I mentioned that I had attended this course in another thread. 4V50Gary suggested that I contact the Chandlers regarding my experiences. I don't feel that my limited experience would contribute much to their excellent series of books on sniping, but I will share my thoughts with everyone here who is interested.
The Army had mothballed their sniper programs after Vietnam. They didn't start talking about them again until the mid 1980s as they were developing the doctrine and capabilities of the new Light Infantry Divisions. There were still sniper rifles in storage all over the Army. Mostly M1Ds left over from Korea, but there were some M21s still around. The actual sniper school at Ft Benning hadn't opened yet and there were a few unit schools out there and some units sent soldiers to the USMC Scout/Sniper course. Work was being done on developing the M24 Sniper Weapon System to arm the snipers in the new light divisions.
Two Majors in the 47th Infantry Division (a National Guard Division composed of soldiers from Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois and some ADA from New Mexico) approached the Adjutant General of Minnesota and the CG of the 47th ID with an idea to create a sniper school for soldiers of the division. These two officers were MAJ Gary C. Schraml and MAJ John L. Plaster (yes the same John Plaster who later wrote The Ultimate Sniper). They pulled resources from all over the Army. Sniper rifles, spotting scopes, night vision devices, match ammunition, blank ammunition, everything they needed to run a sniper school. Many of the rifles, M1Ds and M21s had been in storage and had to be gone over by good competent armorers before they were ready for the course. The Adjutant General of Minnesota provided the excellent range facilities at Camp Ripley along with training areas, barracks and enough support staff so that the students could concentrate on learning to be snipers.
Candidates were selected from Infantry and Military Police units within the division. You had to be within the grades of E4-E7 and must have already qualified as an Expert with the M16A1. In keeping with the Guard's dual role of state and federal support, police officers from St. Paul PD CERT Team and the Minneapolis Airport Police Tactical Unit also attended the course with us.
We reported in on a Sunday afternoon and were in processed. Part of the equipment we were issued upon inprocessing was one live round of ammunition for our weapon. This was to be our graduation round. The writers of the program of instruction had come up with a novel way to impart the stress of having to make one cold shot count. We were to carry this round in our right BDU trouser pocket throughout the course. When asked by any of the staff to "Show me your round?!" we were to pull the round from our pocket, hold it above our head and shout the school motto, ONE SHOT, ONE KILL! During the final qualification shoot, we would be told by an instructor "Show me your round!" at which point he would say "load it". We then would load our round, and if we missed that shot, no diploma. Anyone who has been in the Army knows what a chance they took by doing this, we carried the round everywhere for the duration of the course, on and off duty. If there had been a negligent discharge, I'm sure more then one career would have ended on the spot.
Most of us were issued an M1D. That was the most plentiful sniper rifle in Army inventories at that time. The few M21s they managed to find went to the left handed shooters, because due to the offset scope mount it is impossible to shoot the M1D left handed. The first day started in the classroom with mechanical training on these weapons. Then it was off to the range to zero. Zeroing took much longer then programmed because of difficulites with the Korean War vintage M84 telescopes. We were unable to zero many of them and it was fortunate that they had managed to secure more weapons then they needed for the course. The telescope on the first one I had was shooting two target frames to the left at 300 meters, this was with the windage adjusted all the way right. The weapon was exchanged for another that I was able to zero.
The days were full and the time was about equally divided between the range and fieldcraft. Tactics, camouflage, movement, stalking were all covered well. There was an Olympic shooter on the marksmanship staff. We didn't fire a set number of rounds during our practice time on the range, there was unlimited ammuntion. The only disadvantage was that they had no .30 match ammo loaded in enbloc clips. Those of us with M1Ds single loaded every round we fired.
Days were long, going from breakfast before sunup to about 9 pm or later (if we were night firing) every night. We fired the standard telescopes at night under flare illumination and fired M16A1s with PVS-4s during the night exercises.
Many innovative ways to employ precision rifle fire were taught. One of the neat tricks they taught was the sniper initiated mechanical ambush. This was a standard mechanical ambush with the M18A1 Claymore mines, but instead of using a tripwire with a clothes pin to complete the firing circuit, you used two pieces of metal window screen in a frame about 1/4 inch apart. When the enemy patrol came into the kill zone, you fired into the window screen. The bullet completed the circuit and fired off the mechanical ambush as it penetrated through the screen.
We learned to use a count to use multiple snipers to take down more then one target simultaniously.
Now there is an official DA approved Sniper School at Ft Benning GA. There is the Special Operations Target Interdiction Course at Ft Bragg NC. Before these schools existed, there were just unit schools and not many of them. It looks like sniper training has finally won a permanent place in US Army Doctrine.
Edited to correct poor typing...
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January 1, 2003, 08:30 PM
For taking the time to share your experience with us. Always wanted to go to sniper school and even signed up for the FBI Sniper School and got accepted. Work pulled the plug on my buddy and me. :( We learned years later that they were concerned about workman's comp in case we got injured. Administrators. :rolleyes:
I'm surprised to learn that as late as '88 we still have M1-Ds in our inventory. It was never really a satisfactory weapon and to have it around so late after Viet Nam is shocking.
How long was your course? Two weeks? Longer?
How was range estimation taught? Was it as described in Plaster's book or simplier? I'm curious because I've read of the methods used to train the Confederates during the Civil War.
Can you share more about the graduation shoot with that one bullet? What did it entailed? Shooting from a unknown distance? A stalk? Details!
Following graduation, did they issue you a better rifle or were you left using the M1-D?
January 1, 2003, 09:25 PM
Range estimation was right out of FM 21-75, the football field method, comparing against an object of known size, terrain/map association. The guys who had M21s had the ART series scopes and they just dialed theirs in. Those of us with M1Ds were told to use holdover rather then clicking in the elevation because there was no guarantee in how far the clicks on the M84 would move the impact of the bullet. They were really in bad shape. Led to interesting days on the range. I actually got bored one afternoon shooting 600 meter head shots. There was nearly zero wind and I knew exactly where to hold over on the target frame to drop them in. Now if we could just get the enemy to walk around with target frames strapped to their back, I'd have been unstoppable! :cool:
The course was one very long week. It was that way due to funding, not the about of material they had to present.
Another experiment they tried that didn't work out well was adapting the M16 clothes pin type bipod to both rifles. We all carried little field expediant shooting tripods we made from branches and 550 cord, plus empty sandbags to fill at our position. THE ONLY TIME A SNIPER EVER SHOOTS FROM AN UNSUPPORTED POSITION IS IN SELF DEFENSE was another school motto.
The graduation shoot was a qualification course fired on the KD range. I'll have to dig through my stuff to find the course of fire. I was lucky, my graduation round was fired at 200 meters :) a very easy shot. There was also a written fieldcraft test.
Stalks were done through wooded areas and across open fields. No shooting real bullets at steel targets next to the cadre though...only in the movies for that one, we fired blanks on the stalks.
They made a very comprehensive pocket sized manual for us. I saw some of the things that are in our manual in MAJ Plaster's book.
We kept the M1Ds in the units until about 1993 when we recieved M24s. I really think that the M1Ds were pretty good rifles and would have been more then adequate if they had been equipped with a good modern telescope.
I just read where the Bde of the 82d Airborne that deployed to A'Stan last received 9 Barrett .50s to augment their M24s.
Too bad you missed your chance to go to the FBI Sniper school. I understand that MAJ Plaster had some input into their program too. I found him to be an excellent instructor. He never mentioned his expolits with SOG. IIRC, he didn't even wear the SF patch on his right shoulder, but one from a different unit he'd served with. He bears a striking physical resemblance to G Gordon Liddy.
January 1, 2003, 10:43 PM
I am very glad that they changed there mind about sniping.I was in a guard unit in MN in the mid 70's.(needed the money and had all my required tiem in regular army).We had a major one weekend who was brought in to teach us soviet military equipment and tactics.When he was finished there was a question answer time set aside.I asked why the American military didn't have sniper schools and snipers in units.Got quite a talk about useless snipers and no need for
them and so on.I started to ask a question on the effect of sniping on moral in enemy units and was told
shutup and sit down.That was the thinking of officers at that time in guard units in MN.
I left the unit not long after that.Told the first sargent that I wouln't want to follow officers like that if something happened and we where called up.
January 1, 2003, 11:29 PM
Funny you should mention about the attitude of the officer beemerb. "Not needed" and "useless" sounds very much like the British back in the 1700s. During the siege of Charleston, the German jaegers kept our cannoneers from their guns. Our cannoneers didn't think those jaegers were useless. It didn't help when Lincoln surrendered to Clinton under humiliating terms (no honors of war). George Rogers Clark's men did the same thing at Fort Sackville (modern day Vincennes). The British defenders couldn't reload their cannon from fear of Clark's unneeded riflemen. Almost a century later in 1862, the same thing happened at Yorktown. Johnny had only four companies of soldiers armed with rifled muskets. In addition to numerous regiments armed with rifled muskets, Billy also had four companies armed with telescope rifles. Guess who had the upper hand? Again those useless and unneeded riflemen kept Johnny from manning his cannons. Darn them. They don't fight fair. And those Boers. Remember Denny Reitz's book, Kommando? He shot about 17 rounds into a loophole of a blockhouse. Later on he met an officer who told him that some Boer killed over a dozen soldiers attempting to shoot out of that very loophole. All ancient history to the MN officer, but then again, who reads all that old stuff?
BTW Jeff, mind if I ask some more questions later?
January 1, 2003, 11:59 PM
Wow, the is incredible that they were still using M1s in 1988. When I was in the guard, they had a few of us "qualify" with the sniper rifles they had in the arms room. There was no class of any kind, and we didn't zero the weapons. We were told that they were already zeroed and don't mess with anything. We just went to the range to quality with our M16s and they asked who would like to qualify with a sniper rifle. Needless to say, I was the first in line. I would guess that this was in about 1986. The rifle was an M14 with a ranging scope, I think they called it an XM21 but I am not sure at this point. The range was a pop up target range at Nellis AFB that went out to either 800 meters or 1000 meters, again, I don't remember now. We fired from prone with sandbags although it might have been out of a foxhole with sandbags. I was amazed at how easily I was able to hit the targets out at the most extreme range. I also remember that we didn't clean the rifles. Our 1st sergent told us that we wern't to monkey with them at all, we shot them, they kept a log of the rounds fired, and at some point they were sent to an armor for service including cleaning. There was no score to qualify. We just fired the rifles and that was it.
I would love to have access to a range like that with my own guns, now. I got thrown off the line that day as I remember. They gave us all like six 30 round mags for the M16, and the targets starting popping up at all ranges, one at a time. The idea was supposed to be like a human wave attack, or our position was being overrun. My target would pop up, I would shoot it and then sit there for a few minutes waiting on the next target. The guy to my left couldn't shoot worth crap and seldom hit his target. So, I started shooting my target and his target. I then took it to the next level and tried to anticipate when he was going to shoot and then shoot his target just before he could. I got several warnings from the tower to knock it off, but I pretended like I was too stupid to understand what we were doing. After like the third time they 86ed me.
January 2, 2003, 12:08 AM
That was pretty much the attitude of the entire US Army in the mid 70s. Vietnam had ended and GEN Dupay was trying to stear the doctrine away from counter-insurgency towards fighting the Soviet Union in Europe. He developed a doctrine called Active Defense. Sniping was considered a counter insurgency tactic and not really useful to stopping T62s in the Fulda Gap. There was really not much emphisis put on sniping until they foprmed the light divisions, and some people started thinking about what a combat multipier snipers are. The light divisions needed all the combat multipliers they could get having little in the way of indirect fire or transportation support.
Our army has pretty much done this after every war though. Find a copy of Peter Senich's The Complete Book of U.S. Sniping it's pretty hardware oriented, but has a pretty good rundown on the history of snipers in the US military.
Gary, ask anything you want, this post has got me ready to dig out the manual they made for us.
January 2, 2003, 09:29 AM
Funny, but I've just been reading a book called "With British Snipers to the Reich" about a WWII officer who attended sniper school right behind the front lines. Writing is reminiscent of Col. Charles Askins, quite savory imho. Thanks, Jeff.
January 2, 2003, 12:13 PM
Thanks for the story! I had no idea that the U.S. didn't have a sniper school until the mid 80's...and that they were so ill equipped!
January 2, 2003, 12:33 PM
I have to say that this is one of the best reads in quite a while! Thanks guys.:D
January 2, 2003, 03:48 PM
Thanks for sharing that with us. That was very interresting.
January 2, 2003, 04:06 PM
Thanks guys that was a good read. BigG do you have the authors name for that book?
January 2, 2003, 05:38 PM
Capt. Peter Shore wrote With British Snipers to the Reich. BTW, don't believe the tribute he wrote to the King's Royal Rifle Corps. It's fiction.
January 3, 2003, 03:01 AM
Jeff, what was the washout rate at your school? Also curious about the screening. You mentioned that everyone was E-4 to E-7 and from the MPs and Infantry, but was there any psychological screening to test aptitude?
Also curious as to your M1D. Did it have a flash suppressor and if so, did you find that it threw your bullets. I'm thinking that it was a relatively loose device and if attached to the gun, gave varying harmonics; none of which are good for consistent shooting.
Following graduation, were you guys kept together as a platoon or returned to your parent unit? If the latter, did your duties vary and were you afforded regular practice with your rifle?
Can you elaborate on what was in your pocket manual that was carried over into Plaster's book? I'm curious as to what the source material for the manual and whether it was drawn from British manuals or old lesson plans from the Vietnam Era.
January 3, 2003, 01:30 PM
I tried to go to Sniper school in 1998 but was told by the Batallion XO that since I was an Officer I couldn't. He said if I was enlisted he might concider it. So I offered and he kicked me out of his office. I thought that FO's for an Infantry unit could use the training. Oh well....
January 3, 2003, 09:28 PM
About 60% graduated. You had to pass the hands on marksmanship tests and a written fieldcraft test.
There was no psychological screening. It was all volunteer. I know that at one point the Army required completion of the MMPI and approval from whoever anaylized it to get into the sniper school at Ft Benning.
Everyone was returned to their units. Most units sent NCOs, there were even a couple of company grade officers IIRC. The idea was to produce people who could help with unit sniper programs at home station.
We had no flash hiders on the M1Ds. I saw a couple in the arms room, but no one shot with them.
I will try to dig out the manual they gave us this week and post a comparison. It was quite a handy little book.
And one other thing...they had designed a patch for us to wear on our BDUs, but they couldn't get authorization for wear. MAJ Schraml, wanted all the graduates to have something besides a piece of paper to mark their accomplishment with. So he went home and loaded .30 dummy rounds on his press, drilled them out at the bottom to accept a wire for attaching keys, and had "ONE SHOT, ONE KILL" engraved on the case. Everyone who graduated got one with his diploma. Mine has never had keys attached to it though.
January 3, 2003, 09:35 PM
My father, while in the 'Corps during the 60's was slated to attend a hastily put together sniper school while in Viet Nam. Something happened, he didn't say what, and was unable to go. He's good with a rifle, as was his mother.
January 3, 2003, 09:48 PM
At Cold Harbor, one Indian from the First Michigan Sharpshooters, Co. K, was sent to General Wilcox's H.Q. to dispatch a rebel sharpshooter who had made things uncomfortable for them. Old "One Eye" had use of only his left eye and would normally be disqualfied from serving as a soldier. This did not stop him from enlisting and furthermore, he was one of the best shots in the regiment.
"One Eye arrived at General Wilcox's headquarter and asking no questions and speaking to no one, sat down and observed. After half an hour, he got up, and walked away, his silence never broken. Later in the afternoon, pickets reported seeing a rebel sharpshooter in a tree being hit and falling through the branches onto the ground. Later in the evening, One Eye returned to his camp and laconically reported to his commanding officer, 'Me go im.'"
Taken from Herek's These Men have Seen Hard Service
Elsewhere in the book it is learned that the Indians of Co. K were not only the best shots in the regiment, but that they also taught the rest of the regiment how to camouflage themselves (applied mud and allowed it to dry or rolled in dry dirt until the blue uniform blended with the ground).
January 4, 2003, 02:02 PM
For sharing that with us, it was a good read. Its good to hear positive things about the ARMY.
January 4, 2003, 05:39 PM
I also attended army sniper school in the Harmony church section of Ft benning Ga. I was set to deploy for Korea in several months time and my unit was to disband. I spent the last 5 months attending various schools, which was a dream come true for me.
School was also 2 weeks long (might have been 12 days) Like most millitary schools of the practical or hands on nature it is only designed to lay a foundation then idealy you would serve in that duty position and learn from you fellow, and more exprerienced brethern.
January 4, 2003, 06:43 PM
ajacobs: well, don't hold out on us then. Share your experience. Relieve yourself of your burden. Welcome to Firearms Confessional. ;)
January 4, 2003, 10:36 PM
Did Preacherman ordain you to hear our confessions? I hope that my pennance isn't too bad....:D
4V50Gary, father confessor to wayward snipers...:cool:
January 5, 2003, 12:10 AM
(Assumes ordaining position, dons vestments, reaches for Barrett .50 instead of shepherd's crook...)
"I hereby ordain 4v50 Gary as Shepherd of Snipers, Pontiff of Point-Shooters, Father of Firing-Ranges, Pastor of Pepper-Poppers, Zen-Guru of Zeroing, Talisman of Telescopic Sights, Deacon of Dud Rounds, Bishop of Buttstocks, Archbishop of Aimpoints and Cardinal of Crosshairs. So mote it be!"
Now where's that Papal smilie...??? :neener:
January 5, 2003, 08:25 AM
My exp. was very similar to Mr. White's only with more modern equiptment. We had the opertunity to shoot both the m21 and m 24 and also shot with night vision.
We also had a final stalk and shoot. A fair percentage passed (70% or so) Most people who No-goed failed the range estimation.
I only consider myself someone who went to the school, not a Sniper. I think it takes years of shaping your skills in that duty position, learning from your mistakes in a trainging enviroment etc to really be a sniper.
January 5, 2003, 01:43 PM
ajacobs, that won't buy you a beer here. Now fess up son and relieve yourself. :)
Tell us about the selection process you underwent. Did you volunteer or were you chosen by your Sgt., Capt. or what? Screening details. MMI & talk with the good Dr.? Previous experience with firearms (hunter, target shooter, plinker)?
Tell us about your impressions about the school at Ft. Bennings, GA. What were the facilities like? Shoestring budget? Instructor qualifications? Who was there? Tell us about your sniper platoon and your buddies there.
You shot both the M21 & M24. What was your preference and why? What did most folks prefer? Describe your NVD experience.
These may seem trivial, but a lot of "common" knowledge things, unless recorded or noted, are forgotten. The Chandler Bros. did this well with the Marine Snipers. But the "insider tidbits" from the Army is much more limited in scope.
January 5, 2003, 01:52 PM
That was a great story!
more than likely ole "One Eye" was a Chippewa Indian, or Ojibwe, to use my native tongue. If he was from the northern part of Michigan, he may have been a part of my tribe! Or, possibly, the Bay Mills tribe.
January 5, 2003, 02:59 PM
Let see what all else I can remember.
Selection: I was a walk on, meaning that you showed up on the first day and if they had room for you you could get in I had to to this twice before I got in. I was not in a sniper duty position (as I mentioned my unit was disbanding and If I wasn't in some school or another my responsibilities entailed bringing out footballs and flags to the post teams. While that was a slackers dream, I at that point was motivated to become a super soldier). I had a personell action request (da 4570?) that was approved and said that I met all the qualifications. Whick to my knowledge included: Passing PT test, Qualified Expert with m16a2, Secret Security Clearance and No bar to reenlistment as well as 12 months remaining active duty time. I don't think my previous experience had any bearing on my selection as I was a walk on.
The facilities were renovated basic training baracks in the Harmony church section of Ft Benning. It was a Huge section of white building that were only occupied when the natational guard came to train. Sniper School occupied 3 of the 100 or so of them. They were located next too and shared a dinning hall with the 75th Ranger Regiment (trng and HDQRS). I think the location was chosen as it was very close (easy walking distance) to a thousand yard range.
<p>The Cadre was a mix of people and tought at Ft benning part time and traved and put on short courses overseas (Germany, Korea etc) I believe about half had served as scout snipers in Iraq. And all had served in sniper duty positions. It is an exceptionally small community within the amry (meaning the ones who actually serve in a sniper duty position) and they all know each other and are hand chosed and tested by the other cadre before they become part of the team. It is also a static job meaning they will not get orders to go anywhere else once they are assigned unless they request to stop teaching.
<p> I believe the ammo budjet was unlimited we had long days and around a 12 person class size. When we shot there was often a 1 to 1 student instructor ratio (mind you half the students were down range raising and marking target boards, from behind berms). Like Mr. White about half was on field craft and half was on marksmanship. The first week consisted of long days outside at the range and in the woods. The nights consisted of weapons cleaning, gillie suit construction and classes. One thing different from Mr White was some familerization traing with new technoligy (often in those classes at night the first week). We were expected to become radio experts, gps experts, range finder experts, and glid experts (laser painters). One of my instructors used to say that the deadly person in the millitary is one highly motivated sniper school graduate. Not only for the psy aspect of sneaking up and taking out their leaders and disheartening the enemy but also for the ability to sit and hide for possibly days in a position far behing enemy lines that he snuck into with a singars radio. Becuase from that radio he could call in air strikes, arty and andy thing else like naval gun fire. Addmititly the airforce and scouts as well as others do that king of think mostly but it was an added bonus for the sniper to be able to do all of those things as well, including painting a target. Familiarization with that equiptment and those techniques was an inportant part of the course.
<p> Sniper class consisted of mostly E4's and E5's some had gotten a guaranteed spot as part of a reenlistment package. This class consisted of all army but in other classes they did have police units all though I believe they generally attend usmc school.
<p>Shooting with NVD is very prohibitive and difficult if the lighting isn't just right the pvs 4? if I remember correctly was only 2 gen night vision and it was only addaptable to the M21 (modified m14) and not the M-24 (modified rem 700) we also shot with illum but in school they used the hand fired type where in a real situation you would have called in morter fired illum. The equiptement was good and we did stock with 7b's and did practice spotting for each other. Much time was spend on range estimation, slope and wind doping. The m24 was most peoples preference all though we did have familiarization with the barrett. Army sniper teams would consist of one person with the m21 and one with the m24 but we spent most of out time with the m24.
I hope this gives a little more info, I don't want to hijact Mr. White's thread.
January 5, 2003, 02:59 PM
You're welcome Ojibweindian. It was my pleasure as you are an old time member of TFL.
BTW, "One Eye" was the name given to him by the whites of the regiment. The Indians of Co. K were recruited from the reservation in Oceana County, Little Traverse Bay, Bear River, Little Traverse, La Croix and the Mackinac region. Others came from Isabella Reservation & the Saginaw area. I'm not familar with the state (only been to Kalamazoo and I know where Fort Michilimakinac even though I've never been there). See Herek at pages 35-36.
Here's another story that involves a Berdan Sharpshooter: "I was sent to the Ninth Corps and had a long hard day sharpshooting... My orders were to annoy the enemy artillery which was keeping up a tearing fire on our troops... In front of me was a field of standing corn which was about two feet high making me a good screen but the shells came too close and I wanted to go over the summit and get down below the cornfield... I was sure that if I tried to cross the opening that the rebel pickets would get a bullet into me. While on the ridge I met a Michigan soldier and he was under the same orders I was. He was a full blooded Indian. I told him that I wished that I could get down to the cover of brush but the corn was not large or thick enough to cover us from the view of the rebels. The Indian said, 'Make self corn. Do as I do.' He then cut off the stocks of corn and began to stick them into his clothes and equipment. I did as he did and then we worked our way to the fence and cover of bushes without even drawing rebel fire.
The Indian and I had a very fine chance on the rebels. The Indian was good shot and enjoyed his duty, only when the shells came too close, then he would cringe and his eyes would look as wild as a panther's. In front of us was a battery and the earth at the muzzle was too high, so high that they did not try to fire the guns but were digging it down as we came into our new position. They dropped out of sight at our first shot and we kept them from using the guns all afternoon. After dark, the Indian and I returned to our respective commands, never to meet again. To me he was pleasant company although he had little to say." Taken from Wyman White's "The Civil War Diary of Wyman S. White," pages 249-250.
The First Michigan Sharpshooters was also in the area and it is possible the Indian mentioned by White was from Co. K.
Thanks for the follow up ajacobs! We were posting concurrently with one another. Those details are exactly the "little stories" that we "outsiders" love to hear. If I think of anything more, I'll post.
January 6, 2003, 10:24 AM
All those places are in the Lower Peninsula, but still a part of Chippewa territory.
Thanks for posting those excerpts!
May 16, 2003, 08:17 PM
Found William B. Folkestad's PanzerJager: Tank Hunter on a used book shelf and picked it up or $5. It was a one night read and is Bernhard Averbeck' wartime experience. Averbeck served with the 95th Infantry Div. until it got whiped out on the Russian Front. Here are some sniper related excerpts:
"Enemy snipers haunted the front line. Russian sharpshooters carried a fully automatic ten-shot rifle with a scope. They were good with their rifle and we learned from them what we could do and couldn't do. Usually one mistake was all that was allowed; appropriate behavior became second nature.
"I was relaxing on a brick wall, enjoying the rays of a sun that contained the promise of a warm summer. The "PHHHT" sound that threw up red brick dust sent me tumbling for cover. The sniper's bullet had passed between my legs and buried itself in the bricks. My white winter trousers had made a fine target. A little higher and the rifleman could have ended my thoughts of ever raising a family and higher still he could have ended my thoughts altogether."from page.
I don't think the "fully automatic ten-shot rifle" is entirely accurate, but it doesn't detract from his experience in 1942. In the next passage (1943), we learn from Averbeck the fate of his friend:
"I returned from one of my visits outside to discover that Ludwig Kluge had taken my place in front of a blacked-out window. I didn't comment on it because Ludwig and I were close friends and had been together eve since we had first met while training at Herford.
"We were all feeling pretty good, and in the candlelight that flickered over the faces gathered inside, we began comparing our degustatory skills. All of a sudden a sniper's tracer bullet ripped through the window opening, striking the ceiling. Everybody jumped up looking for pliers or some other tool to pull the thing from where it had lodged in the wooden rafter before it caught fire. Ludwing remained seated the whole time so when I came back I asked him what was the matter?
"'I think that I am wounded,' he said. I opened his shirt and sure enough, I discovered the bullet had entered his back, angled down towards the ground, and richocheted up to the ceiling. He had unwittingly exchanged places and the risks that went with it.
"We took Ludwig to our field hospital and the company physician who was considered a specialist in belly shots which wre most often fatal. After Ludwig's operation we were informed that the bullet had pierced his intestines 25 times. When we visited him, he was in a special ward for gut wounds under the watchful eye of a medic. In this ard, an orderly was always prsent to make sure that after an operation no one had anything to drink for seven days to allow the intestines time to start healing. To help stave off the feeling of thirst, the orderly placed damp sponges in the patients' mouths.
"Three or four days later there was an emergency in another ward and the orderly left to lend a hand. After he departed Ludwing drank the contents of his warming bottle and two days later he was dead." From p60.
May 16, 2003, 10:55 PM
I didn't comment on this thread previously because I didn't really have anything of substance to contribute but I must say, it has been one of the most fascinating, entertaining and educational in the Rifle Country forum. :)
May 16, 2003, 11:45 PM
I don't think the "fully automatic ten-shot rifle" is entirely accurate
Scoped SVT, don't know enough about them to comment further, but "fully Automatic" in relation to the SVT could be a mild mis-translation of some form of Selbsleder(sp?) or Sturmgewehr (manuscript was german Translated to english right?). and the SVT WAS equipped with a 10-round magazine
i have also been told that the SVT based sniper weapons while of lesser accuracy compared to the Moisin-Nagant, were fo great use in city fighting. and that the success of the SVT in this role lead to the birth of the SVD. and that SVD started out life the same way, I.E. as a self loading rifle chambered in a full power round. and that the develpment into Snyperskya-VD came fairly late in the game.
May 17, 2003, 08:52 PM
While with C Co (Crazy Horse) 4/10 Inf out of Ft Davis, Panama in 1981/2 I was able to attend a local Sniper School on the Pacific side at the Empire Range complex.
The school was run by SF guys who were with the group that was stationed at Ft. Gulick on the Atlantic side, same as Davis.
AFAIK many places both CONUS and OCONUS ran local sniper schools. Ft. Lewis had a sniper school in the early to late 80's, that was run by SF guys from the group stationed there as well.
The guns we used were M21s with 3-9 ART scopes. These guns belonged to my company and I believe we had 3 or so assigned. After sighting in from a prone sandbag supported position all shooting was done from either prone (not supported), sitting or kneeling positions. I always disagreed with the no use of a rest rule and to this day am not sure why they did it.
We did a night shoot with a AN PVS 2, an ancient dinosaur compared to todays night sights. In that night shoot we shot from a prone supported position. This was the only time we used a rest after the initial zero.
Most targets were steel type silhouttes at ranges from 100-1000 yards with a hit or miss being counted by the "clang" or lack thereof of the bullet hitting the steel.
To graduate you had to hit a certain percentage of the metal silhouttes, sorry I don't remember the percentage but believe it was fairly high, somewhere around 90%.
Prerequisits for attending were a rank of Specialist or higher (no officers). 1 Year retainability, no bars or flags (if you were in the military you'll know what this means), and qualified Expert with the M16, there was also a minum PT test score but I don't remember that either. It was probably a minimum of 225 out of the max of 300.
May 17, 2003, 11:27 PM
Rob62, did you like the ART scope? Did the range feature work okay?
May 18, 2003, 01:15 PM
This was the one and only time I actually used this scope. Other than for training exercises (blank fire). While I attended the school I was never assigned to a HQ's / Scout platoon as a sniper.
As this was a looong time ago, many of my memories are fuzzy. From what I remember the way the ART scopes worked was by bracketing the top of someones head and their belt line between 2 horizontal stadia lines you ended up with the range to the target and aimed dead on.
I.E. if you adjusted your magnification ring so that the top of the head and the belt were between the 2 lines, and the magnification ring showed a 5x the range to the target was 500 meters.
Anyway, in theory this seemed like a great idea and should have worked better than what I remember it doing. I and many of my classmates had lots of problems. I think that most were from the fact that we could not use a rest to shoot. (While the more I think about that now the more upset I get)
Even shooting expert with the M16 hitting a human sized silhouette at anywhere from 100-900 yards from an unsupported position is extremly difficult to do. Not so hard at the closer ranges but when you get out to 400+ meters and beyond I'm still amazed today to see how anyone did it with consistency.
FWIW - Today for my fun precision rifle I shoot a Remington 700 Police in .308 Win, with a Leupold 3-9x Vari X III scope. And am seriously planning on getting another scope with more magnification. Probably something around 4-16X
May 18, 2003, 01:24 PM
What Art asks. BTW, were they ART I or ART II?
May 18, 2003, 01:49 PM
To be quite honest I'm not sure off hand what the difference is between the ART I and II. I don't remember which one we used.
May 19, 2003, 11:54 PM
Attended Sniper Schoool, 1970, while serving in SOG (CCS, 1st Exploitation Co.)
July 1, 2007, 02:03 AM
It was my good fortune to attend the 4th Division Sniper School at Camp Radcliffe (An Khe), Viet Nam. I went there in 1970. I was NOT a part of the 4th Division. I was a paratrooper assigned to the 173D Airborne (Separate) Brigade out of L.Z. Uplift. The 173D fell under "operational control" of the 4th Division but was a separate unit. I was originally a member of the 1/503rd Recon Platoon which was a part of Echo Company. I was originally a forward observer assigned to one of the Hawk (Recon) Teams. By pure good luck I managed to con my way into the school via the 1st Battalion CSM. I loved it! We ended up with about a total of 10 to 12 snipers within our battalion. I have no doubts at all that EVERY one of our snipers ended up with multiple confirmed kills. The leading sniper in my battalion, an older man from Arkansas, had about 50 kills or so when I left Nam to go home. For more information about the snipers in the 173D Airborne read the book titled "Soldier" by James Gibbore. The ISBN # for the book is: 0-7394-2694-X. Gibbore was two classes in front of me and his Sniper School Certificate, like mine, was signed by the same Captain Arthur D. Helton, Jr. See page 212 of his book. Gibbore's recon team was also based at L.Z. Uplift just down the road from where my team was housed. He and I, from the sounds of his book, worked in a lot of the same areas. From the way he describes things, his teams would work an area and my teams would work a different area. Later on, they switched his teams' area of operations with the area of operations that my teams had been working and vice versa. If you were a sniper in ANY unit in Nam, you could draw a working assignment from the Sniper School, Special Observations (Operations) Group (aka: SOG), your Corps command people, your division headquarters, your brigade, your battalion, your company and even your own platoon leader(s). And then you could also luck into the periodic target of opportunity too. Snipers in Viet Nam were ALWAYS busy doing something. Believe it or not, a guy REALLY could get tired of shooting at people, even if they were lowlife communists. I think that Gibbore also covers that issue in his book and it is valid as he describes it. What was sometimes funny was HOW the snipers were deployed. I was moved from the Recon Platoon to a line platoon in the Crescent Valley below the Hawk's Nest. This platoon had periodically been drawing sniper fire on an irregular basis. About the second week at the new location, we started getting rifle fire from our northeast. I got into position, found where the enemy sniper was shooting from, took aim and returned fire on him. Intelligence later confirmed that not only had I gotten the other (enemy) sniper but I had also splattered parts of his head over his two assistants/trainees. According to the intel guys, it all happened so fast that the two assistants/trainees heard him shoot and then got covered with parts of him. At first the two assistants thought that their buddy's rifle had blown up and killed him. The enemy team had no idea that an American sniper had been moved into the area until their sniper ended up dead. No, my bullet did NOT go down the enemy's rifle scope. It just happened to be a pretty lucky shot, done at dusk, with a decent rifle and scope in my possession. Besides, if those guys had been any closer, I might not have needed to open my eyes to hit the enemy sniper like I did. They were way under 200 yards, next to the base of a palm tree with a dark area slightly behind them to silhouette the shooter when he shot. It was almost like a "gimme" type of shot. Okay, so I'm kidding about not opening my eyes to shoot at closer ranges. But, enjoy the book by Gibbore and learn a little bit more about what the guys in the 173D while they were in Viet Nam. Airborne all the way!!!
Poor East Texan
May 29, 2008, 10:21 PM
Great stuff! Keep it coming!
I'd have to find them but I have two books that deal with Marine snipers although I think they are known as "Precision Riflemen" rather than snipers....
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