The M1014 – Inside the USMC’s combat shotgun

The sniper peeks out of sight through his telescopic sight. He looks out of the shadows and has his target in his sights. He thinks about his shot. He holds his breath and shoots. The enemy never sees it coming. Aim down.

When you hear the word “sniper,” the image that probably comes to mind is that of a hidden sniper armed with a powerful rifle preparing to fire a shot hundreds of meters away. There’s a good reason for that.

Snipers are distinguished, at least in part, by their unique ability to eliminate targets from a distance and repel threats without letting the enemy know they are coming. It’s a tough job. Snipers typically operate at distances between 600 and 1,200 meters and occasionally take out an enemy from a greater distance.

For example, a Canadian special forces sniper broke the world record for the longest confirmed kill in 2017 and shot an ISIS fighter from over two miles away in Iraq.

“There are definitely people out there who have done amazing things,” US Army First Sgt. Kevin Sipes, a veteran sniper and instructor at Fort Benning, Ga., Sniper school, told Business Insider. “Everything is possible.”

We asked a handful of elite U.S. Army snipers, each of whom had enemies in combat, what’s in long-range shots. Here’s what this veteran marksman had to say about shooting like a sniper.

“There are a million things that go into being a sniper and you have to be good at all of them,” Sipes told BI.

US Army Sniper Spc. Nicholas Logsdon, a paratrooper of the 1st Squadron of the 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, attacks targets during a live fire drill as part of exercise Mountain Shock at the Pocek Range, Slovenia on Dec. 8, 2016.

(U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Paolo Bovo)

First, a sniper needs the right equipment. A sniper’s rifle is his most important piece of equipment, his lifeline. The two standard rifles used by conventional Army snipers are the M110 semi-automatic gas sniper system and the M2010 reinforced sniper rifle.

Bullets fired from these rifles leave the barrel at more than 750 meters per second, more than twice the speed of sound.

The other critical assets a sniper would never want to go into the field without are their data on previous engagements (DOPE) book and consolidated data card, or range card – hard data gathered in training that enables a sniper to do the challenging Speed ​​up the shooting process. Snipers don’t have unlimited time to take a shot. They need to be able to act quickly when asked to.

Second, while each sniper in the army has the ability to carry out their mission independently, these snipers usually work closely with their spotters, a critical set of extra eyes on the battlefield.

The M1014 - In the USMC's combat gun

A U.S. Army sniper, Paratrooper of 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, uses his spotter scope to scan the battlefield during a live fire drill as part of Exercise Mountain Shock on the Pocek Range in Slovenia on Aug. December 2016 to watch.

(U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Paolo Bovo)

The two soldiers exchange roles in training so that each is clearly informed of each other’s responsibilities, which ensures greater effectiveness in combat.

Third, a sniper needs a stable firing position, preferably one where the sniper is hidden from the enemy’s watchful eyes and can lie prone with his legs spread apart to absorb recoil. However, snipers train to shoot from other positions such as standing or kneeling.

The M1014 - In the USMC's combat gun

US Army Sniper Spc. Nicholas Logsdon, a paratrooper of the 1st Squadron of the 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, attacks targets during a live fire drill as part of exercise Mountain Shock at the Pocek Range, Slovenia on Dec. 8, 2016.

(U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Paolo Bovo)

Fourth, the sniper and his observer must have a thorough understanding of all of the difficult considerations and calculations that go into the shooting process, Staff Sgt. Christopher Rance, sergeant of the sniper instructor team at Fort Benning, told BI. The team must measure the atmosphere, determine the range, determine the wind, and then work together to shoot precisely at a target.

“The biggest thing you have to consider right away is your atmosphere,” he said. To start with, this includes temperature, station pressure and humidity. “The sniper has to take all of this into account, and that will help formulate a firing solution.”

An important tool is the kestrel for applied ballistics on a sniper-spotter team, basically a handheld weather station. “It automatically takes readings and calculates a shot solution based on the weapon profile we created,” Rance told BI.

The M1014 - In the USMC's combat gun

US Army Sniper Spc. Nicholas Logsdon, a paratrooper of the 1st Squadron of the 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, attacks targets during a live fire drill as part of exercise Mountain Shock at the Pocek Range, Slovenia on Dec. 8, 2016.

(U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Paolo Bovo)

Next, the couple determines the area that is of the greatest importance.

Against lower-level threats such as militants, snipers can use laser rangefinders. But trained soldiers likely have the ability to recognize this. Against these advanced battlefield enemies, snipers must rely on the crosshair in the telescopic sight.

“Basically, we have this ruler, about three and a half, four inches in front of our eyes, that’s in the optics that can go ahead and soften a target and thereby determine a range,” said Rance.

Once the sniper has determined the range, the next step is to determine the wind speed. Based on the distance to the target, the sniper must determine the wind speed for different zones. “The sniper will generally use a hold then,” explained Rance. “He’ll choose the height on his optics and he’ll think it’s wind.”

The M1014 - In the USMC's combat gun

US Army Sniper Spc. Nicholas Logsdon, a paratrooper of the 1st Squadron of the 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, attacks targets during a live fire drill as part of exercise Mountain Shock at the Pocek Range, Slovenia on Dec. 8, 2016.

(U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Paolo Bovo)

When bullets shoot from a long distance, they won’t fly straight. At long range, bullets experience spin drift and gravity, causing them to slow down from the first supersonic flight.

When it is time to take the shot, the sniper will “shoot for respite,” explained Capt. Greg Elgort, company commander for the Sniper School at Fort Benning, BI. “He’ll of course stop breathing before he pulls the trigger.”

For a skilled sniper, the weapon comes right back into his shoulder, and the scope should fall back straight on the target.

Fifth, a sniper must be ready to quickly get another firing range if the first one doesn’t remove the threat. “If [the sniper] should you miss, “explained Rance,” you only have a few seconds to correct the second shot before the target takes cover and disappears. “

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

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