"One Shot, One Kill" – US Marine Scout Sniper School

Vectors are used in physics to express both magnitude and direction, and almost everything runs on basic kinetic motions.

The most basic of kinetic motions would be the projectile, which is affected by gravity. However, to become a sniper, one must understand more than just this. A sniper has understanding of gravity (y axis) as well as other factors that affect their shot like wind (x axis), temperature, humidity, bullet weight, muzzle velocity, and other factors that they need to control in order to guarantee or secure a shot every time.



To sight in a target, the sniper aims their crosshairs at a target, and ideally, the crosshairs are zeroed for a specific rifle, using a specific type of bullet, and at a specific distance. When a rifle is zeroed, it means that a certain distance, given certain weather/external conditions, the rifle will always hit where its crosshairs are sighted on. However, the different external conditions affect the path of the bullet, which can make it hit higher or lower or offset to the right or left. To combat these effects, a sniper can use adjustments (the math of which I will no longer discuss) in order to compensate for the offset, or the sniper can choose to forego making the scope adjustments (to adjust the line of sight) and physically compensate for the shot themselves (raising or lowering the rifle, offset the aim to the left or right). I’d like to think of it in terms of linear combinations in which we can express the zero of a rifle at a certain distance as a zero vector [0 0]. However, external conditions added (vector addition) to the zero vector would offset our shot. So, the adjustments can be represented as coefficients to the vectors going to be added such that when all these vectors are added altogehter (c1v1 + c2v2 + c3v3… cnvn), we eventually achieve our zero vector again, thus giving us a zeroed shot.



  • years obsessing over sharpshooting
  • ROTC Military Science 1, 2, 3 (RSCT), 31, 32, 41, 42
  • US Army Field Manual 23-10: Sniper Training