FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- For the second year in a row, a team from the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) team took home the top prize at the 9th Annual United States Army Special Operations Command International Sniper Competition, 20-24 March.
The competition saw 23, two-man teams from special operations forces, government agencies and military forces from Germany, Ireland, France, Netherlands, Italy and the United States pitted against each other in events testing their abilities in 20 challenging events, events ranging from stress shoots, moving targets, night engagements and multiple long shot ranges, over the course of five days.
Consistent training in stalking, target acquisition and shooting helps the teams meet a series of prerequisites required to enter the competition. Participants from the U.S. military are from USASOC units and must be graduates of their service's sniper course. There are a few exceptions to this rule, instructors from the U.S. Army's Sniper School and the U.S. Marine Corps Scout Sniper School are allowed to compete as a professional courtesy. A number of foreign special operations units are also invited to compete along with select U.S. Federal Law Enforcement Special Response Teams.
Each year the events change making the competition unlike any other sniper competition. The events are created by the instructors of the Special Forces Sniper Course. This year, the SFSC team added a unique element generating a new level of strategy in the competition. Each team was given a "wild card" at the start of the competition that they could use to opt out of an event, but still earn 50 of the 100 points possible.
Not only is it tough to hit the targets every time, but the competitors are also racing against the clock. Each event has time limits ranging from three to eight minutes along with a limited amount of ammunition.
The U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, the U.S. Army's Special Operations Center of Excellence's Special Forces Sniper Course Cadre administered the competition. The SOCoE is home to multiple elite training courses.