Elite marksmen from across the international special operations community gathered at Fort Bragg, March 19 through last Friday, to compete. The ninth annual United States Special Forces Command Sniper Competition was held at the 133-acre Range 37 Miller Training Complex.
Range 37 features eight live-fire shoot houses, three flat ranges, one sniper range with a four-story tower, and multiple other training buildings and apparatuses.
Each year the USASOC Sniper competition committee comes together to reinvent the competition. Each year the style and number of events differ and are held during both the day and night.
“All the events change, but keep in mind every year we are measuring the same skill sets; communication, teamwork and straight up ability to shoot,” said a sniper course instructor. “Along with that ability to shoot comes with compensating for the environment, compensating for unknown distance in range.”
A white van pulled up to Range 67, three men exited the vehicle, a French two-man sniper team and their interpreter. As the interpreter translated the rules for the event the two snipers arranged their gear making ready for six minutes of competition. Once the nuances of the event had been communicated the competitors were given one minute to ask questions and request clarification on the rules.
Each of the 25 targets on Range 67 were placed to achieve a different degree of difficulty and test a different skill. Individual long-range shooting ability combined with pistol work.
The French competitors were asked to use their pistols to shoot a set of pistol targets designated to each shooter by color, red or blue. The snipers then transitioned to their precision rifles to shoot longer range LaRue reactive targets which reset once they were shot down. At even further range the competitors were instructed to engage International Practical Shooting Confederation targets, designed to test accuracy at distance.
Communication between the team was key to scoring well in this event.
When asked how the French team scored a sniper course instructor responded with the non-committal reply of “Some teams are better than others”.
A planned method of engagement was also a key to success on the Range 67 event, according to the grading sniper course instructors.
One Range 67 sniper course instructor had competed in a previous year and said the competition can be very stressful.
“You’ve got your group that’s worried about you. You’ve got your sergeant major breathing down your neck, and I am coming from 10th (Special Forces) Group (Airborne) and they want 10th Group at least in the top five. It’s a lot of pressure, and then you’re shooting against your peers. That’s more pressure. It’s fun, best competition I’ve ever shot,” he said.
A multi-level mock mud-brick building set the stage for the event at Range 62B.
Competitors had to each engage seven pistol targets, all of which had to have been hit prior to engaging rifle targets. While shooting at rifle targets, ranging from 225 to 600 meters in distance, each competitor was required to move between designated areas ensuring that each rifle target was engaged from a different location on the building.
“The biggest thing is communication, managing time, locating the targets and engaging,” explained the sniper course instructor overseeing the event at Range 62B.
Teams were allotted five minutes and 30 seconds to complete their task and teams had scores for this event ranging from no points to the maximum 100 points.
Approximately a month after the competition ends members of the competition’s planning committee begin to plan new events for the following year’s competitors.
Stages are then proofed sometimes multiple times. Events held annually vary and often represent the planners personal shooting experiences from civilian and military competitions to experiences down range. The variety of events and quality of competitor lend themselves to producing a completion that is unique.
“As far as military competitions I think it is probably one of the best in the world. I think it’s probably one of the most competitive,” said a Range 62B sniper course instructor.