For some players there is no better thrill than making a long-range kill with one shot. Yet surprisingly many gamers have no idea how it's done. They'll waste an entire magazine of ammunition, watching dust kick up everywhere around the target but never connecting. After enough failures they may even suspect anyone who can make such shots uses some kind of hack. In fact, some knowledge of marksmanship and the features ACE2 offers will make you a better shooter than any cheat could provide. Plus there is no risk of kicks or bans, you just are shooting well.
ACE2 incorporates features to Armed Assault 2 that both help and hinder the long range shooter as a result of the enhancements to the reality of the game. While not perfect, the game model under ACE2 does require a gamer to start using the same techniques that real sharpshooters use for targets at distance.
First off, not all guns behave the same under ACE2. Each weapon has it's own rating for muzzle velocity and allowed ammunition. So it's vital you become familiar with one class of weapon at a time before skipping onto another. Weapon caliber has significant trade-offs. While the .50 caliber ( 12.7mm ) round has longer reach, the rifles and ammo are very heavy. Additionally those weapons are somewhat slow to bring to bear and can be difficult to carry in tight areas like inside buildings due to their bulk. In urban environments a lighter rifle's ease of handling will often more than compensate for it's shorter range.
The fatigue issue is not to brushed off lightly. Long before you start passing out your accuracy will decline if you overexert yourself. Taking a heavy sniper rifle means you either carry very limited ammo, move rarely if at all, or use vehicles to change locations and store supplies. If you select a heavy rifle and 6+ magazines of ammunition don't blame ACE2 if you pass out easily. You're lugging 27 kg of weapon and ammo. Add a laser marker, a battery or two, maybe some night-vision googles can get you close to 40kg and that does not count helmet, pack or body armor. Proportionally you're hauling more weight than most mules would tolerate.
BC Ballistic Coefficient. How well an object resists slowing down as it moves through air or other fluids. See Wikipedia article on Ballistic Coefficients for more detail. Note well - ArmA2 and ACE2 models of ammunition do not currently include individual BC values for different classes of ammunition. Mil A milliradian. - 1/(2000*Pi) mils in a complete circle. Most military organizations round the value slightly. NATO uses a 6400 mil scale, former WARSAW pact used 6000 mil. Using NATO units 1 mil subtends 1 meter at 1 kilometer. You can estimate mils using your extended hand. MOA Minute of arc or sometimes minute of angle. 1/60th of a degree. Popular unit used by scope makers and rifle marksmen. 1 MOA represents 1 inch at 100 yards, or approximately 2.91 centimeters at 100 meters. To convert between MOA and mils, 1 mil = 3.438 MOA. Having 20/20 vision basically means you can resolve objects to 1 MOA without use of external aids.
The Standard Drill.
Assuming you have found a good location and found a target, now what?
- Determine the range. Also the elevation difference if you have the tools.
- Get wind direction and speed data.
- Adjust your sights to zero your weapon as close a possible.
- Steady your weapon.
- Estimate any additional hold-off using the targeting reticle's cross-hair and/or other markings to guide your aim-point.
- Control breathing and aim.
- Take your shot.
- Evaluate the bullet strike.
- Repeat this drill if needed.
Determining Range and Elevation.
A laser range finder is extremely handy. Just point at the target and lase it briefly. You'll get back your azimuth ( bearing to target in mils ), elevation difference and range to target. If working in two-man teams it's ideal for your spotter to carry one of these instead of binoculars. Just be sure to carry a spare battery or two.
While it may seem arcane, reading the map can get you a fair estimation of range. ArmA2 grid size depends how much you have zoomed in on it. The larger scale is marked in kilometers, the finer one in 100m increments. Count the grids both left-right and up-down between you and the target. Apply the rule of triangles c2 = a2 + b2 and add some fudge factor for any relative difference in position on the grids for you and that target. With a little practice you should be able to reliably estimate range within a 50m spread – good enough for many shots. Also note on the map the contour lines you and the target occupy. From that you can glean elevation info.
On many sniper scopes the reticle itself can serve as a range finder. The details vary but all use the same principal of stadiametrics. That is, if you know the size of the target and how big it appears you can calculate the range.
The system used by Russian weapons like the SVD and T-90 tanks uses a horizontal line and a curved line above it calibrated to either human or tank-sized targets. You just slide the sight about until the target just barely touches both the horizontal and curved lines and then read off the number from the scale ( in hundreds of meters ). It's quick, but not super precise.
Other weapons often use the mil-dot system. Along the cross-hairs are a series of round or elliptical dots spaced at 1-mil increments. By using the shape and various standardized relationships between the various edges and centers you can estimate the image size to an accuracy of 0.1 mil. Then using the formula distance = target_size * 1000 / image_size, you'll get your range in meters. Soldiers typically are 1.7 - 1.8 meters tall. Further information on mil-dot systems can be found at the Sniper Paradisewebsite.
Get Wind Direction and Speed Data
If you were smart or lucky you have a wind meter like the Kestrel 4500 in your gear. If not it's time to wet your finger. Either method is activated by using the measure wind action, default key bind is SHIFT-K.
If you don't have the meter you'd see an arrow indicating wind direction and color coding to indicate approximate wind speed.
If you do have the meter, calibrate it and then take a reading.
The crosswind speed is the important number. Use that number in combination with your range card to estimate the amount of windage offset to dial in.
Adjust Your Zero.
Each weapon has a range where the center of the sight and range exactly match. That is the zero-point. In ACE2 you can adjust that zero via the SHIFT-V combination to bring up a control panel. This simulates the ability to shift a weapon's sights, typically knobs on top and right of a rifle scope. In the upper left is a quick adjustment that just takes the range to target. Finer adjustments would be the control below it to directly set the MOA offset. Be sure to set your windage offset also. ACE2 does have wind drift, you shots will be off unless you correct for it. Another use is offsetting the sight to compensate for a walking or running target. Very handy if you take the time to learn how.
Steady Your Weapon.
You should already know that stance has a big effect on how steady your aim is. Standing is the worse, crouching ok, and prone the best. Additionally in ACE2 you can rest your weapon on a wall or vehicle if close enough using SHIFT-SPACE combination. And if prone you can activate your weapon's bipod using the same sequence if it has one – you'll see a message telling you so if it does. Activating these mods limits the amount you can alter your aim so be close to on-target first. Moving too much or changing stance will deactivate these modes, just hit the key combo again once settled in.
Your range might be just a guess, the reticle can only be adjusted to within 1 MOA vs 1/4-1/8 MOA in real scopes, the target is shifting about. So you have to do a little Kentucky windage, especially if the wind is shift a lot. Pick a mark on the scope and hold on that vs the center of the reticle. Real shooters do this all the time. It takes practice to perfect and the major reason you really need to know how your weapon handles. This is also where you use your elevation data. If the elevation difference between you and your target is significant you need to aim lower. How much depend on the angle. At 20 degrees of slope you'd have to knock off about 34m at 500m.
Control Your Breathing.
Right before you shoot always hold your breath ( default Right Mouse Button ) in order to steady your weapon even more. But only do this for a short time, otherwise you'll get into trouble with worse aim.
Take your shot.
Wait for it. If not perfectly steady or the target is moving just let the image drift into your mark. Fighting any wiggle only makes things worse. If your technique is good you should know where the round will strike even before you see the hit.
Evaluate Your Strike.
High and left? Where was the dust? Always try to spot the hit yourself or via your spotter. You might have just winged or scared the willies out of him. Always check to make sure your target is really down for the count.
Repeat If Needed.
The target might be panicking, might be shooting back. But you need to keep your cool and not rush. Use the info from earlier shots for your follow-up. This is when your Kentucky windage skills will shine since most often you won't have time to re-zero your weapon.
Things To Do That Will Help You Shoot Better.
Stick to just a couple of favorites. I use just two rifles for sniping, one for urban and medium range, the other for special situations. Which ones you should chose is very individualistic. Just keep the list short so you can focus on mastering that weapon.
Practice. Sounds obvious, but many players don't. It's very easy to build a simple target range using the mission editor. I used a runway and added some pop-up targets at various ranges. Up and working in single-player mode in less than 15 minutes when I was a total novice to mission building. Even now I use a slightly more sophisticated range on days when just feel like plinking or can't find a good public server.
Keep a range card. Real snipers do this. Take a laser rangefinder and light up some targets to get the true range. Any object roughly man-sized will do. Then practice estimating distance using your scope and taking shots. Write down the results at various ranges. When you have a good list, make a note card of the numbers and post it next to your monitor. If using a mil-dot, just make a table of mils, ranges and hold-off numbers.
Consider other training aids. I bought a program that helps you train for long range shooting after playing with the demo online and being very impressed with the model used for ballistics.