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How to Become a Sniper in the National Guard

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National Guard snipers belong to an elite group of Special Operations soldiers. However, while their motto is "one shot, one kill," marksmanship is only one of the many requirements for prospective National Guard snipers. Snipers are some of the best National Guard soldiers, excelling in physical fitness, mental fortitude and intelligence. And they have to be: the National Guard Sniper School is one of the toughest courses in the military.

Enlist in the National Guard in a qualifying Military Occupational Specialty. Only cavalry scouts, infantrymen and special forces soldiers are permitted to attend the National Guard Sniper School. Prospective snipers must be male as these options are closed to women. It's much easier to select an appropriate job during enlistment than to change specialties later.

Receive a high General Technical score on the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery. Required of all Army personnel during enlistment, the ASVAB is a measure of mental aptitude for military service. The GT score is derived from scores on verbal expression and arithmetic reasoning and is used to determine the specialties available to a recruit. Prospective National Guard snipers must score at least a 110 on the GT portion of the ASVAB.

Maintain a high level of physical fitness. Prospective snipers must score at least 70 percent in their age group on every physical fitness test event, including push-ups, sit-ups and the two-mile run. National Guard soldiers must also have a clean bill of health, including normal color, 20/20 or correctable 20/20 vision.

Excel at marksmanship. Before entering the National Guard Sniper School, soldiers must have qualified as expert on their last two M-16A1/M-16A2 tests. These examinations must also have been within the past year. National Guard soldiers first qualify during basic training, but a score of less than expert is not a permanent barrier to sniper training. Members of the National Guard will have other marksmanship opportunities.

Pass a psychological evaluation. As stated on the official National Guard website, the work of snipers is solitary, and snipers often spend days in adverse environments. Because of these challenges, prospective snipers must pass a professional psychological evaluation, including a personality component. Admission to sniper training also requires an exemplary disciplinary history with no evidence of criminal activity, along with recommendations from commanding officers.

Volunteer for sniper training. Once a member of the National Guard proves worthy of the National Guard Sniper School, he must request it. At the time of volunteering, prospective snipers must have at least one year left on their contracts, preferably with a rank of Sergeant First Class or less. Otherwise, National Guard soldiers wouldn't have time to make use of their sniper training or would have administrative duties.

Graduate from the National Guard Sniper School. Modeled after the U.S. Army Sniper School, the National Guard Sniper School involves five weeks of intense training and conditioning. Many students don't pass the course.


The National Guard Sniper School is not the only intensive training course offered to National Guard soldiers. Airbourne, Air Assault and other Army programs are available to members of the National Guard as well.


Not all qualified National Guard soldiers are able to receive sniper training. The state begins training snipers only when individual units need graduates from the National Guard Sniper School. Active-duty Army components, however, are centralized and can often offer more sniper opportunities to enlisted soldiers.


Jennifer Boyden has been writing professionally since 2007. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing from Emerson College and graduate degrees in mental health counseling and criminal justice from Suffolk University. Boyden also has experience playing and coaching collegiate softball and is a CrossFit Level 1 trainer.

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