3 The 32 elite students who enter the course need almost perfect physical fitness (PT) scores, expert rifle qualifications, and superior intelligence test
4 Here is where Professionally Instructed Gunmen (PIG), become Hunters Of Gunmen (HOG)
5 For the next three months students build their 'ghillie' suits that actually become a living piece of camouflage made from plants native to the location.
6 The first big test is on the nose - as much as it is the mind - as students drop down to the legendary Pig Pond
7 The Pond is a festering hollow of stagnant water and all manner of rotting vegetation - their boots pull up mud and slime that helps 'deaden' their new suits and keep light from reflecting off its surface
8 Still dripping wet they drop to dirt - grinding in the organic manner in some life-or-death version of stone-washing - a fresh-looking ghillie suit will get a sniper killed
9 Because they're Marines there's always reason to crank out push-ups while the whole crew screams - "Scout .. Sniper" as they rise and fall
10 Then they run home, still wet and weary from the day's activity
11 Almost a month of this preparation before they finally get to the shooting
12 Known distance, or the KD Range, pits Marines against targets ranging from 300, 500, and 1000 yards - the better part of a mile
13 In total, they'll take 35 shots at stationary and moving targets, and for the first time they'll operate in pairs, a shooter and a spotter
14 Accuracy and precision are only part of the challenge as both must be accomplished under strain and exhaustion. Students sprint with full gear in between stations, set up, and shoot between ragged breaths.
15 All the shots are painstakingly recorded, and each shooter needs at least 28 hits, out of 35, to qualify
16 Moving targets are toughest Moving targets are toughest. Snipers need to lead, or shoot where the target will be when the bullet arrives, while factoring in wind, air density, and even the curvature of the earth
17 Instructors give as much help as they can, but they are not allowed to "spot" targets for the shooters. Everything must be done by the two-man team.
18 But in the end, it's the shooter who is responsible for the shot and after the day's through, the target-pullers report scores over the radio to all the students. There's no hiding from a bad day's shooting.
19 Only the best shooters are kept; and now a few students lighter, the class heads to the next level of training: the stalking course
20 With a fully ripened ghillie suit potential Scout Snipers are given three hours to inch several hundred yards undetected upon a target
21 With a few last adjustments to their suits, the class takes off, each individually stalking the same target - a group of instructors on a truck, with binoculars, trying to find them in the brush
22 At one point the instructors catch the unnatural movement of a tree
23 So they send out a "walker," guided via radio who cannot give any indication if he sees the sniper
24 If the instructors guide the walker right to the stalker's position, that student fails the test
25 At Pendleton, it's not just the instructors that stalkers have to beware of. One student nearly crawls into a rattle snake.
26 Eventually, when within a certain distance, stalkers take a shot Eventually, when within a certain distance, stalkers take a shot. If instructors still cannot find the student, he will take one more shot. Then instructors flip up cards. If he reads one of the cards, the student passes the test
27 The next and most difficult part of the course is the Unknown Distance range
28 PIGs will shoot at 10 targets of varying distance, using only a spotter and their scopes to judge distance
29 Again the range is scored - 10 points for a hit on the first shot, 8 for hits on the second, none after that. Passing is 88.
30 If students miss, they have five seconds, counted down by instructors, to adjust and fire again.
31 Instructors watch each target real-time, and immediately inform shooters of a hit or miss.
32 Students who pass do the traditional push-ups with their instructors, yelling, "I ... made it ... I ... made it”
33 The final test is one of endurance and sheer will The final test is one of endurance and sheer will. Because snipers train in teams, they have to take care of each other - teams of 16 have to extract four 200 pound dummies
34 The exercise simulates snipers caught deep in the field with an injured buddy - in all, the test spans 23 miles
35 Those who move too slowly must carry a 170 pound log which states simply, "Suffer patiently ... patiently suffer," one of the sniper mottos
36 Finally, after eight hours of hiking and running, the Marines make it
37 Ragged, dirty, and exhausted, they top a hill at dawn and get into formation - graduation commences on the spot
38 Newly-minted HOGs are presented with a "Hog's Tooth," a single round with 550 nylon cord through it to wear around their neck. It's a memento scout snipers have worn since the school was established.
39 You got your chance to go stalking with Marine Scout Snipers ...
40 "Military Snipers -- Masters Of Camouflage”, Can You Spot Any Of These 14 Tactical Snipers That Are Hidden In Plain Sight? These pictures show how well these snipers blend into the terrain. What they don't show is the hours, maybe even days they spend creeping an inch at a time to reach their hide sites for that one shot, one kill.