Field Tips from the ‘American Sniper’

Former U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle is author of the #1 New York Times Best Seller American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History. He is also president of Craft International, a world-class leader in training and security. Craft offers specialized courses for military, law enforcement, and corporate operators, and limited civilian training.

Kyle and the Craft training cadre are offering a civilian training event called the Rough Creek Shoot Out Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2012. It’s a rare opportunity to be taught by the same top-tier instructors who train the men and women who serve our country and local communities. Registration is $2000, payable before Oct. 26, and the event is limited to 45 participants. Location is the Rough Creek Lodge and Resort in Glen Rose, Texas, located about an hour southwest of Fort Worth.

As SEAL Team 3 Chief, Kyle served four combat tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom and elsewhere. For his bravery in battle, he was awarded two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars with Valor, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, and one Navy and Marine Corps Commendation. Additionally, he received the Grateful Nation Award, given by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Following his combat deployments, he became chief instructor for training Naval Special Warfare Sniper and Counter-Sniper teams, and he authored the Naval Special Warfare Sniper Doctrine, the first Navy SEAL sniper manual. He currently lives with his family in Texas, where he devotes much of his spare time to helping disabled veterans.

In advance of the Rough Creek Shoot Out, the Cheaper Than Dirt Chronicle recently had a chance to ask Kyle about Craft International and his experiences with training civilians.

CTD: What do most civilians want to accomplish at an event like the Shoot Out?
Kyle: Be able to shoot weapons that civilians would never be able to own, learn some marksmanship tips, and have the opportunity to hang out with combat vets.

CTD: What’s the biggest difference between a military or LE operator and civilian student? Fitness? Psychological state? Field craft?
Kyle: The biggest difference is the mind set. Mil and LE are willing to put their lives on the line for people they have never met, and will never meet. We take the tasks at hand more serious. It’s not just for fun, it’s our way of life.

CTD: We saw your video interview with Belinda Luscombe of Time magazine. She looked kinda jumpy. Was it the skull logo on your hat? Or was she surprised to be talking so casually about the reality of wartime sniping?
Kyle: She is not a supporter of the war, and I’m sure it made her nervous that I was so casual about doing my job. She saw me as a person who doesn’t value human life. It’s just the opposite. I value American lives so much that I was willing to kill, or be killed, to protect them.

CTD: Your online materials say, “Craft International offers training to groups of law-abiding civilians looking to increase their own self-reliance to protect themselves or their families, or to increase their long-range rifle skills as sportsmen.” Sniping isn’t usually thought of as a self-defense measure domestically. Do civilian students look at the craft as a pre-emptive defensive response?
Kyle: We do not teach civilians sniping. We do teach precision shooting, which can be employed in self defense and hunting. If someone wants to be a sniper, then they need to enlist in the military or in law enforcement.

CTD: In your experience, do most of your civilian students have the ability to turn on the switch that allows them to shoot in self defense? Or do they understand and accept that in a SHTF scenario that it’s do or die for them and their family and friends?
Kyle: I think most people, when confronted by that situation, would chose to protect their lives and those of their loved ones. But until they are in that situation, they may think of shooting someone else as barbaric. They tend to believe it would never happen to them. Most people live in a dream world, and do not recognize the threats all around us. It only takes one time to open their eyes.

CTD: Except for the .50 BMG, what’s the difference between a good deer rifle and a sniper’s rifle? Remington’s M24 bolt-action sniper rifle in .308 Winchester has a composite stock housing a 40-X action. Is the M24 that much better – more accurate, more reliable, more durable – than the commercial Model 700 XCR, for example?
Kyle: Hunting rifles are very light. They are still accurate and dependable, but you don’t need to shoot round after round in defense of your life. Sniper rifles are heavier and more accurate. They are also designed to withstand the elements and harder conditions. When sniping, your life and those around you can depend on the function of that rifle.

CTD: It would seem that the area around Odessa, where you grew up, presents many of the same shooting conditions you might find in Afghanistan — lots of mirage, not much cover, lots of wind and dust, long shooting distances. Did growing up in West Texas help you during your tours?
Kyle: My dad raised my brother and me around guns. We were shooting all the time, and hunting. That is what helped me the most. It doesn’t matter where you grow up, it all depends on your mind set, and how bad you want to achieve something.

CTD: You did a lot of your work with the .338 Lapua Magnum. Is the .338 Lapua too much cartridge for most civilian shooters? How do you match civilian shooters to rifles and cartridges?
Kyle: For civilians I always ask what they are using it for. For most hunting, a .308 will do the job. I feel that is the best all-round caliber. When going after bigger game and farther distances, then it can be stepped up to a .300 Win Mag or .338. Most people don’t even realize the effective range of their rifles, or are not familiar enough with their rifle, so they have to go up in caliber.

CTD: In your Precision Marksman course description, you say that students will learn how to effectively judge and estimate distance, read wind, use the Mil-Dot reticle, set up shooting positions and platforms, and account for other environmental variables through manipulation of their optic systems. What’s the toughest area of long-range shooting that most civilian shooters have trouble mastering?
Kyle: The hardest part is reading wind. That is a perishable skill. Even for a skilled sniper, if you don’t do it for a while, you can lose it. The only way to be really good at it, is to constantly do it.

CTD: What do most civilian rifles need most to be better long-range tools?
Kyle: You need a good reliable rifle that can maintain accuracy, but it doesn’t stop there. That is just one part of the equation. The ammo should also be looked at. I always see people buying nice rifles, and then putting a cheap scope on it. Unfortunately, when it comes to scopes, you get what you pay for. The most important part of long-range shooting is the operator. You have to know the basics of shooting, and practice, practice, practice.

CTD: What’s the biggest misconception civilians have about the craft?
Kyle: If I tell you that, then I will have to kill you.


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Comments (30)

  1. I’m surprised that little boys like Brad even read these threads. Brad, try reading your Dr. Seuss books again instead of advertising your stupidity and immaturity on a MAN’s website. People like Brad could never fill the shoes of heroes like Chris Kyle. Sadly, our government is full of them.

  2. Mr. Kyle, looking forward to purchasing your book and attend your camp some day. As for that yoyo Brad, you don’t know shit. Apparently you’ve never been in the military, been deployed to a combat zone and much less know what Special Ops Units do. I also am a Texas Veteran who thinks that people like you should be taught a lesson for disrespecting a former Seal. “Hooah Mr. Kyle”

  3. Chris Kyle = Naval Special Warfare Command, SEAL Team 3, Sniper Element Charlie Platoon, four tours of duty, involved in every major battle of Operation Iraqi Freedom, saved the lives of hundreds of soldiers throughout his missions, possible saved thousands of American lifes using his skills that God blessed him with destroying the enemy to save American lifes, overcame extreme enviromental conditions that most people could not even walk in. A TRUE AMERICAN HERO. Sniping is not a game, its not based off statictics or records. Snipers dont care how many people they killed, they care about carrying out the mission, protecting their brothers and getting their ass back home. Chris Kyle is a HERO. I look forward to meeting you one day.
    @ Brad, since I am sure C. Kyle cannot comment on this, I’ll tell you……STFU.

  4. Thank you for being candid, Kyle, and for your service. Thank you for offering to give us some pointers!

    Please understand however that some of us civilians believe they should be armed and capable in a way so as to help defend the freedom of the citizens of the United States against threats internal or external. Please do not dismiss these individuals. I know a few that can hit running deer in wind with deadly precision while standing, and who can bust a stationary coke can at several hundred yards. Granted these are not people they shoot at, nor are they being shot at. All I am saying is that they represent a huge and formidable force of marksmen in this country that no-one seems to realize exists.

    I am happy that some are getting pointers from a professional like you.

  5. To the conehead who referred to Mr. Kyle as a “punk” I would refer you to his book,wherein he offered credit to Hathcock and called him the best sniper in history (paraphrase). Ah yes, a Humble bad ass–the best kind of bad ass.

  6. thank you Kyle and all the men and women in the service of are country it is because of people like you that i and others can walk free in the USA . i do alot of shooting at meets at local shooting ranges have been a shooter since i was a little boy i am able to shoot at targets at very long range love my sport . always look up to people like you who lay down your lifes for others thank you cam fox

  7. Brad, you are a fool for asking such a dumb question. I would bet my life on the fact Mr. Kyle has done his homework on HERO’S that went before him. He has just created another bar for the next man to shoot for. Once that bar is raised again Mr Kyle will be the first to shake that persons hand. Thank you Chris for your service to my country, I look forward to sharing some LA GUMBO with you next month.

  8. thank you for everything you’ve done and continue to do you are a true American hero and i believe that anyone who serves is and i admire them for that. It feels good to know we still have soldiers like u out there protecting us and this country. I’m a hunter and am admit about personal defense i would love to here peoples opinion on what is the best rifle for my money for personal defense again i thank all our men and women serving today my prayers and thoughts are with you

  9. Chris Kyle, an American hero, though chances are he doesn’t see himself as such. I recently saw the episode of Sons of Guns on which Kyle made a guest apperance. It was nice to see a professional in action, especially while using the H&K 416, the gun accredited to shutting off Bin Laden’s computer. I would love to put a few rounds down range with that sweet piece of machinery. Thanks to everyone who has served and those still serving, especially to those on the two-way range.

  10. Chris, Thanks for writing your book and giving us the opportunity to understand the fight and the details of what amazing Americans we have fighting for us. I retired from the Navy in 2007 after 22 years and what always amazed me was the patriotism that young people have and kept coming into the military especially after 9/11. The libs wanted to paint a picture that there was no support for the war but after 9/11 we had to start forcing people out because we were 102% manned and by law cannot go over 101% in any given year. Thank you for looking out for us.

  11. Thanks Chris for your service for our country, read your autobiography, truly a great book, I would encourage anyone to read it. I wish we had many more like yourself in the Whitehouse and elsewhere in politics. I’m so grateful that soldiers like yourself are defending our freedoms over there so that we have our liberties here. I wish too I could take the course, but because of the economy, it is not possible. I will, however, be shootin’ in my backyard!!

    I appologise for Brad’s ignorance. Sadly enough there are some guys out there with little itty bitty man syndrome.Brad must have a very small pee pee and was made to wear dresses by his mommy when he got out of his three cornered pants.Then never getting a date because he was such a geek probably made it worse.But even though he is a couple bricks short of a load he could have a little respect for our brave men and women who make it possible for his stupid ass to make comments like that. Again
    thank you Chris YOU ARE A HERO and I know that you are intelligent enough to excuse those morons who have diarrea of the mouth.

  13. I was in Viet Nam in 1967-1969. I’ll be 70 years old in December. I wish every American could take his course. I have watched America crumble since 1969. The nation is so CORRUPT from the lowest form of government Mayors right to the Oval Office. My life is about over, but my Grand-childrens are not. I wish I had the money to send them to his COURCES. Thank him from me. John

  14. Brad when you have done better than Kyle, than you have earned the right to make a intellegent comment. And for anyone who may have come close or done better, they most likely would have a respect for the person and if they choose to say something would have the right to do so, but most likely would have something positive to say. Show people the respect you deserve.

  15. Thank you Chris and everyone else who does and has put their life on the line for ris or others.I am sure Chris or anyone else will tell you the most valuable skill is practice,practice,practice.Whether it is hunting animals or defending yourself and others.That is the main problem with people that get carry permits.Once they get it they never practice.I know because I have worked as a weapons instructors.The same applies to me.If I go very long without practice very long I lose part of that skill.So no matter what it takes practice.Thanks again Cris,this is from a former military person and former law enforcement officer.

  16. Thank you Chris Kyle for being the kind of hero we can introduce to our kids and hope they will emulate. I watched your Son’s episode and found it awe inspiring that you would air your personal struggles out in public to help fellow soldiers and civilians who might have similar circumstances or are fighting demons of their own. The number of kills or length of shots does not measure the man you are but rather the compassion you show for your fellow man. You Sir stand among the tallest of heroes.
    Thank you for your past service and bless you in your continued service.

  17. As Don points out and Chris’ title states, “the most lethal sniper in U.S. history!” Brad needs his Prozac, he seems somewhat depressed or has other ‘mental’ issues?

    Kudos Chris for you involvement with wounded vets! For any concerned that just saying “thank you” might be insufficient, go here:

    Thanking our vets is nice and appropriate – for many, all they can do, but for me, just saying thank you and moving on is way too easy….as they say, any than can do, should do.

    Semper Fi

  18. Let me state streight out I am anti war and believe that as our founders did that a standing military will cause tyranny in our lands.
    Yet if I could afford the $2000+ I would sign up for the course pronto.
    To improve my mastery of the weapons and the cause I use them for.
    As a hunter I respect my quarry so of course 1 shot quich kill and that takes both the weapons and my own capabilitys to accomplish.

  19. Brad you are a knob of the highest order. Until you put yourself in harms way in defense of country and people, keep your disrespectful mouth shut. Kyle is a craftsman in his particular trade as were the others mentioned above. All rose to occasions : some used ingenuity to get the task accomplished, others had higher ‘scores’…in the end all were patriots who did what was required of them and more. Thankyou Kyle and all those like you…

  20. Thank you Chris; not only for your service but also for the fact that you are helping disabled Veterans as well. I was especially moved by your statements,”..willing to put their lives on the line for people they have never met, and will never meet. We take the tasks at hand more serious. It’s not just for fun, it’s our way of life.”

    God bless you and all of those who have served!!!

  21. Don’t forget that Kris was much more than just a sniper. He was a SEAL. Kris has a skill set that encompasses many more combat specialties. In any case, God bless any and all who have stood between evil and my family.

  22. Chris, thanks for your service and the book. Loved it! Also another excellent book about Seals is “Fearless”. That too was excellent. Live long and prosper, Chris.


  23. Poor Brad. Not very up on things is he? Here’s some info for you, Brad, with stats for a few other snipers as well:

    Chris Kyle’s 255 kills set a record among American marksman and his 2,100-yard shot is unbelievable. But snipers around the world have surpassed him in other ways.

    The most kills: Simo Häyhä, a Finnish sniper, holds the record with 542 Soviet soldiers shot during the Russian invasion of Finland in World War II. Numerous Soviet snipers killed more than 400 soldiers while fighting the Germans.

    Longest shot: Corporal of Horse Craig Harrison, a British marksman, killed two Taliban machine gunners in Afghanistan in 2009 from 2,700 yards with a .338 Lapua Magnum rifle.

    Most innovative: Legendary US Marine sniper Carlos Hathcock made a 2,000-yard shot in 1967 during the Vietnam War with a .50-caliber Browning machine gun fitted with a scope mount of Mr Hathcock’s own design. It was a record that stood for 35 years. Mr Hathcock had 93 kills.

    Previous U.S. record: Adelbert F. Waldron, a US Army marksman in the Vietnam War, held the previous American record with 109 kills.

    Drop the attitude, Brad. It is not becoming. So…still think Chris Kyle is a punk? Who’s lol now, Brad? I think you owe Chris a most humble apology.

    Mr. Kyle, on behalf of a grateful nation, we (most of us anyway) thank you!!!

    Former S/Sgt D. P. Price, USAF/ANG 1976-1982

  24. I have tremendous admiration for all individuals that go to battle face to face with the enemy. However, there are always the regular guys and superstars like Hathcock and Kyle. My question is: how to compare Hathcock to Kyle? Seems to me it is a lot like comparing Joe Louis to Casius Clay. I guess the question really is: how is Kyle more lethal than Hathcock? I am not informed enough to be able to sort this out so I would appreciate some help from the pros. Thanks!


  25. Lol, the most lethal sniper in U.S. history? This guy sure is humble, ever here of a guy named Hathcock? He might have a thing or two to tell you about how lethal you are, punk.

  26. I’ve become a big fan of Mr. Kyle and each time I see him or read about him it only confirms just how lucky we are to have men like him serving in out armed forces.

  27. Dittos to Ward’s comment. Many thanks for your distinguished service and to be willing to help civilians improve their skills. As an old USMC rifleman, the PMI’s (primary marksmanship instructors) are invaluable in teaching inexperienced shooters the tips pro’s must know to get it done with one shot. Snipers, of course, are on a wholly higher plateau. Continued success!

  28. The US has always been blessed to have people like Chris Kyle step forward when they are needed to defend our freedoms. Unfortunately, many who so dismissively and unconsciously enjoy those freedoms, once they perceive that the immediate threat has been eliminated, look upon people like Kyle with disdain and an arrogant sense of moral superiority.

    From a distance, I pity those elitist fools for their complete naivety and ignorance. Up close, I despise them for their arrogance, their very misplaced and mistaken sense of superiority, but most of all, for the damage they do to our way of life.

    Thank you Mr. Kyle for the services you have already rendered and for all that you continue to do to ensure that the pointy end of our spear remains very sharp!

  29. Good article. Just the questions I would have asked. We thank Chris for his service. I hope he has another course in the future and CTD let’s us know about it.

  30. Judging by th abrupt ending, it was a well written last article by our friend Woody. Thank you sir your years of service. Chris Kyle, we respect everything you do and thank you for continuing to serve your country.

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