As Shawn mentioned there are many different flavors of snipers. Regular Army, special forces, marine corps. There are many different ways of deploying snipers and each has its advantages and disadvantages. In the late 60’s and early 70’s both the regular army and the special forces used what is now known as a national match M-14. This was a glass bedded action with a match barrel and some work done on the trigger (maybe some more stuff). Scopes were relatively low power – maybe 8x or 10 x Bausch and Lomb on quick detachable rings and bases. It was this period of time that US forces were switching from the M-14 (308) to the M-16 (223).
Stateside training was an ongoing thing and the Special Forces snipers would shoot “matches” on a lot of Saturdays and for some reason they liked me(or disliked me) and I would be requested to be Range Officer for them. I think it was probably that I didn’t give a sh1t what they did as long as they let me shoot some. The easiest way to tell a match 14 was the brown glass line all around the action. Once you saw that you knew what the gun was for.
Vietnam was a different story. There was the Chu Lai sniper school. Run by Olympian Major Lones Wigger
and then Virgil Umphenour who is now a guide up in Alaska
Men were selected from the ranks to go to sniper school for 4 weeks after they had been in combat for long enough to determine that they were calm and cool enough to be a sniper. Training was pretty much about shooting. The trainees were not necessarily great riflemen before they went and some were not when they returned to the field. They learned range estimation, wind , drops, leads. Spotting for each other, taking care of their rifle and scope. Supposedly once a month or two months (I forget now) they went back to Chu Lai to have the armorer go over their rifle and scope and to get a refresher. Mostly they got cold beer and clean sheets once a month while the rest of us got muddy rice paddy water and leeches.
The way we worked was in three teams of six or eight men with two of the men of each team being snipers. During the day each team would be in a ”sniper “ mode where we just watched and waited for someone to shoot at just like one would watch and wait for a deer or elk at long range. As evening came we would switch to “ambush” mode and I would assign each team a trail to set upon to ambush anybody moving down it. So at night the snipers would take their scopes off and put them in their cases and rely on iron sights. We would always make sure that a sniper was never assigned to a flank position because the semi auto cyclic rate of fire was not anywhere as good as a 16 and you could not let the NVA break out of the kill zone once you had them in it. In a six man team with two snipers this was obviously a little tricky on judging just how much to bite off in the dark and not bite off more than you could chew. Put another way, sometimes it was wise to just let the NVA go on down the trail if there was too many of them.
But in the daytime a sniper never had to worry if he missed because no NVA in his right mind would attack. With three teams including a M-60 we would smoke anybody stupid enough not to run. Remember each team is on high ground and usually within 600 –1000 meters and the cross fire would be devastating. Plus we could move and circle immediately. One day we held over a hundred NVA pinned in a gully at a distance of 500yds with my snipers and M-60. They had nothing but ankle high grass between them and us and we had the high ground. They only tried to get to us once and broke after only covering 50yds because the snipers got to them so quick and so well. While the 16s opened up and made a lot of noise the NVA never got into 16 range and I got to yelling at my men to quit acting dumb because we might need the bullets once it got dark. The NVA could easily see me running up and down the ridge line but there was nothing they could do about it.
When we would assault a village or camp I would place the snipers in an overlooking spot on each flank and they would provide covering fire while those of us with M-16s would do the actual assault. This worked very well because the snipers would get anybody who tried to run out of the village or camp (at least anybody they could hit – sometimes they would miss).
I had a second tour sniper who set the Division record for distance one day. How good was this man with a gun? The best I have ever seen. In the year I have been on this forum no one has made a shot anywhere close to some of the shots I saw him make. Remember he was shooting a semi- auto 308 with no laser rangefinder no instant weather station and no exbal PDA, no custom loaded bullets (Lake City Match) and he still made the shots.
Anyway, lots of people have read of Hathaway and the way he operated and I just tell this stuff so you understand that there were other ways to operate and other guns used.
Memories are a funny thing. They come and go. here are some other peoples Old war horses
SF in Afgahnistan - Look on the table against the wall- all the pretty toys.
what is this