"If you would hit the mark, you must aim a little above it."
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Preparation. Buy a non-magnum bolt-action or semi-automatic deer rifle larger than .22
caliber and install a scope with a mil-dot reticule and finger-adjustable
dials. On non-German scopes the mil-dots are only accurate at the highest power,
so you may want to tape the power dial (duct tape use #857) so it cannot be turned down. Sight the weapon in to hit dead-on at 300 yards or six centimeters low at 300 meters.
Measuring Angles. Just as mechanics must be familiar with both English wrenches calibrated in fractions of an inch and metric wrenches calibrated in millimeters, snipers must be familiar with both the English measure of angles, minutes of angle (MOA), which are one sixtieth of a degree, and the metric measure of angles, milliradians (mils), which are one thousandth the distance out to the target. However, unlike automobiles which require either an English or a metric set of wrenches, but not both, the dials on your scope are calibrated in MOA while the reticule measures mils. A mil is about three times bigger than an MOA.
Holdover. If you know the size of some item like a garage door (they are all 84" in both rich and poor neighborhoods), then its apparent size in your scope, measured in mills, is inversely proportional to its distance. For example, a garage door that measures four mils is twice as far away as one that measures eight mills. If you have memorized the information on the card labeled "The Aguilar System for Medium Range Sniping," then you know that the former requires three mils of holdover (hold the third mil-dot down from the crosshairs on the soon-to-be-departed man's belt buckle) while the latter requires holding dead-on. The items we are using are garage doors, storefront doors, cars and vans. This does not mean you will be shooting at doors and vehicles; you will be shooting at soldiers standing nearby. No such men are pictured in the photos because I couldn't find any volunteers when I told them that the job title was "target." You'll just have to imagine that they're there.
Windage. Once you've determined the proper holdover, you also know the windage needed for a 10 mph crosswind. Holdover and windage are printed in adjacent columns on the "The Aguilar System for Medium Range Sniping," chart. Note that holdover is measured in mils while windage is measured in MOA. You will not touch your elevation dial in the field - you just hold on the mil-dots. But you do use your windage dial, which is why it must be finger-adjustable and why the windage column is in MOA. If there is only a five mph wind, halve the adjustment listed for a ten mph wind.
K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple, Stupid. In combat, you have only one important question to ask yourself: What the hell am I doing here? Just kidding. That's a good question, but I was actually referring to the one important technical question: How do I convert the input data (apparent size of the target, in mils) into the output data (holdover, in mils)? The Aguilar System for Medium Range Sniping converts the input data directly into the output data, with no unnecessary detours. Such "fun facts" as the number of yards out to the target or the number of inches below the aiming point you would have hit had you held dead-on are irrelevant and should be ignored.
The fact that ammunition manufacturers print their data sheets in what is certainly the most useless format conceivable (yards to the target and inches below the bullseye) has contributed to a tremendous amount of confusion in the general public. It's not that the data is wrong, it is just that nothing on your scope measures, or is calibrated in, yards or inches. Scopes measure angles (the apparent size of a target) and have dials calibrated in angles (elevation and windage). Most people who claim to "know all about" mil-dot scopes will demonstrate this knowledge by first figuring out the yardage to the target, then figuring out how many inches below it they would hit if they held dead-on and then how many MOA to hold over the target. Then they have to figure out how many inches to the side they would have missed due to wind at that yardage and, finally, how many MOA to hold into the wind. By the time they've done all those calculations, it's too dark to shoot.
By using the Aguilar System for Medium Range Sniping, which considers only angles, you should be able to fire within five seconds of locating the enemy and without taking your eyes off him. This is important because you probably only detected the tiniest hint of movement in the rubble. If you have to look away to operate a laser rangefinder and/or a slide rule, you may not be able to find him again. Also, if you are firing from darkness into light, illuminating your slide rule with a flashlight is a mistake.
A BTR-80 is 76” from the ground to the top of the hull. Note that the adjustment for a 10 mph wind in minutes-of-angle is two more than the holdover in milliradians.
You have just lured a BTR-80 into ambush. Your two best friends, whom you have known since high school, are sprinting across the street to take up a new fighting position. After they took off running, after it was too late to call them back, you spotted an enemy soldier hiding behind the BTR. In a matter of seconds, he will shoot your two friends at close range with his AK-47.
Clearly, putting your rifle down to calculate the holdover with a slide rule is absurd. Combat happens a lot faster than that, especially urban combat. It would take at least a minute to do this calculation on a slide rule, which is about 55 seconds longer than your friends have to live.
Also, if you put your rifle down to operate a slide rule, laser rangefinder or calculator, you may not be able to find the target when you take up your rifle again. In this case, that is not a problem because there are not that many burning BTRs on the battlefield, but if you measured a door (the flashcards include pictures of storefront, warehouse and garage doors) then it may take a while (the rest of your friend’s lives) for you to again find the target in your scope.
In cases like this, you must have holdover information memorized. If you have purchased a set of Sniper Flash Cards and studied them relentlessly, then you will know to hold on the second mil-dot; if you have put your faith in a slide rule, then your friends are dead. It is that simple.
In this case, the smoke rising straight up indicates that there is no wind. But, if there were, there is a simple rule for windage: The adjustment for a 10 mph wind in minutes-of-angle is two more than the holdover in milliradians. Match shooters typically only know how to read the wind at 200, 300 and 600 yards; they must make rough guesses at in-between distances.
How accurate is this system? If the 76” hull of a BTR-80 subtends four
milliradians, then it is 527.8 yards away. A .25-06 is a flat-shooting
rifle that requires a 1.87 mil holdover at this range; holding on the
second mil-dot results in a 2.4” miss. A .308 is a not-so-flat-shooting
rifle that requires a 2.14 mil holdover at this range; holding on the
second mil-dot results in a 2.7” miss. Thus we see that all non-magnum
bolt-action or semi-automatic rifles larger than .22 caliber work with my
system. In fact, my system also works for holding over on targets with an
AR-15; it is excessive wind drift that requires me to exclude the .223,
not differences in its elevation adjustment.
The .308 Winchester has the worst ballistics of any high-power rifle. But
this is easy to correct for: Just sight your .308 sniper rifle with 168-
or 175-grain bullets at 300 meters instead of 300 yards. If you are
American or English and only have access to a 300-yard range, then add
0.75 MOA to your elevation dial after sighting in at 300 yards and before
zeroing the dial. Adding 0.75 MOA at 300 yards is the same thing as
sighting in at 300 meters (328 yards).
At 300 yards, you will be 0.75 MOA high, but that is only 2.4", which is
not a great miss. The glass part of a glass-and-aluminum storefront door
(76") that subtends five mils is 422 yards away and here you are 0.1 MOA
high, which is only 0.4" off. Similarly, a garage door (84") that
subtends 5.5 mils is 424 yards away and here you are dead on. These are
very typical of urban combat shots where you range off of a house or
business at a T-intersection two to three blocks away. So, basically, you
sacrificed a couple of inches at 300 yards in exchange for being dead-on
at 424 yards.
The Ural army truck is 76" from the bottom of the steps (the bottom of the
front wheel well) to the top of the cab. Light boxes (translucent signs
with internal illumination) are 76" high, not including the base. Photo
taken at Independence Square, Kyiv, Ukraine.
The same lightbox and truck after combat; note that the frame of the
lightbox can still be measured but the fire has caused the roof of the
Ural truck to sag.
Here is a video demonstrating how to use a sling to steady a rifle:
These photos show a good example and a bad example of firing a rifle with a bipod.
Here Miss Battle Born demonstrates the correct way to fire a rifle with a bipod. Note that her left hand is supporting the rifle butt. The bipod supports the fore-end but, without her left hand under the rifle butt, the lateral friction of the butt against her shoulder would not be sufficient to steady the rifle. Squeezing a sock filled with .22RF cases works better in competition but is awkward in the field. If you are resting the fore-end on a sand bag, make sure the sling swivel is well in front of the sand bag lest the rifle bounce off of it under recoil.
Here Mister Dumb Shit demonstrates the WRONG way to fire a rifle with a bipod. Note that his left hand is holding the fore-end of the rifle in spite of the fact that it is actually supported by the bipod. Meanwhile the stock is supported only by lateral friction with his shoulder – not enough support back there! A strip of skateboard tape on one’s jacket helps in the kneeling position, but there is no reason not to use one’s left hand in the prone position. Also, the cigarette in a field of dry leaves cannot go unmentioned. Duh!!!
Click here for a video of Miss Battle Born demonstrating several shooting positions. Observe how she leans forward into her rifle when firing from the standing position – unlike most models that lean backwards.
Supporting the butt with one's left hand is particularly important when firing a machine gun. The MG42 had a hand-grip molded into the stock specifically for the gunner to grip with his left hand. This allowed a squad automatic weapon portable by one man (machine guns with tripods require at least two men to carry them) to accurately fire 8mm bullets at 1200 rpm. In addition to the hand-grip molded into the stock, observe that the stock is angled upwards so the butt is in line with the barrel axis. This precludes muzzle jump, so gravity alone is sufficient to keep the bipod firmly on the ground.
Balancing on one elbow is absurd. This picture could not be made any more comical if these men were shown charging into battle firing their rifles while mounted on unicycles. For starters, the shooter needs a much lower bipod. I too own a Harris bipod, but I got the 6” to 9” one that swivels to adjust for uneven ground. The 9” to 13” version is only useful if the enemy controls a skyscraper and all of your efforts are directed towards shooting their snipers off the roof. But one can fire upwards with a 6” to 9” Harris by resting it on a curb, while one cannot fire level with a 9” to 13” Harris, so the latter should never be one’s only bipod.