Grafenwoehr, Germany (Sept. 27, 2017) -- "Being a sniper isn't just about being good at shooting," said a Portuguese sniper competing in the European Best Sniper Squad Competition at the Grafenwoehr Training Area, Sept. 24-28. "You can be an excellent shooter, but if you cannot hide or see the terrain features then you cannot be a sniper."
The friendly competition brought snipers from 14 different countries together for five days to challenge their sniper skills through a series of events. One of those events was a stalking lane, a skillset that makes a proficient shooter a sniper.
"The principle of being a sniper is being able to insert into the terrain without being detected," said a Portuguese sniper.
"If you can shoot all day long and hit your targets with no problem, but can't maneuver undetected then what's the point," asked Sgt. Luke Smith, one of the graders in the competition and a qualified sniper from the Joint Multinational Readiness Center's 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment.
Stalking requires a sniper to have the ability to know how to camouflage themselves and their equipment based on different environments such as heavy-vegetated areas or heavy-populated areas.
"It entails prepping for that mission and camouflaging yourself multiple times as you move to your objective or where you need to be," said Smith.
Moving through a vegetated area, a stalker would have to take into consideration the colors, height and thickness of that vegetation in order to prepare their concealment during their move.
Moving through an urban area, a stalker would have to consider the appearance of the local populace, building structures, equipment needed to camouflage a room in a building, etc.
"Learning to stalk requires a sniper to have the ability to look at yourself in 360 degrees, and know what is blending and what is not," said Smith. "Know how to get rid of the dark spaces on either your face, weaponry or equipment."
Like shooting a rifle, stalking requires repetitive development in order to get better.
Training creates proficiency when it comes to stalking, said a Portuguese sniper. The most important part of training is experiencing with different tactics and techniques.
That's when participating in this year's competition comes into play. The multinational sniper competition provided an opportunity for snipers to practice and hone those essential skills like stalking, while learning new practices from each other.
"Getting to see other countries, what their techniques are, what weaponry they have, what their capable of, and being able to learn from them and them from us is a huge opportunity for everyone here," said Smith.
"It's good to be here in a new environment, to see other things and to improve ourselves," said a Portuguese sniper.