If there is only one good reason why a sniper needs an observer, then this is because hitting the rifle will not allow him to see if he managed to hit the target or not. If for any reason one more shot is required, then it is the observer who will tell where the unsuccessful shot fell and the shooting adjustment will follow from him.
Observation and adjustment of shooting, verbal target designation, adjustment of shooting using the clock system and using visual landmarks and thousandths.
It is here that the interaction within the sniper team fully manifests itself. Too much attention is paid to the sniper and too little to the observer. If the team is successful, the observer should be able to:
Help a sniper hit a blurry, almost invisible target.
Monitor the sniper fire and determine the exact location of the bullet, regardless of whether it was possible to hit the target or not.
Correct subsequent shots to hit the target.
These tasks are easy to formulate, but they are as complex and important as the tasks of a sniper. They are so important that many experienced snipers believe that the observer in the team should be a more experienced specialist than the sniper himself.
Verbal target designation and shooting adjustment.
Imagine a dilemma. The observer discovers the target with a binocular or telescope, but does not know how to direct the sniper fire to the desired point without taking his eyes off it? If you look away, the goal will be lost. What should he do?
First, find a local subject or landmark in sight. Ideally, you should keep the target in sight, however, if there are no noticeable landmarks next to it, a slight shift in gaze from the target is allowed. Return the optics to the target so as not to lose sight of them. When using a telescope, with one eye you should look at the target through the lenses, and with the second at a wider area and landmarks.
For landmarks, you should choose simple objects. When describing point A, say something like this: “Do you see a fallen wire? Try to draw a line through the pole from which it hangs, to the forest. The target is 5 meters to the left of this point, between the two nearest trees. ” When describing point B: “From the intersection back east to the grove, about 50 yards. See the clearing? At the far end of the clearing, at the base of a single tree trunk ”.
For point C: “The fifth pillar of the fence north of the corner, at the northern edge of the bush.” I would not call the compass direction with verbal target designation, unless we both know the area well and know exactly which direction we are talking about.
Adjustment of firing using the clock system.
Another way of verbal target designation, which can be used to designate the target and adjust the fire, is the clock system, which can be illustrated using a classic target. The center of the target will be the reference point (landmark) next to the masked object.
From the center of the target or reference point to the right means 3 hours, to the left – 9 hours, straight – 12, and straight down or back to you – 6 hours. In the illustration below, the position of the point where the bullet should hit is indicated as “2 hours, 2 inches to the side”.
If we were talking about a landmark, for example, a single pine in the center, point C using the clock system could be described as follows: “for 2 hours, 50 yards, the far edge of the bush.” Please note that the clock direction and approximate distance are given. For even more clarity, the refinement “the far edge of the bush” is given..
Adjustment of shooting using visual landmarks and thousandths.
It is simpler than using a clock system, just direct the sniper with the help of visual landmarks of the thousandth. However, this is only possible if the gunner uses a telescope coated with a reticle. If there is a sighting grid, it’s very easy for an observer to say, for example, this phrase: “Three thousandths to the right of the telephone pole at the corner, four thousandths higher than the hedge.” This is an accurate description. The sighting grid allows the observer to help the sniper to calculate the lead on the movement of the target or make a correction for the wind.
One specific problem that I encountered while conducting the observation was the difficulty in determining the exact location of the target due to the optical “depth of field of view”, i.e. when conducting observation from a certain distance, using an optical device, there is an illusion of a flattened observation zone.
This can be avoided simply by taking into account the above, however, errors can occur when estimating the distance to a target using an optical device, unless the device was directly designed for these purposes.
If you do not use optics, then another way of quick verbal target designation is to describe the location of the target in the width of a fist, clenched fingers or thumb, with your arm fully extended, from a visible landmark. We will use point C in the illustration as an example: “On the thumb to the right of the road, next to the fence”.
Adjustment of firing to indicate a target in a specific window of a building.
Another method of verbal target designation is used in cities to indicate a goal in a specific window. The floors are counted from top to bottom, since often the first floor does not fall into the field of view. To indicate the windows use the letters of the alphabet. In some divisions of S.W.A.T. even use color codes for different sides of the building.
Bullet observation and shooting adjustment.
The five figures of the soldiers in the illustration below depict ways to determine a target’s bullet hit. The figure in the lower left corner is a typical image of what is expected to be seen: splashes of blood, noticeable marks on clothing or equipment. Immediately above him, we see a man who was hit by a bullet in the left side of his chest, however, this can only be seen by the spot of blood splashing onto the wall behind him.
Sometimes you can notice a fountain of blood flying out behind the back of the target, which often looks like smoke or steam. The man in the upper right corner does not fall naturally. He clearly does not hide and does not control his fall. His legs seemed to buckle. This effect can range from sharp twisting after getting into the bone to just sliding down to the ground.
In the case depicted in the far right edge of the picture, you can even hear the “slap” of the bullet if the target is at a distance of more than 200, but less than 400 yards. The sound of the shot is silenced by the time the bullet flies 200 yards, but the slap will not be heard if the distance to the target exceeds 400 yards.
I would not know how to explain the last example, depicted in the center of the figure, if I had not seen such situations myself. The uniform of one soldier was covered in dust and the only indicator that the target was hit was a fountain of dust, tossing above the left pocket.
Miss detection and shooting adjustment.
It is more difficult to detect a miss. Unless a strong crosswind blows, misses usually occur due to a short flight or overflight. It is easier to detect a shortfall, since the point of impact of a bullet is usually in sight. If you don’t see any signs of a hit, most likely the bullet went too high.
Very often, the trajectory of a bullet’s flight is visible when it passes near the target. The track, similar to the track that a jet plane leaves, is only very thin. This trace, visible for no more than one second, appears when a bullet passes through the ascending currents of warm air. However, the track is shifted under the influence of the wind, so its position can be considered accurate only at the time of the passage of the bullet.
One afternoon, at a shooting range, watching Eduardo Abril de Fontcuberta, an officer of the Spanish Foreign Legion and a consultant for the snipers of the Spanish army, I noticed an unusual occurrence: a glare of light from the shell of his bullet approaching the target. This glimpse, visible only for a split second, appeared because the sun had almost set and was only 20 degrees from the side of the bullet trajectory. Consequently, it is possible to orientate in such a glare, but only in such specific conditions.
When it comes to adjusting the fire, I have to admit that the most ingenious way to do this dates back to World War II. I read about it in 1953 in an article from American Rifleman magazine: an observer helped a sniper find a target that he did not even see. Using 20 binoculars, Robert Sears managed to locate a German machine gunner 800 yards away whose deadly fire prevented an entire company of infantry from crossing the river.
His comrade – an experienced shooter (with the help of an open sight) fired at the so-called “conditional target” – a stone that the shooter saw, although he could not see the machine gun nest. Watching the hits of bullets, Sears said what amendment to bring them closer to the machine gun nest. However, the shooter fired at the same stone – the only thing he could see at such a distance.
So, with his powerful 20x binoculars, Sears sent another 2 shots at the same rock until the sniper hit the machine gunner’s position. The shooter “either hit, or the bullet went so close that he fled in fear.” That’s what jewelry this work can be..
Sniper Shooting Adjustment.
If the sniper missed, the observer should say how accurately describing the location of the bullet. It is important to remember: the observer should not say how much to amend. It reports only the source data. The sniper interprets them and decides which amendment or takeaway to correct for the next shot..
The quickest and easiest way to describe the site of contact is with the aid of the reticle on the telescope. Same as sniper scope. The second method is a clock system, where the observer indicates the direction of the hourly hand, and the distance is in inches from the desired point of impact. Of course, you need to know exactly where this point is located. In most military situations, sniper shooting is the center of the chest.
However, in the work of the police it is not always clear exactly where it is necessary to get and the sniper must clearly say where he is aiming, in order to avoid misunderstanding with the observer.
Based on the book “The Perfect Sniper. Study Guide for Army and Police Snipers ».
Maj. John L. Plaster, USAR (Ret.)