“I want to be a sniper, but not like a proper one”.
From a friend who is just starting out. It got me thinking. What sort of role does the sniper fill on the field?
Now, I do get what the guy is saying. Way back when I first picked up a bolt action, it was with the intention of playing more as a squad marksman; being able to pick targets off that were pinning my team down and help keep them moving forward. But I’ve since evolved into the lone wolf that a sniper should be, and improved my game dramatically as a result. It’s not that I don’t like my teammates, but I can help them better by staying hidden. And that’s the key. Also, it’s not really making the best use of the rifle, and you want to be as effective as possible.
Forget any grandiose concepts of a sniper taking out key targets such as enemy commanders, wiping out whole squads without being spotted, or taking objectives and single handedly winning the day (to begin with, before any experienced snipers jump in with stories to the contrary). Let’s be realistic about what we have :
1. The Rifle – the ultimate weapon? Always remember you’ve got one shot at a time and a really low rate of fire. You don’t have a lot of firepower by comparison, although should be able to hit (a little) further, and be able to land that one shot on target. I’ll cover the rifle in a separate blog.
2. The Ghillie – or at least some level of concealment beyond bdu’s. The ghillie is equally as important as the rifle – again I’ll cover it in more detail in other blogs – and is as equally effective a weapon. Not being seen is key, because you want one shot going towards the enemy with ideally nothing coming back. That’s our (slim) fire superiority.
3. Patience – and discipline. Learning when and where to wait, or to move. Learning more often than not, to not pull the trigger immediately on contact. You want to keep your deaths as close to zero as possible, even if it means you finish the day with only three kills, at least you did a good job of staying out of sight. Nobody counts your score, but they’ll know that they never saw you and never got a shot off at you. Play on the psychological side and keep people wondering where you are. I got asked that after a game once where I had actually sat the game out in the safezone, but didn’t admit to it.
(to avoid issues, all photos are of me. If they get repetitive, just skip past and keep reading. I don’t have loads to choose from)
I’d say, if you can master those three elements, that’s pretty much all you need. You’ll have the advantage of needing very little ammo or supplies (Mags are small, and avoid grenades), so you can run lighter and faster, and hopefully quieter. Use that to your advantage. When you get into the game area, immediately look to break off from your team, after briefing of course, and get yourself a good position while other players aren’t paying much attention.
Learn your local site inside and out and try to make a note of good positions. I sometimes go for a wander on lunch breaks, or sit out some games that aren’t sniper-friendly and use that time to fine tune my ghillie or do a little reconnaissance. Being a sniper is a lot more than just turning up on the day, letting a few rounds off and going home again. It’s about a constant cycle of development, of the rifle, of your camouflage (consider seasonal changes), and of yourself. Unfortunately for the impatient, it’s something that takes time and isn’t something that can be bought if you’re looking for the quick and easy route.
Of course, you could just run around with the rest of them…