How to become a sniper in law enforcement

Updated February 21, 2017

Law enforcement snipers, sometimes called sharp shooters or police precision shooters, usually work as a member of a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team during hostage situations. Law enforcement snipers are sometimes placed on top of high buildings or other strategic vantage points to help provide security for potentially violent scenarios. Law enforcement snipers are trained to shoot only as a last resort, such as when there is a direct threat to someone's life. Learn how to become a sniper in law enforcement.

Earn a college degree. Before you can become a sniper in law enforcement, you must first become a police officer. A majority of law enforcement agencies require their officers to hold at least a bachelor's degree. Common degrees for aspiring law enforcement officers include criminal justice, criminology, anthropology, sociology and law enforcement.

Attend a law enforcement training facility. Police academy training typically takes 6 months to 1 year to complete. Each state sets its own requirements for police officer training, but courses typically include arrest procedures, police report writing, rules of evidence and investigation techniques. You will also undergo physical training to build up your stamina, strength and endurance.

Practice your shooting skills. Snipers in law enforcement agencies are excellent marksmen. During your police academy training, listen closely to your range instructors about the fundamentals of shooting. Learn how to shoot well under all kinds of conditions. You should consistently hit your target area from 50 to 100 yards away. After your law enforcement training, keep improving your shooting skills by practicing at shooting ranges and entering training contests.

Find a job as a police officer. Make sure the law enforcement agency you join has a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) division. You will probably have to work in uniform for about 3 years before being considered for a SWAT team position. Work hard and get along well with your partners and superiors. You will need their recommendations when you apply to the SWAT division.

Become a member of the SWAT team. You will have to complete several required tests before being awarded a SWAT team position. The psychological evaluation tests your ability to handle stressful situations. The firearms test evaluates how well you can shoot moving targets and shoot while running. You will also be quizzed on your knowledge of the mechanics of commonly used firearms. You will also have to pass a physical evaluation, which typically includes running, sit ups and weightlifting. Finally, you will have to impress the review board during an interview. This board will decide whether or not you've got what it takes to become a SWAT team member.

Apply to become a SWAT team sniper. Once you are a member of a SWAT division, you can express interest in becoming a sniper. If selected, you will have to undergo another psychological evaluation, physical examination and sniper training. Sniper firearm training will teach you to deliver accurate shots in all types of weather, from all kinds of angles and at varying distances.


SWAT members are on-call 24 hours a day, and must be able to respond to calls quickly.


Some SWAT divisions will not hire anyone who smokes or drinks.

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