destiny improving target acquisition

How to Improve Target Acquisition

Published on: Sep 7, 2015 @ 15:40

The ability to identify, locate, and eliminate targets rapidly with your sniper rifle is a great skill to have in your arsenal – you just need some practice and a willingness to step outside your comfort zone.

Close quarters snipers and quick-scoping players are implementing a skill that takes a lot practice and bravery, but it’s not impossible to do what they do. With these tips and guidelines, you can enhance your ability to acquire targets faster and make your friends’ jaws drop.


Commit to Sniping

Great players are both skilled and comfortable with every weapon type available, but if you’re trying to reach an advanced level of play, it won’t happen if you constantly switch between weapon types. Time is the one thing you need a lot of when developing a new skill, and dedicating yourself to sniping until you feel like the rifle is an extension of your arms will allow the hard to hit headshots feel easier, faster.

Find Your Setup and Stick To It

Now that you’ve decided you’re going to snipe full-time, the next crucial step is determining your setup. To maximize your potential as a sniper, you’ll want to choose your weapon of choice, sensitivity level, favorite scope, and ideal weapon perks.

Sniper Rifles

There is a wide variety of sniper rifles available to Guardians in Destiny, but it boils down to two archetypes you need to keep in mind: low impact/high rate of fire, and high impact/low rate of fire. Some players prefer a higher rate of fire to gun down multiple enemies with speed or finish off enemies with a second body shot if the first bullet misses its mark. Other players love the feel of a high impact sniper capable of downing an enemy even as they receive an overshield while being revived.


A common misconception in first-person shooters is the idea that a higher sensitivity will result in faster movement and will therefore lead to faster target acquisition. A higher sensitivity will often send your sights careening past your target as you are unable to control the extremely sensitive crosshairs.

The recommended sensitivity level for sniping is between 3-4, with some top-tier players venturing out of those parameters. A lower sensitivity will allow you to accurately determine the exact moment in which you should pull the trigger.


The two basic aspects you should consider when picking a scope are zoom and aim assist. Low-zoom scopes are ideal for the Crucible in all situations; many sniper scopes are just too strong to accurately keep a fast moving target in your sights, especially when considering the size of most Crucible maps. As your sniper game improves and you begin to feel comfortable at all ranges, you’ll want a wider field of vision when an enemy is up close. Some popular low zoom scopes include the Shortgaze SLH10, and the Ambush SLH25. The Shortgaze has a relatively high aim-assist factor, meaning that the scope gives the sense of being “pulled” towards headshots. This can be good or bad, depending on player preference. Many top-tier snipers prefer the Ambush (a low aim-assist scope) because of its ability to allow for extremely precise adjustments.


There are a myriad of perks available on non-raid snipers, but the primary perk that will allow for the shortest time between locating a target and lining up your scope is “Snapshot”. Snapshot reduces the time it takes to bring the scope up from hip-fire level, and can be found in the middle perk column.

Of course everything is a matter of player preference, but equipping yourself with the best possible setup and gear will show positive results sooner. If you’re looking for more information on what gun to select, check out our reforging guide.


Master the Fundamentals

“Master the funda… are you just telling me to get good before I get good?” Okay, I see how this sub-header could be confusing, but bear with me. Target acquisition involves a multitude of subconscious habits coming into play the moment a snipe occurs. Without getting a hang of the sniping basics, the advanced moves just won’t happen. So before popping off shots from up close, get comfortable with sniping from afar and become one with your weapon.

An important habit to develop is pre-aiming: pre-aiming involves leveling your sniper at head level before you zoom and take the shot. Ensuring that your crosshairs are at head level first will allow you to make a quick adjustment on a single axis (horizontally), instead of trying to make a horizontal and vertical connection simultaneously while aimed. When good sniping practices become habit and your crosshairs fall on heads before enemies even come around the corner, you’re ready to push in close and start quick-scoping.


Push Yourself in Tough Situations

You’ve got the set up and you’ve got the knowledge – now it’s time to get up and close and personal in the Crucible. The best way to practice is to push yourself when the pressure is on – give yourself a real challenge.

A smart player knows that switching to a primary might be necessary if an enemy is closing in. But to develop this skill, it’s OK if you don’t. Keeping your sniper out as an enemy bores down will leave you with one option: snipe them. It won’t work the first time, or maybe not the next few times. But remember where head level is, pre-aim, stand your ground, and the highlight-worthy snipes will come. Eventually, an enemy in primary range won’t feel so close, and you’ll feel like your sniper is effective at any range.

The most important thing to remember when practicing this advanced technique is that it will not come quickly, and it will result in more than a few deaths as well as countless missed shots. If you can sacrifice your score for a few games, you will be rewarded in the long run with some amazing clips for that montage you’re working on.