Scout snipers get last rounds prior to graduation

Scout snipers get last rounds prior to graduation

A scout sniper student, fires a .50 caliber M107 special application scoped rifle during scout sniper training, July 2. The Scout Sniper Instructor School is part of the Weapon's Training Battalion aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico.

Marine Corps Base Quantico -- The deafening sound of .50 caliber rifles and mortars filled the range as scout snipers engaged multiple targets with rapid fire.

The force of the rifles stirred up clouds of dirt and pushed their bodies back slightly as they fired in rapid succession.

Students of the Scout Sniper Instructor School (SSIS) cross trained on a rare occasion with members of The Basic School and scout sniper instructors on July 2.

Now in their ninth week of an 11 week program, the scout snipers trained with .50 caliber M107 special application scoped rifles and adjusted mortar rounds with call-for-fire.

Shooting at tank hulks in the hillside, Marines shot a maximum of 1,486 meters and a minimum of 300 meters.

Instructors used spotting scopes to see if students hit or miss the targets.

SSgt Luke Fuchs, an instructor for scout sniper school, has seen improvement from the third week. "To see how they are shooting now, they are razor sharp and will just keep getting better and better," he said.

Part of Weapon's Training Battalion, the Scout Sniper Instructor School students go through extensive training to get to this point.

"They come to us with a basic knowledge of what it is a sniper [does] and here we really mold and refine their abilities as snipers," said Scout Sniper School Course Chief Instructor, Sgt Jacob Ruiz. "So far students have gone over basic marksmanship, land navigation, stalking exercises, and field firing and now coming up to the culminating final exercise."

Each Marine comes from a different unit for the training. After graduating from the course, they return to their unit to fill a billet as a sniper.

"We have approximately 12 graded evolutions, so if they don't make the standard; for marksmanship it's 80 percent, for field skills it's 70 percent; and then they have to go home," said Sgt Ruiz. 

A total of 11 Marines and 4 foreign students have made it this far. 

"They did very well," Sgt Ruiz said. "They were very successful with what we set out to do. These guys are just about to graduate so they are already very well trained, very well prepared for whatever task we throw at them." 

What's the most difficult part of scout sniper school?

"Stalking and the daily grind," said Sgt Billy O'Neil, a scout sniper instructor. "Stalking takes so much patience and a lot of wear on the body. You have to prep your body and plan out your week with nutrition.  You have to be mentally ready for this."

The scout snipers will graduate July 17.

"Scout sniper course is definitely a very important right of passage when someone graduates," Sgt Ruiz said.

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