The Trader As A Sniper

 

 The Trader As A Sniper

For many years, as I was learning trading, a military poster of a sniper hiding in the brush hung on the wall of my office.  In so many ways, the sniper embodies the strengths of the successful trader:

*  Significant learning and practice precede going into the field and developing expertise.  The sniper shoots at many targets under realistic conditions before ever going into actual battle.

*  The sniper must adjust to conditions in the field.  Hiding is different in the desert than in the forest.  Shooting is different in the wind and rain.  

*  The sniper maintains supreme self-control.  The excited, high-fiving sniper doesn’t last long.  It’s the sniper who can stay motionless for extended periods of time, controlling breathing, and maintaining steadiness who can make the shot and hit the target.

*  The sniper retreats after the kill.  There is no operating on tilt, no taking of impulsive shots, no overconfidence once the target drops.  The priority becomes moving and remaining undetected.

*  The sniper weaponizes math. Many calculations precede the good shot.  The sniper adjusts for distance, gravity, and the movement of the target.  The sniper adjusts for wind speed and changes in the wind.  The slightest miscalibration sends the bullet astray.

*  The sniper follows an integrated processArmy Manual FM23-10 describes the sniper as following an “integrated act of firing”, with a preparation phase (complete maintenance and check of equipment); a before-firing phase (maintaining position and checking aim); a firing phase (controlling breathing and body movement, steady squeeze of the trigger); and an after-firing phase (noting the kill or determining errors that led to an errant shot).   

Perhaps most important of all, the sniper–like all true performance professionals–spends much more time preparing for the kill (practicing, hiding, observing) than actually shooting.  From athletics to Broadway productions, the performance professional practices and reviews performance for much more time than he or she spends on the field or stage.  It is the hours of motionless waiting and continual maintenance of the rifle and regular practice under different conditions that prepares the sniper for one good shot.

If you’re trading with a sense of excitement; if you’re spending more time trading than preparing for trading and learning from past trading; if you find yourself firing away without following an integrated process, think about what would happen to the sniper under similar conditions.  Snipers operate in an environment of opportunity–and risk.  Financial markets offer a very similar landscape.

Further Reading:  Trading Like a Sniper
.

Published at Sat, 07 Oct 2017 12:00:00 +0000

About the author

TheWire

Online resource for daily updates and information relating to investing stocks, bonds, forex, real estate and much more.