Sniper school: The secrets of camouflage

Marksmen across the armed forces world remain an important part of combat missions, providing protection and awareness of the enemy.

Forces News has been given exclusive access to the place where the skills of sniper instructors are honed - the Specialist Weapons School in Warminster.

It requires skill and dedication to become a marksman and we have been following the progress of potential future instructors over the course of 10 weeks.

If already-trained snipers pass the instructors course, they could be training up the next generation of snipers within their units themselves.

The Specialist Weapons School hones the skills of personnel which define them as dedicated marksmen, trained in the art of observation, reconnaissance, camouflage and concealment.

In the first part of our series, we looked at what it takes to become an instructor at the school, during exclusive access at the Wiltshire base.

Looking for snipers.

Hide and seek

Hiding from the enemy without being seen and being able to take the deadly shot is key - the art of camouflage and concealment.

Because of the nature of what they do, they have to remain unidentified.

During this element of the course on Salisbury Plain, trainees were given 20 minutes to camouflage effectively, adding the surrounding environment to their ghillie suits and using the camo paint to hide their identity as effectively as possible.

Hiding in the foliage.

Once inspected, they are given a further 10 minutes to hide and get into a firing position, all without being seen.

One of the recruits said: "You got to look at the ground, ensuring you pick the right spot, ensuring your camouflage keeps getting changed every time you change location, from whether it be trees or grass - ensure you keep changing that camouflage."

Two soldiers are left behind to seek, playing the roles of enemy observers.

If they feel they have spotted something, they alert the walker in the yellow jacket.

The soldiers at the observation post hold up a card.

The sniper then receives points for identifying the letter on it, as well as calculating the range of the target.

Placing the marker on a sniper.

If they are still unseen, the walker places a card on their head, then the barrel of their gun.

They get maximum points if the soldiers at the observation post cannot see them after the 20 minutes.

One of the trainers told Forces News: "What we're looking for is the guys being able to quickly camouflage in a short space of time, moving to an area concealed.

"Look at the areas with the most amount of foliage, most amount of trap shadow, areas that have a good front drop, so an area of camouflage in front of you, and areas that have a large backdrop behind you, so potentially large bushes, wood blocks or high features so you have cover from the front and the rear."

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