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Illustrated Manual of Sniper Skills by Pen and Sword Military

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Product Information

Put a book on any military subject in front of me and I immediately check the author's credentials. It takes more than “He is an ex-SEAL" to get my attention. Mark Spicer is a retired British army sergeant major with 25 years of active-duty service.

He taught at the UK sniper school and spent time “seconded" to the French Foreign Legion. He also qualified with the USMC’s sniper program, the German Alpine sniper school and an unnamed Scandinavian unit.

Over the years, he deployed with a wide range of special units that needed an expert marksman. He continues to be a well-known instructor an expert witness on the subject around the world.

That said, at first it wasn’t entirely clear to me who his intended target market for this book was. Sniping is really not a civilian self-defense skillset, and I would assume most of the topics covered would be also be discussed in any major power's military training manuals.

But Spicer makes it clear that he feels training snipers for the field is a neglected topic in many armies, and that they are frequently misused by the command structure. Well, find me a spec-ops unit that hasn’t said the same thing at one time or another.

Observation and stalking are the intro subjects followed by shooting positions, weather concerns and moving targets. Things get interesting when the book focuses on “Sniper Shoot Placement.’’

The entire theory of sniping seems to have changed from targeting personnel to materiel in recent decades. The author starts with the many vulnerable spots on modern tanks and armored personnel carriers.

A few close rounds will make most tanks “button up,” and seldom will their high-tech vision equipment function after being hit by a well-placed rifle round, like a .50 BMG.

Equipment like tank retrievers and their crews are even more vulnerable to accurate rifle fire and much less trained to deal with it.

Spicer also covers the many soft targets for a well-placed rifle round on various anti-tank and -aircraft rocket launching systems. I think most of us heard of the spec-ops teams hunting Scud missiles during the First Gulf War.

One round into a fuel cell and that rocket wouldn’t be able to fly. Heli­ copters and fighter aircraft can equally be put out of service at fairly long ranges with large-caliber sniper rifles if you know the right targets.

Naval targets are covered in equally good detail. Obviously, the ship is going to need to be close to shore or in harbor to be in any danger from a sniper.

Modern warships are covered in electronic communication and weapons targeting equip­ ment, but I might question the logic of forcing them to train even their smaller guns on a sniper for counter battery fire.

Separate chapters then cover sniping in urban, moun­tainous and desert areas fol­ lowed by countersniper tech­ niques. Finally, near the very end of the book, the author discusses the actual rifles used by various countries.

If you are a gun guy wanting to read about the advantages and disadvantages of various rifles the military uses, this probably isn’t the right book for you, as that subject is not something the author seems greatly concerned with.

I can say he does favor the Barrett M107A1 for many uses. Knowledge is strength. Military and police marksmen may already know most of the material the author covers, but picking up even one new technique can make the book a worthwhile read.

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