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Training The Shooter
Key to the suspense of "Shooter” is the most true-tolife, painstakingly accurate portrayal of a military sniper yet seen on film. To achieve this, Mark Wahlberg had to commit himself to an intensive "boot camp,” learning and carefully cultivating some of the extraordinary skills that set the very best shooters, like Bob Lee Swagger, apart, including a Zen-like ability to control one's emotions, fears and nerves while dialing in a laser-like focus that allows for near-impossible shots to hit their marks dead-on. Wahlberg came to the production with the advantage of already being a highly trained athlete with exceptional physical strength, endurance and coordination. But to hone him into a seasoned shootist – the kind who could hit a target 1,000 meters away with dead aim – the production recruited one of the nation's true elite in the field: U.S. Marine scout sniper Patrick Garrity, who has served both in vital deployments overseas and as a specialized trainer for snipers.

Jumping into the task with a typical gung ho spirit, Garrity constructed a not-so-basic training in field skills for Wahlberg that put even the famously tough actor through his paces. The idea was to not only teach Walhberg to shoot well but to give him a sense of the kind of mental and physical commitment, not to mention heart, the extremely dangerous missions of a sniper scout require. His boot camp began at Front Sight Firearms Training Institute near Las Vegas, Nevada, where Wahlberg followed a nerve-testing training protocol that included jumping off the largest zip line tower in America. For Wahlberg, the training was revelatory.

"Front Sight is basically the most elaborate weapons training facility that I've ever seen,” says Wahlberg. "At one point, I had on 130 pounds of equipment, was carrying this huge sniper rifle and had to walk out on this little thin beam a couple of hundred feet in the air. A few years ago, these are things that I would have loved to have done, but now I'm a parent and have a lot more to live for!” He adds: "The training definitely opened my eyes to the importance of being safe and smart as opposed to being reckless like I once was.”

As a battle-tested Marine, Patrick Garrity isn't easily impressed but Wahlberg quickly won his respect with his hard work and tenacity. "I think Mark is a very good fit for this role,” says the experienced scout sniper. "He's even got the young military look with the chiseled face and the right attitude. When he first showed up, he was a little loose, maybe not knowing what to expect. But I set up a two-day training course for him and he came ready with a great work ethic. He picks up everything extremely fast and it made my job a lot easier.”

Watching the training, director Antoine Fuqua was equally awed by Wahlberg's natural talent and unusual level of commitment. "It was amazing to watch Mark go through the training and, especially, to do such accurate shooting,” recalls Fuqua. "He has so much natural ability. At first, there was some concern because Mark is a left-hander and, since most weapons aren't made for a left-handed shooter, he had to learn how to shoot right-handed for the movie – which is tough – and also switch between right-handed shooting and left-handing shooting. But Mark was amazing. He hit a few bull's-eyes right away the first day.”

Knowing that Wahlberg could handle it, Garrity designed training as intensive as anything undertaken before by an actor preparing for such a role. He started by giving Wahlberg a basic history lesson about Marine scout snipers – who have made a difference in many American battles by providing precision fire on selected targets. Garrity then quickly moved into the nitty-gritty, teaching Wahlberg the use of different shooting positions, how to manipulate the prismatic sc

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