He was the Soviet Union’s greatest sniper. In his first ten days work at Stalingrad, he killed 40 Germans. His final tally was 225.
His name was Vassili Zaitsev. He was played by Jude Law in the blockbuster Enemy at the Gates.
These 10 sniper tactics are based on Zaitsev’s own memoir. Read the latest issue of Military Times for the full account.
1. Do not create a basecamp or fixed positions.
A sniper is a nomad. You must pop up where least expected. Never remain long in one position: it might be observed.
2. Be meticulous about gathering intelligence.
Where, when, and under what circumstances are our own soldiers being killed by enemy snipers? Then reconnoitre the ground and work out how the enemy snipers may be operating.
3. Work closely with ordinary soldiers deployed nearby.
They can provide intelligence, decoys, and distractions. They have awareness of events around them.
4. Always use a trench periscope for scouting and surveillance.
Never assume it is safe to expose yourself to gather intelligence. Always assume apparent quiet harbours danger. Work slowly, cautiously, and methodically. The successful sniper ‘measures seven times and cuts once’.
5. When you must expose yourself, you should expose the barest minimum, be totally camouflaged, and as still as possible.
Lie like a stone and merely observe. Aim to be completely invisible, even to the trained eye.
6. Yours is a war of nerves, concentration, and endurance.
Create distractions, exasperate him with diversionary movements, and exhaust his ability to concentrate.
7. Use a dummy close to your own position.
The dummy is designed to draw the attention and fire of an enemy sniper, so that he reveals his position.
8. Alternatively, allow the enemy sniper to get used to a dummy until he becomes careless about it.
Then take its position, and get the enemy sniper in your cross-hairs.
9. Do not fire until you are absolutely certain of a kill.
If you fire without a clear target, you reveal your own position.
10. Everything depends upon exhaustive intelligence, meticulous preparation, careful attention to detail, and endless patience.
Impatience is death.
For full feature about Vassili Zaitsev, read the January issue of Military Times magazine