As another Lame Cherry exclusive in matter anti matter.
I was listening to Gun Talk and Tom Gresham had absolutely no answer for an Army sniper who was asking why the Army teaches a sniper before a shot to exhale and then inhale a partial breath, while the Marine Corp teaches to inhale completely, then exhale half the breath before the shot.
I will answer the reasoning, but for most people they never consider that a sniper has as a human a number of things going on, because the human becomes excited before a shot, adrenaline is produced, blood pressure rises, senses quicken and the heart rate increases. All of the above is the reason the normal person pulls the trigger and the shot goes to their dominant side, left hand left, right hand right, and often enough up.
Long ago in 58 caliber bored rifles and Soldiers marching in lines, the commanders always ordered their troops to "shoot at the knees" of the enemy. The reason was two fold in clean barrels tend to shoot higher on the first shot, and men hurried up to the line, emotions running high to keep them from running away, and adrenaline pumping, those big heavy guns were like toothpicks in those troops hands and they always pulled the gun up on firing, and shot over their targets.
Very seldom in war do shots or artillery hit where they are supposed to among green troops, and on the first volleys.
Now to the Marine exhale and the Army inhale.
Take a breath as you get done reading this and hold it, and think about what you are feeling. Are you more tense or less tense. Are you more aware or less aware?
In most cases when you inhale, even a partial breath, you begin to tighten up. You are more tense and rigid.
Now take a breath and begin exhaling to half. Feel what is taking place in you. Your first experience in this is you feel like you are under water and almost panic. As you hold it, you become more aware and as you burn your oxygen, you become aware of your heart rolling in your chest harder and you tingle.
You are experiencing two different types of sensations in this, and both heighten. Some will say why not just leave your lungs empty or full. The reason is, it requires time for a shot, and just when you need to fire you will gulp a breath and move, or you will in having full lungs, exhale and move. Both situations will have you move off target and as the sniper operates in 300 plus yard ranges, it will be a miss, and then your position is given away.
With the Army version, you are being fed oxygen and for most people you settle into the shot more easy in this partial inhale, but it is a matter that one is more tense in the Army protocol.
With the Marine version, you are burning oxygen, in what your brain is telling your body, and it is a matter of relaxing in the exhale, but the body reacts in a fullness and warmness which is a natural reaction. It is at this point that the heart rate is noticed, the blood pressure, and this is where the Marine sniper goes through the checklist of mentally lowering the blood pressure, lowering the heart rate, as in learning to discipline oneself to relax, as the sniper notes in the last check the mirage.
The mirage are the heat waves seen through the optics. A sniper must be aware of humidity, heat and wind. The mirage is important as the heat waves can be studied and the wind will bend the mirage in one direction or the other. Mirage also lifts the bullet as heat rises.
This is the sniper now calculating from experience in how far to move the shot right or left due to the mirage to compensate for bullet placement, and in the time that it was required to read this, a sniper would have calculated and fired 4 shots or struck their first target and be moving back from their location unseen.
Is there a right or a wrong breathing? It is simply a technique learned. To put it to history, the Marines are the group who resurrected sniping in Vietnam, much to the consternation of all services, as sniping just seemed not civil. It is better to face the enemy and die was the brass' idea.
Once the Marines began having profound success, the Army began pressing the issue, and as the Marines were exhaling, the Army of course had to inhale.
The Marine sniper program appeared from the Hawaii shooting team in 1960, as a way to keep the shooting team funded. Lt. EJ Land created the scout sniper school, and based their work on the writings of World War I, in Capt. McBride from America and Maj. Armstrong of Canadian Recon.
For the Army, their first school began in 1955 at Camp Perry where the long distance competition was performed. It was disbanded the following year. It would not appear again until 1987 at Fort Benning Georgia. This is the modern genesis of sniping now in the movies.
The Marines developed an art form in Vietnam in jungle warfare, because the Marines hunted from their fire bases. The Army instead would transport their sniper in and out of theater by a Hughes helicopter. Completely different warcraft. Again the Marines were more aware of surrounds and senses, while the Army was more object oriented.
It must be understood that a Sniper is trained and a Marksman is a natural shot. All of the best snipers in history are Marksmen in naturally very good shots, meaning they do the motions of firing and hitting a target naturally, and a Sniper improves the stealth, control and survival techniques.
A good example is the successful Russian sniper Anatoly Chechov.
The sniper Anatoly Chechov recalled in his interview how he shot his first German. "I felt terrible. I had killed a human being. But then I thought of our people -- and I started to mercilessly fire on them. I've become a barbaric person, I kill them. I hate them." When he was interviewed, he had already killed 40 Germans -- most of them with a shot to the head.
Simo "Simuna" Häyhä, the successful Finnish sniper who killed 505 Russians was equally inspired as Russians had invaded his homeland as the Germans had Russia.
The question of this comes down to instead an answer of reality. For the hunter, taking aim at a deer on the plains, the normal reaction is what one does in surprise is to gasp a half breath as the Army teaches, because the shot is going to be released in moments. If one is moving though to a prone position, concentrating on the shot, then one takes a breath, exhales partly and rolls through the senses and emotions to settle down to hit the target.
There are not any correct answers in this, only the correct situation. The Sniper in most instances will be in a Marine corp situation, and therefore benefit from the exhale of Marksmanship competition. The Stalingrad snipers or Finnish snipers were not trained but naturals in being steady on the shot, and using standard military equipment which were more naturally accurate.