In November 2009, British sniper Sgt. Craig Harrison made combat history. The soldier recorded the longest confirmed sniper kill in combat–at a range of 2,705 yards, or a little over 1 ¹/₂ miles. The previous record was set by Canadian sniper Rob Furlong back in 2002 when he recorded a kill from a range of 2,657 yards.
The 40-year-old Harrison recently released a memoir entitled “The Longest Kill,” in which he details the day he gunned down two Taliban machine gunners south of Musa Qala in Afghanistan using a .338 long range rifle.
In the excerpt below, Harrison describes the first nine shots he took trying to gun down his enemy from a distance of 27 football fields. All were misses.
Via New York Post,
I reached over and began dialing clicks into the elevation drum of my scope. I had the best sniper rifle in the world, an Accuracy International AWM .338, and the best telescopic sights, the Schmidt & Bender 5-25.
When you fire a shot through a rifle, the bullet flies on a parabolic curve; it doesn’t fly straight. It gains height before dropping because of gravity. The sniper needs to know the range so that he can dial corrections into the scope to compensate for the bullet’s flight path.
I dialed a massive correction into my scope. I was going to have a go. I’d never shot this far out, and, from everything I had been taught, the .338 round wouldn’t go that far. You never knew, though, and if I could get a round in the general area, it might keep the dicker’s head down.
There is so much to take into account with extreme long-range shooting: range, temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, even flight time.
Four pounds of pull is all that it takes to cause the trigger to “break.” Once the hammer falls, the .6-ounce bullet will leave the barrel at a speed of around 3,000 feet per second.
A bullet takes around two seconds to reach 1,000 yards. That meant that, at this range, my round would be in flight for 5 to 6 seconds. During that period, the earth would have actually moved, what’s known as the Coriolis effect.
I went through my preshot routine. I cleared my mind, regulated my breathing and concentrated on keeping the rifle as level and as stable as possible. I took up the slack on the trigger and exhaled. I had the Taliban; at this range he was a very small object in the scope, right in the center of my cross hairs.
At the peak of my exhale, I pulled the trigger and the rifle barked into my shoulder. I quickly recovered from the recoil and the scope settled. I waited six seconds and didn’t see anything, except a very much alive Taliban.
A Taliban machine-gun team then began ambushing his fellow soldiers, and Harrison knew he couldn’t afford any more misses.
My left hand was getting sore from holding on to the scope for so long, but I just had to push through it.
The rifle was comfortable in my shoulder and I could feel that I was getting into the most stable position that I possibly could. I still wasn’t happy, though. I was standing on a small incline, which meant my right knee was slightly bent. By now it was trembling with strain.
“Cliff, grab a rock and shove it under my right heel. I need to get my foot as flat as possible.”
Cliff scuttled over and shoved a rock under my foot so that I was nice and even. All of this activity took mere seconds.
Finally, I was ready. I placed my aiming mark on the machine gunner, took up the trigger slack and started to exhale.
I paused on the trigger’s break point and a sense of calm washed over me. I continued the squeeze and fired.
Then, all I could do was watch intently through the scope for six long seconds. Miss.
“S – – t, f – – k,” went through my head.
I cycled the bolt again. The machine-gun crew were looking around. They knew that a round had just passed very close to them.
I fired again.
Six seconds later, I watched the machine gunner slump down on the PKM. Hit. Hit.
I couldn’t believe it and had to fight an almost uncontrollable euphoria.
“Keep calm,” I thought to myself. “Take out the other one.”
I quickly got another round into the chamber and fired at the machine gunner’s number two. Miss.
The second gunman picked up the PKM and started to turn. I cycled the bolt, setting myself up for the next shot.
“He’s moving,” shouted Cliff.
It was now or never. I knew what I needed to do, I knew where I needed to aim, I knew everything that I needed to take into account. In the blink of an eye, I fired.
And six long seconds later, I watched as the second gunman collapsed.
Harrison goes on to describe the aftermath when Andy, his troop leader, approached him and asked asked him in utter disbelief, “Did you really get those guys from here?” He gave him the rifle and Andy looked through the scope.
“Fuck me” he said.
Harrison just grinned.
[h/t NY Post]