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

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“Any ambush worth its name has to happen with as little warning as possible. If Musa Qala is hard to navigate on foot, it is even harder to navigate through the crosshairs of a sniper scope that is situated more than a mile away. Under the clear light of an unblinking sun, the nondescript background of the region leeches contrasts out of the scoped image and creates a homogenous backdrop that appears to blur with the passage of time. Shadows thrown by the changing light of the sun’s movement tire the eyes and make the terrain feel uncertain. Deep gullies weathered by time offer impenetrable darkness. Static objects acquire moving shadows. Like much of Afghanistan the landscape reveals itself and hides in plain sight at the same time. It offers up everything to look at and still gives you nothing of substance to see.

When the ambush came Harrison almost did not notice it at first. The Taliban had chosen the spot with care. The Afghan army soldiers and their British escort were overlooked by hills. They were at the farthest point of their sweep from base and nearly one and a half miles away from their sniper overwatch.

As muzzle flashes started to register and bullets started to rain on the metal hulls of the British vehicles, Afghan and British soldiers alike melted frantically into the landscape. They tried to make themselves seem inconspicuous. Invisible. Harrison, from his sniping position, had a clear eye view of the ambush site and things did not look good. He was galvanized into action.

A layperson conditioned by a lifetime of exposure to Hollywood films has an imperfect and flawed understanding of a sniper and what he does. Films, out of necessity, focus on the equipment. There are the weapons, the crosshairs hovering over a target, the bullets being slowly loaded into the gun, the rifle sights being set. The scope that magically brings a target that’s far, far away into sharp relief, almost as if he is standing in front of the camera (which in Hollywood films, he is). They build up a picture that projects almost omnipotent power. They lead us to believe that the moment the crosshairs align on a target a sniper can’t miss. It’s not quite like that, as we shall see.


The history of sniping, in contrast to Hollywood lore, has consistently delivered a pattern of exceptionalism in many of its feats. Snipers have always managed to do more with less. In sniper history, across the ages, a scenario repeats itself. Working under pressure, against the odds snipers manage to transcend the realms of the ordinarily human and enter into a different plane altogether.

The pattern that often repeats itself across history, cultures, and countries, has distinct moving parts. There is no underestimating the enormity of the task facing a sniper. Becoming familiar with just five of the variables that make up each shot, however, helps us understand it a little better. In many cases they appear all at once. In others only a couple pop up, but they are at their most extreme:

Impossible conditions—The weather’s too hot or too cold for your average battle conditions, placing the human body under instant, physical stress. There are crosswinds or updrafts. There is glare or the visibility is poor. Nature is simply refusing to play ball. The terrain is too flat or too mountainous. Its colors are monochromatic, making it difficult to spot movement from a distance.

High stakes—Lives are about to be lost. Friends are in danger. Comrades are under attack, besieged from all sides and, sometimes, wounded and running out of ammo. The sniper himself may be coming under fire or he may be behind enemy lines, operating on the fly, without a spotter. The myriad calculations of each shot now resting only with him.

A ticking clock—Time is never on the sniper’s side. The situation is always tense. Anxiety levels are always high. It is only a matter of time before a position is overrun and colleagues are killed or captured. A high explosive device is being placed in the path of an unsuspecting patrol or a machine gun that’s pinned down friendlies needs to be silenced. There is never enough time for the careful deliberation and planning we see in the movies.

Changing variables—As if having to calculate all the variables that can affect a shot isn’t enough, the variables themselves keep on changing. Targets move. The wind changes. The situation on the ground becomes worse. The sniper who lingers too long over his calculations risks never getting off a shot that will do any good to anyone.

Distant targets—The universe has a sense of humor. It doesn’t matter how powerful a sniper’s rifle may be. How high energy the ammunition being used is. When the crisis hits the sniper will always have to take a shot that’s beyond his weapon’s effective range and somehow still make it work.

If this were a Hollywood set piece, all of this would add up to the scene titled “The Impossible Shot.”

Being a sniper in these circumstances is not only not glamorous or punctuated by the kind of tense deliberation that Hollywood films make out but, as any gamer who’s into first-person shooters will attest to, adrenaline and excitement alongside the tension of the game create overreactions that force obvious mistakes. A sniper attempting a shot that’s against the odds has to battle a combination of all the difficult conditions the situation throws up to his face, plus his own human nature.”


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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