In urban settings, what are some best positions for sniper?

In urban settings, what are some best positions for sniper?

Snipers do not usually sit with their guns hanging out of a window. Hollywood gives a screwed-up idea of sniping.

A long-range shot is not one block or two blocks. It’s about 8 or 9 blocks. Say from 600 to 900 yards. Now, if you are up high and can see down the street from a window or rooftop, you do not have to hang out the window or sit at the roof’s edge.

You can be back deep in the room or away from the rooftop and still see those distances down the street.

Snipers want to see and not be seen, so they can kill and not be killed.

Nothing would ruin a sniper’s day more than taking a shot, then having an RPG fly in through the window or a mortar barrage falling on the roof of his room.

That would happen if he shot at targets 100 yards away, something any competent rifleman with an M-4 could take.

He shoots from a position where muzzle flash or blast cannot be observed and from where he can exit unseen in a hurry if necessary.

In urban settings, what are some of the best positions for snipers?

I heard a story some years ago that I have never verified about an IRA sniper who set himself up in an upstairs room in a building with horizontal slatted blinds. 

He cut a slot in the window’s glass in line with the blinds, which was unnoticeable from the street, and he positioned himself far back in the room, perched on a table. His position was not found until after someone had been shot at in the street and a house-by-house search carried out. 

As I said, I have no proof this was true, but it does sound like a good method of concealing your position for a one-off shot.

As others have said, snipers never stick gun barrels out of windows.

How do snipers feel about killing people?

Once, a reporter asked a sniper, “What do you feel when you shoot a terrorist ?”

The sniper shrugged and replied, “Recoil.”

Is it true that snipers are the most feared soldiers on the battlefield?

No. The guy with a rifle is not the scariest. That distinction belongs to the guy with a much more dangerous piece of equipment:

The humble radio. This guy could pull down everything from a single mortar round-up to a bombing run by a fully loaded B-52 to naval missiles to armored cavalry reinforcements. 

He can tell this support exactly where, what spot at what height in what position, needs a proper lesson in violence. He can tell artillery which direction to adjust their fire, and he can warn pilots of infantry with MANPADS; he is the man in control of the tactical battlefield.

There is no weapon more frightening than a radio.

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What is it like to be a sniper? How does it feel to be part of combat as a sniper?

My initial reaction was to decline to answer this question. It’s not an easy question to answer -almost uncomfortable for me. I am not sure how to address such a personal question…I recognize the public’s fascination with this strange profession & skill -both morbid and sensationalized at the same time. So here goes.

As a 12-year SEAL and Sniper, I spent the better part of my adult life learning, using, refining, and living this skill, yet I find it difficult to say, “What is it like to be a sniper?”. In the Teams, older snipers and team leaders look for more “solitary and quiet” individuals with focus and a “quiet” about them. 

Some individuals have a “comfortable knack” and a natural feel for navigating any environment unseen -the training takes this “knack” to a whole new level. 

An additional skill that is sought out, honed, and refined is something we call “Bubble Compartmentalization” -or the ability to block everything else out for long periods, except specific visual and observation skills -the ability to sit still, observe, and calculate without losing your mind.

There is nothing glorious or sexy about the job. It is very hard on your body, and you would not want to chat about it at a cocktail party. In my experience -people already have a formed opinion of what type of person you must be, what morals you have, and that you must be a little “off” long before you even meet them.

You spend days crawling, climbing, slinking, stinking -getting bit by every bug, scratched by every thicket -attempting to relieve yourself while laying on your side, looking through night vision or scopes for endless hours, sleeping in 15-minute bursts -to get to a “target area.” 

Once on the target area – you do the business of a sniper, usually in support of a SEAL assault team that comes in fast and hard in helicopters -then fast rope down onto the target -take it down, then board and fly away. 

Your work begins again -exfiltration, the art of getting out of the target area (sometimes with some angry enemies running around trying to figure out what happened).

So many different skill sets need to be constantly refined -as Sniper tactics, equipment, weather, enemy, and ballistic trajectories change dramatically in an Urban-Sniper role.

It is one thing to be able to hide in a jungle with vast areas of cover and concealment -it is entirely another thing to be an effective sniper in a City or Urban Warfare environment. The difficulty factor goes way up. 

The amount of practice, study, and hours spent mastering every type of environment (shooting from buildings, helicopters, ships, through glass, walls, different mathematical calculations for temperature, humidity, altitude, load, etc. It is a non-stop learning game -in addition to your other SEAL missions.

When I tell people that there are many complementary skill sets as a Sniper and a CEO of a company, they think I am crazy, but there are many. A good CEO is there to “support” his team and help make them look good. Not the other way around. To defer attention…and not be a jackass.

The ability to focus on getting from A to B without being distracted, operating and maintaining a company’s focus through constant changes, and adapting rather than causing panic. 

The ability to not have an ego in the game and not make the mission, goal, or success “about me” but rather about everyone else. Use your power only when the moment is required -not flaunting it for all to see.

I apologize if this long-winded answer does not give you the “meat and potatoes” of how it feels to be a sniper, but I find it extremely hard to articulate something so personal and yet job-oriented clearly. Many good books out there do a hell of a job telling specific stories and giving blow-by-blow accounts of combat sniping missions.

I was trained on the 50-caliber McMillian and Barrett Sniper Rifle by Carlos Hathcock. He was a guest instructor to my sniper class; he was a good man and a great teacher. 

His book is good to start, but my personal stories do not have a place here in this forum, so I hope I stayed on topic about how it feels…

How are snipers usually killed in combat?

The snipers that were killed during the Bosnian War died in very different ways:

An enemy rifle shot one sniper in our platoon in the head, most probably from another sniper.

An enemy sniper jumped from a high building when he discovered we had located his position and were about to catch him alive.

Snipers were the most hated soldiers on the battlefield, and when they were caught alive, they usually didn’t live very long.

We also lost a sniper when a tank shot at the house where he was positioned. A wall collapsed over him, and he died immediately. It’s often overlooked that a tank makes the perfect anti-sniper weapon.

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Most snipers, however, died through indirect fire from the artillery. The artillery is the number one killer on the battlefield, and snipers are no exception. The mortar is probably the most effective against snipers of all artillery weapons.

In other conflicts, snipers also get killed by airstrikes and, more often, by anti-tank missiles. Like the tank, a modern anti-tank missile is extremely accurate over long distances, and therefore, it is perfectly suited to combat a relatively small target, for example, a sniper.

In urban settings, what are some best positions for sniper?

Why are snipers the most hated soldiers in a war?

Snipers are indeed universally hated. During the Bosnian War, we didn’t even like our snipers and stayed away from them whenever possible.

This hate has several reasons:

  • The so-called “sniper threat” is a constant problem. Especially in urban areas, from the moment you get out of bed, you have to scan your surroundings for possible snipers. You can rarely take a break from them, leading to much frustration.
  • Snipers often kill outside of a combat situation. Usually, when you fight enemy infantry, you find yourself on the battlefield and expect them to shoot back at you. Snipers, however, often attack when you’re not aware of them. Once, during the War in Bosnia, my squad was drinking coffee in the backyard of a house when a sniper started aiming at us. Of course, that pisses people off, especially when it happens often.
  • Snipers kill without a warning sign. When you are up against tanks, you hear them advancing from a great distance and can prepare yourself. The same goes for an artillery attack. Often, you hear the ‘blob’ sounds when an artillery round leaves the muzzle, and there will be enough time for you to take cover. It’s rarely the first shell that will hit your position. On the other hand, snipers often kill ‘unannounced’ and with their first round.
  • You rarely can shoot back at them. With the enemy infantry, it’s a very balanced game; they kill a few of your guys, and you kill some of them. When they attack you, they risk their lives, which you can respect and honor. Snipers, on the other hand, shoot from a relatively safe distance, out of the range of most of your squad’s weapons. They are difficult to locate, and even when you can direct your artillery at them, they are often long gone before you have initiated an effective countermeasure. It’s difficult to locate them, leading to even more frustration (and hate).
  • They cause a lot of casualties. Every soldier in my unit in Bosnia had at least one friend who had been killed or severely wounded by a sniper. Of course, we also lost a lot of guys to artillery, mines, and enemy infantry, but this happened mostly during combat operations. However, our casualties from sniper fire were rising constantly, whether there was an ongoing military operation or not.
  • Wounds from sniper fire are often more serious than those from other infantry weapons. Due to their bigger calibers, sniper bullets make bigger holes. You can easily survive a shot in the leg from an automatic rifle, but an injury from a 12.7 mm sniper bullet is always problematic.
  • They often kill non-combatants. The number one reason why we hated enemy snipers during the Bosnian War was because they were also killing civilians. This wasn’t always necessarily their fault. There were always a lot of civilians in combat zones, and it’s sometimes not easy to differentiate between a soldier with a gun and a civilian carrying a stick or a tool. Snipers shoot long distances, and their target is often visible for a very short time. It’s easy for them to make a mistake.

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Enemy snipers frustrated us. They were feared and hated, and they couldn’t expect any pity when they got caught.

How should you run when being targeted by a sniper?

You run straight to the nearest place that provides you with concealment. Unlike a machine gunner, an enemy sniper won’t shoot a single bullet unless he has a clear sight of his target.

Therefore, you only need to get out of the sniper’s sight. Fog and smoke grenades can help you to obscure the enemy’s view.

Don’t waste your time looking for a ‘bulletproof’ position (cover), and you’ll only get yourself killed during the process.

All you need is concealment, not cover.

Was Chris Kyle the “best sniper” ever?

I would say no. Chris Kyle’s success in raising a high body count is because of the target-rich urban environment in which he operated. There are rumors that he isn’t even the deadliest U.S. SEAL sniper anymore; he’s just the deadliest who wrote a book about it.

Kyle was listed as having the highest “American” confirmed count. He isn’t even close to Russian sniper Vasily Zaitsev with 400+ (I hope I spelled that right) or Finnish sniper Simo Hayha with 505 ( again, I hoped I spelled that right ).

There was a Russian female sniper named Lyudmila Pavlichenko with 309 confirmed kills in WW2. Then you have to consider Carlos Hathcock, who Kyle himself said was a better sniper than he was.

He pulled off some amazing hunts in Vietnam, as recorded in the book Marine Sniper: 99 confirmed kills. He (Hathcock) is the Godfather to all U.S. snipers. Chris Kyle was a remarkably effective sniper who deserves recognition among the best, although I don’t believe (and neither did he) that he was the best.

Is it more dangerous to be a sniper than a rifleman?

A sniper has one big advantage over the regular infantryman: the risks he takes are more calculable:

Do you want to approach your target for another fifty feet? They might see you, and then you’re in a big sh*t.

Do you want to change your position now or after the next shot? The longer you stay, the higher the risk.

Nobody is telling the sniper what to do in such situations, and it all depends on his judgment. It’s always his call.

One of my buddies in Kosovo with a Barrett M82 anti-materiel rifle.

On the other hand, an infantry platoon has very little leeway for a regular rifleman. Your squad commander tells you where to put your feet, where to set up your position, and when to change it.

In infantry combat, your fate is rarely in your own hands. Your survival depends on other people and sheer luck. This goes for both the sniper and the infantryman.

Still, the sniper has a bit more freedom of choice than the other soldiers and one day, this may very well save his life.

How often do snipers miss in combat?

They miss it all the time. Otherwise, I would have been dead for a long time. “Every shot a hit” only happens in some Hollywood movies.

Especially long-distance shots have an extremely low hit rate. When we read about a new sniper record in the newspapers, they never tell us how many times the guy had missed his target before he broke the record.

It rarely happens that a sniper on the battlefield finds “shooting range conditions.” Usually, they find themselves in a suboptimal place, have targets that are not behaving like the ones in video games, and, of course, people are shooting back at them.

Still, snipers have a much higher hit rate than foot soldiers, but it’s nothing like in the movies.

How does it feel to be targeted by a sniper?

I’ve fought for the Croats in the Bosnian war. Especially in the cities, sniper fire was a daily nuisance.

I remember the day I arrived in Mostar in ’93 at the height of the war. I made it 10 meters out of the bus when a sniper started shooting at me.

New to the place, I had yet to learn from where the shots were coming and, even worse, what to do.

Soon, I would learn that the snipers somehow influenced every daily activity:

Where to go and where not, where to sleep and eat, when to run, and when to take cover.

The front line ran practically through the middle of the city so that almost every place in town was within the reach of sniper fire.

Every car that entered the city went full speed through the streets to avoid getting hit.

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Still, this was the safest method to move from one place to another.

A friend tried his luck by foot and was shot while crossing a bridge.

I cannot even remember how many times a sniper shot at me

The first time, I was quite scared, the bullets making a nasty sound when they nearly missed my head or struck a wall nearby, but later, I got used to it.

Once, I was drinking coffee in a garden with comrades, and a sniper aimed.

In urban settings, what are some best positions for sniper?

We didn’t even stop drinking our coffee until the fourth or fifth shot nearly missed us. Only when a bullet hit my friend’s coffee cup did we abandon our activity and look for cover.

Luckily, the enemy’s snipers were inaccurate; the first shot almost always missed, giving you time to run for cover.

Sometimes, they didn’t even try hard to hit us; we were probably almost out of their reach, and they were just shooting at us to make our lives as unpleasant as possible.

They succeeded in it.

Does a sniper generally get more kills than a regular infantryman?

In the places where I fought, this was different.

The snipers I met in Bosnia and later in Kosovo rarely killed someone like the rest of us. It doesn’t work as you see it in Hollywood movies, where a single soldier (sniper or rifleman) scores an impressive number of kills.

Nobody likes to get killed in real life, so most soldiers are extremely careful. Of course, this makes it hard to kill them.

I know one soldier who fought with me in Bosnia (as a fellow rifleman) who claimed to have killed three enemy soldiers and had witnesses to prove it. There might have been others around who claimed to have killed more, but they weren’t trustworthy.

The machine gunners are the only infantry soldiers who sometimes kill a larger number of enemies. If an infantry platoon makes the mistake of getting too close to an enemy machine gun, they’ll suffer the heaviest casualties.

On the other hand, Snipers only shoot a single fire at one target and rarely have the opportunity to kill more than one enemy in the same combat situation.

What are some of the most clever techniques and tactics used by snipers?

John Allen Muhammad used a car as a portable sniper platform, which he used around the USA.

The principle could have worked for years, but clues were left, the car was kept traceable, and complacency set in.

This car did not stand out or arouse suspicion. Law enforcement and witnesses had yet to learn where the shots came from. Some would have walked by the car.

Who can be considered as the greatest sniper of all time? And why?

Simo Häyhä easily takes the title of the greatest sniper of all time. Nicknamed “The White Death’, this man was a certified badass.

In 1939, Russian forces, led by Stalin, decided to invade Finland to gain land to defend modern-day St. Petersburg.

Because of these events, Simo was called into action.

Preferring to work alone, he scouted behind enemy lines, bringing only some rations and several clips of ammo. Along with his old-fashioned, yet trusty, iron-sighted, Finnish Model M28/30 sniper rifle.

Häyhä had found a nice hiding spot and intended to remain hidden.

Not only was he a profound marksman, but he was also clever.

Simo purposefully used an iron sight because scopes fog up in cold temperatures, in this case, winter in Russia, and he grew up using iron sights as he hunted game.

He also built snow drifts to conceal himself nearly perfectly and prevent his position from being revealed due to puffs of snow kicked up from recoil.

This was a challenging feat, too, as Russian winters are frigid. However, he remained true to his mission, even placing snow in his mouth to prevent his breaths from disclosing him.

His efforts paid off in the end because, over about 100 days, Häyhä had racked up over 500 kills with his sniper and 200 SMG kills. Some historians even say the number could be higher.

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Eventually, Russian forces realized that it was a one-person army killing a ton of their soldiers, and a week before a peace treaty was signed, Simo was struck in the jaw by an explosive round

This caused permanent damage, resulting in him slipping into a coma for a week.

As of this day, he remains the sniper with the record for most confirmed kills in history.

What is a duel between a sniper and a counter-sniper like?

I think the most famous duel between snipers was during the Vietnam War, between US Marine Carlos Hathcock and a North Vietnamese sniper who had been ravaging the Marines for months.

Hathcock and a buddy, in this situation, were the counter-snipers and went looking for this NVA fellow, crawling through the jungle, having snakes slither over their bodies, and walking through fetid swamps to cover their tracks.

They found evidence of the fellow, evidence that was subtle but, to Hathcock, appeared to be too obvious. Hathcock smelled a trap, and he was right. The NVA sniper knew Hathcock would be hunting him and wanted to snare him. 

The Vietnamese very much hated Hathcock. Hathcock made the right decisions to ensure he was undetected until the buddy snapped a twig and received a shot from the NVA sniper in reply.

The snipers spent the better part of a day within a couple of hundred yards of each other until the NVA sniper retreated into a nearby ravine. Hathcock knew his nemesis was somewhere below him and was using the scope of his rifle as his binoculars. Hathcock had the sun at his back, which would be most fortuitous. 

He saw the reflected glint off the glass a hundred yards down in the jungle, instinctively knew this was the glass of a sniper scope, and fired. The bullet passed through the glass lens and scope before striking the NVA sniper in the eye and killing him. 

Both sniper rifles had been aiming directly at each other. Had they both fired simultaneously, it is entirely possible that their bullets would have collided in mid-air!

Hathcock claims that he escaped his death by moments, that no doubt the NVA sniper had already sighted him. But remember that the sun was behind Hathcock’s back, not the other way around, so the NVA sniper would not have received a glint of sunlight in his direction. 

I suspect that the NVA sniper was guessing where Hathcock might be and was just looking in that direction at the moment Hathcock saw him first.

This true story inspired a scene in the movie “Saving Private Ryan.” A German sniper is killed when the bullet passes through his scope into his eye. Kudos to Steven Spielberg for including this vignette in the movie.

What happens when the enemy catches a sniper?

You probably die if you’re a sniper and get caught during combat.

It doesn’t matter much how civilized or cruel your enemy treats prisoners of war; a sniper caught sniping can’t expect any mercy.

In combat, everybody is trigger-happy, and enemy snipers are despised. There aren’t many soldiers who have been in a war zone and can’t tell you a grueling story or two about an enemy sniper killing one of his comrades or maybe a civilian.

Shooting a surrendered rifleman, medic, radio operator, or machine gunner might get you into trouble with your peers, but if you kill a sniper, you won’t even hear a “why did you do that?” from your comrades.

In urban settings, what are some best positions for sniper?

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