John C. Simpson has been teaching military and police sniper training since 1985 – nearly as long as I have been alive. I encountered him back when I filmed a video on a Confederate Whitworth sniper, and he helped me correct my explanation of how the British were measuring rifle accuracy and precision. This speaks to his understanding of sniper craft in long historical perspective, and it made me much more interested in his printed work.
He most recent book is a small paperback of just over 120 pages. It is “Foundations of Sniper Marksmanship”, a handbook intended as preparation for a person attending a sniper training course. While it is limited to the basic fundamentals of the subject, it is presented to make clear what is important and what is not. I learned several new pointers on positional shooting and scope zeroing, and several myths are tackled and clearly debunked. In a field like this where the fundamentals have been well understood for many decades (if not centuries), newcomers looking to attract attention will often add complexity to create an impression of special greater knowledge – Simpson cuts through this with the practical experience of a man with more than 30 years’ experience both teaching and doing.
The impetus for this book was to prepare students before attending a class, and I can completely understand that motivation. I have seen plenty of people arrive to a shooting match with a brand new, un-zeroed gun and do terribly as a result. Simpson describes the same thing; students wasting their time and others’ at a training course by arriving without a proper zero and a proper understanding of basic marksmanship principles. He also includes a section on practical fitness, which I was happy to see acknowledged as an important part of real practical shooting.
This is not the sort of book I typically cover here on Forgotten Weapons, but I know we have a subset of viewers and readers who are active military and law enforcement. This is a valuable tool for that group, as well as folks interested in getting started in precision rifle shooting from a practical rather than narrowly competitive perspective.