The White Death — Hyper Sniper Simo Häyhä


Doing Plenty, Kinda Slow
Jan 30, 2003
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Snowiest place in VA
llUnited States
… is believed to have … the highest number of sniper kills in any major war



He was a farmer, hunter, and skier prior to his military service. According to Major Tapio Saarelainen … Häyhä was able to estimate distances with an accuracy of 1 metre (3.3 ft) up to 150 metres (500 ft). Saarelainen notes that during his Civil Guard training, Häyhä once hit a target 16 times from 150 metres away in just one minute. "This was an unbelievable accomplishment with a bolt action rifle, considering that each cartridge had to be manually fed with a fixed magazine that held together five cartridges."

Häyhä preferred iron sights over telescopic sights, as they enable a sniper to present a smaller target for the enemy (a sniper must raise his head a few centimetres higher when using a telescopic sight), and can be relied on even in extreme cold, unlike telescopic sights which tend to cloud up in cold weather. Another disadvantage of telescopic sights is that sunlight may reflect off the lenses and reveal the sniper's position.

Häyhä dealt with the intense cold by dressing properly with multiple layers of clothing. He kept sugar and bread in his pockets, consuming them for the calories necessary to keep his body warm. His slight stature of 160 centimetres (5 ft 3 in) assisted him in disguising his position. Hidden in a snow pit, he could lie still and observe the enemy for long periods of time. It was Häyhä's custom to move, well before daybreak, to the position he had prepared, and stay there until after sunset. He would frequently pack dense mounds of snow in front of his position to conceal himself, provide padding for his rifle, and reduce the characteristic puff of snow stirred up by the muzzle blast. He was known to keep snow in his mouth while sniping to prevent his breath in the cold air from giving away his position.