BY SFC PETE CARPENTIER JR
SFC P.Carpentier jr and SSG E. Becka TXNG on a Stalking Execrise.
This article is about stalks and stalking exercises. A stalk is an exercise a sniper uses to test his ability to move undetected within range of a target and engages the target. This exercise is used at the Marine Corp Scout/Sniper School, the U.S. Army Sniper School and all the different civilian schools that offer sniper training. They also do stalks during some sniper competitions. In this article we will cover how a stalk is conducted, how it is graded, some things I have seen on stalks and how to prepare for one.
Most stalks are in areas or lanes that run from 600-900 meters in length and 40-100 meters wide. At the end of the lane there will be two observers with binoculars or spotting scopes. The sniper will have a sniper rifle, ghillie suit, drag bag and two blank rounds. The observers will also have some walkers in the stalk lane. The observers will use the walkers to help with locating the sniper teams. The walkers take directions from the observers and they will only move when told to by the observers. The walkers will not give away snipers position unless the observer has walked the walker on the sniper. The sniper teams are given a time limit of three hours to get within 200 meters of the observer, undetected and fire a shot. There is a scoring system they use to score the stalk and I will cover that.
I will now talk about how a stalk is conducted and how it is scored. At the start point the sniper will move out and use whatever means he will need to get undetected to the first point, which is 300 meters from the observer. From the time the exercise starts the sniper is under observation. If the sniper makes it to the first point undetected he will receive 40 points. He will then move to 200 meters from the observer and fire his first shot. If he gets the shot off with out being detected he will receive 50 points. At this point the walker moves within 10 feet of the sniper. The observer will hold up an 8x8 card with a number or a letter and the sniper will identify. If he identify the letter or the number, he gets 60 points. The sniper will give the information to the walker and he radios that back to the observer. At this time the sniper will load with the next round and engage the observer again, all while still being observed. If he is not observed he will get 70 points. At this point the walker will point to the direction the sniper is in. If the sniper is not detected he will receive 80 points. Then the walker will touch the sniper on the head. At this point the sniper will receive 90 points. For the 100 points the sniper must have the proper dope on the scope and a good support. The scope must have the proper range,wind reading and the sniper must be using some type of support.
During most stalks that I have been on the teams are caught because of several reasons. Trying to walk to the first point, thinking that they can not be seen. Popping there heads up and down like a turkey. This will definitely get you busted. One stalk I was on at the start point you could see the observers from the start point. As soon as time started you had to drop for cover or you would be seen. You have to look over the terrain and pick a spot to the 300-meter line. Once there you start to move to the 200-meter point and figure out where you will be taking your shot. Look for trees and bushes. Bushes work good because you can cut a little window and move back and fire your shot. This method works good and most snipers use it. Remember that when you fire your shot the muzzle blast will move the bush and the grass. So be far enough back or use a blast sheet to cover your signature. Also you need to have a pair of small pruning shears in your drag bag, so you can cut a small window in the bush.
Also support is important. Remember you are also graded on that. There are several methods you can use. If you can find a good enough position you can use your spotters shoulder as a support. Also you can use the bipod, if you can get high enough. I have also seen snipers use camera tripods.
Once in position, pull your rifle out of the drag bag and put your data on the scope, if not before you move out. Remember that you will most likely be at the 200 meter line so start with that data on your scope. I have heard of snipers getting both their shots off undetected and when they checked their data it was not right. Remember always-double check every thing.
As you can see there is a lot to a stalk. If you have never done one you need to work on it. It is not just dropping to the ground and moving out.
I hope this information has been helpfully and has helped you to understand how a stalking exercise works, how to perform one and how it is graded.