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The weapon hunter shows us the dirty side of sniper training

Sniper in Ghillie suit. (Smithsonian Channel/YouTube)
September 29, 2016

Every branch of the military uses snipers, but the public rarely gets a glimpse into military sniper training.

According to the American Shooting Journal, “A sniper is a highly skilled soldier who specializes in shooting targets with modified rifles from exceptionally long distances. They’re also experts in covertness, camouflage, infiltration, and observation techniques.”

The success of the sniper’s mission depends heavily upon the ability of the sniper to approach the target, remain concealed, and engage the target undetected. Military and civilian sniper training aims to teach a high degree of proficiency in camouflage, concealment, stalking, observation, and map reading as well as precision marksmanship under various operational conditions.

These requirements test the sniper’s ability not only to move stealthily, but their skill in the art and science of camouflage. As with concealment, camouflage may be artificial or natural. Artificial camouflage is any man-made material or substance used for the purpose of concealing through color, outline change, or texture.

Natural concealment and camouflage can be made up of bushes, grass, and shadows while artificial concealment can be made with various materials like burlap and camouflage nets, according to the News Rep.

Sniper training. (Smithsonian Channel/YouTube)

In the video below by Paul Shull of “The Weapon Hunter,” the dirty side of sniper training is shown — literally.

Sniper training requires careful consideration of weather, season, and environment. They must move slowly and blend in with their environment whether it’s a cold and mucky pond, or dense foliage. There is no room for error when hiding from the enemy.

This video shows the kinks of what a “high degree of proficiency in camouflage and concealment” really means.

Sniper training is also known as the “meat grinder,” says the narrator of the video.

Training to become a sniper requires mastering the art of hiding in plain sight. The camouflage, however, is not pretty.

Snipers wear a ghillie suit to blend in with the environment. These suits were first used by the Scottish to protect their animals from poachers as they laid still in the grass. They were also used in World War I.

Ghillie suit. (Smithsonian Channel/YouTube)

The ghillie suits are made up of twigs and branches, but that alone is not enough. Once the sniper has their suit on, they must “dirty it up,” says the narrator.

Moving is done by a term they call “stalking.”  The sniper must move as low and flat to the ground as possible. Moving through a swamp requires slithering through, undetected and silently, as the video shows.

Not everyone has what it takes to be a sniper, let alone deal with the discomfort of sniper training.