A Canadian Special Forces sniper in Iraq has shattered the world record for the longest kill shot, after taking out an Islamic State insurgent at a distance of 3.54 kilometres.

The sniper, who is a member of Canada’s Joint Task Force 2, successfully hit his target from an elevated position 3,540 metres away, Canadian Special Operations Command confirmed to CTV News in a statement.

The shot shatters the previous world record for the longest sniper kill, which was held by British soldier Craig Harrison. Harrison hit an insurgent in Afghanistan at a distance of 2,475 metres in 2009.

Former Canadian sniper Rob Furlong, who set a distance record of his own in 2002, says Canada’s Joint Task Force 2 snipers are the “cream of the crop,” with access to the best training and equipment money can buy.

“They have high-power laser range finders, they have ballistic software, wind meters, and of course they have the budget for the proper equipment and the proper training,” Furlong told CTV News Channel on Thursday, explaining that a combination of gear and human talent are necessary to reach peak levels.

“You could be the best race car driver in the world… but without the proper race car, you’re not going to be successful. It’s the same thing for a sniper.”

Furlong’s 2002 world record longest confirmed kill shot was fired from a distance of 2,430 metres, when he was serving in Afghanistan with the Canadian Forces. Now, he runs a marksmanship academy in Edmonton.

Hitting a target at long range is not as simple as point-and-shoot, Furlong points out. A variety of factors come into play, such as patience, wind speed, elevation and the curvature of the Earth. Sniper teams must also be stealthy about getting into position and remaining out of sight while setting up their shots.

“These are very difficult shots from operators,” he said. Furlong says shots at that distance are “attainable” for professional shooters, but are much more difficult under combat conditions.

“They don’t have the luxury of having lots of time and being properly hydrated, properly fed. Fatigue plays a big portion,” he said.

He says a sniper’s spotter is also critical to hitting a long-distance target. “It really comes down to the team. There’s going to be the guy pulling the trigger, the actual sniper behind the gun, but equally important is your spotter.”

The sniper’s identity cannot be revealed due to security concerns. However, his or her identity may become public after returning from the mission.