KYPS - Keep Your Plans Simple
KYPS is an acronym. An acronym is an abbreviation that represents a phrase or a string of words. In this case, KYPS = Keep Your Plans Simple. Snipers are a group of people who believe in keeping things simple. If you complicate things too much then that ever-popular Irishman named Murphy shows up to prove to you where you goofed up in a really BIG way. An example is:
You are on a mission with a very special piece of gear. This critter that weighs in somewhere between painfully heavy and barely transportable is critical to your mission. The problem is that it can NOT be exposed to moisture. It is so sensitive that you're afraid to let anybody sneeze near it or within a 100 yards of it. So there you are in the middle of a desert that hasn't seen a drop of rain since Moses walked the earth. Without this piece of gear, the Super-Duper XM-1000 Thing-of-a-bob, you can not complete your mission. If you fail to complete your mission 200 million liberals will die a slow and painful death in California. Along comes Mr. Murphy with his garden hose to create the most miserable downpour you have ever seen anywhere in the world. When he gets through raining on you, your gear and the SD XM-1000 it then that you remember KYPS. Instead of relying on the SD XM-1000 you know that you should have kept things simpler. This is why snipers don't use the SD XM-1000. EVER.
Simo Hayha (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simo_H%C3%A4yh%C3%A4) was a Finnish soldier who fought the Russians in the Winter War of 1939-40. Simo served as a sniper who killed over 500 enemy soldiers with his rifle and possibly another 200 with his submachinegun that he also carried. Simo was not a tall man nor was he big. The main thing about him was that he was practical and deadly. He believed in getting lots and lots of practice.
Carlos Hathcock (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlos_Hathcock) was a sniper in the U.S. Marine Corp. Hathcock was known to use a Remington bolt action rifle in 30.06 caliber and with armor piercing ammo. Hathcock is credited with killing 93 enemy soldiers. He served as a sniper in Viet Nam in the area of I Corp up near the Dong Ha River area.
So what was it that helped make these two men so deadly and so proficient? KYPS. Neither of these two snipers were known to have advanced degrees in ballistics or engineering. Based upon rumors and information that circles within the community of snipers, it is thought that both of these men put together their own shooting programs/plans that sort of shadowed the other one's.
Simo shot a rifle that used the 7.62 X 54R cartridge. Hathcock used the 30.06 cartridge. These rounds are not exactly alike but they aren't all that far apart either. So let's say that both of these rounds have a reach of 1K or 1,000 meters. Now that is a pretty good chunk of land to shoot over and actually hit a human target at the other end. So how does a sniper make his particular round effectively work for him?
It is believed that Simo took his maximum distance, dropped off a couple of hundred meters from the far end and gave himself something akin to a working maximum distance of 800 meters.
Hathcock took his 1K meter maximum and pretty much used that for his basic or working distance. So Simo is using 800 meters and 1K for Hathcock. Both guys are planning to shoot some pretty long distances and are wanting to be effective. So how do these 2 men KYPS when it comes to their rifles and ammo?
According to the rumor mill, both men halved their maximum shooting distances and used that number for their primary zero with their rifles.
In other words, Simo is believed to have zeroed his rifle for a distance of 400 meters. Hathcock is thought to have used about 500 meters for his zero with some scopes. Rumor also indicates that he used a 700 meter zero too with other scopes. When we talk primary zero or zeroing of a rifle we aren't talking about just hitting a target at that distance. What we are talking about is repeated practice over and over so that when Simo identified a target at 400 meters he aimed dead on it and fired. Hathcock would wear out a target at 500 meters by shooting it over and over. So how does this half distance shooting plan work?
Both men knew that once they had their primary zero then all they had to do was make minor adjustments when shooting at an enemy soldier. Both men knew that if the target was less than their primary zero all they did was "aim low on the target." If the target was further out than the primary zero all the men did was "aim higher up on the target." So what does this mean for people in survival shooting situations?
Let's say that you want to control an area out to a distance of about 500 meters. If you zero your rifle so that it is dead on at 250 to 300 meters then all you have to do is quickly adjust on the target and fire. If the target is close in, you aim at about the belt level or just above it on the target. The bullet, in most calibers, will be climbing upwards so your strike will probably be in the chest area. If you are shooting at a target beyond your zero range you aim up around the shoulder level of the target, allow for wind and shoot. In the case of most bullets, the strike on the target should again be chest high.
This most basic of shooting concepts works pretty much for iron sights and for scoped shooting needs too. But keep in mind that there are always exceptions to the general rules. If you have some sort of special or antique rifle, say a 45-90 or 45-70 like Tom Selleck shot in his movie "Quigley Down Under," this shooting plan may not work for you. So don't come back and yell about how your 1705 Blunderbluss doesn't work with this plan at 1K yards. Use some common sense here. Try this out with medium caliber diameter (.303 British, 8 mm Mauser, 7.62 NATO, .308 Winchester, .243 Winchester, 7.62 X 54R and maybe 30.06 cartridges) rounds or military type rounds like the .223/5.56. Do not expect this idea to work with 7.62 X 39 cartridges either because they just don't have the distance in most cases to make it out beyond 350 meters or so. Again, there may be some 7.62 X 39 cartridges that will lob out to 500 meters and that's good but that is the exception rather than the rule.
Because of the bitter cold in Finland, Simo was known to primarily use the metal sights on his rifle. Scopes in those days tended to ice up real bad and weren't that good. More than likely Simo's scopes would have been a 4 X or 6 X magnification. Where Simo made his rifle work was he would set up a kill zone and wait for an unsuspecting Russian soldier to walk into the kill zone. Simo then engaged his target at his convenience and at his preferred range for shooting.
Hathcock used a high power scope for most of his shooting needs. Sources indicate that his scope(s) would have generally been between 8 to 12 power of magnification. Also keep in mind that snipers never have just one scope. Most snipers have a primary scope and sometimes other scopes for different shooting needs. So, if I had to guess, I would say Hathcock used a 12 power scope on a bolt action rifle for the majority of his shooting needs.
I know from experience that U.S. Army snipers were issued 3 by 9 power Redfield scopes with the Leatherwood aiming system on them for day use. They also had a special Starlight scope for nighttime shooting needs. And supposedly there were also infrared scopes for the sniper rifles but they were never issued because they weren't as good as the Starlight scopes for nighttime use. The rifles used by the Army were XM-21s and they were an extremely high quality type of M-14 rifle with tighter tolerances to them and they shot the 7.62 NATO National Match ammo.
Now, go forth from here and try this KYPS idea for your shooting needs. Think over what you need to do and how to do it. When you pick your primary zero distance, practice it until you can repeatedly hit something about the size of a soda can or 3 by 5 inch index card over and over. Remember at the longer range distances to allow for wind. And when I say wind, I am talking about wind from the left, right, wind from behind you and wind coming straight at you too. Allowing for wind also means watching out for gusts too. If you're in an area where gusts occur, time your shots so that you make them when the gusts die down or are at least at a minimum. This is especially true for shots 300 meters and over.
Also, start off short and easy. Try KYPS shooting with like a 200 meter zero then see if it will work with targets at 100 yards and then at 300 yards. Develop your confidence in your shooting, these ideas and experience. And don't go trying for fancy shots or head type shots. You want to experiment on getting COM (Center of Mass) hits on a human silhouette type target. Once you are really good, then try for the more precision or head type shots. A good sniper can pretty much make precision or head type shots all day long from 0 to 300 meters once he gets it all together. Both the Russian and German snipers did these kinds of shots at Stalingrad and all the way through WW2. Once you master the 200 meter zero, go to a 300 meter zero and try hitting targets at 400 and 500 meters if you have the ranges that let you do that. Also come back in and hit targets at 25, 100, 150, 200 and 250 meters too.
So, a 250 to 300 meter primary zero should let you control all the way out to 500 meters should the need arise. But once again, this idea may not work with every rifle, every shooter or every cartridge. If this idea works, let us know here in this forum. Tell us what you're shooting, conditions and so on. Maybe Kevin can build a picture of calibers and rifles that this idea works with and is useful. Good luck and good shooting.
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SIDE NOTE: This last Sunday I took 2 police officers I know and my oldest son and showed them how this basic concept work on a short distance range. This range has 2 parts to it. The lower part is primarily for pistol and shotgun use and for tactical training. On this part of the range we actually zeroed a .223 caliber rifle for a distance of 25 yards. And, yes, we did use a scope for this training purpose.
After we got the zero perfected, we took the rifle up to the longer distance range which is a 100 yard course. Up there we took the rifle which was zeroed for 25 yards, aimed it higher up on a steel silhouette target. I had the 3 shooters, using the same rifle and sight zero, aim with the horizontal reticle going across at about shoulder high. Sure enough, the bullets kept striking the target at about chest high.
But keep in mind that the key here is to keep your plans simple. Survival shooting will not be about engaging targets at long distances, precision or trick shooting. It will not be about taking on gangs all by your lonesome. It won't be about being a lone wolf. More than likely, survival shooting will about planning ahead, picking your turf on which to conduct your fight, picking your targets very carefully and making sure you've had lots and lots of practice under your belt.
And as I have pointed out many times, "The more options you have, the better your survival chances will be. Survival is about options."