US Army Sniper School: What You Should Know

Today, I want to take some time and educate you about the U.S. Army Sniper School.  The original Sniper School originally launched in 1955 at Camp Perry, Ohio, but it closed down in 1956.  The current Sniper School was established in 1987 at Fort Benning, Georgia, as part of the 197th Infantry Brigade.

This is an intense seven week program that prepares Soldiers how to be a successful sniper.  The course consists of classroom and “hands on” training in the field.  It’s one of the most challenging military courses around and nearly one third to one half of all students fail the course.

To attend the course you must be either a 11B, 11M, 19D or CMF 18.  Soldiers who graduate the course receive the B4 Additional Skills Identifier.

Here are some of the things you will learn in the course:

  • ASAT – How to evaluate your enemy and analyze human behavior
  • Stalks – How to stalk your enemy without being detected
  • Range Estimation – Identifying the distance of your targets
  • Target Detection – How to identify your targets
  • Marksmanship (M110)
  • Ballistics- The science of projectiles
  • M110 Data Gathering
  • M2010
  • UKD Qualification
  • M9 pistol
  • Alternate Firing Positions
  • M107
  • How to shoot at night
  • Working as a scout
  • Working as a spotter
  • How to kill an enemy up to 1/2 mile away

Sniper School Prerequisites

Here are the prerequisites for the course that I found online (source):

  • Must be 11B, 11M, 19D, or CMF 18
  • PFC-SFC (Grade waiverable)
  • Active duty, or Reserve, or National Guard, must have a good performance record with no history of alcohol, or drug abuse, must be a volunteer and be recommended by his commander
  • Must be in excellent physical condition (70 percent or better in each event of the APFT)
  • Must have a corrected vision of 20/20
  • Must not have a record of disciplinary action
  • Must be knowledgeable of skill level 2 tasks
  • Must have a GT score of 100
  • Must have qualified expert with the M16A2/M4 Carbine rifle within six months of course attendance
  • Normal color vision must be annotated on SF 88, tested within six months of course attendance
  • Must have a minimum of one (1) year retainability
  • Must pass psychological evaluation (MMPI/CPI) conducted under the direction of a qualified psychologist

Make sure that you prepare for the course ahead of time by reading FM 23-10 and talking with someone else who has already attended the course.  In addition, make sure you are physically fit.

Famous Army Snipers

  • Adelbert Waldron – former Army Sniper with 109 confirmed kills
  • John Plaster – former Special Forces Sniper and author
  • Timothy Murphy – Famous Sniper during the American Revolutionary War
  • Gary Gordon – Received Meal of Honor for his actions in Somalia
  • Hiram Berdan – Civil War Sniper

Must Read Sniper Books

  • Sniper Training FM 23-10
  • The Ultimate Sniper by John Plaster
  • American Sniper by Chris Kyle

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that the U.S. Army Sniper School is a challenging school designed to prepare snipers to do their job on the battlefield.  It’s not for the faint at heart, but if you like a challenge, and want to be a sniper, than this is the school for you.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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7 thoughts on “US Army Sniper School: What You Should Know”

  1. I have always been interested in the science of projectiles. As a person who hunted deer quite often when I was in the Midwest, I learned a few things about different ammunition. I used to fire a 30/30 and the ammo I used was lethal up to 600 yards, but there was one problem. If that projectile hit one small blade of grass, the grass would send it away from the intended target. There was others that would go through the grass, but would drop after 300 yards. Knowing your ammo is important.

      1. Yes, you have to have knowledge of all of those, and so much more to be a great sniper. Wind velocity and direction are 2 that are important. You do have to have some psychology and sociology education to be able to understand the mentality of the enemy you are targeting. I am also very curious on the how to shoot at night course. I would love to be able to sit in on all of these courses just for the education factor. I wonder if any of the information they teach is available. I highly doubt it, but it sure would be neat to read some of it.

  2. I did not realize all a soldier will learn at sniper school. It sounds very intense, and it should be. It is not easy to shoot a target from 1/2 mile away. The other part is identifying that target. Many snipers have to pick out the enemy from among civilians. There is also the night shooting where you have to take precautions to not give away your location.

    I have not seen American Sniper yet, but it is on my soon to see list.

    Thank you for educating us on what sniper school consists of.

  3. Theresa Williams

    This is an interesting read especially with so many movies out recently about snipers (“American Sniper” starting Bradley Cooper is most recent). Intuitively, most people realize that snipers must be super qualified in all areas but this really puts it into perspective. Many of the prerequisites on their own are difficult to attain, but together (70+% on each APFT event, GT score of 100) it really is quite remarkable. I had figured that the fail rate of the training was pretty high but I was not thinking up to a 50% fail rate. These are truly the best of the best and they have one of the hardest and most stressful jobs to show for it.

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