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2018 IDF International Sniper Competition

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Nestled in the foothills outside of Modi’in, Israel is a small base training some of the world’s most elite counter-terrorism forces and snipers. These soldiers make up the ranks of the Israeli Defense Force’s (IDF) Infantry, Reconnaissance, and Special Forces units. Camp Mitkan Adam, commonly referred to as Adam Base, was the recent host to the 2018 International Sniper Competition.

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As the closest thing to a normal stage, this stage had us run out to the berm and take shots on stationary targets. The catch, the berm was constantly crumbling underneath you.

After hosting the event for a few years, the IDF extended the invite to the international sniper community. With 14 partner forces attending, the response was tremendous. Forty-three teams competed, and after three days of intense battle, the title of the world’s best snipers was earned.

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In order to get a stable position, sometimes you have to improvise. Firing out of a building would become a common theme in this competition.

The IDF uses its snipers in unique roles and applications. The Infantry Sniper operates as part of a company and platoon. He patrols with a personal rifle (carbine) and carries a sniper rifle in his pack. Serving in this role, as a rifleman, until the need arises for him to deliver long range accurate fire.

IDF Special Forces handle the counter-terror (CT) role. In a CT unit, the sniper is part of an intervention team. The goal of this team is to respond to a high profile situation and then isolate the area. Trained to take highly accurate incapacitation shots to free hostages and eliminate embedded hostiles. That same skillset, enables additional missions, where lethal shots are not desirable.

Training of the IDF snipers is designed specifically to fill these roles; every aspect of the competition was meant to highlight that training. Adam Camp provides the perfect landscape to simulate all the environments the sniper could expect to operate in. Surrounded by rocky hillsides, the base contains ranges with moving targets, urban shoot houses and maneuver live fire lanes.

The IDF Sniper Branch used very little static targetry. They used movers, snaps, and incapacitation zone targets instead. Difficulty was increased by changing mover speed, limiting exposure time and 3D movers (drone targets). The organizers utilized target-rich environments where engagements have to be conducted rapidly. Therefore pushing the competitors outside of their comfort zone.

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Drones were an excellent choice to incorporate dynamic targetry.

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Additionally, the IDF incorporated scenario-based training into every event possible. During the course of eight day and three night stages, only two were on static ranges. Every other stage required some sort of movement and was scenario based. Stages included; foot patrols up and down a mountain with multiple firing lines, firing on moving targets within an urban environment, engaging targets while inside of a tunnel and shooting from behind cover into an urban environment.

Composed of teams from Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Canada, Poland, Italy, and the United States, this shaped up to be one of the most inclusive competitions around. The teams were broken down into three different categories and competed against like opponents. The special operations category displayed 14 of the world’s best sniper teams.

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Target detection is an often overlooked skill set– invaluable to a sniper.

Competition was tight, with just a mere 20 points dividing up the podium. Going into day two, the leaderboard read a different story than what the final result would be. After three days, 11 stages and two sleepless nights the winners were finally determined. The US Army Sniper School team took third, US Navy Seals second, and the home team Maglan secured first place.

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The IDF is fantastic at improvisation. Here we fired from a makeshift tunnel.

Similar to US “Green Berets,” Maglan is one of the IDF special forces. Unlike the rest of the IDF, which is regionally aligned, they answer only to the General Staff. Maglan’s history dates back to 1986, but was only officially recognized in 2006. During Operation Beach Boys, they are reported to have destroyed 140 Hezbollah targets along the coast of Lebanon.

Often revered by our allies, the U.S. is a standard bearer for military excellence. It is easy to dismiss what smaller countries, like Israel, bring to the table. The passion and commitment that their soldiers display is second to none. With a history filled with battle, and borders repeatedly contested, it’s hard to find a nation with more experience on the battlefield. That experience was on full display and leaves little doubt why the IDF sniper is one the best in the world.

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