Trading Like A Sniper – What It Really Means

About three days ago, I was given an interesting question by a student. They asked the following;

“Out of curiosity, how many trades do you take in a month? Is it like sniper trades, as in one trade a week or so?”

After reading the question, I realized they had a confused assumption about what it actually means to trade like a sniper. There have been all kinds of articles written around this vein, such as trade like a sniper, not a machine gunner. It should be known that if there are machine gunner traders out there, they are HFT’s. And FYI – the top HFT firms are making millions, but I digress.

The Confusion

There seems to be this confusion trading like a sniper means you only trade a few times a week, perhaps even a handful a month. This is furthered by the idea of only trading on higher time frames, such as the daily and 4hr charts. But this is highly inaccurate of what it means to trade like a sniper.

Now, before we get into the subject and how it has nothing to do with time frames, I’d like to share a few interesting facts about snipers.


Fact #1:

Most snipers going through training will fire 1000’s of rounds. This is referred to as their ‘rounds down range‘ training. General estimates are about 1800-2000 rounds over a 35 day period. If you do the math, that’s about 50+ shots per day every day for 35 days straight.

trading like a sniper - what it really means 2ndskiesforex
Now try and bridge the gap for the daily chart trader that only does 2-3 trades per week, maybe 5-6 per month. At that pace, a daily chart trader doing 10 trades per month on average would have to trade for +180 months (or 15 years) before they accumulate the same amount of basic training a typical sniper does in 35 days.

There is a reason in sniper training you do so many shots in a day. Because shooting only 2-3 per week doesn’t build your skill set. In fact, for 99.99% of all skill based endeavors, executing something only 2-3x per week will not build your skill set. Trading is no exception.

You cannot fire three shots in a week and expect to be proficient. You cannot do three free throws and expect to be a good free throw shooter. Why would you ever expect this to be the same for trading? However, doing something over and over again dozens of times a day does build your skill set.

building your skill set - trading like a sniper 2ndskiesforex
Keep in mind, a sniper doesn’t just do their 2000 rounds and stop shooting from there. They continually train day in-day out to sharpen their skill, shooting dozens of times per day. Thus, before a sniper will ever be given that chance to make a single shot in a real world situation, they will have taken thousands of shots prior. Food for thought.


Fact #2:

Sometimes you will have to pull the trigger quite often as a sniper. Some examples of famous snipers in history;
1) Simo Hayha – had 505 confirmed sniper kills in the Winter War, which lasted only 100 days. Do the math: 505 kills over 100 days = 5.5 kills per day. Obviously quite active on a daily basis.
2) Vasily Zaytsev – over 225 kills over a 5 week period during the Battle of Stalingrad: 225 kills / 35 days = 6.42 kills per day. Again, quite active on a daily basis.
3) Clive Hulme – Fought in the Battle of Crete (11 days), and is credited with 33 confirmed kills (of German Snipers!): 33 /11 days = 3 per day.

What does all this mean? When engaged in an active environment, they can and will pull the trigger many times.


Translating This to Trading

Anyone who is properly trained will find several high quality signals a day. Only someone who is improperly trained will be unable to trade below the 4hr or 1hr charts.

This idea of only trading on the higher time frames to be a sniper trader is a confused logic. If you have setups according to your system, you pull the trigger – period. If that happens 1x / day, or 10x / day, its irrelevant. And do you really think bank traders are being paid to sit on their hands all day to only trade 2-3x per week? Do you think prop-traders are only pulling the trigger a few times throughout the week? In what fantasy-land does that world exist?

bank and prop traders actively trading 2ndskiesforex
I consider myself a ‘sniper’ in terms of trading. I observe, I stalk, I study my targets, and when the opportunity arises, I pull the trigger. On average, this happens to me 3-5x per day, sometimes over 10 trades in a really active day.

If you are actively engaging multiple markets, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be finding several high probability setups every day. Even if you just focused on forex, across the most liquid pairs daily, you could easily trade several times per day.


The ‘Noise’ Argument

One thing commonly heard from the trade like a sniper camp is anything below the 1hr chart is just ‘noise‘. I have one thing to say to this;

Put me in some strange country on a busy street where everyone is speaking a foreign language. Most of what I will hear will be ‘noise’. Now give me 6 months to learn that language, and it will no longer be ‘noise’, but a conversation full of information.

What is the difference between the noise I heard earlier, and the conversations I clearly hear later? Training. What seemed like ‘noise’ on that 30m or 5m chart will start to sound like a conversation – one you can translate.


In Closing

You will not become a ‘sniper’ if you are only pulling the trigger 2-3x per week. To become one (or a highly trained individual at anything), it takes thousands of reps. And it should be known snipers become less accurate the longer the distance.

The ‘sniper’ difference comes down to training. If you do trade on the daily/4hr TF’s only, there are ways to accelerate your learning curve. So consider alternative methods to building your skill set.

Buddhist, Trader and Philanthropist

I'm Chris Capre, Founder of 2ndSkiesForex. I help traders of all levels change the way they think, trade and perform. As a professional trader, I specialize in trading price action. As a teacher, my passion lies in showing you how to re-wire your brain for successful trading. Want to improve your edge right now? Visit my Price Action Course page.

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  • Alex

    Very interesting article. I can very much relate to this concept.

    • Hello Alex,

      Glad you liked it. How can you relate to the concept?

      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

  • Very Good As Usual! Thank You Chris!

  • IvanFX

    Excellent Chris! Really hard to think one can still argue with you about trading sub 1h TF is noise.

    • Hello Ivan,

      Yeah, seems like it will take some time to un-brainwash some of those who still think there are boogeymen waiting for you down there.

      Kind Regards,

  • Stan

    Great Article Chris!

    Best wishes,

    • Hello Stan,

      Glad you liked it mate.

      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

  • sam

    I always thought this was the dumbest topic on the net
    it never made sense to me the sports analogy is exactly I was thinking thank you for bringing this topic up!

    • Hello Sam,

      I was wondering how many people did it actually made sense to. And yes, it was actually the dumbest topic on the net imo, so hopefully this changes the conversation.

      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

  • Boris

    Good article Chris but I think a clear distinction must be made between those who can’t trade anything less than 4h charts because they lack the skill and those who cant because of a full time job or other responsibilities.

    • Hello Boris,

      Well you’ll notice I’m only talking about people who trade the higher TF’s because they think there is some sort of boogeyman or ‘noise’ waiting down there. I’m not referencing those who cannot for other reasons. But I do mention them and how they should accelerate their learning curve, so this is covered.

      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

  • Paul

    No one can refute the logic of this argument, cool article. Hectic references to actual real world kills…flinch.

    • Hello Paul,

      Indeed, real references vs. hectic ideologies and marketing.

      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

  • Mik

    I’m sure anything below the 1HR is noise…for pattern only traders. Why would anyone think it would be a good idea trading the pattern alone without first understanding the context and general orderflow?

    • Hello Mik,

      Yes, if you are a pure pattern trader, and do not learn to read price action, then yes, anything below 1hr would look like noise. But again, this purely comes down to training. This is why I teach traders to learn how to read/understand the context and general order flow. Because when you do, its no longer ‘noise’ but a conversation. So thanks for noticing.

      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

  • ProInternetBeggar

    Well, what a surprise that you can few times a day like that because a lot of price action mentors recommend 4 hour and daily chart, but its amazing if that’s really possible

    • Hello ProInternetBeggar,

      Yes, its totally possible and my students do it all the time. Why? Because they are well trained and have learned the skills and models to read price action on any time frame.

      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

  • rajib

    i appreciate your way of thinking on this topic… hoping a reply article from “DONT TRADE LIKE MACHINE GUNNER” guy on this …hehehe:)))) keep up the good work

    • Hello Rajib,

      I doubt we’ll get a reply from them, as its quite obvious their logic is confused.

      But glad you liked it.

      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

  • Rich

    Hi Chris, Great article. I trade the H4 primarily and your emphasis on using FT2 to practice has woken me up to using it much more than I was previously! Thanks

    • Hello Rick,

      Am glad you are using FT2 to practice and how it has helped you see much more.

      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

  • Rangel

    Nicely said :) I read this “DON’T TRADE LIKE MACHINE GUNNER” article a while before and after that I believed in the statement that only higher time frames are accurate. I thought this was the real deal. But after I joined your course i realized that all of this is a big BS. Now I can’t imagine trading ONLY on the higher time frames. There so many good opportunities on the lower time frames as well and as a trader you cannot afford to miss them :)

    • Hello Rangel,

      Yes, you were not the only one brainwashed by this confused logic about the higher time frames being the only safe haven for trading.

      But since you are in the course, you have obviously realized this is false. And it seems like you have made a key shift in mindset about the lower and higher TFs, so good on you mate, as there are a ton of opportunities on the lower time frames.

      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

  • Eno

    Excellent, excellent article. There’s a lot of BS on the net about sniper = few trades on high TF. That is nothing more than a myth that has no resemblance in reality and it’s a myth that many of us bought into at the beginning. Being a sniper is all about picking out high quality trades regardless of how many of them are there. With proper training you can easily find opportunities on time frames as low as 15 minutes and maybe even lower (one of the students in the price action course is killing it on 5 minute charts). I think the language analogy is brilliant. It’s noise if you don’t know the language, but if you spend learning it then a much clearer picture emerges. Secondly, Mandelbroit has shown that markets are ultimately made up of fractals, therefore strategies employed on higher time frames are bound to work on lowers ones as well provided you know what you’re doing.

  • Alex

    Hi Chris
    In response to you question of how I can relate to this concept, I particularly relate to your statement “I observe, I stalk, I study my targets, and when the opportunity arises, I pull the trigger”. I too do this on the smaller time frames. I see more success this way compared to waiting for a higher time frame set up in which I would only pull the trigger a couple times a week. This way I get more practice under my belt (rounds down range) so that in the future I can spend less time in front of the charts and have a better understanding of how price moves (Sniper).

    • @Alex – thanks for the clarification.

      And yes, getting a lot of practice under your belt will (if done correctly) build your skill set faster.

      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

  • Dave

    Hello Chris
    I totally agree when trading price action their are no limits, what I think is important finding that balance , working with a trading plan that suits your lifestyle and your personality

    • Hello Dave,

      Agreed, its critical to find a style that suits your lifestyle, personality and natural talents/way of thinking.

      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

  • Bigcheef30

    Absolutely love this article. Finally there is a definitive line of logic to dispel the malarkey behind trading 2-3x/ month. If the shot is there, you take it. Thanks my man! Chris has shown me the light! Def recommend his course to anyone who wants to learn how the big dawgs trade and trade with them!

    • Yes, some clarification to dispel the mis-information about trading only 2-3x per month idea.

      And good to be working with you as well in the course as your trading has improved tremendously.

      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

  • IvanFX

    I am so glad to see the overwhelming reaction by people to your article, suggesting you are helping a lot to spread the right mindset and dismantle such absurd misconception about noise in the fx market correlated to timeframe one trades. Thanks again!

    • Hello Ivan,

      Me too – it suggests a lot of people were sold on the marketing ideas around what it means to be a sniper trader and time frames.

      The goal of this article was to clarify what it really means, and dismantle (as you said) the absurd misconceptions suggested before about it, so hopefully it has accomplished this mission.

      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

  • rehmatkhan

    believe me i also follow the same way which you explained in our article and i most of the time successful….like you said 3-5 trading opportunities per day surprisingly i get more opportunities than that!

  • Kikka

    This is very interesting, thank you for sharing and looking forward to joining your course soon!

  • Frank

    Had a friend who was a sniper in marines back in his days. He confirmed this is how they train, through tons of repetition, not by pulling the trigger only a few times a month.

    AM glad you clarified this and shed a light on this as the other article on this didnt make sense at all. Now I know who writes the truth.

  • Gravell

    ALways had suspicsions about this ‘trading like a sniper’ only a few times a month. now I know it is a complete mis-understanding about trading and price action. want to be a successful trader, so will be implemneting this soon.

    Thank you for clarifying my doubts.

  • Keller

    This is truly what it means to trade like a sniper. You’ve given me a new way to approach my trading, not the sitting on my hands for days on end when many trades happening each day.

    Keller Stellar

  • Dorota

    This is most certainly a better way to look at trading like a sniper.

    I was wondering for so long why I was sitting on the sidelines waiting for trades for day after day after day. I’d hear about all my friends in other forums making money and trading more actively. Now I know what you say is the truth. Great lesson sir.

  • Danny

    WOW, I was wanting clarity on this issue, for when I first read the other article, something bout it did not feel right.

    You have definitely spoken clarity here.

    All should read this and see the difference.

  • Dayton

    Am a pure Price-Action Trader, have done trading for the last 4 years. Have done mistakes, blown my accounts over several occasions…One thing i will say based on experience, trading anything below 4hr time is purely gambling.

    • Chris Capre

      Hello Dayton,

      Lamentably I cannot say I agree with these comments, about the idea trading anything below the 4hr time frame is gambling.

      Maybe that is the truth for you, but go walk into any bank trading floor or prop trading firm, and try telling them that. After you get either a) kicked out for being silly, or b) laughed at tremendously, please come back here and tell me how it went.

      I know that may sound a little harsh, but the reality is – you personally couldn’t make trading work for you below the 4hr time frame. Some of my top traders do quite easily and consistently, along with many other professional traders.

      It is ok to trade on the 4hr time frame and up, but that is just your reality. It is not the dominant reality for many professional traders, who make money across all time frames.

      Gambling is only gambling in trading if you treat it like gambling. This can be done on any time frame, not just the lower ones.

      It is far more honest to just admit you don’t quite understand how to trade on the lower time frames, and that it didn’t work for you. That is totally fine, and there is nothing wrong with that at all as I’m glad the higher TF’s are working for you. But that is not the reality for many professionals.

      Food for thought, but I appreciate you sharing your perspective and wish you the best of luck.

      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

  • thx chris

    Very interestimg topic…i’v learned before that sniper is some1 who takes a few trades a week in a daily and 4 hours chart which I now realize is wrong, but more as u mentioned..thx again.waiting for your mindset course:)

  • Alex

    Yes, this is logical. You cannot be proficient without training. The more often you train the faster you will be professional.

    • Chris Capre

      Hello Alex,

      Yes training and repetition is critical – offering you an invaluable feedback loop. This can never be built up to a skill only doing this 3-4x per month, so glad you noticed.

      Kind Regards,
      Chris Capre

  • Rico

    “And do you really think bank traders are being paid to sit on their hands all day to only trade 2-3x per week?”

    Well, according to the following article by a guy who says he was a bank trader and Chief Dealer at various banks, that’s exactly what they do.

    An excerpt: “I can tell you most traders at banks spend most of the day wandering around the dealing room chatting to other traders or going to lunches with brokers. Rarely are they in front of the computer for more than a few hours. You should be taking the same approach. If you understand the technical and fundamental aspects of the market and have a comprehensive professional capital management system then you can.”

    • Chris Capre

      Hello Rico,

      Interesting comment as I don’t really see you sharing your thoughts or opinions here, just sharing someone else’s.

      Regardless…there are two books which completely contradict the statements in this article. They are:
      1) Cultures of Expertise in the Global Currency Markets
      2) The hour between the dog and wolf

      Both authors followed entire desks and traders for a year studying their every move, with the neuroscientist (Coates) testing them on a regular basis.

      And both authors describe a completely different picture than this excerpt. Shoot I’m guessing there are at least 2-3 flow trades per day, and this is not including their prop trades.

      Regardless, the 100’s of pages from both books tell a different story than this excerpt.

  • Rico

    Hi Chris

    I’m trying to establish what the case is. I hope you agree with that goal.

    You say that, “the 100’s of pages from both books tell a different story than this excerpt.”

    Do they? I’ll get to that later.

    I provided a link to the complete article, not simply the excerpt. Was it stripped out of my comment? If so, reading the full article, you’d know there’s more to it than the excerpt.

    As I have no personal experience as a bank trader, i referred to someone who does. Seems to me that the guy who wrote the article has a ‘culture of expertise’ just as valid as the ones in the books you refer to.

    That said, I am going to offer my thoughts on the comparison between your account of the books and the article t I linked to.

    One of the authors of the books is a sociologist, the other a neuroscientist who’s apparently worked as a derivates trader, and may have had some forex experience at Deutsche Bank (i’m not sure). Either way, neither of them appear to have as much experience as a forex trader as the author of the article.

    So if i had to weight the value of the books against the article, the article would come out ahead – hundreds of pages don’t trump direct, longer term international experience.

    The article explicitly says that traders make many flow trades a day, but only 2-3 prop trades each week. So maybe this doesn’t conflict with the account of the two books: many trades are made each day, but only 2-3 a week are prop trades?

    • Chris Capre

      Hello Rico,

      John Coates wasn’t just a derivatives trader, he ran the desk. He traded as an institutional trader for years. He understands what institutional/bank trading is about. What he describes in his book (after following every move of the traders, testing them & interviewing them) describes a different picture than the article.

      As to the other book about the FX desk, if a trained sociologist follows an entire fx trading desk for a year, including the traders, analysts, sales people, meetings, screen time, etc….is that a good enough sample to know how that desk functions, along with the individual traders and what their every day experience is like?

      I’m guessing so. And you don’t have to be a professional sociologist to do this.

      Watch any professional and everything they do for a year, and you’ll have a good idea what their work is like. It’s highly unlikely the year he watched them was incredibly different from any other year. So it paints an accurate picture, which again – disagrees with the article you linked to (which I’ve read before).

      I’ve also met and known many bank traders (across many instruments from German bunds, US treasuries, to oil/commodities, fx, equities, etc). Some of them have/still do work for the FX brokerage I worked for (FXCM). Some of them I keep regular contact with. None of what they described is equivalent to this article.

      Regardless, it’s not like the FX desks across the world are a monolith. Every fx desk has it’s own style and of course will depend upon the traders and the person who runs the desk. Some are highly active, some are quant based, others not…there is every spectrum in between.

      All you’ve really done here is latch onto one small point of our article. Even if the article you linked to described the entire fx bank trading world across the board (highly unlikely), would it refute the main ideas in my article? No, of course not.

      What’s the main point of my article? That trading is a skill and is heavily built upon consistent repetition of a task thousands of times. Even if every single fx bank desk was the same, their flow trades + prop trades = high activity/repetition.

      Even though the flow trades are more numerous than the prop trades, that high repetition builds experience and skills at a far faster pace vs. just making 2-3 prop trades per week. The former informs the latter and that + screen time has built their pattern recognition skills which help them make better prop trades.

      Nobody in any professional endeavor builds (or has built) their skills by only hitting the golf ball 2-3x per week, doing target practice with their rifle 2-3x per week, playing the piano for 2-3x per week, becoming fluent in a foreign language 2-3x per week, becomes a highly skilled martial artist by only going to practice (or practicing on their own) 2-3x per week.

      So nothing from the article you’re referring to negates the main points of my article.

      In contrast to your points, both books (one with a trader who had immense institutional/bank experience) + someone who took a 1 year sample size across 225+ days following every action/interaction of each and every trader/analyst (quite a large data/sample set IMO), describe a different scenario than the article you’re referring to, which is quite a lot of data to disagree with.

      So all in all, these points you are making don’t really carry much weight or negation of our points (especially our main points in my article) IMO.

      But you’re welcome to weight the info any way you like. Whatever you choose to lean towards – I support fully so best of luck.

  • Rico

    Hi Chris

    I don’t disagree with your main point – that higher repetition builds experience and skills. That makes sense in any field.

    I also agree that the one year sample of the sociologist is solid, and from what you say John Coates has sound experience as a forex trader. Still, neither has as much as the guy who wrote the article: trading in several banks (rather than one), in various countries (rather than one).

    According to the article, you can be a successful trader making only a few trades a week. Your method advocates more, which seems like it can also be successful.

    I don’t see a conflict between these views – it depends on what your goal and purpose is. Someone who wants to sit in front of a screen and take lots of opportunities will, of course, prefer trading more frequently. Someone that wants to do a few trades a week and get on with other things can also do that. (Which doesn’t preclude them from taking many more trades in practice.)

    Anyway, that’s how it looks to me, and i thank you for your good wishes.

    • Chris Capre

      Hello Rico,

      I think there is a misunderstanding about ‘my method’. It doesn’t require ‘more or less‘ in terms of trading activity. It’s completely flexible and workable on any instrument, time frame or environment. It can be traded a few times per week or many times per day.

      And yes, while technically it’s true that there is no conflict between trading 2-3x per week vs many times more, trade frequency matters. Take any method with a positive expectancy, and by increasing the trade frequency, you increase the edge.

      Poker players have figured this out a long time ago, but somehow it hasn’t dawned upon the trading world at large per se. This is why online poker players play multiple tables at the same time. Because if they have an edge at a particular stakes/player level on one table, they’ll have the same edge multiplied more times over multiple tables.

      Every online poker pro plays the maximum number of tables they can. It’s how you/they build up your/their bankroll faster. The larger the bankroll, the less effort is required down the line to make a nice living.

      The same goes for trading when building up/increasing your account. The trader who trades more with a slightly lesser expectancy will in most cases build up their account faster than the trader who trades far less but has higher expectancy. The faster they do this, the less effort it takes in the future to make the same amount of money because they are trading larger size.

      Hence while there is no ‘conflict’ between the different trade styles, trade frequency matters in terms of building one’s account, along with experience and building skills.

      Food for thought and best of luck to you.