April 9, 2004
The History of Snipers
Snipers are by definition expert marksmen. Even before firearms were invented, there have been soldiers such as archers, who were specially trained marksmen. Snipers have special abilities, training, and equipment that allow them to do jobs that deliver highly accurate rifle fire against enemy targets which can't be attacked by regular riflemen due to variables such as visibility, range, the opportunity, size, or location. Statistics compiled from the Vietnam conflict estimate that the average number of rounds used per kill by United States Army Soldiers were 200,000 however the average number of rounds used per kill by United States Army snipers in Vietnam was only 1.3 (History). From the days of Leonardo da Vinci to Gunny Sergeant Carlos Hathcock II days in the Vietnam conflict, the development and use of snipers in combat has significantly contributed to successful warfare.
Leonardo da Vinci is considered one of the earliest rifle snipers in history. He reportedly defended the walls of besieged Florence with a rifle that he designed himself (Henderson, xii). Elite air-riflemen were trained to shoot knights for France's Louis XIV and were considered the first modern snipers. Some authorities claim that their use made the use ofknights obsolete (Wikipedia). Snipers had from the beginning of their history have proven their effectiveness.
The outcome of the American War for Independence may have been very different had it not been for a decision made (or rather not made) by a British Army sniper, Colonel Patrick Ferguson. Ferguson's "Shot Never Taken" refers to an incident near Germantown, Pennsylvania when Ferguson had a chance to take a shot on a Continental officer who at the time could not be identified. Ferguson decided not to take the shot at the officer's back as he turned away. Later it was determined that the officer who Colonel... [continues]
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