That shoot sounds like a bunch of non-rate a.s.s.clownery. Their concepts for what they think are real world sniper operations are very wrong.
I'll start with this statement:
We could not use angle cosine indicators, TIS slings, or laser rangefinders because they were "just fads and real operators realize they're just gimmicks and they stick with what has worked for years," or something to that effect.
"Real operators" (whatever that stupid moniker means) do whatever it takes to accomplish the mission. If I need to use a rangefinder to range a target, I do it. If I need to use an ACI and do some math, then I do it. If I need to use 550 cord to tie my rifle down for a much more stable platform, then I do it........any clime, any time, any terrain. Bottom line is, I do whatever I feel is necessary to succeed. I've used all kinds of crazy "gimmicks". If it works, it's neither crazy, nor is it a gimmick.
A genuine shooter with significant, substantial, valid training and experience would never refer to himself as an 'operator'. Guys who like being called operators are the ones who spend all their time and energy trying to perpetuate the tacticool commando, door-kicking, ninja persona.
I read back through your post several times and I'm trying to get a clear understanding of the sequence of events in how things were set up. Particularly how and when you guys were told to take your positions. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like the shooters were instructed to take positions and then the targets were set up. If this is the case, then they totally dropped the ball. Why would a shooter be in a position where he couldn't engage a target properly. I don't know too many smart shooters who would do so.
What they should have done is placed their targets without you seeing them, given you your brief behind the mask of some terrain and then had you move into the objective area, ID the targets and then move into a position that would allow you to engage them.........because that is what smart shooters with real experience do. I've not only participated in, but also conducted numerous training evolutions to various degrees as I described. What they also could have done, was had each shooter assigned to cover a sector looking into the SDZ. The instructors could then place targets throughout the impact area so that each shooter could engage say, at least three targets of unknown distance for example, and then allow a short amount of time to range and engage. Something along those lines.
Based on what the OP has described, it sounds like the instructors either don't have their crap together, or where just trying to make some easy cash off of the shooters............or maybe both.
I haven't read through all 6 pages of this thread. I may some time down the road when I have nothing better to do.