Gun hobbyists defend sniping, deplore killing

Sunday, October 20, 2002

"One Shot, One Kill" is known as the unofficial motto of the professional law-enforcement sniper. It's a phrase that testifies to the skill and accuracy needed for extreme situations.

But increasingly, the phrase has been co-opted by a group of amateur gun owners who share an avid interest in sniping. These sniper enthusiasts look on their activities as a hobby. They pass around tips, learn techniques through Web sites and videos, and attend training camps to hone their skills.

No evidence has been released that ties the gunman who has killed nine people and wounded two others in the suburbs of Washington to this sniping world.

But the materials found at Web sites such as www. and www. show that in some circles, sniping has taken on a mystique that has spread far beyond the law-enforcement community.

An advertisement for a Russian sniper scope flashes across the screen when visitors log on to The site includes information on guns, training schools and ammunition, as well as a message board where sniper hobbyists exchange information on weapons and tactics.

Those within the sniping community have taken pains to distance themselves from the Washington-area gunman.

"This site does not promote killing nor is it a training area for the deranged," staff members for www.snipercountry .com posted on their Web site last week. "Only your hubris and narrow-mindedness can allow you to condemn this site as a result of some murdering crackpot in Maryland." Gun-control advocates say that the material glorifies sniper shooting and helps the gun industry sell its long-range precision rifles.

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