Utah County Sniper School Trains, Prepares Officers To Take ‘The Shot’ If Needed

Aug 27, 2019, 10:08 PM | Updated: Jan 4, 2023, 11:48 am

THISTLE, Utah – Police officers from nine different agencies across the state gathered for sniper training from the Utah County Metro SWAT team.

Snipers are an ever-important part of security and SWAT responses in a world where there so many threats, and they all have to start somewhere.

That ‘somewhere’ on Tuesday happened to be a remote hillside 15 minutes up Spanish Fork Canyon, known as the Utah County Sheriff’s Office Thistle Gun Range.

There, officers from nine different police agencies from around the state were taking part in Utah County Metro SWAT’s “Sniper School.”

Deputy Ray Ormond, assistant team leader for the snipers of Utah County Metro SWAT, said students learned over the 5-day course to account for the numerous variables that play into marksmanship, including wind speed and direction.

“As the target gets farther away from the shooter, the wind has more effect on the bullet,” Ormond said. “It’s potentially a 15-mile-an-hour wind — that could move it up to feet off-target, so they need to know how to adjust accordingly.”

While shooting was the focus on this day, Ormond said a sniper’s role is far more complex.

“Ninety percent of our job is to go out there and be an observer,” Ormond said. “It might be hours before the rest of the team shows up, depending on what we have going on. If it’s a preplanned event to where we have the time, the ability to get a couple guys in to observe the target, we’ll get in there, we’ll get set up and we’ll start feeding good information back to our command post so that they can make good decisions and have a better overall picture.”

Ormond acknowledged the other 10 percent was marksmanship —“being able to be there to take care of a lethal problem with precision, accuracy as needed,” he said.

Officers, he said, were prepping to take ‘the shot’ if the time ever comes.

“You need to know if, in fact, that unfortunate time does come, can you as a law enforcement officer do your job?” Ormond said.

Between threat assessments and other services snipers provide, Ormond maintained they are a vital asset to the communities in which they operate.

“We’ll train in high winds, high heat, cold, whatever we need to do so that we know if something happens at your house, we can come take care of business and make sure that everybody’s safe,” Ormond said.

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Utah County Sniper School Trains, Prepares Officers To Take ‘The Shot’ If Needed