I recently had a chance to catch up with my friend and former U.S. Army Ranger sniper Nick Irving. Nick has written for SOFREP in the past, and recently finished a book with St. Martin’s Press called “The Reaper.” I read the advanced copy, and it’s legit. I thought you all would enjoy a little Q&A with Nick about the book, and his experiences in the Ranger Regiment.
Enjoy learning about the “two-way range”.
BW: Nick, all of us SOF guys have our reasons for writing. What was your main motive behind writing your book?
I grew up watching History Channel shows and reading books from the library about SOF in Vietnam. The men within SOF are what lead me to want to pursue a career as a SEAL or Army Ranger. The book is what I feel should be done. No one ever talks about the Ranger contribution to the GWOT. I believe that we sacrificed a lot, and the guys we lost within Battalion need their story told rather than having a name scroll past the bottom of a television screen.
BW: I know the Army has two different courses. Can you tell us about your sniper training?
My sniper training involved multiple courses. I was lucky enough to be in at a time where Battalion sent our snipers to a wide variety of schools. Before I attended the U.S. Army Sniper Course, I had to train up with the veteran snipers of 3rd Ranger Battalion, somewhat of a pre-sniper-school course. After that, I attended the Army Sniper Course (five weeks long), a private long-range precision course (in Texas), the 75th Ranger Regiment DM course, and a private high-angle precision sniper course (in California).
BW: How did the Ranger Regiment continue your marksmanship training beyond Big Army’s course?
The Ranger Regiment strived to produce the best snipers in the military. They spent a lot of money sending guys to various private courses throughout the country. Most of the guys had well over five sniper courses under their belt within a six-month train-up. SOTIC was also a big deal for snipers in Battalion. Depending on the training schedule, most of the team leaders went to SOTIC after the required courses and private sniper courses.
BW: Who did you look up to in the sniper community while on active duty?
Since a kid, I always looked up to Carlos Hathcock! In my eyes, he is the epitome of “sniper.” I watched a lot of his interviews and read books about how he operated as a sniper and used a lot of his mindset within my two-man team.
BW: What’s your most memorable moment as a sniper in the Ranger Regiment?
My most memorable moment as a sniper was the five-day operation my two-man team experienced while attached to a four-man RECCE team. The last day of our operation behind enemy lines, we found ourselves in a 360-degree, nine-hour ambush, taking effective fire from an enemy sniper. I had to use all of the training I learned, as well as a few things I read in sniper books. That day, I knew I was going to die and should have dozens of times. If it weren’t for a Ranger buddy, machine gunner Cpl. Benjamin S. Kopp (RIP), I wouldn’t be here today.
BWL What’s your favorite rifle and pistol these days?
My favorite rifles would have to be the M40A5 and SR-25. I know it sounds basic, but I’m a simple guy. I’ve seen what the rifle can do while working with a Marine scout-sniper team in Afghanistan. The .308 isn’t widely used on the competitive side of precision shooting, but for getting down and dirty on a two-way range, I’d take the .308. As far as pistols, I’m a huge Glock fan (22, 23).
BW: I shot with you at the SHOT show in Vegas a few years ago, and damn you are current, man. How much practice do you still put in? I’m big on mental rehearsal; any advice you can pass on to the shooter looking to improve their skills on the range?
I practice every day. It doesn’t need to be a live-fire practice. Dry fire is the key to making your hits count on a live-fire range. A day doesn’t go buy in my house where I don’t dry-fire practice for time and accuracy. If you were to walk in my house, you’d find small half-inch targets sporadically placed on the walls. I set up my timer, get my weapon of choice, and dry fire for at least an hour. For the precision rifle, I shoot live at least twice a week. When I’m not on the range with the long gun, it’s dry firing in alternate shooting positions for an hour on a quarter-inch target or half-inch target, while applying a shooting solution (varying winds, altitudes, distances, barometric pressures, humidity, etc.
BW: What’s next after “The Reaper”?
After the book, that’s a good question. I’ve been thinking of expanding 33 Degrees LLC. and taking it worldwide.