SAF snipers in the advanced course take their game of stealth to the concrete jungle by Alphonsus Chern, Executive Photojournalist, The Straits Times.
Participants in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) first two-week Advanced Sniper Course delve into the science of long-range ballistics, in-depth weapon handling, engagement of multiple targets and urban sniping. All are qualified snipers, having previously graduated from the Basic Sniper Course, a nine-week programme that teaches navigation, field craft, long-range shooting and the art of stalking – moving stealthily through natural terrain without being spotted. The advance course aims to equip snipers with the skills to operate in an urban environment and to enhance their proficiency in using their weapons.
(Above) In order to approach and occupy a building, a team of snipers mask their presence by stalking through the jungle for most of the journey, pausing with pistols at the ready only to watch and listen for any sign of nearby enemies. The Singapore Armed Forces’ sniper weapon of choice is the bolt-action Sako TRG-22 equipped with a Schmidt & Bender PM II scope. ST PHOTOS: ALPHONSUS CHERN
The empty brass cartridge case is ejected (above) when a sniper unlocks the rifle’s bolt and pulls it back. Made in Finland, this precision rifle fires the 7.62 x 51mm cartridge and can accurately hit targets up to 1,000m away. Their secondary weapon is the semi-automatic Knight’s Armament M-110, which reloads itself after each round is fired. ST PHOTOS: ALPHONSUS CHERNST PHOTOS: ALPHONSUS CHERN
In the early hours of the morning, a sniper team moves along a gravel path to their training area. Wearing ghillie suits – a type of camouflage made from netting to which is attached strips of cloth – the snipers are able to break the defining features of their body shape and blend into the vegetation. ST PHOTOS: ALPHONSUS CHERN
A sniper team stops to check their map during a navigation exercise held in daylight. Map-reading is a skill that all snipers must possess, as they need to navigate long distances to get to their target, often in unknown and inhospitable terrain. ST PHOTOS: ALPHONSUS CHERN
A sniper takes aim after a pair of them set up their hideout in a room during a training exercise. Translucent black cloth darkens the windows and walls, enabling the snipers to conceal themselves in the shadows without being outlined against the ight-coloured walls. Through high-powered scopes, they observe the enemy’s activities and wait for the right moment to make the killing shot. ST PHOTOS: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Sniper instructors use high-powered spotting scopes and binoculars to observe trainees, who are each assigned a letter of the alphabet. A trainee must remain invisible to the instructors and yet be able to see his printed letter being raised. At this signal, the trainee must fire a blank round in the direction of the instructors and remain undetected. ST PHOTOS: ALPHONSUS CHERN
A sniper trainee sets up his rifle well behind a layer of vegetation. This ensures that when he fires a shot, the muzzle flash and escaping gases from the weapon will not disturb any leaves and give his position away. ST PHOTOS: ALPHONSUS CHERN
The final test of the Advanced Sniper Course is loophole firing, where trainees set up their hideout in a room and aim at a target through a gap in the ”wall”, which is simulated here by a plastic board. To pass the test, the sniper must successfully sight the target and hit it without the bullet touching any part of the board. ST PHOTOS: ALPHONSUS CHERN
This article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 18, 2018
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