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How Do I Become a Sniper?

Most police snipers are chosen from a SWAT team.
Many snipers are affiliated with a nation's military.
A prospective sniper needs to be a police officer first.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 30 August 2014
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If you want to become a sniper, you should know that being a good shot is only one aspect of being a sniper. A number of factors go into the selection and training of a sniper, including physical and psychological condition, the ability to interpret information quickly and accurately, and performance record. There are also different types of snipers: military and police snipers may have similar job titles, but their missions and training are vastly different.

Whether you want to work for a police force or the military, the first step on the path to becoming a sniper is establishing a strong service record, because snipers are chosen by recommendation, and the service record counts for a lot. Good candidates have no records of disciplinary actions on their service records, and ideally they should have commendations for good service, along with backing from at least one superior officer who can recommend them for sniper training.

To become a police sniper, also known as a sharpshooter, you first need to become a police officer. Being a police officer involves applying for and being accepted into training, completing the training, and joining a police force. Most police snipers are chosen from special divisions, like the SWAT team, so you will need to serve as an officer for at least a year before applying to SWAT team and undergoing SWAT training.

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Once you are trained as a SWAT officer, you can express an interest in qualifying as a sharpshooter. Depending on department policies, you may be able to test immediately, or you may be asked to wait and serve for a set period of time before applying. While waiting to be eligible, you can practice your shooting skills, as you will need to be an expert marksman, and you can also distinguish yourself as an officer. Once you are allowed to test for a position as a sniper, you will be given a written test, a physical examination, and a psychological evaluation. If accepted, you will be offered sniper training.

Military snipers start out by joining the military, and selecting an occupational specialty which includes snipers. Different branches of the military are organized differently, so if you want to become a sniper, you should talk to a recruitment agent about the best service and specialty to choose. Once accepted into the military, you will need to complete basic training, and distinguish yourself in training so that you can volunteer for sniper training and be recommended.

Once recommended for training, you will need to pass a battery of tests. The military wants snipers with keen vision, peak physical condition, and the ability to pass psychological screenings. Snipers are also expected to qualify as expert marksmen, and to demonstrate strong service records, with good moral character as well as a solid service history as a soldier. If a candidate passes the screening, he or she will be sent to sniper school to learn the specifics of the trade.

Because military and police careers intersect, some people do both. For example, you could qualify and serve as a military sniper and then join law enforcement after you leave the service, applying for a sniper position on the SWAT team. Conversely, you could enlist in the military after serving as a policeman, and indicate an interest in serving as a sniper after you complete your basic training.

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