Sniping in Airsoft
Well, the last guide did the job, albeit in a dirty manner. It didnâ€™t quite evolve into what I had hoped â€“ a guide for those who want to learn the art of sniping, and apply it to the sport and hobby of Airsoft. It evolved into a 7-page behemoth, and was relatively intimidating to the n00bie, so to speak.
In this one, although the feedback is good, please refrain from saying â€“ â€˜Well done,â€™ or â€˜Bravo,â€™ etc. This needs to be short, as simple as possible and informative.
Keep in mind as you read this that this guide is not the solid benchmark for sharpshooting or stalking, but it will provide you with a battle-tested starting point. Once you complete this guide, use your own wit and know-how to work your way around problems, challenges and complexities in the field. This is just here to get you started on that process.
Also, keep in mind that great effort has been taken to separate the real world from Airsoft, and there is a fuzzy line in between. Many of the things you learn in this guide are incorporated from the real world â€“ I also claim no liability to those who use this in such a manner as to violate the law, or have a negative impact on the Airsoft, real, and any community in general.
And lastly, keep in mind that this guide will only provide you with a vague impression of what weapon system you should be using. I may know plenty about the real thing, but there is a huge difference between a 175gr. SMK ( Sierra Match King ) going at 2,750 FPS, and a 0.2g BB traveling at a sedate 550FPS.
So, let us begin. Welcome to my worldâ€¦
Sniping is a blend of art and science. Your purpose in life is to observe, and when needed, to strike fear into the heart of the enemy with one well-placed round, and delivered in such a manner that the bullet would seemingly come out of thin air. You are not a designated marksman â€“ you will learn to utilize your surroundings so that you become part of that environment, blending in well enough that nobody can spot you. You will need a distinct range advantage over your enemy â€“ distance is your advantage, your silence, your life. It is this capability, to engage a target at extreme ranges in complete safety that will make you a formidable weapon on the battlefield.
Let us break this down. First, we will cover what you will need to perform this job in a satisfactory manner. Then we will delve into basic field-craft skills such as stalking, range estimation, setting up hides, methods of communication, etc. Then we will get into TD, or target detection, and you will be provided with a series of practical exercises that will exercise this crucial skill. Physical standards will be dictated to you to ensure that you can handle any physical task that is thrown at you.
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a. Rifle outfitted with optic of some sort, and secondary weapon
b. Drag bag or rucksack, optional competition sling
c. Basic clothing/accessories
d. Optional spotting optics
e. Calculator, paper, pencil, misc. items
First, you will need a rifle outfitted with an optic. This, obviously, is a prerequisite of the job. I personally suggest a decent bolt action rifle based off the Mauser/Winchester or Remington actions ( i.e. â€“ Tanaka K-98K, Classic Army M24 without the flutes, Sun Project M40/XB ), or possibly one based off of a foreign design ( H&K PSG-1, G-3SG1, or the Steyr SSG ). Stay away from semi-automatic actions, as they have less consistency from shot to shot â€“ the PSG-1 ( in AEG form ) needs signifigant levels of upgrading to perform on-par with slightly upgraded bolt rifles. All of these weapons ( in Airsoft form, from here on out, unless mentioned otherwise ) will hit targets reliably out to 50 yards in stock form, which is a reasonable start â€“ Most M-16s, MP-5s, AK-47s and other generic assault rifles commonly used by enemy forces have trouble beyond 40 yards unless upgraded â€“ but, this is only a 10 yard margin of difference, so I suggest sticking in a stronger spring, bolt handle, sear, and a more efficient piston head as well as a tight bore barrel and a better hop up ( optional ) to increase your useful range and accuracy. As for optics, stick with something simple â€“ I personally suggest low powered scopes of 4 and 6 power in fixed models, to 3-9 ( Leapers Accushot mildot ) or 3.5-10 ( G&P Leupold clone ) power scopes for variable power models, all preferably with a mil-dot reticle. Scopes with powers higher than 10 can be relatively useless within 60 yards at times, as the target can easily move outside of your field of view. Also, stay away from scopes with a huge objective â€“ the light gain is not worth the giant black spot that can be spotted from a million and a half miles away. I would stay away from coin-adjustable turrets unless you really don't care about small changes in point-of-impact ( POI fro here on out ). Finger adjustable ones help, especially for non-hopup guns, but a coin adjustable one is meant to have one zero for the majority of all ranges. I suggest low-mount rings, and possibly a tapered base to add usable elevation to your scope, thereby enhancing the maximum range of the rifle. Additionally, stay away from bipods, because they have a horrible habit of snagging on every piece of brush there is, and they tend to bounce around on solid surfaces when fired.
( M40 - Vietnam style )
( M24 - Modern US Army style )
( K98K Mauser - WWII style )
[img width= height=]http://www.fortmadness.com.ua/wwii/weapon/mauser_k98_r.jpg[/img]
( Steyr SSG - Modern European style )
( PSG-1, similar to G-3, Modern European style )
As for a dragbag or ruck, there are very good reasons to have one or the other. With a dragbag, you can carry your rifle underneath you, while keeping it away from the harmful and often abusive elements. But your hands will remain free to carry your secondary weapon if need be. The disadvantage, is that you must rely on the ground and your sling, if you have one, to provide a stable firing platform. The advantage to a ruck, is that you can carry very heavy loads a long distance, yet use it as a stable firing platform if necessary. The downside, is that it is less mobile than with a dragbag, and presents a very bulky profile, which is easy to spot if careful precautions are not taken. Or, you can pull it all off Blackjack/Hathcock style, packing everything you need into your BDUs and combat webbing/assault vest if you have it. The advantage to this, is that you are extremely mobile, extremely concealable, but your weapons are all exposed, and must be manipulated with your hands at all times. Also, you must rely on the terrain to provide that good, firm firing platform. However, this method is not recommended unless you try the others out, and see what works best for you. This method should only be used by experienced snipers or by those that express extreme levels of caution, preferably both.
As for your basic clothing, this is self-explanatory. A good set of BDUs or cargo pants/safari vest ( sounds weird, but it works ) are needed â€“ make sure that your camouflage works under the majority of conditions. Up here in New England, all the seasons play havoc with your ability to camouflage yourself â€“ I have decided that plain olive drab or MARPAT BDUs work in almost all conditions very well. For a desert location like Nevada or California ( some places ), I suggest the 3-color desert camouflage currently in use by the US Army. As for the friendly Canadians up North, CADPAT as well as MARPAT works very well, but when it snows, switch to plain white or light grey uniforms. Realtree also makes some fantastic products, but beware, they cannot replace the ghille suit. They just assist in hiding you, while the ghille when used like it should, can completely mask you to the outside world. A good set of combat boots is always good to have, but there is a downside. SEALs operating in the Mekong Delta ( Vietnam ) during 1964/65 discovered that the boot tracks were a dead giveaway to where and who they were. So, sometimes they went barefoot or with sneakers, which completely baffled the NVA and the Cong. Beware of doing this, because sprained ankles are common when using normal shoes in a combat situation. And going barefoot in the snow isnâ€™t the easiest thing to do ( been there, done that, have no desire to repeat it unless the world is ending ). A good cover is optional, and I prefer it, because you can always tuck in foliage to compliment your ghille. It also breaks up the outline of the human head, which face paint also does well. When using face paint, remember that dark areas should be shaded lightly â€“ and vice versa. You are trying to become a two-dimensional image to your enemy, and utilizing and contorting shadows makes your life easier, and you safer. A good watch with NO ALARM feature works best. Choose a cheap analog model with NO ALARM feature, and lightly glowing hands â€“ only leave a watch behind when extreme levels of stealth are required, and the tick of the hands can give you away ( such as in nighttime situations ). As for socks, choose something warm, like wool for cold weather, and something water resistant like neoprene ( all dark colors ) for any rainy days.
As for spotting optics, I suggest a 10-20 power spotting scope, or a good pair of binoculars made by Bushnell with a zoom of 15 power minimum. Such a commodity is a Godsend when the visibility is low, or when the target is beyond your effective range â€“ the best advantages, is that you can use them to scan for small tricks and traps, like the heel of a boot, or a claymore at the base of a tree or rock. You can even judge the wind with them if you put it out of focus and watch which direction heatwaves radiate ( mirage ). That heatwave distorts an image, making range estimation difficult â€“ a common trick to avoid it is to rise up off the ground a tad.
Now for misc. items. A calculator and paper/pencil are a necessity for use with a mil-dot scope. The formula is as follows : Width of the target in yards ( decimal value ) multiplied by 1,000, and divided by the number of mils ( distance from each dot on the reticle, which will also end up in a decimal value ) that the target takes up. This will give you your range in yards, and will only work in a scopes highest power â€“ since we are shooting at no further than 110 yards, this CAN be done by eyesight, but if you have a non-hopup gun, then this is how you are going to hit the target. If you can do that in your head, get your head out of your ass, get out of the field and into a school, and go teach methematics. Anyways, another useful tool would be a penlight with a red and green filter, for signaling use and to read maps/charts without giving off a distinct signature to draw fire. Keep shiny, reflective things out of the field â€“ keep your dogtags, necklaces, rings and other ding-dongs at base. Regarding secondary weapons, this depends on what you are using in the way of gear. If you have a dragbag or rifle bag, I suggest you step it up to an M4A1 carbine or perhaps the G36 with a slightly shorter barrel. In a stalk or patrol, this will be your primary weapon, in the event you need some rapid firepower to break contact with your enemy. If you are just carrying a ruck, you still can carry a rifle, but I suggest a pistol, such as the Beretta M-9 or the Colt 1911A1 ( specifically the TM HGHU with .25g BBs or any of the KWC pistols with .2-.25g BBs ). Remember, this is a last ditch weapon. Do not even THINK of pulling it out unless shiite has truly hit the fan. If you get to the point where you need that pistol, you are better of ditching your rifle and running ( Hell, this is Airsoft. You can always go back and get it later ).