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Sniper Part 2

AirSplat January 3, 2011 Airsoft Tactics & Strategies 1,312 Comments

First and foremost please allow me take a few minutes to thank all that have read the ATCT BLOG, expressed interest in our postings, and responded to us. We are trying to make a better and more realistic AIRSOFT community, we base this off of our military training and all the others that have taken up AIRSOFT as a recreational event with some type of MILITARY or LAW ENFORCEMENT backgrounds. I can speak for all of us at ATCT when I say that in excess of 80% of the information that we will put out is based on real combat experiences. The rest theory we have learned or deduced from experience.

We received an inquiry about deception and its application. Deception is applied to your hide or over watch position. There is a rule of thumb when taking up a position and that is; “if you can see the enemy he probably can see you”. With that being said, you always have to put yourself into the eyes of the enemy and consider how he would see your position.

During Sniper school stalking exercises are practiced starting with concealment exercises first. This is were the sniper builds a good position using camouflage to the best of his ability, and then the observer burns his area, and tells him exactly what he sees, this, however, is not for a record, but to allow the sniper to understand the proper use of his camouflage and concealment.

One of the biggest problems I have seen with young snipers is that they do not understand how to use the vegetation around them. A vegetation block is defined as placing vegetation between you and your target.

It is a lot easier to burn out of a veg block than it is to see into it from a distance. This is were deception applies, by making the enemy thinking you are in a different position than you really are. When you view something with Binoculars you loose your depth perception. This helps the sniper, for it is very difficult to see through vegetation at great distances.

The sniper wants to look as much like the environment as he can. If you can’t do this, standoff is the next best thing. A lot of young snipers think that you have to be up into their veg block and this is very wrong, Even if you are using a ghillie suit, the ghillie is not natural, and with a trained observer he will notice this big blob of ghillie crap where it does not belong in the environment.

You have to remember that the ghillie suit is only a tool, and not cloaking device! Many folks think that you are invisible if you wear a ghillie, but actually it can hinder you more than help you if you do not know how to properly use it.

The ghillie can be an outstanding tool. When used right, can conceal you a great deal from the enemy. When constructing a ghillie there are many different ways to do it and you should find the one that best meets your mission. One thing to remember is; “always start light in color, because you can always go darker, but if you start dark you can never go lighter.”

I do believe that a one piece ghillie is probably more feasible than a two piece. You can construct a one piece out of a night desert smock, which is what I have been using for years. It is meant to be worn over your regular uniform so it’s big enough to make it over your KIT, and comes with a hood that makes a great veil. It is long enough to cover half way down your legs, now you can use your imagination for the rest, but I would recommend tie- in’s about 12” long every 1 to 2 inches for natural veg.

One of the biggest things I like to use in my ghillie is; “manila rope”. It is outstanding when you uncoil it, and strip it. When you tie this in, it looks natural and moves the same way when the wind blows across it. Again your ghillie construction is a part of the “Sniper’s arts and crafts” that I speak about. Remember: a sniper is a master of his world and all those tools he uses to accomplish his mission.

On to “stand-off”

Stand-off refers to not crawling all the way up into your veg-block, once you have found a FFL or FFP (final firing line or position). Stop and asses your situation. Use your optics to burn thru the vegetation. Once you can see the target area you are golden. It does not have to be in great vision at this point; we will soon address that.

Make sure that you have a nice set of shears so you can cut into your veg-block until there is only a front to the block. Remember to take into account your lighting considerations and shadows behind you. Once you have cut into the block, back off of it a little and re-acquire your target again, you should have great vision and you are burning thru a little vegetation rather then a lot, and those observing you must look through it all to find you. Using depth and color, you are creating an opticl illusion.

You should always wear your KIT under your ghillie. I suggest that you make pockets in side of your suit so if there are items that you need to quickly get to, you can reach them. If you decide to put any pockets on the inside or outside, I suggest at least two, one which should be for your cutting shears (remember to tie these off to you so you don’t lose them….I am telling you that because it happened to me). Make a big enough tie off that you can work with those shears and then roll it up and PUT THEM AWAY.

This brings up another debate, Velcro pockets or buttons? I always have used buttons and probably always will, for there is no sound with buttons and hook pile tape has a tendency to collect crap in it. The other pocket should be for some type of optics. I use an 8 to 10 power monocular. It is small and easy to use. I prefer the monocular for it gives you the same field of view as you rifle scope, so if you can burn thru that veg-bloc with it then you will have no problem with your rifle scope.

I understand with milsim AIRSOFT that our range is limited, so you need to hone your movement skills in order to stalk up on your targets, and this is something that needs to be practiced a lot. Sound and improper camouflage are the 2 biggest target identifiers. Remember, a good sniper’s movement is measured in inches and not feet.

You must be very deliberate when moving within such close proximity of the enemy. When close to the opponent, sound will be your biggest enemy. If you are lucky. there will be a lot of activity going on at the OBJ… but still consider your movement and try to be as deliberate as possible. One thing to remember is “always keep some type of veg-bloc between you and the OBJ, that way it will always screen your movement”. You can also use the sound of the enemy to guide you to your FFP.

Your movement is key to your success. Movement techniques need to be practiced. would recommend that you find a route to the target that will not cause a lot of sound. When traveling in open areas you need to have extra discipline. If you are in a dry leaved area or pine needles there must be trees, so use them to block, this what we call a tree stalk, line trees up in an row that screen you from the enemy. This is one way that you can establish an FFP as well.

Another thing: don’t get the into the mind set that you have to shoot from the prone all of the time! If you learn to stalk properly and use the terrain and vegetation to your advantage you can do a lot of engaging from different positions. I know I reference a lot to your skill at stalking…a lot of you probably would like me to explain the proper movement and stalking techniques, but there is no right or wrong way to do it.

Stalking is something you must practice, but I can tell you this, once you learn how to stalk you will never forget it.

Here is a stalking exercise, and is pretty much the same one that I did when I was a student and an Instructor. You and your teammates find a good area to stalk, with vegetation, and at one end set up a table for the observer. Now, one the observer is set, he can not move the table, (it would better if you could elevate the table into a truck bed or something to give the observer a full field of view). Remember this is not supposed to be easy for you. The harder you train, the easier it will be once you do it for real.

As I was sitting at a targeting meeting with my Commander today, a good friend made a comment that went like this “a bucket of sweat will save a pint of blood.” This is so true when it comes to training. Training is tough and you have to train to be tough so you don’t falter on the mission. Allow me to share a little story that happened to me in Iraq on my first deployment.

On my first deployment here to Iraq, I was with a surveillance team and we had a mission to go into a town and PID a target that another unit wanted to raid the next day. We had inserted just fine and my team leader at the time (and great friend) stayed in a hide position with his RATELO and kicked his Alpha and bravo teams out to recon the town and house.

Myself and good friend Lamo were Alpha team so we proceeded to the town with a simple job; walk in about 3-4 kilometers, get our noise and get out, with this attitude we stepped off with only our KITS on, and decided to leave our rucksacks at the hide (for some odd reason it inclemently cold, so I put a but pack on my rig that had a little green sleeping bag in it)

This was the only time up to this point that I had worn this butt pack. So we set out, our mission comm’s were shitty from the start, but par for the course, and we would be gone only for 2- 3 hours at the most.

I took up point at first, shot an azimuth, and away we went. Once we left our hide position and started down off of this big hill, we came to our first danger area: a road. No problem, we waited a few, watched and listened, and crossed to a large field. Once we came off the hill it was pretty open terrain, but the town had a large berm around it so we used it for cover as we moved. There were a lot of lights in the town so navigating was easy, the field was kind of rough to walk thru but we made it to the berm. After doing a map check we were right on course for what we needed to do.

Lamo then picked up point, and led us into the town and started heading to the target house, I will tell you, there is an overabundance of stray dogs in Iraq and they always pose a problem at night for they bark at anything that moves. And a lot of the Iraqi’s use them to protect their sheep and homes so we had to pull off several times and allow the dogs to move across town to our bravo team.

Once the dogs would pass we would move back in. This went on for several hours until we finally made eyes on the target house. In the distance we kept hearing tanks so I made a radio call back to our team leader asking what the hell we were hearing and his response with some humor was “I am hearing nothing from my position.” So we pressed on, got our intel and started out.

As the night grew older and morning was coming, time was becoming a factor to get out back across the field to the hide site. Our bravo team had already pulled off and was on their way back. We had a longer journey from the side of town that we had came in on, so we pretty much had to walk back thru town to get out. There was a terrible fog rolling in and we didn’t mind that at all! It could screen our movement back to the hide site with the rest of the team, then we could get into our sleeping bags and get warm again.

Suddenly the rolling sounds started to get much closer. Concerned, we radioed back to the hide again and asked what the hell was going on. We got the same response; “nothing from here.” Then out of nowhere I heard our call sign come across the net from our main site telling us that tanks heading directly at us. The unit we were doing this reconnaissance for decided to come early and had not bothered to tell us.

I asked my team leader if the unit knew that we were still on the ground and if they were tracking our location, this is where Murphy’s Law came into effect. He responded with; “NO WE ARE WORKING THAT NOW!”

He advised us to change our route and head out another way. This was a problem. The only way out was all the way back through town and a complete walk-through of the target areaarea, back around the field, and on.to the hide site. Lamo and I looked at each other and echoed the same “F&%# that!”

So, we started our E&E plan. We took to ground and waited. By this time we were laying in a ditch about 100 meters form this M1 tank. As the net was cluttered with traffic of our location and sending grids so that the friendly tanker knew our position. We could not get confirmation that they knew where we were, and we did not want to give up our little hiding spot just yet.

There was a OH-58 Kiowa Helicopter flying above us so we made a near-far recognition by marking our position with blue and green chem-lights. After we confirmed that the unit doing the raid knew where we were, we decided to get warm, but all we had was this little sleeping bag just big enough for me, and we still did not trust this big-ass tank to our front.

Lamo and I have been friends for a long time and there was not a person on this earth that I had rather been there with while we were in this pickle. So, we decided that our body heat together would stop us from freezing to death, so we spooned. That is right, we spooned next to each other in this little bag for about 5 hours until our unit came in to pick us up. We were so cold once our unit got there we could barely move, and because of our location they could not get to us, so we had to make a run for them across this damn field again while frozen and a little pissed to be extracted out. All things aside our intel proved to be worthwhile and the unit got their man. As for Lamo and I, we got a little frost bite and hell of a story.

I thank my team leader for pushing us as hard as he did prior to us deploying, for it was that hard training that had pushed us through that night. Not saying the fact that someone needed to be slapped in the mouth for leaving us on the ground like they did, but that was our job and we knew the hazards of our profession.

Onto the exercise!

Once your truck is set up for the observer, walk down your lane that you plan to stalk and get a mental picture of where you would like to set up and a route you want to use. I recommend using a compass so you can shoot an azimuth to the truck and come in on the back azimuth. This well give you a sense of direction to your target location once you begine stalking.

Be mindful of your weapons’ max range and what the max effective range is. This range (max effective) is where you want to shoot from so you can score a first round hit! The old axiom “One shit one kill” comes to mind here.

Have your other teammates walk the lane with some type of radios so they can talk to the observer The walkers are not to hurt you. They play no role but to walk where the observer tells them to. They are not to give the observer hints to where you are EVER. That would be completely counterproductive to the exercise.

When you reach your start point, I recommend at least a 500 meter stalk to start with. Take so time to camo up and then let the observer know when you are ready to move. Once the observer is ready he will tell you to move and set a time limit on the stalk. For example, at the school house we had 3 hours to make your first shot.

As you move to the target truck the observer will be scanning the area with some binoculars (I recommend about 8 to 10 power only). As the observer sees something in the lane, he should direct the walkers or every one who is stalking freeze, then the observer will move the walker to what he is seeing. The observer then gives the walker commands over the radio trying to walk him right to the sniper. When the observer thinks he is on the sniper, he will call out; “sniper at your feet” and if the walker can reach down and touch any part of the sniper including his gear, he is busted. If there is nothing there the observer gives the “continue to move” command and everyone continues to move.

Once the sniper has reached the FFP and shot the first shot, the observer will walk the walker close to the snipers’ location and give the command “go within 10”. This means the walker is within ten feet of the sniper. The observer burns that area looking for the sniper, if he can not see anything after a couple of minutes, the walker ins instructed to move within 5 feet of the sniper. Once within 5 feet the observer will watch you as you fire your second shot.

At the school you are being observed while you have to reload and fire but for you, it is just fire, so if you can come up with a technique that will allow you to reload under observation it will help you hone your skills even more. After you take your second shot and with the muzzle velocity of your weapon the observer should not bust you out for your BB but for improper camo.

Once the sniper has taken a second shot have the walker touch him on the head so the observer in the truck can see the sniper’s position and describe what he sees.

This, my friends, is a real basic sniper stalk and should be helpful. However, do not limit yourself to just grass stalks, do all kind of stalks! You never know what environment you may find yourself playing in .

To answer some of the equipment questions:

There are no real boots for snipering, just use a good military-style boot. Donnie T has listed some on our Blog.

In regards to your KIT, it should be tailored to your mission and I would say do not carry unnecessary gear. I see this a lot, with people who wear gear just to look cool, I always say; “wear what you need and look cool back home while having a cold one with your buddies,” as you notice in this bottom picture Donnie T is doing just that, but he would not wait until we got home.

Thank again for all the questions. I look forward to answering many more of them! Feel free to send an email straight to me at; ssbuck3118@yahoo.com if you have personal question you would like me to answer. Once again, may all your shots be straight and true.

“BUCK”

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