This video shows how hard it is to spot a hidden sniper, even when they're right in front of you

Sniper in position in the woods
  • When setting up a firing position, snipers have to think carefully about their concealment, as the slightest mistake could give away their position.
  • The Department of Defense released this "Spot the Sniper" video in November, a 30-second clip during which a sniper and his spotter emerge from a patch of overgrown forest.
  • While a casual observer might walk right past them, a trained Army sniper and instructor spotted the team within seconds. See what gave them away.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Snipers train hard to be able to put fire on targets at incredible distances, and to disappear in any environment. Their ability to conceal themselves could be the difference between life or death in the field.

In November, the Department of Defense released a short video showing an overgrown patch of forest. Toward the end of the 30-second clip, a sniper and his spotter emerge.

Could you spot the sniper before he revealed his position?

Maybe you could. Maybe you couldn't. But a trained sniper spotted him within just a few seconds.

"Right at the one second mark, if you look at where they're going to eventually pop up, you can see that vegetation is already moving," Staff Sgt. Joshua Jones, a US Army sniper and instructor at Fort Benning, Ga., told Insider. "If you look around, there's nothing else that is really moving."

That wasn't all that gave the sniper away though.

"I should be able to look through that vegetation, and I should see light coming through it," the instructor explained. "If you look where they are, you can kind of see that the light is not passing through as clean as it should be."

Still, a casual observer would probably walk right past this team and never think twice.

Odds are that the video was shot on a stalking lane, where snipers train, several hours at a time, to stealthily infiltrate an area, set up a concealed forward firing position, and put at least two shots on a target without unintentionally exposing their position.

What makes a good firing position?

A two-man sniper team takes aim at their target through foliage

Another Army sniper previously told Insider that "there are a million things that go into being a sniper, and you have to be good at all of them."

When it comes to setting up an effective forward firing position, there are at least a dozen different things these sharpshooters have to consider, and the slightest mistake could possibly give their position away, causing them to fail the training or, in a combat situation, fail the mission and risk getting killed.

Snipers typically customize their ghillie suits, a kind of concealment clothing into which snipers can weave grasses and other materials, with some vegetation before they start their mission.

In the field, they should be "rechecking their veg and their camo, including that for their weapon, tripod, whatever type of equipment they might have," the Army instructor explained.

Snipers have to be careful to avoid creating "any dark spots or shadows," he said, adding that they have to check their face paint and make sure, if they are using a veil, that they are not unnaturally affecting the lighting at their position.

They also have to check their background to make sure they do not stand out against it. A Marine Corps scout sniper told Insider previously that aim isn't to be the bush; rather, it is to be the "space between the bushes."

Snipers have to blend into that negative space.

In their forward firing position, they have to check their range to the target and ensure they have an adequate ballistic loophole for an unobstructed shot. At the same time, snipers have to take things like muzzle blast, a pressure release when firing that will blow out the vegetation around them, compromising their position.

Then, of course, there is the shot, into which goes countless considerations.

Read more about what it takes to be a sniper:

Shoot like a sniper - Army marksmen reveal how they take out targets from far away

America's deadliest sharpshooters reveal how they disappear in plain sight

US Army sharpshooters reveal how they hunt enemy snipers in a deadly 'game of cat and mouse'

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