FORT SILL, Okla., July 8, 2011 -- The Fort Sill Special Reaction Team is setting their sights further downrange, with new M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper Systems. They received the new weapon last week, and 'Oh boy' were they excited.
"We just got it in Monday. And this is the first time we get to shoot it. For me it was like opening Christmas presents. It was still in the bag, it was like 'wow, we're getting a brand new weapon,'" said Edward Tracey, Fort Sill patrol officer.
Like getting fitted with a new pair of glasses, the new sniper equipment allows them to see up to 1,000 yards away, giving each sniper a new look at the enemy. As for why the Army is issuing this new weapon, Brett Little, Tank Automotive and Armaments Command, New Equipment Training team member, said it was just a matter of time.
"The Army is coming out with a lot of new weapons," said Little. "The weapon this one is replacing was getting old. Snipers still love it but this one is semi-automatic so they don't have to cycle the bolt every time."
Soldiers are already using the lightweight M110 in combat where they engage in much closer and faster paced environments. It became apparent to Army leaders that a new rifle was necessary to better suit the needs of the modern urban combat zone as well as the traditional sniper role.
The M110 is also the first U.S. Army weapon system that integrates a quick attachable and detachable suppressor to reduce the weapon's firing signature.
While the enthusiasm for the new weapons was fresh, the training was also very serious. Over a three-day period, the team learned the ins and outs of the weapon system as taught by the TACOM NET team.
Little said he and his team train on every weapon either at the weapon's manufacturer or they stick their noses into instruction manuals until they know everything about it. Then they spread their information with Soldiers overseas or with special maneuver teams like Fort Sill's SRT back home. There is one thing the instructors leave to the snipers, and that's technique.
"They learn the capabilities of the weapon and all the characteristics. As far as shooting it, they should already know," Little explained.
On June 22, the group took to Kerr Hill machine gun range, where the team paired off in twos: a spotter and a sniper. They'd agree on a target, set their sights and then it was up to the sniper's careful breathing and steady trigger finger to fly the 7.62 mm round into the right patch of silhouette.
After five rounds the sniper paused to clean out any brass left in the new weapon so as to not scar the barrel.
"It didn't kick at all. It feels pretty much just like the other sniper rifle, the M24, but the difference is you get to magazine feed this one instead of one at a time with the bolt," said Tracey.
"Snipers Army-wide have been receiving this new weapon since 2008, so most of the units already have it. This is going to be one of our last ones," said Little.
SRT members were just glad to have it. They seemed content to hit their mark with whatever weapon issued, and they were already working on making the M110 a part of their arsenal.
Tracey said even though he believes the quick firepower is a great feature, he hopes he and his teammates never have to use it.
"If we get into a situation where you have to do multiple shots faster it means something bad happened and the guys on the inside are in trouble. So I just pray every day that doesn't happen," he said.
The Snipers checked their shots, and the spotters helped correct their aim to get the tightest group shots possible. After switching off, every sniper zeroed their weapons. The team will continue training and is already setting their sites on a national competition in October in which sniper shots will be crucial to winning a title.