My short bio: Hi Reddit, my name is Nicholas Irving and I'm a former U.S. Army Ranger with multiple combat deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan. During my service within the 75th Ranger Regiment, I served as an Assaulter, Heavy and Light Machine Gunner, and Designated Marksman. I was the first African American to serve as a sniper in my battalion and am now the owner of HardShoot, where I train personnel in the art of long-range shooting, from Olympians to members of the Spec Ops community.

My forthcoming book about my life and service, THE REAPER, is on sale next Tuesday, January 27th! Check it out at: http://us.macmillan.com/static/smp/thereaper/

My Proof: Here is a link to my Twitter: https://twitter.com/irving_nicholas/status/554737485096304641

Comments: 456 • Responses: 54  • Date: 

Lej133784 karma

Most unusual thing you saw while aiming down sights?

Reaper_33193 karma

a guy taking a dump on the side of the road. He was no threat, just a guy who really had to go.

Russ91587 karma

you should have grazed his poop to give him a little extra help

OneMulatto61 karma

That wouldn't help me. I wouldn't even be done pooping and I would just run away.

Reaper_3373 karma

ahahahha

3lauYourMind82 karma

Has killing a person effected you in anyway (PTSD, depression, etc.) or do you look at it as doing your job and it's not a big deal?

Reaper_33145 karma

for sure. The first person really did. I was 18 operating the .50 M2. Had a bad dream that reoccurs every once in a while. Still have a hard time dealing with the loss of some of the guys we lost

LouisvilleBitcoin66 karma

Were any of your kills against another sniper trying to hit you?

Reaper_33133 karma

Almost. My recon team had been pinned down for 3 hours against a really good sniper. He had a good position and was really hard to hit. We didn't get him, but a couple of years later I heard that an SAS team killed him

ImGoingToHeckForThis61 karma

How do they recognise who is who and such? Is it from heavy surveillance? As in, how did they know that the sniper that was killed was the same one that was pinning you down?

Reaper_3354 karma

That's a good question. Because of who the unit was who got him, the work up and how they gather things is top notch. But really not sure what they do to gather that intel

saltinado62 karma

What got you started on the path to being a sniper? Or even just joining the army?

Reaper_33170 karma

I always wanted to be a sniper, since elementary school. Wanted to be a SEAL, but I found out that I was color blind. An army nurse forged my documents and I became a Ranger. luckily

HoeCheese148 karma

Maybe don't admit that on the Internet.

Reaper_33142 karma

lol.

HoeCheese40 karma

I asked this below but it's probably buried. What percentage of people who go out for the sniper program actually make it through to become snipers?

Thank you for your service.

Reaper_3381 karma

I believe nearly half finish the course. Most fail the stalking and final shot.

heruskael59 karma

How do you feel about the average person in those countries?

Reaper_33161 karma

I think the average person just wants to make a living. Not everyone is bad. There were some really good people.

holycow3351 karma

If you had to choose one movie that most accurately describes what it's like to serve overseas, what would it be? Did Jarhead get it right?

Reaper_33137 karma

Jarhead was good for pre GWOT, the best movie I've seen that got it to a T is a hard one. I would say Lone survivor. The firefight scene was legit.

TSilverTxR50 karma

Longest confirmed, with what weapon, under what conditions?

Reaper_3373 karma

just shy over half a mile with the SR. Not bad conditions, calm wind, good humidity, BP on static target

Iamabadhuman41 karma

Nicholas,

First off, thank you for your service. I've seen you in the news recently and have to say you seem like a very classy person. Even when Michael Moore was attacking your profession, you kept it together. Kudos.

As a person who recently got into hunting(last 3 years), I want to get better at my long range shooting. I've recently picked up a Weatherby Mark V in 30-378, and have developed a custom load. I've been able to get a deer out to 600 yards. I have the simple bullet drop ballistics worked out to 1000 yards(even though I don't have the practice in for that yet). I may even want to get into competitive long range shooting, as it is an incredibly fun sport.

What are some tips/pointers that I can use to become a better shot and reach out further? Any 'tricks of the trade' that might be unknown to a civvy/non-sniper?

Reaper_3351 karma

Really start studying how the bullet operates under different temps. Also read up on Density Altitude. Bullets love it when the DA is high!

Iamabadhuman12 karma

Thanks! I know barrel temperature is a big factor, so there has to be a cool down period. Did you compensate for that if you had to take two quick shots in battle?

Reaper_3328 karma

I never had to adjust for that, that takes a lot of shooting. I typically shoot one round every 30sec to 1 min. When training.

coach-gordon-bombay40 karma

After your experiences with the death of close friends and inflicting death on others, what is the best advice can you give civilians on how to live?

Reaper_33104 karma

Don't live it day by day, live it second by second.

You_butt_pirate36 karma

Being a sniper looks like it's much more calculated and thought out than being in a close-up situation. Would you say that having time to consider the kills before doing the deed affected you differently than others in different situations?

Reaper_3365 karma

definitely. Most of my kills took happened in a few seconds. The ones where you take time to look at them, you feel something. Not sure what it was, but it was just a strange feeling. Almost like a few seconds of shock or something. Hard to explain

bravowhiskeygolf36 karma

If you've seen "American Sniper", any glaring inaccuracies in techniques or details?

WolfofAnarchy61 karma

aside from the fake baby

Reaper_3353 karma

lol.

Reaper_3344 karma

A few things were different. But every team/sniper works with different SOPs.

brownie082229 karma

Do you like being retired better, or do you miss your time as a sniper?

Reaper_3355 karma

I miss it. but luckily I shoot almost everyday and get a chance to train others. I miss the rush sometimes. But life outside being home is better. I'd still go back in a heartbeat if were needed.

iBeyy20 karma

Interesting, I hear a lot of people who say they wouldnt go back after the PTSD. Interesting that you actively enjoyed it. Do you think that as a Sniper you are away from the carnage and bloodshed, so it didnt affect you as much as say, a bomb tech?

Also why did you leave?

Reaper_3360 karma

I was an assaulter and machine gunner for a few years on a few deployments before my time as a sniper and employed those weapons as well. Being a sniper didn't mean I was always far away. My closest shot as a sniper was less than 30 feet away. I left because my time was up and just wanted to see what else was in the world.

camaro7928 karma

“When the going gets tough, Rangers get going.”

Any regrets? Have you missed out on something or this has given you all you wanted from life?

Reaper_3342 karma

I wish I would have stayed in to be around the guys. Don't miss anything else but having the brotherhood. I had a chance to be around the best individuals and it's hard to leave that

camaro796 karma

You're a great guy!

Reaper_3318 karma

thank you

johnfreeman2125 karma

Now that you're done how do you deal with the lack of adrenaline? I know some people cannot find a good source to "spice up" their life?

Or do you have something that really helps you?

Reaper_3335 karma

A lot of exercise and working with my dogs. The rush took a few years to somewhat fade. But it is still there

Changnesia_survivor22 karma

Do you sleep okay at night even though Michael Moore thinks you're a coward?

Reaper_3374 karma

lol! Screw that guy. I really don't sleep much at night, a few hours. I usually find myself watching some crazy alien documentary on youtube or something.

Changnesia_survivor13 karma

Fyi, I served in the Marines and the National Guard. Thanks for all you've done saving the lives of rest of us.

Reaper_3332 karma

Thank you for your service.

HackPhilosopher22 karma

Was 33 pretty spread out over your career or was there a cluster where you were "on fire" so to speak that came all at the same time?

Reaper_3344 karma

It was over the course of around 100 days. My on fire day I had 4 or 5 in a few hours.

Iamabadhuman21 karma

Another question for you:

In movies they usually just have a sniper/spotter team alone on some rooftop. Is there usually other people protecting you guys? Obviously don't go into detail for safety reasons, I'm just curious if you guys are proactive about enemies attacking your position.

Reaper_3335 karma

most of the time is was just me and my spotter. A few occasions we had to split up. We did use a guy or two sometimes to watch our back as well. Just depended on the mission

shmameron21 karma

What kind of education or training do you receive to become a sniper? How were you chosen for that position?

Reaper_3335 karma

I started off in the sniper section selection, where the mental evals take place and they want to see your efficiency with the weapon. After that, US Army sniper school, then we were sent to a few private sniper courses, High Angle, LR Precision, etc.

miss-izzle21 karma

[deleted]

Reaper_3336 karma

The longest mission staying up was around 4 days. We slept for a few minutes, but waiting for a shot was a little less than 24 hours

guguruz18 karma

how can one stay up so long? amphetamines?

Reaper_3343 karma

cans and cans of tobacco for me, or singing random songs in my head.

miss-izzle10 karma

[deleted]

Reaper_3322 karma

usually had a few cans of dip

Iamabadhuman10 karma

Skoal or Copenhagen?

Reaper_3345 karma

Copenhagen for sure.

Daredzoni14 karma

How do you feel about those kills? Do you have any regrets?

Reaper_3349 karma

No regrets. They were trying to kill us or others. The only one I guess was the guy who killed the Ranger who saved a recon team I was on. Wish I got him

SammyKurr13 karma

What kind of rifles did you use and what are your favorites?

Reaper_3326 karma

I used the SR25 mainly. My favorite would be the .300 in AI chassis, Rem 700, and M40 A5

jcarroll19884712 karma

Do you think you in your own opinion could you have possibly had a thirty fourth.?

Reaper_3319 karma

that's a good question. There were a few more probables, but just not sure what happened to the target. Sometimes they are carried away or you just don't see

ucantsimee12 karma

Who should play you in the movie when it comes out?

Reaper_3313 karma

lol, I have know idea! (If it were to happen) who would you say?

ucantsimee16 karma

I think Daniel Day-Lewis would be able to really get the silent scenes when you're looking through the scope better than anyone else in Hollywood. So he's my vote.

Reaper_339 karma

lol

UtMed11 karma

Hey thanks for your service. I'm hoping to learn some of the ins-and-outs of competition shooting before I save up and invest in a rifle. Do you have any recommendations of where to start? Or is the place you work near enough to DC I could come take classes?

Reaper_3319 karma

For sure. For competition shooting, I would start looking at the 6.5 calibers. It's a wind cheater! It's not the best for really understanding wind and different environmentals, but that's the big deal in the comp world.

blaket9511 karma

What do you consider your most successful kill?

Reaper_3331 karma

Probably a shot that I took where the math I used was wrong. The first shot missed but the second connected using a holdover

Sirtaco1111 karma

What made you get through every kill? I'm sure it was not easy.

Reaper_3324 karma

Usually just not thinking about it at first, or not talking about it. Usually before bed I'd watch a movie on my portable DVD player. Hancock, Rambo and Taken 1 were my favorites

robreddity63 karma

... then what movie would you watch to forget about Hancock?

Reaper_3335 karma

hahahahaha, Rambo 1!

adub88711 karma

Are people usually did on impact when you shoot them or do you have to wait it out sometimes?

Reaper_3328 karma

most of them died instantly. There were a few that ran for a few feet.

Iamabadhuman10 karma

What do you shoot with - straight muzzle brake, silencer, or compensator?

Reaper_3321 karma

Big fan of the muzzle break for larger calibers. But also love suppressors.

Reermango10 karma

Do you know the stories/background of any of the 33 men you sniped, or were the orders strictly he's our enemy, get it done?

Reaper_3326 karma

most were IED guys who decided they had a far fight and wanted to give it a shot. Some were small time leaders in a specific region

troyanpunk8 karma

Did you ever get a really hard shot and were "happy" you succeeded?

Reaper_3315 karma

Oh yes. I've only had 2 or 3 shots that were considered long, but after connecting was pretty cool. My spotter had the longest shot that deployment a little over a grand with his .300

coach-gordon-bombay7 karma

Is there a time you regret killing or not killing someone or both? If so, why?

Reaper_3322 karma

Never regretted killing someone who wanted to kill our guys. The ones who did successfully kill one of us, those are the ones I wish we got to first.

Gavinito7 karma

Can you explain a little about how you use manage to use math and physics while in such a stressful situation. Are you actually calculating things?

Reaper_3313 karma

A lot of training prior, but shortening equations to where you can do them in a second payed off a lot

ncotino6 karma

Do you feel you lack empathy for other people, or has your empathy to feel for others decreased since taking on this sniper mission?

Reaper_3321 karma

Negative, I've always been a friendly guy or at least try to be. Being a sniper was a job, it didn't make me feel anything different about people.

HoeCheese5 karma

Thank you for your service.

How many of the people who go out for the army sniper program actually become snipers?

Reaper_331 karma

For us it was 100%. I'm not sure how the other units use their snipers. I would guess most of them though

affordalisimo4 karma

What kind of job do you have now?

Reaper_3317 karma

currently train those who want to learn how to shoot. From Olympic shooters to the guy next door.

DrFishyNOO3 karma

You say you train personnel in the art of long-range shooting. Being a civilian with no other reason for learning how to, other than to want to learn, would this course be available for me?

Reaper_334 karma

for sure.

bnjiG3 karma

How did you feel the moment you first took the life of another human?

Reaper_3315 karma

In shock and scared to be honest. My first deployment at 18

Iamabadhuman3 karma

Ever make it out to AZ? We got a lot of awesome long distance ranges here. Would love to shoot the 1000m with you!

Reaper_338 karma

definitely, I was in AZ a few months ago doing some shooting.

Aquabro2 karma

[deleted]

Reaper_337 karma

RIP was a tough class. We only graduated 7 that class. Ranger school was a suck fest! One of the hardest school I've ever done!

Vaecor1 karma

What was worse, basic training or actual service? Also, do you look back on your service with Nostalgia or regret?

Reaper_337 karma

Service for sure! Basic was more of a shock of being away and getting yelled at. Maintaining the job once I was in was the hard part. Looking back I loved every minute of it and the guys who were around me