by Dave Amerland
Published by St. Martin’s Press
ISBN: 9781250113672
eBook ISBN: 9781250113689
Copyright (c) 2017 by Dave Amerland

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“There is a Rudyard Kipling poem called “If—”. It was written in 1895 and its opening stanza goes:

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs…

In his autobiography Kipling left clues that it had been inspired by Leander Starr Jameson who was to become the tenth prime minister of the Cape Colony in what today is South Africa and the man who led the failed Jameson Raid that sparked the Boer War. Kipling might as well have been thinking of snipers. “If—” is an inspirational poem about enjoying a natural competitive advantage through discipline of thought.

On the morning of November 2009, as his comrades came under attack, Craig Harrison may not have been thinking of Rudyard Kipling. His brain, engaged in its calculations, had little capacity to think of itself and the situation he was in, in terms of poetry or Hollywood films. He was, however, about to exhibit exactly the extraordinary type of mental discipline and concentration that Kipling’s poem celebrates.

As he watched the ambush unfold through the lens of his sniper scope, he did indeed, keep his head. His training coolly took over and he started doing what he had been conditioned to do. Over the course of three hours Harrison used his long-distance and elevated position to harass and suppress as much of the enemy as he could in an attempt to create opportunities that would help his fellow soldiers escape. It was at the end of that three-hour stint, when human concentration levels begin to flag and mental and psychological fatigue kick in, however, that Craig Harrison made shooting history.

The Taliban had managed to set up a two-man machine gun in an elevated, well-covered position on a hillside. From there it started bringing down a hail of fire on the exposed British soldiers in the plain below, pinning them down in the open. The British unit that Harrison had been protecting up to that point was suddenly threatened with being overrun.

Through the scope of his rifle Craig Harrison could see the men behind the machine gun, lying prone on the ground. He knew that he did not have a lot of time to do something to help the troops pinned by the machine gun’s withering fire. The problem he was facing, however, was one of distance. The L115A3 long-range rifle Harrison was using is designed to achieve a first-round hit at 2,000 feet (600 meters) and harassing fire out to 3,600 feet (1,100 meters). British snipers have recorded kill shots with it at 5,000 feet (1,500 meters). The machine gun Harrison was looking to silence that day, however, was positioned more than 3,000 feet (900 meters) beyond that range.

As he recalled in The Longest Kill, the book he wrote about his time in Afghanistan: “All the evidence said that it couldn’t be done; that this shot was impossible. It was far outside the recognized range of the rifle.”

I was out of adjustment in my scope and my position was appalling. Every time the rifle recoiled a little chunk of wall broke away and I had to hold the bipod with my left hand just to stop it falling off. Accurate shooting is all about the minimal transference of interference to the weapon. I was struggling with that one today.

None of all this factored consciously into Harrison’s thinking. All too aware of the catastrophic scene that was about to unfold he was busy changing the settings on his scope. To make things interesting, along with the five factors that make up our staged Hollywood “impossible shot” scene we shall now add a slightly more technical sixth. It’s called the Coriolis effect. Put most simply, the Earth rotates. It spins around its axis at a speed which at the equator reaches 1,040 miles per hour. When we turn and talk to a person standing next to us they appear stationary because we are both connected to the planet. We are both standing on it. So the relative speed of our friend and ourselves is exactly the same. Like two speeding trains running side by side at the exact same speed, objects with the same relative speed do not appear to move at all. But this courtesy does not extend to flying bullets.

The moment a bullet leaves the barrel of a gun it is on its own. It is not connected to the planet. Whatever momentum it carries with it from its time in the gun barrel is constantly bled off with distance while the sniper who fired it and the target he fired it toward, continue to speed, along with the planet at speeds of up to a thousand plus miles per hour.

For Harrison the problem was compounded further. The advertised muzzle velocity of his gun is 3,070 feet per second (936 meters per second). It sounds like a lot but it’s not constant. With no other motive force beyond the initial velocity of its firing a bullet’s reach is a factor of its weight, height, angle of elevation, air temperature, muzzle velocity, and the temperature of the bullet itself. At that speed and with no other factors to take into account, a target’s drift due to the Coriolis effect is just a few inches to the left or right (depending on the Earth’s hemisphere the sniper is in) and up or down (depending on his elevation). The Coriolis effect is at its maximum at the Poles and totally negligible at the Earth’s equator.

Afghanistan is approximately halfway between the North Pole and the equator and the Coriolis effect can produce noticeable drift there. At the distance Craig Harrison was shooting from that day, when combined with all the other factors he had to take into account and the bullet’s six seconds of flight time to reach its target, it made all the difference between scoring a hit and a complete miss.




  1. Seeking a Competitive Advantage
  2. Choosing the Battlefield
  3. The Right Tools for the Job
  4. Smarts
  5. Science
  6. Mind
  7. Fortitude
  8. Preparation
  9. Response
  10. Structure
  11. Feeling
  12. Performance”


Snipers are exceptional. The trained sniper is a complex fusion of hard skills such as weapons knowledge, situational awareness, knowledge of ballistics and physics, and soft skills such as emotional stability, empathy, and a stoic acceptance of the hardships associated with a particular set of circumstances. There are countless instances where a single sniper, embarking on a secret mission, would have to improvise, operate beyond any hope of support, and yet still manage to carry out the mission and get back home unharmed even though the enemy was actively hunting him.

For the first time ever, The Sniper Mind reveals the practical steps that allow a sniper’s brain to work in this superhuman precise, calculated way. It teaches readers how to understand and apply these steps, whether they are stuck in a cubicle facing mounting piles of work or sitting in a corner office making industry-defining decisions.

Through the explanation of advanced military training techniques and cutting-edge neuroscience, David Amerland’s book provides concrete strategies and real-world skills that can help us be better:

-At our jobs

-In our relationships

-In our executive decision making

-In the paths we choose to take through life

By learning how snipers teach their minds to eliminate fears and deal with uncertainty we can also develop the mental toughness we need to achieve the goals that seem to elude us in business as well as in life.


David Amerland helps multi-national clients and start-ups to organize their SEO and Social Media strategies. He is a business journalist, author and international speaker. He blogs about social media and search engine optimization, writes for a number of prominent websites including Forbes, and advises corporations on their social media crisis management techniques. His books on SEO, Social Media and web trends demystify the complexity of the subjects they cover for readers around the world.

This week’s selection ‘SNIPER MIND: ELIMINATE FEAR, DEAL WITH UNCERTAINTY, AND MAKE BETTER DECISIONS’ by Dave Amerland appears Monday thru Friday and comes to you courtesy of dearreader.com and BurlingtonPublicLibrary.ca Business Online Book Club.

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