The Navy SEAL Elite Sniper Program: 3 months of hell

Le programme Elite Sniper des Navy SEAL : 3 mois d'enfer - Phil Team

The cold morning air was thick in the Afghan valley. Each warm exhale briefly clouded the outer corner of my rifle scope. But I remained stable and kept a clear view of the middle-aged man.

He wore traditional Afghan dress and hunched, possibly a story from the Soviet or Taliban conflict.

The intense training I had received years before on the Navy SEAL sniper course had taught me to be patient, to wait for the perfect shot, to make sure it was a naughty, controlling my breathing, then going through my mental checklist...breathe, focus, squeeze.

I reflected internally. I was the only one to hold this man's life in my hands. And he had no idea I was aiming for center mass with my 300 Win Mag.

At long range, it is essential to consider all environmental and ballistic factors. Wind, temperature, barometric pressure, degree of latitude, ball speed and Coriolis force (rotation of the earth).

Every detail of this shot and the local terrain had been pre-programmed into my handheld which spit out a final shot solution. After our platoon commander, Cassidy, waved me off, I had to make this shot.

Most of the tasks I did with SEAL Team 3 in Afghanistan were doing sniper reconnaissance, identifying targets, requesting air support and dropping kills from above , usually in the form of a 1,000-pound JDAM head.

A few were more up close and personal, and stuck in my memory like a personal YouTube channel on repeat.

What's it like to be a sniper and follow the training?

As a former Navy SEAL sniper, instructor of the basic course and then the advanced course, and ultimately the head instructor of the West Coast SEAL sniper program, I know the patience and skill required to earn a sniper degree.

The 21st century sniper is a mature, intelligent shooter who uses technology to his advantage. He has spent thousands of hours honing his skills. He is a master of concealment in all environments, from the mountains of Afghanistan to the crowded streets of Iraq.

He is trained in science, but it is up to him alone to create the individual art of killing. To the sniper, the battlefield is like a painter's blank canvas. It's up to him to use his tools, training and creativity to determine how the final shot will unfold and the devastating psychological impact that is ultimately the result of his actions.

What does it take to become a Navy SEAL sniper?

The SEAL course is arguably one of the best. It is one of the most challenging and technically advanced courses in the world.

What kind of person is willing to crawl on the hot desert floor for hours, urinate on the spot, move a few feet to settle on a target, and wait hours more for the perfect shot? The answer is the well-trained sniper.


The Three Phases of SEAL Sniper Training

The Navy SEAL Sniper Course is divided into three phases and spans over 90 days of 100-hour, seven-day work weeks. It is tested to the highest standards in the world.

In the first phase, the candidate learns the latest digital photography techniques, computer image manipulation/compression and satellite radio communications.
In the past, the sniper would draw a target in detail and take notes with pencil and paper. In the 21st century, the sniper leverages technology to his advantage. It uses the most advanced camera systems, hardware and software to record target information and produce a shooting solution.

Phase two is the reconnaissance part of the training. The name of the game is stealth and concealment. During this phase, the sniper learns the art of camouflage, small unit tactics, patrol techniques and, above all, how to enter and exit hostile enemy areas without being detected and without leaving a trail. trail behind him.
We often reject applicants who leave the smallest trace behind, a bullet casing left behind will be sent home. Towards the end of this phase, we introduce advanced shooting fundamentals and a mental management system used by the best athletes in the world.
Mind management gives students the tools to deal with adversity (whether they use them or not is their choice). She also gives them a system to perfectly rehearse and practice their skills through mental visualization techniques.

To prove the value of mental management and repetition, I often tell a true story on the subject. A Navy fighter pilot was shot down in Vietnam, captured and imprisoned for years in the notorious POW camp, the "Hanoi Hilton".
The pilot was an avid golfer in his country, and to cope with this extremely difficult situation, he played rounds of golf in his head. For years, he played his favorite courses perfectly in his head.
Finally freed and back on American soil, the first thing this pilot did was jump out of the military ambulance and drive to the golf course. After explaining his scruffy looks (he was tall and extremely thin due to malnutrition), he played nine holes of golf with a below-par score. Witnesses to the event are shocked.
When asked how this is possible, the pilot replies: "Gentlemen, I haven't made a bad move for four years!".
The third phase is the sniper part. We spend hours in the classroom learning the science behind shooting, ballistics, environmental factors, human factors, and how to calculate wind, range, and target advance. Then we put this knowledge into practice on the shooting range.
Students practice and test themselves with moving and pop-up targets in high wind conditions and targets up to 1,000 meters away.
As part of the training, we put shooters in the most stressful and difficult situations imaginable. We look for signs of high intelligence, patience and mental maturity. Then we intentionally (often unbeknownst to the candidate) place the shooter in unfavorable and unfair situations to test their mettle.

An example of this would be the "edge" shot. The trainees are lined up on the firing range and told they have four minutes to run 600 yards, set up on the firing line and wait for their targets to appear.
Targets can spawn immediately or take up to an hour to spawn. We always send a target immediately, usually just as the shooters are setting up on their line and identifying their field of fire.
To add to the drama.
Often a shooter would look away for a split second to wipe the sweat from his brow, then look down at his scope again to see his target disappear. The opportunity is gone.
The pressure is intense and shooters often collapse in frustration after a missed shot or even after shooting. They eventually learn to control their emotions and keep their cool, otherwise they don't graduate.

We mark and measure everything and keep detailed student records. We record everything and make a daily report. Not everyone makes it, and just getting a ticket is extremely competitive.
Nobody wants to go back to their SEAL team as a loser after failing the program. However, this course is one of the few courses you can pass as a SEAL without being looked down upon by your teammates, or worse, sent back to the regular Navy. This sometimes happens with other courses.

The Navy SEAL sniper course is renowned for being one of the toughest and most demanding courses in the world. It takes extreme perseverance to earn the title of SEAL Sharpshooter. To date, it is one of the most stressful events of my life, even when compared to my combat periods.
I know plenty of grads who say they'd rather do the week from hell again than relive the stress of sniper school!

Three months of hell...

We have a saying on SEAL teams, "The only easy day was yesterday."


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