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The Legion in training

By Sgt. Michael Maddox
First published in
SFOR Informer #100, November 8, 2000

Macipolje - Cpl. David Panneckoucke, lies on the ground patiently setting up his sights and eyeing his target. He's trained as a marksman to use the PGM 12.7 mm rifle and has done this plenty of times. But usually, his target are vehicle size, today he's looking to hit a cola can from 1,200 meters.
This may sound far but the rifle he is using can be accurate anywhere from 500 to 1,800 meters.
After getting set up, he fires three rounds down range making corrections after each round. In the end, he finds that he has missed by a half a meter.
While that may sound like a disappointment, it actually means if he were firing on a vehicle he would have hit his target with deadly accuracy.
This was the scene as soldiers from the French Battle Group practised sniping in cool temperatures and high winds Oct. 11. Being able to come that close to such a small target in high winds takes a lot of work, but nothing the soldiers can't handle, according to 2Lt. Francois Theodoly-Lannes.
"I think that the most difficult thing to do here on this range is to evaluate against the wind and the temperature," he explained. "We are not shooting very far today. Normally, you must hit the target. The target for this weapon is not people, it's a car or larger target. If we had used it on a normal target, he would have hit the target."
"Wind can make it harder to hit the target, but we are used to estimating the speed of the wind and the direction when shooting over long distances," he added.
Two weeks of each year are dedicated to training with this weapon. The practice at Macipolje went towards that requirement and refreshed the soldiers’ knowledge of just how a sharpshooter team works on a real mission.
"It takes a team of three soldiers, one NCO who is the team leader, one shooter and one soldier who carries all of the ammunition," said Theodoly-Lannes. "The NCO watches and estimates the corrections on the firing."

Related links:
Training and Exercises

Nations of SFOR: France