FIVE PRINCIPLES OF SNIPER TRAINING.
Bobby McCreight is a former Marine Corps Scout sniper instructor, one of two of the only four-time instructors in Marine Corps history He is also a former Special Operations Training Group sniper instructor who developed the special operations program and associated protocol. Following an operational tenure with Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance, he is now bringing his expertise into a more visible forum.
In conjunction with Applied Research Laboratory, McCreight has recently implemented a very innovative training program designed for law enforcement agencies. From this course, five functional principles have been gleaned to clarify the fundamental training principles for gun fighting with an optical-sighted precision rifle.
A Gun Fight Is A Gun Fight
Some people think fighting with a sniper rifle is somehow entirely different than fighting with a carbine, handgun or a shotgun. There are differences, including basic physics, but the dynamics of gun fighting are basically the same with any platform -- detect and index, identify the threat(s), acquire and engage, and immediately prepare to follow up with additional support as needed.
Think (And Train) In Real-Life Terms
We learn to operate our defensive weapons day or night, rain or shine. Conveniently, we change the rules for sniping and often train only with a scoped rifle on a well-lit, dry, measured range with all the amenities. We must be able to acquire threats, rapidly adjust optics, reload, press-check and fire our rifle by tactile methods alone -- regardless of the situational conditions.
Train under practical range conditions. Vary the light, weather conditions, and the angle to the threat, either vertically or horizontally Use whatever methods you employ to determine unknown distances in a gunfight, be that range-finder, mil-dot reticle, or other systems. Learn to utilize these methods economically for the fastest and most accurate information.
Don't Run Out Of Ammo
For best results, eliminate the "norms" of rifle training. Don't load a single round at a time. You won't enter a gun fight after loading only a single round, or wait until your ammunition is completely depleted before reloading the weapon. Approach training in the same manner.
Reload instantly following each shot. When training with other weapons, such as a pump-action shotgun, this is a standard response, but this is not so with the scoped rifle. Most shooters take their shot, then sit and contemplate for a protracted period prior to resourcing the rifle. This is not the way to win a gunfight, so be aware not to mis-condition yourself into such an inferior response; keep your weapon and your mind in the fight.
MOA Means Nothing In A Gunfight
Many snipers spend endless hours tightening group sizes. Group shooting has a limited application determining the consistency of the combination of weapon, ammo and shooter. Once you have clearly determined that your rifle is reliable and acceptably accurate, begin to acquire the experience necessary at varying ranges and angles. Train like you fight.
Accuracy is only the first requirement of a sniper rifle. You do not select a combat pistol, carbine or shotgun based upon accuracy alone, and this philosophy should remain when selecting a scope and a rifle. Field reliability and consistent function are also vital ingredients in a sniper rifle.
Many people overlook the reliability of the sniper rifle, focusing only upon that ideal "single, well-aimed shot," when the reality is that their rifle may not reliably feed and fire more than a single shot when they need it most -- under duress. Bolt action rifles rarely malfunction -- until the operator is forced into a time-pressure situation.
Become A Ballistic Expert
Know your bullet's time-of-flight. In terms of external ballistics, the time-of-flight at any given range is the most important piece of information. With that established you can determine bullet drop, windage correction, and your leads for moving targets with relative ease.
Gravity is a constant force driving your bullet toward the ground at a constant speed, regardless of the range. Having established time-of-flight at any given range, you can instantly determine how far your bullet will drop and compensate. The same time-of-flight numbers are also used for determining lateral adjustments due to wind or a lead on moving targets.
If your bullet travels "x" yards in "y" seconds, applying the adjustment for windage, elevation or lead is simply the addition of one number into the equation. Many new ballistic programs can calculate specific time-of-flight at any range if you simply enter the chronographed velocity of the round.
Although McCreight's training program includes much more than these five simple elements, training with these five principles of sniping in mind can help any precision shooter improve their performance in the field.