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Part 2 of 4: Welcome to Army Sniper School

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FORT BENNING, Ga. — For the candidates who made it to week two of the U.S. Army Sniper School at Fort Benning, Georgia, their greatest challenges were just beginning.

Students in their ghillie suits were dispersed throughout the wooded hills and hid under leaves and branches. Instructors with high-powered optics were trying to locate them. If part of a student’s body became exposed, or if he became impatient and moved suddenly, his position was given away. When that happened, the student failed.

There was plenty in the woods there to make a Soldier uncomfortable enough to move and give away his position. There was the heat, for starters. And there was also an array of mosquitoes, ants, and other insects that could crawl into a Soldier’s eyes or onto his face to make him squirm. But all of that had to be ignored for those Soldiers to pass the test.

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Read Part 1 of 4 here.

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Moran remembered, as a student years ago, he crept closer and closer toward a target: a driver of a truck, who was positioned some 600 meters away. Dressed in camouflage and a ghillie suit, and holding his high-powered rifle, he had been hiding under a pile of grass, stealthily crawling only five feet an hour, trying to remain undetected. When he had crept within 250 meters of his target, he fixed the crosshairs of his scope and pulled the trigger.

“Stalking requires close attention to detail of both the changing vegetation and light conditions through which a sniper moves,” Moran said. “Stalking also requires a high tolerance for discomfort.”

Sometimes snipers must be able to identify targets of opportunity, so another part of the training during this time was target detection.

In target detection, snipers must dissect their area of operation through observation, using their naked eye, binoculars, and rifle scope.

Snipers are trained to be able to get close enough to the enemy and take him out with one shot for one reason: to save Soldiers’ lives.

Moran added that the stalking and target detection exercises for the remainder of the week are the most significant disqualifiers. Many students fail during this portion of the course.

“Most of the students who are dropped from the sniper course have failed because of their lack of discipline,” Moran said. “Students must pay attention to the smallest details in every subject of the course … and grasp the training concepts taught here at our school.

“In extreme weather conditions, some students lack the necessary attention to detail,” Moran said. “And for others, they come to the class without the proper preparation.

“With every class, I’m hopeful that we won’t have anyone fail,” he said. “It’s realistic to assume that some or all of student candidates may not have gotten the required training they should have gotten at their units before coming to our course here. However, students can return to their units, retrain and reapply to our school again.”

Twenty-five students failed during week two.

RECONNAISSANCE

Also during the first couple of weeks, students learned to do reconnaissance. Groups of three or four would simulate being deep behind enemy lines. They nestled behind shrubbery in a densely forested area where they couldn’t be seen.

In this exercise, students had to be patient, often lying perfectly still for hours at a time. When they moved, they crawled slowly and stealthily. Meanwhile, with their binoculars trained on a target, they would watch for enemy movement.

“The sniper team’s secondary mission is the collection and reporting of battlefield information,” said Sgt. 1st Class Eric Doolittle, sniper school operations non-commissioned officer.

“A highly effective team can move into an area, remain undetected, and report enemy movements, equipment, and patterns of life,” he said. “If need be and trained to, the sniper team can also call in artillery on enemy positions to disrupt or kill the enemy.”

Moran said it was one of his mentors that helped him understand what it means to benefit and help shape a unit from a reconnaissance and sniper perspective.

He chose to become a sniper, he said, because he feels that it is a vital service to the Army. But also, he said, he thinks the role of the sniper is misunderstood.

“Snipers are force multipliers,” Moran said, explaining that a few good snipers can sometimes swing momentum on the battlefield.

“This is why I chose this profession,” he said. “I wanted to be a force multiplier.

“Snipers don’t just shoot,” he continued. “Snipers are detail-oriented, can accomplish a task with little or no support, and can help every commander at every level if they are given the opportunity. Put faith in your snipers, and they will get you the results you need, and much more.”

WEEK THREE

In the third week, students learned data-gathering strategies to engage targets at unknown distances. They were also taught the basics of sniper marksmanship.

Week three was a mix of classroom instruction and range time with 90 percent spent on the range. Students conducted standard Army physical training in the morning along with their instructors. After breakfast, they moved to a range for a day of firing where they were taught sniper/spotter dialogue.

Burroughs Range has some rolling terrain but is mostly flat. Both sides of the range are lined with trees to help separate range lanes. The firing line is worn down with no grass, exposing the red Georgia clay. The range is about 400 meters wide and about 950 meters long. There are several old burnt-out cars and a couple of old tank hulls that litter the range. These vehicles serve as markers to help students determine the distance to targets.

The targets that students fired at were man-sized, 20 inches wide by 40 inches tall steel targets. There was an audible “ding” heard when bullets hit the targets.

Targets were placed on the range from 300 meters to 800 meters, were painted white, and had either a number or letter so that the instructors could tell the students what to shoot.

The entire week was daytime firing, and students fired between 80 to 120 rounds a day.

On the range, a group of four to six students was assigned to a sniper/instructor. Sniper/instructors were “on glass” looking through a spotting scope at the targets and telling them what targets to shoot.

They coached the students on marksmanship fundamentals and instructed them to make adjustments in their rifle sightings after missed rounds, due in part to varying weather conditions. Instructor mentorship was critical.

“The instructors I work with now are some of the most professional individuals I’ve had the opportunity to work with,” Moran said. “They are knowledgeable in every aspect of the job and enjoy talking about work in their off time. They are always thinking of ways to better the course so we can send the best-trained snipers back to their units.”

Moran and the majority of the instructors have engaged and killed multiple enemy targets as an infantryman.

“Whether as an infantryman or as a sniper, the act of conducting a lethal engagement is a severe one that cannot be overemphasized,” said one instructor.

In Moran’s first duty assignment, he served with the 75th Ranger Regiment. With that unit, he deployed six times, including three times as a sniper. After leaving the 75th Ranger Regiment to stand up a sniper section at 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, Moran served as the reconnaissance platoon sergeant. After that, he began teaching.

“I enjoy the independence that is often required for the job, and relying on a small group of select individuals,” Moran said.

Big League Guns

Texas Governor Abbott Wants Texas to Be a “Second Amendment Sanctuary”

The Texas GOP needs to get its act together and start passing pro-2A legislation

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Last week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said he wants to turn Texas into a Second Amendment sanctuary state.

Patrick Sviteck of the Texas Tribune reported on Twitter, “Abbott tells TPPF he wants to make TX a “2A sanctuary state” this session “so that no gov’t official at any level can come & take your gun away from you despite those ppl who say, ‘Heck yes, we’re gonna take your gun.’ We’re gonna say, ‘Heck no, you cannot take ppl’s guns'” in TX.”

Abbott’s quip about taking people’s guns was in response to Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke remarks during the 2019 Democrat presidential debates where he explicitly called for gun confiscation.

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Abbott’s comment came after a number of Texas counties began to declare themselves as “Second Amendment sanctuaries” throughout 2020. Daniel Friend of The Texan reported that  “By early 2020, commissioners in over 60 counties — often with the support of the county sheriff — had passed some sort of Second Amendment sanctuary resolution.”

Two elected officials have filed different versions of the Texas Firearm Protection Act, which Greg Abbott pushed back in 2013 when he was Attorney General. The TFPA is a piece of legislation that would ban law enforcement from enforcing federal gun control schemes “that purports to regulate a firearm, a firearm accessory, or firearm ammunition if the statute, order, rule, or regulation imposes a prohibition, restriction, or other regulation, such as a capacity or size limitation, a registration requirement, or a background check, that does not exist under the laws of this state.”

State Representative Steve Toth introduced House Bill (HB) 112 and State Representative Ben Leman introduced HB 919 — both of 2021’s version of the TFPA.

At a Texas Public Policy Foundation event, Abbott emphasized his pro-Tenth Amendment credentials by stating that “I still hold a record that will never be broken by anybody.I hold the record for the most lawsuits filed against Barack Obama — 31 legal actions against him.

The Texas Governor added, “We had to because the actions he was taking trampled upon Texas’ liberties based upon the Tenth Amendment. We need to go back to the fundamentals of the Tenth Amendment and reassert that against any potential encroachments that we see under the Biden administration.

The sanctuary movement is arguably one of the brightest spots for the right heading into the Biden era. Despite Democrat control at the federal level, there will be more paths for reform available at the state and local level. This should make Second Amendment operatives realize that not all politics is federal. Plus, gaining in power in D.C. necessitates having strong local political machines. Fighting Second Amendment battles at the state and local level is a good way to build a power base.

As cliche as it may sound, all politics is still local.

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