From the American Sniper Association:
What is the average distance of a police sniper shooting in the United States? When most people in the tactical community are asked this question, the answers tend to be in the range of 70 -77 yards. When asked about the source of their information, almost all allude to "the FBI statistics." Would it come as a shock to you to hear this is a myth?
The American Sniper Association tried to obtain a copy of that report to study and evaluate. We checked a variety of resources and followed referrals to people who would have the report. Much to our surprise, we discovered the report does not exist. According to the FBI, they do not, nor have they ever, collected that kind of data.
For thirty years, the "70 something" number has been reported as fact. Schools, manuals and articles refer to it to this very day. It has been used as the justification for training, equipping and deploying snipers for decades. The foundation for all of those beliefs and practices does not exist.
Knowing the importance of this information, and the training and deployment issues it will raise, ASA decided to embark on a major project. We currently have a team of volunteers contacting every qualifying law enforcement agency in America to find out if they have a sniper element. If so, then we have a series of questions about any shootings in which their team may have been involved. From the questions asked in the survey, we are learning from what distances shots are being taken. We are learning about times, conditions, weapons, scopes and ammunition used, shot placement, results and bullet performance. We are also collecting anecdotal information from individual sniper incidents, each of which has important lessons learned. And for the first time in history, all of this information will exist in one formal report. This will be a monumental accomplishment.
The finished report is not a dry recitation of statistics. It contains facts and numbers, but includes lessons learned and details of specific incidents.
• In addition to being able to finally establish the real "average distance" of a police sniper engagement, it also points out the special circumstances, with important learning points.
• Readers will learn the times of day and night shootings have occurred. This will emphasize the importance of varying training hours.
• The report also presents evidence to support the need to practice shooting positions beyond prone bipod. Snipers have had to employ a variety of improvised positions to accomplish their missions.
• Anecdotal evidence is presented showing the high percentage of sniper shootings that result in through and through wounds.
Why does any of this matter? What will be the impact and importance of this information? We believe:
• Rifle manufacturers will find out how their products are really working in the field. From actual operational information gathered from teams, they will be made aware of successes, as well as the failures some weapon systems have suffered.
• Ammunition manufacturers will see statistical data and empirical proof of the over penetration problems match grade ammunition continues to have. Hopefully, this will lead to changes in bullet designs before a tragedy occurs.
• Night vision manufacturers will be able to learn how and when their equipment is needed and is being used. They may also learn why it is not being used by some agencies.
• SWAT commanders, trainers and administrators will know with certainty the historical distances, circumstances and outcomes of sniper incidents from around the country. This information will directly affect training, policies, budgeting priorities, equipment purchases and deployments far into the future.
The content of the report does not specifically identify any officer or agency. The information collected is regarded as sensitive and will not be made available to the general public. The finished publication will be circulated within the community, mailed only to officers and administrators at their agency.
We also plan to maintain accurate updates of the collected data for several years into the future to keep our data current. In order to facilitate this, we are asking every agency to voluntarily submit a copy of the survey form any time their snipers use deadly force. A copy of the form can be found at the ASA website. Please return completed forms by mail, e-mail or fax.
If you have questions about the survey, or would like to add a report, please contact the American Sniper Association.
Update: The 2019 Sniper Utilization Survey Report is now available. Copies are sold to law enforcement and military personnel only. Contact ASA, or visit their website for ordering details. The 2011 - 2017 Survey Reports are still available in limited quantities. Order soon to secure remaining copies.
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