Zhang Hong, a top swat sniper of the Beijing Lanjian commandoes, wears a black uniform. With his shy smile and handsome appearance, it’s hard to associate this amiable man with a nerveless swat sniper, but when he holds a gun in his hand, he seems to turn into another man.
He joined the Beijing swat team in 2006, and has now become a "gun master". Over a period of several years he faced many difficulties and had the responsibility of combatting gangsters, experiences which it is hard for an ordinary person to imagine. He captures all his extraordinary experiences in a single sentence: "I am so happy to have been able to realize my childhood dream."
A graduate of Beijing Sports University with a degree in martial arts and kickboxing, Zhang Hong rose to become a swat sniper in Beijing through many levels of selection. He undertook more than 1700 days of sniper training, remaining absolutely still for four or five hours, repeatedly aiming and shooting day after day. One of the challenges was egg-shooting: an egg dangles on a tiny string; the sniper has three seconds to shoot it. The task requires accurate control of target, speed, and time. Eventually, the coordination of hand and eye creates a sense of being "at one with the gun". Another compulsory challenge for every swat sniper was shooting apples off the top of teammates’ heads or in their hands – a highly dangerous task. "It tested the psychological quality of the snipers and strengthened the bonds of absolute trust between teammates," says Zhang Hong.
As the vice captain of Beijing Lanjian swat team, Zhang Hong earned many honors, includings one first class merit citation and three third class merit citations. He represented the Chinese swat snipers in Hungary at a world competition, and achieved success. He found that experienced foreign swat snipers improved as they grew older - years of practice gave them experience and maturity. He expressed his hopes to us: "I want to be like them, seeing the work of swat sniper as a career. And I can make my contribution to China by training more outstanding swat snipers."
"Keeping calm and avoiding any distraction is very important. It's essential for a swat sniper," says Zhang Hong. He chooses a simple and quiet life on his holidays, spending time in cafes, drinking a cup of cappuccino, doing some reading and searching the internet. The 31-year-old met a girlfriend this year - how to balance his personal life and his demanding work is a new challenge for this indefatigable sharpshooter.