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Irish Army Ranger Wing snipers A sniper is a marksman or qualified specialist who operates alone, in a pair, or with a sniper team to maintain close visual contact with the enemy and engage targets from concealed positions or distances exceeding the detection capabilities of enemy personnel. Snipers typically have highly-selective or specialized training and use crew-served high-precision/special application rifles and optics, and often have sophisticated communication assets to feed valuable combat information back to their units or military bases. Most sniper teams operate independently, with little combat asset support from their parent units; their job is to deliver discriminatory, highly-accurate rifle fire against enemy targets that cannot be engaged successfully by the regular rifleman because of range, size, location, fleeting nature, or visibility. Sniping requires the development of basic infantry skills to a high degree of skill. A sniper s training incorporates a wide variety of subjects designed to increase value as a force multiplier and to ensure battlefield survival.

The art of sniping requires learning and repetitively practicing these skills until mastered. A sniper must be highly trained in long range rifle marksmanship and field craft skills to ensure maximum effective engagements with minimum risk. In addition to marksmanship and long range shooting, military snipers are trained in a variety of techniques: detection, stalking, and target range estimation methods, camouflage, field craft, infiltration, special reconnaissance and observation, surveillance and target acquisition. [1] Contents 1 Etymology 2 Modern warfare 2.1 Economic effectiveness 2.2 Military doctrine 2.3 Sniper teams 2.4 Law enforcement applications 2.5 Longest recorded sniper kill 3 Military history 3.1 Early history 3.2 First sniper rifle 3.3 Second Boer War 3.4 World War I 3.5 World War II 4 Training 4.1 Accuracy 4.2 U.S. military 4.3 Russian Army 5 Targeting, tactics and techniques 5.1 Range finding 5.2 Hide sites and hiding techniques 5.3 Shot placement 5.4 Target acquisition 5.5 Baiting 5.6 Relocating 5.7 Sound masking 5.8 Psychological warfare 5.9 Counter-sniper tactics 6 Irregular and asymmetric warfare 6.1 War in Iraq 6.2 Afghanistan 6.3 Arab Spring 7 Notable military marksmen and snipers 7.1 17th century 7.2 18th century 7.3 19th century 7.4 20th century 7.5 21st century 8 See also 9 Bibliography 10 External links Etymology [ edit ] The verb to snipe originated in the 1770s among soldiers in British India in reference to shooting snipe, which was considered a challenging target for marksmen. The agent noun sniper appears by the 1820s.

[2] The term sniper was first attested in 1824 in the sense of the word sharpshooter. [2] A somewhat older term is sharp shooter , a calque of 18th-century German Scharfschütze, in use in British newspapers as early as 1801. [3] Modern warfare [ edit ] A U.S. Army sniper using a Barrett M82 Economic effectiveness [ edit ] According to figures released by the United States Department of Defense, the average number of rounds expended in the Vietnam War to kill one enemy soldier with the M-16 was 50,000. The average number of rounds expended by U.S. military snipers to kill one enemy soldier is 1.3 rounds.

According to the United States Army, the average soldier will hit a man-sized target 10 percent of the time at 300 meters using the M16A2 rifle. Graduates of the U.S. Army sniper school are expected to achieve 90 percent first-round hits at 600 meters, using the M24 Sniper Weapon System (SWS). [4] [5] [ better source needed] [6] Military doctrine [ edit ] Different countries use different military doctrines regarding snipers in military units, settings, and tactics.

Generally, a sniper s primary function in modern warfare is to provide detailed reconnaissance from a concealed position and, if necessary, to reduce the enemy s fighting ability by neutralizing high-value targets (especially officers and other key personnel) and in the process pinning down and demoralizing the enemy. [7] [8] Typical sniper missions include managing intelligence information they gather during reconnaissance and surveillance, target acquisition for air-strikes and artillery, assist employed combat force with fire support and counter-sniper tactics, killing enemy commanders, selecting targets of opportunity, and even destruction of military equipment, which tend to require use of anti-materiel rifles in the larger calibers such as the.50 BMG, like the Barrett M82, McMillan Tac-50, and Denel NTW-20. [8] Soviet and Russian derived military doctrines include squad-level snipers. Snipers have increasingly been demonstrated as useful by US and UK forces in the recent Iraq campaign in a fire support role to cover the movement of infantry, especially in urban areas.

[8] Military snipers from the US, UK, and other countries that adopt their military doctrine are typically deployed in two-man sniper teams consisting of a shooter and spotter. [9] A common practice is for a shooter and a spotter to take turns in order to avoid eye fatigue. [8] 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). [10] [11] [12] Sniper teams [ edit ] A U.S.

Army sniper team from Jalalabad Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Sniper rifles are classified as crew-served, as the term is used in the United States military. A sniper team (or sniper cell) consists of a combination of one or more shooters with force protection elements and support personnel: such as a spotter or a flanker. Within the Table of Organization and Equipment for both the United States Army and the U.S. Marine Corps, the operator of the weapon has an assistant trained to fulfill multiple roles, in addition to being sniper qualified in the operation of the weapon. The shooter(s) fires the shot while the spotter(s) assists in observation of targets, atmospheric conditions and handles ancillary tasks as immediate security of their location, communication with other parties; including directing artillery fire and close air support.

The flanker(s) task is to have observed areas not immediately visible to the sniper or spotter and assist with the team s perimeter and rear security, [ citation needed] therefore they are usually armed with an assault rifle or battle rifle. Both spotter and flanker carries additional ammunition and associated equipment. The spotter detects, observes, and assigns targets and watches for the results of the shot. Using their spotting scope and/or rangefinder, they will also read the wind by using physical indicators and the mirage caused by the heat on the ground.

Also, in conjunction with the shooter, they will accurately make calculations for distance, angle shooting ( slant range), mil dot related calculations, correction for atmospheric conditions and leads for moving targets. It is not unusual for the spotter to be equipped with a notepad and a laptop computer specifically for performing these calculations. Law enforcement applications [ edit ] Honolulu Police Department Specialized Services Division Counter-Sniper Team does aerial platform training. This sniper is armed with Tango 51 sniper rifle. Law enforcement 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 forces typically deploy such sharpshooters in hostage scenarios. This differs from a military sniper, who operates as part of a larger army, engaged in warfare. Sometimes as part of a SWAT 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. [13] Police snipers typically operate at much shorter ranges than military snipers, generally under 100 meters (109 yd) and sometimes even less than 50 meters (55 yd). Both types of snipers do make difficult shots under pressure, and often perform one-shot kills. A US Secret Service sniper on the roof of the White House Police units that are unequipped for tactical operations may rely on a specialized SWAT team, which may have a dedicated sniper.

[13] Some police sniper operations begin with military assistance. [14] Police snipers placed in vantage points, such as high buildings, can provide security for events. [15] In one high-profile incident, Mike Plumb, a SWAT sniper in Columbus, Ohio, prevented a suicide by shooting a revolver out of the individual s hand, leaving him unharmed. [16] A U.S. Coast Guard TACLET marksman uses an M107 from a helicopter.

The need for specialized training for police sharpshooters was made apparent in 1972 during the Munich massacre 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 Israeli hostages were killed. The German police only had regular police who were selected if they engaged in hunting as a hobby. [ citation needed] While the German army did have snipers in 1972, the use of army snipers in the scenario was impossible due to the German constitution s explicit prohibition of the use of the military in domestic matters. This lack of trained snipers who could be used in civilian roles was later addressed with the founding of the specialized police counter-terrorist unit GSG 9. Longest recorded sniper kill [ edit ] British sniper, training in Northumberland, 2010. The longest confirmed sniper kill in combat was achieved by Craig Harrison, a Corporal of Horse (CoH) in the Blues and Royals RHG/D of the British Army.

In November 2009, Harrison struck two Taliban machine gunners consecutively south of Musa Qala in Helmand Province in Afghanistan at a range of 2,475 m (2,707 yd) or 1.54 miles using a L115A3 Long Range Rifle. [17] [18] The QTU Lapua external ballistics software, [19] using continuous doppler drag coefficient (C d) data provided by Lapua, [20] predicts that such shots traveling 2,475 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 (840 ft/s) of their original 936 m/s (3,070 ft/s) velocity, and having dropped 121.39 m (398 ft 3 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 (6.0 mph) would have diverted such shots 9.2 m (360 in) off target, which would have required compensation. The calculation assumes a flat-fire scenario (a situation where the shooting and target positions are at equal elevation), 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 [21] under the following on-site (average) atmospheric conditions: barometric pressure: 1,019 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, [22] resulting in an air density ρ = 1.0854 kg/m 3 at the 1,043 m (3,422 ft) elevation of Musa Qala.

Harrison mentions in reports that the environmental conditions were perfect for long range shooting, . no wind, mild weather, clear visibility. [18] In a BBC interview, Harrison reported it took about nine shots for him and his spotter to initially range the target successfully. [23] Military history [ edit ] Before the development of rifling, firearms were smoothbore and inaccurate over long distance. Barrel rifling was invented at the end of the fifteenth century, but was only employed in large cannons. Over time, rifling, along with other gunnery advances, has increased the performance of modern firearms.

Early history [ edit ] Early forms of sniping, or marksmanship were used during the American Revolutionary War. For instance, in 1777 at the battle of Saratoga the Colonists hid in the trees and used early model rifles to shoot British officers. Most notably, Timothy Murphy shot and killed General Simon Fraser of Balnain on 7 October 1777 at a distance of about 400 yards. [24] [25] [26] During the Battle of Brandywine, Capt. Patrick Ferguson had a tall, distinguished American officer in his rifle s iron sights. Ferguson did not take the shot, as the officer had his back to Ferguson; only later did Ferguson learn that George Washington had been on the battlefield that day.

[27] Baker rifle, an early 19th century rifle, much more accurate than a smoothbore musket. A special unit of marksmen was established during the Napoleonic Wars in the British Army. While most troops at that time used inaccurate smoothbore muskets, the British Green Jackets (named for their distinctive green uniforms) used the famous Baker rifle. Through the combination of a leather wad and tight grooves on the inside of the barrel ( rifling), this weapon was far more accurate, though slower to load. These Riflemen were the elite of the British Army, and served at the forefront of any engagement, most often in skirmish formation, scouting out and delaying the enemy.

Another term, sharp shooter was 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 Continental Europe, translated from the German Scharfschütze. First sniper rifle [ edit ] Whitworth rifle, a single-shot muzzle-loaded long-range rifle designed by Sir Joseph Whitworth.

The Whitworth rifle was arguably the first long-range sniper rifle in the world. [28] Designed by Sir Joseph Whitworth, a prominent British engineer, it used polygonal rifling instead, which meant that the projectile did not have to bite into grooves as was done with conventional rifling. His rifle was far more accurate than the Pattern 1853 Enfield, which had shown some weaknesses during the recent Crimean War.

At trials in 1857 which tested the accuracy and range of both weapons, Whitworth s design outperformed the Enfield at a rate of about three to one. The Whitworth rifle was capable of hitting the target at a range of 2,000 yards, whereas the Enfield could only manage it at 1,400 yards. [29] During the Crimean War, the first optical sights were designed to fit onto rifles.

Much of this pioneering work was the brainchild of Colonel D. Davidson, using optical sights produced by Chance Brothers of Birmingham. This allowed a marksman to observe and target objects more accurately at a greater distance than ever before. [30] The telescopic sight, or scope, was originally fixed and could not be adjusted, which therefore limited its range. Despite its success at the trials, the rifle was not adopted by the British Army.

However, the Whitworth Rifle Company was able to sell the weapon to the French army, and also to the Confederacy during the American Civil War. [31] Both the Union and Confederate armies employed sharpshooters. The most notable incident was during the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, where on 9 May 1864, Union General John Sedgwick was killed at a range of about 1,000 yards (910 meters) after saying the enemy couldn t hit an elephant at this distance. [32] [33] [34] [35] Second Boer War [ edit ] Frederick Russell Burnham in Africa During the Boer War the latest breech-loading rifled guns with magazines and smokeless powder were used by both sides.

The British were equipped with the Lee–Metford rifle, while the Boers had received the latest Mauser rifles from Germany. In the open terrain of South Africa the marksmen were a crucial component to the outcome of the battle. The first British sniper unit began life as the Lovat Scouts, a Scottish Highland regiment formed in 1899, that earned high praise during the Second Boer War (1899–1902).

[8] The unit was formed by Lord Lovat and reported to an American, Major Frederick Russell Burnham, the British Army Chief of Scouts under Lord Roberts. Burnham fittingly described these scouts as half wolf and half jackrabbit. [36] Just like their Boer scout opponents, these scouts were well practised in the arts of marksmanship, field craft, map reading, observation, and military tactics. [37] They were skilled woodsmen and practitioners of discretion: He who shoots and runs away, lives to shoot another day.

They were also the first known military unit to wear a ghillie suit. [38] Hesketh Hesketh-Prichard said of them that keener men never lived , [39] and that Burnham was the greatest scout of our time. [40] Burnham distinguished himself in wars in South Africa, Rhodesia, and in Arizona fighting the Apaches, and his definitive work, Scouting on Two Continents, provides a dramatic and enlightening picture of what a sniper was at the time and how he operated.

[37] After the war, this regiment went on to formally become the first official sniper unit, then better known as

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