Marine enrolled in the Scout Sniper Basic Course, observes
his terrain as he plans a course across 600 yards in a stalk
exercise, Oct. 15, 2011 at Camp Barrett. During this stalk exercise, Marines had to
move from 800 yards to within 200 yards of an observation
post undetected within a time frame of three hours. Photo by USMC Lance Cpl. Emmanuel Ramos
QUANTICO, Va. (11/7/2011) -- Earning the title of Marine Scout
Sniper is one of the toughest challenges the Marine Corps has to
offer. If a Marine is successful, he will become a hunter or
gatherer of intelligence that can be used to win battles and save
Twenty-six Marines and foreign military officers
enrolled in the Scout Sniper Basic Course began their second day of
stalking exercises, Oct.18, at Camp Barrett.
When a Marine
first checks in to Scout Sniper School he is referred to as a PIG,
or professionally instructed gunman. If successful, he will graduate
in nine-weeks and will earn the title HOG, or hunter of gunmen.
The first few weeks of the course are spent on long-range,
“We want to make sure they have the
fundamentals of shooting before we move on
|in training,” said a scout sniper basic course instructor.
If successful in the long-range, known-distance shooting,
Marines begin the stalk and unknown-distance shooting
portions of training.
During this stalk exercise,
Marines had to move from 800 yards to within 200 yards of an
observation post undetected within a three-hour time frame.
Before they begin, Marines camouflage their entire
bodies by cutting vegetation from their surrounding and
attach it to their ghillie suit, which is a specially
designed, camouflaged clothing designed to resemble heavy
“It's all about attention to detail,” said
a Marine in the course. “You really have to look like a part
of the terrain or you'll get spotted a mile away.”
Throughout the course, Marines will be graded on 15 separate
stalks and must maintain a 70 percent average, including two
perfect stalks, to pass the course.
In order to cover
the ground without being seen, Marines use surrounding
vegetation to blend in, and inch across the ground using a
technique called “skull dragging.” When skull dragging,
Marines have their head on the ground as they inch forward.
“This is the most physically challenging part,” said a
Marine in the course. “You push through it though, because
keeping low is the difference between life and death in
Throughout the entire stalk, an instructor,
called a walker, is guided by other instructors, called
observers, who are tasked with spotting Marines.
Getting within 200 yards isn't enough, though. The Marine
then sets up his final firing position and fires a shot. An
observer then has three chances to find the shooter. If the
observer can't spot the shooter, he holds up identification
cards. Marines then have to identify two letters being held
up at the observation post. Walkers nearby then radio to
confirm. Identifying the cards lets the instructors know
that the Marine has a clear shot on the target.
the observer doesn't spot the shooter, the Marine then takes
a second shot. This time the observers are looking for the
blast caused by the barrel of the gun.
then have three more chances to spot the shooter. If they
can't locate the exact position, then the shooter has to
stalk his way out of the firing position to earn a perfect
“This is one of the most difficult aspects of
the course,” said an instructor. “If the Marine fails here,
he gets a zero for a grade and gets to try again tomorrow.
In combat, if they are spotted it means the mission is
compromised, which could cost Marine lives.”
More photos available in frame below
By USMC Lance Cpl. Emmanuel Ramos
Marine Corps Base Quantico
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