With experience comes wisdom. At least, if you're smart and have been paying attention. The following list is some of the sniper tips and tricks Jeff Hoffman accumulated over the course of his career as a sniper. Hoffman has been doing this for a long time, and we wanted to share his knowledge with our readers. He came by it the hard way, so you won't have to.
— Tom Beckstrand
Have your stuff squared away so you can find it immediately in your truck or in the dark at the scene of a callout. Snipers never have time to screw around. This is especially true immediately after a training session or callout when your stuff is all messed up.
If your gear is dicked up, your chances of a callout are tripled. If your gear is broken, you will need it. If your battery is dead, you will wish it wasn't.
Separate your gear into logical categories and gear bags:
- Your LBE and rifle.
- What you will need, such as BDUs or coveralls, sidearm, etc.
- Extra stuff that is handy but not necessary.
- Cold weather gear.
Carry toilet paper in case you need to take a crap in the field. It is also good for wiping the frost off your scope when you breathe on it during 12- degree weather.
Remember, the bore is about 2 inches below line of sight. Just because you have a clear view through the scope doesn't mean you have a clear shot through your bore.
A fouled bore is predictable. Clean it and then shoot it in order to be ready for a callout. Some snipers disagree, and other methods also allow for consistency. One way is to wipe with Montana X- Treme Bore Conditioner oil after cleaning and then dry patch. Make sure you test all methods to confirm a lack of shift.
Never trust the safety on a bolt rifle. Lift the bolt to make it safe.
Dress like you are going hunting. Gore-Tex is your friend.
Carry a mat. You are going to spend a bunch of time on cold ground.
Remember, if done right, your camo is good. Trust it. When the little guy is running around in your head screaming, He's looking right at me. He has to see me. Run! Run! your target probably cannot see you. He's looking for the pizza truck because he demanded a pizza. Movement is what will give you away. Stay really still, and he will look the other way. Then assess your hide. However, if he levels the rifle in your direction, the little guy in your head might just be right.
Get a pair of fingerless gloves. They will protect your hands while still enabling the control and sensitivity to handle your rifle or small objects.
Find warm, thin camo gloves. When you find a really good pair, go back and buy several pairs. Store a pair in every coat you might wear on a callout.
Take an extra charged radio battery. You will need it.
Train and shoot in your LBE. You must know what is comfortable, what is in the way, and whether you can get at your gear. You'll also find out what snags or rattles. Besides, you will shoot differently in your gear than without it. Run in your gear as part of the training. This keeps you realistic about what is necessary.
You won't starve, so forget bulky MREs as part of your normal callout gear. PowerBars or energy gel work great instead. You should have MREs in your truck, but unless it is an extended operation, don't carry them as part of your gear.
You will need hydration. I carry a 20- ounce Gatorade on my LBE, another in my pack and more in the truck. Gatorade won't get skanky in two weeks like a CamelBak of water will. It tastes better, too.
Carry cough drops so you can get at them easily. When close enough that the target can hear you, you will have to cough.
Have aspirin/Excedrin in a location you can get at from a prone position. You will get a headache from eyestrain and looking through the scope with your head crooked.
If you use a front scope cap, camo the inside of it so that when it is open it is not a 2- inch round, black target indicator. Consider that your front objective is also a recognizable target indicator when the cap is off. Instead of a flip-open scope cover, I use a rubber front cap that has a smaller, irregular hole cut in it to view through, which is then spray painted. Normally, the only time it matters is if a trained observer is looking for you.
Once zeroed, mark your turrets (horizontal mark on the turret post, just below the edge of the dial) so you can make sure at a glance that you are not one full revolution off. Better yet, get a scope that has a zero stop.
Before leaving the range, shoot 100 yards to confirm zero. It is easy to get a full revolution off, and the consequences can be disastrous. If you regularly train past 500 yards, this will happen, so realize your mistake and fix it.
Unless ready to shoot or view something, always keep the scope at its lowest power setting, and be sure to turn it back down when done. There is always time to turn the power up, and there is never time to turn it down. You need the additional field of view available from the low power setting. You can shoot well at low power, but if you are at 15X or 22X, you will not be able to find the threat in your scope when it pops up at 25 yards.