Nick Irving, a longtime Loadout Room and SOFREP contributor, is a former Ranger sniper who served in the 3rd Ranger Battalion. His 2015 autobiography, “The Reaper,” is set to be turned into an NBC miniseries. The following are several questions SOFREP readers submitted for Nick to answer.
What do you see as the next stage in the evolution of the sniper role? And in your opinion, what will be the most influencing aspect of the evolution? Technological advances, battlefield environmentals, etc.?
I think the next stage for snipers will be the advance in technology. I don’t think the role of the sniper will ever change: covertly gathering intel and reporting it back to higher. How it will be done may change over time. It may not be a sniper team sneaking into a position and staying for long periods of time. The sniper and his rifle will always be there, but with the evolution of how we fight wars, the weapon system will more than likely change—almost to the point where the sniper leaves all calculations and adjustments to the computer system incorporated with the rifle, like “Tracking Point.”
What’s your favorite cereal? If Cap ‘n Crunch…how many bowls can you eat before the roof of your mouth tears apart?
LOL! My favorite cereal would have to be Honey Bunches of Oats. But, if it were Cap ‘n Crunch, I would say I could probably eat five bowls before my mouth gave way or I felt sick.
As someone who didn’t join the military because I’m colorblind, I’m wondering if you feel that being colorblind affected your time in the military. (Did you have a hard time seeing stuff or anything?)
Sorry to hear that. I don’t think being colorblind really hindered me for the most part. The only problem I had was being able to see the red laser pointer on a map. I would always have to ask my spotter where the pointer was. Other than that, no issue!
Given the sometimes glacial pace that equipment and weapons acquisition can take in the military due to a variety of factors, we often (myself included) have gone to the private tactical market for solutions to battlefield-related issues. Do you think it would be easier and more appropriate to allow soldiers such as yourself to custom order and outfit themselves for the missions to come on the DOD’s dime?
I definitely agree with being able to customize our gear and layout—everything from our packs and plates to custom loads for precision rifles. Some things must stay standard issue (medical kits), that way if something were to happen and an individual needs to access a trauma kit, he/she is familiar with the product and doesn’t have to guess where the kit is and exactly what’s inside.
I know there was a point where you were shooting for BUD/S and ended up going Ranger. What was your drive to be SOF, and what kept you going through selection?
My drive came from a lifelong dream. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do since elementary school. The fear of failure, going back home and telling my family and friends that I failed, kept me from giving up. I knew that the pain during selection would only be temporary and would end at some point, but the reward of being a part of an elite unit would be something that would last forever.
I see “The Reaper” miniseries is set to air soon on NBC, and I can’t wait! How involved were you with the production, and is there any cool insider stuff you can share with us about the filming?
Thank you! The series is set to air later this year, around fall. I’ve been in heavy contact with the writers, making sure that the show is as realistic and true to our community as possible. I can say that the viewer will get a chance to experience some of the same emotions that we feel while deployed, as well what some of our family members feel back home. Getting to know an individual so well during the show, and suddenly have him snatched away, the feel of the unknown, the visuals of the firefights, and the sounds of hearing what we hear…intense. It will be a rollercoaster ride of emotion for sure.
What do you hope to accomplish, both for yourself and the military community, now that you are out of the service?
I hope to shed light on what young men and women do day in and day out that often gets forgotten, the dedication and drive many have to help others, and the struggles that many veterans go through when all is said and done.