We all know that war is hell: It is an unrelenting barrage of horror and tragedy, and lots of people die screaming in the mud. It's always been that way, back to the birth of man -- but hey, it sure looks cool, doesn't it? Without war, we wouldn't have clashing sword duels or high-stakes dogfights or raging action heroes mowing down wave after wave of ethnic stereotypes. Well, you might want to put on some comfy pants and get out a tub of consolation ice cream, because we're about to let you way, way down. Turns out real war looks nothing like the movies, and for the most part, it's just a bunch of quiet people concentrating really hard until it's time to push a button.
5Real Sniping Is Way More Math Than Eagle Eyes
The sniper is the one military role that video games might actually adequately prepare us for. It's mostly lying down far away from the fight, lining bad-guy faces up with the scope and using some simple hand/eye coordination to blow them away. Even super realistic movies like The Hurt Locker don't make it look all that different from playing a game of Callfield: Battleduty.
"Hell, this 'Iraq' bullshit looks easy."
Actual sniping is less about lining up the cross hairs and more about having a complex understanding of physics. It's one thing to shoot a guy standing 20, 50 or 100 feet away. It's another thing entirely to make that shot from 1.5 miles away, as Canadian sniper Rob Furlong did.
At that distance, you have to take wind resistance into account, because it's going to slow your bullet down. And you also have to keep in mind that your bullet will drop while it's in flight. Furlong's shot may have taken up to four seconds to hit, and dropped 256 feet on its way to hitting that terrorist. This means that he had to aim several hundred feet above the head of his target to make that shot. Wind resistance and drop aren't the only things to keep in mind, either. Gunpowder burns at a higher rate when it's cold and a lower rate when it's warm, which causes bullets to hit high in warm weather and low in cold weather. And while you're checking on the weather, make sure to pay attention to the elevation -- the thin air at higher altitudes makes your bullets fly faster and flatter.
"Sir, I'm packing up. All I've shot in the last four hours are two scientists, a climber and a few penguins."
Sounding a lot more complicated now? Because we haven't even gotten into how the length and "twist" of the barrel will affect your shots. Or how the rotation of the Earth can mess things up. Snipers aren't deadly because they carry the biggest guns; they're deadly because they've learned how to weaponize math.
Furlong didn't do something as trivial as point a stick really well; he figured out the calculations necessary to arrive at the coefficient of death in the middle of a goddamn gunfight. Now, he didn't do it entirely in his head: Professional snipers have cheat sheets of data and theorems that inform their shots. They also often assemble DOPE logs (Data on Personal Equipment) to catalog and compensate for all the little variables in their own equipment. But whether or not they're using cheat sheets, a shot is not just pulling the trigger -- it's factoring in an astronomical number of variables and arriving at a mathematically sound solution, and then using that math to explode somebody else's head.