Sniper

Sniper

Overview



A sniper is a marksman
Marksman
A marksman is a person who is skilled in precision, or a sharpshooter shooting, using projectile weapons, such as with a rifle but most commonly with a sniper rifle, to shoot at long range targets...

 who shoots targets from concealed positions or distances exceeding the capabilities of regular personnel. Snipers typically have specialized training and distinct high-precision rifles
Sniper rifle
In military and law enforcement terminology, a sniper rifle is a precision-rifle used to ensure more accurate placement of bullets at longer ranges than other small arms. A typical sniper rifle is built for optimal levels of accuracy, fitted with a telescopic sight and chambered for a military...

.

In addition to marksmanship, military snipers are trained in camouflage
Military camouflage
Military camouflage is one of many means of deceiving an enemy. In practice, it is the application of colour and materials to battledress and military equipment to conceal them from visual observation. The French slang word camouflage came into common English usage during World War I when the...

, field craft, infiltration
Infiltration tactics
In warfare, infiltration tactics involve small, lightly equipped infantry forces attacking enemy rear areas while bypassing enemy front line strongpoints and isolating them for attack by follow-up troops with heavier weapons.-Development during World War I:...

, reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 and observation. Snipers are especially effective when deployed within the terrain
Urban Terrain
Urban Terrain is a military term for the representation of the urban environment within the context of urban warfare. Urban terrain includes buildings, roads, highways, ports, rails, airports, subways, and sewage lines....

 of urban warfare
Urban warfare
Urban warfare is combat conducted in urban areas such as towns and cities. Urban combat is very different from combat in the open at both the operational and tactical level...

, or jungle warfare
Jungle warfare
Jungle warfare is a term used to cover the special techniques needed for military units to survive and fight in jungle terrain.It has been the topic of extensive study by military strategists, and was an important part of the planning for both sides in many conflicts, including World War II and the...

.

The verb "to snipe" originated in the 1770s among soldiers in British India where a hunter skilled enough to kill the elusive snipe
Snipe
A snipe is any of about 25 wading bird species in three genera in the family Scolopacidae. They are characterized by a very long, slender bill and crypsis plumage. The Gallinago snipes have a nearly worldwide distribution, the Lymnocryptes Jack Snipe is restricted to Asia and Europe and the...

 was dubbed a "sniper".
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Encyclopedia



A sniper is a marksman
Marksman
A marksman is a person who is skilled in precision, or a sharpshooter shooting, using projectile weapons, such as with a rifle but most commonly with a sniper rifle, to shoot at long range targets...

 who shoots targets from concealed positions or distances exceeding the capabilities of regular personnel. Snipers typically have specialized training and distinct high-precision rifles
Sniper rifle
In military and law enforcement terminology, a sniper rifle is a precision-rifle used to ensure more accurate placement of bullets at longer ranges than other small arms. A typical sniper rifle is built for optimal levels of accuracy, fitted with a telescopic sight and chambered for a military...

.

In addition to marksmanship, military snipers are trained in camouflage
Military camouflage
Military camouflage is one of many means of deceiving an enemy. In practice, it is the application of colour and materials to battledress and military equipment to conceal them from visual observation. The French slang word camouflage came into common English usage during World War I when the...

, field craft, infiltration
Infiltration tactics
In warfare, infiltration tactics involve small, lightly equipped infantry forces attacking enemy rear areas while bypassing enemy front line strongpoints and isolating them for attack by follow-up troops with heavier weapons.-Development during World War I:...

, reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 and observation. Snipers are especially effective when deployed within the terrain
Urban Terrain
Urban Terrain is a military term for the representation of the urban environment within the context of urban warfare. Urban terrain includes buildings, roads, highways, ports, rails, airports, subways, and sewage lines....

 of urban warfare
Urban warfare
Urban warfare is combat conducted in urban areas such as towns and cities. Urban combat is very different from combat in the open at both the operational and tactical level...

, or jungle warfare
Jungle warfare
Jungle warfare is a term used to cover the special techniques needed for military units to survive and fight in jungle terrain.It has been the topic of extensive study by military strategists, and was an important part of the planning for both sides in many conflicts, including World War II and the...

.

Etymology


The verb "to snipe" originated in the 1770s among soldiers in British India where a hunter skilled enough to kill the elusive snipe
Snipe
A snipe is any of about 25 wading bird species in three genera in the family Scolopacidae. They are characterized by a very long, slender bill and crypsis plumage. The Gallinago snipes have a nearly worldwide distribution, the Lymnocryptes Jack Snipe is restricted to Asia and Europe and the...

 was dubbed a "sniper". The term sniper was first attested in 1824 in the sense of the word "sharpshooter".

During the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, the common term used in the United States was "sharpshooter", which is a reference to and a tribute to the Sharps rifles
Sharps Rifle
Sharps rifles were those of a series begun with a design by Christian Sharps. Sharps rifles were renowned for long range and high accuracy in their day.-History:Sharps's initial rifle was patented September 17, 1848 and manufactured by A. S...

 that were commonly used by Civil War "snipers", but the term "sharpshooter" does not originate with users of the Sharp's Rifle. The rifle was designed by Christian Sharps and made from 1850 onwards by the Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company. They were renowned for long range and accuracy, and they were issued only to the best shooters. However, the term "sharp shooter" had been in use in British newspapers as early as 1801. In the Edinburgh Advertiser, 23 June 1801, can be found the following quote in a piece about the North British Militia; "This Regiment has several Field Pieces, and two companies of Sharp Shooters, which are very necessary in the modern Stile of War". The term appears even earlier, around 1781, in Europe.

Another common term used in the United States during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 was "skirmisher
Skirmisher
Skirmishers are infantry or cavalry soldiers stationed ahead or alongside a larger body of friendly troops. They are usually placed in a skirmish line to harass the enemy.-Pre-modern:...

". Throughout history armies have used skirmishers to break up enemy formations and to thwart the enemy from flanking the main body of their attack force. They were deployed individually on the extremes of the moving army primarily to scout for the possibility of an enemy ambush. Consequently, a "skirmish" denotes a clash of small scope between these forces. In general, a skirmish was a limited combat, involving troops other than those of the main body. The term "sniper" was not in widespread use in the United States until after the American Civil War.

Modern warfare


Different countries use different military doctrine
Military doctrine
Military doctrine is the concise expression of how military forces contribute to campaigns, major operations, battles, and engagements.It is a guide to action, not hard and fast rules. Doctrine provides a common frame of reference across the military...

s regarding snipers in military units, settings, and tactics
Military tactics
Military tactics, the science and art of organizing an army or an air force, are the techniques for using weapons or military units in combination for engaging and defeating an enemy in battle. Changes in philosophy and technology over time have been reflected in changes to military tactics. In...

. Generally, a sniper's primary function in war
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

fare is to provide detailed reconnaissance from a concealed position and, if necessary, to reduce the enemy's fighting ability by striking at high value targets (especially officers
Officer (armed forces)
An officer is a member of an armed force or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. Commissioned officers derive authority directly from a sovereign power and, as such, hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of a specific office or position...

, communication and other personnel) and in the process pinning down and demoralizing the enemy.

Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 Russian and derived military doctrine
Doctrine
Doctrine is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the body of teachings in a branch of knowledge or belief system...

s include squad-level snipers. See the "Soviet sniper
Soviet sniper
Snipers of the Soviet Union played an important role mainly on the Eastern Front of World War II, apart from other preceding and subsequent conflicts. In World War II, Soviet snipers used the 7.62x54R rifle cartridge with light, heavy, armour-piercing , armour-piercing-and-incendiary ,...

" article for further details.

Military snipers from the US, UK, and other countries that adopt their military doctrine are typically deployed in two-man sniper team
Sniper team
A sniper team typically consists of a sniper and a spotter as described in military doctrines of the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. Both members can perform either role and often rotate between the two...

s consisting of a shooter and spotter. A common practice is for a shooter and a spotter to take turns in order to avoid eye fatigue
Fatigue (physical)
Fatigue is a state of awareness describing a range of afflictions, usually associated with physical and/or mental weakness, though varying from a general state of lethargy to a specific work-induced burning sensation within one's muscles...

. In most recent combat operations occurring in large densely populated towns such as Fallujah, Iraq, two teams would be deployed together to increase their security and effectiveness in an urban environment. A sniper team would be armed with their long range weapon, and a shorter ranged weapon to engage and protect the team should enemies come in close contact. German doctrine of largely independent snipers and emphasis on concealment developed during the Second World War have been most influential on modern sniper tactics, currently used throughout Western militaries (examples are specialized camouflage clothing, concealment in terrain and emphasis on coup d'œil
Coup d'œil
Coup d'œil is a term taken from French, that more or less corresponds to the words glimpse or glance in English. The literal meaning is "stroke of [the] eye"....

).

Typical sniper missions include reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 and surveillance
Surveillance
Surveillance is the monitoring of the behavior, activities, or other changing information, usually of people. It is sometimes done in a surreptitious manner...

, target marking for air-strikes, counter-sniper, killing enemy commander
Commander
Commander is a naval rank which is also sometimes used as a military title depending on the individual customs of a given military service. Commander is also used as a rank or title in some organizations outside of the armed forces, particularly in police and law enforcement.-Commander as a naval...

s, selecting targets of opportunity, and even destruction of military equipment
Materiel
Materiel is a term used in English to refer to the equipment and supplies in military and commercial supply chain management....

, which tend to require use of rifles in the larger calibers such as the .50 BMG
.50 BMG
The .50 Browning Machine Gun or 12.7×99mm NATO is a cartridge developed for the Browning .50 caliber machine gun in the late 1910s. Entering service officially in 1921, the round is based on a greatly scaled-up .30-06 cartridge...

, like the Barrett M82, McMillan Tac-50
McMillan Tac-50
The McMillan Tac-50 sniper rifle is produced in Phoenix, Arizona in the United States by the McMillan Brothers Rifle Company. This long-range anti-materiel/anti-personnel weapon is based on previous designs from the same company, which first appeared during the late 1980s...

, and Denel NTW-20
Denel NTW-20
The NTW-20 is a South African anti-materiel rifle or large-calibre sniper rifle, developed by Denel's Mechem division in the 1990s. The weapon was designed by Tony Neophytou and intended for deployment against a wide variety of targets, including parked aircraft, telecommunication masts, power...

. Snipers have increasingly been demonstrated as being useful by US and UK forces in the recent Iraq campaign
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

 in a fire support
Fire support
Fire support is long-range firepower provided to a front-line military unit. Typically, fire support is provided by artillery or close air support , and is used to shape the battlefield or, more optimistically, define the battle...

 role to cover the movement of infantry, especially in urban areas.

The American Revolution


The first recorded event of sniping occurred on 19th September 1777 at the battle of Saratoga, better known as the Battle of Freeman's Farm, where the Colonists hid in the trees and used early model rifles to shoot British officers.

Second Boer War


The first British sniper unit began life as Lovat Scouts
Lovat Scouts
The Lovat Scouts were a British Army unit. The unit was first formed during the Second Boer War as a Scottish Highland yeomanry regiment of the British Army and is the first known military unit to wear a ghillie suit...

, a Scottish Highland regiment that earned high praise during the Second Boer War
Second Boer War
The Second Boer War was fought from 11 October 1899 until 31 May 1902 between the British Empire and the Afrikaans-speaking Dutch settlers of two independent Boer republics, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State...

 (1899–1902). The unit was formed by Lord Lovat
Simon Fraser, 14th Lord Lovat
Brigadier-General Simon Joseph Fraser, 14th Lord Lovat and 3rd Baron Lovat KT, GCVO, KCMG, CB, DSO , was a leading Roman Catholic aristocrat, landowner, soldier, politician and the 23rd Chief of Clan Fraser. He was the son of Simon Fraser, 13th Lord Lovat, and Alice Mary Weld-Blundell...

 and reported to an American, Major Frederick Russell Burnham
Frederick Russell Burnham
Frederick Russell Burnham, DSO was an American scout and world traveling adventurer known for his service to the British Army in colonial Africa and for teaching woodcraft to Robert Baden-Powell, thus becoming one of the inspirations for the founding of the international Scouting Movement.Burnham...

, the British Army Chief of Scouts under Lord Roberts
Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts
Field Marshal Frederick Sleigh Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts, Bt, VC, KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, KStJ, PC was a distinguished Indian born British soldier who regarded himself as Anglo-Irish and one of the most successful British commanders of the 19th century.-Early life:Born at Cawnpore, India, on...

. Burnham fittingly described these scouts as "half wolf and half jackrabbit.". Just like their Boer scout opponents, these scouts were well practised in the arts of marksmanship, field craft, and military tactics
Military tactics
Military tactics, the science and art of organizing an army or an air force, are the techniques for using weapons or military units in combination for engaging and defeating an enemy in battle. Changes in philosophy and technology over time have been reflected in changes to military tactics. In...

. They were the first known military unit to wear a ghillie suit
Ghillie suit
A ghillie suit, wookie suit, yowie suit, or camo tent is a type of camouflage clothing designed to resemble heavy foliage. Typically, it is a net or cloth garment covered in loose strips of cloth or twine, sometimes made to look like leaves and twigs, and optionally augmented with scraps of foliage...

. They were skilled woodsmen and practitioners of discretion: "He who shoots and runs away, lives to shoot another day." After the war, this regiment went on to formally become the British Army's first sniper unit, then better known as sharpshooters.

World War I


During World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, snipers appeared as deadly sharpshooters in the trenches. At the start of the war, only Imperial Germany had troops that were issued scoped sniper rifles. Although sharpshooters existed on all sides, the Germans specially equipped some of their soldiers with scoped rifles that could pick off enemy soldiers showing their heads out of their trench. At first the French and British believed such hits to be coincidental hits, until the German scoped rifles were discovered. During World War I, the Germans received a reputation for the deadliness and efficiency of their snipers, partly because of the high-quality lenses the Germans could manufacture.

Soon the British army began to train their own snipers in specialized sniper schools. Major Hesketh Hesketh-Prichard
Hesketh Hesketh-Prichard
Major Hesketh Vernon Hesketh-Prichard, DSO, MC, FRGS, FZS was an explorer, adventurer, big-game hunter and marksman who made a significant contribution to sniping practice within the British Army during the First World War...

 was given formal permission to begin sniper training in 1915, and founded the First Army School of Sniping, Observation, and Scouting at Linghem
Linghem
Linghem is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France.-Geography:Linghem is situated about northwest of Béthune and west of Lille, on the D90 road. The A26 autoroute forms the western border of the commune....

 in France in 1916. In 1920, he wrote his account of his war time activities in his book Sniping in France, which is still referenced by modern authors on the subject. Hesketh-Prichard developed many techniques in sniping, including the use of spotting scopes and working in pairs, and using Kim's Game
Kim's Game
Kim's Game is a game or exercise played by Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Girl Guides, and other children's groups. The game develops a person's capacity to observe and remember details...

 to train observational skills. On the Eastern Front, Imperial Russia never introduced specialized sharpshooters or snipers, allowing the German snipers to pick off their targets without danger from counter-snipers.

The British did use papier-mâché
Papier-mâché
Papier-mâché , alternatively, paper-mache, is a composite material consisting of paper pieces or pulp, sometimes reinforced with textiles, bound with an adhesive, such as glue, starch, or wallpaper paste....

 figures painted to resemble soldiers to draw sniper fire. Some were equipped with rubber surgical tubing so the dummy could "smoke" a cigarette and thus appear realistic. Holes punched in the dummy by enemy sniper bullets then could be used for triangulation purposes to determine the position of the enemy sniper, who could then be attacked with artillery
Artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

 fire.

Rifles used during World War I


Some common sniper rifles used during the First World War include: the German Mauser
Mauser
Mauser was a German arms manufacturer of a line of bolt-action rifles and pistols from the 1870s to 1995. Mauser designs were built for the German armed forces...

 Gewehr 98
Gewehr 98
The Gewehr 98 is a German bolt action Mauser rifle firing the 8x57mm cartridge from a 5 round internal clip-loaded magazine that was the German service rifle from 1898 to 1935, when it was replaced by the Karabiner 98k. It was hence the main rifle of the German infantry during World War I...

; the British Pattern 1914 Enfield and Lee-Enfield SMLE Mk III, and the American M1903 Springfield, and the Russian M1891 Mosin–Nagant.
European Theatre


During the interbellum, most nations dropped their specialized sniper units, notably the Germans. Effectiveness and dangers of snipers once again came to the fore during the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

. The only nation that had specially trained sniper units during the 1930s was the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. Soviet snipers were trained in their skills as marksmen, in using the terrain to hide themselves from the enemy and the ability to work alongside regular forces. This made the Soviet sniper training focus more on "normal" combat situations than those of other nations.

Snipers reappeared as important factors on the battlefield from the first campaign of World War II. During Germany's 1940 campaigns
Battle of France
In the Second World War, the Battle of France was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries, beginning on 10 May 1940, which ended the Phoney War. The battle consisted of two main operations. In the first, Fall Gelb , German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes, to cut off and...

, it appeared that lone, well hidden French and British snipers could halt the German advance for a significant amount of time. For example during the pursuit to Dunkirk, British snipers were able to significantly delay German infantry's advance. This prompted the British to once again increase training of specialized sniper units. Apart from marksmanship British snipers were trained to blend in with the environment, often by using special camouflage clothing for concealment. However, because the British Army offered sniper training exclusively to officers
Officer (armed forces)
An officer is a member of an armed force or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. Commissioned officers derive authority directly from a sovereign power and, as such, hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of a specific office or position...

 and non-commissioned officers, the number of trained snipers in the combat units considerably reduced overall effectiveness.

During the Winter War
Winter War
The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland. It began with a Soviet offensive on 30 November 1939 – three months after the start of World War II and the Soviet invasion of Poland – and ended on 13 March 1940 with the Moscow Peace Treaty...

, Finnish
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 snipers took a heavy toll of the invading Soviet army
Soviet Army
The Soviet Army is the name given to the main part of the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union between 1946 and 1992. Previously, it had been known as the Red Army. Informally, Армия referred to all the MOD armed forces, except, in some cases, the Soviet Navy.This article covers the Soviet Ground...

. Simo Häyhä
Simo Häyhä
Simo Häyhä , nicknamed "White Death" by the Red Army, was a Finnish sniper. Using a modified Mosin–Nagant in the Winter War, he has the highest recorded number of confirmed sniper kills - 505 - in any major war....

 is credited with 505 confirmed kills, most with the Finnish version of the iron-sighted
Iron sight
Iron sights are a system of shaped alignment markers used as a sighting device to assist in the aiming of a device such as a firearm, crossbow, or telescope, and exclude the use of optics as in telescopic sights or reflector sights...

 bolt action Mosin-Nagant
Mosin-Nagant
The Mosin–Nagant is a bolt-action, internal magazine-fed, military rifle invented under the government commission by Russian and Belgian inventors, and used by the armed forces of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union and various other nations....

.
One of the best known battles involving snipers, and the battle that made the Germans reinstate their specialized sniper training, was the Battle of Stalingrad
Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad was a major battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in southwestern Russia. The battle took place between 23 August 1942 and 2 February 1943...

. Their defensive position inside a city filled with rubble meant that Soviet snipers were able to inflict significant casualties on the Wehrmacht troops. Because of the nature of fighting in city rubble, snipers were very hard to spot and seriously dented the morale
Morale
Morale, also known as esprit de corps when discussing the morale of a group, is an intangible term used to describe the capacity of people to maintain belief in an institution or a goal, or even in oneself and others...

 of the German attackers. The best known of these snipers was probably Vassili Zaitsev, immortalized in the novel War of the Rats
War of the Rats
War of the Rats is a World War II fiction novel written by David L. Robbins in 1999.The movie Enemy at the Gates is partially based on this book.-Plot summary:...

and the subsequent film Enemy At The Gates
Enemy at the Gates
Enemy at the Gates is a 2001 war film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, starring Joseph Fiennes, Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Bob Hoskins and Ed Harris set during the Battle of Stalingrad in World War II....

.


German Scharfschützen were prepared before the war, equipped with Karabiner 98 and later Gewehr 43
Gewehr 43
The Gewehr 43 or Karabiner 43 is an 8x57mm IS caliber semi-automatic rifle developed by Nazi Germany during World War II...

 rifles, but there were often not enough of these weapons available, and as such some were armed with captured scoped Mosin-Nagant 1891/30
Mosin-Nagant
The Mosin–Nagant is a bolt-action, internal magazine-fed, military rifle invented under the government commission by Russian and Belgian inventors, and used by the armed forces of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union and various other nations....

, SVT or Czech Mauser rifles. The Wehrmacht re-established its sniper training in 1942, drastically increasing the number of snipers per unit with the creation of an additional 31 sniper training companies by 1944. German snipers were as the only snipers in the world at the time issued with purpose manufactured sniping ammunition, known as the 'effect-firing' sS round. The 'effect-firing' sS round featured an extra carefully measured propellant charge and seated a heavy 12.8 gram (198 gr) full metal jacketed boat tail projectile of match grade build quality, lacking usual features such as a seating ring to further improve the already high ballistic coefficient of .584 (G1). For aiming optics German snipers used the Zeiss Zielvier 4x (ZF39) telescopic sight
Telescopic sight
A telescopic sight, commonly called a scope, is a sighting device that is based on an optical refracting telescope. They are equipped with some form of graphic image pattern mounted in an optically appropriate position in their optical system to give an accurate aiming point...

 which had bullet drop compensation in 50 m increments for ranges from 100 m up to 800 m or in some variations from 100 m up to 1000 m or 1200 m. There were ZF42, Zielfernrohr 43 (ZF 4), Zeiss Zielsechs 6x and other telescopic sights by various manufacturers like the Ajack 4x, Hensoldt Dialytan 4x and Kahles Heliavier 4x with similar features employed on German sniper rifles. Several different mountings produced by various manufacturers were used for mounting aiming optics to the rifles. In February 1945 the Zielgerät 1229
Zielgerät 1229
The Zielgerät 1229 , also known in its code name Vampir, was an active infrared device developed for the Wehrmacht for the Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifle, intended primarily for night use.-Design:...

 active infrared aiming device was issued for night sniping with the StG 44 assault rifle.

During the Second World War the title of distinguished sniper was awarded to 261 Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 snipers with over 50 confirmed kills. 428,335 individuals received Red Army sniper training, including Soviet and non-Soviet partisans, with 9,534 receiving sniping 'higher qualification'. The two six-month training courses in 1942 for women alone trained nearly 55,000 snipers. On average there was at least one sniper in an infantry platoon and one in every reconnaissance platoon, including in tank and even artillery units. Some used the PTRD
PTRD
The PTRD-41 was an anti-tank rifle produced and used from early 1941 by the Soviet Red Army during World War II. It was a single-shot weapon which fired a 14.5x114mm round...

 anti-tank rifle with an adapted scope as an early example of an anti-materiel rifle
Anti-materiel rifle
An anti-materiel rifle is a rifle that is designed for use against military equipment rather than against other combatants ....

.

In the United States armed forces, sniper training was only very elementary and focused on being able to hit targets over long distances. Snipers were required to be able to hit a body over 400 meters away, and a head over 200 meters away. There was almost no concern with the ability to blend into the environment. Sniper training varied from place to place, resulting in a wide range of qualities of snipers. The main reason the US did not extend their training beyond long-range shooting was the limited deployment of US soldiers until the Normandy Invasion. During the campaigns in North Africa
Operation Torch
Operation Torch was the British-American invasion of French North Africa in World War II during the North African Campaign, started on 8 November 1942....

 and Italy
Italian Campaign (World War II)
The Italian Campaign of World War II was the name of Allied operations in and around Italy, from 1943 to the end of the war in Europe. Joint Allied Forces Headquarters AFHQ was operationally responsible for all Allied land forces in the Mediterranean theatre, and it planned and commanded the...

, most fighting occurred in arid
Arid
A region is said to be arid when it is characterized by a severe lack of available water, to the extent of hindering or even preventing the growth and development of plant and animal life...

 and mountainous regions where the potential for concealment was limited, in contrast to Western and Central Europe.

US Army's lack of familiarity with sniping tactics resulted in disastrous effects in Normandy and the campaign in Western Europe where they encountered well trained German snipers. In Normandy, German snipers remained hidden in the dense vegetation and were able to encircle American units, firing at them from all sides. The American and British forces were surprised by how near the German snipers could safely come and attack them, as well as by their ability to hit targets at up to 1,000m. A notable mistake made by the green American soldiers was to lie down and wait when targeted by German snipers, thus allowing the snipers to pick them off one after another. German snipers often infiltrated Allied lines and sometimes when the front-lines moved, they fought from their sniping positions, refusing to surrender until their rations and munitions were exhausted. After World War II, many elements of German sniper training and doctrine were copied by other countries.

Pacific Theater

In the Pacific War
Pacific War
The Pacific War, also sometimes called the Asia-Pacific War refers broadly to the parts of World War II that took place in the Pacific Ocean, its islands, and in East Asia, then called the Far East...

, the Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 trained snipers. In the jungles of Asia and the Pacific Islands, snipers posed a serious threat to the U.S, British, Canadian and Australian troops. Japanese snipers were specially trained to use the environment to conceal themselves. Japanese snipers used foliage on their uniforms and dug well-concealed hide-outs that were often connected with small trenches. There was no need for long range accuracy because most combat in the jungle took place within a few hundred meters. Japanese snipers were known for their patience and ability to remain hidden for long periods. They almost never left their carefully camouflaged hiding spots. This meant that whenever a sniper was in the area, the location of the sniper could be determined after the sniper had fired a few shots. The Allies used their own snipers in the Pacific, notably the U.S. Marines, who used M1903 Springfield rifles.

Rifles used during World War II


Some common sniper rifles used during the Second World War include: the Soviet M1891/30 Mosin Nagant and, to a lesser extent, the SVT-40; the German Mauser
Mauser
Mauser was a German arms manufacturer of a line of bolt-action rifles and pistols from the 1870s to 1995. Mauser designs were built for the German armed forces...

 Karabiner 98k
Karabiner 98k
The Karabiner 98 Kurz was a bolt action rifle chambered for the 8x57mm IS/7.92×57mm IS cartridge that was adopted as the standard service rifle in 1935 by the German Wehrmacht. It was one of the final developments in the long line of Mauser military rifles...

 and Gewehr 43
Gewehr 43
The Gewehr 43 or Karabiner 43 is an 8x57mm IS caliber semi-automatic rifle developed by Nazi Germany during World War II...

; the British Lee-Enfield No. 4 and Pattern 1914 Enfield; the Japanese Arisaka 97
Type 97 Sniper Rifle
is a Japanese bolt-action rifle, based on the Type 38 Rifle. Following the standard practice of the time, it was adapted from an existing infantry rifle. The only difference between this rifle and the original Type 38 is that it had a lightened stock, a single-action hammer, a 2.5 power telescopic...

; the American M1903 Springfield and M1 Garand
M1 Garand
The M1 Garand , was the first semi-automatic rifle to be generally issued to the infantry of any nation. Called "the greatest battle implement ever devised" by General George S...

; to a lesser extent, the Italians trained few snipers and supplied them with a scoped Carcano Model 1891
Carcano
Carcano is the frequently used name for a series of Italian bolt-action military rifles and carbines. Introduced in 1891, this rifle was chambered for the rimless 6.5x52mm Mannlicher-Carcano Cartuccia Modello 1895 cartridge. It was developed by the chief technician Salvatore Carcano at the Turin...

.

Longest recorded sniper kills


The longest range recorded for a sniper kill currently stands at 2475 m (2,707 yd) and was achieved by CoH
Corporal of Horse
Corporal of horse is a rank in the British Army's Household Cavalry corresponding to sergeant in other regiments. Formerly, no cavalry regiments had sergeants, but the Household Cavalry are the only ones to keep this tradition alive. It is said to stem from the origin of the word sergeant, which...

 Craig Harrison
Craig Harrison (sniper)
Craig Harrison is a Corporal of Horse of the Household Cavalry of the British armed forces, and holds the record for the longest confirmed sniper kill in combat, at a range of...

, a sniper from the Household Cavalry
Household Cavalry
The term Household Cavalry is used across the Commonwealth to describe the cavalry of the Household Divisions, a country’s most elite or historically senior military groupings or those military groupings that provide functions associated directly with the Head of state.Canada's Governor General's...

 of the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

. It was accomplished in an engagement in November 2009 in which two stationary Taliban machine gunners were killed south of Musa Qala
Musa Qala
Musa Qala is a town and the district center of Musa Qala District in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, at and at 1043 m altitude in the valley of Musa Qala River in the central western part of the district. Its population has been reported in the British press to be both 2,000 and 20,000...

 in Helmand Province
Helmand Province
Helmand is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the southwest of the country. Its capital is Lashkar Gah. The Helmand River flows through the mainly desert region, providing water for irrigation....

 in Afghanistan with two consecutive shots by CoH Harrison using an Accuracy International
Accuracy International
Accuracy International is a specialist British firearms manufacturer based in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England and best known for producing the Accuracy International Arctic Warfare series of precision sniper rifles...

 L115A3 Long Range Rifle chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum.

The QTU Lapua external ballistics
External ballistics
External ballistics is the part of the science of ballistics that deals with the behaviour of a non-powered projectile in flight. External ballistics is frequently associated with firearms, and deals with the behaviour of the bullet after it exits the barrel and before it hits the target.-Forces...

 software, using continuous doppler drag coefficient
Drag coefficient
In fluid dynamics, the drag coefficient is a dimensionless quantity that is used to quantify the drag or resistance of an object in a fluid environment such as air or water. It is used in the drag equation, where a lower drag coefficient indicates the object will have less aerodynamic or...

 (Cd) data provided by Lapua, predicts that such shots traveling 2475 m (2,707 yd) would likely have struck their targets after nearly 6.0 seconds of flight time, having lost 93% of their kinetic energy, retaining 255 m/s (836.6 ft/s) of their original 936 m/s (3,070.9 ft/s) velocity, and having dropped 121.39 m (4,779.1 in) or 2.8° from the original bore line. Due to the extreme distances and travel time involved, even a light cross-breeze of 2.7 m/s (6 mph) would have diverted such shots 9.2 m (362.2 in) off target, which would have required compensation. The calculation assumes a flat-fire scenario, utilizing British military custom high pressure .338 Lapua Magnum cartridges, loaded with 16.2 g (250 gr) Lapua LockBase B408 bullets, fired at 936 m/s (3,071 ft/s) muzzle velocity under the following on-site (average) atmospheric conditions: barometric pressure: 1019 hPa (30.1 inHg) at sea-level equivalent or 899 hPa (26.5 inHg) on-site, humidity: 25.9%, and temperature: 15 °C (59 °F) in the region for November 2009, resulting in an air density ρ = 1.0854 kg/m3 at the 1043 m (3,422 ft) elevation of Musa Qala
Musa Qala
Musa Qala is a town and the district center of Musa Qala District in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, at and at 1043 m altitude in the valley of Musa Qala River in the central western part of the district. Its population has been reported in the British press to be both 2,000 and 20,000...

.

CoH Craig Harrison mentions in reports that the environmental conditions were perfect for long range shooting, no wind, mild weather, clear visibility. Mr. Tom Irwin, a director of Accuracy International
Accuracy International
Accuracy International is a specialist British firearms manufacturer based in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England and best known for producing the Accuracy International Arctic Warfare series of precision sniper rifles...

, the British manufacturer of the L115A3 rifle, said: "It is still fairly accurate beyond 1,500 m (1,640 yd), but at that distance luck plays as much of a part as anything."

In another notable incident on April 3, 2003, Corporals Matt and Sam Hughes, a two-man sniper team of the Royal Marines
Royal Marines
The Corps of Her Majesty's Royal Marines, commonly just referred to as the Royal Marines , are the marine corps and amphibious infantry of the United Kingdom and, along with the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary, form the Naval Service...

, armed with L96 sniper rifles each killed people at a range of about 860 metres (941 yd) with shots that, due to strong wind, had to be fired "exactly 17 meters (56 ft) to the left of the target for the bullet to bend in the wind." By contrast, much of the U.S.
Military of the United States
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

/Coalition
Multinational force in Iraq
The Multi-National Force – Iraq was a military command, led by the United States, which was responsible for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Multi-National Force – Iraq replaced the previous force, Combined Joint Task Force 7, on 15 May 2004, and was later itself reorganized into its successor, United...

 urban sniping in support of operations in Iraq is at much shorter ranges.

Police


Law enforcement
Law enforcement agency
In North American English, a law enforcement agency is a government agency responsible for the enforcement of the laws.Outside North America, such organizations are called police services. In North America, some of these services are called police while others have other names In North American...

 snipers, commonly called police snipers, and military snipers differ in many ways, including their areas of operation and tactics. A police sharpshooter is part of a police operation and usually takes part in relatively short missions. Police
Police
The police is a personification of the state designated to put in practice the enforced law, protect property and reduce civil disorder in civilian matters. Their powers include the legitimized use of force...

 forces typically deploy such sharpshooters in hostage
Hostage
A hostage is a person or entity which is held by a captor. The original definition meant that this was handed over by one of two belligerent parties to the other or seized as security for the carrying out of an agreement, or as a preventive measure against certain acts of war...

 scenarios. This differs from a military sniper, who operates as part of a larger army, engaged in warfare. Sometimes as part of a SWAT
SWAT
A SWAT team is an elite tactical unit in various national law enforcement departments. They are trained to perform high-risk operations that fall outside of the abilities of regular officers...

 team, police snipers are deployed alongside negotiators and an assault team trained for close quarters combat. As policemen, they are trained to shoot only as a last resort, when there is a direct threat to life; the police sharpshooter has a well-known rule: "Be prepared to take a life to save a life." Police snipers typically operate at much shorter ranges than military snipers, generally under 100 metres (109 yd) and sometimes even less than 50 metres (55 yd). Both types of snipers do make difficult shots under pressure, and often perform one-shot kills.
Police units that are unequipped for tactical operations may rely on a specialized SWAT team, which may have a dedicated sniper. Some police sniper operations begin with military assistance. Police snipers placed in vantage points, such as high buildings, can provide security for events. In one high-profile incident, Mike Plumb, a SWAT
SWAT
A SWAT team is an elite tactical unit in various national law enforcement departments. They are trained to perform high-risk operations that fall outside of the abilities of regular officers...

 sniper in Columbus, Ohio, prevented a suicide by shooting a revolver out of the individual's hand, leaving him unharmed.

The need for specialized training for police sharpshooters was made apparent in 1972 during the Munich massacre
Munich massacre
The Munich massacre is an informal name for events that occurred during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Bavaria in southern West Germany, when members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and eventually killed by the Palestinian group Black September. Members of Black September...

 when the German police could not deploy specialized personnel or equipment during the standoff at the airport in the closing phase of the crisis, and consequently all of the Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i hostages were killed. The German police only had regular police who were selected if they did hunting as a hobby. While the German army did have snipers in 1972, the use of snipers of the German army in the scenario was impossible due to the German constitution
Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany
The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany is the constitution of Germany. It was formally approved on 8 May 1949, and, with the signature of the Allies of World War II on 12 May, came into effect on 23 May, as the constitution of those states of West Germany that were initially included...

's explicit prohibition of the use of the military in domestic matters. This situation was later addressed with the founding of the specialized police counter-terrorist unit GSG 9
GSG 9
The GSG 9 der Bundespolizei , is the elite counter-terrorism and special operations unit of the German Federal Police.-History and name:...

.

Training


Military sniper training aims to teach a high degree of proficiency in camouflage
Camouflage
Camouflage is a method of concealment that allows an otherwise visible animal, military vehicle, or other object to remain unnoticed, by blending with its environment. Examples include a leopard's spotted coat, the battledress of a modern soldier and a leaf-mimic butterfly...

 and concealment, stalking, observation and map reading as well as precision marksmanship under various operational conditions. Trainees typically shoot thousands of rounds over a number of weeks, while learning these core skills.

Snipers are trained to squeeze the trigger straight back with the ball of their finger, to avoid jerking the gun sideways. The most accurate position is prone, with a sandbag
Sandbag
A sandbag is a sack made of hessian/burlap, polypropylene or other materials that is filled with sand or soil and used for such purposes as flood control, military fortification, shielding glass windows in war zones and ballast....

 supporting the stock
Stock (firearm)
A stock, also known as a buttstock or shoulder stock, is a part of a rifle or other firearm, to which the barrel and firing mechanism are attached, that is held against one's shoulder when firing the gun. Stocks are also found on crossbows though a crossbow stock is more properly referred to as a...

, and the stock's cheek-piece against the cheek. In the field, a bipod can be used instead. Sometimes a sling
Sling (firearms)
In the context of firearms, a sling is a type of strap or harness designed to allow a shooter to carry a firearm on his/her person and/or aid in greater hit probability with that firearm...

 is wrapped around the weak arm (or both) to reduce stock movement. Some doctrines train a sniper to breathe deeply before shooting, then hold their lungs empty while they line up and take their shot. Some go further, teaching their snipers to shoot between heartbeats to minimize barrel motion.

Accuracy



The key to sniping is accuracy, which applies to both the weapon and the shooter. The weapon should be able to consistently place shots within high tolerances. The sniper in turn must utilize the weapon to accurately place shots under varying conditions.

A sniper must have the ability to accurately estimate the various factors that influence a bullet's trajectory and point of impact such as: range to the target, wind direction, wind velocity, altitude and elevation of the sniper and the target and ambient temperature. Mistakes in estimation compound over distance and can decrease lethality or cause a shot to miss completely.

Snipers zero
Calibration
Calibration is a comparison between measurements – one of known magnitude or correctness made or set with one device and another measurement made in as similar a way as possible with a second device....

 their weapons at a target range or in the field. This is the process of adjusting the scope so that the bullet's points-of-impact is at the point-of-aim (centre of scope or scope's cross-hairs) for a specific distance. A rifle and scope should retain its zero as long as possible under all conditions to reduce the need to re-zero during missions.

A sandbag
Sandbag
A sandbag is a sack made of hessian/burlap, polypropylene or other materials that is filled with sand or soil and used for such purposes as flood control, military fortification, shielding glass windows in war zones and ballast....

 can serve as a useful platform for shooting a sniper rifle, although any soft surface such as a rucksack will steady a rifle and contribute to consistency. In particular, bipod
Bipod
A bipod is a support device that is similar to a tripod or monopod, but with two legs. It provides significant stability along two axes of motion .-Firearms:...

s help when firing from a prone position, and enable the firing position to be sustained for an extended period of time. Many police and military sniper rifles come equipped with an adjustable bipod. Makeshift bipods known as shooting sticks can be constructed from items such as tree branches or ski poles.

Accuracy and range depends on the cartridge used:
Cartridge Maximum effective range
5.56x45mm NATO
5.56x45mm NATO
5.56×45mm NATO is a rifle cartridge developed in the United States and originally chambered in the M16 rifle. Under STANAG 4172, it is a standard cartridge for NATO forces as well as many non-NATO countries. It is derived from, but not identical to, the .223 Remington cartridge...

 (.223 Remington
.223 Remington
The .223 Remington is a sporting cartridge with almost the same external dimensions as the 5.56×45mm NATO military cartridge. The name is commonly pronounced either two-two-three or two-twenty-three. It is loaded with a diameter, jacketed bullet, with weights ranging from , though the most common...

)
300–500 m
7.62x51mm (.308 Winchester
.308 Winchester
The .308 Winchester is a rifle cartridge and is the commercial cartridge upon which the military 7.62x51mm NATO centerfire cartridge is based. The .308 Winchester was introduced in 1952, two years prior to the NATO adoption of the 7.62x51mm NATO T65...

)
800-1,000 m
7.62x54mmR 800-1,000 m
7 mm Remington Magnum
7 mm Remington Magnum
The 7mm Remington Magnum rifle cartridge was introduced as a commercially available round in 1962, along with the new Remington Model 700 bolt action rifle. It is a member of the belted magnum family that is directly derived from the venerable .375 H&H Magnum...

900-1,100 m
.300 Winchester Magnum
.300 Winchester Magnum
The .300 Winchester Magnum is a popular, belted, bottlenecked magnum rifle cartridge that was introduced by Winchester Repeating Arms Company in 1963 as a member of the family of Winchester Magnum cartridges. The .300 Winchester Magnum is a magnum cartridge designed to fit in a standard length...

900-1,200 m
.338 Lapua Magnum 1,300-1,600 m
.50 BMG
.50 BMG
The .50 Browning Machine Gun or 12.7×99mm NATO is a cartridge developed for the Browning .50 caliber machine gun in the late 1910s. Entering service officially in 1921, the round is based on a greatly scaled-up .30-06 cartridge...

 (12.7x99mm NATO)
1,500-2,000 m
12.7x108mm (Russian) 1,500-2,000 m
14.5x114mm (Russian) 1,900-2,300 m

U.S. military


Servicemen volunteer for sniper training and are accepted on the basis of their aptitude as perceived by their commanders. Military snipers may be trained as forward air control
Forward air control
Forward air control is the provision of guidance to Close Air Support aircraft intended to ensure that their attack hits the intended target and does not injure friendly troops. This task is carried out by a forward air controller . For NATO forces the qualifications and experience required to be...

lers (FACs) to direct air strikes or forward observers
Artillery observer
A military artillery observer or spotter is responsible for directing artillery fire and close air support onto enemy positions. Because artillery is an indirect fire weapon system, the guns are rarely in line-of-sight of their target, often located tens of miles away...

 (FOs) to direct artillery
Artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

 or mortar
Mortar (weapon)
A mortar is an indirect fire weapon that fires explosive projectiles known as bombs at low velocities, short ranges, and high-arcing ballistic trajectories. It is typically muzzle-loading and has a barrel length less than 15 times its caliber....

 fire.

Russian Army


Starting in 2011, the Russian armed forces will establish newly developed sniper courses taking place in military district
Military district
Military districts are formations of a state's armed forces which are responsible for a certain area of territory. They are often more responsible for administrative than operational matters, and in countries with conscript forces, often handle parts of the conscription cycle.Navies have also used...

 training centres. Instead of Soviet practice of mainly squad sharpshooters, which were often designated during initial training (and of whom only few become snipers per se), "new" Army snipers are to be trained intensively for 3 months (for conscripts) or longer (for contract soldiers); the program includes theory and practice of countersniper engagements, artillery spotting and coordination of air support. The first instructors are the graduates of the Solnechnogorsk sniper training centre.

The method of sniper deployment, according to Ministry of Defence, is likely to be one three-platoon company at the brigade level, with one of the platoons acting independently and the other two supporting the battalions as needed.

Targeting



The range to the target is measured or estimated as precisely as conditions permit and correct range estimation becomes absolutely critical at long ranges, because a bullet travels with a curved trajectory
Trajectory
A trajectory is the path that a moving object follows through space as a function of time. The object might be a projectile or a satellite, for example. It thus includes the meaning of orbit—the path of a planet, an asteroid or a comet as it travels around a central mass...

 and the sniper must compensate for this by aiming higher at longer distances. If the exact distance is not known the sniper may compensate incorrectly and the bullet path may be too high or low. As an example, for a typical military sniping cartridge such as 7.62x51mm NATO (.308 Winchester) M118 Special Ball round this difference (or “drop”) from 700 to 800 m (765.5 to 874.9 yd) is 200 millimetres (7.9 in). This means that if the sniper incorrectly estimated the distance as 700 meters when the target was in fact 800 meters away, the bullet will be 200 millimeters lower than expected by the time it reaches the target.

Laser rangefinders may be used, but are not preferred on the battlefield because a laser can be seen by both the sender and the receiver . One useful method is comparing the height of the target (or nearby objects) to their size on the mil dot scope, or taking a known distance and using some sort of measure (utility poles, fence posts) to determine the additional distance. The average human head is 150 millimetres (5.9 in) in width, average human shoulders are 500 millimetres (19.7 in) apart and the average distance from a person's pelvis to the top of their head is 1000 millimetres (39.4 in).
To determine the range to a target without a laser rangefinder, the sniper may use the mil
Angular mil
An angular mil, also mil, is a unit of angle. All versions of the angular mil are approximately the same size as a trigonometric milliradian.-History:The milliradian was first identified in the mid nineteenth Century...

 dot reticle on a scope to accurately find the range. Mil dots are used like a slide rule
Slide rule
The slide rule, also known colloquially as a slipstick, is a mechanical analog computer. The slide rule is used primarily for multiplication and division, and also for functions such as roots, logarithms and trigonometry, but is not normally used for addition or subtraction.Slide rules come in a...

 to measure the height of a target, and if the height is known, the range can be as well. The height of the target (in yards) ×1000, divided by the height of the target (in mils), gives the range in yards. This is only in general, however, as both scope magnification (7×, 40×) and mil dot spacing change. The USMC standard is that 1 mil (that is, 1 milliradian) equals 3.438 MOA (minute of arc
Minute of arc
A minute of arc, arcminute, or minute of angle , is a unit of angular measurement equal to one sixtieth of one degree. In turn, a second of arc or arcsecond is one sixtieth of one minute of arc....

, or, equivalently, minute of angle), while the US Army standard is 3.6 MOA, chosen so as to give a diameter of 1 yard at a distance of 1000 yards (or equivalently, a diameter of 1 meter at a range of 1 kilometer.) Many commercial manufacturers use 3.5, splitting the difference, since it is easier to work with.

Explanation: 1 MIL = 1 milli-radian. That is, 1 MIL = 1x10^-3 radian. But, 10^-3 rad x (360 deg/ (2 x Pi) radians) = 0.0573 degrees. Now, 1 MOA = 1/60 degree = 0.01667 degrees. Hence, there are 0.0573/0.01667 = 3.43775 MOA per MIL, where MIL is defined as a milli-radian. On the other hand, defining a mil-dot by the US Army way, to equate it to 1 yard (0.9144 m) at 1000 yards (914.4 m), means the Army's mil-dot is approximately 3.6 MOA.


It is important to note that angular mil
Angular mil
An angular mil, also mil, is a unit of angle. All versions of the angular mil are approximately the same size as a trigonometric milliradian.-History:The milliradian was first identified in the mid nineteenth Century...

 (mil) is only an approximation of a milliradian and different organizations use different approximations.

At longer ranges, bullet drop plays a significant role in targeting. The effect can be estimated from a chart which may be memorized or taped to the rifle, although some scopes come with Bullet Drop Compensator (BDC) systems that only require the range be dialed in. These are tuned to both a specific class of rifle and specific ammunition. Every bullet type and load will have different ballistics
Ballistics
Ballistics is the science of mechanics that deals with the flight, behavior, and effects of projectiles, especially bullets, gravity bombs, rockets, or the like; the science or art of designing and accelerating projectiles so as to achieve a desired performance.A ballistic body is a body which is...

. .308 Federal 175 grain (11.3 g) BTHP match shoots at 2,600 ft/s (790 m/s). Zeroed at 100 yards (91.4 m), a 16.2 MOA adjustment would have to be made to hit a target at 600 yards (548.6 m). If the same bullet was shot with 168 grain (10.9 g), a 17.1 MOA adjustment would be necessary.

Shooting uphill or downhill is confusing for many because gravity does not act perpendicular to the direction the bullet is traveling. Thus, gravity must be divided into its component vectors. Only the fraction of gravity equal to the cosine of the angle of fire with respect to the horizon affects the rate of fall of the bullet, with the remained adding or subtracting negligible velocity to the bullet along its trajectory. To find the correct zero, the sniper multiplies the actual distance to the range by this fraction and aims as if the target were that distance away. For example, a sniper who observes a target 500 meters away at a 45-degree angle downhill would multiply the range by the cosine of 45 degrees, which is 0.707. The resulting distance will be 353 meters. This number is equal to the horizontal distance to the target. All other values, such as windage, time-to-target, impact velocity, and energy will be calculated based on the actual range of 500 meters. Recently, a small device known as a cosine indicator has been developed. This device is clamped to the tubular body of the telescopic sight
Telescopic sight
A telescopic sight, commonly called a scope, is a sighting device that is based on an optical refracting telescope. They are equipped with some form of graphic image pattern mounted in an optically appropriate position in their optical system to give an accurate aiming point...

, and gives an indicative readout in numerical form as the rifle is aimed up or down at the target. This is translated into a figure used to compute the horizontal range to the target.

Windage which plays a significant role, the effect increasing with wind speed or the distance of the shot. The slant of visible convections near the ground can be used to estimate crosswinds, and correct the point of aim. All adjustments for range, wind, and elevation can be performed by aiming off the target, called "holding over" or Kentucky windage. Alternatively, the scope can be adjusted so that the point of aim is changed to compensate for these factors, sometimes referred to as "dialing in". The shooter must remember to return the scope to zeroed position. Adjusting the scope allows for more accurate shots, because the cross-hairs can be aligned with the target more accurately, but the sniper must know exactly what differences the changes will have on the point-of-impact at each target range.

For moving targets, the point-of-aim is ahead of the target in the direction of movement. Known as "leading" the target, the amount of "lead" depends on the speed and angle of the target's movement as well as the distance to the target. For this technique, holding over is the preferred method. Anticipating the behavior of the target is necessary to accurately place the shot.

Hide sites and hiding techniques


The term "hide site" refers to a covered and concealed position from which a sniper and his team can conduct surveillance and/or fire at targets. A good hide conceals and camouflages the sniper effectively, provides cover from enemy fire and allows a wide view of the surrounding area.

The main purpose of ghillie suits
Ghillie suit
A ghillie suit, wookie suit, yowie suit, or camo tent is a type of camouflage clothing designed to resemble heavy foliage. Typically, it is a net or cloth garment covered in loose strips of cloth or twine, sometimes made to look like leaves and twigs, and optionally augmented with scraps of foliage...

 and hide sites is to break up the outline of a person with a rifle.

Many snipers use ghillie suits to hide and stay hidden. Ghillie suits vary according to the terrain into which the sniper wishes to blend. For example, in dry, grassy wasteland the sniper will typically wear a ghillie suit covered in dead grass.

Shot placement


Shot placement varies considerably with the type of sniper being discussed. Military snipers, who generally do not engage targets at less than 300 m (330 yd), usually attempt body shots, aiming at the chest. These shots depend on tissue damage, organ trauma, and blood loss
Bleeding
Bleeding, technically known as hemorrhaging or haemorrhaging is the loss of blood or blood escape from the circulatory system...

 to make the kill.

Police snipers who generally engage at much shorter distances may attempt more precise shot at particular parts of body or particular devices: in one event in 2007 in Marseille
Marseille
Marseille , known in antiquity as Massalia , is the second largest city in France, after Paris, with a population of 852,395 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Marseille extends beyond the city limits with a population of over 1,420,000 on an area of...

, a GIPN
GIPN
GIPN is an initialism for Groupes d'Intervention de la Police Nationale or French National Police Intervention Groups. Its motto is "La cohésion fait la force" or "Cohesion brings strength."-History:...

 sniper took a shot from 80 m (87.5 yd) at the pistol of a policeman threatening to commit suicide, destroying the weapon and preventing him from killing himself. Less lethal shots (at arms or legs) may be taken at criminals to sap their will to fight or reduce their mobility.

In a high-risk or instant-death hostage situation, police snipers may take head shots to ensure an instant kill. The snipers aim for the "apricot", or the medulla oblongata
Medulla oblongata
The medulla oblongata is the lower half of the brainstem. In discussions of neurology and similar contexts where no ambiguity will result, it is often referred to as simply the medulla...

, located inside the head, a part of the brain that controls involuntary movement that lies at the base of the skull. Some ballistics
Ballistics
Ballistics is the science of mechanics that deals with the flight, behavior, and effects of projectiles, especially bullets, gravity bombs, rockets, or the like; the science or art of designing and accelerating projectiles so as to achieve a desired performance.A ballistic body is a body which is...

 and neurological researchers have argued that severing the spinal cord
Spinal cord
The spinal cord is a long, thin, tubular bundle of nervous tissue and support cells that extends from the brain . The brain and spinal cord together make up the central nervous system...

 at an area near the second cervical vertebra is actually achieved, usually having the same effect of preventing voluntary motor activity, but the debate on the matter remains largely academic at present.

With moving targets it is necessary to lead
Deflection (military)
Deflection is a technique used for effectively firing a ranged weapon at a moving target, that describes "leading the target"; that is, shooting ahead of a moving target so that the target and projectile will collide...

 the target to compensate for movement during the flight of the projectile.

Targets


Snipers can target personnel or materiel
Materiel
Materiel is a term used in English to refer to the equipment and supplies in military and commercial supply chain management....

, but most often they target the most important enemy personnel such as officers or specialists (e.g. communications operators) so as to cause maximum disruption to enemy operations. Other personnel they might target include those who pose an immediate threat to the sniper, like dog handlers, who are often employed in a search for snipers.

A sniper identifies officers by their appearance and behavior such as symbols of rank, talking to radio operators
Radioman
Radioman was a rating for United States Navy and United States Coast Guard enlisted personnel, specializing in communications technology.-History of the rating:...

, sitting as a passenger in a car, having military servants, binoculars/map cases or talking and moving position more frequently. If possible, snipers shoot in descending order by rank
Military rank
Military rank is a system of hierarchical relationships in armed forces or civil institutions organized along military lines. Usually, uniforms denote the bearer's rank by particular insignia affixed to the uniforms...

, or if rank is unavailable, they shoot to disrupt communications.

Since most kills in modern warfare are by crew-served weapons, reconnaissance is one of the most effective uses of snipers. They use their aerobic conditioning, infiltration skills and excellent long-distance observation equipment and tactics to approach and observe the enemy. In this role, their rules of engagement
Rules of engagement
Rules of Engagement refers to those responses that are permitted in the employment of military personnel during operations or in the course of their duties. These rules of engagement are determined by the legal framework within which these duties are being carried out...

 let them engage only high value targets of opportunity.

Some rifles, such as the Denel NTW-20
Denel NTW-20
The NTW-20 is a South African anti-materiel rifle or large-calibre sniper rifle, developed by Denel's Mechem division in the 1990s. The weapon was designed by Tony Neophytou and intended for deployment against a wide variety of targets, including parked aircraft, telecommunication masts, power...

 and Vidhwansak
Vidhwansak
Vidhwansak is an Indian multi-caliber anti-material rifle or large-caliber sniper rifle manufactured by Ordnance Factory, Tiruchirapalli. It can be used in the anti-materiel role for destroying enemy bunkers, lightly armoured vehicles, radar systems, communication equipment, parked aircraft, fuel...

 are designed for a purely anti-materiel
Anti-materiel rifle
An anti-materiel rifle is a rifle that is designed for use against military equipment rather than against other combatants ....

 (AM) role, e.g. shooting turbine disks of parked aircraft, missile guidance packages, expensive optics, and the bearings, tubes or wave guides of radar
Radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

 sets. A sniper equipped with the correct rifle can target radar dishes, water containers, the engines of vehicles, and any number of other targets. Other rifles, such as the .50 caliber rifles produced by Barrett and McMillan are not designed exclusively as AM rifles, but are often employed in such a way, providing the range and power needed for AM applications in a lightweight package compared to most traditional AM rifles. Other calibers, such as the .408 Cheyenne Tactical and the .338 Lapua Magnum are designed to be capable of limited AM application, but are ideally suited as long range anti-personnel rounds.

Relocating


Often in situations with multiple targets, snipers use relocation. After firing a few shots from a certain position, snipers move unseen to another location before the enemy can determine where he or she is and mount a counter-attack. Snipers will frequently use this tactic to their advantage, creating an atmosphere of chaos and confusion. In other, more rare situations, relocation is used to eliminate the factor of wind.

Sound masking


As sniper rifles are often extremely powerful and consequently loud, it is common for snipers to use a technique known as sound masking. When employed by a highly skilled marksman, this tactic can be used as a substitute for a noise suppressor
Suppressor
A suppressor, sound suppressor, sound moderator, or silencer, is a device attached to or part of the barrel of a firearm which reduces the amount of noise and flash generated by firing the weapon....

. Very loud sounds in the environment, such as artillery shells air bursting or claps of thunder, can often mask the sound of the shot. This technique is frequently used in clandestine operations, infiltration tactics
Infiltration tactics
In warfare, infiltration tactics involve small, lightly equipped infantry forces attacking enemy rear areas while bypassing enemy front line strongpoints and isolating them for attack by follow-up troops with heavier weapons.-Development during World War I:...

, and guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

.

Psychological warfare



Due to the unexpected aspect of sniper fire, high lethality of aimed shots and frustration at the inability to locate and attack snipers, sniper tactics have a significant effect on morale. Extensive use of sniper tactics can be used as a psychological strategy in order to induce constant stress in opposing forces.

One may note that by many aspects (constant threat, high "per event" lethality, inability to strike back), the psychological impact imposed by snipers is quite similar to those of landmines, booby-traps, and IEDs
Improvised explosive device
An improvised explosive device , also known as a roadside bomb, is a homemade bomb constructed and deployed in ways other than in conventional military action...

.

Historically, captured snipers are often summarily executed
Summary execution
A summary execution is a variety of execution in which a person is killed on the spot without trial or after a show trial. Summary executions have been practiced by the police, military, and paramilitary organizations and are associated with guerrilla warfare, counter-insurgency, terrorism, and...

. This happened during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. As a result, if a sniper is in imminent danger of capture, he may discard any items which might indicate his status as a sniper. The risk of captured snipers being summarily executed is explicitly referred to in Chapter 6 of US Army doctrine document FM 3-060.11 entitled 'SNIPER AND COUNTERSNIPER TACTICS, TECHNIQUES, AND PROCEDURES':
The negative reputation of snipers can be traced back to the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

, when American "Marksmen" would intentionally target British officers, an act considered uncivilized by the British Army at the time (this reputation would be cemented during the Battle of Saratoga
Battle of Saratoga
The Battles of Saratoga conclusively decided the fate of British General John Burgoyne's army in the American War of Independence and are generally regarded as a turning point in the war. The battles were fought eighteen days apart on the same ground, south of Saratoga, New York...

, when Benedict Arnold
Benedict Arnold
Benedict Arnold V was a general during the American Revolutionary War. He began the war in the Continental Army but later defected to the British Army. While a general on the American side, he obtained command of the fort at West Point, New York, and plotted to surrender it to the British forces...

 allegedly ordered his marksmen to target British General Simon Fraser, an act that would win the battle and French support). The British side used specially selected sharpshooters as well, often German mercenaries.

To demoralize enemy troops, snipers can follow predictable patterns. During the 26th of July Movement
26th of July Movement
The 26th of July Movement was the revolutionary organization planned and led by Fidel Castro that in 1959 overthrew the Fulgencio Batista government in Cuba...

 in the Cuban Revolution
Cuban Revolution
The Cuban Revolution was an armed revolt by Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement against the regime of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista between 1953 and 1959. Batista was finally ousted on 1 January 1959, and was replaced by a revolutionary government led by Castro...

, the revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

 always killed the foremost man in a group of President
President of Cuba
--209.174.31.28 18:43, 22 November 2011 The President of Cuba is the Head of state of Cuba. According to the Cuban Constitution of 1976, the President is the chief executive of the Council of State of Cuba...

 Batista
Fulgencio Batista
Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar was the United States-aligned Cuban President, dictator and military leader who served as the leader of Cuba from 1933 to 1944 and from 1952 to 1959, before being overthrown as a result of the Cuban Revolution....

's soldiers. Realizing this, none of Batista's men would walk first, as it was suicidal. This effectively decreased the army's willingness to search for rebel bases in the mountains. An alternative approach to this psychological process is to kill the second man in the row, leading to the psychological effect of nobody wanting to follow the "leader".

The phrase "one shot, one kill" has gained notoriety in popular culture
Popular culture
Popular culture is the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the...

 as a glorification of the "sniper mystique". The phrase embodies the sniper's tactics and philosophy of stealth and efficiency. The term may mean that only a single round should be fired, as every shot fired assists the enemy in locating the sniper. As well, every shot should be accurately placed, in order to kill or severely wound the victim. Whether the phrase actually reflects reality is subject to debate, but it has been widely used in literature and movies.

Counter-sniper tactics


The occurrence of sniper warfare has led to the evolution of many counter-sniper tactics in modern military strategies. These aim to reduce the damage caused by a sniper to an army, which can often be harmful to both combat capabilities and morale.

The risk of damage to a chain of command can be reduced by removing or concealing features which would otherwise indicate an officer's rank. Modern armies tend to avoid saluting officers in the field, and eliminate rank insignia on battle dress uniform
Battle Dress Uniform
The Battle Dress Uniform were the fatigues that the armed forces of the United States used as their standard uniform for combat situations from September 1981 to April 2005. Since then, it has been replaced in every branch of the U.S. military. Only the U.S. Navy currently authorizes wear of the...

s (BDU). Officers can seek maximum cover before revealing themselves as good candidates for elimination through actions such as reading maps or using radios.

Friendly snipers can be used to hunt the enemy sniper. Besides direct observation, defending forces can use other techniques. These include calculating the trajectory of a bullet by triangulation
Triangulation
In trigonometry and geometry, triangulation is the process of determining the location of a point by measuring angles to it from known points at either end of a fixed baseline, rather than measuring distances to the point directly...

. Traditionally, triangulation of a sniper's position was done manually, though radar-based technology has recently become available. Once located, the defenders can attempt to approach the sniper from cover and overwhelm him. The United States military is funding a project known as RedOwl (Robot Enhanced Detection Outpost With Lasers), which uses laser and acoustic sensors to determine the exact direction from which a sniper round has been fired.

The more rounds fired by a sniper, the greater the number of chances a target has to locate him. Thus, attempts to draw fire are often made, sometimes by offering a helmet slightly out of concealment, a tactic successfully employed in the Winter War
Winter War
The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland. It began with a Soviet offensive on 30 November 1939 – three months after the start of World War II and the Soviet invasion of Poland – and ended on 13 March 1940 with the Moscow Peace Treaty...

 by the Finns known as "Kylmä-Kalle" (Cold Charlie). They used a shop mannequin or other doll dressed as a tempting target, such as an officer. The doll was then presented as if it were a real man sloppily covering himself. Usually, Soviet snipers were unable to resist the temptation of an apparently easy kill. Once the angle where the bullet came from was determined, a large calibre gun, such as a Lahti L-39 "Norsupyssy" ("Elephant rifle") anti-tank rifle was fired at the sniper to kill him.

Other tactics include directing artillery
Artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

 or mortar
Mortar (weapon)
A mortar is an indirect fire weapon that fires explosive projectiles known as bombs at low velocities, short ranges, and high-arcing ballistic trajectories. It is typically muzzle-loading and has a barrel length less than 15 times its caliber....

 fire onto suspected sniper positions, the use of smoke screens, placing tripwire
Tripwire
A tripwire is a passive triggering mechanism. Typically, a wire or cord is attached to some device for detecting or reacting to physical movement...

-operated munitions, mines
Land mine
A land mine is usually a weight-triggered explosive device which is intended to damage a target—either human or inanimate—by means of a blast and/or fragment impact....

, or other booby-traps near suspected sniper positions. Even dummy trip-wires can be placed to hamper sniper movement. If anti-personnel mines are unavailable, it is possible to improvise booby-traps by connecting trip-wires to hand grenades, smoke grenades or flares
Flare (pyrotechnic)
A flare, also sometimes called a fusee, is a type of pyrotechnic that produces a brilliant light or intense heat without an explosion. Flares are used for signalling, illumination, or defensive countermeasures in civilian and military applications...

. Though these may not kill the sniper, they will reveal the location of the sniper(s). Booby-trap devices can be placed near likely sniper hides, or along the probable routes to and from the positions. Knowledge of sniper field-craft will assist in this task.

One very old counter-sniper tactic is to tie rags onto bushes or similar items in suspected sniper hides. These rags flutter in the breeze creating random movements in the corner of the sniper's eye, which he/she will often find distracting. The greatest virtue of this tactic is its simplicity and ease of implementation; however, it is unlikely to prevent a skilled sniper from selecting targets, and may in fact provide a sniper with additional information about the wind near the target.

The use of canine
Dog
The domestic dog is a domesticated form of the gray wolf, a member of the Canidae family of the order Carnivora. The term is used for both feral and pet varieties. The dog may have been the first animal to be domesticated, and has been the most widely kept working, hunting, and companion animal in...

 units was very successful, especially during the Vietnam War. A trained dog can easily determine direction from the sound of the bullet, and will lie down with its head pointed at the origin of the gunshot.

Irregular and asymmetric warfare



The use of sniping (in the sense of shooting at relatively long range from a concealed position) to murder came to public attention in a number of sensational U.S. cases, including the Austin sniper
Charles Whitman
Charles Joseph Whitman was a student at the University of Texas at Austin and a former Marine who killed 16 people and wounded 32 others during a shooting rampage on and around the university's campus on August 1, 1966....

 incident of 1966, the John F. Kennedy assassination
John F. Kennedy assassination
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States, was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas...

, and the Beltway sniper attacks
Beltway sniper attacks
The Washington sniper attacks took place during three weeks in October 2002 in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Ten people were killed and three others critically injured in various locations throughout the Washington Metropolitan Area and along Interstate 95 in Virginia...

 of late 2002. However, these incidents usually do not involve the range or skill of military snipers; in all three cases the perpetrators had U.S. military training, but in other specialties. News reports will often (inaccurately) use the term sniper to describe anyone shooting with a rifle at another person.

Sniping has been used in asymmetric warfare situations, for example in the Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 Troubles
The Troubles
The Troubles was a period of ethno-political conflict in Northern Ireland which spilled over at various times into England, the Republic of Ireland, and mainland Europe. The duration of the Troubles is conventionally dated from the late 1960s and considered by many to have ended with the Belfast...

, where in 1972, the bloodiest year of the conflict, the majority of the soldiers killed were shot by concealed IRA
Provisional Irish Republican Army
The Provisional Irish Republican Army is an Irish republican paramilitary organisation whose aim was to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and bring about a socialist republic within a united Ireland by force of arms and political persuasion...

 riflemen. There were some instances in the early 1990s of British soldiers and RUC
Royal Ulster Constabulary
The Royal Ulster Constabulary was the name of the police force in Northern Ireland from 1922 to 2000. Following the awarding of the George Cross in 2000, it was subsequently known as the Royal Ulster Constabulary GC. It was founded on 1 June 1922 out of the Royal Irish Constabulary...

 personnel being shot with .50 caliber Barrett rifles by sniper teams collectively known as the South Armagh sniper. In Northern Ireland, in addition to the uses listed above, a sniper was quite often a form of bait called a "come-on", whereby the sniper's position would be made obvious to a British patrol so as to draw them into an ambush in their attempt to close with the sniper.

The sniper is particularly suited to combat environments where one side is at a disadvantage. A careful sniping strategy can use a few individuals and resources to thwart the movement or other progress of a much better equipped or larger force. Because of this perceived difference in force size, the sniping attacks may be viewed as the act of a few persons to terrorize (earning the moniker 'terrorists') a much larger, regular force — regardless of the size of the force the snipers are attached to. These perceptions stem from the precept that sniping, while effective in specific instances, is much more effective as a broadly deployed psychological attack (see elsewhere in article).

Snipers are less likely to be treated mercifully if captured by the enemy. The rationale for this is that ordinary soldiers shoot at each other at 'equal opportunity' whilst snipers take their time in tracking and killing individual targets in a methodical fashion with a relatively low risk of retaliation.

War in Iraq


In 2003, the U.S.-led multinational coalition composed of primarily U.S. and U.K. troops occupied Iraq and attempted to establish a new government in the country. However, shortly after the initial invasion, violence against coalition forces and among various sectarian groups led to asymmetric warfare with the Iraqi insurgency and civil war between many Sunni and Shia Iraqis.

Through November 2005, when the Pentagon had last reported a sniper fatality, the Army had attributed 28 of 2,100 U.S. deaths to enemy snipers. More recently, since 2006, insurgent snipers such as "Juba
Juba (sniper)
Juba is the pseudonym of an alleged sniper involved in the Iraqi Insurgency featured in several propaganda videos. The second of these videos shows Juba claiming to have shot 37 American soldiers...

" have caused problems for American troops. Claims have been made that Juba have shot up to 37 American soldiers in Iraq as of October 2006.

In 2006, training materials obtained by U.S. intelligence showed that snipers fighting in Iraq were urged to single out and attack engineers, medics, and chaplains on the theory that those casualties would demoralize entire enemy units. Among the training materials, there included an insurgent sniper training manual that was posted on the Internet. Among its tips for shooting U.S. troops, there read: "Killing doctors and chaplains is suggested as a means of psychological warfare."

Afghanistan


Some sniper teams in Afghanistan have killed large numbers of Taliban in quite short periods of time. For example, whilst in Helmand Province, two British snipers (part of the Welsh Guards
Welsh Guards
The Welsh Guards is an infantry regiment of the British Army, part of the Guards Division.-Creation :The Welsh Guards came into existence on 26 February 1915 by Royal Warrant of His Majesty King George V in order to include Wales in the national component to the Foot Guards, "..though the order...

 Battle group) shot dead a total of 75 Taliban in only 40 days during the summer of 2009. In one session of duty, lasting just two hours, they shot and killed eight Taliban. On another occasion, the same team scored a "Quigley" (i.e., killing two Taliban with a single bullet) at a range of 196 metres.

Taliban snipers have themselves caused problems for coalition forces. For example, over a four-month period in early 2011, two Taliban snipers have shot dead two British soldiers and wounded six others at an outpost in Qadrat, Helmand province
Helmand Province
Helmand is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the southwest of the country. Its capital is Lashkar Gah. The Helmand River flows through the mainly desert region, providing water for irrigation....

.

Notable individuals


Even before firearm
Firearm
A firearm is a weapon that launches one, or many, projectile at high velocity through confined burning of a propellant. This subsonic burning process is technically known as deflagration, as opposed to supersonic combustion known as a detonation. In older firearms, the propellant was typically...

s were available, soldiers such as archers
Archery
Archery is the art, practice, or skill of propelling arrows with the use of a bow, from Latin arcus. Archery has historically been used for hunting and combat; in modern times, however, its main use is that of a recreational activity...

 were specially trained as elite marksmen.

Pre–20th century

  • Ninja
    Ninja
    A or was a covert agent or mercenary of feudal Japan specializing in unorthodox arts of war. The functions of the ninja included espionage, sabotage, infiltration, and assassination, as well as open combat in certain situations...

     or Shinobi
    Shinobi
    Shinobi is the Japanese word for male ninja. It may also refer to:*Shinobi , a series of video games**Shinobi , the original video game in the series developed by Sega**Shinobi , the PlayStation 2 sequel...

     (16th century Japan) – supposedly trained to cover retreating
    Withdrawal (military)
    A withdrawal is a type of military operation, generally meaning retreating forces back while maintaining contact with the enemy. A withdrawal may be undertaken as part of a general retreat, to consolidate forces, to occupy ground that is more easily defended, or to lead the enemy into an ambush...

     armies, targeting officers from concealed positions with poisoned blow guns. One of Japan's most notable warlords, Takeda Shingen
    Takeda Shingen
    , of Kai Province, was a preeminent daimyo in feudal Japan with exceptional military prestige in the late stage of the Sengoku period.-Name:Shingen was called "Tarō" or "Katsuchiyo" during his childhood...

    , was possibly fatally wounded by a sniper.
  • Lord Brooke
    Robert Greville, 2nd Baron Brooke
    Robert Greville, 2nd Baron Brooke was an English Civil War Roundhead General.Greville was the cousin and adopted son of Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke, and thus became 2nd Lord Brooke, and owner of Warwick Castle. He was born in 1607, and entered parliament for Warwickshire in 1628...

    , who represented the Parliamentarians
    Roundhead
    "Roundhead" was the nickname given to the supporters of the Parliament during the English Civil War. Also known as Parliamentarians, they fought against King Charles I and his supporters, the Cavaliers , who claimed absolute power and the divine right of kings...

     in the English Civil War
    English Civil War
    The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

    , was the first recorded British sniper victim, killed by a Royalist soldier hiding in a bell tower in Lichfield
    Lichfield
    Lichfield is a cathedral city, civil parish and district in Staffordshire, England. One of eight civil parishes with city status in England, Lichfield is situated roughly north of Birmingham...

    .
  • Timothy Murphy (American Revolutionary War
    American Revolutionary War
    The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

    ) – killed British General Simon Fraser during the pivotal Battle of Saratoga
    Battle of Saratoga
    The Battles of Saratoga conclusively decided the fate of British General John Burgoyne's army in the American War of Independence and are generally regarded as a turning point in the war. The battles were fought eighteen days apart on the same ground, south of Saratoga, New York...

    , hampering the British advance and causing them to lose the battle.
  • Patrick Ferguson
    Patrick Ferguson
    Major Patrick Ferguson was a Scottish officer in the British Army, early advocate of light infantry and designer of the Ferguson rifle. He is best known for his service in the 1780 military campaign of Charles Cornwallis, in which he aggressively recruited Loyalists and harshly treated Patriot...

     (American Revolutionary War
    American Revolutionary War
    The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

    ) - developer of the world's first breech-loaded military rifle (which advanced sniping and sharpshooting tactics), fought with his Corps of Riflemen (recruited from the 6th and 14th Foot) at the Battle of Brandywine
    Battle of Brandywine
    The Battle of Brandywine, also known as the Battle of the Brandywine or the Battle of Brandywine Creek, was fought between the American army of Major General George Washington and the British-Hessian army of General Sir William Howe on September 11, 1777. The British defeated the Americans and...

    , where he may have passed up a chance to shoot George Washington.
  • Napoleonic Wars
    Napoleonic Wars
    The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

     – Use of Marine sharpshooters in the mast tops was common usage in navies of the period, and Admiral Nelson's death at Trafalgar is attributed to the actions of French Sharpshooters. The British Army developed the concept of directed fire (as opposed to massive unaimed volleys) and formed Rifle regiments, notably the 95th and the 60th who wore green jackets instead of the usual redcoats. Fighting as Skirmishers, usually in pairs and trusted to choose their own targets, they wrought havoc amongst the French during the peninsular war against Napoleon's Forces.
  • British Rifleman Thomas Plunkett
    Rifleman Thomas Plunkett
    Thomas Plunket was an Irish soldier in the British army 95th Rifles regiment. He served throughout the Peninsula War and later in the Hundred Days campaign of 1815....

     (Peninsular war
    Peninsular War
    The Peninsular War was a war between France and the allied powers of Spain, the United Kingdom, and Portugal for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when French and Spanish armies crossed Spain and invaded Portugal in 1807. Then, in 1808, France turned on its...

    ) – shot French General Colbert and one of his aides at a range of between 200 metres (219 yd) and 600 metres (656 yd) using a Baker rifle
    Baker rifle
    The Baker rifle was a flintlock rifle used by the Rifle regiments of the British Army during the Napoleonic Wars. It was the first standard-issue, British-made rifle accepted by the British armed forces....

    .
  • Colonel Hiram Berdan
    Hiram Berdan
    Hiram Berdan was an American engineer, inventor and military officer, world-renowned marksman, and guiding force behind and commanding colonel of the famed United States Volunteer Sharpshooter Regiments during the American Civil War...

     (American Civil War
    American Civil War
    The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

    ) – commanded 1st and 2nd US Sharpshooters, who were trained and equipped Union marksmen with the .52 caliber Sharps Rifle
    Sharps Rifle
    Sharps rifles were those of a series begun with a design by Christian Sharps. Sharps rifles were renowned for long range and high accuracy in their day.-History:Sharps's initial rifle was patented September 17, 1848 and manufactured by A. S...

    . It has been claimed that Berdan's units killed more enemies than any other in the Union Army
    Union Army
    The Union Army was the land force that fought for the Union during the American Civil War. It was also known as the Federal Army, the U.S. Army, the Northern Army and the National Army...

    .
  • Jack Hinson
    Jack Hinson
    John W. "Jack" Hinson, "Old Jack" was a farmer in Stewart County, Tennessee who operated as a Confederate partisan sniper against Union forces in the Between-the-Rivers region of Tennessee and Kentucky during the American Civil War....

     (American Civil War
    American Civil War
    The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

    ) recorded 36 "kills" on his custom made .50 caliber Kentucky long rifle
    Long rifle
    The American longrifle , better known as the Kentucky rifle was described best by Captain John G. W. Dillin in the dedication to his seminal 1924 book, The Kentucky Rifle:...

     with iron sights.
  • Sgt. Ben Powell (American Civil War) – sniped Major General John Sedgwick
    John Sedgwick
    John Sedgwick was a teacher, a career military officer, and a Union Army general in the American Civil War. He was the highest ranking Union casualty in the Civil War, killed by a sniper at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House.-Early life:Sedgwick was born in the Litchfield Hills town of...

     during the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House
    Battle of Spotsylvania Court House
    The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, sometimes simply referred to as the Battle of Spotsylvania , was the second major battle in Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's 1864 Overland Campaign of the American Civil War. Following the bloody but inconclusive Battle of the Wilderness, Grant's army disengaged...

     with a British Whitworth
    Joseph Whitworth
    Sir Joseph Whitworth, 1st Baronet was an English engineer, entrepreneur, inventor and philanthropist. In 1841, he devised the British Standard Whitworth system, which created an accepted standard for screw threads...

     target rifle at the then-incredible distance of 730 metres (798 yd). This caused administrative delays in the Union's attack and lead to Confederate victory. Sedgwick ignored advice to take cover, his last words according to urban legend
    Urban legend
    An urban legend, urban myth, urban tale, or contemporary legend, is a form of modern folklore consisting of stories that may or may not have been believed by their tellers to be true...

     being, "They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist-" upon which he was shot. In reality, he was shot a few minutes later.
  • Major Frederick Russell Burnham
    Frederick Russell Burnham
    Frederick Russell Burnham, DSO was an American scout and world traveling adventurer known for his service to the British Army in colonial Africa and for teaching woodcraft to Robert Baden-Powell, thus becoming one of the inspirations for the founding of the international Scouting Movement.Burnham...

     - assassinated Mlimo, the Ndebele religious leader, in his cave in Matobo Hills, Rhodesia
    Rhodesia
    Rhodesia , officially the Republic of Rhodesia from 1970, was an unrecognised state located in southern Africa that existed between 1965 and 1979 following its Unilateral Declaration of Independence from the United Kingdom on 11 November 1965...

    , effectively ending the Second Matabele War
    Second Matabele War
    The Second Matabele War, also known as the Matabeleland Rebellion and in Zimbabwe as the First Chimurenga, was fought in 1896–97 between the British troops and the Ndebele people....

     (1896). Burnham started as a cowboy
    Cowboy
    A cowboy is an animal herder who tends cattle on ranches in North America, traditionally on horseback, and often performs a multitude of other ranch-related tasks. The historic American cowboy of the late 19th century arose from the vaquero traditions of northern Mexico and became a figure of...

     and Indian tracker in the American Old West
    American Old West
    The American Old West, or the Wild West, comprises the history, geography, people, lore, and cultural expression of life in the Western United States, most often referring to the latter half of the 19th century, between the American Civil War and the end of the century...

    , but he left the United States to scout in Africa and went on to command the British Army Scouts in the Second Boer War
    Second Boer War
    The Second Boer War was fought from 11 October 1899 until 31 May 1902 between the British Empire and the Afrikaans-speaking Dutch settlers of two independent Boer republics, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State...

    . For his ability to track, even at night, the Africans dubbed him, He-who-sees-in-the-dark, but in the press he became more widely known as England's American Scout.

20th century

  • Billy Sing
    Billy Sing
    William Edward 'Billy' Sing, DCM was a Chinese Australian soldier who served in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War I, best known as a sniper during the Gallipoli Campaign. He took at least 150 confirmed kills during that campaign, and may have had over 200 kills in total...

     (World War I
    World War I
    World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

    ) – Australian
    Australian Army
    The Australian Army is Australia's military land force. It is part of the Australian Defence Force along with the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. While the Chief of Defence commands the Australian Defence Force , the Army is commanded by the Chief of Army...

     sniper with at least 150 confirmed kills during the Gallipoli Campaign; he may have had close to 300 kills in total at Gallipoli, and went on to fight at the Western Front.
  • Francis Pegahmagabow
    Francis Pegahmagabow
    Francis Pegahmagabow MM & Two Bars, was the First Nations soldier most highly decorated for bravery in Canadian military history and the most effective sniper of World War I. Three times awarded the Military Medal and seriously wounded, he was an expert marksman and scout, credited with killing...

     (World War I
    World War I
    World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

    ) - Native Canadian sniper credited with 378 kills.
  • Finnish Lance Corporal Simo Häyhä
    Simo Häyhä
    Simo Häyhä , nicknamed "White Death" by the Red Army, was a Finnish sniper. Using a modified Mosin–Nagant in the Winter War, he has the highest recorded number of confirmed sniper kills - 505 - in any major war....

    , aka "Valkoinen Kuolema" (White Death) was a sniper during the Winter War
    Winter War
    The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland. It began with a Soviet offensive on 30 November 1939 – three months after the start of World War II and the Soviet invasion of Poland – and ended on 13 March 1940 with the Moscow Peace Treaty...

     and is regarded by many as the most effective sniper in the history of warfare, being credited with killing up to 542 Soviet soldiers using a White Guard
    White Guard
    The term White Guard may refer to:* White Guard , part of the White Army of the 1918 Finnish Civil War* White Guard , part of the Axis colaborators in Slovenia during the Second World War* Military arm of the Russian White movement...

     M/28 "Pystykorva" or "Spitz", variant of the Russian Mosin-Nagant
    Mosin-Nagant
    The Mosin–Nagant is a bolt-action, internal magazine-fed, military rifle invented under the government commission by Russian and Belgian inventors, and used by the armed forces of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union and various other nations....

     rifle, and iron sights
    Iron sights
    Iron sights are a system of shaped alignment markers used as a sighting device to assist in the aiming of a device such as a firearm, crossbow, or telescope, and exclude the use of optics as in telescopic sights or reflector sights...

    . Besides his sniper kills he was credited with 205 from a Suomi KP/31 Submachine gun, topping off his total confirmed kills at 705.
  • Lieutenant Lyudmila Pavlichenko
    Lyudmila Pavlichenko
    Lyudmila Mykhailivna Pavlichenko was a Soviet sniper during World War II, credited with 309 kills, and is regarded as the most successful female sniper in history.-Early life:...

     (World War II) – female Soviet sniper with 309 confirmed kills, making her the most successful female sniper in history.
  • Junior Lieutenant Vassili Zaitsev (World War II
    World War II
    World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

    ) – credited with killing about 200 German soldiers during the Battle of Stalingrad
    Battle of Stalingrad
    The Battle of Stalingrad was a major battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in southwestern Russia. The battle took place between 23 August 1942 and 2 February 1943...

    , he is portrayed in the film Enemy at the Gates
    Enemy at the Gates
    Enemy at the Gates is a 2001 war film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, starring Joseph Fiennes, Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Bob Hoskins and Ed Harris set during the Battle of Stalingrad in World War II....

    and in the book War of the Rats
    War of the Rats
    War of the Rats is a World War II fiction novel written by David L. Robbins in 1999.The movie Enemy at the Gates is partially based on this book.-Plot summary:...

    ; both however are fictionalized accounts.
  • Mihail Surkov has been said to have killed 702 enemy troops.
  • Semen Nomokonov killed 367 persons, including a general.
  • Gefreiter (Private) Matthäus Hetzenauer (World War II) - Austrian
    Austrians
    Austrians are a nation and ethnic group, consisting of the population of the Republic of Austria and its historical predecessor states who share a common Austrian culture and Austrian descent....

     sniper who was credited with 345 confirmed kills on the Eastern Front, the most successful in the Wehrmacht
    Wehrmacht
    The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

    . Unofficially, he killed about 500 Russian soldiers (there are some unverified kills by officers).
  • Obergefreiter (Private First Class) Josef 'Sepp' Allerberger
    Josef Allerberger
    Josef 'Sepp' Allerberger was a German sniper in the II Battalion of the 144th Gebirgsjäger Regiment of the 3rd Mountain Division on the Eastern Front, and was credited with 257 kills....

     (World War II) - Austrian
    Austrians
    Austrians are a nation and ethnic group, consisting of the population of the Republic of Austria and its historical predecessor states who share a common Austrian culture and Austrian descent....

     sniper credited with 257 confirmed kills on the Eastern Front. Unofficially, he killed more than 1400 Russian soldiers (the same situation as has Hetzenauer - German officers seldom confirmed kills).
  • Helmuth Wirnsberger - German sniper, who has served in 3. Gebirgsjaegerdivision during WW II and credited 64 confirmed kills. Unofficially, he killed more than 200 Russians.
  • Zhang Taofang
    Zhang Taofang
    Zhang Taofang, was a Chinese sniper during the Korean War. He is credited with 214 confirmed kills in 32 days without using a sniper magnifying scope.-Korean War:...

     (Chinese: 张桃芳; Traditional Chinese: 張桃芳; Wade-Giles: Zhang Tao-fang) was a Chinese soldier during the Korean War. He is credited with 214 confirmed kills in 32 days without using a sniper magnifying scope, but this is an improbable accreditation.
  • Clive Hulme was a New Zealand recipient of the Victoria Cross
    Victoria Cross
    The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

    , the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. He is credited with stalking and killing 33 German snipers in the Battle of Crete
    Battle of Crete
    The Battle of Crete was a battle during World War II on the Greek island of Crete. It began on the morning of 20 May 1941, when Nazi Germany launched an airborne invasion of Crete under the code-name Unternehmen Merkur...

    .
  • Ian Robertson served as a sniper with Australia's 3RAR post World War 2. He became one of the most effective snipers during the Korean War
    Korean War
    The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

    .
  • Gunnery Sergeant
    Gunnery Sergeant
    Gunnery Sergeant is the seventh enlisted rank in the United States Marine Corps, just above Staff Sergeant and below Master Sergeant and First Sergeant, and is a staff non-commissioned officer...

     Carlos Hathcock
    Carlos Hathcock
    Carlos Hathcock was a United States Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant sniper with a service record of 93 confirmed kills. Hathcock's record and the extraordinary details of the missions he undertook made him a legend in the Marine Corps...

     (Vietnam war
    Vietnam War
    The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

    ) – achieved 93 confirmed kills but believed to have over 200 unconfirmed kills. Held the record for longest recorded sniper kill at 2286 m (2,500 yd) (made with a scoped M2 Browning machine gun) for 35 years until 2002.
  • Chuck Mawhinney
    Chuck Mawhinney
    Charles Benjamin "Chuck" Mawhinney is an Oregon-born American who served in the United States Marine Corps as a sniper during the Vietnam War...

     (Vietnam war
    Vietnam War
    The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

    ) – 103 confirmed and 216 probable kills.
  • Adelbert F. Waldron
    Adelbert Waldron
    Staff Sergeant Adelbert F. Waldron, or Adelbert F. Waldron III, was a United States Army sniper serving during the Vietnam War . Although little known, Waldron holds the record for confirmed kills by any American sniper in history at 109. Carlos Hathcock had 93 confirmed kills, Eric R...

     (Vietnam war
    Vietnam War
    The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

    ) – achieved 109 confirmed kills.
  • Master Sgt. Gary Gordon
    Gary Gordon
    Master Sergeant Gary Ivan Gordon is a posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor. At the time of his death, he was a non-commissioned officer in the United States Army's premiere special operations unit, the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta , or "Delta Force." Together with Sergeant...

     and Sgt. First Class Randy Shughart
    Randy Shughart
    Sergeant First Class Randall David Shughart was a soldier in the United States Army special operations unit, the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta , or "Delta Force." Shughart posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Mogadishu in October...

     - Operation Gothic Serpent
    Operation Gothic Serpent
    Operation Gothic Serpent was a military operation conducted by special operations forces of the United States with the primary mission of capturing warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid...

     - Delta Force
    Delta Force
    1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta is one of the United States' secretive Tier One counter-terrorism and Special Mission Units. Commonly known as Delta Force, Delta, or The Unit, it was formed under the designation 1st SFOD-D, and is officially referred to by the Department of Defense...

     snipers awarded the Medal of Honor
    Medal of Honor
    The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President, in the name of Congress, upon members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her...

     for their actions protecting the injured crew of a downed helicopter during the Battle of Mogadishu. This action was later dramatized in the film Black Hawk Down.

21st century

  • British Army CoH
    Corporal of Horse
    Corporal of horse is a rank in the British Army's Household Cavalry corresponding to sergeant in other regiments. Formerly, no cavalry regiments had sergeants, but the Household Cavalry are the only ones to keep this tradition alive. It is said to stem from the origin of the word sergeant, which...

     Craig Harrison
    Craig Harrison (sniper)
    Craig Harrison is a Corporal of Horse of the Household Cavalry of the British armed forces, and holds the record for the longest confirmed sniper kill in combat, at a range of...

     of the Household Cavalry
    Household Cavalry
    The term Household Cavalry is used across the Commonwealth to describe the cavalry of the Household Divisions, a country’s most elite or historically senior military groupings or those military groupings that provide functions associated directly with the Head of state.Canada's Governor General's...

     successfully engaged two Taliban machine gunners south of Musa Qala
    Musa Qala
    Musa Qala is a town and the district center of Musa Qala District in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, at and at 1043 m altitude in the valley of Musa Qala River in the central western part of the district. Its population has been reported in the British press to be both 2,000 and 20,000...

     in Helmand Province
    Helmand Province
    Helmand is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the southwest of the country. Its capital is Lashkar Gah. The Helmand River flows through the mainly desert region, providing water for irrigation....

     in Afghanistan in November 2009 at a range of 2475 m (2,707 yd), using a L115A3 Long Range Rifle rifle chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum. These are the longest recorded and confirmed sniper kills
    Longest recorded sniper kills
    Reports regarding the longest recorded sniper kill that contain information regarding the shooting distance and the identity of the sniper have been presented to the general public since 1967. Snipers in modern warfare have had a long history since the development of long distance weaponry...

     in history.
  • Canadian Corporal
    Corporal
    Corporal is a rank in use in some form by most militaries and by some police forces or other uniformed organizations. It is usually equivalent to NATO Rank Code OR-4....

     Rob Furlong
    Rob Furlong
    Rob Furlong , is a former corporal of the Canadian Forces, who held the record for the longest confirmed sniper kill in combat, at 2,430 metres...

    , formerly of the PPCLI (Operation Anaconda
    Operation Anaconda
    Operation Anaconda took place in early March 2002 in which the United States military and CIA Paramilitary Officers, working with allied Afghan military forces, and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization and non NATO forces attempted to destroy al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in the Shahi-Kot...

    , Afghanistan
    Afghanistan
    Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

    ) - achieved a recorded and confirmed sniper kill at 2430 m (2,657 yd) in 2002 using a .50 caliber
    .50 BMG
    The .50 Browning Machine Gun or 12.7×99mm NATO is a cartridge developed for the Browning .50 caliber machine gun in the late 1910s. Entering service officially in 1921, the round is based on a greatly scaled-up .30-06 cartridge...

     (12.7 mm) McMillan TAC-50
    McMillan Tac-50
    The McMillan Tac-50 sniper rifle is produced in Phoenix, Arizona in the United States by the McMillan Brothers Rifle Company. This long-range anti-materiel/anti-personnel weapon is based on previous designs from the same company, which first appeared during the late 1980s...

     rifle.
  • Canadian Master Corporal
    Master Corporal
    Master Corporal , in the Canadian Forces and the Royal Canadian Army Cadets is an appointment of the rank of Corporal in the Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Airforce...

     Arron Perry
    Arron Perry
    Arron Perry is a former Master Corporal in the Canadian Forces who supposedly in March 2002 briefly held the record for the longest recorded sniper kill in combat at a range of...

    , formerly of the PPCLI (Operation Anaconda
    Operation Anaconda
    Operation Anaconda took place in early March 2002 in which the United States military and CIA Paramilitary Officers, working with allied Afghan military forces, and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization and non NATO forces attempted to destroy al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in the Shahi-Kot...

    , Afghanistan
    Afghanistan
    Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

    ) - briefly held the record for the longest-ever recorded and confirmed sniper kill at 2310 m (2,526 yd) in 2002 after eclipsing US Marine Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock's previous record established in 1967. Perry used a .50 caliber
    .50 BMG
    The .50 Browning Machine Gun or 12.7×99mm NATO is a cartridge developed for the Browning .50 caliber machine gun in the late 1910s. Entering service officially in 1921, the round is based on a greatly scaled-up .30-06 cartridge...

     (12.7 mm) McMillan TAC-50
    McMillan Tac-50
    The McMillan Tac-50 sniper rifle is produced in Phoenix, Arizona in the United States by the McMillan Brothers Rifle Company. This long-range anti-materiel/anti-personnel weapon is based on previous designs from the same company, which first appeared during the late 1980s...

     rifle.
  • Canadian Master Corporal
    Master Corporal
    Master Corporal , in the Canadian Forces and the Royal Canadian Army Cadets is an appointment of the rank of Corporal in the Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Airforce...

     Graham Ragsdale
    Graham Ragsdale
    Master Corporal Graham Ragsdale of the Canadian Forces was the commander of the Third Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry sniper team attached to the 101st Airborne of the U.S. Army during Operation Anaconda in the Shah-i-kot Valley, Paktia Province, Afghanistan in March, 2002...

     using a .308 registered 20 confirmed kills over ten days during Operation Anaconda
    Operation Anaconda
    Operation Anaconda took place in early March 2002 in which the United States military and CIA Paramilitary Officers, working with allied Afghan military forces, and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization and non NATO forces attempted to destroy al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in the Shahi-Kot...

    .
  • U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Timothy L. Kellner - regarded as one of the top snipers still active in the U.S. Army with 78 confirmed kills during Operation Iraqi Freedom and 3 in Haiti.
  • U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Jim Gilliland - Previously held the record for the longest recorded confirmed kill with a 7.62mm rifle at 1,250 m (1,367 yd), while engaging an Iraqi insurgent sniper in Ramadi, Iraq on September 27, 2005. Gilliland used an M24 7.62mm rifle.
  • U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Steve Reichert - Killed 3 Iraqi insurgents hiding behind a brick wall with a single shot from 1 mile in Lutayfiyah, Iraq on April 9, 2004. Reichert was using a Barrett M82A3 .50BMG rifle loaded with Raufoss Mk 211
    Raufoss Mk 211
    The Raufoss Mk 211 is a .50 caliber multipurpose anti-matériel projectile produced by Nammo , under the model name NM140 MP. It is commonly referred to as simply multipurpose or Raufoss. The "Mk 211" name comes from the nomenclature "Mk 211 Mod 0" used by the U.S...

     multipurpose rounds. During the same engagement Reichert eliminated an Iraqi machine gunner pinning down a squad of Marines from a distance of 1,614 meters
  • Sri Lankan Army Sniper, Corporal I.R. Premasiri alias ‘Nero’, of the 5th Battalion in the Gajaba Regiment has 180 confirmed L.T.T.E.
    Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
    The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was a separatist militant organization formerly based in northern Sri Lanka. Founded in May 1976 by Vellupillai Prabhakaran, it waged a violent secessionist and nationalist campaign to create an independent state in the north and east of Sri Lanka for Tamil...

     terrorist kills.
  • Iraqi insurgent Juba
    Juba (sniper)
    Juba is the pseudonym of an alleged sniper involved in the Iraqi Insurgency featured in several propaganda videos. The second of these videos shows Juba claiming to have shot 37 American soldiers...

    , a sniper who features in several propaganda videos. Juba has allegedly shot 37 American soldiers, although whether Juba is a real individual is unknown. He may be a constructed composite of a number of insurgent snipers.
  • British Army Corporal Christopher Reynolds of the 3d. battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland, the Black Watch
    Black Watch
    The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland is an infantry battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. The unit's traditional colours were retired in 2011 in a ceremony led by Queen Elizabeth II....

    , shot and killed a Taliban commander at a range of 1853 m (2,026 yd) using a .338 Lapua Magnum (8.6 mm) L115A3 rifle.
  • Australian Army Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith
    Ben Roberts-Smith
    Benjamin "Ben" Roberts-Smith VC, MG is an Australian soldier and a recipient of the Victoria Cross for Australia, the highest award in the Australian honours system....

     VC
    Victoria Cross for Australia
    The Victoria Cross for Australia is the highest award in the Australian Honours System, superseding the Victoria Cross for issue to Australians...

    , MG
    Medal for Gallantry
    The Medal for Gallantry is a military decoration awarded to personnel of the Australian Defence Force. It recognises acts of gallantry in action in hazardous circumstances. The MG was introduced on 15 January 1991, replacing the Imperial equivalent. It is ranked third in the Gallantry Decorations...

     was awarded the Medal of Gallantry for his actions as the patrol sniper whilst serving with the elite Special Air Service Regiment in Afghanistan, 2006. In early 2011, he became only the second person to be awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia
    Victoria Cross for Australia
    The Victoria Cross for Australia is the highest award in the Australian Honours System, superseding the Victoria Cross for issue to Australians...

     for Operations in mid 2010.
  • U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Justin Morales - A part of U.S. Army CIST (Counter Insurgent Sniper Team) has 27 confirmed kills with a 7.62mm rifle. In 2005 - 2006 Morales in Balad, Iraq was sent in with his team to seek out insurgents placing IEDs
    Improvised explosive device
    An improvised explosive device , also known as a roadside bomb, is a homemade bomb constructed and deployed in ways other than in conventional military action...

     along Main
    Main Supply Route
    A Main Supply Route is the route or routes designated within an area of operations upon which the bulk of traffic flows in support of military operations....

     and Alternate Supply Routes. Morales used an SWS - M24.

In popular culture

  • In the 1980 novel
    Novel
    A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

     The Master Sniper by Stephen Hunter
    Stephen Hunter
    Stephen Hunter is an American novelist, essayist, and Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic.-Life and career:Stephen Hunter was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and grew up in Evanston, Illinois. His father was Charles Francis Hunter, a Northwestern University speech professor who was killed in 1975....

    , Lieutenant-Colonel Repp, a high-skilled sniper in the German military in 1945, is charged to commit an unusual assassination by his Nazi superiors.
  • In the movie: Enemy at the gates
    Enemy at the Gates
    Enemy at the Gates is a 2001 war film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, starring Joseph Fiennes, Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Bob Hoskins and Ed Harris set during the Battle of Stalingrad in World War II....

     made in 2001, tells the semi-fictional story of Vassili Zaitsev, played by Jude Law
    Jude Law
    David Jude Heyworth Law , known professionally as Jude Law, is an English actor, film producer and director.He began acting with the National Youth Music Theatre in 1987, and had his first television role in 1989...

     who became a hero for his sniping abilities, only to be hunted by fictional German Major Erwin König (Ed Harris
    Ed Harris
    Edward Allen "Ed" Harris is an American actor, writer, and director, known for his performances in Appaloosa, Radio, The Rock, The Abyss, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, A History of Violence, and The Truman Show. Harris has also narrated commercials for The Home Depot and other companies...

    ) who is deployed to Stalingrad to take out Vassili and thus crush Soviet morale.

See also


Related military roles
  • Marksman
    Marksman
    A marksman is a person who is skilled in precision, or a sharpshooter shooting, using projectile weapons, such as with a rifle but most commonly with a sniper rifle, to shoot at long range targets...

  • Designated Marksman
    Designated marksman
    The designated marksman is a military marksman role in a U.S. infantry squad. The term sniper was used in Soviet doctrine although the soldiers using the Dragunov were the first to use a specifically designed designated marksman's rifle. Sniper is also used in Russian doctrine...

  • Scout
    Reconnaissance
    Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

  • Scout Sniper
    Scout Sniper
    Scout Sniper is a secondary MOS designator of U.S. Marine Corps infantrymen and reconnaissance Marines that have successfully graduated from a USMC Scout Sniper School. Scout Snipers provide close reconnaissance and surveillance to the infantry battalion...

  • Skirmisher
    Skirmisher
    Skirmishers are infantry or cavalry soldiers stationed ahead or alongside a larger body of friendly troops. They are usually placed in a skirmish line to harass the enemy.-Pre-modern:...



Related military operations
  • AmericanSnipers.org
  • Jäger (military)
    Jäger (military)
    Jäger is a term that was adopted in the Enlightenment era in German-speaking states and others influenced by German military practice to describe a kind of light infantry, and it has continued in that use since then....

  • Operation Foxley
    Operation Foxley
    Operation Foxley was a 1944 plan to assassinate Adolf Hitler, made by the British Special Operations Executive . Although detailed preparations were made, no attempt was made to carry out the plan...

     - plan to kill Adolf Hitler
    Adolf Hitler
    Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

     using a sniper
  • Sniper Alley
    Sniper Alley
    "Sniper Alley" was the informal name primarily for Ulica Zmaja od Bosne , the main boulevard in Sarajevo which during the Bosnian War was lined with snipers' posts, and became infamous as a dangerous place for civilians to traverse...

  • Snipers of the Soviet Union
  • Special forces
    Special forces
    Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...



Related military weapons
  • Sniper rifle
    Sniper rifle
    In military and law enforcement terminology, a sniper rifle is a precision-rifle used to ensure more accurate placement of bullets at longer ranges than other small arms. A typical sniper rifle is built for optimal levels of accuracy, fitted with a telescopic sight and chambered for a military...

  • Anti-tank rifle
    Anti-tank rifle
    An anti-tank rifle is a rifle designed to penetrate the armour of vehicles, particularly tanks. The usefulness of rifles for this purpose ran from the introduction of tanks in World War I and until the Korean War...

  • Anti-materiel rifle
    Anti-materiel rifle
    An anti-materiel rifle is a rifle that is designed for use against military equipment rather than against other combatants ....


External links