[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/16/art.tuchman.jpg caption="CNN's Gary Tuchman trains like a SEAL in California."]
High in the mountains, about an hour east of San Diego, we get an idea of what it takes to be a U.S. Navy SEAL sniper. We don't know the identities of the snipers who shot and killed the three pirates in the Indian Ocean, staying anonymous is part of the job. But we do know who is in charge of training SEAL snipers for three years. Brandon Webb now owns a company that focuses on law enforcement training, but between 2003 and 2006 he was in charge of curriculum for the snipers.
He entrusts me with an M-4 sniper rifle, puts me on a range, and gives me basic tips about how to become an expert sniper.
We're 100 yards from the "kill" target, somewhat farther than the distance between the vessels in the Indian Ocean drama. He lies on his stomach and takes more than two dozen shots, each one is a kill. He then gets me ready to try. Only shoot at the end of your respiratory cycle so the gun doesn't move he tells me. Position your body comfortably. Look into the high powered scope and line up the crosshairs with the target. And then fire. To my surprise, I hit the target on my first shot. And my second. As a matter of fact, I hit the target almost every time. But, I am in a stress-free situation on solid ground. I also don't have to keep my eye in the scope for hours on end. You take your eye away for a second and you can miss your target. The SEAL sniper training lasts three months and deals with countless variables and tense scenarios.
My training only lasted part of an easy day. But I left with a bit more understanding of what these snipers go through. It's not just being a great marksman; it's also having a temperment that is second to none.
Filed under: Gary Tuchman
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with