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USMC Scout Sniper
How to make a hide

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a.    Definition of a Hide. A hide is a scout snipers position which he has constructed in a specific location suitable for sniper operations. The hide must provide maximum fields of observation and fire, camouflage and concealment, and protection from hostile fire and Weather.
b.    Location of Hides. After deciding upon an area of operation, the sniper must choose a specific spot from which to operate. A position or hide that looks obvious and ideal for the sniper will appear as such to the enemy. The sniper should avoid obvious hides and stay away from prominent, readily identifiable objects. The general location of a hide is determined by the ground to be covered. Detailed location requires careful reconnaissance. Likely positions may be found in such places as hedgerows, ruined buildings, rubbish heaps, treelines, etc. The sniper should make the best use of available terrain and natural camouflage to reduce the construction effort of his hide.

1)    Isolated and conspicuous cover should be avoided because the enemy will key in on these areas.

2)    Tree top positions should never be used because they are unsteady and hard to occupy and vacate without being seen.

3)    In built-up areas, buildings, sewer gratings, and vehicles can make good hides.

a)    A study of large scale street maps, low level aerial photos, sewer plans, and street photos taken by foot patrols are helpful for planning a general hide location.

b)    Once these have been examined a further ground reconnaissance is needed to determine the approach route and exit.

c)    Arcs of observation must also be carefully considered because they can be severely limited in such an area.

4)    When possible, some sort of obstacle should be placed between the sniper and his target area. This will help to slow down the enemy if he attempts to rush the hide in the event the snipers position gets compromised.


a.    Loopholes. A loophole is an aperture made in the hide for observation and firing under concealment. Loopholes should be constructed so they afford an adequate view of the required field of fire. They should not be positioned aiming directly into the sun at the times in the day when the majority of shooting is planned. They should be constructed so that they are wide at the back and narrow in the front, but not so narrow that observation is restricted. Loopholes may be made of any materials that are natural to the surrounding or that can be properly and cleverly concealed.

b.    Elbow Rest. Some form of rest for the sniper and observer should be constructed. This type of rest can be constructed with sandbags to the rear of the firing and observation loopholes.
c.    Cover. Covering the sniper hide gives the sniper team cover, concealment, protection, and some comfort. To get this protection and comfort, the sniper team should construct the cover of the hide with at least 2 feet of soil and, if time permits, logs, soil, rocks, and sod, in that order. If waterproofing is desired, ponchos, paper, canvas, or empty sandbags may be placed between the log and soil layers to prevent water from seeping through.

d.    Front and Rear Appearance. The natural appearance of the ground in front and rear of the hide must remain unaltered to avoid detection. If the hide is properly constructed and concealed, the enemy should be able to pass right over the top of it without suspecting the presence of snipers.

e.    Entrance. The sniper team must have a way in and out of the hide. This hole should be big enough for the snipers to enter and leave. Once inside the hide, they must cover this hole to prevent light from casting through the loopholes. This entrance should be well camouflaged.

f.    Movement in and out of the hide should be kept to a minimum. The sniper should work under the assumption that his position is always under enemy observation.


There are three basic types of hides. The actual size and shape of the hide will vary according to the situation. The hide should be modified to meet the demands of the situation.

a.    Belly Hide. This type of hide is best used in mobile situations or when the sniper does not plan to be in position for an extended period of time.

1)    Advantages.

a)    It is simple and can be built quickly.

b)    Many can be made if the sniper team is expected to be mobile.

2)    Disadvantages.

a)    It is uncomfortable and cannot be occupied for long periods of time.

b)    The snipers head and shoulders are exposed to enemy fire.

c)    There is no protection from weather or enemy fire.

d)    The sniper has to enter the position from the front.

3)    Construction.
a)    Construction of a belly hide consists of scraping out enough turf to allow the body from the back on down to be below the surface. Because the head and shoulders are exposed when in this firing position, the sniper must have an adequate ghillie suit and veil to provide concealment.

b)    The hide must be dug so that the observer can fit into the same hole in a position enabling him to communicate easily with the shooter.

c)    A camouflage net laid out over both of the team members heads and shoulders will allow them to operate and communicate under concealment.

b.    Improved Fire Trench Hide. This hide is no more than an improved fighting hole.

1)    Advantages.

a)    Enables the team to maintain a low silhouette in their firing position.

b)    Easily constructed by modifying an existing fighting hole.

c)    It can be occupied for long periods of time with some degree of comfort.

d)    Provides a small degree of protection from indirect fire.

2)    Disadvantages.

a)    It is not easily entered or exited.

b)    There is no overhead cover when in this firing position.

3)    Construction.

a)    A camouflage cover made of either logs or a net-type arrangement is placed over the rear portion of the hole leaving enough room for the sniper and observer to operate.

b)    Once again, a camouflage net over both the team members will allow the team to communicate and operate under cover.

c)    Semi-Permanent Hide. This hide resembles a fortified bunker and should always be used if time and situation permit. Most hides built in built-up areas will be of this type.

1)    Advantages.

a) It can be occupied for long periods of time with some comfort.

b) Gives protection from fire and shrapnel.

c)    Enables freedom of movement inside the hide.

2)    Disadvantages.

a)    Takes time to construct.

b)    Equipment such as picks, shovels, axes, etc. are needed for construction.

3)    Construction. There are a few different types of semi-permanent hides.

a)    Berm Hide. This hide is made by digging from the reverse side or top of a berm and burrowing out a hide from the inside.

b)    Room Hide. This is an urban hide utilizing a room in a building and firing from either the window or a loophole that may be built through the wall.

c)    Crawl Space Hide. This is an urban hide built into the space between floors in multi-story buildings. The loophole is difficult to build. Teams can be emplaced by a patrol and an entry hole covered up with carpet or furniture and then recovered later.

d)    Roof Hide.

1 This is an urban hide built in the roof of a frame type building. When the roof has no structure protruding to provide protection, the position must be prepared from underneath the roof. A few small pieces of roofing material should be removed to allow the sniper to engage targets in his sector. The position should be supported and reinforced with sandbags. The sniper may fire from a loophole constructed under a roof tile that has been removed or displaced. There should be no visible sign of the hide or the sniper.

2 In cases where there is protection on the roof itself, the sniper fires from the reverse side of the roof around a chimney or over rooftop structures. The peak of a roof provides a vantage point for snipers to increase their field of vision and the range at which they can engage targets.

d.    The Use of Buildings as Hides. Buildings offer good opportunities as field firing positions (FFP) and observation posts (OP) under static conditions. It should be remembered, however, that isolated buildings and prominent structures such as city halls, churches, and schools are likely to be the subject of enemy operations and heavy weapons. Buildings should be prepared much in the same way as other hides.

1)    Similar precautions towards concealment must be taken.
2)    Special care should be taken not to alter the outward appearance of the building by opening windows or doors that were found closed. Curtains should not be removed. Windows can provide excellent firing positions. They can be reinforced with sandbags or other available materials. However, the sniper must avoid barricading only the window from which he is firing, and he must be sure to create irregular shaped loopholes that are not easily identified by the enemy.

3)    Actual firing positions should be well back into the natural shadows of the room. A drape screen should be used if possible.

e.    Improvised Hides. Some hides may be quickly improvised using available terrain and vegetation.

1)    Shell Holes. Shell holes save a lot of digging but they need plenty of wood and rope to secure the sides. Draining is the main disadvantage for occupying a shell hole.

2)    Tree or Stump Hides. Trees should be used that have a good deep root such as oak, chestnut, or hickory. During heavy winds, these trees tend to remain steadier than pines which have a surface root system. A large tree should be used that is in back of the tree line. This may limit the field of view, but it will afford better cover from enemy observation.


a.    Hide Construction Considerations. There are several things the sniper team must consider before constructing a hide:

1)    Concealed Approach. It is essential that the natural appearance of the ground remain unaltered, and that any camouflage done reflects the natural terrain and environment. All work done on the hide is wasted if the snipers are observed entering the hide.

a)    Hides should have concealed approaches whenever possible.

b)    Enter the hide under the cover of darkness.

c)    Movement around the hide should be held to a minimum and trail discipline adhered to.

d)    In built-up areas, a secure and quiet approach is needed. A possible ploy might be to use a house search with the sniper gear hidden among the rest of the patrols gear. Sewers may be used for movement.

2)    Start With Pit. Construction of the hide should begin with the pit. This gives the sniper team something to fight from if they are compromised.
All uncovered dirt or spoils should be carried off in a sandbag, poncho, etc., and hidden. This dirt may be placed in plowed fields, under a log, spread around the base of bushes, or just carried a distance away from the hide site and camouflaged.

3)    Loopholes. The construction of loopholes requires care and practice. They must afford adequate cover of the field of fire. The field of view must be checked throughout the construction of the hide to ensure it affords the sniper team adequate coverage of the enemy.

    a)    Loopholes should be constructed so that they are as narrow as possible in the front and then widen out inside the hide. This presents a small hole from in front of the hide but allows the sniper team to observe and shoot by simply moving their position inside of the hide.

    b)    The hide should have two loopholes.. One for the observer and one for the sniper. If the loophole is made large enough for both team members to see, they may give their position away to the trained eye of the enemy sniper.

    c)    Loopholes must be camouflaged using foliage or other material which blends with or is natural to the surroundings. Logically, anything not in keeping with the surroundings will attract the enemys attention.

4)    Overhead Cover.

        a)    In a semi-permanent hide, large logs can form the base of the roof.

        b)    A dust cover made from a poncho, layers of empty sandbags, or canvas off the back of an unguarded truck is then                  placed over the logs. This serves to weatherproof the hide.

        c)    After the dust cover has been placed, dirt is placed over it for protection. Then if available, a layer of gravel.

        d)    After the gravel, lay a final layer of dirt and then camouflage.

        e)    Remember, with all of this material the sniper team must countersink the roof or they will end up with a large mound                  that will be difficult to conceal.

5)    Bulletproof. Every effort should be taken to construct the front of the hide so that it is bulletproof. The following techniques can be used:

        a)    Kevlar flak jackets can be stuffed around the loophole areas.

        b)    An angled armor plate with loophole cut into it can be emplaced behind the actual hide loophole.

6)    Screens. Any light shining through the loophole from the rear will appear as a headlight in the ground, giving the position away. It is necessary then to have a cover or screen over the entrance and also one on the inside of the loopholes.

        a)    When a man is going through the entrance the loopholes must be covered, and when the loopholes are in use the                  entrance must be covered.

        b)    It is advisable to have a door on the entrance sturdy enough to hold a man if someone steps on it. This prevents                  unwanted guests.

7)    Comfort. It is important that the sniper team not be cramped and uncomfortable in the hide. Effectiveness will drop if the team is unable to relax and perform their mission without undue stress.

        a)    Adequate headroom is essential for firing and observing.

        b)    A seat or bench arrangement is essential so that the team has a place to relax.

        c)    In a snow hide, available materials may be placed on the floor of the hide to provide warmth.

        b.    Materials. Hides may be made of stone, brick, wood, vegetation, or turf. Materials used should reflect the natural                  environment and terrain. Hides will more often than not be built in close proximity to the enemy so construction of an                  elaborate nature will be rare.

1)    Vegetation used to conceal hides must be changed periodically to prevent wilting or an unnatural appearance.

2)    Snow hides must be constructed the same way. They must be built using the surrounding materials and they must appear as natural as possible so that they remain undetected by the enemy.

c.    Tools. The sniper may use a number of tools to construct his hide. He will use whatever tools he has available to him such as a bayonet, knife, entrenching tool, shovel, axe, pick, saw, and sandbags. Most of these tools are too bulky to be carried by the sniper. If a backup patrol is to be used to assist in carrying any tools, prior coordination should be made. If a backup patrol is to help construct a hide, they should be briefed prior to departure on what will be expected of them.