Who Says It Isn’t Affordable?
Equipment has evolved quite a bit since I used my first scoped rifle—a Remington 700 ADL in .308—in my official capacity as a SWAT rifleman / sniper / countersniper / precision rifleman / designated rifleman in 1975. And yeah, all of those nomenclatures were correct based on what era of political correctness we were in or what was required by the agency.
From a precision rifle school perspective in the ’70s, except for some in the military, there weren’t many rifles available in the civilian market, as Vietnam was winding down and everyone was in the peace and love mode… sort of.
The best rifle shooters were the benchrest guys of the era who shot custom rifles. Thinking I needed one, I had my first custom rifle for LE applications built by Fred Sinclair of New Haven, Ind., in 1975 on a Remington 700 in .308. I took a lot of heat over that rifle as it only had a 20″ barrel and I was often asked, “Where’s the rest of your rifle?” Then again, it turns out now my thoughts for a shorter compact rifle for police applications might have been a correct one. Most of the Sinclair work was in the stock and the truing of the action and barrel. I mounted a Leupold fixed 4X scope, and it was a solid rifle for the world I was in, where I needed to positively identify targets and justifiably engage them.
I taught Countersniper (or sniper) skills starting in 1983 for private students before it was the rage it is today. The rifles of that era were mostly Remington 700s or Winchester Model 70s either of the Varmint Special or Match versions. Some military match ammunition was available but a lot of people just shot ammunition that they loaded. The scopes were OK, but there was nothing to get too excited about and absolutely nothing like the high-zoot optics we have today.
Moving forward to 1993, Thunder Ranch, Texas, had three levels of precision rifle applications. They were pretty solid schools and often served as a foundation for other schools to set up programs. After 9/11, as everybody knows, everyone opened a sniper school as it was now cool again. Many people compensated for basic rifle skills by adding a scope to the top of everything from the 5.56mm M4 to the .50 BMG semi-automatics. So the money wars began in military, civilian and other circles to see who could sling the most money at solving the problem of aligning the sights and pressing a trigger correctly—give or take some wind drift.
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