I caught up with Rob Maylor, former SAS Sniper and author of 'Sniper Elite' (or SAS Sniper in Australia)
Rob, can you tell me a bit about your background?
I spent 5 years in the Royal Marines Commandos. I was based at 40 Commando in Taunton, Somerset, England’s south west. In 1994 I passed selection for 3 Commando Brigades reconnaissance troop where I completed some highly regarded course such as the Royal Marines sniper course and Jungle Long Range Reconnaissance in Brunei. On return to New Zealand I joined the police for a couple of years before joining the Australian Army. Initially I was based in Sydney with 3RAR, the Parachute Battalion and then in March 03 I passed selection for the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR).
My career spans 18 years and during this time my specialization was sniping and reconnaissance.
Sniping is 70% fieldcraft and 30% shooting, it becomes a “Dark Art” in the planning stage. This is where you plan in the greatest of detail on how you are going to kill someone without being compromised or caught! There are a lot of factors that you have to consider during this time which could be anything from weather, what type of weapon and projectile you will use, to what is the best time to engage your target.
Any historical snipers that strike a chord with you?
Yes, Carlos Hathcock, he was a U.S Marine Corps sniper during Vietnam who really put his stamp on the trade. He was a first class shot and won several U.S Marine Corps titles but operationally in Vietnam he took fieldcraft to a new level. Until then sniper training was very basic in how they taught camouflage and concealment and other fieldcraft disciplines. Carlos was an amazing predator with more patience than you can ever imagine.
What is Covert Advisors?
I started Covert Advisors early 2011 to provide the media, TV and film industry with expert military technical advice to help keep literature and productions as authentic and accurate as possible.
I offer an advisory service to the industry and a range of military and tactical training that will enhance actor’s awareness and ability to represent the military character in it’s true form. We can cover script writing for characterization and accuracy, boot camps, weapons training and advice, counter terrorism and Special Forces, SWAT and equipment and clothing advice and procurement.
Can you tell us about your book (co authored with Robert Macklin)
SAS Sniper is an account of my life to date focusing on my military service in the Marines and SAS.It took about 10 months all up; I started writing notes initially and then got stuck in to the story line as soon as we had secured a publisher.
You write for some magazines too?
Yes, I write 3 articles for ‘On Duty’ magazine which are ‘Sniper School’, ‘Weapons Review’ and ‘Field Survival’. I actually enjoy the survival articles the most which has prompted me to start running survival courses.
I also write for a U.S Military website called sofrep.com
What are some of your favourite past times?
I really enjoy my hunting when I can find time for it but watching the Super 15 rugby games and the internationals makes up for lost time in the bush! I am also a member of a pistol shooting club which is quite relaxing on a Saturday or Sunday morning.
What are some of your favourite military films?
It has to be Blackhawk Down. I am also a fan of Matt Damon and Leonardo Dicaprio so I’d also have to say films like Blood Diamond and the Bourne series are some of my favourites.
Australia has produced some brilliant films in the past like Gallipoli, The light Horsemen and Breaker Morant but the importance of precision seems to have been lost since then. It is unfortunate that we haven’t made a modern day military action film; the resources are there to make something that would rival Blackhawk Down! (Simon - Totally agree and I've got plans to fix that! and so does Rob)
Can you tell when actors haven't got proper weapons handling skills?
Of course, it’s not hard to pick up on this when people are trying to emulate what I have been doing for over 20 years. U.S and most British production companies will use specialist tech advisors to ensure proper characterisation and accuracy of whatever production they are working on. The Australian industry hasn’t totally cottoned on to the fact that tech advisors can actually make them look good and wow the audience by avoiding errors that in my mind cheapen a production. The trick is to source an advisor that can demonstrate they have the essential skill sets that you are after. Because this will be represented on screen.
What are some of the misconceptions of weapons, writers get wrong? (automatic pistol going click click, six shooter having unlimited bullets etc)
Having the actor or character work the action on a semi automatic pistol several times in the same scene. Once it is at action the pistol is ready to go, everytime that action is worked again it will extract an unused round! Unlimited bullets is a given. Ammunition that makes vehicles and other items explode… it doesn’t happen! Detectives entering a hostile building with a specialised tactical firearms unit directly behind them or waiting outside! The media calling anyone with a gun “A Sniper”!
And keep an eye for some projects Rob and I are putting together.