Meet the U.S. Army's first active duty female sniper

U.S. Army Sgt. Maciel Hay, a cavalry scout with 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, poses for a photo with her family after graduating sniper school at Fort Moore, Ga., Nov. 3, 2023. Hay is the first active-duty female U.S. A

After learning to shoot as a child, a soldier used those skills to propel her to a feat in the U.S. Army.

Sgt. Maciel Hay graduated as the first female active duty Army sniper. She qualified as an expert with an M4 assault rifle and graduated from airborne school. 

Hay grew up shooting guns on her family’s ranches in California and Oregon and earned the nickname "sniper."

According to a Department of Defense release, she was motivated to become an Army sniper while attending Sierra College near her hometown in Rocklin, California.

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Her sharpshooting abilities caught the attention of Army leadership, with her drill sergeant encouraging her to go to sniper school.

Hay and other soldiers went through a rigorous selection process for sniper school. The DOD noted that candidates must meet physical and mental requirements to participate in the 29-day course. 

The course develops snipers to be critical thinkers, armed with technical, tactical and skills needed to plan and execute long-range, direct rifle fire against enemy targets as a sniper team members, according to the U.S. Army. 

Hay’s family attended her graduation in Georgia on Nov. 3, where she received her Army sniper certification, and this was the first time they saw her in uniform. 

Now that she’s completed the training, Hay will be stationed in Anchorage, Alaska with the 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment. She said in a DOD release that her next goal is to become a jumpmaster, who is a paratrooper that trains and teaches soldiers to jump from planes.

This story was reported from Washington, D.C.