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Camouflage

When we talk about camouflage we have to understand what it means first. A simple translation of this term is: making the visible, invisible (or at least less visible). Assuming you have some basic knowledge about this term, we’ll skip to the more advanced part.

Camouflage is a term used a lot by the military, and especially by snipers. Snipers often have to infiltrate deep into enemy territory and remain unseen for a certain amount of days/weeks. To complete their task it’s important they remain undetected. Thus they need to be camouflaged ‘’Camouflage’’ is a rather wide term that sums up multiple aspects concerning camouflage.

When you camouflage something you have to keep all of the following aspects in mind:

  • Shape
  • Shine
  • Shadow
  • Silhouette
  • Sound
  • Speed
  • Surroundings

Shape

The human form with a rifle is one of the easiest things to recognize. We naturally see things as human like even when they are not. It is how we as humans perceive the world, so we must brake up this very obvious shape. To start with you have your camouflage with there displacement patterned material. This uses lines to brake up the flat surface of the body, though it is still very flat. A simple and effective way to brake up the body shape is to use local vegetation. Attach elastic strips to your uniform; this makes the attachment of local camouflage simple. When using local vegetation always remember to not pull up the roots, as vegetation does not grow in mid air. Also look how the vegetation is arranged in the area you are to be working, don't use too much (telegraph polls sticking out of a field is just as obvious as a dark object in the grass). Always match the vegetation on you to that of your surroundings. There is no use covering yourself in ferns if you’re going in to a grassy field as you will silhouette yourself. You could of course construct a ghillie suit. A ghillie suit is a form of camouflage that aids you to hide better as it breaks up your bodies shape better then just using camouflage uniforms. A ghillie suit does not make you invisible, you still need to use local vegetation and the principles of the seven S's to use it to its full advantage.

Shine

Something that people tend to forget in the field is that things shine and reflect light. To the keen observer that is all they need to spot someone hidden in the bushes. The most obvious reflective piece of equipment you may have in your position is your bino or scope. For lenses there isn't that much you can do, ghillie the edges as best you can and try and cover as much of a surface area as possible. Scope lenses also need to be broken up, not only do they reflect the light they are too prominent a shape to be left untouched. There a few things you can do to brake up the shape and destroy the reflective nature of your lenses. To start with you can buy one of two different type sun shields. The first is your standard cover, which protrudes in front of your scope casting a shadow on the lenses. The second is similar to the mesh masks; a mesh is placed in front of the lenses to brake up the glare. Cover the lenses with scrim netting. It is pulled tight over the front of the scope and not only does it prevent most reflection it also breaks up the familiar shape of the front of a scope. Yes you lose a little light but not that much.

Finally the other reflective surface people tend to overlook, their skin. It is extremely easy to brake up the shape of the face and remove its reflective shine with face paint. If you don't want to use any, mud is good enough to remove that shine, though it will not break up the lines of your face. The human features are always easy to recognize, break them up. Finally equipment (rifles, pistols etc.) all needs to be camouflaged. If they reflect they can give you away. Again there are a few methods to do this, from painting, to tape and of course ghillie suits. The first two may remove there shine though the shape will remain, this is where a ghillie is an advantage and is why I Prefer to ghillie my rifles rather then paint them.

Shadow

An important and easy way to remain undetected is to use shadows; you're more likely to remain hidden if people cannot make out what you are. Look where the light is coming from, use it to hide you. Use it to find people, as many hide yet forget to look if they are casting a shadow. Shadows can be helpful as well as unhelpful. Try and keep low to cast as little a shadow as possible, use other shadows to mask your own, and always remember to look carefully at shadows, as there may be another just as able to use them as yourself.

Sound

Even if your completely invisible, a sound recognized by an observer can ruin the entire element of supprise. Not only will it give away that there is something out there, it will most likely also give away a specific area to look at. From this point any movement will be noticed and you are dead in the water

To avoid making sounds you should check your gear for sounds. Pieces of metal like on rifles or other equipment mashed together will make sounds, you could prevent this by 'silencing' the objects by applying fabric on the contact surface.

Once in the field, making sound can not be avoided but it can be minimized. The distance to an observing party is vital when it comes to reducing sounds. Moving slower to minimize sound is required when the distance to the target is small, even if the cover alows for faster movement.

Sound masking and creating diversions is also a solution you might want to consider. Masking sound is possible if the area has ambient sounds such as traffic, lighting storms. Moving while a truck or car is passing by will remove the element of sound for a brief time, use it!

When we are talking diversions we talk about being partially compromised or in need of a quick passing without the need of staying unnoticed. An example of a diversion is applying string to a branch that you passed on your way and simply pulling the cord. This is a simplistic diversion and should be used with caution, if the rope is not straight and catches vegetation on the way it will lead the enemt straight towards you.

Speed

Do things slowly and smoothly; don’t jerk, as it will attract more attention. It is important to think about what the best speed to move at is. If you’re in known dead ground use it and move quickly, but don’t take your self out of breath, as it will throw your aim off. The closer to danger you get the slower you move (unless compromised and you can either remain perfectly still and hope they think it was a random act of movement or you can run for your life.) You would want to be thinking of the first option more than the second, only use the second when you know the first is not even an option. When looking out for movement don’t be distracted by those fast moving people, anybody in your team will either of seen them or you can radio there position in, you might want to concentrate on slow moving people, those that know what there doing. You will need to use movement to judge a person's ability, it will aid in target acquisition, someone that moves deliberately has knowledge of the area and you would expect is more experienced than a person that moves curiously. Looking around them all the time and shooting at anything they see regardless of distance.

Surroundings

Surroundings include your local environment and the local wildlife you are trying not to disturb. Frantically moving grass or bushes indicates to the knowable that there is generally a person near underneath or next to it, making location far easer. You therefore have to think about how you are affecting the ground you’re moving through, and the ground you have moved in to set up a defense position. Use natural disturbances to move things, to try to move them as little as possible. Make sure you’re not snagged on anything and if you are caught on something, be sure to remove it with out disturbing it too much if at all. When thinking about where to go, think about what type of undergrowth you will have to move through, and the effects of your movement upon them. Will it make a lot of noise, will it create a path that is easy to follow, and will its movement alert others to your presents. You need to choose your path with all this in mind, though keep in mind where blind spots are and time constraints.

In defense if you want to hide in a cluster of ferns or other plant life, you might want to take a run and jump in, as to not disturb the outer edge of your semi permanent hide. Don’t choose the most obvious area to choose, choose your location taking in to account what is out there, if it’s the biggest and most obvious piece of ground to use, then the opposition will already be thinking there will be some one there and deal with it appropriately. With regards to wildlife, if you disturb it, it will react to you, animals react to people in different ways, sheep move away from you as a flock, dogs may come up to you as do horses (esp. if you have grass on you... as I found out), cows generally either don’t move or bolt away from you if startled, foxes avoid areas with humans as do deer. Birds fly away from people as well. All these are tell tail signs that can give your position away, but they are very helpful to spot the opposition. I generally spot more people through their lack of thought due to how they’re affecting their surroundings.

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