One of the first questions you will ask yourself after purchasing a new rifle is how exactly do you shoot like a trained sniper? You’ve surely heard all the crazy tales and even seen trick shots in films such as Saving Private Ryan, but is such skill actually achievable?
In this article we will break down the best ways you can achieve high skill levels and shoot your sniper rifle like a professional. We will cover details such as determining wind speeds and target distance as well as answering your most common questions.
Read on to see how you can become the best sharp shooter without spending a fortune on lessons and training. Who knows, you may even set a new record for the furthest sniper shot fired!
Top 10 Tips to Shoot Like a Sniper
Below we have compiled some of the best ways you can enhance your sniper rifle long range shooting and shoot like you have been in the army for years. We have tried to cover all options in terms of enhancing your shooting capabilities and ensuring you hit that long range target. From measuring distances to reducing your rifles recoil, read on to learn how you can shoot like the best of them!
1. Select the Right Gear
The first and potentially most important aspect of ensuring that your sniper shooting precision is as high as can be is by making sure the gear you have chosen is the right gear for you and your purposes. With things such as the gun itself, whether or not it’s bolt action and how sturdy the strap is playing a massive role in how effective your rifle is.
Before purchasing a new rifle it can be a good idea to test it out where possible at a long range shooting gallery or similar training area. Selecting the right rifle gear is essential to any shooting process, whether it’s for hunting or shooting targets as a hobby, gear should always be at the top of your considerations.
2. Find Yourself a Spotter
An incredibly effective way to improve your shooting skill without spending a fortune on an improved rifle scope or a better sniper rifle is to ask a friend to be your spotter. A spotter is someone who can assist you in finding your target with a pair of binoculars or even the naked eye allowing you, the shooter, to focus on setting up your rifle and setting up the correct measurements.
This person can also assist you in figuring out the wind speeds and target distance ensuring that your shot is accurate and your bullet hits where it’s supposed to. Typically, when you first begin training your instructor will tend to be your spot assistant as they will be able to help you ascertain distances accurately. If however you don’t have an instructor, then always make sure your spotter is someone you can trust as it is a fairly important addition to any shooting experience.
3. Set Up a Stable Firing Position
Ensuring you take the correct fighting position to correctly aim your rifle is one of the first things you will learn at any sniper school. One of the main stances you will learn is to get into a prone position, lay down on your stomach, as this can aid you in regulating your breathing and prevent rifle sway when aiming. This also allows you to easily rest your sniper rifle against your cheek (cheek weld) which can keep the stock steady and prevent your weapon from moving.
Another common position is a crouched position with the rifle resting against your cheek and the stock balancing on your thigh or upper leg. This shooting position should only be used for lighter, less powerful snipers though as the pushback from the bullet can injure your legs if incorrectly implemented.
4. Think of All Considerations in the Shot Process
Much like a lot of surrounding weather conditions, the temperature can have a massive impact on your gun and can play a vital role in figuring out the best way to shoot your rifle. A higher, hotter temperature will mean your guns powder will ignite far quicker. This will mean your bullet will shoot faster due to increase muzzle speeds.
This will be different depending on powders used and the rounds you have selected for your gun but we will cover a rounds shape in it’s own section. Try to always remember that the temperature will tend to have an impact on your guns barrel so always take account of it and adjust your aim accordingly.
There are a variety of different types of air pressure, but when it comes to shooting the main one that will alter your bullets lines will be the surrounding station pressure. This will only typically be used alongside a Ballistics Kestrel where you will need to alter its settings to work out the best shooting trajectory.
To set this on your Kestrel, set your reference altitude to zero. This will allow you to see a locations station pressure by moving around which can assist you in figuring out the best way to hit your target from afar.
Although you may not think so humidity can play a massive part in shooting, especially when it comes to shooting across a long range. When the humidity is higher, the air surrounding you will be thinner (less dense) and thus your bullet may be able to travel farther than in low humidity areas.
Many people believe that a higher humidity means thicker air as that’s how it feels to us but this just isn’t true. Try to plan around an areas humidity to ensure your sniper shot travels the furthers and you can accurately hit your target.
Applied Ballistics Kestrel
A fairly bespoke but incredibly useful bit of kit, an Applied Ballistics Kestrel is essentially a portable weather station that can be used to aid your shooting prowess. This nifty little gadget will calculate your surrounding weather conditions and help you take extremely long range shots, It can be used to correctly adjust your scope to accommodate wind speed and all other negative weather types.
Just be warned this method is fairly pricey but if you are serious about wanting to shoot like the best then this can be an incredible item to add to your collection!
5. Determine Range
Before you take a shot, you have to figure out exactly how far away the target as you will always need to take range into consideration. Depending on how far away the target is, you may need to aim slightly higher to accommodate for bullet drop or change your horizontal position in case of high wind speeds.
There are a variety of ways you can gauge a targets range, such as a range card or measurements found on a highly functional scope. A few higher priced scopes will feature a range tracker on them which can be used to deduce the range accurately, but it’s best to figure out how to do it manually to hone your shooting skills. As mentioned in a previous section, it can also be ideal to ask someone you trust to be your spotter as they will be able to help you determine the range of your target and adjust your aim for most detrimental conditions.
6. Determine Wind Speed
This goes hand in hand with how far away your target is as the further away it is the more time the bullet will have to endure high wind speeds. Wind will blow a round slightly to the side or even reduce it’s speed and thus potential distance so ensuring you can determine the wind speeds before you fire your rifle is important.
One method of figuring out how fast the wind is travelling is by using a unique tool called an anemometer. This useful little gadget closely resembles a weather vane that you may find on top of a building. It consists of 4 cups that can accurately gauge wind speeds and assist you in aiming precisely down your scope.
If you have had enough practice you can also try to guess the winds speed using your naked eye alongside the Beaufort scale. This scale will aid you in determining wind speed by using common observations such as are the leaves blowing or can you see visible dust being blown around.
Before you take your shooting position and aim down your rifles crosshairs, make sure are familiar with different methods of determining the wind speed and you are taking into account between each shot and your precision will thank you in the long run!
7. Be Prepared for a Second Shot
Sometimes you may end up missing your initial shot due to recoil or your first shot may not have fully took down the deer you are hunting. At all times you should be prepared to fire a second shot as even the most trained people are prone to making mistakes.
If you are using a bolt action rifle be sure to check that their is another round chambered in case you need to fire again, you can even give this job to your spot assistant if you trust them enough. If you are using suppressors you may want to check them before firing a second shot to see if they are still securely in place and won’t inhibit your shooting precision. It may seem like a tedious job now, but ensuring you are checking your rifle between shots can help you a lot when it comes to your shooting ability.
8. Compensate for Recoil
The bane of an inexperienced snipers precision, recoil can massively impact your bullets trajectory and can cause an inexperienced shooter to miss their target. Thankfully, as it is such a common issue, there are a myriad of ways and items you can use to lessen the recoil of your gun such as the classic shoulder rest.
An extremely popular method is through the use of a muzzle brake. A muzzle brake essentially reduces the recoil in your gun by redirecting the gas propellant through side chambers so the gun itself is less prone to push upwards due to recoil. These are a stable part of an army arsenal and can be a great option for people with little training to help negate some the recoil of a gun.
Recoil compensations will also come with a lot of training as you begin to gain familiarity with your rifle and how it reacts when you shoot. Ensure your grip is tight and you are resting the butt against your shoulder to aid in massively reducing recoil. The more steps you take to reduce a weapons sway the higher your accuracy across long ranges.
9. Pause and Squeeze
This is something that experienced shooters swear by but newer sniper rifle owners will overlook. Make sure that you are pausing between each press of the trigger as this can help your crosshairs accuracy in a multitude of ways. Firstly if you shoot between heartbeats you are in fact far more accurate, although this will take years of experience to get the hang of.
A great way to check you are pausing for long enough between shots is by using your breathing as a measurement. Before you take a shot take in three deep breaths as this will get your body relaxed and ready to aim with high precision. When you exhale with your final breath, this is when you want to take your shot. This brief pause is typically when your body will be most stabilised and you will feel the most relaxed. You have a much higher chance to hit your target, especially if you are firing a second shot, if you pause briefly before you fire and take a few deep breaths.
10. Know Your Bullets
As expected there are a multitude of different bullets and shapes for a rifle each with their own specific trajectory and steps you need to take to ensure decent accuracy. The most common type without a doubt is a 7.62 mm calibre due to a low windage and insane stopping power. If however you are trying to take down game like deer and elk from extremely long range you may want to use a .300 calibre round. These bullets travel at incredibly high speeds and have minimal windage allowing you to hit any target you see down your scope.
Before you set up for the day ready to shoot your rifle, be sure to familiarise yourself with the different ammo types available whether it’s through a military book or a tutor. Shooting like a trained sniper requires as much theoretical knowledge as it does straight up physical skill.
What is the longest sniper shot in history?
In 2017, the longest sniper shot ever recorded in history was by a Canadian special forces sniper. The previous record was held by British sniper Craig Harrison who hit a target from over 2,470 metres away (1.5 miles). The unnamed Canadian sharpshooter however hit his target from a whopping 3,450 metres away (2.14 miles) breaking the previous record and setting a new one for the longest sniper shot ever!
Why are snipers so deadly?
One of the main things that make snipers so deadly is that they their bullets maintain speed and thus power across extremely large distances. Due to this they are typically used to take out a long range target where stealth or remaining undetected are key. As they are so long range, the shooter tends to be a safe distance from the conflict so can focus more on accuracy that close range combat may lack. Due to their power however they can be fairly difficult to shoot correctly and thus require proper training before use. Be sure to check out our top 10 tips to see how you can shoot your rifle across distances longer than multiple football fields.
What is the average sniper distance?
This depends entirely on the calibre of both the shooter and the sniper itself, averagely however, a sniper tends to best operate between 500 and 1,250 meters. If you are trained well and extremely competent then you will be able to use your sniper at a much larger distance, much like the Craig Harrison and the unnamed Canadian sharpshooter. When you first shoot your sniper expect to operate at the lower end of this bracket but as you begin to familiarize yourself with the correct shooting position this range will increase.