IDF (Zahal) snipers, considered the most elite soldiers of every combat unit, are given the opportunity to challenge their precision skills in combat scenarios

Date: 21/06/2012, 4:31 PM     Author: Adam May

The IDF (Zahal) hosted the first Sniping Championship in over 14 years, giving Israel’s finest gunmen the opportunity to test their shooting capabilities in combat simulations, compete with fellow soldiers for precision and skill, and earn respect for their units. Snipers from all over the IDF (Zahal) participated in the competition, including representatives from every infantry, commando, and Special Forces unit. The competition was held last week at the Mitken Adam base, home of the Israeli Counter-Terror School and the IDF (Zahal)’s Sniper Course.

The competitors took part in several events and heats, each designed to test their skills and professionalism as snipers. “There are five categories of the competition: long-range sniping, sniping small targets, sniping after a run under a time restriction, shooting from uncomfortable positions, and shooting in a more operational setting such as moving targets,” said the head of the IDF (Zahal) Snipers Department, Maj. Ofer. “The main idea of the contest is also to simulate real combat situations and imitate what the soldiers will see on the battlefield.”

The sniper is often regarded as an elite position within the unit, and becoming one is no easy task. “A good sniper, first and foremost, wants to be a sniper. He has to have a fighting spirit, be mathematically gifted, be mindful and calm, have nerves of steel, and be in good physical condition,” said Maj. Ofer.

Once selected, these snipers undergo a six-week course at the Mitken Adam base. Those who finish near the top of their class qualify for subsequent courses focusing on more advanced weapons.

The atmosphere was incredibly competitive as tandem teams of snipers and spotters rushed from one event to the next. The sniper teams were expected to operate independently in an effort to replicate operational conditions.

The snipers unpacked their weapons and set up in seconds, as spotters began lining up targets and engaging in a series of intense mathematical computations to adjust for range and wind speed.

“We treat today just like any other operation. We just give them their schedule, and they are responsible for getting everywhere on time. They wake up on their own, eat on their own – we trust them to be independent because that’s how they have to act in their operations. They need to be professional in every circumstance,” said Maj. Ofer.

Head of the Counter-Terror School, Lt. Col. Lior Kenan, elaborated on recent changes and improvements. “We added new armaments, including the Barak sniper rifle, which has a longer range and is more reliable. We also made the training course longer and refocused on how to improve professionalism.”

 Maj. Ofer and other commanders at the event seemed highly pleased with the results: “Today the level of our capabilities is very high, and that has allowed us to maintain a fantastic standard across all units from the infantry to the Special Forces,” he said. Maj. Ofer continued to speak of the day’s importance as a barometer of the skill level amongst IDF (Zahal) snipers. “The competition gives us a chance to see the state of our sniping capabilities on a large scale. We are performing well beyond expectations and are more than ready for the next conflict.”