The sniper begins the aiming process by aligning the rifle with the target when assuming a firing position. He should point the rifle naturally at the desired point of aim. If his muscles are used to adjust the weapon onto the point of aim, they automatically relax as the rifle fires, and the rifle begins to move toward its natural point of aim. Because this movement begins just before the weapon discharge, the rifle is moving as the bullet leaves the muzzle. This causes inaccurate shots with no apparent cause (recoil disguises the movement). By adjusting the weapon and body as a single unit, rechecking, and readjusting as needed, the sniper achieves a true natural point of aim. Once the position is established, the sniper then aims the weapon at the exact point on the target. Aiming involves: eye relief, sight alignment, and sight picture.
a. Eye Relief. This is the distance from the sniper's firing eye to the rear sight or the rear of the scope tube. When using iron sights, the sniper ensures the distance remains consistent from shot to shot to preclude changing what he views through the rear sight. However, relief will vary from firing position to firing position and from sniper to sniper, according to the sniper's neck length, his angle of head approach to the stock, the depth of his shoulder pocket, and his firing position. This distance (Figure 3-16) is more rigidly controlled with telescopic sights than with iron sights. The sniper must take care to prevent eye injury caused by the scope tube striking his brow during recoil. Regardless of the sighting system he uses, he must place his head as upright as possible with his firing eye located directly behind the rear portion of the sighting system. This head placement also allows the muscles surrounding his eye to relax. Incorrect head placement causes the sniper to look out of the top or corner of his eye, resulting in muscular strain. Such strain leads to blurred vision and can also cause eye strain. The sniper can avoid eye strain by not staring through the telescopic or iron sights for extended periods. The best aid to consistent eye relief is maintaining the same stock weld from shot to shot.
b. Sight Alignment. With telescopic sights, sight alignment is the relationship between the cross hairs (reticle) and a full field of view as seen by the sniper. The sniper must place his head so that a full field of view fills the tube, with no dark shadows or crescents to cause inaccurate shots. He centers the reticle in a full field of view, ensuring the vertical cross hair is straight up and down so the rifle is not canted. Again, the center is easiest for the sniper to locate and allows for consistent reticle placement. With iron sights, sight alignment is the relationship between the front and rear sights as seen by the sniper (Figure 3-17). The sniper centers the top edge of the front sight blade horizontally and vertically within the rear aperture. (The center of aperture is easiest for the eye to locate and allows the sniper to be consistent in blade location.)
e. Sight Picture. With telescopic sights, the sight picture is the relationship between the reticle and full field of view and the target as seen by the sniper. The sniper centers the reticle in a full field of view. He then places the reticle center of the largest visible mass of the target (as in iron sights). The center of mass of the target is easiest for the sniper to locate, and it surrounds the intended point of impact with a maximum amount of target area. With iron sights, sight picture is the relationship between the rear aperture, the front sight blade, and the target as seen by the sniper (Figure 3-18). The sniper centers the top edge of the blade in the rear aperture. He then places the top edge of the blade in the center of the largest visible mass of the target (disregard the head and use the center of the torso).
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