The 1st “Tiger” Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, capped its training last week with some new drills courtesy of the Austin Police Department’s SWAT team.
Tiger’s snipers are well versed on hitting targets sometimes as far as a half-mile if not further, but APD’s snipers showed soldiers and commanders the rigorous training exercises that place greater stress on shooters.
The two groups of snipers have been trained quite differently to reflect their respective environments.
In a war zone, 1st Squadron’s snipers would be experts at hitting the bull’s eye while lying prone. In an urban environment, APD snipers would be ready to take a head shot at man whose face is largely obscured by a hostage.
But in Iraq, as the U.S. military’s role evolved from attacking to occupying, urban environments became commonplace areas for conflicts.
“Our targets are a little more challenging,” said senior police officer Jeff Dwyer. “It’s often a very small target, and the chances of failure are very great.”
APD’s SWAT team put Tiger Squadron through the same tests its officers are required to pass to become a qualified sniper on the SWAT team. Though the targets were at much shorter distances — topping out at 300 meters, the drills placed soldiers outside of their comfort zones.
In one drill, a soldier sprinted 50 yards, did 10 push-ups, and then had to put three rounds into a target in the span of 35 seconds.
Regimental commander, Col. Cameron Cantlon, was pleased with the drills. He said they stress the fundamentals required of a sniper: sight placement, breathing, the trigger squeeze and body position.
“It’s challenging, and it’s a set measure,” Cantlon said of APD’s drills. “That’s good for our snipers.”
Other drills placed soldiers in different firing positions than they were used to. One required them to hit targets while kneeling.
“Consistency equals accuracy, but you don’t want to just train on one thing,” said Staff Sgt. Trinity Isan, noncommissioned officer in charge of the training event. “I see the training we’re doing today to be very useful in our upcoming deployments.
The police department’s visit capped a three-day stint on the range in which the squadron fired off thousands of rounds, testing night vision and their powerful
.50-caliber long-range rifles.
It was another part of a spirit of cooperation and cross-training between the Army and urban police departments.
John Roure, president of the nonprofit Operation Enduring Support, said the eight-year-old program has brought several police departments to Fort Hood to train soldiers and vice-versa.
“It’s a great symbiotic relationship because they get to draw from military experience,” Roure said. “They get to see the latest and greatest in technology. The military gets to learn and draw from the SWAT team, which is doing this every day.”