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How to Become a Police Sniper in SWAT

The movie 'American Sniper' created interest not only for people wanting to join the military, but also for police officers with an interest in joining the high level Police (SWAT) Special Weapons and Tactics units with the prospect of becoming a sniper. But becoming a sniper in the military let alone in Special Weapons and Tactics can be a challenging and complex task.

If your goal is to be a Police Sniper in SWAT, not only will you need to go through passing a SWAT selection, you will have to go the extra mile with being selected for a Sniper Training Course. Besides the regular skills and requirements for a Tactical Police Officer, a SWAT sniper should be one of most experience operators in the teams.

The ultimate question that future SWAT officers would be asking is ‘How do you Become a Police Sniper in SWAT’.

How to become a Police Sniper in SWAT

Get a Good Grounding as a Police Officer First

The primary step in the process of becoming a police sniper in SWAT is first to enlist as a police officer. On that note, it is important to emphasize that there are certain requirements about joining your local or state department. And based on your current qualifications, you will have to go through a designated police academy.

Upon being successful at your academy, you will still have a long road to go with many police departments having a Field Training phase that you will be required to pass before you can even be considered to make the SWAT grade.
You can expect to be on patrol for at least a minimum of 3-4 years to gain valuable street smarts.

If you are brining previous skills from the a military background, or more favorably, have already passed an Army or US Marines Scout Sniper school, you may be fast tracked a year or two depending on how well you can adapt to the role of policing.

Being an ex-military sniper would put you way ahead of many candidates especially with your shooting skills. This is one of many skills that will enable you to be considered as a potential police SWAT sniper.

Combined with that, it is imperative to develop an understanding of urban Close Quarter Skills during your police training. It is important to know Police SWAT Snipers need to have strong knowledge about maneuvering in urban and densely populated areas.

Making the Grade in SWAT as Tactical Operator

The second step in the process is to pass a SWAT unit selection. To be more specific, you will need to apply in order to be considered for a SWAT operator job. Usually, these positions are highly sought after and you may also need the blessing of you immediate supervisors up the chain to assist in recommending you to even get to the starting gate of a SWAT course.

The successful candidates who are chosen for Police SWAT duty may need to return to the police academy for specific SWAT training in close-quarters defensive tactics and the various special weapons use.

During this time, you would also be subjected to highly demanding physical fitness and conditioning.

Go Through a Sniper Training Course

The third step in the process of becoming a police sniper in a SWAT unit is to pass the specialized sniper training. This also may be only after you have spent time on the team and again having proved yourself to your peers, Team Leaders and Superiors. The competition maybe harder again and you will have to compete with other SWAT operators vying for the coveted sniper positions.

Not to worry some SWAT operators are not necessarily suited to the role and may prefer to be Knuckle-Dragging Door-Kicking-Breachers!

Jokes aside, in order to be considered for the sniper position, you must qualify by shooting more accurately and proficiently. Often than not, you must be one of the best shooters from all the candidates and you need your precision shooting skills to be consistent.

Different agencies have different criteria. For example, in most of the states in the US, the mark you need to pass a sniper shoot assessment can be up to a 70-80 per cent success rate.

Also, during this training regime, you will need to show a high degree of patience, excellent observation skills and clear and defined target identification; especially differentiating between hostages and the threat.

Remember the primary role for the police is to arrest the suspect and present them to the judge at court; So in most cases especially in a hostage situation that patience skill set will be the most in use whilst police negotiators are doing their work.

On that note, it is important to emphasize that there are many schools and institutions that offer this kind of training and certification. If the department you are apply for does not have an internal training course there are organizations like the American Sniper Association which provides certified training programs with the critical skills that are required for snipers.

It might be wise to take a closer look at these programs and courses.

Special Weapons and Tactics

Physical Abilities

Another important prerequisite for becoming a Police Sniper is to be in great physical condition. Every member of a SWAT team needs to fulfil the same physical criteria as any other operator. The reasons behind this are quite simple. SWAT teams and police snipers are often engaged in complex and high-stress situations which require strong physical abilities.

Creating an exercise routine or working with hiring a personal trainer helps you meet the physical requirements of being a sniper. You can start a weightlifting and cardio exercise prior to entering the program.

Additionally, outdoor activities can also optimize your skills and abilities that are required for this position. This will increase your chances to be selected as a police sniper in a SWAT unit team.

Combined with that, police snipers need to have a strong mental condition. That way you can judge and anticipate the given situation and find the best possible solution. Your cognitive abilities need to be at a high level.

The SWAT Snipers Bottom Line

On a final note, we can conclude that the goal of becoming a Police Sniper in SWAT can be challenging however with detailed planning and the right attitude, desire to obtain the necessary skills, you can fulfill your ambition of becoming a police sniper in a Special Weapons and Tactics Unit.