In a segment from National Geographic Ultimate Soldiers we look at one of snipers attribute, that is “mind control“. A well-trained sniper uses mind over matter to control his own physiology. A situation that many snipers find themselves in the middle east is operating in a hot climate.
In this test to highlight a long range precision shooter ability to shoot between heartbeat. Researchers build a sniper coffin with a gun port, 100 feet away sits a target. Increasing the heat temperature is another simulation to increase the stress on the sniper. Increased heat can raise your heart rate and with longer period exposed can instill dehydration. See how cool this sniper does on this test.
Doug: Ok, today we’re gonna be doing some Sniper testing, and we have secured the services of a United States Marine Corps Scout Sniper, who is still operational, and he’s gonna be wearing a balaclava, and for that reason, we’re going to introduce him only as Mike.
Narrator: Mike’s missions are so critical, we must obscure his identity for the test.
Mike: One quiet professional, at the right place, at the right time, can end wars before they start. One shot, one kill. Marine Scout Sniper.
Doug: Well what we’ve done here is, we’ve made a sniper coffin. We’ve got over here this plexiglass box, and we’re gonna put you in this box. It’s got a gunport right here, you’ll put your gun through the gunport, and you’ll be shooting at a target 100 feet away. Explain to me this ‘pulling a trigger off between heartbeats’ thing.
Mike: You can feel your heartbeat basically rebounding off the surface that you’re resting on.
Doug: And I guess you’re just timing the shot between the beats that you’re already feeling.
Doug: Now you’ve operated over in the middle-east, right? So you’re used to the heat.
Narrator: To test the sharpshooter’s breaking point under the combat conditions of the Middle East, the Fight Science crew will raise the stakes, and the temperature.
David Sandler: Extreme heat does a lot to the body. Obvious things like dehydration are some of the first things that come to mind, and that of course increases heart rate, breathing rate–”
Doug: Pretty hot in there, David?
David: It’s up at 130 degrees. It’s right up there.
Narrator: Doug Martin assembles the safety team, and reviews the dangers of firing live rounds in the Lab.
Doug: Shooting guns indoors is not exactly a safe endeavour. Eyes and ears. Everybody needs to have eye protection on, if there is a safety violation or if there is an emergency where there’s an injury, I’ll call Ed in, the medic– alright, let’s have a safe shoot.
Narrator: The sniper wears a bio-harness to monitor his heart rate and breathing, so the scientists can measure his performance under extreme combat conditions. He will also be swallowing a pill that measures his core body temperature.
Mike: I was a little worried, swallowing a white pill before they throw me in a box called a Sniper Coffin.
Narrator: High-tech thermal imaging will project the sniper’s core body temperatures onto a monitor, so scientists can track his vitals. If his core temperature rises, so will his heart rate, leaving him less time to shoot between beats.
Doug: You know what’s interesting is, under all this stress your heart rate’s still nice and baseline, nice and mellow.
Narrator: The sniper’s been in the 130 degree heat chamber for 20 minutes. His core temperature has risen by one degree, but he’s not focusing on the heat, he’s focusing on his breathing.
Doug: Ok, this is a live shot!
David: Now we’re gonna see if we can distinguish truth from legend, and see if a sniper can actually shoot between heartbeats.
Doug: Three, two, one, fire.
Doug: Weapon on safe?
Doug: Whew! Ok, wanna see how you did?
Doug: Alright, can you run the high-speed please? Phew! Nice. Nicely done!
Narrator: The shot is dead-on. An easy distance for a sniper, but was it between heartbeats?
David: Well you actually did it, and our rhythm shows it smack between heartbeats, like you had it perfectly timed.
Mike: I was able to keep my heart rate under control by relaxing, diaphragmatic breathing, clearing your mind, thinking about nothing but what’s right around you.
Narrator: So how did Mike shoot between heartbeats? In the 130-degree coffin, Mike’s heart beats 135 times per minute. With each beat, a surge of blood fills the vessels. As the blood reaches the trigger finger, it swells with each pulse. This pulse is enough movement to cause a slight deviation in the sniper’s shot, making the difference between a direct hit, or a missed target. To pull off an accurate shot, Mike must slow down his heart rate. First he decreases his respiratory rate, by taking extended full-diaphragmatic breaths. He gradually reduces his breathing from eighteen breaths per minute to approximately six. within a few minutes, he lowers his heart rate to eighty-four beats per minute. This creates more time to shoot between heartbeats. Timing is everything. Immediately after Mike feels his heartbeat reverberate off the surface he’s resting on, he pulls the trigger. Shooting his weapon between beats, and hitting his target dead-on.
[su_heading size=”30″ margin=”1″]Raising Girls To Hunt[/su_heading]
Story and photographs by Jason Brooks
[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”4″]I[/su_dropcap]f you are a hunter and think that merchandisers and marketers are getting girly lately, you would be right. In recent years the fastest growing demographic of hunters are actually huntresses – women who head afield to put food on the table. This is no surprise to myself or those in my hunting camp. We have known for years that there would be a trend towards more women chasing game. Fifteen years ago my hunting partner, Chad Hurst, called one day to announced the birth of he and his wife’s first child, Brittany. Right away I began to look for camo clothes, lightweight guns, hunting packs and anything else that would fit a tiny girl. But even then most of what I found were Barbie fishing poles, pink camo hats and few odds and ends. Years later, when Brittany and Hurst’s second daughter, Marissa, decided to take a hunter-safety course, we went back to the sporting goods store and found entire sections devoted to the needs of the huntress.
Marissa, Brittany and Kyle Hurst pose with a north-central Washington mule deer taken with a Savage Model 110 chambered in .30-06.
With a national movement to stop eating hormone-infused meat, chemically modified foods and an alarming rise in various cancers as a whole, those who enjoy the outdoors are turning more to wild game as a staple in their diets. An article published by National Geographicin April 2013 and titled “More Women Give Hunting A Shot” revealed that from 2006 to 2011 the number of female hunters grew by 25 percent and made up 11 percent of the 13.7 million hunters in the US. That might not seem like much, but the overall age of hunters is increasing and total numbers of hunters is decreasing. As our nation moves into the age of technology, an upward trend in camo-clad ladies is something that all hunters need to notice. Most people who market hunting already have.
One of the more popular television shows on The Sportsman Channel is Universal Huntress Television. This is a show dedicated to the female hunter, emphasizing women’s skill sets to harvest game. The production manager, Chantelle Kapp, is involved with the show along with her husband, Emanuel Kapp, the show’s executive producer.
Chantelle Kapp was born in South Africa and says that much of the hunting is a survival necessity in many of the provinces. She is also the production manager of a TV show on The Sportsman Channel called Universal Huntress Television, dedicated to the female hunter.
I caught up with Chantelle a few weeks ago and asked how she contributes to the forefront of women in hunting. It turns out that she was born into the outdoors much like my friends’ daughters Brittany and Marissa. Chantelle told me, “I was fortunate enough to grow up in the Limpopo province of South Africa and my friends and I would camp, fish and hike over weekends, exploring the bushveld (a subtropical woodland) and its surroundings.”
After her youth she traveled and earned a bachelors in education that led her to a school in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. She told me, “It warmed my heart to see how much the schools and families relied on the local hunting lodged for food, supplies and support. I knew I wanted to be involved in a community and industry where helping your fellow man and conservation was more important than the stock market.”
When I asked if there was any one person who influenced her life, she explained, “My husband, Emanuel encouraged me to learn and explore the outdoor industry as much as I possibly could. He always stands by my side and offers advice or support. Through him and our adventures I’ve learned more about conservation, how a community can help to improve it, how to look at the world through a lens and capture unique moments and, most importantly, how to build relationships with fellow enthusiasts and combine efforts.”
It is through the building of relationships that Chantelle met Jen Adams and Norissa Harman from Girls with Guns Clothing (see the July 2014 issue of the Western Shooting Journal for an in-depth story on Jen and Norissa) who make hunting attire for women. In 2013 they joined forces and began Universal Huntress Television. The show is more than the typical adventure of a television personality in a treestand waiting for a buck to walk by so they can make a few grunts and notch their tag while explaining how sitting at a prescouted, preplaced, bait-attracted stand brought in the big buck. The show addresses hunting as a way of life and highlights regions of the world, many in Africa, where hunting isn’t a hobby but a way to feed entire towns. The show’s motto is “The future of Universal Huntress is in the hands of creative, free-spirited professionals, who share a passion for their 2nd amendment rights and fair-chase hunting.”
Brittany and Marissa Hurst
For the female who is thinking of taking up hunting or one who already likes to head into the mountains in pursuit of game, it’s shows like this that express how much women belong in the hunting world.
Getting started in hunting can be difficult if you don’t have someone like Emanuel or Hurst who support and teach their families. Chantelle said, “I’ve always felt that if you want to do something, you’re halfway there.” She knew she was on the verge of a new adventure when she found herself wanting to learn to hunt. “As in any sport you have to learn first in order to achieve. Try joining a class or asking someone with knowledge and experience to help you. Don’t let inexperience or shyness stop you from such an amazing sport.”
(LEFT) Brittany Hurst glassing. (RIGHT) Chad Hurst has been raising his girls to become huntresses with the help of their uncle Kyle Hurst. From left to right, Kyle Hurst, Marissa Hurst, Chad Hurst and Brittany Hurst.
Chantelle is what Theodore Roosevelt would have defined as a hunter, which is much more than just someone who kills game. “All hunters should be nature lovers,” Roosevelt included in the preface of his book The Wilderness Hunter, and went on to say, “In hunting, the finding and killing of game is after all but a part of the whole. The free, self-reliant, adventurous life, with its rugged and stalwart democracy; the wild surroundings, the grand beauty of the scenery, the chance to study the ways and habits of the woodland creatures – all these unite to give to the career of the wilderness hunter its peculiar charm.”
Thanks to women like Chantelle, younger generations are learning that a huntress is just as much of a hunter as Roosevelt ever was. ASJ
Since 1998, Washington Outdoor Women, an education outreach program from the Washington Wildlife Federation, has been teaching outdoor skills to girls and women. “WOW is a program dedicated to teaching the traditional outdoor skills of fishing, hunting and shooting. Through these and other wilderness skills, women and girls learn to enjoy and respect the outdoors, thereby becoming responsible stewards of our state’s natural resources.” At WOW, female instructors instill confidence, and as they put it, a can-do attitude while teaching the necessary skills to be successful afield. To find out more about WOW you can visit them at washingtonoutdoorwomen.org. Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife also offers a program for new hunters through their outdoor skills course. This state-sponsored program offers workshops that, according to them, “Teach Oregonians how to fish, hunt, view wildlife and enjoy outdoor related recreational activities.” They also provide the equipment and hands-on instruction. To find out more you can visit them at dfw.state.or.us/education/outdoor_skills. -JB[/su_note]