Every shooter knows that every pull of the trigger and every round downrange are unique. That is why snipers are always learning, recording data to make successive shots more accurate. The really great snipers know their weapon, optics and the ballistics of their ammunition so well that when they need to extrapolate to make hits outside of known parameters they still can succeed at their mission. Rob Furlong, a professional shooter, following in the traditions of legendary snipers such as Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock and Chuck Mawhinney, showed similar greatness during a combat engagement in one of the most inhospitable corners of the world.
Engaging At 1.5 Miles!
Not the most glamorous photo in the world, but what you’re looking at is the actual McMillan .50 that Rob Furlong used to pull off his miraculous shot on an insurgent, way down range in Afghanistan.
Rob recalled, “we observed a three-man Taliban team moving below us and one of the enemy soldiers was carrying a 7.62mm belt-fed Russian RPK through a dried up wadi [stream bed].” The RPK General Purpose Machine Gun is equal to an M60 or M240 and can cause a great deal of death and destruction. As a result, these and other crew-served weapons are a priority target for snipers, just below other snipers.
As Rob put it, “we decided to engage that target so my spotter used a LASER rangefinder to obtain the range, noted the distance as 2,430 meters or 1.51 miles!” Corporal Furlong snugged in behind his McMillan TAC-50 and maxed out for both windage and elevation. He had to place his target in the clear lower quadrant of his Leupold Mark III telescopic sight. “The first shot was short but the distance was so great that there was only the crack of the round so the enemy combatants thought the shot was probably just harassing fire,” he recalled. Rob noted that after he pulled the trigger for the second .50 BMG round his spotter said, “it looks like you hit the guy’s backpack” so Furlong knew his range, elevation and windage was good. He and his spotter were confident in their weapon and shooting solution so as Rob put it “we stuck with the same data and sent the third round downrange and were successful.”
During the remainder of the Operation Rob noted that they and the other snipers were so effective, “we shut down the Taliban, all resupply lines, and the guys that would try to use them resorted to crawling on their faces,” The Taliban took to dragging their gear behind them for fear of the distant precision shooters. Captured Taliban have repeatedly said that nothing was as demoralizing as the affect of long range sniping. Cpl Furlong participated in many more operations during his tour and continued to reduce the enemy combatants, one at a time, with no shot less than 1,500 meters.
For his excellence as a warrior, bravery and service to the Global War on Terror, Rob Furlong was awarded the U.S. Bronze Star and Mention in Dispatches from the Canadian Armed Forces. Although not an awarded medal, the Canadian Armed Forces Mention in Dispatches is a certificate presented by the Governor General of Canada and the recipients are entitled to wear a bronze oak leaf on the ribbon of the campaign ribbon issued to soldiers who served in Afghanistan.
As with most men who have been in combat, Rob Furlong is extremely humble and modest. His piercing blue eyes glistened when he talked about his family or hunting with his bolt-action .270, the only weapon he owns, but got steely when he talked shop. He was quick to give others credit and not comfortable accepting praise or accolades; In short he is everything right about Allied warriors, smart, efficient and professional. Rob is now an Officer on the Edmonton, Alberta Police Department and is looking for a place on a S.W.A.T. team. Good luck my friend; some team out there will be very, very lucky one day soon. Stay safe.