Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sniper Match

GTA’s sniper/spotter team match was a success.  17 teams of men and women worked through a variety of stages including a boat and shoot house.  A central tenet of my belief system is training and lessons can be found at the heart of all activities if you look for them.  As Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot by just watching...” or words to that effect.

What did I learn?

boat sniper stage
Row, row. row your boat, life is but a dream.....

Most snipers used .308 rounds.  A few fired the classic 30-06 round.  One other round was represented, a .243 Winchester.  Let’s unpack this a little. 

Don't confuse the reflection with the real targets...

The .243 is considered an entry level deer hunting round.  A 100 gr bullet typically has a speed of 2960 feet per second.  The Los Angeles SWAT teams used this round in their early years.  I suspect if it will stop a fully grown white tail deer, it will work on a man.  In some countries, civilian ownership of rounds used by the military like .308 is forbidden and the .243 Winchester finds a role as a replacement for the .308.

rifle hogan's alley
Any bright alley for the spotter in all of us!

The .308 was invented in 1952 as a replacement for the .30-06.  It’s not quite the same with the 7.62x51 round but the difference is so minor that SAAMT classifies it as a safe substitute.  One of the reasons the military dropped the .30-06 for the .308 was size and weight.  A 125 gr bullet typically has a velocity of 3100 feet per second.  Following WWII, the need for a more mobile and self-sufficient soldier was apparent.  This hasn’t changed for the soldier, police or deer hunter.  The smaller shell meant more ammo for the same weight.

shooting positions
Sniper take aim...


The .30-06 was a surprise to me.  First invented in 1906 the round is often thought of as a 1000 yard round.  Also known as 7.62x63 the round has gained the reputation for being suitable for any North American game including apex predators like polar bear.  If you’re going for elephant or Cape Town Buffalo, you need a bigger gun.  The .30-06 is reported to be at the upper limit of confortable, recoil manageable round.  The brass case has room to hold more powder, assuming your rifle and shoulder can deal with the increased load, to produce higher performance.

Every sniper I talked to zeroed his or her weapon at 100 yards.  As one deputy sheriff told me,”If I have to shoot farther than 100 yards, it’s a very bad day for everyone.”  Every professional sniper knew their bullet drop at different distances and if time allowed, dialed in the correction into their scope before the stage started.  Only when there is insufficient time do they depend on hold over.
This is very interesting.  At Camp Perry the rifle pop-ups are out to 300 meters and there is no time to dial the correction, so hold over is the order of the day.  I believe that if time allows, dialing in the bullet drop into your scope produces a better, more accurate hit as compared to estimating the hold over.

All the spotters had AR platforms.  Many of the spotters used a bipod as well.  The snipers used bolt guns with limited box magazines and almost without exception used a bipod.  This works well when the paradigm of sniper-equals-fewer-shots is valid.  Previous matches required the sniper to fire 9 rounds in under a minute, making those 3 and 4-round box magazines a disaster.

It should come as no surprise that prone shooting position produces the best results.  Unfortunately, prone is one of the slowest to move in and out off.  Several shooters had trouble shooting from un-orthodox positions, like behind a small cable spool or from inside a culvert.  That’s also not surprising.  Most amateurs don’t have the facilities to practice these positions.


If I had to make recommendations for next year or other matches, I would suggest forming a shooting team at the beginning of the season.  I cannot stress communication drills between sniper and scout, determining actual bullet drop and shooting from unorthodox positions enough.

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