Sniper/Observers and SWAT operators, stop for a moment and think about how difficult your job is. Now, imagine trying to do your job without the proper equipment. That's exactly what many of our military snipers are faced with each time they take a shot that might make the difference between their unit being ambushed or pinned down, and successfully completing the mission.
The lack of proper equipment came to light when many of our colleagues in law enforcement were being deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq. They found that when they left their respective police departments and joined their military units as sniper/observers, their military equipment was often substandard or sometimes missing. So in 2003 a small group of LE snipers came together to solve this unacceptable situation. Recognizing that the war on terror would never have a firm end date, they formed a support network to address the operational equipment needs of U.S. military snipers deployed abroad.
The first attempt at forming some type of organization that would fund and ship equipment overseas to U.S. military snipers was the brain child of Brian Sain, Port Arthur (Texas) Police Department. He started a loosely formed group and named it: Adopt a Sniper. It was a grass roots effort, spread by word of mouth, among friends and families to support peace officers serving in the National Guard and Reserve. As the officers were deployed as snipers in various theaters of war, they quickly realized that their military mission resembled their police mission at home. The glaring difference was they lacked the equipment they utilized at home. These Warriors sent messages back regarding the equipment they needed, knowing that trying to get it through proper military channels and protocol would likely take forever.
Often, the LE personnel deployed overseas would use their own funds and equipment to complete their mission. It didn't take long for them to realize they could ill afford to purchase needed equipment, and so they resorted to using their already well-established network consisting of the U.S. police and military communities. The Adopt a Sniper program soon became known as AmericanSnipers.org, and broadened its scope to include not only fully trained sniper teams, but also designated marksman.
Why marksman, you might ask? Because even though they lack the training snipers undergo they are expected to perform the same tasks with neither the weapon nor ancillary equipment associated with trained snipers. Assigned to mechanized units and other non-infantry units, marksmen most often utilize the venerable but very old M14 rifle. Yet despite the odds they get the job done.
When these highly motivated troops need equipment, the first channel they contact is their respective units. Should that fail, the AmericanSnipers.org can then be contacted for help. The group can supply the needs of the individual sniper and ship the equipment directly to the sniper himself. At the end of that sniper's deployment, he passes the equipment on to his replacement, or keeps it if he re-enlists for overseas duty in a sniper billet.
Where and how are funds raised to support this extraordinary cause? It's funded entirely by civic donations, fund raisers, and serviced by a volunteer force that is entirely dedicated to the cause. No one receives a paycheck for their efforts. Time is donated, and volunteers pay their own expenses.
I recently met several of these humble volunteers at the Shot Show in Las Vegas, where they were working at a table selling promotional items. Ron Sasaki, Bonney Lake Police Department in Washington, was busy at a space donated by Armalite. Other corporate sponsors donating space for tables were Center Mass and Leupold. Ron told me that the organization sells various items such as hats, calendars, patches, challenge coins, and t-shirts, at trade shows and other events. All monies go toward maintaining their website, purchasing equipment, and shipping.