Snipers and the Unattainable Romance
“O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not my enemies triumph over me.” — Private Jackson (Saving Private Ryan)
Who could forget that scene? Private Jackson is standing in the watchtower, taking down soldiers as he utters his silent mantra. The sound of the reload penetrates our minds as he takes shot after shot. He carries his intensity in his eyes and embodies a being at peak focus. He rightfully receives the ending that he deserves as he perishes in a giant ball of flaming glory.
If that movie doesn’t represent the feeling of being a sniper, nothing will.
Back in our own fantasy world, we clutch our controllers, fully prepared to create the perfect sniper. Thoughts of creating a compilation kill-cam video filled with our impeccably timed snipes flood our minds.
We dream of the perfect 360. We anticipate the one-shot kill from the second story window that eliminates that confused enemy running for their favorite gun. We salivate at our enemy's frustration. But we hardly ever get the payoff.
Let's face the facts; we’re just not that good at sniping.
Watching highlight reels begs us to try again. Our Instagram feeds are filled with kill-cam compilations set to electronic music. We can feel the dopamine surge through our system while witnessing moment after moment of greatness. Someone who lives on another tier of mastery convinces us that sniping is easy.
Which do we enjoy more, the sound of a sniper shot or the sound of the reload? Which part of the sniper-class speaks to us, and why can we never find enough ammo? Each highlight beckons us to try out the .50 calibers, against our better judgment.
In every film or video game, we idolize the sniper. A sniper is an apex predator who prefers to run alone and embodies a stoic lifestyle. This philosophy exquisitely combines competence with individuation and entices us to attempt to achieve God's status in the FPS scene.
Normally I am the one being hunted. Each time one of these elusive predators cuts me down, I look around incredulously. Where? There is no way they could have made that shot. They must be cheating. I have spent many nights clutching my Xbox controller, trying to figure out how someone gunned me down in the middle of an open field.
On those nights, I give my controller the death grip. At one point or another, we tried to carry our team wielding the one-shot death machine as our primary weapon.
We should stop, we might have more fun.
Every time I revisit the sniper class, my mind fills with inadequacies. The reaction time isn’t there. I am a nervous wreck, and I find myself holed up in a second story building, somewhere around mid-map, guarding the same angle for what feels like minutes at a time. When no one crosses my path, I move towards the stairs to reposition, only to be gunned down by someone raging through with a shotgun. (Warzone, you do need to nerf the fire shotgun, the kill range is getting out of control.)
When — on rare occasions — I spot my prey, I feel that old excitement welling up deep within my being. Shot. Reload. Shot. Reload. A full clip emptied into nothing but air. My position is exposed, and an empty magazine renders me useless.
How do these snipers pull this off?
If I ingested a small amount of self-awareness, I would realize that my role best serves the team as a healer—the ammo carrier and the spotter that yields to those with slightly higher reaction time. I might even acquire a few more wins.
From this day forward, I promise to relinquish my role as a sniper. I will delete my created class and build something more practical. Perhaps I will use a launcher, grenade, or some other one kill weapon. I will do anything within my power to raise my paltry .6 k/d ratio.
That is until I see “Best Sniper Kills 2020” slide across my Instagram feed.
Cheers to all the sick snipes and headshots; carry on for the rest of us.