Icy precision

Icy precision

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Snipers are team players. Every individual shot is a team effort that requires good judgment and mutual trust. Just like with every other soldier during NATO Exercise Cold Response 20. Snipers use their skills to hit the mark of what this exercise is all about.

A sniper lies in position with his rifle in snowy terrain.

During the exercise, mountain infantry troops learn how to move across snow.

Bundeswehr/Maximilian Schulz

For days, they have been with the company of mountain infantry in the bitter cold of Norway, improving their fighting positions, living in their sleeping bags and warming themselves at the fire. Carrying their powerful G82, the Bundeswehr’s large-calibre precision rifle, along with another weapon, the sand-coloured G28 sniper rifle, the shooters leave their position for a moment. Today, in the training phase of the exercise, the soldiers head to the range. The German soldiers share their ammunition with their Norwegian comrades, who are also live-firing today. They bond over the fact that their guns are chambered for the same calibre. The cartridges of the G82 are about the width of a thumb. The black boxlike magazine is also impressive, and is inserted into the massive gun from below with a satisfying click.

The shot: A matter of attitude and calibration

A sniper in snow camouflage lies prone in the snow with his rifle at the ready.

A thermal imaging device set in front of the telescopic sight of the G28 allows the sniper to identify targets in the snow even more easily.

Bundeswehr/Maximilian Schulz

The shooter lies prone with his rifle at the ready. He keeps the butt pressed firmly into his shoulder. A second soldier, the spotter, uses an optical device to maintain visual contact with the target. Target acquisition starts right away. Both soldiers need to know exactly what the target is. If the shooter cannot immediately identify the target, the spotter helps orient the shooter by identifying an auxiliary aiming point in the immediate vicinity. With a spotting scope, the spotter calculates the distance to the target and checks the rifle data book. Which click value does the shooter need to set on the telescopic sight? How are the weather conditions? Once all factors have been taken into account, the shooter can calibrate the rifle. 

Before the muzzle blast

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During NATO Exercise Cold Response 20, snipers of the mountain infantry demonstrate their marksmanship skills in the bitter cold.

As soon as both are ready for the shot, the shooter begins to breathe in a controlled manner. Once the spotter determines that the right moment for the shot has come, he or she clears the shooter to take the shot. The shooter then has ten seconds to fire. Should the wind conditions change or anything else occur, the spotter calls out: “Abort!” If everything goes according to plan, the trigger is squeezed. Snow is whirled up by the muzzle blast and the shiny brass casing ejects to the right. The impact of the massive projectile can be heard at a  distance. If the shooter misses, a shot correction follows on target.

by Peter Müller