A sniper is a person who is skilled enough at marksmanship to hit targets at very long distances. They often work from concealed or elevated positions in order to remain unseen.
The key to sniping is accuracy, which applies to both the weapon and the shooter. The weapon should be able to consistently place shots within high tolerances. The sniper in turn must utilize the weapon to accurately place shots under varying conditions.
A sniper must have the ability to accurately estimate the various factors that influence a bullet's trajectory and point of impact such as: range to the target, wind direction, wind velocity, altitude and elevation of the sniper and the target and ambient temperature. Mistakes in estimation compound over distance and can decrease lethality or cause a shot to miss completely.
Snipers zero their weapons at a target range or in the field. This is the process of adjusting the scope so that the bullet's points-of-impact is at the point-of-aim (centre of scope or scope's cross-hairs) for a specific distance. A rifle and telescope should retain its zero as long as possible under all conditions to reduce the need to re-zero during missions.
The major components of a sniper's equipment include a sniper rifle, ammunition, suppressor, camouflage, and/or a ghillie suit. Some foreign military snipers will also have a supply of Diazepam on hand. The drug, a minor tranquilizer, helps to relieve tremors that may compromise aiming ability.
Shot placement varies considerably with the type of sniper being discussed. Military snipers, who generally do not engage targets at less than 300 m. (330 yds.), usually attempt body shots, aiming at the chest area. These shots depend on tissue damage, organ trauma, and blood loss to make the kill.
Snipers can target personnel or materiel, but most often they target the most important enemy personnel such as officers or specialists (e.g. communications operators) so as to cause maximum disruption to enemy operations. Other personnel they might target include those who pose an immediate threat to the sniper, like dog handlers, who are often employed in a search for snipers.
A sniper identifies officers by their appearance and behavior such as symbols of rank, talking to radio operators, sitting as a passenger in a car, having military servants, binoculars/map cases or talking and moving position more frequently. If possible, snipers shoot in descending order by rank, or if rank is unavailable, they shoot to disrupt communications.
AmmunitionSnipers often use what's called match ammo; that is, packs of ammo made from the same batch of material, on the same day, by the same person, on the same machine. This ensures that all slugs will have the same exact behavior when fired, thus making them more accurate without any adjustments between shots.
On Criminal Minds
Snipers can appear as law enforcement specialists (as in the case of SWAT) or as criminals. When a sniper is a criminal, he or she is sometimes referred to as a L.D.S.K. (Long Distance Serial Killer).
Some snipers from the show:
- Phillip Dowd (Criminal)
- Harris Townsend (Non-Criminal)
- Tony Mecacci (Criminal)
- Mick Rawson (Non-Criminal)
- Colin Bramwell (Criminal)
- Zac Rubenis (Criminal)
- Raul Montoya (Non-Criminal)
- Chazz Montolo (Criminal)
- Trey Gordon (Criminal)
Real-Life Criminal Snipers
- John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, the Beltway snipers (shot a number of people with a semiautomatic .223 AR-15-style rifle)
- Charles Whitman, the Texas Tower Sniper (killed 11 people and wounded 29 others with a variety of firearms, including a Remington 700 sniper rifle)
- Lee Harvey Oswald (assassinated President John F. Kennedy with an Italian Carcano rifle)
- James Earl Ray (assassinated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a Remington 760 rifle)
- Thomas Dillon (killed five people with a .308 Mauser rifle)
- John Ausonius, the Laser Man (shot a number of immigrants with a rifle fitted with a laser sight)
- Frank Carter, the Phantom Sniper (sniped a number of people with a suppressed .22 pistol)