Inside the mind of a KDF Sniper [Video]

Former KDF Special Forces soldier and trainer Byron Adera explains how a Kenyan sniper's mind works.

A Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldier, part of the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), secures an area during a foot patrol on the outskirts of the controlled area of the old airport in the coastal town of Kismayu in southern Somalia November 12, 2013. /REUTERS

The closest many Kenyans have come to seeing a sniper is in action movies which sometimes don’t always paint a realistic picture.

Kenya Defence Forces snipers train and practice for months and years, preparing them to process every unique aspect of a precision shot.

In this article, we get a glimpse into the mind of Kenyan snipers and some of the things they think about in order to execute a perfect shot.

Former KDF Special Forces soldier and trainer Byron Adera said in an interview with Dr King’ori that a sniper team consists of a shooter and spotter.

A shooter is the person who takes the shot while a spotter is in charge of protecting the shooter, guiding the shooter as they pull the trigger and following the bullet to confirm whether the mark has been killed.

The two usually work in a very difficult environment which entails going behind enemy lines where there is little to no support thus no room to make a mistake.

There's no second guessing stuff and I mean you could be miles with deep within enemy territory that's not where you want to make mistakes because if that happens, rescue won't be coming quite easily,” the former KDF trainer said.

There are a lot of calculations that are made before a shot such as the distance, windspeed, target movement. An experienced spotter is able to follow a bullet as it leaves a distortion in the air.

Snipers must think about the point of aim and point of impact when preparing to shoot a target.

Simply put, where you aim while firing a bullet from more than 500km will not be where the bullet falls.

If you are a good sniper you know that the focus is not on the head as many would think. You focus on the centre of mass (chest area). There are more vital organs on the chest.

"The chest (of the target) will remain facing you even as the head darts left and right. There is no target in the battle field with their head fixed waiting for you to shoot them. You’d rather aim at the chest to raise the probability of succeeding," Byron a former KDF trainer said.

Unlike in many movies which show sniper (actors) flaunting their confirmed kills, Kenyan snipers are not fantasized about their targets, and focus on how many lives they are able to save with that one bullet.

Kenyan snipers don’t always get assignments to make kills but because they are masters of camouflage, they serve as spies.

An experienced sniper team watching over an enemy camp is able to tell the ranks of enemy soldiers just by observing their movements and how they behave around each other.

Sniper teams often have to stay completely still for hours or days at a time to avoid detection, waiting for the right moment to complete the objective.

Kenyan snipers are also trained to be mentally sound at work since they often operate in just teams of two and split-second decisions have to be made.

Byron explained that even though the minimum entry requirement for Kenyan soldiers is D, they are trained on how to make accurate calculations in Physics and Math while under pressure.

The minimum grade I know for sure for our regular soldiers is a D but um you know the weapons systems and the kinetics thereof will take you through quite a bit of learning and it's drummed in pain. The training is very painful and they say lessons learned in pain are hardly forgotten,” the Ex-Special Forces soldier said.

He also added that the KDF training is designed to ensure only the best soldiers graduate.

I told the candidates in the special forces where I was the operations officer and training officer that we don't select anybody. It's more of a question of you guys selecting yourselves. We give you the standards and you rise above them.

If it's carrying a bag weighted with 45 pounds and you're running from point A to point B then you get there seconds later, they tell you that you cannot be one of us. That's what it is and it's designed to pick the finest out of that sea of dreamers,” he explained.

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