Sniper training for police differs significantly from military sniper training. For example, while some military sniper schools may last up to two months, police sniper training is typically about one week. Although the goal of every sniper is to make an extremely accurate shot, the police sniper usually is in position to shoot only a target or two, but the military sniper might engage dozens of targets during a single mission. A common skill is that each sniper must be an outstanding marksman.
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The typical weapon for a police sniper is a .308 calibre bolt-action rifle. The calibre is large enough to shoot through some concealment if needed, and one well-placed shot normally takes out the target. In the hands of a skilled sniper, a finely-tuned .308 with a scope is an extremely accurate weapon. Some police departments also deploy rifles chambered in NATO 5.56 calibre. This is a much smaller bullet and reduces the possibility of over-penetration of a fired round. Both weapons have a place in the police sniper's arsenal.
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Although a candidate already must be an excellent marksman to attend sniper training, there are still skills to be learnt or refined. These include target selection; target surroundings; the effect of wind, distance, and elevation on the bullet; proper breathing; and correct body position.
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Police snipers undergo psychological evaluation and training. Does the prospective sniper have the right combination of calm, discipline, emotional balance and character, among other things, to do the job? The FBI, which trains some police snipers, has built its own town to provide realistic scenarios for people training there. When lives are on the line and one bullet can solve the situation, it's important to have the right person behind the sniper rifle.
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Observation and Position
Training is also important in the areas of observation and position of deployment. Ideally, the police sniper wants to be as high as possible with a view of as much of the area as possible. With the right vantage point, the police sniper not only has a tactical advantage for firing, but also can also keep other members of the team informed of any movement in the area of operation. In training, snipers learn how to gain access to these positions.
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Outsourcing Sniper Training
Some police departments outsource the training of their snipers to private companies. Military snipers are often the instructors at these schools. A big difference between military and police snipers is the distance of the average shot. In the military, it might be several hundred yards, depending on the mission. A police sniper's average shot is just over 50 yards.