SELCO: The Truth About SNIPERS and How to Survive Them

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Author of The Dark Secrets of SHTF Survival and the online course SHTF Survival Boot Camp

Because of the growing fear of mass shootings and terrorist attacks all over the world, advice about how to survive mass shootings or sniper attacks are everywhere, and there are useful but there is a bit of confusion there.

Sniper attacks in collapse and mass shootings today in peaceful times have a lot of common things, but some facts are different.

I will concentrate here on some advice concerning sniper attacks when SHTF since I have seen and experienced more than a few of those.

What are the reasons for sniper attacks?

I know you all seen movies or read the books about sniper attacks that are been made with careful planning and surgical precision from a great distance, by highly professional personnel. You might see that when the world goes to s**t, but most probably you won’t ( unless you are in the military profession).

In days of chaos, snipers were used mostly for one particular reason – to give folks a feeling of HORROR.

If you are not sure where you can safely move, if you are not sure where is a safe spot where you can look for resources, you are in constant fear. Even more, if snipers do not make a clear distinction between combatants and non-combatants – when they’ll shoot women, men, or children that horror becomes even stronger.

Now, you can say that you are not going to face civil war, and situation like me, so you are not going to have situation where you gonna be faced with those kinds of snipers, but keep in mind that all that you need for similar situation is the fall of the system (because any reason), lack of resources, and fight for domination over certain territory (it can be county, city, or even few streets or villages).

So, usually, they are used in controlling everyday life and movement by inducing fear and horror.

Snipers are not generally used to eliminate enemy firepower, at least not in mentionable numbers and occasions. They were used to give you a feeling of hopelessness, and to take you away reasons to fight and live. If you feel powerless to defend your kid against that invisible threat, that can take away lot of spirit from you.

Understanding what you can do

Again, for common folks, who are trying to survive SHTF what you can do are a couple of things, and it is connected mostly about understanding how threat works. If we are talking about urban scenario it is mostly about where you can be visible for sniping man, and what can cover or conceal you.

Untrained people got shot from snipers mostly because :

  • They failed to understand how urban environment works in the fields of vision for snipers
  • They failed to understand how urban environment CHANGED because of SHTF
  • They failed to appreciate the difference between cover and concealment.

Of course, there are more things to consider to prevent dying from sniper attacks, but first, try to understand those three. I go into more details about this in my course.

An urban environment gives countless possibilities for a sniper to be positioned, and no, it does not have to be very far away from you. Usually, it is not. It is usually done from closer than you would expect.

Another fact is that for the task of terrorizing and randomly killing, a man does not have to be necessary highly military trained. Some of the very very skilled snipers that I use to know had hunting experience before, nothing more.

If you have a general idea from what side the threat might come, you are solving only part of the problem. In an urban environment, you need to be constantly aware that the terrain is changing. So what looks to you as a perfect hiding spot (because there is a building between you and the sniper’s general position) might be deadly spot because glass is missing from the whole side of the building in some places, making you visible to the sniper.

Remember, when the SHTF, urban environments will change much more (and at higher speeds) than in the wilderness. What was safe today might not be safe tomorrow just because of a few new holes in the wall that make you visible now)or maybe even a whole wall is missing.

It is a fluid situation, without many constant facts.  That was exactly one more reason for the horror, in most of the situation you were not sure, and that built up much tension.

You were never sure.

And that is the part of their mission, to keep you always in fear.

Cover and concealment, tactics…

A lot of words are written about cover and concealment, and the difference between those two. And yes, there is a huge difference.  Are you covered (and safe from threat, for example behind a concrete wall)? Or are you only concealed (and not visible, for example behind a bush, but still very vulnerable from bullets flying through bush, if the attacker knows your general position).

There is nothing that takes too much intelligence there, but how many of us may carry a concrete wall with us in any situation? None, of course.

So the point is that you should be scanning and understanding your own environment while you are moving through it if you are expecting a sniper attack (or any other actually).

As I already wrote, an urban environment during SHTF is very “fluid” in terms that it can change from day to day, or even from hour to hour. So you need to be constantly aware of your surroundings at each moment.

Here’s what it was like living under the threat of sniper fire.

In reality, how that looked in real life is simply like this:

If I want to move 500 meters in some direction in the urban environment, I needed to be constantly aware from what point I was visible and in what moment. I needed to know where and what kind of cover and concealment I can get at that moment.

So in the next 10 meters (32 feet) for example, I have a brick wall, and after that, I have a ruined car, and after that, I have a smashed-down shop.

So I needed to think about what kind of threat (caliber for example) I might face, is the brick wall good enough for that? Can I crawl behind it or can I move faster in squats? Is that car going to give me enough protection? Are there wheels on it? Is the engine still inside so I can take cover or it is just thin metal or even plastic there?

And then am I visible through that shop because it is “hollow” simply because there is nothing inside?

This sounds like a drastic example I know, but it is an example so you can understand how fluid the situation was and how things may change fast.

But most important of all…

Also, do not forget the most simple and useful advice: do not be there! (If possible, of course.)

One of the reasons for prepping is to not find yourself in dangerous situations because you lowered those chances by good preparing.

So for a start do not worry about learning fancy and highly specialized counter snipers techniques. For a start, lower your chances of finding yourself in that kind of dangerous situation.

About Selco:

Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution. He is currently accepting students for his next physical course here.

In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today.

He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless of what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations as Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months.

Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.

Picture of Selco


Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution. In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today. He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations as Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months. Read more of Selco's articles here. Buy his PDF books here. Take advantage of a deep and profound insight into his knowledge by signing up for his unrivaled online course. Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.

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  • While reading non-fiction books about recent conflicts around the world, I noticed that these “snipers” can sometimes target a vulnerable person and shoot to wound. Then it’s a matter of waiting for other people to come to their aid, and picking them off. Horror indeed.

  • I have heard it said that if you lump all of the American Deer and Hog hunters together in one large group, you’ll have the World’s biggest army, armed with scoped high power rifles. Should a Civil War come, it is certain that there will be snipers.

    • Sure there will be snipers, but because of the fact you mentioned there will be plenty of counter d\snipers also.
      Far exceeding the numbers of snipers, so the life span of snipers and sniper activity will be limited.
      Unlike Europe and other Nations, Americans tend to get outraged by such events and are spurred to action.
      Plus due to the large numbers of weapons here, we do not have to put up with that kind of activity.

  • IS THERE A WAR COMING..YES THERE IS,and most of america will die simplely because they won’t fight their hero’s SATANS WOLFPACK,they will be used to disarm the country,and instead of fighting.. the womenboys,KNOWN AS GIRLYMEN, will run out to kiss their hero’s ass,THEN BE SHOT…OUR FATHER will protect his people,but THE HERO OF AMERICA,SATAN won’t…though he has fooled the devil worshippers to believe he will…

  • It’s worthwhile to do a little study of simple counter-sniping techniques. You don’t have to be an expert. Just a general understanding of how is helpful. It helps to overcome fear and puts the fear-monkey also on the snipers back. That effects his/her aim and forces him/her to move and change cover more often which is hard to do discretely in an urban environment. Your sudden, fast and jerky movements make it difficult for the sniper to be predictably accurate. Sniping takes a steady hand and a steady target. Do you already feel some of the fear slipping away? I appreciate Selco’s efforts very much but it seems to me from going through his very good original course that as an understandably unprepared civilian caught by surprise at the fast collapse of his city, he and his neighbors for the duration of the year did not learn these counter-sniping techniques. Perhaps he teaches them in his course but does not mention them here. When you become paralyzed by fear, you slow your movements, you pause too long. The sniper relaxes and takes the more careful aim at the steady target . . . Military snipers are trained to take two shots at a target, rarely three. Then they move, often fast to get away. Urban snipers aren’t going to be like this but that’s bad for them – if you know a little bit of how. Hope this helps.

    • You also have to understand that the Optics, Make, Model and Caliber of the weapon being used comes into play. Also the ranger the sniper is shooting from and his or her elevated position.

  • When we think “sniper”, the picture that comes to mind of the well-trained guy with the .50 cal precision weapon that can reach out a mile or more, or some other weapon that can make the “impossible” shots. But the reality is much more mundane. The sniper can be in a bombed out house, or even on the ground, with a field of view that reaches no more than about 200 yards. With that in mind, the most deadly sniper of WWII never even used a scope.

    In Iraq, U.S. snipers used .50 cal PCP air rifles at dawn and dusk when the flash of a standard rifle would give them away. Those rifles can shoot only about 250 yards.

    The bigger question here is: if there is a civil war, who would use sniping as a terror tool? Who would snipe women and children, and non-combatant men? Would it be the vast numbers of hunters with their scoped, high-powered rifles? Or would it be the side that already sent three men into a Walmart to shoot it up, and two men in full SWAT get-up to shoot up a high school, and at least two .30 cal belt fed machine guns to target crowds at a concert, and other terror events to try to get us voluntarily to disarm?

  • Good advise in many ways, especially if you have no ideas about snipers in a Civil War Or SHTF scenario.
    The one additional thing to understand is that a good sniper shoots no more than 3 shots from a location before relocating. This does not mean leaving the area but just getting reset in a different location with a different angle and view.
    I suspect here in the US, most potential snipers know this “rule”.
    Lots of military training books and popular sniper movies would have “trained” these people in this.

    So I would not consider your self “safe”, just because you found cover for the moment.
    Once the sniper relocates it will start all over again and your “cover” may no longer be “safe”.

    The best advise is not to be in an area where they have sniper activity going on, but that may not always be possible. Current Intelligence gathering with current info about an area you plan to travel through, is highly important. Especially if you are not a “local” and even if you are a “local”you need a daily update.

  • I fear mortars and IED’s in an urban environment more than snipers.

    But…I absolutely avoid urban areas all together whenever possible and if it all comes apart I will not be in an urban environment if I have my way.

    Urban areas “channelize” movement often eliminating foot and mobile traffic on certain routes. Getting channeled equates to getting set up for a kill-zone in an ambush. There are methods for dealing with each, but require planning. That’s why you have primary, secondary and tertiary routes (that you have reconnoitered before hand).

    Handling ambushes mounted or dis-mounted requires training.

    Ask my wife about me almost “counter driving” to the bank one day after I just got back from one of my “diplomatic” missions on behalf of Uncle Sugar!

    Anyway…musings from someone who unfortunately has “experienced” the fun that is being in the wrong place at the wrong time!

  • “who would use sniping as a terror tool?”

    quite a few survivalists/preppers intend to shoot a very large number of people first chance they get. for many survivalists/preppers, the snipers will be in your own neighborhood, so “don’t be there” won’t be an option.

  • “I fear mortars … in an urban environment”

    more likely to see those in a rural environment, used against hardened survivalist/prepper positions.

    • Nope….it’s dang near always the other way around. Rockets too!

      Air strikes, Mk-19’s, 25mm chain guns, and helicopters work great on “compounds”.

      Not two many preppers have 12.7mm belt fed Dshk’s.

    • Oh and mortars are what kicked of the US getting involved in Selco’s world….remember the market that got mortared?

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