What To Do As A Sniper?
The sniper role has had a long and storied history. From its humble beginnings of muskets and ball ammunition to present-day firearms, the role of sniper has evolved greatly. For those that might not know, the sniper is a shooter who specializes in long-range, precision shooting. An airsoft sniper can usually work alone or in a small team that can consist of two or more members.
Due to the ability of the sniper to take deadly accurate shots, they fast became "force multipliers" on the battlefield. This resulted in them quickly achieving an air of mystery for being almost "lone wolves". To many, they were like ghosts in the night or "hunters of men" as some would later be known by. Needless to say, the sniper is a highly romanticized role as we often imagine them being one-man armies frequently outnumbered.
Top 10 Tips As A Sniper
As an airsoft player, you can also fulfill your dreams of becoming a sniper! Though there are some differences between how a real steel sniper would operate, there are also many similarities. To learn more about sniping, we aim to share ten helpful tips! In effect, they can improve your overall shooting experience or give you better insight at airsoft sniping!
1. Finding the Right Tool
Have you ever heard people say "bring the right tool for the job"? As a sniper, it's paramount that we bring the right gun to our "gunfight"! There are a wide variety of airsoft guns! Many can be used as sniper rifles, check out a list of Top Sniper Rifles HERE.
Firstly, let's break down these sniper rifles into two categories, each with their pros and cons. These categories are "bolt guns" and "select-fire". We are now deviating from real steel because with airsoft, often AEGs have the ability to shoot full auto. Due to this fact, you will find some guns that should be traditionally "semi-auto" rifles featuring a full-auto option.
Bolt guns are probably the easiest to recognize and most often associated with being considered a "sniper rifle". For those who may not know, a "bolt gun" is a bolt-action rifle. These guns fire shots one at a time through the manual manipulation of the bolt. This means you as the shooter will have full control of how your gun operates before taking each shot. Because of this, bolt action sniper rifles are usually more consistent in their firing and overall accuracy.
Select Fire (Semi-Auto / Full-Auto)
As its name would suggest, select-fire guns allow you to select between different firing modes. While this is an easier way for you to land rapid hits downrange, you might be sacrificing some consistency. However, these guns do come in a variety of platforms such as AEG, GBB, and HPA. As a result, they also enjoy a greater variety when it comes to diverse weapon styling. This allows you to truly make the sniper rifle you choose reflect your personality.
2. Finding The Right Accessories
Secondly, as we explore how to be an airsoft sniper, the right accessories are essential! As a result, you will have an easier time using your rifle, and you will also be saving weight. It's quite amusing how often you will see players dressing up their guns like Christmas trees! However, this usually ends up being more of a hindrance rather than a benefit. In other words, try not to overdo your accessories and use only what's best for you.
Possibly the most vital accessory or piece of equipment you will want to get is a good scope. This goes without saying that as a sniper, you want to be able to get good eyes on your target. With this in mind, here are a few tips you certainly want to be mindful of when considering your scope. Ideally, you want something that offers clarity, enough zoom, and cross-hairs that don't overwhelm you with unnecessary information.
Pictured above is the RWA Hawkeye Scope. It sports many great features but most importantly it meets the three main criteria we previously mentioned. In turn, it would be something I would personally recommend. Most notably, this scope is very light therefore you can easily maintain your aim on target longer without feeling fatigued.
Scope Rings or Scope Mounts?
Usually, when you purchase a scope, they often come with a very basic mounting solution. While these are not always bad, there better options out there. There has always been a debate about what is the better option, rings or mounts. At the end of the day, we suggest you choose what is best for you. However, we have a small breakdown of the two to help you choose something best suited for your needs.
Scope rings are exactly what you would imagine them to be. They are simple to use, lightweight, and highly adjustable. As a result, they are probably the easiest to get your hands on to start using them. But, their simplicity can also be their drawback. For example, you might want to be able to change scopes without having to readjust your spacing. You might even want to remove your complete setup all at once for transport. These are legitimate concerns players have causing some to rethink the overall usability of the basic scope rings.
On the other hand, scope mounts while slightly heavier they are easier to use overall. Because of this, many shooters opt to choose mounts. Scope mounts also come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so it gives your rifle some added personality. Most importantly, scope mounts often eliminate the shortcomings found with scope rights. You no longer need to re-space when using different scopes and many scope mounts come with quick detach features!
3. Finding The Right BBs
One of the often-overlooked elements when it comes to precision shooting is the ammo that we use. Consequently, BBs being too heavy or too light leads to inaccuracies downrange. As a golden rule, always reference your rifle's FPS before choosing the right weight. Because when you are shooting at targets further away, your environment starts becoming more of a factor. Generally, you would want to have a heavier BB for a gun that shoots at a higher FPS. The reason is, the higher your FPS, the more energy that BB will have as it travels through the air. This allows the BB to fly at a flatter and more stable trajectory (though seemingly slower). If your BB is too light, the energy behind it will cause it to waver and fly erratically. Here is a small breakdown of some recommended BB weights.
- 330-380FPS - 0.3G
- 380-400FPS - 0.4G
- +400FPS - +0.43G
Being able to have a stable shooting platform is essential when you ask yourself how to be an airsoft sniper. However, one must think about your role as the sniper before committing to a bipod. Certainly, it's always better to have something and not need it than need something and not have it. Generally, the size of the field will give you an idea as to how you will be sniping. For example, if you are playing at a huge field with varied terrain, chances are you will be bunkered down. Therefore, having a bipod is a huge plus!
Keeping in the same vein, if the field is small, you will be on the move more often. This means it would probably be best for you not to use a bipod. Because you want your rifle to be as lightweight as possible!
5. Custom Builds vs Out of the Box
This point goes hand in hand with point number 10! It's certainly important to find the right tool for the job! Especially when you have made a decision on what kind of gun you would like to use. But for some, building it out is half the fun!
For instance, the legendary VSR-10 from Tokyo Marui is one of the best rifles to modify. What the VSR-10 provides is an excellent base gun for airsoft gunsmiths. Firstly, it enjoys a wide variety of parts from both first and third party. Secondly, its base system already shoots very consistently resulting from its large air capacity found in its cylinder. Finally, its chassis can be easily swapped out for a different style better suited to your needs. Moreover, if you enjoy the base styling, its body is lightweight and quite robust. Though, the base FPS is low, so if you are at a small field, you can still snipe! However, if you love to take a look under the hood, this gun is for you!
Out of the Box
Opposite to the custom build, it is becoming more and more popular for manufactures to release pre-upgraded sniper rifles. These guns usually come pre-installed with enhanced internals and exquisite externals. Many even sport real steel trademarks as they are licensed products. In short, exactly as the name would suggest, they are ready to go out of the box. Perhaps most importantly, this lowers the bar of entry for players that would like to try sniping. Some manufactures have also opted to produce more budget-friendly sniper rifles. This subsequently grew the interest of players around the world, ultimately democratizing sniping in general, making it more accessible. To be exact, flattening the learning curve required behind your gun.
6. Take Time To Set Up Your Rifle
Now that we have established hardware, let's talk about "software". You are the key to how to be an airsoft sniper. This means, no matter how good your gun is, you have to be the one to pull the trigger. With what we have learned above, it is time to start setting up the rifle.
To start, a good place would be your hop-up. During the setting up of your hop, taking your time is the most crucial. Safely speaking, your hop-up is going to be different between you consistently hitting or missing your target. Therefore, prior to gaming with your sniper rifle spend time calibrating it. Learning the ins and outs of your hop-up's performance ensures that you know the trajectory of your BBs. In short, there are some things that cannot be rushed, this is one of them.
Zeroing Your Scope
Once you have given your hop-up the proper amount of love, we commence with the zeroing of your scope. To "zero" your scope simply means your crosshairs and point of impact are aligned. This process takes time! Adjust the windage (left and right knob) and elevation (up and down knob) of your crosshairs to make sure the center lines up. That is to say, assuming your hop-up is dialed into where you want it to be
Stock and Chassis
Once you have your shooting parts dialed in, never overlook the rest of your gun. A very important part of being a sniper is being precise! Meaning, you want to ensure your gun is tailored to how you want it to shoot. Essentially, you should be making fine adjustments to your cheek rest and butt pad. This is because the last thing you want is a strain on your body when shooting. At the same time, if your rifle allows for it, adjust your trigger accordingly. Ensuring you have a short length of pull and a clean break will greatly enhance your shooting experience!
Part of being a sniper means you are going to have to stay hidden. This means you will have to have a good understanding of your environment. It would seem like a "no brainer" but often we fall prey to the idea of "one camo fits all".
With that said, do not forget to apply a certain level of camouflage to your rifle as well! Essentially, your gun is what will give away your position to the opponent. Thus, during your search to find the right camo pattern, don't forget your gun. A little bit of paint or even camo tape can go a long way! In conclusion, you want to break up your and the gun's silhouette, making you more elusive and better hidden!
Referencing the chart above, here are some patterns I would personally recommend:
These patterns work in a variety of areas. That is because they feature darker tones mixed with a fair amount of lighter tones. Moreover, these are patterns that are easy to find and a breeze to mix and match with.
8. Learn Your Surroundings
I am very sure that many of us have watched Star Wars. You should know the "I have the high ground" meme. However, though funny, there is some deeper meaning here. Before playing a game, take some time scanning your AO (Area of Operations). This can step up your game on how to be an airsoft sniper. Because as the sniper, you are essentially the "hunter" on the field. Therefore, take time and use your eyes to scan for proper vantage points. This is important because you should be taking shots at proper engagement distances. However, you can also act as the eyes and ears of your team (if you are running with a team). Great vantage points can be high buildings, elevated areas with good brush coverings, or even small dugouts.
Fitting in nicely with the tail end of the previous point, take time to set up a line of communication! Not every sniper is a "lone wolf" as we see in video games or movies! For example, when you are well hidden and sneak up on a group of enemies, chances are you're outnumbered.
If you want to open fire and take a few out, by all means, enjoy yourself! However, you can choose to take this time to inform your teammates. You can tell them where the enemies are, where they are going, and how many they are. Not to mention that you can take small shots into the group to cause them to bunker down or disperse! Fundamentally you are a force multiplier, use this to your advantage! Call in your "strike group" for the cleanup and pick off any stragglers!
10. Practice Makes Perfect
Much like other sports, you need practice and airsoft is no different in this regard! The best piece of advice I can give you as to how to be an airsoft sniper is this. At the heart of being a good shooter is getting to know your gun and where your shot placement is. In conjunction, you should take time to find out where is your holdover. (holdover: where you hold your crosshairs in relation to the target accounting for travel distance, target movement, and bullet drop)
This kind of innate understanding cannot be achieved if you do not put in the time behind the rifle. If you want to dedicate yourself to a position that requires some skill, here are some good drills for you.
Shoot off Knee
Take shots while in a kneeling position. Firstly, this is probably going to be one of the most frequent positions you will be in. While you are in this kneeling position, take your time to feel out what is comfortable. You will be resting the weight of your body on one leg. Find what feels good for you so you can avoid your leg falling asleep!
Practice cycling your bolt, if you are using a bolt gun! Because this is a sure-fire way to familiarize yourself with your rifle. A great drill is to maintain eyes on your target while feeling out where the bolt is. Upon further practice, you will easily be able to operate different aspects of your rifle. The key is to independently work the gun without having to break eye contact with your target!
While this applies more to select fire guns, good trigger control is also important for the bolt gun shooter. To surmise this simply, work on trigger discipline. As a sniper it's not always about how many shots you take but how well are your shots placed. When target shooting, try to pace your shots at 2 to 3 seconds apart and feel your trigger. When using a select-fire gun, spamming your trigger might cause higher rates of inconsistent shots. Inconsistencies always leads to misses or even worse, you will get discovered by the opposing force!
I believe it's safe to say, airsoft is a very active sport. It is a firm belief of mine that you will greatly enhance your enjoyment by being more fit. As a result, you will be spending more time shooting and less time panting! How will this benefit me as a sniper you ask? By increasing your stamina and strength, you are going to stay scoped in longer and feel less fatigue. Furthermore, doing some basic cardio will put you in better condition when sprinting from one location to another.
Wrapping up everything, learning how to be an airsoft sniper is just like learning a different position in sports. Being a sniper is one of the great joys of playing airsoft. It's incredibly rewarding when you see your hard work pay off with a great headshot!
Check our video on the ultimate guide to sniper rifles: