back to article Canadian sniper makes kill shot at distance of 3.5 KILOMETRES

A Canadian sniper has reportedly shot dead an Islamic State terrorist from the astonishing distance of 3,450 metres – more than two miles away. The astonishing feat of marksmanship took place within the last month "in Iraq", according to the Toronto Globe and Mail. A "military source" – almost certainly the Canadian armed …

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1 - the round slows down during its journey

2 - total distance traveled is more than direct point-to-point (round going into the air with a curved path back down to target)

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Did you think for even a second before submitting that incredibly ill informed screen barf?!?!

For your sake, I sincerely hope not.

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Anonymous Coward

It does

The bullet has decelerated to subsonic speeds (900feet/s) by the end of its journey.

As far as "anybody shooting back" the only commonly used weapon around those parts capable of shooting back at that distance is the ZPU. If they did not have it, the sniper could (and probably did) take shot after a shot after a shot without them being able to shoot back. Until he (or she - women are actually even better than men at this) hit them.

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Hans beat me to it. If the trajectory was flat and the bullet maintained its muzzle velocity over the distance, the time in flight would be 3.75 sec. The article was clear about the trajectory, the need for the shooter to "hold over," so it doesn't take a rocket surgeon to understand the longer flight time.

It must have been difficult to see the impact points of the sighting shots, so there must have been a lot of "Kentucky Ottawa windage" involved in making the shot. Translation: Skill.

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Kentucky_windage

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WTF?

Let's assume that there were several sighting shots, and that they got closer to the target. Wouldn't the target therefore know that he was under fire, and consequently be unlikely to hold still in an exposed location for nearly 10 seconds? It's either complete bullshit or a lot of luck.

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Wouldn't the target therefore know that he was under fire, and consequently be unlikely to hold still in an exposed location for nearly 10 seconds?

Not necessarily. There was an earlier record, again by a Canadian IIRC, where the shooter was trying to hit a Taliban carrying a rocket launcher. Although bullets were striking around the target, he apparently never thought they'd hit him. And probably never knew they did.

There's an earlier anecdote, about Union General John Sedgwick. From Wikipedia:

Sedgwick fell at the beginning of the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, on May 9, 1864. His corps was probing skirmish lines ahead of the left flank of Confederate defenses and he was directing artillery placements. Confederate sharpshooters were about 1,000 yards (900 m) away, and their shots caused members of his staff and artillerymen to duck for cover. Sedgwick strode around in the open and was quoted as saying, "What? Men dodging this way for single bullets? What will you do when they open fire along the whole line?" Although ashamed, his men continued to flinch and he said, "Why are you dodging like this? They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance."[5] Reports that he never finished the sentence are apocryphal, although the line was among his last words.[6] He was shot moments later under the left eye and fell down dead.

Charles McMoran Wilson, 1st Baron Moran, wrote a book titled "Anatomy of Courage," based on his experiences during the First World War. In it, he relates seeing a British officer walking in the open between trenches, while enemy machine-gun bullets were spattering all around. Walking, not running.

And finally, there's a famous quote attributed to none other than Winston Churchill: "Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result." (http://desertonfire.blogspot.com/2009/07/source-of-famous-churchill-quote.html)

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Not necessarily. There was an earlier record, again by a Canadian IIRC

Bloody Captcha made it impossible to correct this in time. The shooter I referred to was British sniper Craig Harrison.

In November 2009, Harrison consecutively struck two Taliban machine gunners south of Musa Qala in Helmand Province in Afghanistan at a range of 2,475 m (2,707 yd) using a L115A3 Long Range Rifle. In a BBC interview, Harrison reported it took about nine shots for him and his spotter to range the target.

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"Let's assume that there were several sighting shots, and that they got closer to the target. Wouldn't the target therefore know that he was under fire, and consequently be unlikely to hold still in an exposed location for nearly 10 seconds?"

Not neccessarily. I dimly remember bits from basic training about stuff like this (but it's been 30 years now), and off the top of my head:

1. You might not even notice a couple of incoming shots around you, depending on what they hit and how buisy you are. Especially if they come from far away and the sound, even if you actually hear it, doesn't match the timing of noise/impact you are familiar with.

2. Let's say you notice and recognize the sighting shots for what they are - but you can't tell where they are coming from. All you know is that there is a sniper somewhere who's really far away. So for all you know, shifting your position might make it easier for the sniper to hit you. At the sime time you know that you are relatively hard to hit where you are right now due to the distance. I guess I'd toss a coin.

3. Let's say you notice the shots - and conclude that someone wants to drive you away from your position. Maybe to lure you into the range of, say a mortar or something like that.

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Plus, of course, there may be other people shooting at you who are even closer. If you're exposing yourself (fnarr fnarr) that's quite likely, as you may be engaged in shooting at them - as well as avoiding given them an easy target.

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"t's gonna be going very slowly at the end."

IIRC someone was killed in S Belfast by a stray from N Belfast which must be a comparable distance.

However I did for a while, have some sort of handgun round* on my desk with a nice fibre impression on it; it was said to have been stopped by an ordinary nylon jacket.

*Don't ask. I wasn't a ballistics expert. Someone just passed it to me do a fabric comparison.

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Wouldn't the target therefore know that he was under fire,

You do some sighting shots that are close to the target but not close enough to give the game away. My uncle was an artillery major in Burma and he used to try and work out cross winds and temperatures from different heights - you cant do this when sniping but when laying wast to areas you can get enough shots in to get some feel for it apparently. I guess modern shell would tell you all you need to know just before they hit now. Wont be long before a 0.5" can do that too!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It does

> (or she - women are actually even better than men at this)

That is exactly my experience! Any hard data to explain if this is actually the case, and if so, why?

Puzzles me, but I have consistently found that a good markswoman outperforms a good marksman. :-( <-- yes I am a male, technically at least.

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Re: It does

Gawd. I don't want to sound sexist...

Look up the IRS (USA) classification of "computer" in the 1940's.

It was woman that did calculations for the military.

Neroscience suggests men and woman brains have different wiring.

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Anonymous Coward

> he relates seeing a British officer walking in the open between trenches, while enemy machine-gun bullets were spattering all around. Walking, not running.

Well, people do get used to all sorts of things (or alternatively, they just snap and stop caring).

Besides, what about that stiff upper lip, my dear chap? Just because someone is firing a machine gun at you it doesn't mean you should lose your composure.

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Anonymous Coward

> it was said to have been stopped by an ordinary nylon jacket.

Wearer of the jacket must have been Russian. For them Kevlar is a sign of weakness.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It does

> It was woman that did calculations for the military.

More to do with it being considered a "proper" occupation for a lady at the time, and perhaps not wanting to "waste" men, who could be used at the front.

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"...and consequently be unlikely to hold still in an exposed location for nearly 10 seconds?"

A sniper has a spotter sitting beside him with a high power spotting scope. The projectile would've been subsonic by the time it reached the target, so doubtful that the target would've noticed just another projectile, 0.2" bigger than the other ones being fired at them.

"extreme long range small arms ballistics is a bit of a hit-or-miss affair (ho ho)"

Visit Camp Perry for the National Rifle Matches, and then say that.

Good article! Thanks, Gareth!

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Would the target actually have heard the shots from two miles away?

If so, would he assume that shots from a long way away were aimed at him?

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@Florida1920 - "he relates seeing a British officer walking in the open between trenches, while enemy machine-gun bullets were spattering all around. Walking, not running."

That was entirely normal behaviour for professional British officers. They didn't duck under enemy fire.

If you read General Slim's book "Defeat into Victory" about how he turned the situation around fighting the Japanese in Burma and India, there is a part where he came under mortar or artillery fire (I can't remember which) by the Japanese while he was in the open. Rather than running or "hitting the dirt" (as the movies put it), he simply gritted his teeth and continued to stride forward through a hail of fragments. He could not let himself appear to flinch before enemy fire in front of his men. One of his Gurkha SNCOs saw this and laughed loudly and shouted jokes at him as he knew exactly what was going on (he of course knew British officers as well as anyone).

There are plenty of anecdotes such as this one. Years later when the war movies were made, the directors and writers were told by their consultants (often soldiers who had been there) that their scripts were wrong, and that the British officers who had been at the battles in question did not duck under enemy fire. The directors however would decide that the film would be more exciting and the scene look more dangerous if the heroes were seen to be dodging the bullets rather than just striding forward with their chin up. Read the books by the people who were there, and you get a very different story from the movies.

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"so there must have been a lot of "Kentucky Ottawa windage" involved in making the shot. Translation: Skill." - I'd argue that just as much luck is required for such a small target (considering that no 2 bullets are the same and neither are conditions along their trajectory). OTOH, shooting .50 cal does not necessitate direct hit (at least this is the case early on the way) with bullet's shockwave having potential to rip one's limbs off. BTW, I recall seeing one of these tac-50 for sale at a pawn-shop/gun store in Sates - I bet for self defense (though no concealed carry).

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.50 cal near misses ripping limbs off is total bullshit and an urban legend. It's been tested plenty of times and it's complete hogwash. Think of it this way, if a bullet were creating such a powerful shockwave, where is that energy coming from? Wouldn't the bullet slow down incredibly fast? A bullet is designed to have as little shockwave as possible, as any shockwave dissipates energy that is subsequently not delivered to the target.

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That was entirely normal behaviour for professional British officers. They didn't duck under enemy fire.

As proved by Lieutenant Colonel H. Jones in 1982.

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".50 cal near misses ripping limbs off is total bullshit and an urban legend."

Indeed, but it has its origins in a phenomenon called "hydrostatic shock", where on an apparently "non-vital" hit in one part of the body, the shock of the impact travels through the body causing injuries in other parts of the body.

Of course, this, too, may be a myth, but it's a lot more believable than the sonic boom shockwave tearing parts off.

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There's another reason why the target might not have taken cover. Given how high the shooter had to aim, the bullet would have been coming down at an angle.

The target might have heard incoming rounds, and made sure that they were behind cover that blocked *horizontal* shots, whilst the sniper's bullet would have dropped down over this cover before hitting the target.

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Boffin

Suppose our putative Taliban is out on a battlefield, where people are actually shooting already. In this case, several factors both cultural and practical come into play.

Firstly, if our target is busy then he might not even notice bullet impacts around him.

Secondly, even if he does see impacts, he may just ascribe these to random battlefield stray rounds that aren't actually meant for him.

Thirdly, as he cannot see or hear a sniper (too far to hear the muzzle blast, and the rounds will be subsonic by the time they get to him) he may just think he's out of range and disregard the shooting as inaccurate fire that won't get him.

Fourthly, the man might actually be rather stupid, be that from lack of education, nutritional deficiencies early in life or even rampant inbreeding. Certainly anyone smart enough to realise the dangers of front lines isn't going to wander about willy-nilly in front of the enemy.

Finally, there is an attitude prevalent in that part of the world that predestination exists to a greater or lesser extent and that when Allah thinks it is time for you to go, you die; up to then no worries.

All of these plus the fact that he cannot actually see enemy forces might contribute to his apparent unconcern under fire.

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A Bridge Too Far: 'During the filming of scenes which see Anthony Hopkins running across the battleground, the real Lt.Col. John Frost complained of the way he was being portrayed, saying, "You wouldn't run the crossfire. You'd show the enemy contempt for danger by crossing the road slowly." '

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Hydrostatic Shock

I was involved in the development of a rock splitter device that used hydrostatic shock to break up inconvenient boulders. During a demo aimed at destroying a boulder about 2 m high, the boulder split up and a chip of rock nearly took my ear off.

Needless to say I am a believer.

Now if hydrostatic shock can destroy a boulder that size, I shudder to think of the damage the same shock could do to human tissue.

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Anonymous Coward

Missed one. Maybe he's not a trained soldier but a farmer who signed up to defend his homeland and doesn't even know these things are possible.

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@ Steve the Cynic

It's an odd one regarding bullets: High powered rounds can cause little damage to soft targets - they tend not to tumble on impact so the exit wounds tend to be smaller, even with a .50 cal. So the bullet would have to hit a vital point to kill, yet 7.62mm rounds were more likely to kill than 5.56mm (which are more likely to tumble on impact). The reason was put down to hydrostatic shock - that the bullet sets up a shock wave while passing through soft tissue / bodies, which causes death. 5.56mm didn't do this as it tumbled instead, causing lots of tissue damage and a larger exit wound, but this was less likely to kill the person shot.

So, yes, hydrostatic shock is a 'thing' which explains why higher powered rounds would kill and lower powered rounds would wound, despite the wound characteristics.

Or that's how it was explained to me back in the day. Along with 'inbound fire has right of way', 'there's no such thing as friendly fire' and 'always check for the exit wound before applying the wound dressing: That's the big messy one they're bleeding out from'. My favourite from that time was, of cause: 'The shooting stopping isn't evidence that it's safe to go check the wounded'.

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That was entirely normal behaviour for professional British officers. They didn't duck under enemy fire.

As proved by Lieutenant Colonel H. Jones in 1982.

And, indeed, one Corporal Jones, who refused to panic under any circumstance, and insisted - often loudly - that those in his presence also should not panic.

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Anonymous Coward

> That was entirely normal behaviour for professional British officers. They didn't duck under enemy fire.

So only under fire from their own troops?

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Anonymous Coward

> That was entirely normal behaviour for professional British officers. They didn't duck under enemy fire.

A bit of romanticism and artistic licence on the part of "those who were there" always makes a story more interesting, though not necessarily more true.

A friend of mine, a professional historian, finds that about the most accurate account of social behaviour you can get about historical times on non-academic literature, comes from the Black Adder series.

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Anonymous Coward

> Missed one. Maybe he's not a trained soldier but a farmer who signed up to defend his homeland and doesn't even know these things are possible.

Missed another. Maybe he was a British officer who doesn't duck under enemy fire.

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Pint

Re: It does

> (or she - women are actually even better than men at this)<

I was only in the OTC (long ago) so I can say it applies to students as well.

Perhaps its about the different ways males and females concentrate?

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Pint

@patientone

My favourite saying was that "tracer works in both directions".

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Given how high the shooter had to aim, the bullet would have been coming down at an angle.

It's not actually that bad. While the drop makes the elevation sound impressive the stated angle of 327 arc minutes is 5.45 degrees. To put that into perspective it's about the long edge of a business card at the distance of a meter so while considerable it's not exactly a lob. Judging from the drop of at 3700 and 3800 yards the downward angle would only be in the range of 10 to 15 degrees depending on the actual BC of the projectile.

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it added up

well enough to take out the bad guy. Pfffft he's done. If I could I'd buy that sniper team drinks.

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JLV
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>didn't duck

That may not always make military sense depending on the sophistication of your troops, your enemy's and your CnC capabilities.

Consider what happens if a leader gets taken out. That quite possibly will demoralize and/or take out decision-making capability for the entire unit.

Read up on the successes of the Germans in early Eastern front. Turns out that, at least for tanks, the Germans could easily spot and identify the unit leader (only ones equipped with radios). Take them out early and the whole unit would mill around and remain as shooting ducks. The rank and file weren't trained for initiative and they probably feared an NKVD bullet if they retreated.

Ditto life expectancies for Lieutenants @ D-Day, with nicely marked up helmets. Or Lieutenants landing in hot LZs in Vietnam.

OTOH, the British armed forces have always relied heavily on their NCOs, it's what makes them good. So the officers could afford it, to an extent. Russia for example, is traditionally very light on NCOs, it's basically officers and soldiers.

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JLV
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Headmaster

>Suppose our putative Taliban

Be more impressed if you didn't confuse Afghanistan (Taliban) with Iraq. Also, Talibs and ISIS are actually fighting each other in Afghanistan so not that interchangeable.

BTW, rather impressed that our gov (Canada) decided to forego the token 6 or so jets we were bombing ISIS with before and send out more useful (and politically risky) boots on the ground instead. Godspeed and keep safe to our soldiers there.

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(considering that no 2 bullets are the same.........)

There are any number of companies around the world who will sell you matched rounds (the prime example being Lapua). Each piece is hand balanced to ensure that the ballistic characteristics of each round are as close to identical as technically possible. After all, why leave such things to chance?

They do cost a pretty penny mind!

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Tumbling bullets,even at low velocity/energy levels can cause immense damage,I can believe a deformed tumbling .5 could tear an ARM off if it hits the arm high up or out high on the shoulder.I've seen massive wounds in deer created by deformed tumbling bullets,things can re-accelerate if they convert straight line velocity into tumbling or bouncing off bones etc..

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"As proved by Lieutenant Colonel H. Jones in 1982."

I was unfamiliar with that name. Googling it improved my day. A fine example of bravery and selflessness.

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"it was said to have been stopped by an ordinary nylon jacket."

Slow is a relative term. This particular projectile has a mass of almost 42 g., or about the same as a carpenter's claw hammer. An overhand throw would suffice to kill small animals. At "just subsonic" velocity, it would make a real mess of just about any living thing. And comparing to a handgun round, a .45 ACP fires a projectile with a mass of around 13 g. and muzzle velocity of around that same just subsonic speed, so the .50 BMG at 3.5 km has around 3x more impact energy than the .45 ACP has at point blank range.

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"To put that into perspective it's about the long edge of a business card at the distance of a meter so while considerable it's not exactly a lob."

Just to add into the mix, no one here knows what the difference in altitude was between the sniper and the target.

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"This particular projectile has a mass of almost 42 g., or about the same as a carpenter's claw hammer"

Factor of 10 out. A standard claw hammer like mine is around 450g.

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aqk
Coat

Re: It does .. not sexist but pre-COBOL..

You are possibly thinking of Adm. Grace Hopper, who with her staff of calculating ladies, programmed the ENIAC back in the '40s..

Pleased with this, she then went on to develop COBOL, and thus lost all credibility, the poor thing. So all they could do was make her an admiral. But sadly COBOL was out of the bag and managed to survive.

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From the Italian campaign:

The Germans fly over - the Brits duck; the Brits fly over - the Germans duck; the Americans fly over - everyone ducks.

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