on YouTube, a single lesson can be as long as 15 minutes. It’s our way of highlighting the nuances of precision rifle shooting. In a word, we practice what we preach.
Having taught precision rifle shooting since 2003, I have a pretty good feel for what works and why. I make sure the details are front and center and never hide behind the Voodoo. I’ve taught a lot Special Operations guys and not a single one of them have time to deal with the bullshit. If the “why” is not there, they are moving on to the next thing. The goal is fast effective fire on target, without overcomplicating it. If you consider how many other specialities their job might cover, marksmanship has to be taught on a different level than you would find at an Appleseed Class.
For me, precision rifle is a passion, I find interest in every facet of the sport. So, follow me as we explore the Art and Science of precision rifle shooting. Doesn’t matter if it’s the latest App, or the next high end piece of electronics designed by a fighter pilot. I want to explore and pick it apart. Does it work in a practical way, and will it help you get an effective hit on target ?
Remember there is no free lunch, shooting takes focus and practice. While it’s all about the fundamentals of marksmanship, there are many competing interpretations of those fundamentals. So we do our best to break them down to the core definitions and filter out the noise. The latest 5-25x scope is not gonna make you a better shooter, only proper practice will. Sure we need the right tools for the job, but we still have to execute. I can’t completely dismiss the toys, but I can emphasis the technique.
Snipers School was a 12 week journey, from stalking to observations, land nav, to reticle ranging, no one thing guaranteed success, so it’s important to be as well rounded as possible. Seek the best possible information and focus on the fundamentals.