Long Range ShootingMarksmanshipSniper Rifles

Tradecraft Vs. Fieldcraft

I was thinking back to our conversation on fieldcraft vs. marksmanship. That conversation has been bothering me because of our use of the word “fieldcraft.” As snipers we all know what we mean – most of us are truly on the same wavelength. But something seems lost in translation. It is hard for us to define what fieldcraft really is.

My argument in our previous conversation was that the word fieldcraft, at least in the context we use it, invokes the wrong mindset. Fieldcraft is not something inherent to snipers. So, the concept or phrasing “sniper fieldcraft” just further promotes the misuse in terminology. Additionally, fieldcraft is something all soldiers should continuously think about with everything they do, not just when trying to be sneaky in the woods. 

We often equate fieldcraft to stalking and camouflage. During my time as an instructor, we even referred to phases in the sniper course as “marksmanship” and “fieldcraft.” While I agree that camouflaging is a form of fieldcraft. I always thought referring to the stalking phase of the course as fieldcraft just wasn’t right. In actuality, stalking is a movement technique. Fieldcraft in relation to stalking, might be more accurately utilized when considering the application of a movement technique. 

I want to throw a different term out there for consideration. This is a term that better describes the multidimensional aspects of what it takes to be a sniper. It is the combination of individual skillsets and tasks a sniper could be expected to perform. Maybe it can be a part of a mindset change that enhances our community. 

TRADECRAFT:

“Tradecraft is an old word that used to refer to the work, or craft, of any profession, or trade.”

https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/tradecraft

“The skills and methods used by someone doing a particular skilled job.”

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/tradecraft

What are your thoughts? Drop a line in the forum.

Precision Weapons Expert with 18 years’ experience serving in the United States Army. As a Sniper, he proved his knowledge and experience while cond...

CR2 SS

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I think I'm picking up what you're laying down and I agree. I suppose back in my day fieldcraft was stuff like knowing how to set up your LBE properly, rig your poncho into a low profile shelter, and finding the box of MRE's first so you could rat fuck it for the Chili Mac before anyone else got to it.
Haha you may be on to something!
 

Trigger Monkey

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    There's a line from a spy movie with Al Pacino where he's talking to some CIA recruits and he's telling them all about these skills he'll teach them and finishes it off with "it's not witchcraft, it's tradecraft". I always liked that line.

    The way I'm reading it fieldcraft can encompass the basic soldier skills that every combat arms soldier should know like:
    - How to pack their ruck
    - Set up their gear to have what's needed at hand
    - Setting up an improvised shelter
    - Make a fire
    - Different uses for 550 cord
    - Taking care of your feet

    There are a ton more fieldcraft items that can be listed but they are things that get learned, sometimes the hard way, in order for a soldier to sustain themselves in the field and stay ready. That is in the context of a soldier but a good bit of that can dovetail into civilian life as well for hunting/camping/etc...and there are a plethora of YT videos on "fieldcraft".

    If I'm interpreting what you're saying correctly, the tradecraft aspect comes down to things like:
    - Using the issue mosquito net to set up urban hides
    - Using the poncho to darken a background and/or help conceal movement in a hide
    - Making a bird's nest for an optic
    - Selecting a final firing position or hide for reconnaissance
    - This wasn't so much a thing for my unit but I know more and more are training on how to take photos
    - Making a sketch (if the camera breaks)

    In the context of a grunt, the tent poles, mosquito net, poncho, and 500 cord are fieldcraft tools to help them survive in relative comfort whereas those same items to a sniper could be tradecraft tools to build a hide and execute the mission.

    How much tradecraft then can apply to civilian aspects of long range shooting?
     

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    There's a line from a spy movie with Al Pacino where he's talking to some CIA recruits and he's telling them all about these skills he'll teach them and finishes it off with "it's not witchcraft, it's tradecraft". I always liked that line.

    The way I'm reading it fieldcraft can encompass the basic soldier skills that every combat arms soldier should know like:
    - How to pack their ruck
    - Set up their gear to have what's needed at hand
    - Setting up an improvised shelter
    - Make a fire
    - Different uses for 550 cord
    - Taking care of your feet

    There are a ton more fieldcraft items that can be listed but they are things that get learned, sometimes the hard way, in order for a soldier to sustain themselves in the field and stay ready. That is in the context of a soldier but a good bit of that can dovetail into civilian life as well for hunting/camping/etc...and there are a plethora of YT videos on "fieldcraft".

    If I'm interpreting what you're saying correctly, the tradecraft aspect comes down to things like:
    - Using the issue mosquito net to set up urban hides
    - Using the poncho to darken a background and/or help conceal movement in a hide
    - Making a bird's nest for an optic
    - Selecting a final firing position or hide for reconnaissance
    - This wasn't so much a thing for my unit but I know more and more are training on how to take photos
    - Making a sketch (if the camera breaks)

    In the context of a grunt, the tent poles, mosquito net, poncho, and 500 cord are fieldcraft tools to help them survive in relative comfort whereas those same items to a sniper could be tradecraft tools to build a hide and execute the mission.

    How much tradecraft then can apply to civilian aspects of long range shooting?
    Man it’s almost like you and I have had these conversations before. You’re right on.

    I’d have to think how that applies to civilian long range shooting
     

    sarcasmn

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    I understand what you are saying. I think tradecraft too. My background is law enforcement not military. Now people do not think of police snipers doing a traditional stalk and rarely in the city would they.
    You cannot always set up inside the perimeter. There is also the fact of being in a tactical uniform and carrying a long gun with a scope even in a case will get peoples attention. A LEO sniper needs to be inconspicuous and be able to find and get into a position without calling attention to themselves. Not to mention quickly finding a spot that is not in the direct view of the public. LEO snipers also use netting and other tools of the trade to keep themselves hidden from general view. Not to the extent of a military operator, but not quite like the movies either. One of your primary jobs is observation. Setting up on the opposing building high up with your barrel sticking over the edge of the building is not the best place and a severe angle will limit your ability to observe what’s going on in the residence or business.
    The best hide I can think of was in the neighbors boat under the boat cover with one part of the cover propped up. Clear view down the driveway and through the big bay windows in front of the suspect house, hidden from view. We also had to find a way to get there without drawing the publics attention to ourselves and keeping the suspect unaware of our presence. We had an unmarked car drop us off two streets over and sneaked through back yards to get there.
    If you cannot set up inside the perimeter this can be a type of stalk and definitely a learned skill.
     
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    Hobo Hilton

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    Good discussion, timely with what we are seeing in other countries.
    sarcasmn spoke of being in a tactical uniform. Camo in MT during elk season is accepted. Not so much at the Huntington Beach pier in July. Be the Grey Man. Simply doing this buys you time, allows you to calm down and think.
     
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    I have never been in the military or served. I can only offer my unbiased view. When you say tradecraft vs Marksmanship. In my eyes tradecraft is everything you do to take the shot. From finding the correct shot to stalking, camoflouge and evasion from capture. in my view Marksmanship begins when setting up to take your shot. It may be an oversimplification but that is how I view it. feel free to fame away!!
    I would agree with your assessment.

    But to be clear the original topic started because someone asked me if as a Sniper instructor I was a a Marksmanship or Fieldcraft kind of guy.

    I think many people, especially military snipers use the word fieldcraft wrong.
     

    Trigger Monkey

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    I just watched this video and there's a lot of good fieldcraft stuff in this video. It's knowledge that soldiers, snipers, backpackers, and hunters can use, if not have experienced themselves. I giggled when he talked about the draw monsters cause it's true.


    Little things like avoiding puddles when you can, avoiding draw monsters, how to adjust your ruck, are fieldcraft skills that help you endure in a field environment.

    This is another video that I watched today that kind of highlights what this discussion is all about. The title talks about the video being part of a fieldcraft series and discusses using 550 cord on the Harris bipod to snap them down quick.


    Based on our discussion here, I think this is more of a tradecraft skill because this hack helps the sniper deploy a method of support faster when getting into a firing position. I admire the videos from Ridgeline Defense so this isn't a ding on them in anyway but I believe it's a great illustration to CR's point.

    Getting back to my earlier question about crossover of tradecraft skills from the military to civilian side, I also think this could be one of them because we've seen numerous competition shooters and hunters use this technique.
     

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    I just watched this video and there's a lot of good fieldcraft stuff in this video. It's knowledge that soldiers, snipers, backpackers, and hunters can use, if not have experienced themselves. I giggled when he talked about the draw monsters cause it's true.


    Little things like avoiding puddles when you can, avoiding draw monsters, how to adjust your ruck, are fieldcraft skills that help you endure in a field environment.

    This is another video that I watched today that kind of highlights what this discussion is all about. The title talks about the video being part of a fieldcraft series and discusses using 550 cord on the Harris bipod to snap them down quick.


    Based on our discussion here, I think this is more of a tradecraft skill because this hack helps the sniper deploy a method of support faster when getting into a firing position. I admire the videos from Ridgeline Defense so this isn't a ding on them in anyway but I believe it's a great illustration to CR's point.

    Getting back to my earlier question about crossover of tradecraft skills from the military to civilian side, I also think this could be one of them because we've seen numerous competition shooters and hunters use this technique.
    Awesome I’ll give it a watch
     

    Pools1

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    Hello all, I read the comments and found them interesting. I remember having a conversation once with another NCO and we got on the topic of verbage and true meanings.
    We spoke of the title special Operator or Operator and what it meant to diff people.
    We also talked about the word fieldcraft vs ttp and so on.
    At the end of the day we figured it all was a unit/team or group thing.
    Meaning it all meant the same thing (with slight variations) depending what unit or team you happened to be with at the time.
    We were able to pass the time and have a pleasant conversation
     

    Cjwise5

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    Call it fieldcraft or tradecraft, (I like tradecraft) I think of them basically the same.
    Camping or navigation, shooting, camoflage and concealment, etc....all the normal things, but then maybe lockpicking, social engineering, digital security/hacking, climbing/rappelling, OR maybe something like flying a single engine aircraft, sailing, or driving a big rig. What about radio operation, driving at night with NVG's, medicinal plant identification and usage? You get the idea.
    What I'm trying to say, if I'm saying anything at all, is that tradecraft is any skill needed to be successful at whatever your mission or goal is.


    Guess I'll add this too, it's probably too much information for every hunter, marksman, sniper, etc to know. This is why it's important to operate within a team with each member specializing in various skills. Maybe? Just some thoughts. I dig the topic.
     
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    Hobo Hilton

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    Call it fieldcraft or tradecraft, (I like tradecraft) I think of them basically the same.
    Camping or navigation, shooting, camoflage and concealment, etc....all the normal things, but then maybe lockpicking, social engineering, digital security/hacking, climbing/rappelling, OR maybe something like flying a single engine aircraft, sailing, or driving a big rig. What about radio operation, driving at night with NVG's, medicinal plant identification and usage? You get the idea.
    What I'm trying to say, if I'm saying anything at all, is that tradecraft is any skill needed to be successful at whatever your mission or goal is.


    Guess I'll add this too, it's probably too much information for every hunter, marksman, sniper, etc to know. This is why it's important to operate within a team with each member specializing in various skills. Maybe? Just some thoughts. I dig the topic.
    I agree it is a "timely" topic. Tradecraft skills will be needed much sooner than most can imagine. Take your wish list of crafts and divide it into two categories by terrain 1) Urban and 2) Off grid environment.
    For any number of reasons, people will be stuck in the Mega cities. Name a few resources they will need ?
    The polar opposites will be in forest, swamps, deserts, etc. What resources will they need ?
    What will both camps have in common as far as resources needed ?

    I'll start the list with "Boots / Footwear".....
     
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    Hobo Hilton

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    Nothing here is meant to advertise, criticize or subsidize any vendors. Interesting there is not many comments on fieldcraft. Good to know all you guy's are all squared away.

    Lots of folks are just buying a package deal of seeds with the thought they can sustain themselves and their families by growing a garden...

    Here is one example:

    I moved onto my homestead 5 years ago. If I would have depended on this seed package deal, I'd have starved before harvesting any of the crop. On this site I have encourages people to get a 5 gallon bucket, some potting soil and a packet of seeds and get something growing. Put it on the balcony of your apartment, in your Mom's back yard, in a public gardening area..... anywhere where it will get some sunlight. Go water it and see if you can actually grow the simplest veggie or fruit.

    It's a lot harder than all those fancy websites will make it out to be. Read some worldwide news... A food shortage is coming... It will last a long time... Longer than the shelves of your local grocery store can be stocked with food.....

    Hungry people will act desperately.... Plan ahead.
     
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