Co-Authors: Aanchal Machani, Moses Nikhil Prathap
To understand the implications and challenges of tactical marksmanship training, let us take a short trip to the origin of precision arms. A sniper can be defined as a highly trained specialist who marks a target with specialized equipment from incredibly long distances. A sniper rifle is an extremely powerful rifle developed for military or law enforcement use. Snipers are used for targets that are usually more than a mile away. These long-range rifles are usually used in combination with a telescopic sight for optimal levels of accuracy and chambered for a military centerfire cartridge.
According to various reports, the first sniper rifle was developed in the 1850s. The first sniper rifle has arguably been the 1853 pattern Enfield rifle which was used by British soldiers. It covers a range of about 1140m and is a muzzle-loading rifle. Sniper rifles further evolved into Breech-loading systems which were used in the American Revolutionary War. These rifles were comparatively expensive to produce and hence were not manufactured on a large scale.
The first bolt-action rifles were designed and manufactured in the 1820s. Bolt-action is not the fastest method to reload but is generally the most powerful. Next came the semi-automatic M1 rifles, which are argued by many to either be part of the sniper family or not. In most cases, they are used with powerful scopes and are termed to be a high-precision weapon. In the 1900s, sniper rifles started evolving at a frenetic pace including high-tech accessories and additions of flexibility and adjustments so that marksmen could modify the weapon system according to their requirements.
It has taken decades of perfecting and technological advancements to bring the sniper rifle platform to where it is today. A sniper has many features that differentiate it from the rest of the rifle family. The primary function of a sniper rifle is high accuracy for targets at up to 2km distance, and therefore the weapon is usually equipped with some sort of telescopic sight. Although smaller sub-machine guns and assault rifles are sometimes equipped with sights too, snipers usually have larger and highly powerful telescopes.
Due to this telescopic sight usually being mounted on a slightly elevated surface, sniper rifle stocks are usually an adjustable cheekpiece. This cheek piece is generally modifiable as per the marksman’s requirements to allow for comfort and therefore higher efficiency. Sniper rifles are generally bolt-action and semi-automatic which means a “bolt-handle” is manually operated to remove or insert cartridges into the weapon.
Snipers are larger than all other rifles and weigh almost up to 10kg with all accessories and mounts included. These are the “meanest” weapons in the game and require highly-trained specialists to operate.
Challenges of sniper training:
Today, sniper specialists or “marksmen” are an integral part of any modern infantry force. Sniper training usually includes highly systematic structure and facilities to equip these marksmen with the skill, endurance, strength, and perseverance to be a specialist. Apart from working with a complex weapon system, marksmen are also taught stalking, observation, map-reading, and concealment skills amongst various others. A soldier operating a sniper needs to be the most sure-footed but lethal part of the infantry. The weapon is taught to be nothing less than an extension of a marksman’s body.
Countries across the globe have identified the critical need for Sniper Specialists and have systemized structure and facilities to identify, train, and equip marksmen with the caliber, endurance, and skill to effectively mark a target in the most adverse physical, psychological and environmental conditions.
The combined challenges for both man and equipment require the relentless effort to adapt, explore, and engage technology that can effectively enhance the Sniper to ultimately protect and defend.
Marksmanship & shooting simulator:
The characteristics of the discipline, endurance, adaptability, and motivation combined with specific weapon skills and tactical strategy that goes into making a Sniper stand and feared above the rest in any defence or enforcement organization.
Training marksmen is not cheap. In fact, training any soldier is not cheap. However, in preparing a sniper specialist for the battlefield, a lot more resources and time are required to perfect the skills and to mimic the environmental conditions these soldiers need to be equipped for. Therefore, new technological advancements such as VR/AR are aiding with reduced investment costs, increased efficiency and effectiveness of training, and giving soldiers the necessary training and understanding they need through the means of virtual marksmen training and hopefully, these solutions will cater to challenges of tactical marksmanship training.
XAR Sniper Trainer – Day view vs Night View