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.

  • Nick

    Awesome! You are busy today…

  • Andy Panko

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

  • FormerSFMedic

    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!

    • Brandon Webb

      Well said friend. -BW

  • Houston

    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!

    • Brandon Webb

      Houston. I’m launching a SOF “wiki” site that will ecompass all of SOCOM AND answer all your questions. It launches Feb 1 so stay tuned…. -BW

      • Houston

        Thanks very much!

    • SleepyDave

      I remember some of the guys in my training div at RTC were pre-BUDS. It seemed like they were always tired and soaking wet. I don’t think I ever saw any of them sleep. I’d ask my buddy how it was for him, but he’s been a little hard to get a hold of.

  • Frogboy BUDs

    TOO Expensive, just READ this article:

    • Skinny

      Anyone else notice that half way down through the comments someone calls him out as a fake SEAL? The sceptic says he is a SEAL himself, but the poor punctuation/ spelling/grammar don’t lend a whole lot of credibility to his statement. Mr. Tyler even responds himself to the accusation.

      Brandon (or anyone else) able to verify Mr. Tyler’s credentials?

  • HalP

    “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.

    • Brandon Webb

      Thanks HalP

    • T-9

      yah it’s now my desktop background. I’m silly like that.

      • HalP

        Haha I used to be the same way until I found a p51 Mustang pic and now I can’t seem to take it off.

        • T-9

          I’m a wingnut from the 552 AWAC Wing (no, not the 552 ACW… I’m old school those sissies in the 552 ACW… meh!) and I have a helluva time getting pics from my old unit. Though I do have all patches from 28th AD on down.

  • T-9

    And this is your next book, Brandon.

  • T-9

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

    • Mark

      “The hippies are already flagellating themselves over it…” Now that my friends, is funny.

  • Lance

    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.

  • SleepyDave

    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.

  • LXRThirteen

    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.

  • Gage

    Is that the rifle you have used in operations?

  • Gage

    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.

  • Carl Milkowski

    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.

    • Motard

      Pop! You just blew Brandon’s little dream bubble.

      • M.D.

        … says the motard

      • Brandon Webb

        I supported getting an SF SOF brother on this site and recruited a former Recon Marine contributor. Put that in your “dream bubble” pipe and smoke it. -BW

        • Brandon Webb


          Most SEALs aren’t big fans of these comp’s. They are great events and much props to SF and Recon bubbas….Great post. -BW

          • It sounds like this is a bigger issue to people outside of SOF than it is to the actual operators.

    • T-9

      I have 2 friends that are PJ’s. scary men, those. and when the shtf I want them on my 6.

      • Kim…for real!?!

        T-9, do you want your PJ friends COVERING your six or ON your six? World of difference between the two!

        • T-9

          Hah! I don’t want them around when I’m at George Strait’s bar in San Antonio. Fkers ninja all the chicks.

          • T-9

            George Strait is about as ungay as you can get. Where the **** did you people grow up?

      • T-9

        I was a Military Training Instructor once upon a time. Blue Rope. only 2 of the 2000 troops I pushed through BMT made it through PJ training. One kid, little gang banger from LA, was the only troop I went out of my way for. He went PJ but failed the dive mechanics. They made him a cop. fking waste of talent.

        • T-9

          Terminal, you talk big **** online. I’d recommend you stow it.

          • T-9

            wow. just wow. stop drinking and step away from the keyboard.

          • T-9

            If you have a problem with me, Terminal, I’ll send you my home address and you can buy a plane ticket and show up on my front door.

            Aside from that, Kit Up isn’t the place for you to express your latent daddy issues. I’ll be more than happy to take this up with you offline, but don’t be a ****** here.

    • lightfighter

      I respect all the competitors but I suspect that these gun games reflect the participants real capacities about as much as IDPA reflects real combat.

  • M.D.

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

  • Brandon Webb

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

  • straps

    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.

  • Brandon Webb


    I agree.


  • Nick

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

  • Mase

    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’

  • T-9

    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.

  • Eric

    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.

  • Tinker

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

  • Chris

    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.

    • Chris

      Mmm…Book Depository UK have it listed as in stock and the paperback out next month but Amazon UK have the hardback down as being released early February and no mention of the paperback.
      I’ll try Book Depository then and see it if it shows up.

  • Mathieu

    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.


  • 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!

    • SIS P3+1 SED

      This is a good point.

      Now I’m not a peace make love not war hippie like the above posting troll,

      but this is a concern. I think Brandon mentioned the only confirmed knife kill in the 10 yrs of warring, was his SEAL buddy in a pirate op.

      Are our guys getting real blade killing lessons, or do they have to do this independently?

      I know state prisons are home to the best blade or point weapon killers, are we learning from them?

      Filipino martial arts is also known as the best practical blade, impact, point weapons art, are we getting lessons from them?

      To those that don’t think blade or point weapon attacks no longer happen, look at the crime trends in the UK, where it’s harder to get a firearm.

      This is serious stuff, maybe Kit Up can address this issue, Brandon.

      • T-9

        99.9% of fights don’t come down to mano a mano close quarters wrastling matches. Unless it’s a drunken bar fight with a bunch of Marines (lord knows I’ve been in more than a few of those… *** is it with you Marines?) and in those cases no one’s looking at deadly force.

        And yes the hippie troll is just that: a hippie troll who doesn’t understand warfare.

    • Brandon

      How about you post your credentials (past and current)? That may make your argument a little more interesting and substantial to us. Or you can just rant and rave like a lunatic without a cause……


  • Skinny

    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.

  • Brandon

    Scotty Tyler is good to go. -Brandon

  • Brandon

    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.


  • jake

    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!.

  • Bill

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

  • James

    Don’t end up like this idiot:

  • Rickster

    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.

    • There is a semi-obscure non-fiction book called The Killing Zone written by a dude who served in the Paras, South African Recces, and 22SAS. He mentions a Delta Operator that came to help cross train the SAS on pistol marksmanship. A few years later he found out that this guy was arrested and put in prison because he was a serial rapist who had been breaking into homes in and around Fayetteville. He was also a born again Christian according to the author of the book. No idea what the real story is behind this, I haven’t been able to run down any additional information about it.

      • Brandon Webb

        Never heard of him. What’s his name?

        • Wish I knew, “Harry McCallion” doesn’t say in the book so I wouldn’t take it as the gospel truth but historians and academics haven’t disputed the rest of the book or the military operations he described.

    • jockerman7621

      Wow, that’s the kind of site this is turning into? Black jokes now? Interesting

  • Brandon Webb

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

    • Mase

      Never made it there myself (reserve duty every time, never catch a break). Some of my friends will have booths. Look for SRT Supply out of St Pete, FL and TSSi out of Harrisonburg, VA. Good people.

  • 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

  • Burton

    Read **** Couch’s ‘The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228’.

  • Burton

    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.

    • SIS P3+1 SED, check out my post about Teddy Medina. Some people got upset that I’d post something about what the red-side is doing with the insinuation that you can learn something from them. I guess you can’t make everyone happy.


      • Burton

        I was replying to Doubton, not Brandon. I don’t know why my comment went under his name.

  • mka

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

    • T-9

      That’s only because the AF doesn’t have snipers. We’d own :)

  • Go Navy!

    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.

  • T-9

    things go sideways occasionally. go with it.

  • 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.

  • Brandon Webb

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

  • Brandon Webb

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

  • Mhael


    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.

  • majrod

    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…

  • kyle woilly

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

  • Retired


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

  • Dennis

    Can the US Army SF go through Seal Sniper Course?

  • xcalbr

    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.

  • Nam Marine

    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!

  • Nam Marine

    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.

  • 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?

  • How do you know this Bill?

  • mka

    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.

  • froghog
  • Erik Numinen

    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.

  • tylernelson

    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.

  • Bill

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