Let’s face it snipers are a pain in the arse; there is nothing fun about having to deal with them. You often can’t see them to engage and if they are good then they can take you out before you have even fired a shot.
This article is not meant as a definitive or foolproof guide to dealing with sniper. Instead it is a collection of dos and don’ts designed to hopefully increase your survivability, make for longer playing times and help make those sneaky so and so's lives that little bit more miserable.
- Do be aware of potential snipers. Look at the area you are in, where are the best places for them to hide, how can you traverse the area with the least amount of danger to yourself?
- When concealed or in cover remain crouched or prone as much as possible to present less of a target. Practice moving quickly from these positions and try to avoid cramp.
- Unfortunately many of the techniques used in the real world to identify the location of snipers are not really available to the average airsoft gamer. Reverse azimuth is difficult without a bullet hole; the closest we have is trying to guess where the shot came from. The crack vs. bang sound delay doesn’t really work with subsonic munitions (and I wouldn’t want to play with supersonic munitions plastic or not) and few of us have access to detector systems like Boomerang and their ilk. That said we can still use triangulation, which is basically observing the area from two or more locations, and if you have the time and energy you can use decoys. This could be as simple as a bush hat on the end of a gun barrel or something more sophisticated from a mock up head right the way up to a shop mannequin or “Cold Charlie” (Kylma-Kalleas) the Finns called it during the Winter War. Check with your site before you turn up lugging a mannequin around.
- If circumstances allow then search the area you occupy as thoroughly as possible.
- Familiarise yourself with the terrain to the extent that you will notice any changes.
- Send out bait…er I mean scouts ahead of your main force. Have them recce the area as stealthily as possible, if they find or suspect snipers then decide upon a way to deal with them or avoid them.
- If defending a fixed area then send out pairs to set up concealed observation posts (effectively they would be concealed pickets). Have them take turn in observation to allow them to rest their eyes. This effectively playing the snipers at their own game.
- If you have your own snipers or sniper teams then deploy them. The best people to find snipers are other snipers. In a pure sniper vs. sniper duel then obviously the most skilled sniper wins. However if your sniper team is backed by the squad/team then already you have the advantage. Also if it ends up in a sniper vs. sniper duel then you have effectively tied up the opposition’s sniper resources, they, however, have done the same to you. (Sniper hunting sniper is also a good game if you like that sort of thing and have the patience and skill for it.)
- Once you have identified the rough whereabouts of a sniper then you have a number of options open to you:
- Use area effects weapons (such as <a href="/p-25-ball-grenades-pea.aspx">airsoft ball grenades</a>, <a href="/p-31-ball-grenade-ring-pull-ignition-paintball.aspx">paintball grenades</a> or <a href="/p-26-german-stick-grenades-powder.aspx">powder grenades</a>) and/or suppressing fire to close with them.
- As mentioned above deploy your own snipers/sniper teams to deal with them.
- Lay down smoke or other concealment or distraction devices such as thermobaric grenades to either close or retreat and then flank or avoid as appropriate.
- Recon by Fire: This is basically firing into suspected sniper areas. If you wish you can have friendly marksmen or snipers light up the area to be fired on with tracers initially.
- Mad Minute: This is a variation on the above Recon by Fire method and it’s great fun (unless you’re a sniper) if you haven’t tried this then I recommend it. It is especially good in non-mil sim games where you are using high capacity magazines. If there are two many positions for an effective recon by fire have your team/squad fire a pre-arranged number of rounds into as many potential areas as possible. Put a lot of rounds in but make sure you have enough left to defend yourself; ideally you should have a fire-team in reserve/over watch when you do this.
- Rush: Not as stupid as it sounds. A moving target is more difficult to hit and good snipers tend to have weapons with a slower fate of fire. Yes, chances are you’re going to lose people but it’s an imperfect world. Smoke and suppressing fire are useful in this situation. If the distance between you and the sniper is too far then “rush to cover” instead. Of course you could be rushing into an ambush.
- Pincer Movement: An oldie but a goody. Deploy your squad/team in two fire team and try to either achieve a flanking position or more properly use one fire-team to flush out the sniper and drive them towards the other fire team.
- When possible use armoured vehicles (obviously not that many games allow this) this is a good way to close with a sniper and protect your troops.
- If the game allows it then booby trap positions which you feel would be good sniper positions for the opposition, airsoft ball grenades, thermobarics and even smoke on tripwires are all good for this, either in term of anti-personnel or just warning. Make sure that all your team/squad know where the booby traps are.
- Again if the game allows call in air support or artillery but make sure you are concealed or in cover when using comms unless you want to be the next victim.
- Don’t present yourself as a target. Sounds obvious but have you ever been shot by a sniper? If the answer is yes then you presented yourself as a target. Use cover, use concealment; do not be afraid to use your team-mates as meat-shields (only kidding).
- Avoid open areas as much as possible, when unavoidable try and skirt round the edges using what cover you can find. If you have to move across open areas then move quickly and using over watch (i.e. always have a fire=team covering whomever is moving).
- Stay away from doorways and windows where possible.
- Avoid lit areas at night and where possible move in the shadows.
- Do not move in clumps. Disperse your team/squad, try and make your movement as irregular as possible and make sure you travel using overwatch.
- Avoid being silhouetted by lights and the skyline.
- Do not gather in large groups in the open, remain dispersed whenever possible (this is one of the reasons why it is a good idea to establish a good communications routine).
- Not that this happens much but avoid wearing obvious badges of rank and I am hoping that nobody out there is saluting (on the other hand if someone is getting on your nerves in the team/squad salute them, maybe even stand to attention, it’s a no tears way to frag someone). What you do have to be careful of however is how you interact within in the team, if you are obviously deferring to one guy, or if someone is doing a lot of shouting then they are going to get shot. If you have a command structure in your team make sure you know who is in charge when the head guy gets shot.
- Don’t tie rags to trees in the hope that the fluttering will distract the sniper. Yes it is an old counter sniper technique but it will more than likely just help the sniper with windage.
I hope this will prove useful to you, much of the above is common sense but in the heat of a game it’s often easy to forget common sense. A good thing to do is agree on a series of tactics that your team will use in a given situation, it really improves your survivability. The most difficult thing about combating a good sniper is finding them. Once that’s done and you keep your head and use some of the methods above it is only a matter of time before the threat is dealt with.