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 Carrying out a stalk--fieldcraft guide and discussion

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crimsonfalcon07
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PostSubject: Carrying out a stalk--fieldcraft guide and discussion   Sat Feb 24, 2007 12:34 pm

So I've noticed that a good amount of people think that their gun makes them a sniper. I want to know what has been most helpful for you all in allowing you to make your shots on average. Now obviously all four choices are useful. My question is which you rely on most. I'm allowing two votes per user, so if you think two are important, you can cast your vote accordingly. Also, I want this thread to include tips on how to maximize the advantages you get from whatever you voted for. If you vote for your gun, what tips do you have for getting the best performance out of your gun. If you vote for field craft, how do you stay hidden, know the terrain, etcetera? If you vote for marksmanship, how can you make your shooting more consistent.

While technically a sniper is a marksman who is capable of delivering long-range precision aimed shots at strategic and tactical targets, good field craft is more important than the gun, IMO, so that's where I cast my vote. Hereís what Iíve found useful in staying hidden and taking the shot.

First, camouflage. In order to avoid detection, you need to observe the rules of camouflage: shape, sound, smell, silhouette, shadow, and movement, to name the key ones. The human eye and brain can pick out the human shape and silhouette, even if it is well hidden, amazingly well. Sound is also a great way to alert an enemy that you're coming, as are artificial smells. Also, painted shadows are never as dark as real shadows. Finally, movement draws the eye, and makes it much easier to detect you. So, how can we avoid these tell-tales?

Shape, silhouette, and shadow can all be remedied with a good ghillie. The ghillie is made of many many strips of burlap on a netting cover, which shrouds the human form, making it appear to be a small hill, bush or something else. When in the field, a ghillie should be modified by attaching local vegetation to help you blend in. A ghillie should be fireproofed, since they are otherwise very flammable and dangerous. Avoid color patterns when making a ghillie, since patterns will draw the eye and make you stand out.

You should also stay close to cover, such as hills, trees, bushes, or high grass. That will cut down on your detectability profile.

To avoid detection via smell, avoid artificial smells caused by scented deodorant, soaps, or shampoos, silicone gun lube spray, or bug spray when out in the field. If you smell unnatural, you increase the odds that you will be detected. Unscented deodorant is good, however, since BO is a big telltale.

Sound tell-tales can be avoided in a number of different ways. First, if enemies are nearby, avoid movement. Movement is the number one source of stray sounds. If you have to move, there are two different ways to walk that will cut down on sounds. One, you can walk by placing the ball of your foot on ground that does not leave a trace (hard packed dirt, stones, etc), and avoiding sticks, etc. You slowly lower your heel to avoid crunching on gravel or small stones as much as possible. Step on hard packed surfaces as much as possible to avoid leaving a trace that an enemy can track. In addition, try to move when the ambient noise increases, such as when the wind is blowing. You also may find it effective to walk placing your heel first, and moving your toes slowly to sweep aside obstructions like twigs and gravel as quietly as possible. Try to avoid leaving a trace as much as possible. Finally, strap down all loose equipment so your gear doesnít clank or rattle or make other stray noises that could draw enemy attention.

Movement tell-tales are obviously avoided by not moving. If you have to move, you should preferably move in a sniper or infantry crawl, with your weapon cradled in your elbows, and use your toes and elbows to propel you. If you need to move more quickly, move in a low crouch. You should never run or walk upright unless you are absolutely sure there is no one near, and you need to move that fast. Move in short intervals from cover to cover, and pause often to check for enemies. Also, when moving, avoid moving anything except for your legs. Swinging your arms naturally adds unneeded and unwanted extra movement that can draw attention. If crawling through tall grass, move with the wind if possible to mask your movement. Do not carry your rifle when moving in your hands, it is long, and tends to move in a way that draws attention. Pistols are ideal weapons to have out when moving. When in firing position, keep movements slow and careful. Cocking the weapon should be done slowly and smoothly, to cut down on unnecessary movement. A "sniper" who cocks their gun really fast and fires a lot, like in the video of the Super 9 demo at shortyusa is really easy to spot and eliminate.

thought I'd add a bit more to my post on camouflage.

Some more things that I have found useful indicators of enemies, or that can reveal a sniper's position are shine and disturbance of wildlife.

The shine element is one of the major reasons you should not only paint your rifle, but also wrap it. The reflection off of a rifle bolt assembly or the lens of a scope are easily seen from over a mile away. Buckles or metal sling loops, or any number of reflective surfaces can create shine, and give away your position. A good burlap wrap is essential for a rifle. Some snipers choose to create a ghillie wrap for their rifle. These can be made in much the same way that a ghillie suit or poncho is made (netting with burlap strips). You should also get a cover that goes over the lens of the scope. You should be able to see through the cover, but still eliminate reflection. For example, a piece of loosely knit cloth works quite well if it is a discreet color (bright pink would probably be a bad choice). All metal gear should be sprayed with a matte-black, brown, green, or other environment appropriate color. However, bear in mind that some paints give off an obvious scent for quite a while that can give away your presence. Your rifle wrap should also mask the shape of your gun and scope. Perfect circles, like those on a scope, are quite rare in a natural environment, and are a sure giveaway. Similarly, the shape of a rifle is pretty unmistakable--for this reason, it is not sufficient to merely paint your rifle.

Disturbance of wildlife can also be a tell-tale. For example, if a flock of birds flies up out of a field for no discernable reason, there is probably a sniper moving through the field. You should avoid animals as much as possible, although animals are generally hard to spot since they typically have better field craft than an airsofter. While you are unlikely to encounter much wildlife in most airsoft games, birds are a good indicator of an enemy presence. For example, if you know an area really well, and you know there are typically lots of birdsong in an area, and the area is silent, you can be sure someone is in that area, or has recently passed through.

You should also (and this is common sense) avoid skylining, or silhouetting yourself on a hill, for example. Even if you have disguised your shape, an object appearing and disappearing from the crest of a hill is pretty obvious. Avoid brushing against grass or tree branches, or other objects that will move and telegraph your presence. A good rule of thumb is to always assume you are under observation.

Another important factor in field craft is to know your surroundings. If you know in advance where you will be playing, and you arenít already familiar with it, you should, whenever possible, scout the map and determine good ambush and firing points, and plot escape routes, and establish likely routes of enemy travel. Good intel about an area can win you matches more effectively than a good weapon.

Finally, another useful trick that you can use in airsofting is to set up a decoy near your position. A cleverly placed pile of leaves and a stick, for example, can be set up to look like a poorly disguised sniper. You can often discover the position of an enemy who you would not otherwise have seen by watching them fire at your decoy. While I don't suggest trucking in a mannequin, putting a decoy up in a position that looks like a good snipe point near the enemy base, and keeping an eye on the spot can aid you in eliminating enemies, or in extracting successfully.

As many snipers have noted, patience is critical. However, don't forget to be observant of your close surroundings also while you are waiting for that shot. I have to admit, I've been taken out several times because I was paying too much attention to a target downrange, and missed the approach of an enemy patrol or sniper.

One more thing, a good pair of rubber soled shoes with smooth soles are useful, since they don't leave behind any distinguishing marks. I also have found it useful to strap a piece of leather on the bottom of shoes, rough side out, since that eliminates any tracks pretty well, and makes it tougher to find your hiding spot.

Second, tactics. The role of a sniper is not to put a bunch of plastic in the air at once. Often, you may be most useful if you DONT take the shot, but instead radio in the location of an enemy unit. The Marines call them Scout Snipers for a reason; snipers are excellent scouts. Because you don't have the rate of fire of an AEG or a number of opponents, stealth is your best weapon. Know when to take the shot, and be aware of your surroundings. Don't fire if there are enemy patrols in the vicinity.

Third, spotters are pretty key. Upon detection, the spotter should lay down a bunch of automatic fire to cover the retreat of the sniper. The sniper finds cover, and uses aimed shots to cover the retreat of the spotter. Proceed to leapfrog in this fashion until you are safe or have eliminated the enemies. I typically outfit my spotter with an M16 AEG with Mad Bull M203 airsoft grenade launcher, or with a SAW, like the M249 Para. They should also carry field glasses with at least 9 power magnification to help critique shots. Spotters should have a ghillie also.

Fourth, tracking. Avoid leaving a trail as far as possible. Good ways to avoid detection are to move backwards for a time to leave a false trail, or walk in a stream for a while to limit your trail. Note that walking in the stream must be done carefully, because wet rocks that should not be wet, or overturned rocks, and any number of things can reveal passage through a body of water. You can also move in a circle, and then backtrack to a predetermined ambush point that overlooks the circular path to deal with any followers.

Finally, when moving with the rest of the team, you should keep your ghillie hidden. An enemy sniper will shoot for snipers before any other target, because snipers pose the greatest tactical threat. You want to keep any sniper specific gear hidden, and blend in as much as possible.

Lets hear what you have to add!
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PostSubject: Re: Carrying out a stalk--fieldcraft guide and discussion   Sun Jun 17, 2007 8:02 pm

that's a great guide Crimson. I won't go over much, as you have mentioned all the basics and important concepts. However, when I am carrying out a stalk, I find it easiest to remember these simple things.

Is he in a state of awareness?

Often times people who are very alert and aware will show it, typically through quick head movements, shifting eyes, a low body position, and a nervousness to move. If you notice someone is sitting still, looking around impatiently, waiting for action, this is not the time to move. Always ask yourself before taking any action, is he in a state of awareness.

Move with the moment.


Nobody can write you a foolproof guide for when to move, when to stay, when to shoot, or how to stalk, but we can give you suggestions on the best way to do them. However, what it will always come down to is what is happening at the moment, as every situation is different from the next. When stalking, wait for the moment to swing in your favor before taking action. For example, if you see that your "target" has noticed something (bush that looks like a player, another actual player, a wildlife animal). This will let you know that your moment is coming. If he discovers another player, he will begin to pursue that player.

If he...

Runs: Move quickly with him as he runs, especially in woodland situations, running over leaves will cause you to make a lot of noise, and be much more likely to not hear someone stalking behind you. Move when he does, stop when he does, but always stay on his flank, just a tad behind him. People look behind them when they're nervous, they look forward all the time, they check the sides on occasion, but they hardly ever check the back and side combo, that is your best safe spot. It will also keep you out of their perifieral (sp?) vision.

Stalks: He is now doing what you are doing, being very attuned to one target, and focusing his mind on that pursuit. Think back to the idea of awareness. He is now very intent on killing that target because people love a good kill, especially if done after a good stalk. They feel so sneaky when stalking someone, they forget to check if someone may be stalking them. I am not saying they will never look around, but they are less aware than if they had no target, and were constantly scanning the area to find one. Stay to a "back-side" position (covered in "if he runs" section) while you pursue him, and once you get within range take the shot.

(Bonus Objective) If you can get in contact with the person your target is stalking, contact them via radio if possible. Tell them they are being stalked, but you have a visual on the target and can ensure they will not die during this operation. Have them lead the target into a well fortfied position, and then begin to fire on the target. When he runs away, after noting that he is clearly outnumbered, he will run straight towards you, make your shot and clear out.

Stays: If he stays, he is clearly waiting for either a more important target, or is suspicious that you are near. You don't want to make too many moves on a still target, but flank as best you can from a sniper crawl position. Keep your movements low and slow, as he is in his most aware position. See if you can contact a teammate to create a diversion, or throw a stone/stick/anything to his opposite side to distract his gaze so you can scale any large obstacle in the way. This position lets you fire your shot from further back as he is in a state where he cannot readily move (assuming he is in the sitting/prone/kneeling position. Fire off a good burst to ensure that he is hit, and then clear out.

I hope this guide helps some of you, and I can't wait to see what other's have to post!
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PostSubject: Re: Carrying out a stalk--fieldcraft guide and discussion   Sat Jun 30, 2007 7:58 pm

Glad to finally have another sniper on the forum!
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PostSubject: Re: Carrying out a stalk--fieldcraft guide and discussion   Wed Jul 04, 2007 4:51 pm

Glad to see that someone finally read my post! I hope it covered some of the things that people sometimes forget to think about. If anyone else has any info please post it though, because with so few snipers on this forum you'll definetly help a lot of people out!
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