How I took out Iraqi sniper; N Wales hot shot bends it like Becks.
A NORTH Wales sniper told yesterday how he killed an Iraqi gunman from more than half a mile - with an astonishing ``bend it like Beckham'' blast.
The Royal Marines crack shot Corporal Matt Hughes, 28,from Betws-yCoed, was ordered to take out an Iraqi holding back a vital advance during a fierce gale.
And the sharpshooter pulled off an incredible feat of marksmanship by perfectly gauging the wind speed to bend the bullet to its target.
The 7.62 calibre round from Matt's L96 sniper rifle curved 56 feet in the air before slamming into the Iraqi's chest - killing him instantly.
Another Royal Marines sniper next to Matt killed a second Iraqi at exactly the same moment after pulling off an identical shot.
Matt, of the Marines' spearhead brigade patrol troop, said yesterday: ``It was a bit like David Beckham taking a free kick.
``I knew. I only had one shot and had to get the angle exactly right.
``It was hot and the wind was blowing strongly from left to right as we crept up to a vantage point about 860 metres from the target.
``I saw I had a clear shot at my man - he was in what he thought was a secure position but his head and chest were exposed.
``He was still wearing his green Iraqi uniform and was holding the rifle he'd been using to shoot at marines.
``My training then took over and I got myself quickly but calmly into the perfect sniping position.
``We follow a set pattern,placing parts of our bodies in the optimum position in strict order starting with the left hand followed by the elbow, legs, right hand and cheek.
``Finally we're trained to relax and to start to control our breathing focusing solely on the target.''
Matt worked alongside his sniping partner,Corporal Sam Hughes, 31,of Plymouth, who fixed a separate sight on the target.
The pair calculated the bullet's trajectory by studying the movement of heat haze and dust.
Matt said: ``Sam told me I would have to fire exactly 17 metres to the left of the target for the bullet to bend in the wind and take him out.
``I made adjustments to my sight and with each click my aim was offset by one metre for every thousand metres.
``Thankfully, the Iraqi stayed in the cross hairs of my sight the whole time and didn't move.
``He obviously thought he was in a fortified position and safe from attack.''
A Royal Marine sniper lying next to Matt fired at an Iraqi a few feet from Matt's target.
Both enemy troops fell dead in the same instant,and British forces were able to secure the strategically vital Al Faw peninsula.
Sam said: ``I saw Matt's man drop through my scope and felt sure he couldn't have survived.
``The other guy hit by our second sniper was spun round and flung backwards when the bullet hit him.
``With the strong possibility of street to street fighting to come, snipers like us will have an important job to do.
``It was great shooting in very difficult conditions,and shows what the Marines are capable of.''
Matt found himself in the thick of more action during the Marines' mission to seize the Iraqi stronghold of Abu al Khasib, southeast of Basra.
But he found himself at much closer quarters with enemy troops before unleashing another burst of British firepower.
Matt said: ``We were the first Marines into Abu al Khasib and came under fire as soon as we reached the centre of town.
``I turned a corner in our Land Rover as shots flew over our heads and was confronted by three men in civilian clothes firing AK47 rifles.
``It was them or me so I quickly grabbed my SA80 assault rifle and took aim at the fighter in the centre of the three.
``I fired a 40 mm grenade from my rifle's launcher from about 130 feet which hit him in the middle of his body and literally blew him in half.
``His two mates surrendered pretty quickly after that.
``In the fighting I've seen so far I've done my best to make sure we hit them before they hit us.
``It's what we're trained for and it's why we're here,it's as simple as that.'' email@example.com
Lance Corporal Matt Hughes,from Betws-y-Coed with his sniper rifle; Picture: NICK PARKER; US soldiers drag an injured civilian away from his burning vehicle during an advance on Baghdad yesterday,above; A bombed out plane at Baghdad airport, right; Pictures: CHERYL DIAZ MEYER/BAHRAMMARK SOBHANI