Sunday mornings aboard USS Boxer are unlike a typical day during deployment. It is a day traditionally reserved for Marines to attend church and attend to personal matters, however this Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013, Scout Snipers from Scout Sniper Platoon, Weapons Company, 1st battalion, 4th Marines, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit took time to hone their craft and throw some rounds down range.
The sniper range was located in a rugged valley with mountains on the shooters left, right and in front of them. The unique landscape and the prevalence of wind gusting through the range would certainly cause some shooters to question their wind calls throughout the day.
The first order of business upon arriving at the range was to lay out ten battery powered iron targets. These targets, much smaller than a human sillouhette, were set up at distances ranging from 150 to more than 700 yards and are knocked down only when hit by a precisely placed round providing valuable feedback to the shooter that his aim is dead on. After registering the direct hit, the target returns back up to its upright position in order to wait for the next well aimed round to knock it back down again.
After briefs and additionally safety requirements the rifles were unsheathed from their protective covers and the rounds were quickly sent flying down range.
During the training the Snipers were testing their skills by firing thee different types of weapons organic to the Sniper Platoon; the M40 A5, M 110 SASS, and the M107 SASR.
Throughout the day, Sgt. Emmanuel Velayo, Chief Scout Sniper, Scout Sniper Plt., Weapons Co., 1/4, 13th Marine Expeditionary, offered words of advice and instruction to snipers who were having difficulty adjusting to the challenging wind conditions.
“Keep your face on the gun and let your spotter worry about the data,” he said when a sniper missed a target.
“The range here is tricky, said Corporal Steven Laughter, Scout Sniper, Scout Sniper Plt., Weapons Co., 1/4, 13th MEU and native of Shelley, Idaho, it really makes for some interesting wind calls and it isn’t like [Camp] Pendleton where the wind blows continuously from left to right.”
The Snipers fired a known distance in the prone, known distance range with tripods, and with the sun slowly setting behind the mountains finished the day off with what the platoon calls “OSOC” or “One shot, One Kill.”
This is where Valeyo has the Snipers face away from the range and then hides a target somewhere on the range. He then gives the snipers a brief intelligence update as to where the target might be located on the range. Following the intelligence update, the snipers, one by one, come to the firing position and try to locate and engage the target.
The Marines were assessed on the time it took them to engage the target, which ranged from approximately mere seconds to a few minutes.
“Today was really beneficial, said Lance Corporal Walter Pereira, Scout Sniper, Scout Sniper Plt., Weapons Co., 1/4, 13th MEU as he was packing up. “Any rounds we can get whether it be one or 20 is great, as shooting is such a perishable skill.”
The day that had started nearly 15 hours earlier, ended under the cover of darkness as the sun had set on another successful day of training in Africa. The Scout Snipers then boarded military vehicles and headed back to camp to good a good nights rest in preparation for more training in the days to come.