John Plaster

John L. Plaster (born 1949)[1] is a former United States Army Special Forces officer regarded as one of the leading sniper experts in the world.[2] A decorated Vietnam War veteran who served in the covert Studies and Observations Group (SOG), Plaster co-founded a renowned sniper school that trains military and law enforcement personnel in highly specialized sniper tactics. He is the author of The Ultimate Sniper: An Advanced Training Manual for Military and Police Snipers, The History of Sniping and Sharpshooting, and Secret Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines with the Elite Warriors of SOG, a memoir of his 3 years of service with SOG.

John L. Plaster
Plaster mil.GIF
Nickname(s)"Plastic Man"
Born1949 (age 72–73)
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1967–1971
RankUS Army O4 shoulderboard rotated.svg Major
UnitUnited States Army Special Forces, Military Assistance Command-Vietnam Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG), Recon Team New Mexico
Battles/warsVietnam War
AwardsBronze Star Medal

Purple Heart
Meritorious Service Medal
Air Medal
Army Commendation Medal
Presidential Unit Citation
Good Conduct Medal

National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
Combat Infantryman Badge
Other workGunsite Training Center, Paulden, Arizona
SignatureJohn plaster signature.jpg

Early life and educationEdit

Plaster graduated from high school in 1967 and holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Minnesota. He was trained as a communications sergeant in the U.S. Army Special Forces.


Plaster served three combat tours in the Vietnam War as a member of MACVSOG beginning in October 1968, leading intelligence-gathering and recon teams in North Vietnamese Army-controlled areas of Laos and Cambodia and along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.[3][4] He was wounded once, and decorated four times, eventually receiving a field commission in recognition of his combat experience. Plaster's final tour with MACVSOG ended in November 1971. He retired from the military at the rank of Major.[5]

Plaster parlayed his military experience into becoming a sniping instructor to members of many U.S. governmental agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Customs Service, the United States Marshals, Navy SEALs and United States Marine Corps. Foreign units that have attended the school include the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Spanish Foreign Legion.

Since 1993, Plaster has been a precision rifle instructor at the Gunsite Training Center in Paulden, Arizona. He was recently Chief of Competition for Autauga Arms' U.S. and European sniping championships.

Plaster's experiences serve as part of the basis for the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops; he assisted the game's developers in developing the game by providing his wartime experiences to them.[6]

Awards and decorationsEdit


Published writingsEdit


  • The Ultimate Sniper: An Advanced Training Manual for Military and Police Snipers (1993)
  • SOG: A Photo History of the Secret Wars. Boulder, CO: Paladin. 2000. ISBN 978-1581600582. OCLC 445847740.
  • Secret Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines with the Elite Warriors of SOG (2004)
  • The History of Sniping and Sharpshooting (2008)
  • Sharpshooting in the Civil War (2009)
  • SOG: The Secret Wars of America's Commandos in Vietnam (1998) ISBN 978-0451195081
  • Sniping in the Trenches: World War I and the Birth of Modern Sniping (2017) ISBN 978-1610049023



  1. ^ An article stated he's 52 in 2001.
  2. ^ Rosenau, William (2001). Special operations forces and elusive enemy ground targets: lessons from Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War. Rand Corporation. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-8330-3071-9.
  3. ^ Lewis, Jack (1997). "The Passing of the Sub-gun". Gun Digest Book of Assault Weapons. Gun Digest. p. 144. ISBN 978-0-89689-498-3.
  4. ^ McKenna, Thomas P. (2011). "Flying in Phu Non". Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam. University Press of Kentucky. p. 23. ISBN 978-0-8131-3398-0.
  5. ^ Gene McCarthy, ed. (2005). Special Operations Association. Turner Publishing Company. p. 141. ISBN 978-1-59652-156-8.
  6. ^ "Video Games, Cheats, Guides, Codes, Reviews | GamesRadar". Archived from the original on October 25, 2012. Retrieved October 25, 2012.

External linksEdit