Watching the great film American Sniper recently reminded me a book recommended by an old friend Jack Savage Wildman on the art of sniping. I found a copy on line and tried to extract some of the essential points made by the author, Major H. Heskseth-Prichard, a former big game hunter and highly successful sniping instructor for the British Army makes in his 1920 book:
- Selecting snipers: candidates should be
- A high-class shot
- A good and accurate observer
- A good judge of distance, wind and light
- Speed s always the essence of sniping. Snipers not only must be good shots, but quick shots.
- The most difficult thing to teach a prospective sniper: judging the efficacy of the wind.
- Sniping must work in pairs, one observing, the other shooting. Have the observer maintain a note book, it will be invaluable from an Intelligence point of view.
- It is absolutely essential that the use of the the telescope should be taught from the stalking or big-game point of view. Shooters must be taught that any change, adjustment or cleaning of his scope may redirect the rifle's trajectory. Never touch the lens with fingers or thumb.
- Open loopholes from the side, and expose a cap badge before looking through. If the German does not fire for 75 seconds, one may conclude it is fairly safe. Trenches should have numerous loopholes, functional and blanks.
|Doughboy Sniper with Scoped Rifle at a Trench Loophole|
- Best way to locate an enemy sniper: push a dummy head (papier-mâché works well) slowly above the parapet.
- On camouflage: What is an absolute protective background at eleven o'clock may become quite useless at twelve
- Preferred targets: enemy's forward artillery observers, leaders, machine gun teams, flame thrower detachments, and enemy occupying captured ground.
- Snipers during an advance: after an objective is gained, push forward beyond the position and cover the consolidation from old shell holes or trenches.
- Was the target hit or just ducking? Big game hunting teaches that an animal that is fired at and missed always stands tense for a fraction of a second before he bounds away. But, when an animal is struck by a bullet, there is no pause. It's a very good sign when the Hun's field glasses fall on the wrong side of the parapet.
|The Sometimes Fate of the Sniper|