MILITARY MATTERS: Sniper Competition

FORT BENNING, GA (WTVM) - A cool November morning is broken by the sound of a sniper instructor bellowing, "Send it", followed by the unmistakable sound of a high-powered rifle.

Burroughs Range at Ft. Benning, Ga. has been a busy place this week, as expert riflemen take a shot (pun intended) at being the best in their field.

The U.S. Army Sniper School is headquartered here, and is once again hosting the International Sniper Competition. "We have teams from all over the world", said Sergeant First Class Adam James, a senior instructor at the school.

"We have teams from Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, even a team from Alaska and the Coast Guard here this year."

Each team in the competition is made up of two individuals, the shooter himself and the spotter. We asked SFC James which is more important?

"Generally, we say that shooting is the easy part. Being a spotter is much more involved", said James. "You have to be able to read wind and make accurate corrections and actually spot rounds going downrange."

The sound of gunfire can be deafening, which is why earplugs are a necessity.

Some, like Sergeant Major Edgar Kümmer, choose to wear hi-tech headphones.

"We have a microphone in them", said Kümmer, an instructor with the German team. "We can talk to each other and understand each other." He adds that the microphone automatically mutes itself when a shot is fired, protecting his ears.

The weather for the sniper competition was perfect, sunny and mild. Too bad it wasn't like that in Europe.

"It's snowing there this weekend", said Corporal Lee Griffiths, a member of the British sniper team. "It snowed in England, so we have to deploy on exercise (there) the Sunday we get back."

When asked if he was glad to be on this side of the Atlantic, Griffiths replied, "Yeah, at the minute definitely. It's easier to shoot because your hands aren't shaking in the cold."

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