For decades snipers have been a predominant fighting power instilling fear in their enemies, getting accurate shots from tremendous distances.
With Hollywood and video games exploiting the sniper lifestyle, it’s easy for young or aspiring soldiers to get the wrong idea of being part of this special military specialization.
The internet is full of legends about snipers. A sniper is a high-trained soldier specialized in shooting challenging targets from amazingly long distances. But snipers are also specialists in Infiltration and observation skills.
Snipers have a team to support them
Movies usually portray them as lone wolves in the middle of nowhere, tracking down the ideal spot to take the most hidden shot… But things aren’t as charming as they are portrayed.
Sniper units are teams of at least 4 men who support the shooter and observe the area. So, being a sniper, it’s more a matter of teamwork.
Being a sniper can be a boring job
Working as a sniper involves spending a lot of time learning how to prepare a mission precisely. Shooting is just one task, possibly the least of what they do in combat.
Sniper tasks consist of correctly planning the mission, moving calmly to a place where they’re perfectly concealed, stalking their target, asking for clearance to fire, confirming the takedown, and exiting without a trace.
Also, something that many people don’t know is that a mission can last for days with nothing happening. So, this is generally a boring job!
Training is different
This is one of the most challenging training conceivable. No movie can ever truly convey 100% how hard the process of becoming a sniper is.
Snipers must undergo harsh training to get used to being behind enemy lines with no comfort, being in the wild for numerous days, or even surviving in case of enemy forces capture them.
Patience and extreme mental toughness
Being a sniper is not just about being an excellent shooter but is about professionalism and patience.
Typically snipers are behind enemy lines and are outgunned and outnumbered, but they must maintain absolute discipline throughout the mission. If the sniper has a breakdown, the mission would fail and threaten the whole team’s lives. Snipers have to overcome multiple mental constraints such as lack of food, or water. So, they must be mentally healthy and handle intense stress.
Constant advanced training and learning
A sniper never ceases learning how battlefield tactics vary and grow depending on the environment. They don’t use the same tactics and knowledge of a sniper in WWII as a sniper in the Iraq war.
Each mission, the weapons change, the terrain, the enemy is different, and the weather, particularly wind conditions, has a profound effect on the mission outcome.
Being a sniper it’s not like video games or movies. Real-life can be a lot harder and more tedious. Mission planning and tough training are a sniper’s most prominent challenges, and shooting is just a small piece of the puzzle.
In addition, it’s not such a fun job. It takes a lot of practice and studies to be a top sniper, and the action and real combat shooting are not that common.
Feature image credit: Sgt. Davin BrinkClapp 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit