Scout Sniper: Wikis


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Scout Sniper (MOS 0317, formerly 8541) is a sniper specialist in the United States Marine Corps whose mission is to deny the enemy freedom of movement by killing enemy leaders, crew-served weapons operators, radiomen, observers, messengers, and other key personnel with one, nicely aimed shot. In addition, Scout Snipers also provide close reconnaissance and surveillance to the infantry battalion.[1] Scout Snipers attached to Marine infantry battalions fall under the Surveillance and Target Acquisition units, usually a reduced platoon with the headquarters company. Marine Corps Scout Snipers are widely considered one of the elite forces of the US military[citation needed] and are trained at one of the four school house locations. The motto of the Marine Scout Sniper is "One shot, one kill."

As defined by the Marine Corps Scout Sniper Basic Course, a Scout Sniper is a Marine highly skilled in field craft and marksmanship who delivers long range precision fire on selected targets from concealed positions in support of combat operations.

The Marine Corps is unique in its consolidation of reconnaissance and sniper duties for a single soldier. Most other conventional armed forces, to include the United States Army, separate the reconnaissance soldier or scout from the sniper. In the U.S. Army the term "Infantry Scout" refers to a specially selected and trained Infantry soldier that functions in a reconnaissance and surveillance capacity while "Sniper" refers to a specially selected and trained soldier that primarily functions as a sniper. [2] Most military forces believe that the separation of reconnaissance and sniper capabilities allows for a higher degree of specialization. However, because of this separation, the term "Scout Sniper" is unique to the Corps.




There are essentially two primary routes to Scout Sniper status.

  • Acceptance into a Scout Sniper platoon.
    • Join the Marines with an infantry MOS (03xx).
    • Complete boot camp and School of Infantry
    • Once reaching the operating forces in an infantry battalion, volunteer for the next Scout Sniper indoctrination or screener.
      • These events widely vary in how they are conducted from battalion to battalion. Some involve a grueling week long trial that involves ruck runs, sleep and food deprivation, pool time, and extensive running and fitness checks. Others are just a screener and involve running a PFT and an interview with the platoon sergeant and commander.
    • After passing the indoctrination and being accepted into the platoon, a Marine will officially become a PIG (Professionally Instructed Gunman) and will have one purpose in life, to pass school and gain the coveted MOS. Once graduating school, he will shed his title as a PIG and become a HOG (Hunter of Gunmen).
    • Just because a Marine makes it into the platoon does not mean he is guaranteed even a chance to go to school. School seats are very limited and are given competitively to the best qualified and usually senior PIGs. Expect to wait a minimum of a year before getting a chance to go to school. This could even be as long as 2–3 years depending on the platoon's deployment rotation and how many school seats they get allocated. During this time PIGs will be learning all of the skills that will be vital to passing school. PIGs need to work and study hard to make sure they are ready for school. Marines who hope to pass school must be in peak physical condition.
  • Reconnaissance or MARSOC
    • Direct civilian to reconnaissance option.
      • Join the Marines with an infantry MOS (03xx) or as a contract 0321 (Reconnaissance Marine).
      • Complete boot camp and School of Infantry
      • Pass the recon indoc in SOI.
      • After graduating SOI Marines will be assigned to MART (Marines Awaiting Reconnaissance Training) and will begin preparing for BRC (Basic Reconnaissance Course) at Camp Pendleton, California.
      • Graduate BRC.
      • Reach the operating forces in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion and become proficient in the 0321 MOS. This usually means that a Marine will do several deployments to gain experience.
      • Each platoon will ask for volunteers to go to sniper school, volunteer and go to the course.
        • Since Sniping is not a reconnaissance battalion's primary role, Marines who go this route must be exceptionally hard working. They must learn the information needed to pass the course on their own as there are less snipers around to help teach the craft. Also, since reconnaissance Marines need to attend many other non-sniping courses, the only time available to attend the school will often be during a Marine's post or pre deployment leave.
      • Pass the course and become a HOG.
    • Current Marine to reconnaissance option.
      • Any Marine can volunteer for and take a Recon or MARSOC indoctrination or screener. If they pass it they can be accepted into the battalion and can begin training to go to BRC. Non infantry MOS Marines will now be required to go to SOI and obtain an infantry MOS before attending BRC.
      • After being accepted into the platoon train and become proficient in the skills needed to pass BRC. At this point command will deem you ready for BRC and send you.
      • Graduate BRC.
      • Reach the operating forces in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Reconnaissance Battalions and become proficient in the 0321 MOS. This usually means that a Marines will do several deployments to gain experience.
      • Each platoon will ask for volunteers to go to sniper school, volunteer and go to the course.
      • Pass the course and become a HOG.

Scout Sniper Basic Course

The Scout Sniper Basic Course or SSBC is considered to be one of the hardest schools in the Marine Corps. Attrition is normally around 60%, but can be much higher. The Pendleton course has even been known to fail the entire course of students. There are currently four different school houses in the Marine Corps that offer the Scout Sniper Basic Course.

Camp Pendleton Sniper School

As of FY 2009 a major change in curriculum has occurred with the Scout Sniper Basic Course (SSBC) and it has been shortened from the traditional 10 week course to a 8 1/2 week course. This has been done concurrently with the removal of the Advanced Course and the addition of the Team Leader Course. Furthermore, all SSBCs now fall under Reconnaissance Training Command (RTC) and are further subject to TECOM. This reduction of 1 1/2 weeks is because of the removal of the mission planning phase of the course and the addition of this curriculum to the Team Leader Course. Missions are still conducted during the last week of the course, but are now not a major part of curriculum.


Basic requirements

These are the basic requirements that must be met in order to attend school, Units vary with Indocs and Pre-Reqs.

Minimum Requirements: As per HQMC School Quota Message:

  • Criteria: 60 days prior to a class convening, the G-3 at each division will receive a message from HQMC stating the number of funded quotas given to each division, the gear list, report date, and criteria for attending.
    The following prerequisites must be met by the reporting Marine or he will be returned to his unit:
  1. Lance Corporal through Captain.
  2. Infantry MOS or MOS 0302.
  3. Vision correctable to 20/20 in both eyes (this means eyeglasses and contact lenses are authorized). Color blindness is discouraged.
  4. Serving in or designated for assignment to a Scout Sniper billet.
  5. Minimum of 12 months remaining on current contract upon completion of course (Does not apply to reservist.)
  6. Must score a First Class PFT on course convene date.
  7. Current rifle Expert. Must have qualified in the last fiscal year. (Reservist can have a score three years old, but must be current Expert.)
  8. No courts martial or NJP within the last six months.
  9. Minimum GT of 100.
  10. No history of mental illness.
  11. Must be a volunteer.
  12. It is highly recommended, but not required, for the student to have completed the following MCI courses: Land Navigation, Patrolling, Calling and Adjusting Supporting Arms, and Reconnaissance Marine. It is also recommended but not required that the student have conducted basic Scout Sniper field skills: stalks, concealment, field sketches, range cards, range estimations, and firing of the M-40A1 prior to attending the course. Students should also possess a high degree of maturity, equanimity, and common sense.
  13. Bottom line: the best, most experienced infantry you can send.
  14. Marine Corps PFT: For a perfect score: 3 mile run in 18 minutes, 20 deadhang pull-ups (no kipping), 100 sit-up/crunchs under two minutes.
  15. Swim Qual: 500 meter swim using side or breast stroke, 50 meter swim holding a weight out of water, tread water for 30 seconds holding a weight out of water, no signs of panic.[3]

Phases of training

School is broken down into three phases of training.

  • Phase 1 - Marksmanship and Basic Fields Craft Phase
    • During this phase Marines are trained in basic marksmanship on the Known Distance (KD) Range and also receive classes on basic skills such as camouflage, individual movement, weapons systems, observations, and field sketches.
    • Day one begins with in processing, which includes a PFT ,gear check, and service record check for prerequisite compliance. After all students have been admitted to the course, classes and a general overview of the course are given.
    • KD range includes shooting at the 300, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, and 1000 yard lines. 5 rounds are fired at each yard line. During this phase of training, Marines must become experts at the fundamentals of marksmanship. They must also become experts at calling wind and weather. During this portion two students work together, one on the gun and the other behind the spotting scope calling wind. If a student is not proficient at calling wind, they will cause their partner to fail, not themselves. After the first student fires his rounds, the two switch positions. After each yard line, the students must quickly throw on their packs and grab all their equipment and run to the next yardline. EVERYTHING at sniper school is a race, and it pays to be a winner. The course of fire for qualification is as follows:
      • 300, 500, & 600 - 3 Stationary and 2 Movers
      • 700 - 3 Stationary and 2 Stop and Go Movers
      • 800 - 3 Stationary and 2 Bobbers
      • 900 & 1000 - 5 Stationary
    • Out of 35 Rounds, 28 rounds must be in the black to qualify on the range.
    • After the range students head back to the schoolhouse and clean weapons. After this important task they immediately do a field sketch and observation exercises. Oftentimes a Kim's Game is conducted as well.
      • During an observation, students must use their M49 Spotting Scope and binoculars to find 10 hidden items in a specifically defined area. These observations can be done at short distances utilizing miniature items, or at long distances with full sized items. Observations are an essential skill that the sniper must learn to be effective. Furthermore, for the purposes of the course it is important to learn observation skills, particularly how to "Burn Through" bushes for the stalking phase. Learning this skill is imperative to being able to find the observation post from behind cover during stalking and is often the difference between a student passing or failing. An overall average of 70% must be obtained on observations to pass the course.
      • During a field sketch, students are given an hour and a specific area or building to sketch. The target must be drawn with as many details as possible. It must include information about its surroundings and target reference points on the sketch. Sketches are graded for neatness, correctness, details, and usable information. An overall average of 70% must be obtained on field sketches to pass the course.
  • Phase 2 - Unknown Distance and Stalking
    • The UKD (Unknown Distance) and Stalking portion kicks off as soon as Phase 1 is completed. During this phase students will become experts at engaging targets at unknown distances by way of range estimation and range cards.
    • During the unknown distance phase students will run 100 pound steel targets out to ranges between 300 - 800 yards. There are 10 targets in each course of fire and after each course of fire, the targets are rearranged.
      • A student has two attempts to hit each target, a first round impact is worth 10 points and a second is worth 8. An overall average of 80% must be obtained during the 3 weeks of UKD to pass the course. **Furthermore, the portion of the course with the highest attrition rate begins, stalking. Stalking is a skill that takes long hours and dedication to learn, and a lifetime to master.
    • Stalking involves moving from a distance between 1200 - 800 yards to within 200 yards of an observation post undetected. After doing this, the student must set up a Final Firing Position (FFP) and fire two shots without being found by the OP within a time period of 3–4 hours.
      • After the first shot is fired, a walker (A neutral instructor who does not help students or the instructors in the OP) will get close to the snipers position to make sure he can positively ID the OP. Positive ID is established by the observers holding up cards with 2-3 letters on them above their binoculars. The sniper must then correctly tell the walker what is written on them. After positive ID has been confirmed, the walker will move within 10 yards of the shooter and inform the OP that he is within 10. The OP will then attempt to walk the walker onto the sniper's position by way of movement commands. The OP must get the walker within 1 foot of the shooter. If the shooter cannot be found, the walker will tell the shooter to fire a second shot on his command. After the second shot has been fired, the OP will look for blast from the rifle or movement from the shooter. If the OP cannot find the shooter then the walker will indicate the shooters position to the OP and check to make sure the shooter had the correct windage and elevation settings, along with correct position and stable shooting platform.
    • Grading is as follows for stalking:
      • 0 - Being out of bounds on the stalk lane, not freezing on the command freeze (When the OP believes they know the position of a student they call freeze and all students on the stalk lane have to immediately freeze in whatever position they are in), poor FFP.
      • 40 - Caught out of range or fired out of range (not within 200 yards).
      • 50 - Caught within range.
      • 60 - 1 shot fired but, no positive ID, incorrect windage or elevation, unstable shooting platform.
      • 70 - 1 shot fired and positive ID, correct windage, elevation, shooting platform but OP walked onto shooter after first shot.
      • 80 - 2 shots fired and positive ID, correct windage, elevation, shooting platform but OP saw blast from shooter's position after second shot.
      • 100 - 2 shots fired and positive ID, correct windage, elevation, shooting platform and shooter was never found.
    • Students must obtain an overall average of 70% out of 10 stalks, with a minimum of 2 100s and no more than 1 zero in order to pass stalking.
  • Phase 3 - Advanced Field Skills and Mission Employment

Other schools

After graduating the basic course, HOGs are given the opportunity to obtain a variety of other courses to further refine their skills.

  • Urban Snipers
  • High Angle (Mountain) Snipers
  • Scout Snipers Team leader course (Formerly the advanced course)
  • Foreign Forces Snipers Schools
    • British Royal Marine Snipers School
    • Israeli Foreign Forces Snipers School

HOG's Tooth:

Upon graduation from the school it has been tradition to indoctrinate scout snipers into the brotherhood of the chosen few. Early in the program it was common practice to brand new snipers with the SS mark. This was usually performed once the graduate had successfully returned to their unit by a group of their peers. This procedure was not officially approved of by Headquarters Marine Corps and eventually led to the Commandant of the Marine Corps issuing a memorandum authorizing scout snipers to wear a 7.62mm bullet on their person at all times in lieu of the brand. Branding was officially forbidden and the HOG's tooth was borne.


A Marine Corps Scout/Sniper is a Marine highly skilled in fieldcraft and marksmanship who delivers long range precision fire, on select targets, from concealed positions in support of combat operations.

  • Support combat operations by delivering precision fire on selected targets.[4]
  • Establish concealed sniper/observation sites from which targets are analyzed, engaged, and information gathered.[5]
  • Use map and compass for day or night land navigation.[6]
  • Operate and maintain weapons and optical equipment employed by the scout sniper team.


See also


  1. ^ Marine Corps Scout Sniper Training
  2. ^ U.S Army FM 7-20 Infantry Battalion
  3. ^ Marine Scout Sniper Association
  4. ^ Goodbye to Romance - What It Takes To Be A Marine Scout/Sniper
  5. ^ How Military Snipers Work
  6. ^ "Scout/Sniper Basic Course Overview"

External links


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