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Snipers: what specific skills and training are required

This is a discussion on Snipers: what specific skills and training are required within the Military Strategy and Tactics forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; Hello everyone. First time poster here. I am looking into a story I was told, and wanted to get the ...


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Old March 31st, 2016   #1
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Snipers: what specific skills and training are required

Hello everyone. First time poster here. I am looking into a story I was told, and wanted to get the thoughts and opinions of some people who have specific knowledge around what it takes to be a successful sniper.

I guess maybe before we get into too many details, I'll cut straight to the main question: Is it possible, in your expert opinion (there are experts here, right?) that an individual with no military training or background who happens to be skilled with a rifle could become a successful sniper in a foreign land during a time of war?

I pretty much have my answer without having to ask, but because it is outside of my area of expertise, I can't really say why I don't think it would be possible, other than to say it just sounds crazy.

Thanks, and feel free to point me elsewhere If I am not the first person to ask something like this. I'll have a look around in the meantime!
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Old March 31st, 2016   #2
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Just to add some more context, we are talking Vietnam era. Probably 1970. I have been doing some reading about snipers in that particular conflict at that time, and while there seems to be a lot of variability in what was and wasn't considered a proper "sniper" back then, the one common theme is that it was an elite and dangerous profession. I've not read anything anywhere confirming or even suggesting that there were non-military contractor snipers there at that time. I tend to think that there weren't, but I am still curious as to the possibility.
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Old March 31st, 2016   #3
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Hello everyone. First time poster here. I am looking into a story I was told, and wanted to get the thoughts and opinions of some people who have specific knowledge around what it takes to be a successful sniper.

I guess maybe before we get into too many details, I'll cut straight to the main question: Is it possible, in your expert opinion (there are experts here, right?) that an individual with no military training or background who happens to be skilled with a rifle could become a successful sniper in a foreign land during a time of war?

I pretty much have my answer without having to ask, but because it is outside of my area of expertise, I can't really say why I don't think it would be possible, other than to say it just sounds crazy.

Thanks, and feel free to point me elsewhere If I am not the first person to ask something like this. I'll have a look around in the meantime!
no shortage of verified stories across multiple militaries where the best snipers and marksmen came from rural communities where shooting wild animals and vermin was part of their day to day chores. german farmers, hunters, american woodsmen, australian rabbit, dingo, roo, fox, pig, camel hunters, new zealand farmers, scot, uk caretakers on the large estates etc.....

the list goes on
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Old April 1st, 2016   #4
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no shortage of verified stories across multiple militaries where the best snipers and marksmen came from rural communities where shooting wild animals and vermin was part of their day to day chores. german farmers, hunters, american woodsmen, australian rabbit, dingo, roo, fox, pig, camel hunters, new zealand farmers, scot, uk caretakers on the large estates etc.....

the list goes on
Oh, I don't doubt that at all. I am thinking more about the other skills. The types of skills and training that would help one during insertion and extraction, evasion, avoidance of discovery, separation, the possibility of close combat. It seems to me the skills beyond marksmanship would be equally as important for success and survival, and I find it hard to believe that someone who is simply a good shot at long range with a rifle would survive for long as a contract (non-military, with no military training whatsoever) sniper in a foreign country during a war.

I'm not trying to be argumentative, just looking into the validity of a story I heard that is seeming less and less likely the more I look into it.
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Old April 1st, 2016   #5
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I'm not trying to be argumentative, just looking into the validity of a story I heard that is seeming less and less likely the more I look into it.
a high proportion of the best snipers and marksmen in history were gamekeepers, "farmboys", from the land etc from the US, Canada, Germany, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, Sth Africa, Russia etc.....

its not just about being able to shoot.... there's a range of other skills that you need to do that. reading the land, understanding behaviour, patience, persistence.

without knowing what story you've heard hard to comment

the story you have concerns about might be "rubbish" and deserve your skepticism, but inherently, the above is true. a disproportionate ratio of quality shooters came and comes from a having a "country lifestyle" background.
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Old April 2nd, 2016   #6
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Oh, I don't doubt that at all. I am thinking more about the other skills. The types of skills and training that would help one during insertion and extraction, evasion, avoidance of discovery, separation, the possibility of close combat.
My experience is based on the NZDF ie the Infantry Soldier, the skills a sniper has are exactly the same skill sets that any Infantry soldier is taught ie marksmanship, fieldcraft, battlecraft, call for fire and the list goes on. Insertion & extraction methods are no different to the basic rifleman they could be attached to a rifle platoon for a patrol & at a given RV detach themselves to carry out their respective task whatever that may be.

Too many books have concentrated solely on the ability to shoot at long distances that is a very small part of a sniper's skill sets. The ability to remain hidden and calling in fires from indirect or Tac air are skills that are just as deadly than using his rifle it puts doubt into the mind of your enemy if their freedom of movement in their own supposedly safe rear area is being bombed or artillery strikes come out of nowhere.

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It seems to me the skills beyond marksmanship would be equally as important for success and survival, and I find it hard to believe that someone who is simply a good shot at long range with a rifle would survive for long as a contract (non-military, with no military training whatsoever) sniper in a foreign country during a war.
One role of snipers is obviously in the counter sniper role at the end of the day only a trained sniper is sent out to eliminate another trained sniper. Anyone can be taught to shoot long distance but to operate effectively in someone's else's back yard requires training and time to become proficient in remaining unseen.

last point our snipers main role in any conflict is ISR thats why they are part of the Infantry Battalion Recon Platoons under direct control of the CO (Commanding Officer)

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Old June 18th, 2016   #7
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My experience is based on the NZDF ie the Infantry Soldier, the skills a sniper has are exactly the same skill sets that any Infantry soldier is taught ie marksmanship, fieldcraft, battlecraft, call for fire and the list goes on. Insertion & extraction methods are no different to the basic rifleman they could be attached to a rifle platoon for a patrol & at a given RV detach themselves to carry out their respective task whatever that may be.

Too many books have concentrated solely on the ability to shoot at long distances that is a very small part of a sniper's skill sets. The ability to remain hidden and calling in fires from indirect or Tac air are skills that are just as deadly than using his rifle it puts doubt into the mind of your enemy if their freedom of movement in their own supposedly safe rear area is being bombed or artillery strikes come out of nowhere.



One role of snipers is obviously in the counter sniper role at the end of the day only a trained sniper is sent out to eliminate another trained sniper. Anyone can be taught to shoot long distance but to operate effectively in someone's else's back yard requires training and time to become proficient in remaining unseen.

last point our snipers main role in any conflict is ISR thats why they are part of the Infantry Battalion Recon Platoons under direct control of the CO (Commanding Officer)

CD

Agreed, generally a sniper is a superior level of an infantryman. 100% agree on the rural discriminator, saw it first hand many times.

Another thing I would add that generally separates them from a light Infantryman, Patience! As well as Judgement (when to pull and more importantly when not too)

A sniper must be willing to endure long lulls waiting for the opportune moment. Or they may spend days, or in the Vietnam scenario mentioned weeks, infiltrating their position and then wait for that moment to arise.


From experience ( hope the forum rules allow if not please delete with my apologies) I once had one slot for sniper school for my company. My 1SGT advised me, as always well taken, to give them a test.

He called them all out at the end of the duty day and put them in formation. Explaining they all wanted the same training slot and he had a competition. All confident they told him to bring it.

He told the to stand at Parade Rest and he would return in the morning at 0530.

Next morning two Soldiers remained, I fought for an received a second slot in the class and they both trained successfully.

Patience IMHO
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Old July 27th, 2016   #8
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Snipers must have great skills because the process of holding a rifle steady isn't easy. When the battle gets intense, a sniper must focus in order to protect other troops.
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Old July 28th, 2016   #9
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Snipers must have great skills because the process of holding a rifle steady isn't easy. When the battle gets intense, a sniper must focus in order to protect other troops.
Mate, could you please take a look at the forum rules before posting further? We expect people to contribute to discussions in here, not just post one or two sentences of very general observations. Remember the objective of a forum is to engage with others and discuss. So please keep that in mind.
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Old July 30th, 2016   #10
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A hunter who lives and works in the wilderness for prolonged times brings with him many of the skills a Sniper on detached duty needs.

Were it gets complicated and IMO not possible with at least some rudimentary training are the other skills needed.

Function and proper usage of radios. Knowledge of enemy forces and equipment (reporting stuff is a key skill. No use for a sniper who can't tell what kind of enemy unit he is observing). Calling in fires. Mine awareness and usage. Etc.

These skills are nearly impossible to learn without at least some peer lessons.
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Old July 30th, 2016   #11
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A hunter who lives and works in the wilderness for prolonged times brings with him many of the skills a Sniper on detached duty needs.

Were it gets complicated and IMO not possible with at least some rudimentary training are the other skills needed.

Function and proper usage of radios. Knowledge of enemy forces and equipment (reporting stuff is a key skill. No use for a sniper who can't tell what kind of enemy unit he is observing). Calling in fires. Mine awareness and usage. Etc.

These skills are nearly impossible to learn without at least some peer lessons.
which I think is mitigated to some extent by having a spotter and a shooter working as a team. in an imperfect world the spotter can pick up the comms duties letting the shooter get on with their primary kinetic role (assuming that the primary task is kinetic and not ISR) apart from which "ISR" at that level tends to devolve to SOF teams depending on the military involved
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Old July 30th, 2016   #12
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If we are talking about real independent operating sniper teams and not some glorified designated marksman then they are indeed often integrated into/part of some kind of SF.

And ISR remains an important part of their portfolio.

But would you go into the field with some guy who is a good shot and probably feels quite at home in the wilderness without at least a modicum of additional military training? The lessons about radio discipline, enemy EO/thermal optics and mine awareness may alone be the difference between life and death.
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Old July 31st, 2016   #13
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If we are talking about real independent operating sniper teams and not some glorified designated marksman then they are indeed often integrated into/part of some kind of SF.

And ISR remains an important part of their portfolio.

But would you go into the field with some guy who is a good shot and probably feels quite at home in the wilderness without at least a modicum of additional military training? The lessons about radio discipline, enemy EO/thermal optics and mine awareness may alone be the difference between life and death.
yep +1. I was being cautious and gracious. you are spot on if we are talking about proper sniper teams.
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Old March 10th, 2017
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