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Episode 140 S4-16

Sniping Basics


Special Guest:

Battle for the South Ch 16

James Yaeger

The journey continues in Battle for the South. Master Sergeant Bennet sends out his sniper team, Dexter and Johnny, to scout a way out of the city. Today, James Yeager, CEO of Tactical Response, joins us to discuss sniping basics and the realities vs the myths.

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Contrary to popular belief, sniping is not about long distance shooting. Sniping is defined as someone who shoots from a point of concealment. Some shots they make are less than 100 yards. The majority are over 100 yards but very few are over 1,000 yards. What makes a sniper truly a sniper is the field craft that is employed. The key to being an effective sniper is about mission planning, concealment, stalking ability, and strategy. In fact, the primary focus of the sniper is often not to shoot at all, but rather to gain information. These men sneak in and report back, shooting is secondary.


When a sniper heads out into the field, often they have to take large amounts of living gear with them. The longer distance they have to travel, the more gear they need. This gear is shed in a safe place where it can be recovered about a mile before the target location. He will retain concealment gear like a ghillie suite. Popular myth would have us believing that snipers eat, drink and sleep in their ghillie suits when in actuality he only puts it on when it is needed. When it is needed is not as often as you might think. They only use this to get really close and most of the time snipers don't want to get really close because they might get spotted.


As a civilian concerned about a SHTF situation, it is important to know your gear. James's book, High Risk Civilian Contracting, has some great information regarding gear essentials. Know the difference between a get home bag and a survival go-bag and pack them accordingly. Don't carry more gear than you need.


The rifles that snipers carry are basically the same ones that are used to hunt deer. A Remington 700 is not that different from an M40 that was originally based upon the Remington 700 specs and is still used today by snipers in the field.

In order to reach the objective of shooting from a point of concealment any quality hunting arm could be suitable. Traditionally when we think of sniper rifles, we think of a huge, heavy barrelled gun with a bi-pod. A sniper has to shoot from multiple positions and may have to use field expedient props. A heavy gun can be cumbersome and adds more weight to the gear load out. Big guns also require large, heavy ammo, adding even more weight.


Scopes help you see better. They don't help you shoot better. A super magnified optical amplifies every movement the sniper makes. James tip is to turn up your magnification, and find your target. Then back it off as much as possible to make the shot. 


When you are just starting out, get a .22 caliper rifle like a Ruger 10/22 with a scope. Practice shooting at 25 yards. When you can fire ten shots and have one .22 caliper hole in the paper with no misses, then you can move on to the next step.


Snipers must be extremely intelligent. Math skills are an absolute must. As far as personality, these guys are usually quiet types, who are comfortable being alone and super smart. When people start firing at you math is much harder to do.


Elevation and wind speeds are constant concerns to a sniper. To account for elevation, whether it us up or down, always shoot low. "One shot, one kill" is a myth. In reality the spotter is the wind equalizer. You will fire a shot, and immediately run the bolt. Your spotter with "call" the next shot. Then you know where to shoot the next one to make the kill. Second shot hit is reality. The spotter is imperative here. James has no preference for MOA or Mills (defined below) but if you have mills on your recticle, you have to have mills on your knobs and mills on your spotting scope. All three must match. This allows for speed and accuracy. You will not be touching a windage knob in between shots! There is not time. 

MOA - ("A Minute of Angle (MOA) is an angular measurement. A MOA is 1/60th of a degree. 1 MOA spreads about 1″ per 100 yards. (actually 1.047″). 1 MOA is a different size at different distances, 8″ at 800 yards is still just 1 MOA."


Mills -  ("Mil-dot is an abbreviation for “milliradian” and “dot”, which is from the English word meaning, dot. A milliradian is 1/1000th of a radian. he number of mils equals the amount of bullet drop (measured in yards) times 1000, divided by the distance to target in yards. In our example, we have 36 inches, or one yard of bullet drop and a range of 428 yards."

The situation the sniper is in dictates how many shots he should take before changing position. If they are on over-watch, they may be able to fire for extended periods of time. However, if they are a scouting team they may never fire a shot at all.

The spotter is imperative. He has exactly the same training as the sniper and the two frequently change positions. The sniper can't stay on the rifle, in shooting position, for hours. 


The ideal setup for a sniper will always vary with environment and gear load-out. 


The 338 Lapua  will shoot about a mile away. Compared to the 50 Cal Barrett that will shoot about 1200 yards or the Remington 700 .308. It will shoot a max shot of 800-1000 yards.

You don't always want the biggest gun, unless the situation call for it. It's heaver and the ammo is heavier. Get good at what you have. Learn the best gun, scope and ammo combo you have access to. Learn how to shoot it from every position you can. Know what you and the rifle are capable of. You can be taught how to shoot but you can't be taught when not to shoot. You have to know your skills well enough to know when you can't make the shot. Either you have made the shot before or you haven't. Keep practicing! What you have right now is probably what you'll be learning in s survival situation so learn it as best you can.

James recommends a savage scout rifle as a great civilian weapon. It's light, magazine fed and comes in various calibers including the .308. It would be a great rifle in a self defense scenario. It has a 1-4 power scope and can easily make short range sniper shots of 300-400 yards. The new model available has an infinitely adjustable stock and cheek piece, making it user friendly for most body types. 

Check out James's YouTube video on Scout Rifles:

To fit a rifle to your body type: Put the stock of the gun in the crook of your arm at your elbow. You should be able to touch the trigger from there.

For those of us with smaller frames, James recommends a bullpup style rifle by Tavor. These weapons carry the bulk of the rifle's weight in the back. The weapon won't "wilt" in the carrier's arms.


The sniper must always keep the mindset of 50% hunting and 50% being hunted. They need to learn to walk stealthily. Avoid silhouetting on the tops of hills by choosing to walk around them instead. Snipers must utilize general camo tactics. If night vision is available it should be utilized as moving in the night time is best. Snipers can't hide from thermal imaging. The only way to avoid thermal is behind glass or under water.

James recommends taking his fighting pistol class if you are entering the world of utilizing your weapon for self defense. Moving and shooting is an entirely different thing from going to the shooting range. At the fighting pistol class you will learn valuable skills that you can take home to step up your practice. If you have never trained to use your weapon in the field at the range your just...shooting.

Remmington 700
Remmington 700
Remmington M40
Remmington M40
338 Lapua
338 Lapua
50 Cal Barrett
50 Cal Barrett
Remmington 700 .308
Remmington 700 .308
Savage Scout
Savage Scout

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Battle for the South Ch 16

James Yaeger

James Yeager, who owns Tactical Response, was a Law Enforcement Officer with a career spanning Undercover, Patrol, K9 and SWAT assignments. He has also been a Security Contractor in Iraq protecting the Iraqi Election commission before, during and after Iraq's first election. He started Tactical Response in 1996 and, in that time, has trained over 66,000 people in North, Central and South America as well as Europe.

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