I recently returned back to the states working with various special operation snipers in Finland.  My time there was spent instructing the units on sniper theory, tactics, precision, counter sniper, and HELO operations.

When arriving in the Helsinki capital, one thing came to my immediate attention, the extremely cold weather!  Living in south Texas for the past three years, I had become accustomed to the extreme heat and had forgotten what is was like to feel cold.  The only memory I have of being anywhere remotely that cold, was my time in Daholnega Georgia, Mountain phase of Ranger School where the temperatures were around 30-35 degrees, but with no food and losing 35 pounds, it felt worse.

After getting somewhat getting accustomed to the weather, and recovering from a Jack Daniel’s self induced sleep coma on a long flight, I had a chance to meet some of the guys and hear some of their backgrounds.  Without giving any unit names away (as they asked not to), I came to understand that they were equivalent to the US Green Berets, Army Rangers, HRT, and 1st SFOD.  The average time spent within their units was around 10 years, half of that was serving as snipers.

The first day of consisted primarily of long range sniper theory for the .308 and their primary caliber of choice, the .338.  The classroom portion of the day went well, with an the outside temperature that neared -11 degrees Fahrenheit!  I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect from the class of 15 shooters, in regards to their level of precision shooting knowledge, after all the last time Finland saw any conflict was 1939-1944.

Shooting in -8 to 5 degree Fahrenheit temperatures, snow packed on the ground, and almost 200 rounds of .338 Lapua ammo per shooter per day, we put their knowledge of what they had learned to the test.  After seeing their less than modern day rifle scopes, I was expecting it to be fairly long and rough day, after all, I promised them that I would have them out-shooting themselves/capabilities of the weapon during my short stay.  While the shooters lay in the snow and fire a 5 round group I had to take a step back and say to myself, “I hope I’m never on the other end of their sights. They are that good!”  Although they were not shooting to what I would have liked them to, I was fairly impressed.

After working with various special operations units and snipers in America and serving in a special operations unit, I know that in order to be apart of these ranks, you have to learn and adapt quickly, no matter the environment or circumstances.  I guess that this mentality and personality resonates within all of the men in spec ops communities.  After another brief classroom instruction, and one on one with a few of the guys, everyone’s shot group dramatically tightened and improved on the next five rounds fired.  I understand that it’s a .338, but being able to have a shot group where all of the bullets go through the same hole, shows great understanding of the fundamentals.

I asked one of the guys in the group, “How often do you guys get out and shoot?”, he responded, “As often as we can, but only at short distances.  But we live up to Simo Häyhä as snipers and we take our craft seriously.  Anything we can learn is much appreciated.”

Finland Sniper