The term “sniper” is closely linked to British colonialism, during the eighteenth century England had conquered much of the territory of India. Soldiers with nothing to do were invented to demonstrate their skill competencies, the soldier with the best aim was called “sniper” because he was able to give the elusive “snipe” (endemic to Eurasia) at a great distance.
For 1824 the term “sniper” was synonymous with “sharpshooter” (marksman). There is some debate about this term “sharpshooter” and its origin, Americans have attributed the term due to the rifle Sharp and extensive use during the U.S. civil war, though U.S. Civil War happened 40 years later by we would have to attribute the origin of the English word.
The snipe (bird endemic to Eurasia)
During the U.S. Civil War the term most commonly used for a sniper was “skirmisher”. Skirmisher function was to guard the flanks of training, teams were often few men who acted as vigilantes but occasionally they were ordered to take pole and directly attack the officers of the regiments to generate distension and confusion enemy lines.
There is however a more remote history, if somewhat dark at the time of the American Revolution against England (1777) specifically the Battle of Saratoga, where some soldiers hiding in the treetops and shot the unsuspecting English, there are numerous accounts of these activities, however, due to the ineffectiveness and the fact that it was an ambush tactic rather than a planned tactic of war, just as there is mention.
During the First World War the Prussian army marksmen trained specifically for the purpose of using rifles aimed graduates (Prussia used the Mauser Gewehr 98) to shoot the men who were heads peeping out of their trenches, at first it was thought that these shots at 400, 600 and 800 meters were “mere coincidence”, then the German high command was dedicated to making lures made of paper “mache” with humanoid form to determine where the shots were coming, soon France and England (used a modified version the enfield 1914) and snipers opened their schools.
Mauser Gewehr 98/1914 Enfield Rifle
After the First World War the armies of the world put aside their schools “sniper”, only the English and German (formerly Prussian) continued the tradition and training of elite units. During the Pact of Steel between Stallin (USSR) and Hitler (Germany) in May 1939, as recounted RAC Parker in his book “the twentieth century”, Volume II (Europe between the wars), German officers made a big show of the quality of their rifles and their tactics of “sniping” Stallin apparently took it to heart for months later founded the school of factorie Metiz snipers.
The Second World War started the first of September 1939 with the operation Polenfeldzug (white case) and the use of new tactics Blitzskrieg (lightning war). Poland fell in just a few days, and England and France motivated by the alliance system established prewar declared war on Germany, but had no intention of saving Poland. The war took everyone by surprise, the British armies, even on your side of the pond, they were not prepared for this new style of warfare, France much less, so quickly surrendered, and as a curiosity, some of the first soldiers in participate in the war on the side of the Allies was a group of British Elite snipers.
British Sniper WWII
The group of British snipers not intended to greatly reduce the size of the German armies, their tactics as in the American Civil War and the end of the First World War, was cause low German officers, producing a demoralizing effect and disorder in their ranks. Unfortunately for those early British snipers once opened position was determined artillery and / or tank fire, for which they had no defense.
The most prolific sniper in World War II is credited to Russia, for romantic reasons and the fame he acquired Vasily Zaytsev (1915-1991) thanks to the movie “Enemy lurking” 2001. Although the film’s screenplay was based on the memoirs of Zaytsev, a war hero and extraordinary sniper with 242 confirmed deaths (although the same Vasily reports more than 500 in his memoirs), the enemy of Zaytsev in the film Major König probably never existed, it is speculated that the sniper duel showing the film (over 3 days) was a school teacher in Weimar Germany whose name is lost to history, but it must have been as good as Zaytsev he devotes a couple of chapters to the memory of this great adversary (who died after he removed the sights of his rifle as a trophy of war).
Russia had no great alternative, industry was in ruins of Stalingrad, in 1943 had no artillery, no motorized infantry (Soviet tank T-34 was developed later) and Hitler’s obsession to defeat the Russians at Stalingrad is a in many cases the final defeat of Germany. Russia defended the operation “red beard” at the cost of thousands of soldiers sacrificed as cannon fodder thanks to his snipers who were a source of national pride. Another such famous snipers, although no film is Ludmila Pavlichenco (1916-1974) was 24 when Germany invaded Russia and grew to 309 confirmed kills to his credit.
Vasily Zaytsev / Ludmila Pavlichenco
The Korean War (1948-1953) had no significant contributions to “sniping”, not military operations in Europe and Eurasia of the period just after the Second World War. The years passed and during the Vietnam War snipers become important again, as Stoltz “… for the first two years of the Vietnam War, the life expectancy of an officer of the U.S. Army was 3-6 hours after was deployed until he was sent home in a box with a flag over extended … “.
One of the most famous was Carlos Norman Hathcock II (1942-1999) who attributed 93 deaths and one of the most spectacular shots of the story, presumably to 800 feet away after four days and three nights without sleep and avoid being detected, alone, without food or water, after almost being bitten by a snake, put a bullet .308 WIN a commander of North Vietnam through the lens of his rifle. Also Sgt. Adelbert F. Waldron (1933-1995) with the best record for an American sniper with 109 deaths, Sgt. Waltdron is famous for having managed a shot from a boat moving against an enemy sniper stationed on the top of a tree 900 meters.
Carlos Norman Hathcock
The difficult terrain in Vietnam, the type of guerrilla warfare favored based on the use of snipers. Since then the armies have recognized the importance of the snipers in war scenarios and operations in civilian scenarios. Presumably Americans were the first to train its police in schools “sniper” for SWAT tactical groups famous in 1975 in Quantico, Virginia. However there are reports that after the Munich Olympics in 1973, the German government ordered the creation of a SWAT-like team, only made it more secret.
The average training of a sniper is 3 to 6 months, however besides the mathematical and physical training that requires the sniper is a comprehensive psychological training. Carlos Norman Hathcock crawled for four days and three nights a distance of over a mile for a single shot. The physical and mental requirements of a sniper is almost upon humans, nerves of steel, patience, the ability to improvise, choosing your opportunity, create it. Stoltz says “… a sniper is a monk with a sniper rifle …”.
Rob Furlong holds the absolute record in distance and complexity. Rob Furlong fired a bullet from a .50 Barret an enemy moving to 2.430 meters, occurred during Operation Anaconda in 2002, Afghanistan.
The civilian version of the sniper is shooting “bench rest” originated as competition within schools and adapted for civilian snipers in the late 50s, has had enormous popularity in America. It is using precision shooting rifles (usually tailored to each shooter and using refilled by the user) to look at it from a comfortable position (sitting or lying), standard competition is 5 shots at 200, 400 and 600 yards respectively, for a total of 15 shots. In high-level skills they become targets up to 1000 yards away. It measures the spread of the fire and its relationship to the center of the black and white is not bigger than a dinner plate (25-30 cm in diameter). There is an association responsible for keeping track of records and organize the annual tournament benchrest SHOOTING WORLD FEDERATION.
Bench Rest Shooting (shooting from bench)
The role of the sniper in warfare scenarios has gained importance because of its effectiveness and versatility of use, it is hard to think of a modern army that does not have a sniper team in their arsenal of tactics, their work, although discrete and stealthy, has a devastating effect on the morale of armies and men, in a single shot could stop an entire army and the rest … is history.