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  • Marine Scout snipers are among the deadliest  warfighters in the world. They serve a variety  

  • of purposes and often far away from friendly units  that could accidentally blow their cover or alert  

  • enemies. Scout snipers often work in pairs with  one actually pulling the trigger while the other  

  • partner spots and collects vital data. They can  be employed in multiple roles on the battlefield

  • The most common one that people might think comes  to mind would be overwatch. That is when snipers  

  • provide top cover to advancing infantry units  to identify major threats like machine gunners  

  • or other snipers. Taking these dangerous units  out enables the infantry to move forward safely.  

  • Snipers are more commonly given reconnaissance  missions where they must go deep into enemy  

  • territory simply to observe and take  notes of enemy movements and positions

  • Lastly, and the most dangerous mission, is when  snipers perform surgical strikes on selected  

  • high-value targets. A high-value target could  be a top officer, terrorist leader, bomb maker,  

  • or any number of individuals who might havelot of security around them. Heightened security  

  • measures would make conducting a regular attack  risky and if they are surrounded by civilians it  

  • would avoid unnecessary suffering. A scout sniper  must be able to get in close enough, undetected,  

  • to make an accurate shot then slip away  all while being hunted by the enemy

  • Because of these incredibly dangerous mission  sets, Marine Scout snipers only choose a select  

  • handful of people to ensure the best Marines  are put in these kinds of harrowing situations

  • The process for a Marine Scout sniper starts  all the same for thousands of eager recruits  

  • every year: enlisting in the Marine Corps. While  there are certainly many hurdles that go into just  

  • joining the military, the basic principles  of being physically and medically fit,  

  • a clean criminal record, and the ability  to pass a drug test is standard for entry.  

  • Another initial hurdle is doing well  on the ASVAB (pronounced as-vab) exam

  • The ASVAB or Armed Services Vocational Aptitude  Battery is a common exam given by all the armed  

  • forces to see what areas you are naturally  good at. To become a Marine Scout sniper,  

  • as of right now, you must become an infantryman  first. Contrary to popular belief it is rather  

  • difficult to obtain an infantry contract since  the competition is fierce meaning that those  

  • interested need to score well above the  minimum requirement to be competitive

  • So after studying well for the ASVAB, staying in  shape, and keeping your nose clean, you head off  

  • to boot camp. Marine Corps boot camp is no joke  and is designed to break you down mentally and  

  • physically only to rebuild you as a member of the  world's greatest Marine Corps. While at boot camp,  

  • it is best to learn every bit of knowledge  from the Drill Instructors as possible,  

  • especially for marksmanship, since this will form  the foundation for your Marine Corps career. One  

  • of the minimum requirements to even attend Scout  Sniper school is to shoot at an expert level

  • The Marine Corps marksmanship test is an annual  event that recruits must first pass in boot camp.  

  • Marines fire a total of fifty rounds at targets at  200, 300, and 500 meters away from the standing,  

  • kneeling, sitting, and prone positions. The  test is scored between 250 to 350 points  

  • with three different levels. Those wanting to be  a Scout Sniper need to get a score of at least  

  • 305 to obtain the Expert level of marksmanship. After completing boot camp, infantry Marines must  

  • now complete one of the two School of Infantry  Courses. The School of Infantry course is one  

  • of the most punishing courses that any enlisted  Marine can go through. Over the course of 59 days,  

  • newly-minted Marines will build on the  knowledge they learned in boot camp  

  • and apply it to real-life scenarios. During the  course, they will learn techniques of patrolling,  

  • defending a position, and identifying  improvised explosive devices

  • Marines here will also learn to use more advanced  weapons like grenade employment and machine guns.  

  • After the first several weeks of trainingMarines branch off into whichever infantry  

  • specialty they were assigned after boot campRiflemen, mortar men, machine gunners, and light  

  • armored scouts all receive job-specific training. Upon graduation from either the School of Infantry  

  • East or West, Marines can now hit the fleet  into their first operational infantry unit.  

  • During the next several years, Marines  could serve anywhere in the world. Whether  

  • it be in the jungles of Okinawa, the deserts of  southern California, the woods of North Carolina,  

  • or the combat zone of Afghanistan, Marines  everywhere should expect a not so easy lifestyle

  • It is during this phase of an aspiring Scout  Sniper's timeline that Marines must wait  

  • several years biding his or her time. That is  because of the rank requirements and often unit  

  • specific requirements. To even be eligible for the  Scout Sniper course, Marines must attain at least  

  • the rank of Lance Corporal. Obtaining this rank  might take several years for some depending on  

  • what rank they enlisted at and how many people  get promoted each year. Most people take about  

  • two years to reach this rank after enlisting. But while you are waiting to meet the minimum  

  • rank requirements, you still have to stay  in shape and refining your shooting skills  

  • learned in boot camp. This is necessary since  a First Class physical fitness test score,  

  • the highest level, must be achieved at the  date of the course convening as well as  

  • having a current expert rifle qualification. During this time you must also stay out of  

  • trouble and avoid getting into large amounts of  debt since snipers are required to hold a minimum  

  • of a Secret security clearance. Getting in  trouble with the law as well as owing too much  

  • money are common issues that would prevent  you from obtaining a security clearance,  

  • and a spot as a Marine Scout Sniper. There are a variety of other prequalifications  

  • that must be met before even stepping onboard  one of the three Scout Sniper courses. You must  

  • have at least one year remaining on your contract  to attend the school which means if you did not  

  • make the rank needed fast enough you might have to  reenlist just to attend the course. You must also  

  • have correctable vision to 20/20 and color blind  applicants are discouraged. You also cannot have  

  • any history of mental illness in your medical  record, and you must be a volunteer. While that  

  • may be surprising, with such a tough school and  a great need for snipers on the battlefield, more  

  • than one command might be tempted to force people  to go to fill this desperately needed quota

  • If you can manage to meet all of  these requirements, there is still  

  • one last obstacle remaining before  being allowed to attend the course.  

  • While not officially required, the Scout Sniper  school highly recommends attending a variety  

  • of additional courses before reporting to the  schoolhouse. Some of these courses include things  

  • like Land Navigation, Calling for Supporting  Fires, and Reconnaissance Marine. Additionally,  

  • the school also recommends that Marines become  proficient at some of the core tenants of sniping  

  • such as marksmanship, stalking, field sketchesand range estimation prior to attending as well

  • Why they highly recommend all of this additional  training before attending Scout Sniper school  

  • is because of the traditionally high  attrition rate. In recent years,  

  • it is not uncommon for more than half a class  to fail the course for one reason or another.  

  • The instructors and Marine Corps leadership  realize that the current 59 day course  

  • is not enough time to develop most people  without prior preparation from infantrymen  

  • into some of the world's deadliest marksmen. Because of these stringent recommendations,  

  • often screeners and training evolutions are  held at the divisional and regimental level  

  • to best prepare interested candidates  for selection. Those that perform  

  • well at these unit-level training evolutions  will be recommended by their chain of command to  

  • attend the course since they only want to send  people who have the best chance of succeeding

  • So after finally waiting and training  for two to three years, multiple schools,  

  • and possibly seeing combat, you are finally ready  to enter the final stage of Scout Sniper training:  

  • the Scout Sniper course. There are three  Scout sniper courses with one on each coast  

  • as well as one at Quantico, Virginia to  take over the extra overflow of students

  • Soon after arrival at the course, you are  quickly reminded that scout snipers live  

  • in the areas that no one wants to go to make  their shots. One of the very first events after  

  • students make their ghillie suit is to completely  submerge their bodies in the pig pit, a muddy,  

  • mosquito-infested hole in the woods. After  doing this, the students are ready for training

  • Throughout the course, physical fitness is a large  part of the daily routine. While certainly tough,  

  • there is no Hell Week equivalent to BUD/S hereRather, the crux of the course focuses on a series  

  • of four must pass events. The very first one comes  a month into the school. It is the known distance  

  • qualification course. On this course of fireMarines must hit at least 28 shots on a range  

  • with targets at 300, 500, and 1000 metersFailing the official range twice means you fail

  • The next hurdle is the stalking course. Stalking  is a traditional sniper method of matching their  

  • ghillie suits to a surrounding territory and  then crawling within distance of the enemy  

  • undetected to get their best shot. The course is  incredibly difficult and one of the main failure  

  • points for many students. Students are often  forced to do what is called skull dragging  

  • which keeps the body perfectly level with the  ground and they drag their faces in the dirt.  

  • The students must do this until they get to  within 300 meters of the instructors undetected  

  • and fire a blank shot at them. The instructors  then hold up a series of cards to make sure  

  • that the Marine is actually within the  required distance to reading them, which  

  • simulates being in range for an accurate shot. After firing, a Marine instructor known as a  

  • walker walks within ten feet of the student who  fired. If the instructors still cannot see him,  

  • he fires again, and the instructors look to  see if the shot disturbed anything around him.  

  • If they still cannot see the studentthe Marine passes with a perfect score.  

  • Every Marine Scout sniper must obtain at  least one perfect score to pass stalking

  • After passing these two first phases, the  Marines then focus on their most difficult  

  • shooting hurdle: the unknown distance rangeThe unknown distance range is slightly different  

  • than the known distance range in both how  it's conducted and scoring. The students  

  • practice for weeks on the known distance  range before the final qualification event  

  • while at the unknown distance range literally  every shot matters over the next two weeks. This  

  • is because the scores from each day are averaged  and Marines need an average of 80 percent to pass

  • The range is difficult as there are ten targets  from several hundred up to 800 meters away  

  • all at random intervals. Marines must quickly  assess not only the range but the environmental  

  • conditions as well to get a shot off in less  than five seconds. This skill is vitally  

  • important since Marines in combat will rarely  have known distances at which to fire at enemies

  • After passing this evolution, Marines must face  their final test. As in real life, Scout snipers  

  • might be operating far behind enemy lines. If  one of them gets hurt, no one is left behind  

  • meaning they are going to have to be carriedsometimes for miles, for medical help. Instructors  

  • simulate this by making the class carry four dummy  casualties weighing 200 pounds each along with all  

  • the other Marines' gear for a brutal 23 miles. The march takes over eight hours and usually  

  • starts late at night with Marines finishing in the  morning. Upon the completion of this last event,  

  • they officially move from their  previous title of Professionally  

  • Instructed Gunmen to Hunters of Gunmen. The path to becoming a Marine Scout sniper  

  • is not easy and takes years of preparation and  training. Because of the strict requirements  

  • to even enter the course, Marines must perform  at their best day in and day out for years.  

  • Even with all of this preparation that Marines  have before arriving at the school, every skill  

  • they have ever learned is put to the testMentally, physically, and emotionally Marines  

  • will have to perform under stressful and difficult  circumstances. But if they have what it takes,  

  • they can join an elite group that only several  thousand Marines in US history have ever joined.

Marine Scout snipers are among the deadliest  warfighters in the world. They serve a variety  

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How to Become a Marine Sniper - Application and Training

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    Summer posted on 2021/03/01
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