Army Introduces New Sniper Competition Rules

For the first time in the U.S. Army International Sniper Competition’s history competitors will be provided weapons from the Army’s inventory instead of bringing their own. The Army will provided each team with a 7.62x51mm short-action Remington 700 for the primary sniper, a M110 semi-automatic rifle for the spotter and two M9 pistols. The teams can bring their own daytime optics, provided they are no greater than 12x in power, but night time optics will be provided.

10th Mountain Sniper team competing with the M24 and M110 combo at the 2008 competition.

These rules are supposedly to level the playing field. The overseas teams, which includes Canada, Australia, Ireland, Germany and possibly Thailand, might disagree that the playing field in level when they are required to use weapons they are unfamiliar with. Sniping is supposed to be a lot more than just shooting. If equipment plays such a great role in determining the winner, the competition course should be redesigned rather than penalizing the overseas teams.

[ Many thanks to Lance for emailing me the link. ]

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • SpudGun

    All might be fair in love and war, but it sure ain’t in shooting competitions.

    Could you imagine any of the IPSC or 3 Gun competitors showing up for a match and having their balanced, smithed, tuned and optically familiar guns taken away before being handed someone else’s AR, pistol and shotgun? They’d have a fit.

    To add insult to injury, the competitors are going to be handed rifles from the Army Inventory. Will these rifles be new, used, broken in, reliable, tuned, compensated, etc.? Instead of eliminating variables, they’ve introduced a whole new set that heavily favors the US Army.

    This reminds me of the time a friend tried to introduce me to practical pistol shooting. I showed up at the range with a CZ and was told I could only load 7 rounds into the magazine. This was to make it ‘fair’ for the 1911 bunch. I thought, this isn’t very practical or fair.

  • Doug

    I think it does level the playing field… between the international teams, but gives a huge advantage to the US. This may look good on paper, but if the US wants the competition to continue, they may want to reconsider.

  • SpudGun

    Having re-read the article, there also isn’t any mention of ammunition. I’m going to assume that the US Army will be supplying the rounds as well.

    So spending weeks working up those handloads (including powder and bullet configurations) that provide maximum accuracy in one rifle will be inadequate in another.

    May the competitor who gets the best combination of rifle and ammo (through sheer luck) from the armory triumph fairly!

  • Bob

    One of the great virtues of competition is that it really tests the quality of equipment. Competitors learn very quickly the strengths and short comings of different kits. It seems like the Army is loosing a great learning opportunity.

    Maybe next year they’ll force everyone to use MIL/MOA or MOA/MIL scopes deeming the convenience of common measurement outside the spirit of the competition.

  • jdun1911

    They should allow them to used their own standard military equipments. Gears does play a major roll.

    If you have Netflix you can watch the 2008-2009 competition.

  • Squidpuppy

    They get 2 days with the firearms provided, but modern high precision shooting seems as much about the equipment, and specialized ammo designed for that equipment, as the team behind the trigger, so this seems odd.

    If I were running a top gun shoot, I’d include a restricted class event as _part_ of the competition set, but there’d be additional events for 7.62×51 on team equipment, and .416 – .50 BMG events on restricted, and team equipment.

    Restricted equipment events would allow 2 days familiarization, and 2 days for custom ammo loading and/or additional tuning prior to the scored event. Only seems fair.

  • Justin

    This is flat out idiotic. How can anyone call themselves the top sniper if the people who run the event ban everything? If you can’t let your competition have the weapons they want, then how can you even say you were even challenged at all during the event? I hate when people kill competitions by banning everything they don’t like. I think all the international teams should drop out and make a new competition that isn’t so one sided.

  • Erik

    Might as well make it an International Palma match while they’re at it. Jesus.

  • Jared

    The rifles, well, at least they should be pretty good. But the pistols? Really? Who in their right mind would pick an M9 for a competition? That will definitely be a penalty to the foreign teams.

  • Sandwichy

    Not only does the gear play a major role, but I would think that the gear selection would also speak for the skill of the operator. It’s like getting rid of the caddy and making everyone use the same driver on the putting green.

    Even the American competitors should feel cheated, and I’m sure they probably do. If I were competing, I wouldn’t want the visitors thinking I’m backing down from a fair fight.

  • Lance

    Think it makes it fair. But only to Army personnel. marine and navy snipers who use M-14 and M-40 series weapons will be set back since they don’t use M-24s or M-110s.

    However this will be interesting to see.

  • Markus

    Well, if it gets too hard to win at your own game, simply change the rules to suit you, I guess. After all, that seems to have become the American thing to do!

    Maybe that’s a bit too cynical, but limiting competitors to a weapon system they’re not terribly familiar with doesn’t sound “fair” at all, especially to international competitors who are used to a completely different setup. Personally, I wouldn’t be exited about a competition, where I’m not allowed to test (part of) my own equipment.

    Carry whatever you’d carry into combat should be the only guideline, IMHO.

  • Saint Dude

    It’s great and all that the US Army want to level the playing field, but by supplying weapons their own snipers are used to isn’t exactly leveling the field. Something that no (competing) army around the world uses is the best option.

  • subase

    Makes sense, at least with the 700, most nations snipers are familiar with that one. The M9 is flatout bad sportsmanship, noone uses that pistol design anymore except the U.S, they should have made it a Glock.

    The M110 is pretty controversial as it’s a entirely a U.S centric weapon. Nonetheless it’s understandable as it’s just an accurized AR-10 and it’s equivalent can be found in every nation, I think. Should have chosen the SR-25 over the M110.

    If they were really honest about standardizing equipment, they would have chosen a combo that’s easily available to as many nations as possible.

  • Alex Vostox

    If the rule about bolt-action for main sniper and semi auto for spotter plus two pistols. I agree.
    But using the only USA rifle that only USA riflemen is familiar is suck. Seriously. We won’t find the worlds best sniper rifle. Remember, sometimes the competition like this also the best sneak peek for the other sniper rifle other Remy 700 .

  • hpavc

    I agree with Justin, this is a completely different event.

  • Mat

    Army is just true to use tradition if you can not ‘win a sport invent a new one’ or bend the rules in this case.

    U.S. Army International Sniper Competition is just barely international and not many international teams show up to begin with,until the last edition the ‘World Police and Military Sniper Competition’ was ‘the competition’ in sniper circles.
    But if they are afraid that international teams have an edge because of the equipment ,that your problem who forced you to buy second rate gear from remington and knights armament.

  • Pedro

    I think there is some merit in standardising all the equipment used.

    The competition is (or should be) about skills, not equipment.

    I assume that all the issue stuff will have been blueprinted and checked by qualified armorers and it will be a “number out of the hat” allocation to competitors.

    Having said that, there is much to be learned from seeing and trying out other country’s weapons and equipment.

    Glad it is not my call.

  • subase

    Also this change makes me question the entire premise of the competition. Is it meant to bring together snipers from around the world or just a place for the U.S to sharpen it’s sniping skills at the expense of foreign competitors?

  • Sid

    I would think that they would want to create seperate divisions. One for standard/specified guns and one for custom guns. Just my thoughts.

    Contrary to what many many believe, sniper weapons are assigned in the US Army. Leave a unit, leave your weapon. For the US Army, it makes sense that giving a soldier a weapon for two days to familiarize and zero is adequate. That is what happens in US Army Sniper School.

    Although many will complain, I can understand the US Army’s thinking. They are trying to judge the shooter and not the equipment. By baselining the equipment, it becomes more about the skill and talent of the soldier. Too many times, I have had soldiers not perform well with their assigned weapon only to claim if they had (insert weapon or accessory here) they would have shot better. My honest reply is that we deploy with the weapons and accessories we are issued. It is not a contest of you and your deer rifle against me and my M4.

  • ThomasD

    Are there foreign competitions where US teams compete? If so, what are the rules, and required kit, at those events? Is there any chance this is tit-for-tat?

    Personally I’d say the only interesting competition would be teams using exactly what their own military provides and or allows.

  • gose

    Trying to level the playing field usually just ends up favoring someone/something else, but maybe that was the whole point of this? 😉
    If a country kept getting their asses kicked because of their equipment, maybe that would have been good feedback to take home for a potential reevaluation…
    Would be interesting to know what prompted the change, feedback from the competitors or the ill-conceived idea that this would be a good thing for the competition.

  • Ross

    This seems it would provide the U.S. team with a significant advantage, but, probably more significantly, it puts every other team at a big disadvantage.

    Can anyone think of another sport/competition where the equipment is provided?

  • Samopal


  • Stefan

    I’m guessing the US have been losing lately and got tired of it?

    I’ve been shooting with a Swedish PSG 90 (a L96A1 Arctic Warfare with Hendsolt optics for the last 4+ years

    Sure it’s a 7,62:51, but do they seriously consider it to be an “level” playing field if they give me a rifle, that I legaly in Sweden probably can’t get a hold of? This with optics I have never used? And probably with ammo I haven’t used in years. I’m no where near being a participant in any event like this, but it just seems fkd up…

    Sure is a good way to not get any participants from outside the US though.

    I would favour this solution if there was a rotation system so that next year everyone gets stock PSG 90s, the year after that a SIG-Sauer SSG 3000 etc etc etc. Probably won’t happen though.

  • Hryan

    Not quite sure what the fervor is about; all the competitors are aware of the rules and have time to train on the prospective weapon systems. Equipment can matter, but the shooter is more important; put a tuned 1911 into a novice’s hand and they are still a novice. Further, a true shooter, including a sniper, should be able to adapt and overcome and use a variety of weapon systems under less than ideal situations.

  • Vtb

    Sometimes to take your own weapon out of the country and bring it into US is harder than just to make a pair “rem700 + AR10” and handload copy of m118 round to train with.

  • Vitor

    That’s lame, besides putting the guys in disadvantage, we miss the chance of seeing a lot of guns we lust in action.

  • Thomas

    Sniping is an art form that is dependent upon many things, not just marksmanship. In the last few years, the military sniping competitions have become more about marksmanship than about the tactics and techniques of sniping. If they want to establish an equal footing for marksmanship, then issue out of the box Ruger No. 1s with out of the box optics and let these boys compete. It don’t get much more equal than that.

  • Doug

    If they want a level planning field they should allow everyone to bring their choice of rifle, then put all guns in a pool and randomly draw rifles for each user. I dont blame anyone for dropping out now, heck I wouldn’t compete with what amounts to a rigged competition. I see what they tried to do, but it was an epic fail.

  • Paul

    wow, sniping’s very own “world” series :-p

  • Sandwichy

    If they really wanted to make it about marksmanship they could always pick random surplus weapons from WW2. Mosin-Nagants, M1 Garands and Webley Mk 2’s would make for great competition. Maybe I watch too much Top Shot.

  • Cam

    I remember watching Top Sniper or something like that on Military once, which IIRC is the same competition. If it is, it doesn’t matter if this goes through or not, because the US teams won every even in that, except the Canadians who won one. Other than that, it was USMC, US Army, and other branches that took home every medal.

  • Caseless

    If there’s enough dissension, Army can use the USPSA model. Unlimited division for teams using their own equipment. Limited division for using standard gear provided by the Army.

  • gunslinger

    like in golf having a golf course say what clubs each player can use, or in nascar saying what specific brands of cars and tools they can use…

    if they want to level the field, they can have a “stock” of weapons and tdo the draw from a hat type thing. either everyone brings their own weapon, or everyone gets a weapon they are not familiar with.

  • John Doe

    That’s not really fair, why don’t they just use a plain old Remi 700 or some no-name sniper rifle no one uses?

  • 6677

    The m110 is essentially an AR10 derived weapons platform which many militaries will use a similar variation of (britains L129 for example). But I agree that if your going to level the playing field by forcing a specific gun onto the competitors that it shouldn’t be one from the host countries inventory. Massively biased towards the USA in this instance with slight advantages to teams that are from countries using AR10 type weapons.

    I think they should enforce the weapon as being a randomly selected no-name gun.

  • Carlos

    British Army snipers use AI AW the l129 is for section level sharshooters, so using an m110 is not going to be familiar

  • subase

    If they wanted a degree of standardization they could simply have made the rules that a team is allowed two rifles both in .308 one military design bolt action and one military design semi auto with max 20 round magazine.

    If they then wanted the competition to still be a testing ground for sniper techniques for the military. They could have just made a rule that U.S residents and citizens can only choose rifles and pistols in the U.S armory.

    No doubt they’ll change their mind, why would foreign snipers go to all the hassle (and it is a hassle) of learning a new weapon system from their own?

  • Totally unfair to all visiting troops and puts the U.S. in the lead. Very insulting. I just wonder who made up these new rules.