What is it like to be a sniper? Jan 4, 2020 12:14:13 GMT
Post by Admin on Jan 4, 2020 12:14:13 GMT
What is it like to be a sniper?
Michael Janke, Navy SEAL Sniper
My initial reaction was to decline answering this question. Not an easy question to answer -almost uncomfortable for me. I am not quite sure how to address such a personal question...I recognize the fascination that the public has with this strange profession & skill -both morbid and sensationalized at the same time. So here goes.
As a 12-year SEAL and Sniper, I spent the better part of my adult life learning, using, refining and living this skill, yet I find it difficult to put into words "what is it like to be a sniper?". In the Teams, older snipers and team leaders look for more "solitary and quiet" individuals that have focus and a "quiet" about them. Some individuals have a "comfortable knack" and a natural feel for navigating any environment unseen -the training takes this "knack" to a whole new level. An additional skill that is sought-out, honed and refined is something we call "Bubble Compartmentalization" -or the ability to block everything else out for long periods of time, except specific visual and observation skills -basically the ability to sit still, observe and calculate without losing your mind.
There is nothing glorious or sexy about the job. It is very hard on your body -and its not something you would want to chat about at a cocktail party. In my experience -people already have a formed opinion of what type of person you must be, what morals you have and that you must be a little "off", long before you even meet them. You spend days crawling, climbing, slinking, stinking -getting bit by every bug, scratched by every thicket -attempting to relieve yourself while laying on your side, looking thru night vision or scopes for endless hours, sleeping in 15 minute bursts -just to get to a "target area". Once on the target area - you do the business of a sniper, usually in support of a SEAL assault team that comes in fast and hard in helicopters -then fastrope down onto the target -take it down, then board and fly away. Now your work begins again -exfiltration, the art of getting out of the target area (sometimes with some very angry enemies running around trying to figure out what happened).
There are so many different skill sets that need to be constantly refined -as Sniper tactics, equipment, weather, enemy and ballistic trajectories change dramatically in an Urban-Sniper role. It is one thing to be able to hide in a jungle with vast areas of cover and concealment -it is an entirely other thing to be an effective sniper in a City or Urban Warfare environment. The difficulty factor goes way up. The amount of practice, study and hours spent mastering every type of environment (shooting from buildings, helicopters, ships, shooting thru glass, walls, different mathematical calculations for temperature, humidity, altitude, load, etc....it is a non-stop learning game -in addition to your other SEAL missions.
When I tell people that there are many complementary skill sets as a Sniper and a CEO of a company, they think I am absolutely crazy, but there are many. A good CEO is there to "support" his team and help make them look good. Not the other way around. To defer attention...and not be a jackass. The ability to focus on getting from A to B without being distracted, the ability to operate and maintain a company's focus thru constant changes, and adapting rather than causing panic. The ability to not have an ego in the game at hand and not make the mission, goal or success, "about me", but rather about everyone else. To use your power only when the moment is required -not flaunting it for all to see.
I apologize if this long-winded answer in the end does not give you the "meat and potatoes" of how it feels to be a sniper, but I find it extremely hard to clearly articulate something so personal and yet job oriented. There are many good books out there that do a hell of a job telling specific stories and giving blow-by-blow accounts of combat sniping missions. I was trained on the 50-caliber McMillian and Barrett Sniper Rifle by Carlos Hathcock (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Car...). He was a guest instructor to my sniper class, he was a good man and a great teacher. His book is a good book to start, but I feel my personal stories do not have a place here in this forum, so I hope I stayed on topic about how it feels....