Things All Recruits Should Know Before Becoming a Sniper

Becoming a sniper is always going to be a scary process, but when you learn these things, you'll feel a little more prepared for it.

Sniper.

Just the word alone suggests something terrifying—a person whose keen eye, steady hand, and ghost-like ability to hide in wait makes them capable of killing a person without a trace. 

As far as jobs in the military go, few have as badass a sound like being able to say, "I'm a sniper." That's why some of the most famous war movies showcase them, and why so many Navy SEALs are also lauded as top quality snipers.

If you find out you're going to be a sniper, it can be thrilling. At the same time, it's normal to be scared about becoming a sniper. After all, this is the kind of job which tends to mean you're going to see war. 

Knowing what's in store for you will definitely help you feel more prepared. Here's what every soon-to-be sniper should know about the training process and more. 

Shooting is only a fraction of what a sniper's supposed to do.

Yes, we all know that military snipers are great shooters. That's what they are mostly trained to do—but that's not all, by any means of the word. Sniper training is all about planning a mission, and that includes getting in there, stalking your target, figure out when to fire, and quietly leaving without a trace. 

So, while shooting is a large fraction of what they do, being able to maneuver around places quietly is really what makes a sniper such a deadly weapon. 

Your mental conditioning will have to be on point, too.

You will never meet a hotheaded sniper, or a sniper who panics at the drop of a hat. Or at least, you'll never meet one that lives very long. Becoming a sniper means that you'll have to be trained to have the kind of discipline it takes to handle extremely high-stress situations. 

The reason why is because snipers have to be calm, collected, and capable in situations that would mean certain death for most others. Barely any rations? No sleep? Surrounded by people who want to kill you? That's all part of a sniper's typical mission. 

This is also why you have to pass a psychological exam to make it to sniper school. Having a breakdown will mean you're dead. 

Forget everything that the movies show you about military sniper training.

They botch it, badly. Yes, even that one. 

Becoming a sniper doesn't mean that you're going to be a lone killer out in the middle of nowhere. In real Army Sniper School, you will quickly learn that you're going to be working as part of a team of fellow snipers. 

You will have to don ghillie suits, learn your weapons inside and out, and spend a long amount of time learning how to plan a mission. Training is grueling, and no amount of Hollywood glitz can really express how hard it will be. 

Oh, and the training? It's never set in stone. You're going to be constantly learning new tactics and training never really stops.

You might not end up becoming a sniper, even if you manage to finish indoctrination.

A lot of the people who get indoctrinated into sniper-dom don't actually make it to a platoon. Along with having normal color vision, sharp eyesight, passing basic training, and also passing the psych exam, there's a lot more that goes into sniper selection than just the physical. 

Platoons end up looking for people who have outgoing personalities, too. This helps when you need to communicate to teammates in the heat of the moment. So, if you find out you got picked, don't immediately assume you'll get into a platoon. 

It's not a way out of the grunt work.

A lot of people go into sniper training hoping they can avoid the nastiness of infantry work. We all hate doing grunt work, yes, but becoming a sniper won't be the "get out of infantry" card you hope it is. If anything, you might end up finding yourself being loaded up with even more chores and heavier equipment. 

You'll be surprised at how many skills you'll pick up as a sniper that will be great outside of military life, too.

Let's say that you do one or two tours in the military—then what? Well, if you decide on becoming a sniper, we got good news for you. The skills you learn when it comes to planning missions, coming up with logistics, communicating with teammates, and also being there for your crew will come in handy in lots of other jobs. 

The amount of skill you learn will make you one of the best prepared for any job markets. It also will change your attitude. One veteran sniper who posted on Quora said it this way: 

"When I tell people that there are many complementary skill sets as a Sniper and a CEO of a company, they think I am absolutely crazy, but there are many. A good CEO is there to 'support' his team and help make them look good. Not the other way around. To defer attention... and not be a jackass."

Patience may not be fun, but it will keep you from getting killed.

One of the key things no one tells you about becoming a sniper is how much patience will be drilled into you. There will be many, many moments while you're still learning the ropes where you will want to blow up at everyone around you and ask if everyone is done waiting.

Don't.

The most crucial skill you can learn as a sniper is patience. Being too fidgety or antsy can get you and your platoon killed. 

As messed up as it sounds, you might like killing the enemy.

A lot of snipers don't expect to feel that way, but do. It's a thrill, and it's also an inner conflict that a lot of them struggle to deal with. It's okay to feel that way and not understand why. 

Most snipers do feeling like they're doing the right thing. A sniper's view on killing isn't exactly something that civilians would understand—and truthfully, they are not in any place to judge.

While you will feel proud that you achieved a sniper, you might not feel like a different person...

...or you might not recognize yourself after training. Becoming a sniper affects everyone differently, and to a point, you might not know how you changed until someone points it out to you. 

One thing you might notice is that you might become a "thrill junkie" of sorts. Something about being a sniper makes many folks chase thrills after they do their first tour. 

Lastly, it's not as glamorous a job as you'd think it is.

Becoming a sniper sounds cool, but in reality, it's a lot of work. It's gritty, grimy, and takes an immense toll on your body and mind. It's not the kind of job that you talk about at a cocktail party, and the fact is, you'll begin to roll your eyes when you hear people talk about you. 

However, at the end of the day, becoming a sniper will be one of the best choices you make—but you'll have to see it for yourself to understand why. 

Cato Conroy
Cato Conroy

Cato Conroy is a Manhattan-based writer who yearns for a better world. He loves to write about politics, news reports, and interesting innovations that will impact the way we live.

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Things All Recruits Should Know Before Becoming a Sniper