Fort Bliss Soldiers Focus on Sniper Training
Saturday, November 6, 2010
by: Sgt. Mark Miranda, 4th Bde. 1st Armored Div.

Section: 4-1 AD

Sniper students at Fort Bliss dressed in ghillie suits listen to instruction before conducting the stalking lane exercise.

SGT Clifton Whaley, an infantryman from Williamsport, Pa. assigned to 1st Bn. 77th Armor Regt. finds a "loop hole" in concealment through which he can fire while conducting the stalking lane.

SPC Jess Schultz, an infantryman in 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division, from Spring Lake Park, Minn. takes up a position in the "stalking lane" at Dona Ana Range.

4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division hosted the U.S. Army Sniper School Mobile Training Team at Fort Bliss, with the final phases culminating in a graduation ceremony Friday (Oct. 15).

With the bulk of instruction held at Dona Ana range, the school utilizes cadre from Fort Benning, Ga., and trains soldiers in marksmanship, sniper equipment and tactics, collection of battlefield intelligence, stalking and other sniper-related skills.

The primary mission of the sniper is to deliver long range, precision fire. Their secondary mission is the collecting and reporting of battlefield information. Soldiers are taught how to blend in with the surrounding environment by wearing a ghillie suit.

“Some of the other pre-requisites for the course include a 110 GT score, good performance record and of course qualifying expert to get the recommendation from unit commanders,” said Spc. Andrew Latham of 4th Bn., 6th Infantry Regt.

Other requirements include vision of, or correctable to 20/20, excellent physical condition (with a score of 70 or more in each Army Physical Fitness event), minimum one year retainability, and students must pass psychological evaluation conducted under the direction of a qualified psychologist. Aside from Soldiers with a special forces enlistment option, only infantrymen and cavalry scouts can attend the U.S. Army sniper school.

Near the end of the four-week instruction they must go through a course where they come within 300 meters of spotters in a small tower and take a shot at a target without being noticed. Students are trained on the M24 Sniper Weapon System, M107 rifle, and the M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System.

“The ‘stalking lanes’ are an accumulation of all events – target detection, range estimation, shooting and utilizing cover and concealment,” said Sgt. Clifton Whaley an infantryman from Williamsport, Pa. assigned to 1st Bn., 77th Armor Regt.

“You have a couple more attempts at the stalking lanes if you’re not a first-time ‘Go.’ If the spotters see you, they can decide on the spot that you’re done; but if you’re using the vegetation in your suit and surrounding areas, keeping to shadows, making slow deliberate movements – everything that’s been taught, the instructors may leave you alone,” said Spc. Jess Schultz, an infantryman from Spring Lake Park, Minn. Assigned to 1st Bn. 77th Infantry Regt.

Students are also taught a variety of different firing techniques utilizing different positions, stances and means of support to allow themselves to use their cover and concealment to maximum effectiveness.

There are four record qualifications, with the first including targets at 300-800 meters. A second one utilizes moving targets, and another with moving targets at night. Qualification includes a record fire with the M107 .50 caliber rifle.

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