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How to be Stealthy, Sneaky, and Silent

DISCLAIMER

I do not take responsibility and will not be held responsible for any/all actions that an individual(s) may use this information to carry out. This article is intended for mature audiences and is for informational purposes only. This article is not designed to replace any instructional manuals or training for any of the gear specified. Do not disregard clear instruction from any professionals as a result of this article, and always refer to the manufacturer for information regarding use of their product(s). The scenarios depicted are factitious, and are mostly subjective. As well, much of the information is based on speculation, opinion, experience, as well as being situation-dependant, and therefor we do not claim this information to be 100% viable in any/all situations. Any self-defence techniques discussed are just that, and should only ever be used against either willing participants, or in an absolute and clear-cut self-defensive manor. These instructions should never be used in connection to illegal activities, and is not intended to condone such activities. This information should only be used in appropriate situations. Please use responsibly.

Avoid light sources whenever possible.

Avoid light sources whenever possible.

Overview

Stealth is an ability that is often overlooked in our daily lives, and we have a tendency to miss out on opportunities as a result of being clumsy or easy to detect. With this article, you will learn how to:

  • Covertly avoid an individual or groups
  • Sneak up on individuals
  • Combine stealth skills with sports like Airsoft and Paintball
  • Generally improve your chances to go undetected

We will go through a series of steps to help you gear up, analyze what tactics to use, and show you how to get the best out of all situations. Following this, we will go through a check-list that you can use to determine what type of stealth is needed for a particular job. We will also be discussing stealth techniques - items such as silently landing jumps, or how to using diversions. Finally, we will break-down and shine light on the decision making habits of an inexperienced individual during moments of confrontation, versus the choices of someone who has plenty of experience with stealth.

The 7 Steps to Stealth

In this section, we will attempt to break down stealth into seven main components, list them in order, and explain them all in detail. We will go in the order that should be used when preparing for a tactical mission of any kind.

Walk on large, stable rocks to reduce noise while outdoors

Walk on large, stable rocks to reduce noise while outdoors

Step 1 - Know The Area

The single most important factor in a successful stealthy adventure is knowing your location inside and out - as well as having an established route to take. Even individuals who are skilled in stealth can end up like a "bull in a china shop" if they don't know how to navigate an area effectively.

While it may not always be possible to gather recon on an area before you go there, it is always advised to make an attempt. If you can't go to the place in person, then websites that offer satellite images of locations can be a valuable asset - as well as street level photography. Talking to someone who knows the area can also be useful if there are no other means of scouting an area.

Getting as much information as possible is the goal. Every bit counts, no matter how small. Knowing that there is a squeaky third-step on a flight of stairs can be the difference between being successful and getting caught. Learn about all the subtleties and oddities of your location, and teach yourself the most effective way to maneuver through it.

Here are some key things to consider, when you are scouting an area:

  • Where do the shadows fall naturally during the course of a day?
  • Where are the darkest areas, and how reliable are they?
  • What is the most prominent set of colours for the area?
  • Are there any potential hazards?
  • Are there routes through the area that make less noise that others?
  • Where is the ground stable vs. where is it weak, and risky?
  • Are there routes for you to make an easy escape, if need be?
  • What is the weather typically like in this area?
  • What type of stealth should be used? (see below for checklist)

Once you are comfortable with the area, you can begin to move through the next few steps. However, it needs to be said that this step should never be overlooked. The best knowledge that you can obtain in order to be stealthy is information on where you will be.

Step 2 - Consider, Plan, and Prepare

Now that you have all the information you could ever need on the location, it's time to put it all to good use. Every detail can have a meaning, you just need to look closely to see it. For example, an area with weak ground could indicate something buried, or a high traffic area. It could also simply mean that a hole that was filled in poorly, and it is now unstable to walk there. In either case, that area needs to be mentally flagged, as it could be the source of problems.

Having detailed recon is very important for this phase, as you will have to use it to project and predict where the safest, quietest, and most secure routes will be. you need this not only to escape, but you need to have route plans for when you need to double-back on yourself as a result of someone being where you didn't plan. Knowing the quiet areas to take a step back when you need to can be a big difference, and most people are caught because they refuse to fall-back. This happens either because they are scared and assume being still is best, or it's because they lack proper planning to get some distance.

Another part of planning is considering what clothing you are going to need. Some cases will require heavy armour, but for the vast majority of the time you should opt for more lightweight clothes that are easy to stay mobile in. You should either base your clothing's camouflage off the local colours, or go with flat black when you are unsure. Flat black tends to have a universal application, as you can use it to blend in with dark areas and shadows. However, it is the most ideal to use the exact colours required, because an item as simple as a flashlight can completely break your camouflage. We will go into more detail on this later.

Step 3 - Enlist

In certain situations, a crucial aspect in a stealth mission is having someone to assist you. Some jobs simply cannot be done by one person, and our compulsion to perform stealth actions on our own can lead us into serious problems that could have been prevented by having back-up.

With that being said, an inexperienced partner can become just as large of a liability. The person(s) you decide to bring with you can either make or break the job, so you must select each one very carefully. Make sure that they are not only experienced with stealth, but are also informed of any plans or recon that was obtained prior to this step. In order for your partner to be the most effective one possible, they must be just as confident with any plans as you are. A hesitation during a critical moment can cost you everything, and all eventualities need to be planned for. While this becomes more complicated to plan for when there are multiple people attempting to utilize stealth together, complete failure to plan together will almost certainly lead to disaster.

Finally, communication needs to be set up between you and any other people that you decide to have working with you. Wireless headsets connected with radios can be an easy means of communication, but verbal communication can be impossible to achieve in some scenarios. To plan for this, hand signals are more than suggested - they are vital. This means that you either need to create your own, or use a system that is already in place. Either way, the main goal is to decrease you and your teams reliance on verbal communication.

General camouflage failing to blend in

General camouflage failing to blend in

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AK-74U painted in Snow White

AK-74U painted in Snow White

A red filter for a flashlight

A red filter for a flashlight

White and red light colour comparison

White and red light colour comparison

Step 4 - Prepare Camouflaged Gear

People are not naturally silent. We have loud and clunky movement habits that are a result of a lifetime of not being concerned about generating noise. As well, we have definitive and recognizable outlines. One of the easiest ways to help correct that is using gear that can cut down on unwanted noises, as well as blurring our outlines.

After gaining information on the location, you should now have a good idea about what colour camouflage you will need. If you are not using plain-black gear, then you need to ensure that the type and colour is as correct as possible. There is a wide range of colours and styles of camouflage, and a "one-size-fits-all" camouflage will not be up to par. When someone hears you, their senses are instantly heightened. This means that when they are looking for you, they will be looking for any obvious and sharp deviations in colour. As well, unnatural and jerky movements will be more easily detected - having a good comfortable set of gear that isn't too tight can help deter that from happening.

With that being said, it would all be a waste if you're clothing was camouflaged, but your weapons and gear were not. Black weapons and gear can suffice, but the masters of stealth have appropriately coloured gear and weapons. In addition to the correct colours, sharp lines on weapons should be broken up somehow. This can be done by draping material around the gun. You must ensure that it is thin, coloured to match the terrain, and properly secured to the weapon.

A cheap, yet effective way of doing this is to use strands of burlap from burlap sacks. Lay out lengths of strands to paint, and then drape them over to the top of the weapon. You can attach the strands with Velcro strips, or elastic straps. Once attached, use scissors to cut off excess material, as long strands can get caught on the terrain.

Flashlights can be tempting, but they will almost certainly give you away. The best way to get past this, if you must use a flashlight, is to put a red filter over the light. Red light is less likely to ruin your natural night-vision, as well as being harder to spot at a distance. It will not be as bright, but you really should not be reliant on lights in the first place.

Always maintain your equipment

Always maintain your equipment

Step 5 - Training & Mock-Up

If there is any time to make mistakes, it is during your practice sessions leading up to the mission. While you should always take time to practice, it is especially encouraged during the time leading up to a job. This is critical, as you need to assess your readiness for the task at hand. If you find yourself failing to complete stealth techniques correctly, or you do not have complete confidence in your abilities, then it may be advised to postpone the mission if possible. The key is being confident, as the mental strain of be uncertain can hamper your ability to make quick decisions.

In order to get the most effective practice, you will need to use your recon about the area to build a replica, or "mock-up" of the area. It doesn't have to be complicated - a system of coloured strings laid on the ground work as a simple layout that can be then be used in a rehearsal drill. Doing a run-through, and practising exactly what you will be doing on the day of the mission can help remove any time spent planning on-the-go. You must be able to arrive at the location, and know exactly where to go and what to do. As well, you need to practice contingency plans, as being able to recover can be just as essential as being able to be stealthy in the first place.

A good way of training, is considering the route that you will be taking, and what skills will be needed to traverse it. Begin by focusing your practice on those skills, such as stealth crawling or jumping. As well, consider any extra techniques that you may need to use during the job. Basic skills like climbing fences or sliding under something can have serious consequences if done incorrectly. You must be sure that you are physically ready to tackle any challenge ahead of you, and it can be easy to assume that you already are. Take the time to practice, even if you are feeling confident.

Step 6 - Final Assessment

Now that you have the team, the training, and the gear, you will need to select the correct time to do the job. As simple as this task sounds, a lot of different elements need to be considered in order to maximize your potential to succeed. One of the hardest things to account for can be the weather. While you should always be prepared to endure harsh weather for extended periods of times, the problem lies in the fact that your target will often change their movement pattern - often to go indoors. Once indoors, your mission can become exponentially more difficult.

Another factor that needs to be considered again is the lighting situation. Are there areas that will be dark during the afternoon, but not in the morning? Would it be easier to go at night? How many lights are present in the area, and can they be turned off somehow? These are all important questions that you need to be asking yourself. Darkness can be your best friend when you are on a stealth based mission. Avoiding light sources and moving through the shadows can make all the difference in some scenarios.

Security in certain areas can be an issue, and you must always be prepared to work around it. However, there may be times where security is lower than normal, and that will always be your best chance. Sometimes you will need to do recon on an area for a longer period of time. This will allow you to learn the patterns and discipline of the guards, and set up a more effective strategy of dealing with them.


Step 7 - Execution

With all of the preparation done, it's time to move into the most difficult phase - the execution. This is where all of you training and preparation comes into play. When faced with an impending mission, individuals and professionals alike will feel a sense of nervousness, as well as anxiety. This is only natural, as our bodies are not used to such high pressure scenarios. This can cause us to perspire, shake, and even consider giving up the mission all together. Just remember all the preparation that went into the job, remind yourself that you are prepared, and keep your composure. There is nothing worse than putting in all of the previous effort, just to fail as a result of shaky hands or slow-response times.

While planning is helpful, it will only get you so far. Human nature can be unpredictable at times, and deviations from the plan will have to be made from time to time. You must be able to recognize situations where the plan could go wrong, and have contingency plans for those events. Even still, you can't plan for everything. A true master of stealth is able to create and execute new plans on the fly, with little or no hesitation. Being able to quickly adjust and change course will always be more successful than working with tunnel-vision.

When all is said and done, you better have a way to get out of there - and quickly. Serious problems can arise if you fail to organize a pick-up at the end of the job. As well, rides being late can pose just as big of a problem, if not, bigger. This can lead to your capture, as well as the capture of your driver. Any devices used to tell time need to be synchronized before setting off, and every member must stick to the planned time-table (unless otherwise specified during the mission.)

Stealth Assessment Checklist

*A Defined Target is when you or someone else has chosen a target to go after for a specific reason.

 Casual StealthBasic StealthAdvanced Stealth

Your Target

Friend/Family

Defined Target

Defined Target/Unknown

Location Type

Outdoors

Indoors

Indoors & Outdoors

Security & Risk

None - Low

Low - Medium

Medium - High

How To Use:

Consider the criteria for the job at hand, and ask yourself three questions:

  • Who is the target you are going after?
  • What type of location will the job be at?
  • How much security will be there, and how much risk/danger will be involved?

Using the answers provided in the table above, place a check-mark in the most appropriate answer for each question. The column with the most check-marks indicated the recommended type of stealth for the mission. In the event of a tie, basic stealth should be used, but advanced stealth is also an option. Remember: the lighter you can be on your feet, the better. Read below for the different types of stealth, and what they mean.


A light-weight tactical vest

A light-weight tactical vest

Casual Stealth

This is the type of stealth that should be used on the most casual of missions. And by missions, we mean jobs like stealing cookies from the cupboard. You will not require any kind of gear, as these jobs are often very short-term with minimal gain to be had. As well, being caught in gear can help complicate an issue that could otherwise be explained. Take being caught crawling on the ground, for instance. Without gear, you could claim that you were looking for something on the floor. If you were wearing night-vision goggles, that same lie becomes a lot more difficult to achieve.