The US Navy SEAL Sniper Course: One of The Best in the World

SEAL sniper

Navy SEAL sniper concealed in FFP (Final Firing Position)

My friend and Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s book, American Sniper, is getting a lot of media (as it should) since his book hit shelves yesterday. American Sniper is sure to be a massive best seller.

I thought I’d just briefly highlight the US Navy SEAL course requirements (in brief), as not too many people are aware that we have our own Navy SEAL sniper program.

For me, it was the highlight of my career when I was in charge of the US Navy SEAL sniper course as Course Manager during my last tour with the Teams.  The work the students were doing overseas to support not only SOF missions, but regular Army and USMC was just fantastic. Chris talks about that in our Kit Up interview with him (click the above link).

Brandon Webb’s personal 300 Win Mag

Here’s a quick look at highlights and some past writing on the subject. I’ll post more on actual sniper gear on Kit Up soon!

SEAL Sniper Course Highlights

  • Approx. 3 months in length
  • Must qualify expert (again) to start the course. If you don’t, see you later….
  • Comms and Digital Photo course prior to Field Craft Phase (2 weeks), and focus is on Field Intel gathering and communication skills.
  • Scout phase includes stalking and field craft (integrated digital photography Recon work).  Graded stalks and advanced marksmanship begin. (~4 weeks)
  • Sniper phase includes advanced ballistics, mental management training, practical shooting and testing. We test them with stationary and moving targets and individual skills out to 1000 yards in high wind (~7 weeks)

The one thing that I would say really separates the SEAL course from the pack is the comprehensive curriculum and length of training (compare it to other courses and you’ll see).  Also, graduates are tested and trained to operate as smart individual shooters (most of our missions utilize single snipers).  This is a departure from the traditional shooter/spotter pair training methodology.

One thing for certain is that the SEAL sniper can self spot and make rapid assessments of where to place the next shot ALL without a spotter.  You would not want to be on the other end of the equation with most military snipers, especially a Navy SEAL trained one..

Excerpt from Brandon’s article on Becoming a Sniper MAXIM UK.

“The 21st Century Sniper is a mature, intelligent shooter who leverages technology to his deadly advantage. He has spent thousands of hours honing his skills. He is a master of concealment in all environments, from the mountains of Afghanistan to the crowded streets of Iraq. He is trained in science and left alone to create the unique art of the kill. To the sniper, the battlefield is like a painter’s blank canvas. It is his job to simultaneously utilize tools, training and creativity to deliver devastating psychological impact upon the battlefield. And it is he alone that is left with the intimacy of the kill.

What does it take to make a Navy SEAL sniper? The SEAL course is arguably best in class. It is the most challenging and technically advanced course in the world. Just looking at the accomplishments of the course graduates is justification enough. Few people outside of US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) know this of course. What you will not read about on Wikipedia or anywhere else, is that the Navy SEALs currently have the most accomplished sniper in SOCOM, with over one hundred confirmed kills to his credit.” -Brandon

An excerpt from Brandon’s article from MAXIM UK: Hunting Pirates

“In seconds the situation has been handled with finality.  The pirates did not suffer because they were shot with precision.  It is a clean death, unlike what most of us will encounter in this life.” -Brandon

“The Only Easy Day was Yesterday”-Brandon out.

Brandon is the former US Navy SEAL Sniper Course Manager and coauthor of The 21st Century Sniper.

58 Comments on "The US Navy SEAL Sniper Course: One of The Best in the World"

  1. Awesome! You are busy today…

  2. Brandon, what kind of rifle is your 300 Win Mag?

  3. FormerSFMedic | January 4, 2012 at 7:30 am |

    Before I left Group I went through our sniper course. For me, attending sniper school was a shift in capability. I was working on fulfilling a different role in my unit and/or transferring to a new unit. Unfortunately I left before I had the chance to ever operate in combat as a sniper. It's one of the things I regret most in life. Essentially I'm just a school trained marksman.

    My point in saying all that is that no one sniper school can take away from the experience a sniper gets from actual combat operations. I have always believed that SF snipers are the best in the world, but even so, any sniper that goes to an SOF sniper course and then goes to combat to unleash his skills is extraordinary. Our snipers today are the most experienced and advanced snipers the world has ever seen!

  4. Hey Brandon,

    I love reading your reviews, profiles, and recommendations. I am shipping up to RTC in May the pre-BUD/S next door then off to Coronado for BUD/S hopefully by September or October before it gets too freezing cold.

    In any case, I was wondering if you would profile BUD/S and SQT with a bit more "non-OPSEC" detail? Also any other posts about dive kit would be great, I'm trying to train as realistically as possible so all help there would be great!

    Keep up the great work!

  5. Frogboy BUDs | January 4, 2012 at 7:57 am |

    TOO Expensive, just READ this article:

    http://www.mensjournal.com/sniper

  6. "one of the best" – staying humble today? Sweet pic though – I really like it when ya'll have good, high-rez pics. It just adds a whole nutha dimension.

  7. And this is your next book, Brandon.

  8. picking up Kyle's book today. Look forward to the read. The hippies are already flagellating themselves over it… makes it so much sweeter.

  9. I know SEALs have M-21s and MK-11 Mod 0s But for bolt action do they use M-40s or M-24s?

    Cool book wish I could afford it right now.

  10. I always wondered about the SEAL sniper course. Obviously you train your own, rather than send them to another branch, but I never really heard any details about it. Very informative.

  11. LXRThirteen | January 4, 2012 at 1:08 pm |

    Well, let's just say if I were a girl, happily married or single, lesbian or straight, I'd try my darn best to be impregnated by him to ensure a hardy, healthy, bright son or daughter. Yes, he's a model SEAL.

  12. Is that the rifle you have used in operations?

  13. For bolt action rifles I know they have used the M86 (which I am sure is probably obsolete) and I know they currently use the Mk. 13 Mod 5 (a Remington 700 with a detachable mag and AICS Chassis system) and McMillan Tac-50.

  14. Carl Milkowski | January 4, 2012 at 2:02 pm |

    For the record, I respect Navy SEAL's immensely along with every SOF warrior. SEAL snipers were superb in killing the Somali pirates in 2009. Few men could have made those shots.

    Unfortunately the only way we currently have to compare the skills of our warriors against each other is through direct competitions and the U.S. Army sets many of these competitions up. For example, the annual Best Ranger, International Sniper and Special Operations Sniper competitions. The five day Special Operations Sniper competition at Ft. Bragg just finished on Dec. 9th 2011. All services entered teams along with law enforcement and foreign countries. The top six teams were 1st place U.S. Army SF, 2nd place The Netherlands SOF, 3rd place U.S. Army SF, 4th place the U.S. Army SF, 5th place U.S. Army SF and 6th place the San Diago SWAT team.

    The 3 day International Sniper competition held at Ft. Benning was completed on Oct. 4th 2011. The top five teams were: 1st place U.S. Army SF, 2nd place Irish Defense Forces, 3rd place U.S. Army SF, 4th place U.S. Army NG, 5th place U.S. Army SF.

    It is a mistaken belief that the Army trains their teams specifically for these competitions. In fact all of the Army teams had just returned from long deployments.

    In the 12 year history of the International sniper competition, no Navy SEAL team has come in higher than 10th place. A Marine team came in 1st place with the small caliber part of the course in 2009 but it turned out that they sent all their Sniper School instructors to complete for that one win.

    No service has more SOF deployments and missions then the U.S. Army with Green Berets serving in over 70 countries as of today (source: USASOC). They are a very busy bunch.

    Navy SEAL's, Air Force Combat Controllers, PJ's, MarSOC, and Army Rangers, what a great package. God luv-em.

  15. Mine just arrived via Amazon! Gonna be a good read tonight…

  16. Brandon Webb | January 4, 2012 at 3:00 pm |

    Send him to Don Shipley on FB…he'll light him up!

  17. These guys are Type A personalities (either by socialization, or seeing the Pipeline as an opportunity to EARN their way to the Cool Kids' Table). As such, they usually have mastered the arts of influence, rapport and persuasion needed to thrive and grow in masculinized, gladitorial environments without getting killed–or peered out. Add 15-25 years of seasoning in perform or perish environments that cultivate humility, humor and grace under pressure. Some are tightly-wound flaming *******, the vast majority are skilled and gregarious communicators with a knack for assessing a circumstance and defining or describing a course of action for prevailing–and packaging it for an audience. Doesn't hurt that these guys get pretty comprehensive psych screenings.

  18. Brandon Webb | January 4, 2012 at 3:23 pm |

    Jack-

    I agree.

    Brandon

  19. I just wanted to let you know that because of this article, I just picked up your book from Amazon!

  20. Hey Brandon, I read Kit Up! every chance I get. Great stuff. I had the opportunity to go through Expeditionary Designated Marksman course (Sniper Lite as I call it) a couple years ago. It really pushed my shooting to the next level and my instructor said I was the first Reservist to graduate (followed a few days later by another Reservist in my class). Tooting my own horn a bit.
    Anyway, I enjoy the tips and gear reviews (SHOT Show is coming up. I hope someone will be able to cover it) and trying to figure out which commentors are 'been there done thats' or 'never have never will but know it all anyways'

  21. I'm a physicist and I've been trying to get my head around that for about 10 years. Those DARPA guys are scary smart.

  22. Brandon, that indoor range wouldn't happen to be P2K in El Cajon? If you don't have a membership for South Bay I'll get you one myself, that rifle deserves better if it's around here.

  23. Dear Moderators – can we explore different comment systems? I'm getting a bit lost in the threads.

  24. Damn!
    I just went to Amazon to buy Chris's book and it isn't available in the UK until next month.
    The publicity has even reached the mainstream UK media and unsuprisingly the uneducated, left wing comments being made is astonishing.
    To all the KitUp! contributors please keep up the amazing work, the website is going from strength to strength and is a credit to you all.

  25. Brandon,
    Good Article. I'm interested in the mental management training portion of the program. I know it's not "KIT" per 'se, but probably one of the most important aspects of using any kit, anytime, anywhere.

    -Mathieu

  26. I see all this glorification of the sniping industry as just more of the same dumb glorification of war by the same dumb victims of war. Sniping is anything but glorious, it's more of the same "detached" war that is part of the "remote controlled" drones and "remotely" detonated IEDs. Seems no one has the stomach for looking the enemy in the eye any more, they prefer shooting him from concealment a couple of miles away and thinking themselves great heroes, as they kill the enemy who didn't even realize he was in the same county with the shooter. Lots of bravery there! Pin a medal on him! Reminds me of the video I saw about some clown, who no doubt considers himself a great hunter, shooting a dear from thousands of yards away; he had time to scratch his *** and comb his hair before the bullet reached the unlucky animal.
    There is no glory in war and theres' a damn sight less in sniping, the very word itself sounds cowardly. I've been in combat and I've shot at the enemy who was (get this) shooting at me, even hollering at me, but I wasn't sniping from thousands of yards away. For some, as yet unknown, reason my kills weren't as valuable as if I had done the same deed from a safe concealment thousands of yards away. Of course that was in Vietnam, another useless war, where at least 58,000 of my compadres died for exactly NOTHING, so there's probably little comparison.
    Pretty soon we'll be fighting wars from our living room couches and still bullish—— ourselves that were great warriors. Well, bullsh—— is definitely what we're great at so let's polish up the act!
    War as an instrument of empire building, as it has become, is no longer a viable alternative to diplomacy as more and more we devise ever newer methods of administering the kill in a "detached" and dispassionate way. Even our "glory happy" Air Force no longer deals with encountering the enemy but now prefer to "electronically" shoot them down while they're still well below the horizon and out of sight. Ah, the glory of warfare! BS!

  27. I think Brandon meant send the accuser to Don Shipley.

    P.S. @Rex: It's SEAL, not Seal. They are NOT fur-covered semi-aquatic mammals with a talent for balancing a ball on their nose.

  28. Scotty Tyler is good to go. -Brandon

  29. Churchill says it best.

    Extremist (yes, you war troll)=someone that will never change their mind (or be open to new ideas) and CAN'T change the subject.

    -Brandon

  30. No doubt at all and they have proven this over and over again through out our military history. SEAL Sniper's own the terrain!!!!!. Doubtom hey! your very high on something that's for sure and don't know a thing. If you did? you know Sniper's save lives and is one m***********g hard job to do. I can't thank them enough for what they do!.

  31. USSOCOM/JSOC produce the best Snipers in the world, but those CAG Snipers are above the rest, hands down.

  32. Houston,
    Don't end up like this idiot: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jan/05/navy-s

  33. FIY, there's a SEAL currently doing time at Lancaster state prison. Basically, came home from deployment, caught his wife bumping uglies w/ a black guy (Marine or sailor). Killed the guy, and claimed he thought his wife was being raped! Didn't fly w/ the judge, got convicted.

    You know about this guy, Brandon?

    He runs around the yard, pretty much untouched now. Nobody F's w/ him. It was like 'Tango & Cash' in the beginning, but he made his mark in prison and earned his bones. Aryan Brotherhood doesn't touch him, the blacks, the Hispanics, nobody.

    He does get regular visitors, who look very military and muscular, so one could only surmise he was a big deal as a SEAL. That's the only SEAL autobiography that interests me, these current autobiographies in the market are crap, except for "Jarhead" but that was pre-9/11. I hope he's writing his book in prison.

    He can title it, "Once you go Black, you never go Back", get it? It's a pun on his black op days and the black guy who put him in prison.

  34. Brandon Webb | January 5, 2012 at 6:13 pm |

    Mase-We're all over SHOT. Me and all the guys are going. -Brandon

  35. This thread had some good, some funny and some nauseating (the troll) stuff! Beautiful 300WinMag Brandon! I have one book, "Killing Zone" by Gary Stubblefield but it's kind of a text book with no mention of stories like that serial killer guy. I have some friends/acquaintances who are: an active SEAL Sniper Course instructor, an active (near retirement) SOTIC (now SFSC) instructor, and two really close friends one SOTIC trained, one Hereford trained and have been wonderful mentors for some of my marksmanship interests. They are all fine gentlemen, intelligent and how do they do it?! – all great looking too. You know there is something to that gene pool idea :D

  36. Read **** Couch's 'The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228'.

  37. Methinks you doth protest too much. Warriors that fought with swords would have called you a coward as well, as you saw fit to fire projectiles at the enemy rather than engage in hand to hand combat.

    Carry on with letting the butthurt flow so strongly through you.

  38. Too bad the army wins most of the rifle and handgun shooting matches.
    Don't get mad at me. Look it up.

  39. Can't wait to see the competition that ended on Dec 9th 2011 on Military Channel. Anyone know when it will be on? it's great to see our services, LEO, and allies come together in these competitions. There is a lot we can learn from each other.

  40. things go sideways occasionally. go with it.

  41. Jack Murphy, the guy that you are talking about was SFC Brown, had been going around raping women while wearing a M17 Gas mask after every thing was tied to him he escaped from the US Marshals by kicking the dog crap outta two of them, then ditched his cuffs and was heading north to Canada, being helped by former unit guys that didnt know what was going on.
    He should be out of the klink by now as that was in 88 or 89.

  42. Brandon Webb | January 6, 2012 at 11:59 pm |

    I'll take a So. Bay membership! -BW

  43. Brandon Webb | January 7, 2012 at 12:01 am |

    Shooting matches are different from shooting people and getting shot at….

  44. Brandon,

    What type of ammo do you prefer for your .300 win mag? Mine should be finished in a couple weeks so I'm starting to purchase ammo.

    Thanks for the help.

  45. Very true Brandon. Competition and combat are two different "c" words. Bet most folks shot and killed on the battlefield are killed by the conventional guys. Just goes to show you…

  46. kyle woilly | January 10, 2012 at 3:32 am |

    i must be related to some sort of wolly mamath, be i have a mammath ****

  47. Brandon,

    You, Sir, are a **** of the first order & I salute you!

  48. Can the US Army SF go through Seal Sniper Course?

  49. protest too much? yeah because god forbid you get labeled as "anti-american" for calling out the US government on its ********. more and more soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen are realizing the follies of a government in its last, desperate throes to reassert its influence over the world.

  50. If you S.E.A.L.'s want to learn how to shoot, I'm sure the Marines can help you out!
    Best snipers on Earth come from the Marine Corps!

  51. Sorry to burst your bubble Carl, but Marine Force Recon does not enter competitions. We kill the enemy………..PERIOD! We are usually not available to play at combat because we are deployed all over the World doing the real thing. Have a "nice" day.

  52. Nam Marine, Why is it that every Marine that I have met that was in Nam (or after) was a Recon/Force Recon/Marine Sniper?
    I mean who the **** drove/fixed the trucks, made the chow or ran supply to all of you bad *** Force Recon guys?

  53. How do you know this Bill?

  54. They must be the best. Since the army wins the military shooting contests so often
    they may as well let the rest shoot seperately for second place.

  55. Erik Numinen | February 1, 2013 at 10:47 pm |

    Training for the PST. Just finished The Red Circle. Thanks for the insight Brandon. I've been jumping on books like yours lately trying to absorb as much information and history about the SEALs as possible. I figure you can't officially become part of a family until you understand where it's been and where it's going.

  56. I hope to be a sniper for the u.s.a. army rangers.My grampa was in veitnam war,his dad was in ww2 and veitnam,my grampa's 9 brothers were in the navy,army,marines.I have a long line of family in the army,e.c.t so i want to be the best sniper as posible.

  57. You can, but you must learn to speak very slowly.

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