Thanks to U.S. Dept. of Defense for this:
Becoming a sniper isn’t easy.
The U.S. Army Sniper School was established in 1987 in Fort Benning, Georgia.
Any military branch or federal agency can send candidates to Sniper School.
The school is known for their incredibly challenging U.S. Army Sniper Course, which is 7 weeks long.
Instructors say there’s currently about a 60% attrition rate.
You need more disciplined, intelligent soldiers to process emotions.
It takes someone who knows how to manage resources and someone with serious patience — there’s a lot of observing and waiting for something to happen.
“They’re some of the most patient people I’ve ever met in my life,” Army Staff Sgt. Brett Johnson said.
Take the stalking portion of the course. Using their homemade ghillie suits — camouflage uniforms they’ve personally retrofitted for durability and protection in all sorts of weather conditions — the sniper candidates get to “veg out” by incorporating vegetation into those suits to blend in with their surroundings. They then spend the next couple of hours moving at a snail’s pace through an area of woods.
The goal — take a shot at the instructors who are looking for them in the brush, hoping to find them first.
But school instructors said a lot of candidates fail that part. When we visited, not a single sniper team got to take their shot.
“The hardest part about this school so far has been stalking for me, because I’m a big, gawky guy, so crawling through the woods is tough,” explained Staff Sgt. Johnnie Newton, who passed the course.
Then there are the technical aspects. They’re always refining their skills for every possible circumstance, like wind and distance.
“If I’m operating in a rural environment like Afghanistan, I have longer lines of sight and I’m at higher elevation. What that means is I’m able to extend the capability of my weapons system to a greater distance,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Rance, team leader of the Army sniper course. “In an urban environment, things are a lot quicker, a lot more dynamic, with shorter field of views.”
Many of the soldiers we talked with at our visit to the Army Sniper School said soldiers feel safer knowing a sniper was watching their backs. So did those who’ve been saved by them in the past.
“They’re critical on the battlefield. They observe and report and then take the most critical shot when needed is a skill that can’t perish,” Johnson said.
U.S. Army Sniper School (Fort Benning, Georgia)