Of all the team roles in Airsoft, the sniper is perhaps the most misunderstood. Being a sniper is a satisfying, highly-tactical role that puts a lot of emphasis on marksmanship and putting your brain to work. It isn’t the adrenaline-pumping cardio workout that being a scout or rifleman is, but it has plenty of nail-biting excitement to offer. So, for those budding snipers out there I’ve collected some tips and tricks that will help you flesh out the role and really become the best sniper that you can be.
This is the most important advice I’ve ever found when it comes to people who want to be snipers in Airsoft. Video games and movies have painted a particularly romantic and “cool” image of the sniper. Which means plenty of people are really attracted to the idea of being one in an Airsoft context. The truth is that sniping is 99% lying on your stomach and biding your time. Even worse, in an Airsoft game plenty of people are going to ignore or perhaps not even notice your hits. You won’t be racking up the kills like the more active players.
However, a well-placed shot can turn the tide of battle and pulling off a good shot as a sniper can be immensely satisfying. So take a good look at your expectations versus the reality of being a sniper and make sure it’s really what you want to do. Watching Airsoft sniper YouTube content is a good way to see what actual gameplay is like.
Knowing What a Sniper Does
Have you ever stopped to think what role a sniper has? Yes, the main ability of a sniper is to neutralize targets at range without being detected, but that’s not the same as his or her role.
Remember, as a sniper you are part of a team and each member of the team has to contribute something. In the case of snipers you should provide recon to the rest of your squad, usually via radio. In other words, you’ll be informing them of enemy movements and perhaps intervening if someone tries to ambush them. Snipers also try to take out targets that are especially dangerous or, in some game types, otherwise important to win. Most notoriously, snipers can be used to get behind enemy lines and take out targets from a direction they aren’t expecting.
Get the Right Rifle
Airsoft sniper rifles are some of the most expensive examples of Airsoft guns, especially at the high end. I recommend you familiarize yourself with how Airsoft technology works and think carefully about your budget and the level of play you want to achieve. Check out my Airsoft sniper rifle review article for some good suggestions.
Never base your decision on how a rifle looks. There are plenty of cool-looking rifles that aren’t going to gel with how you want to play, or that may simply be bad for one reason or another.
Starting out with a good rifle is important, but you should also consider what aftermarket modifications are available for that rifle. Over time you can customize and improve the base rifle to perform better or match your preferences. This can include converting spring-loaded rifles to high-pressure air, which is technically tricky but can achieve insane muzzle velocities of over 700 feet per second. If you really aren’t technically inclined, there are plenty of professional shops that will do the work for you if you can pay the fee.
I’ve written a review page for sidearms, which all Airsoft players should think about. But for Airsoft snipers sidearms are especially important. Your rifle may give you long-range, accurate reach, but it’s pretty useless for defending yourself against mid- to close- range assaults. In other words, if someone catches you with your pants down, you need some way to fight back. A giant sniper rifle isn’t the best solution, so arm yourself with a sidearm that can get the job done.
Camo, Camo, Camo Chameleon
One of the key skills any sniper must have is the ability to blend in with their surroundings. That means knowing the terrain you’ll be playing in and how to adorn yourself so that you become invisible. Ghillie suits are a great tool for this, mainly because you can actually attach pieces of plants that are in the zone where you find yourself. You should train wearing your full gear where possible, since you’ll have to tackle your missions wearing the whole kaboodle.
It’s totally worth watching some videos that deal with the art of camouflage; there are some pretty simple methods soldiers have worked out over the years that are incredibly effective.
Learn to Shoot
Being an Airsoft sniper puts a lot of emphasis on marksmanship. You’re not worth much to your team if you can’t hit your target with one or two shots. More than any other type of player, you need to practice hitting your mark reliably.
This is easier said than done, since BBs are not exactly the best type of ammo from an aerodynamic perspective. They certainly don’t behave like bullets, and you’ll have to learn how to compensate for their arc as well as external factors such as wind. It’s a good idea to practice shooting at targets at varying marked ranges. This will help you get a feel for hitting something at different distances and show you how the ammo and rifle behave.
Developing a Sniper’s Eye
Anyone can become a good marksman with enough practice, but being able to shoot well is only one part of what makes the sniper role so powerful. A good sniper has an eye for what counts as a good hiding spot. They can predict enemy behavior and take advantage of it. Sniping is mainly mental, and then for short bursts of time it’s all about execution. That mindset is what will truly make you a good sniper.
Live to Fight Another Day
As I mentioned above when talking about sidearms, snipers are not at their best in close-quarters combat. In fact, it’s best for a sniper to avoid being spotted and getting too close to an enemy combatant. A hot-headed approach to sniping will do you no favors in Airsoft, or real life for that matter. Planning around enemy movements, having an exit strategy, and changing your position if you are compromised are all important parts of being a successful sniper.
Train, Train, and Train Some More
All Airsoft team roles require practice, but I feel that snipers have a much greater need for practice than other types of players. There are two main reasons for this. First of all, mastering the many skills that make up good sniping is simply more work than learning how to be a rifleman. It’s the least casual of all the roles.
Secondly, in the field snipers don’t see nearly as much action as other types of players. They are interventionists and not cannon fodder. A rifleman can improve by simply playing, since their exposure to the action is constant.
The bottom line is that if you want to be a sniper ninja, you need to put in the hours off the field to perfect your skills. You won’t get any practice while actually playing.
Be the Bullet
In the end, the biggest tip seems to be the realization that sniping is 99% mental. I don’t meant snipers are mental, although that’s a different argument. I mean that to do the job properly you have to be in the right headspace. It’s not an easy place to reach, but getting there and working on execution of your strategies and techniques is the only path to being a silent menace on the field. Godspeed, you crazy bastards.