The head is the part of the sniper’s body that is most likely to be detected, since its main sensory organs, eyes, and snipers often have to raise or turn their heads for an instant. Incorrect masking only exacerbates this problem. Around the disguise of the face and hats of a sniper there is so much “reliable information” that it is scary. Fortunately, we will dispel some of this misinformation.
Headgear, camouflage face makeup, veils and masks for masking the head and face.
If a Kevlar helmet provides unprecedented protection against firearms, the need for a sniper to avoid detection usually outweighs the ballistic protection. Even with his disguise, this helmet adds a lot of weight and volume to the head. Significantly facilitating the detection of any movement. However, acting in conjunction with a larger unit, the sniper must wear a helmet in order to mix with non-snipers and to protect himself from the fire that they can bring.
Army uniform caps or a ranger cap are smaller in size, and its visor creates a shadow for the wearer’s eyes, improving his vision in sunny weather and making it difficult to detect his face. But in my opinion its angular shape is too well defined.
Baseball cap worn by many S.W.A.T. teams police, even more distinguishable, because its shape is not as broken as a cap to the army uniform. Further, I never saw a police baseball cap that was not black or blue instead of camouflage.
A black or dark blue knitted hat is sometimes worn by special operations forces as a headgear for cold weather. But its benefits are based on warmth, and not on camouflage properties. The same hat, but white or spotty, reminiscent of the local color, is much better.
Camouflage scarves, usually triangular olive-colored bandanas, create a somewhat recklessly pirate look. But they are not very effective at disguising.
No, the best camouflage headgear I have found is a simple jungle hat that has camouflage that matches your rest. Its irregular shape and circular visor soften and blur the contour of the head, and also gives a large amount of shade and many convenient attachment points for burlap or natural foliage.
Veils, mosquito nets, balaclava and face mask.
Modern sniper veils have evolved since World War II, when Japanese snipers used to wear mosquito nets to shade and break the contours of their faces. Today you can use mosquito nets in the same way today, or purchase commercial sniper veils. The best veil I saw was cut off from a piece of the heavy Treebark network that I bought at a fabric store for about $ 82.
But a common problem for all veils is that they limit your peripheral vision and add an interfering mesh layer between your eye and your scope. So I’m leaning towards Spandoflage, a stretchable helmet mask for the head. Shown to me by my old friend, Saint Paul Police Department shooting instructor, Darryl Schmidt, these Spandoflage masks come in five different designs that fit almost any season or camouflage.
Due to its elasticity, be careful and cut only about 1/4 of an inch by cutting openings for the eyes. Spandoflage mask is not as effective as properly applied camouflage makeup. She only puts on quickly.
A black hood made of Nomex fabric or a Balaclava knitted helmet is popular in some police tactical groups and military units of the Special Operations Forces. Without a doubt, this is convenient, but let’s take a closer look: the dense, clear hood makes you stand out as well as the black circle on the target. I would like Hollywood to convince criminals and terrorists to always wear black hoods. That would make our shots much easier..
Camouflage creams and pencils for masking the face, masking face painting.
No Spandoflage veil or mask can replace a properly applied face camouflage. When used correctly, a camouflaged face does not look as if it has been painted. It no longer resembles a face at all.
Here are the basics of masking your face. To begin with, remember that the human eye sees dark colors as receding or departing, but interprets light colors as approaching, or prominent in the direction of the beholder. Therefore, to deceive the eye, swap the high and low places of your face, using dark or light colors.
The sunken, inner spaces – around the eyes, inside the ears, inner folds of the chin, and next to the nose – are painted with light paint so that they look approaching and prominent. Next, darken the naturally prominent places – nose, chin, cheeks, and forehead – and they will look like leaving.
It is much easier to apply light colors at the beginning. Because you can be careless and later correct them when applying darker paint. Also remember that nature is not symmetrical, so do not balance the right and left sides of your face. Just let the irregular shape appear on its own, and just tie it together when you finish.
Incorrectly applied camouflage (on the left) emphasizes the face and is symmetrical, the face on the right is well camouflaged.
Make sure you cover everything, including the eyelids, mustache, nostrils, the places behind the ears and the back of the neck, and so on. Nothing should have the natural color of open skin. Speaking about the color of open skin, black snipers should follow the same recommendations and use the same shadows and methods. I saw attempts to use the natural tones of dark skin that did not mask as well as camouflage shadows..
Army camouflage pencils work well, but sometimes they become so sticky that you must mix mosquito repellent with them before using them. My preference is civilian pasta, which is much faster and easier to use and is available in a wide variety of colors. If you also prefer it, do not apply it too thick, otherwise it becomes shiny and reflects light.
When there is no cream or pencil, you can burn the cork or use regular charcoal for a barbecue to at least darken your face as a bad but minimal alternative. But no matter what you use, let your partner check it and fix it when sweat and hard work erases it.
Gloves for protecting and masking hands.
Many snipers wear gloves to preserve heat and to protect finger bites of insects and thorns. If you don’t wear gloves, your hands should be camouflaged as carefully as your face. Completely black gloves create the same problems with clear contours as a hat. While taupe or green gloves may be acceptable if they match the background and match your clothes.
Samples of the Treebark and Realtree gloves work fine, but the Spandoflage mesh gloves seem too thin to last long enough in the field. For all such gloves, remove material from the shooting finger and glue or sew the edges of the cut to prevent it from further unraveling..
Based on the book “The Perfect Sniper. Study Guide for Army and Police Snipers ».
Maj. John L. Plaster, USAR (Ret.)