It seems strange to me that in a nation that values popularity so highly, The lone, solitary hero gets so much attention. It has been that way since Paul Revere’s midnight ride and probably further back than that. The solitary figure I had in mind is the Sniper. Granted, there are times when a sniper is working alone, but there are just as many times when he is working with one or two others. I suppose that’s the equivalent of the Lone Ranger having his “sidekick” Tonto. At extreme ranges, a sniper benefits greatly by having a spotter. The spotter helps line up the shot, does calculations relating to things like wind, humidity, temperature; and also helps to lug all the equipment around. A fully kitted out sniper can be carrying in excess of 100 lbs of toys.
A lot of shooters can do well up to 500 yards. A much smaller number can do well up to a thousand yards. Beyond a thousand yards you encounter a very small and elite group of shooters. This group doesn’t just do well; they hit their mark every time at all ranges. It’s not enough to be a crack shot at the long distance shots, you have to have a head for numbers too. At the longer ranges, too many things come into play to just aim and shoot. Anyone who plays golf will be familiar with the effect of wind, temperature and humidity has on an object in flight. It takes a lot of calculating of all variables in order to make the shot. Again, in this land of the quick draw you would think there would be less interest in the long shot. The idea of a lone individual taking on a nearly impossible task against overwhelming odds captures imaginations as nothing else can.
The particular piece of sniper gear that we are keying on in this article is the “ghillie suit”. Commercially available ghillie suits designated as “sniper” ghillie suits are constructed without the ghillie material on the front. A sniper is going to spend a lot of time on his belly trying to get into position for a clean shot. The front of his ghillie will be reinforced with a heavy material such as “Cordura” to withstand the abrasive crawls. There are low priced “sniper” suits available that do quite well for paintball or varmint shooting, but those suits would never stand up to the rigors of a long sniper crawl.
A sniper usually would not use a ghillie suit just as he receives it. Once he is in the terrain he will be working in, he will add foliage from the most prevalent plants in the area. This process may have to be repeated as he moves towards his goal and different plants become dominant. A snipers most valuable attribute is patience. This is not a task for those in search of instant gratification.
Why is the concept of “one shot – one kill” such a big deal? If you want to live and make another shot you had best be moving. With just one shot it will take a while to figure out where the shot came from. On the second shot everybody will be looking for you and somebody will zero in on you and a ghillie suit is not armor. Not all situations call for a ghillie suit. In fact it is best if you hone your stalking skills without a ghillie suit so that when you do use a ghillie suit you achieve maximum effectiveness. If you can sneak up on someone without a ghillie suit on, just think how much easier it will be with one.
A sniper ghillie suit should have a sturdy base such as military BDUs. While the BDUs are the most easily obtained, any really sturdy clothing will work as long as it is in a color that will blend with your terrain. In spite of using sturdy clothing the front of the suit should still be reinforced with the toughest material possible in order to not only stand up to the abrasions of crawling but also to afford padding to those tender parts on the front of our bodies. The jacket should have thumb loops to keep the sleeves from riding up your arm and similar loops at the ankles to keep your pants legs down. pockets for pads on the knees and elbows is a luxurious plus. The ghillie material should be tied onto netting which in turn should be sewn to the back and sides of both pants and jacket. The netting facilitates the incorporation of vegetation from your environment and makes for quick and easy changing of said vegetation. Most commercial suits come with a hood attached, though some folks prefer a separate “boonie” hat with ghillie material and a face veil attached. Through careful selection of the colors for your ghillie you can blend into almost any environment. The greatest difficulty comes in moving from one environment to another that contrasts sharply with the first.
While a ghillie suit is an incredible tool, it can only be as good as you make it. Practice!