Legendary USMC Scout Sniper &
President of Precision Rifle International (Part I & II)
Master Sergeant Neil Morris (USMC ret.) is a legend in the sniper community. In December 1995, during his range dedication and White Feather ammunition test at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, the late Carlos Hathcock stated: “Neil has been the driving force in development of new technology, and employment techniques, maintained the sniper standards, conducted more operations with more people, and influenced sniper training and employment more than anyone in the last ten years.”
Neil retired from the United States Marine Corps in May of 2001 after 24 years of experience in sniping and special operations. He started his military career as a U.s. Army Ranger and continued with five tours of duty as a U.S. Marine. At the time of his retirement, he was the senior Marine Scout Sniper-the “Master Sniper.”
Neil is one of the most experienced snipers in the history of the Department of Defense (DOD). As the senior sniper, he participated in real-world operations in all three Marine Expeditionary Forces (MEF), as well as joint operations with U.s. and international special operations units in conventional and unconventional deployments. He was the first and only Marine to hold the senior instructor/operator billet in all three of the U.S. Marine Scout Sniper Schools to include the Scout Sniper Instructor School at Quantico, Virginia. He was also the senior instructor/operator for the III MEF Special Operations Training Group (SOTG) Special Missions Branch, Reconnaissance and Surveillance Course, and Urban Sniper Course.
Master Sergeant Neil K. Morris at the
Scout Sniper Instructor School just
prior to his retirement in 2001.
Neil assisted in writing the current curriculum for the Marine, Army, and Navy Basic Sniper qualification schools. He also authored the USMC Advanced Scout Sniper Course. In the early 1980s, he was part of the initial effort to formalize law enforcement long rifle training and tactical operations. He has trained all levels of law enforcement in the United States and abroad.
In 1992, Neil received special recognition from the U.S. Department of Justice for his contributions to law enforcement sniping. He’s responsible for most of the current sniper training standards that are used by military and law enforcement units worldwide.
Neil continues to train and consult for law enforcement and the military with Precision Rifle International (PRI). He’s currently the Executive Vice President for the Marine Scout Sniper Association. He’s been a trainer/advisor for the DOD, U.S. State Department, U.S. Department of Justice, all federal law enforcement agencies, National Wilderness Training Center, Virginia Tactical Association, Texas Tactical Police Officers Association, Heckler and Koch, Operational Tactics, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC), foreign military agencies, and many others.
Neil’s company, Precision Rifle International, was incorporated on January 2, 2001. PRI was founded by Neil, Dr. Elizabeth Geick (now Neil’s wife), and Sergeant Major Mark Spicer (British Army). Elizabeth has a Ph.D. in Human Resources Management. She’s also a full-time deputy sheriff with the Montgomery County, Texas, Sheriff’s Department and a member of the Department’s tactical team.
The objective of PRI is to provide military and law enforcement snipers and designated marksmen (DM) with the most comprehensive training in the world. All of the curriculum and training standards at PRI are based on “real world” experience and first hand knowledge.
A variety of levels of training are available for snipers and DMs, covering all scenarios, rural or urban, under any conditions. Training is available in all calibers for precision rifles: .223 through .338 Lapua and .50 BMG.
I recently spoke with Neil about sniping.
S.W.A.T.: In your course titles and class outlines you use the word “sniper” as opposed to more politically correct terms such as “precision rifleman” or “marksman.”
Neil Morris: The reasons are twofold. First, I’m not now and never have been politically correct (PC) and, more importantly, I feel like it’s important to call a spade a spade for simplicity. It’s more important to educate those that don’t like the word “sniper” as to what they are than to take a way of life and label it some kinder, gentler name.
I know what it’s like for an officer to go to court and for some lawyer to be going: “You’re a sniper, that means killer, that means back-shooter.” And, agencies say that you’ve got to call them precision riflemen, you’ve got to call them marksmen, you can’t call them snipers - that’s a dirty word. I’m saying that it’s not a dirty word. That’s my own thought on it, after doing it for almost a quarter century. I don’t feel that my profession is something that I should be ashamed of. The word “sniper” actually originated in the British Army. The name comes from that of a small, elusive bird called the snipe. Hardly something that’s sinister.
Debriefing student’s experiments with different mediums, ammunition, ranges and angles.
S.W.A.T.: What’s your definition of the American sniper?
Neil Morris: The American sniper is a military or law enforcement operator that’s highly trained and skilled in field craft and marksmanship who delivers precision rifle fire and collects intelligence from selected positions in support of combat/tactical operations.
S.W.A.T.: Define the sniper’s mission as you see it.
Neil Morris: The sniper’s mission is to save lives by taking lives or to save lives by providing accurate and timely intelligence to all elements involved in a combat situation or at a crisis site. The sniper must provide both precision rifle fire and intelligence gathering in close proximity out to maximum effective range of the weapons and equipment available. The sniper must provide both precision rifle fire and intelligence gathering in any environment (urban or rural), and during all possible weather conditions. The sniper will protect friendly forces and innocent life, prevent fratricide and collateral damage, and ensure the Supported Unit Commander or Tactical Commander is informed of all activity on and around the crisis area.
Neil demonstrating the unsupported standing
position for LE snipers who will have to shoot unsupported as part of the qualification course.
S.W.A.T.: What differences, if any, do you see between the military and law enforcement sniper?
Neil Morris: It’s my belief that there’s no difference between the military and law enforcement (LE) sniper. They’re one community and should be considered as such. There are some that try to separate the two with all kinds of hokey reasons, but generally they’re just misinformed with limited exposure to one side or the other. All too often, it’s an attempt to try and impress the community they come from with their rhetoric, when in fact they’re wrong and mislead snipers in both camps. I’m on a real big soapbox on this one - all the snipers in the country are one.
Yes, there are different ROEs (Rules of Engagement), and many different employment options, but all of the verbiage, training techniques, and real world engagement procedures are the same! There’re enough differences between LE agencies in the same state, and military units in the same Division to make the argument that they’re all different in some form or fashion. The fact is that the tactical mind set, responsibilities, skills and techniques used by all are generally the same. Both successes and mistakes made by anyone in the sniper community will impact the entire community! I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in training both sides of the fence for over twenty years. During that time, I watched and helped the LE community go from Billy Bob the best deer hunter getting assigned the sniper position, or the officer too out of shape to be an entry operator so he must be sniper material, to the current day LE sniper. One that’s overall every bit as capable as the military sniper, in great shape, and has the positive attitude and steadfast reliability required to be employed in any scenario. During that period, I also watched and helped the military snipers go from conventional sniping-ghillie suits and long range engagements-to the current military sniper that has enormous responsibilities behind the rifle in terms of ROE, and one that faces a much more complicated battlefield than ever before. I watched the ranges that our military snipers normally engaged from decrease to where most shots in recent history have been taken from 300 yards and closer (exceptions being Desert Storm and Afghanistan). Weapons and equipment improvements have also greatly increased the sniper’s capabilities during the last two decades. Both communities have adapted to meet the overall needs of this nation. After 9/11, anyone in either camp that says the other is still different with a different mission, etc. is very much out of step with the times and reality!
The morning after 9/11, I got a phone call from the State Department asking me to put together my assessment of sniper’ capabilities and assets in the U.S. It was going to be presented to Colin Powell in a combined report. That assessment wasn’t just on military sniping, it wasn’t just on law enforcement sniping, it was on sniping as the United States of America, the strengths, the weaknesses, where we are, who’s doing the training correctly, who can we go to in a crunch. You know, we may have terrorists hitting the beaches tomorrow, for all we know.
Usually those that try to drive a wedge between the two communities (military and LE) have something personally to gain and don’t realize how foolish they look to the real operators in the sniper world wearing any uniform. LE snipers are now tasked with protecting dams, factory works, airports, etc. Sounds much like a “military” mission. They need to be proficient with their rifle well past the antiquated 100-200 yard ranges some swear is all they need to cover. Conversely, military snipers are in close proximity to the threat conducting hostage recovery operations with surgical precision around the globe. The use of fixed powered scopes for tactical operations in both professions has finally gone by the wayside and our snipers are now using the variable powered scopes with much greater success.
Better ammunition and a greater selection to choose from now give our snipers a much wider range of options for precision fire in all situations. The use of “barrier rounds” and the understanding of shooting through mediums is commonplace instead of a secret voodoo that only a few claimed to possess. The use of .50 caliber and .338 caliber weapons IS now being accepted for what I’ve been screaming for years-a special application scoped rifle (SASR) that provides the required “punch” in anti-materiel scenarios and counter sniper operations. SASR training and aerial platform precision fire from helicopters, again “something that only the military does,” are now the most requested type of training we get at PRI, with the exception of integrated training for snipers and entry elements.
People like Carlos Hathcock and Norm Chandler were working with LE in the 70s trying to expand the knowledge curve and basically got the ball rolling for the LE snipers who now possess the same skills and abilities as the military snipers. In many areas the military snipers go to LE snipers for information and techniques the way it’s supposed to be. I preach to students to stay current by “outsourcing” and going to as many schools as possible while working with fellow snipers regardless of where they go to work on a daily basis. Nobody has a monopoly on knowledge!
A PRI instructor demonstrating urban camouflage. The sniper is in the mddle of the junk pile with an M82A1 Barrett. The picture was taken at ten yards.
S.W.A.T.: Could you provide readers with a quick history of LE sniper training?
Neil Morris: When I first got involved in LE sniper training, I was running the scout sniper school at Camp Pendleton, California. Several LE agencies had received permission from the Base Commanding General to work with us and formalize their sniper training. It was rough at first, because there was very little in the way of education for LE shooters at the time. Weapons and equipment were virtually non-existent and there wasn’t anything to use for guidance. They quickly learned what would be required in the way of training standards and weapons and equipment quality to be able to perform at the level that we (USMC) required. Almost immediately, there seemed to be a national interest in long guns. As I stated before, I knew that Lt. Col. Norm Chandler and Carlos Hathcock had already begun to work with some LE on the East Coast. But, it seemed that the desire to train and employ snipers as a standard operating procedure swept across the country in the mid-80s. When I had the Scout Sniper Instructor School at Quantico, it had become mandatory for FBI H RT snipers to complete the entire nine-week school in order to get the H RT billet.
All the schools in the Marine Corps during the mid-80s through June 17, 1997, provided two-week LE schools each summer. These schools were put on for free and gave those that attended a real look at sniper training. We started with all federal agencies at Quantico, FBI, DEA, ATF, Secret Service, etc., and eventually pushed for state and local LE snipers to attend.
It was great for both communities, because we [the instructors] at that time still mainly concentrated on long range precision fire against a pretty definite enemy. As time went on during this period, Marines, Soldiers, and Sailors in sniper billets began to be employed in more special operations and getting a lot of “close proximity” sniping experience. Again, this experience was passed on to our brother LE snipers and much of what the LE snipers had encountered on the streets of this nation was passed on to us. Everybody learns. Everyone is one team and continually successful.
One of the crew that I taught during that period was FBI HRT operator Chris Whitcomb. He’s written a really good book, called Cold Zero, that illustrates my point on military and law enforcement snipers working together.
On June 17, 1997, the military was stopped from providing instruction to LE snipers, except in special circumstances and then only with federal agencies. I can give you the history and reasons for that stupidity if you’d like, but it will take up more space than all we’ve covered so far. As much good as we were able to provide each other in the way of training and education between LE and military snipers, this age also spawned some of the bookworms we’ve talked about as well. These guys attended some of the military training, acquired military manuals and basically re-wrote them in their own words and sold them-and still do to this day. Most of these guys did a few years behind the rifle in some capacity and have managed to get a following based on their” great knowledge and foresight.” Anyway, through the years I’ve watched the improvements in weapons and equipment, doctrine and overall attitude of snipers reach the point that we are at today.
Just over the summer, PRI conducted training with Christian County (Missouri), PA DOC, Dallas PD SWAT, and LASD SEB. All of which have operators that are as capable as any snipers in the world! We were successful in “pushing the envelope” in training in many ways. We conducted aerial platform shooting, large caliber rifles (Barrett .50 cal. M82, Accuracy International .338 Lapua, and Barrett .50 cal. M99), and live-fire scenario shoots integrating the assault or entry elements in dose proximity. We ironed out many of the bugs these fulltime teams had with comms on site, command and control issues, sniper initiated assaults and rapid planning, etc. Let me put it to you like this: If I had to put together a team of the best snipers in this country, no matter where they came from, that team would be comprised of a number of Marines, Soldiers, and Sailors from our special operations and infantry units and an equal number of snipers from LE units I had the privilege to train or work with, as I prefer to call it! I can say this without hesitation because I’ve been fortunate enough to have been involved with all of the above and have an unbiased and educated view of our snipers across the nation.
S.W.A.T.: How have weapons and equipment improvements greatly increased the sniper’s capabilities?
Neil Morris: The entire spectrum of weapons and equipment has improved. The example would be the Tango 51S that we used during the LASD SEB course. Students (with Tango 51S) were actually able to engage moving targets from the unsupported kneeling position with the same accuracy as shooters that were firing unsuppressed weapons in the supported ****e. That was a major breakthrough. The quality of the weapon and the accuracy spoke for themselves. It was an amazing thing for me to watch brand new students being able to shoot moving targets from the sitting or the kneeling as well as other snipers shooting from the supported ****e.
Tommy Lambrecht (Los Angeles Sheriff's Department,
Special Enforcement Bureau) explains to students
the do's and don'ts while shooting from an aircraft.
The sniper community as a whole has access to the best rifles, scopes, ammunition and equipment in the world. The schools that are out there that teach from experience will push the students to get the "right stuff." I'm not talking about "bells and whistles" either. Tom Lambrecht from LASD SEB and I agree that the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) theory is the best technique in tactical training and equipment, because in the heat of a gunfight you had better flow into and out of the situation without having to do much thinking past friend or foe! In a crisis, if you've all kinds of gee-whiz bells and whistles and doo-dads hanging from your gear, you're a liability. Both Tom and I believe in a nice clean weapon, nice clean gear. And, I don't mean cleanliness-I'm talking about the set up.
S.W.A.T.: Could you further discuss the role of SASRs, such the .50 caliber and .338 Lapua, in sniping?
Neil Morris: The heavy caliber weapons are available to the sniper community and should be acquired and maintained until the need arises. Now that most LE agencies have been assigned additional responsibilities that they never considered before, they need to have the deal of weapons, equipment and training to do it. It's better to have an option and not use it than need an option and not have it!
When you start talking about teaching LE how to use .50 cal. rifles or shooting from helicopters, many (in the general public) don't see the tactical importance of how these things are going to be used-such as the requirement to stop a train, to stop a flaming truck like they had in Dallas a while back. They (heavy caliber weapons) are not going to be used against the general public. They're going to be used to protect them.
The improvements that have been made in these heavier weapons now allow the desired accuracy to be obtained in anti-material situations or in a counter-sniper situation where the threat has a .50 cal. One .50 cal. manufacturer alone in this country has sold over 2,800 of their weapons to the general public. The .338 gives you a deal of accuracy and additional "punch' when defeating extreme barriers, and provides long range accuracy in extreme weather that the .308 may not shoot through.
Elizabeth Morris: What we're having now with the new technology, especially since 9/11, is that departments, especially the larger departments in metropolitan areas, are now responsible for power plants, dams, airports and large venue stadiums. One of these agencies contacted us and asked "What do we do? They're talking about these semi-trucks being a threat. What can we do to stop an 18wheeler?" That's why they came to us for the .50 cal. You put that round into an engine block-you put a couple of rounds in the engine block-well, now that vehicle is going to stop. You don't have an out of control vehicle. If you've got these weapons properly deployed and you've the go-ahead that the vehicle will not come any closer than a specified perimeter, well, you can neutralize that vehicle with a few well placed shots with minimal collateral damage.
What this all wraps up to, is that we're saying to law enforcement that here are some heavy weapon options that are available to you. There are those, especially LE higher ups, who say that LE shouldn't have those weapons, that they're too powerful. Well, a .50 cal. in the hands of a properly trained individual reduces your liability. How do you reduce your liability? Better training, better qualification, minimal standards, and proficiency with the weapon-just like you would do with any weapon. If they have this (heavy caliber) option available and the police department is aware of it- but they don't bring it into play-and they have a terrorist incident that could have been prevented, where's the liability then?
S.W.A.T.: What about the use of suppressed weapons?
Neil Morris: I get asked this quite often. The suppressed weapon is a "win-win" situation now. It wasn't for years due to accuracy problems, etc. These days, there are several weapons out there that provide the same accuracy with a "can" as they do without. There are several other reasons a suppressed long gun is an advantage. Masking or noise reduction is one, of course, but there are more important issues such as visible signature reduction and reduced recoil. I've used Mike Rescigno's (Tactical Operations, Inc.) Tango 51 with exacting point-of-aim, point-of-impact results out to 500 yards shooting Federal Gold Medal 168-grain HPBT and a wide range of other ammunition and, unless you were right beside me, you'd never hear the shot. I've used a Chandler Grande with an SWR suppressor out to 1,000 yards with the same exacting results, which was an eight-inch group at the 1,000. At close ranges (300 yards and in), these weapons maintained sub-MOA throughout the training. If the sniper can accomplish his mission with the same accuracy, yet not be heard or seen in the process, who wouldn't want this capability?
Elizabeth Morris, Neil and Tommy Lambrecht (right) discuss
an upcoming training session while snipers from the Santa Monica
and Torrance police departments stand ready.
S.W.A.T.: You mentioned that the use of variable-powered scopes has led to much greater success.
Neil Morris: It's much like the suppressor issues. In the past, the fixed-power scopes were more reliable and durable. Variable-power scopes had a tendency to degrade quickly and weren't capable of holding their zero as well as the fixed-scope. But, much like the suppressor, technology has caught up with the requirement with a vengeance. The modern variable-powered scopes being produced by Leupold and many others are tough, accurate and provide the long-needed field of view the modern sniper requires.
I've taught schools for LE and military snipers where this issue was seen clearly (no pun intended). I had USMC Scout Snipers going through a course I was teaching for HK at the time. Their training and experience was evident in every way when compared to many of the new LE snipers. But when we worked urban scenarios at ranges of 200 yards and in, the Marines' ability to engage the threat was limited. Why? Limited field of view. They were using a fixed 10X and could not power down at closer ranges. Therefore, all of the movement on the range had to be tracked, which is impossible in an urban environment. Fast moving targets in close proximity wouldn't even be picked up by the Marines, while the LE snipers were engaging regularly with accuracy and speed. Now, I'm not beating up my home team. Put the variable-power scopes on the Marine rifles and stand by. Anyway, the ability to adjust the power to the conditions at any given time, range, or visibility greatly enhance the sniper's overall capabilities. A fixed-power scope at 12 power or greater also magnifies the movement of the weapon and heartbeat of the shooter. This results in a trigger jerk that the shooter may take years to identify. Try shooting unsupported with a fixed-powered scope at 12 power or greater. Good luck! Probably shouldn't do that in a real situation because the liability monster would eat you for lunch.
S.W.A.T.: What about the use of data books?
Neil Morris: There are some out there that are preaching that the data book is obsolete and that they can provide you with computer generated "data cards" that will replace the old data books. I've never laughed so hard and then started crying again at the same time. The laughter was from the stupidity of the statements, but the crying was because some poor inexperienced snipers out there are going to buy into that theory and have a problem in a real world situation. Again, the liability monster is going to eat somebody up.
First of all, the data book should be a basic sniper skill that every sniper uses every time he or she gets behind a weapon. The sniper and the rifle system (weapon and scope) produce results in live fire. Each and every person is different, every barrel is different, and weather is rarely exactly the same on any given day. The physical act of recording information that you produced with your rifle and scope on this day reinforces the understanding of the fundamentals of marksmanship and the understanding of external ballistics. How do you identify trends with your new "cool guy card"? Where are the remarks columns for you to take notes on things you see or do during firing? Yes, a computer-generated chart can be made if you send in your required data, but it will only provide you with ball park figures much like a windage chart. It can be used in addition to a data book, but it can never replace it.
Now the big word: liability! Snipers that keep accurate data books can show records of their individual training with the exact weapon system under exact conditions. Snipers that keep good data books can analyze their shooting. On and on and On . . . Believe me, snipers need to keep accurate data books every time they shoot their weapon and maintain those books permanently. They also need to maintain gun books with an accurate round count and maintenance log.
S.W.A.T.: What role do sniper associations have to play?
Neil Morris: I encourage snipers to join and take active roles in the sniper associations that are available to them in this country. I'm the VP for the Marine Scout Sniper Association and I think it's a good source for information gathering and it provides a comradeship for the snipers. I encourage snipers to join the American Sniper Association. I've worked with some of the snipers on their advisory board and know that their intent is to better the sniper community in the country.
Rick Rector, elite sniper of SEB, with his Tango 51 suppressed rifle, Elizabeth Morris is on the right.
S.W.A.T.: There's a great deal of misinformation on sniping that's being taught. Much of this can be attributed to what you've referred to as "the book-writer mentality," --that's instructors whose claim to fame is writing a book, but who have little or no real-world experience.
Neil Morris: I won't name call here because the operators out there know who these people are and what they're really after, but I'll explain the mentality. There are some in this country that realize that the military and LE tactical operators read everything they can get on the subjects that concern their chosen profession. Unfortunately, what happened in the early 90s was that a few people with the time and talent to write basically compiled their notes from schools and took military manuals and outlines and created them over again with their own slant. These guys usually push LE or military communities apart in an effort to be the apparent expert in the field from whichever community they came from. Once they're published, the "power of the pen" gets them into the limelight and they're asked to speak at public functions, etc. Up until that point, they're only greedy people. The danger comes when they start to feel their oats and actually believe they're truly experts and start to teach and write more.
Now we have an inexperienced operator that put together a good research paper, called it a book and has fooled enough people to have a following of the unknowing. The worst part is the misinformation. These guys can't answer a question with "I'm not sure, but I will find out," because their egos won't allow it. What they do is tap dance around the question because they have no experience and don't know the answer. In order to save face they spout off something that sounds intelligent, but is totally wrong. The young or inexperienced sniper takes the answer as gospel and away he goes into the real world; ready to perform his duties the way he thinks he should-as he was told by the book-writing egomaniac. Ask them (instructors whose only claim to fame is writing a book) to shoot one of their own drills or competitions. Ha! Ha! Watch the tap dancing on that one.
Also, beware of the prior military instructors that only have a few years of service or stopped their military careers mid-way and are now out there teaching weapons and tactics. You've got to ask yourself why they quit their military service. There are a lot of guys out there that use schools as their biography - not where they have been or what they have done, but the number of schools that they have attended. That doesn't hold any weight. There are a lot of guys out there trying to do the right thing, but they don't have the maturity to teach. Just because you were a Marine, a SEAL, or whatever, doesn't qualify you to go out and start teaching-especially something as crucial as sniping.
You also have to watch out for a lot of the foreigners-guys who come from foreign countries who are all "special forces." Many have little or no experience. A lot of what they claim to have done, well, they were passing out ammo while the real guys were doing it. It's hard to check up on somebody's background when they come from a foreign country.
Morris Explains what he wants the
students to do the aircraft.
Elizabeth Morris: Some of these people cannot produce a resume that can back up what they claim. There are also a lot of misleading resumes out there. From a liability standpoint, we definitely encourage any agency or any person that seeks training to request either resumes or some type of proof of their [the trainers'] credentials and verify them. Don't just take the word of a company that a person actually has a certain level of credibility or background. The level of instruction that you get is equal to the instructor that you get.
Know who you're bringing into your agency-or who you're exposing your personnel to. Ask them if they offer expert testimony. Will they back you in a court of law if you're challenged? Do they possess the credentials to do that? If they don't, then I've got to wonder, because everything comes back to liability. You don't want to be the next case law.
When people ask us [PRI], we say read our bios, and anything that you have questions about, we will gladly give you people that you can contact who can verify it. Just don't take our word for it. When we teach someone, when we're done with the training, they have an open door to us. It doesn't cost them anything for us to consult with them to help them with their policies and procedures. It doesn't cost them anything for our time or to set up our recommendations for qualification with a certain type of weaponry. We offer expert witness support at no cost, except for possible travel expenses. How many other trainers do that?
S.W.A.T.: How would you define the philosophy of training at Precision Rifle International?
Neil Morris: Everything we do or say at PRI is based on experience in the field. If we don't know the answer to something then we find it. We demonstrate all of the techniques that we teach. All of our instructors are experienced LE or military snipers, most of whom 'Spent most of their active careers behind the rifle. There are no egos and the staff is dedicated to teaching every student the best and most effective methods. When we teach a course, the staff is available to the student body 24/7 for the length of the course. One-on-one training and remediation, if required, will always be available. We have the same high standards of training and marksmanship used by the most accomplished LE and military sniper units. We make the training realistic, push the envelope, but maintain safety to ensure the successful completion of all training.
Ask any PRI student for the real "low down" on PRI. I know what they'll tell you and I'm confident that that will remain the norm for all PRI functions in the future. Why do we do it? Because PRI is contributing to the overall betterment of tactical operations in the military and LE sniping organizations. As we teach sniper skills and tactics, we are doing our part to fight terrorism through our students who are still actively in the fight.
There are people who profess that the military should not be teaching law enforcement and that law enforcement should not be teaching the military. I don't know where that comes from. I can only say that, again, it's just another way of trying to divide the community. It's not in keeping with the President's call for the country to pull together and use every asset that we can in the fight against terrorism.
S.W.A.T.: You recently conducted an Urban Sniper course at the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department. All of the participants had extremely high praise for the course and for your instructional abilities. Any final closing thoughts for our readers?
Neil Morris: I can give you a list of the real pros that have their expertise in their special fields or special areas. If we don't have them on our staff, I know those who are available in this country and we work together. Anybody can call me anytime to ask for more information on anything that we have in the article. If I don't know the answer, I'll find somebody who does. I'm not the all-knowing or all-seeing, but I've been doing this a long time and I've been lucky enough to learn the entire time that I've been doing it. Nobody has a monopoly on knowledge.
What I can guarantee you is, what comes out of my mouth, or instructors' at PRI, is based on sound experience. There's no guesswork. I don't do something because some scientist tells me. I've seen so many books written, so many manuals on marksmanship and then watched bullets do the exact opposite of what somebody told me that they were going to do. I'm not knocking the science. Wind charts and all of those kinds of things are good, but they're just a basic groundwork. You've got to get out there and shoot and operate. Sergeant Major Mark Spicer is commanding snipers in the Balkan region as we speak.
My biggest thing is to train the way that you're going to fight. If you're going to fight like a little girl, go out and lay on the hundred-yard line, shoot your little, tight groups, get up and high-five yourself, beat your chest and talk about being a sniper. If you're going to go out and train the way you fight, then you get out there and you push the envelope. You put yourself in scenarios that are going to be crucial, that are going to be stressful. You shoot from unsupported positions. You shoot from farther out than one hundred yards. You do all the things that are going to be required of you. That's what training is for. Training is the safe environment to push the envelope.
Last but not least, a quote from Paul Howe (USA ret./DELTA FORCE), CQB Instructor, Combat Shooting and Tactics, Inc., "Being what people call an 'elite' or 'high-speed' operator is simply mastery of the basics while adapting and applying them to the current situation which ensures success."
Ravage,I read in a book called crosshairs on the killzone that in the '90s the the U.S. tested a thermal device that supposedly could pick up the heat from a person couple of hundred yards away and that they had had thaught snipers would be made obsolate,however Morris fooled it by doning his ghille suit and camoing an umbrella to displace the beams and was able to stalk up to 20ft (or something along those lines its been awhile since I read it),stood up and said "bang your dead", proving that one man using basic methods of concealment could still fool the machine. I think today snipers now have a suit called the tick suit thats worn under normal camo that breaks up the sniper from thermal imaging.
Anyway long story short I've heard of Neil Morris but when I read that I said to myself thats one badass individual.
I would love to go through the course...of course, if I were only 30 years younger. In VN we would go out and pick up sniper teams on their way back in after a hard few field days. They were really different kind of people...they are "on" high burner all the time...their eyes never stop moving, they don't speak much and they had very little regard for us machine gun types. Gritty SOB's who had my highest respect...and still do.
BTW, Ravage...thanks for the article...enjoyed it.