Due to the recent release of the movie American Sniper directed by Clint Eastwood more and more people want to know how to become a SEAL sniper. For those of you who don’t know, American Sniper is based off of the book by Chris Kyle telling his journey through life as the most deadly sniper in American military history. The movie reveals some interesting questions to many one of the main ones being “how can I become a SEAL sniper?” The answer is simple fist you have to pass the hardest military boot camp in the world AKA BUD/S. (For more information on BUD/S visit my earlier post) Then you have to pass the SECOND hardest military training camp in the world. In America we call that United States Navy SEAL Sniper Training.
Sniper training is three months of twelve hour days and its seven days a week. Due to the fact that many applicants have just passed BUD/S the course is as physically demanding to the students as it is mentally. Sniper school is so hard that according to Brandon, a SEAL sniper, ‘”Sniper school is one of the very few courses a SEAL will not be looked down upon for failing to complete. It’s an unwritten rule that you don’t give guys a hard time for washing out of sniper school. Because the course is known for its insane difficulty, just being selected or volunteering to go automatically elicits respect in the teams'”(Inside the SEAL Teams Pt. 1). The first phase of sniper school is the shooting phase. During the shooting phase you learn how to operate, shoot, and clean any and all of the guns that you might use overseas. While many of the of the SEALs applying for the course already have knowledge of guns and most grew up shooting at a young age for some this is the hardest part. Perhaps the most stressful part of the whole course is the cold bore shot test. For the cold bore test you have to shoot one bullet from a distance set by your instructors with out any warm up. This shooting with a cold gun will cause the bullet to drop considerably. According Maryland Shooting Association the reason behind the bullets drop is, “The colder the air, the more dense it becomes. From what I recall the bullet will have a different point of impact on the target. The colder air temp (denser air) will cause the bullet to drop faster then in the summer. I think the formula is 1 inch drop per every 10 degree drop in temp at 100 yards”(MDshooters.com). This effect is the same from cold air to a cold gun barrel.
The second half of the class is the Stalking phase. During this phase the prospective snipers learned how to slowly move in, take the shot on a target, and move out all with out being seen. During this phase the emphasis was on camouflage and patience. According to Brandon, ‘”They taught us how to make a veg fan, clipping branches from Manzanita bushes or whatever happened to be around and zip tying them together. We learned to hide behind this ad hoc camouflage as we would slowly rise up in the middle of the bushes, eyes just peeking over the top of the fan, using either our binos or the naked eye to peer through the veg clippings and get an idea of where our target was, then slowly melting back down again'”(Inside the SEAL Teams Pt. 2). This stalking phase is perhaps the most important part of the entire class as if you even want to take the shot you need to make it first.
SEAL snipers have extreme dedication and patience as they take days to just execute one shot. The men who’s training involves going through hell and back are one of the reasons behind the effectiveness of the SEAL teams.