How to Join the Army As a Sniper

Written by liz frazier
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How to Join the Army As a Sniper
Students at the U.S. Army Sniper School often train with the M24 assault rifle. (ammunition in army image by Ivonne Wierink from

A common question on military forums is "How can I join the Army as a sniper?" In the Army, one cannot enlist directly into the position of sniper. This qualification is something that soldiers have to work towards from day one of their military career an even then there is an element of chance as to whether they will have the opportunity to go to the U.S. Army Sniper School. However there are some common steps that most potential snipers have to undertake.

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    Talk to a recruiter, which is the first step for anyone joining the Army. A recruiter cannot guarantee a sniper position for you, but the recruiter can tell you the qualifications and give you an idea of what the training will be like. If you're lucky, the recruiter might be able to put you in contact with a soldier who has completed the school.

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    Sign your enlistment papers. If you have more than 30 days between your enlistment date and your ship date, you will go into the Delayed Entry Program (DEP). During DEP, recruiters teach you important information (like rank structure and sentry orders) that should be memorised before Basic Combat Training (BCT). Take advantage of this to make your transition to BCT as smooth as possible.

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    For those who go infantry, their first stop is One Station Unit Training (OSUT). OSUT combines BCT and Advance Individual Training (AIT). BCT is where recruits have their first marksmanship test, so it is important that anyone aspiring to be a sniper pays close attention to this part of the training. Also try to do well in other ares such as physical fitness tests and written exams. Look for opportunities to gain leadership positions as this will provide valuable experience.

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    Develop your skills as an infantryman. The recommendation of the commanding officer is necessary to earn a slot at sniper school. You will earn this by excelling in your assigned tasks and becoming an expert infantrymen. Practice marksmanship and tactical movement skills. Talk to others in your unit about what kind of training will improve your chances. Remember, part of your getting the slot will depend on being in the right place at the right time. Sniper school is not guaranteed, even for the most qualified applicants. It is important not to enlist solely for the purpose of being an Army sniper. You should focus on being the best infantryman you can be.

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    Complete your application and prepare. If the opportunity does come your way, work with your superiors to make sure all your paperwork is in order to attend sniper school. Ask fellow soldiers in your unit to help you with the physical and mental training that will give you a head start in the course.

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    The U.S. Army Sniper School resides in the 197th Infantry Brigade at Fort Benning, Georgia. Students learn the basics of various sniper weapons such as the M24 assault rifle. They also learn about range estimation techniques, how to assemble/disassemble their weapons, preparing camouflage tools like the ghile suit and how to "stalk," move within range of a target without being detected. Once finished, you can take these skills back to your unit and help them achieve the mission.

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