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American COP July/August Digital Edition - Page 24

REAliTY CHECk ii COUNSEL, WISDOM, GUIDANCE AND TEACHING. CLINT SMITH Sniper rifle Just How MucH AccurAcy Is EnougH? This G.A. Precision rifle is among the cream of the crop. The AAC suppressor along with a solid rest while in place in a hide means an officer would have about the best equipment they can get today. Now, we just need to make sure they know how to run that fancy rifle. ver the past few decades, law enforcement has been subjected to a barrage of input on sniping, counter sniping or precision rifle — pick your term. Much of this is due to the massive interest in the military applications of snipers. Unfortunately, a police application of the precision rifle has only one major salient point in common to military sniping — to hit a target. O Cops probably won’t be able to walk rounds into a target, but they absolutely must hit the correct target, at the correct time, with very few chances for a doover. Much ado is then made over what skill sets and equipment are needed, which often have very little to do with the application of a precision rifle by a cop. So then, what are the actual scoped rifle skills police need? One consideration is the range to the target. The average cop in an urban environment will most often be shooting across the street, maybe further in a rural area. Even at distances of 200 yards and less, it still requires the officer be able to correctly identify the target. If today’s LE snipers were capable of hitting a 6x6" square at 200 yards under reasonable representations of actual problems cops encounter like weather, duress, stress-elevated heart rates, alternate firing positions and altered light conditions, it would be truly dangerous for the bad guys on the other end of the stick. Distances to 300 yards would be gravy, with the ultimate goal they are rock-solid to 400 yards. If LE snipers live and work in big country like Montana, Idaho and the western states, or big airports like Chicago’s O’Hare then their skills need to match their world and workplace. As an example, Jeff Hoffman of Black Hills Ammunition helps his local law enforcement officers with a precision rifle. His guys shoot to 600 yards for qualifications — they also live in South Dakota. A good rifle doesn’t mean the person behind it can shoot it. In the 1970s, most police snipers did well with over-thecounter “hunting” rifles. If you can afford a high-end, purposebuilt rifle, then learn to shoot it. asked Jeff about precision rifle work since he not only manufactures ammo, he shoots a pile of it as a working law enforcement sniper. I wanted his opinion of what a sniper should be able to do with the rifle — and what the rifle/ scope should be able to do. Here’s what the expert had to say about the accuracy necessary for a law enforcement sniper: “There are several ways to answer that. A generally accepted standard is 1 MOA. That is, the combination of the shooter, the rifle and the ammunition should be able to deliver 1 MOA in a 5-shot group on demand, under decent circumstances. Some Internet snipers will scoff at that and explain how they wouldn’t waste their time with an ‘only’ MOA gun. I also like tiny groups. I use a G.A. precision Crusader with a Nightforce 3.5x15 scope because I love shooting sub-minute 1/2" groups. There’s value to that in it gives me confidence. But the question isn’t what I like; the question is what level of accuracy does a law enforcement sniper need? I’ve often said we could do the job with a 2-MOA wood 24 Jeff SAYS I stocked hunting rifle with a 4X scope. Snipers think I’m crazy, but here’s the point. A 2-MOA gun means 2" groups at 100 yards. Sounds bad? The average law enforcement sniper shot, according to the best data available, is a hair over 50 yards. Now the 2-MOA gun is shooting 1" groups at that range. With a properly zeroed 2-MOA gun, shooting Continued on page 61 WWW.AMERICANCOPMAGAZINE.COM • JULY/AUGUST 2011

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