Sniping successfully is a test of your overall skills vs that of your opponent, but there are ways and means of getting ahead of the game and giving yourself advantages. And I don’t mean breaking rules, like hot guns/cheating chrono, spawn camping, or being unethical by trying to run a ghillie with a minigun or slapping a drum mag on an uzi.
While AEG users have been busy advancing their kits the last few years to desperately try and give themselves any and every advantage they can, snipers have largely still been doing their thing with a simple bolt action and mastering the skills to use it properly. We’ve not really needed anything more to stay more than competitive in the field, and there’s really very little kit required which makes the sniper a much cheaper and simpler option for a lot of people. However, there’s always room in the kit bag for things that do help and do make a difference, and although I’ve opted for a silly clickbaity title here, there’s something in my bag that I wanted to share with people.
It’s an idea I had a few years ago, after a sniper event, where I’d taken a few notes and gone home to find fixes for. When you’re out there playing sniper on sniper, you’re alone in the woods facing off against invisible opponents and it’s an amazing experience if you ever have the chance (could always drop me a message on social media…). I remember spending most of the day on high alert, hearing the wind blowing through the trees and reacting to any rustling or branches moving. Occasionally it would be a rabbit, or just trees swaying, but there was always a chance it would be an opponent.
Hearing is by far the most important sense for a sniper. Eyesight covers about 190 degrees in the direction you’re facing, but hearing is 360 degrees of early warning. Where the eyesight might be obstructed by trees and vegetation, the hearing is less so.
Obviously, enhancing it would be a boost to that detection capability. On the day, I cut holes in my ghillie balaclava where it was covering my ears. But working with GSG during skirmishes a few years later I had a bit of a brainwave. What about electronically boosting it?
The AEG guys for a few years now have been splashing out on Comtacs and Sordins and the like. Headsets that have microphones built into the earpieces. The idea is that they muffle loud noises (guns and grenades) and amplify quite noises, such as the human voice, making them very useful for communicating while breaching buildings. I was fortunate to have a go at a charity event at The Gaol, a prison-turned-airsoft-site, several years ago and they’re a highly impressive piece of kit.
So, my mad idea was to bring them across to sniping. And it works…
I’ve bagged a pair of these off Amazon (link to buy here), a recommendation from a friend who was doing some cqb himself. They’re a much more wallet friendly option for starters at only £35, and I’d be more comfortable camouflaging them up as a result. Included in the box are the headset, which folds up nice and small, two AAA batteries and a 3.5mm to 3.5mm jack plug wire – this connects into the bottom of one ear and can then be routed into your radio so basically you’re getting the quiet environmental noises enhanced around you and a feed from your comms in one package. Comes in a range of colours but I’ve just opted for OD because I’m a drab kind of guy.
Grabbed a few bits and headed down to my local in the snow to go and see how well they worked. There’s a switch on one ear that you turn on and it’s also a volume wheel, obviously I want that turned up to max. Immediately in the safe zone, I found myself hearing conversations from across the room, every rattle of kit, every footstep walking towards the car, and the sudden irritation of using a speedloader, amplified. It’s a strange feeling at first.
One of the worries I’ve had with something like this is whether or not you can place sounds. It’s not enough to just hear everything coming if you can’t work out where it’s coming from. Thankfully, that’s not an issue because the headset works in L/R input the same way the human ears work, so you do get the direction too. Wearing them in the field, I set off on a huge flanking manoeuvre with another sniper to see how it picked everything up.
One thing I hadn’t banked on was the amplification of my kit, which actually was a useful exercise in itself. Kneeling down, I could hear my jacket fold onto itself, every metal buckle on my rig, and my arm brushing past pouches. Moving through vegetation, you can suddenly hear every contact your body is making with everything, which is quite interesting. Suddenly I’m more aware of my movements through everything, thinking “shit that was noisy”, or “I need to not do that” and in the long term that will breed some excellent habits in terms of your impact on the environment around you.
Ok, so it’s maybe not quite God mode and I’m sorry for those who prefer their designer brands, but these things work great at boosting your awareness, and being one step ahead of the enemy is well worth the small outlay. It’s the same as a bag of bb’s in some stores, but is worth a lot more in the long run. Try it, let me know how you find it.