The word “sniper” comes from British troops in India in the late 1700s. Where any hunter skilled enough to kill the elusive Snipe, a bird with speedy erratic flight patterns, was dubbed a sniper.
The first dedicated sniper rifle was designed by Sir Joseph Whitworth in 1856. The barrel featured a unique hexagonal rifling with an effective range of 2000 yards. World War I saw a drastic increase in sniping on both sides. Working day and night, trained marksman targeted anyone moving behind the lines in the trenches. Anyone caught between the lines, in no man’s land, or even unwise enough to peep over the top of a trench, could expect a well-aimed bullet in the head. The legendary Marine scout sniper, Carlos White Feather Hathcock, used the Ma Deuce, fitted with a 10x Unertl scope, as an unconventional single shot sniper rifle in Vietnam, achieving one confirmed kill at 2286 meters, almost 1.5 miles. The longest sniper shot in history is currently held by British Corporal of Horse, Craig Harrison, in Afghanistan in 2009 at 2707 yards.
On the modern battlefield, the sniper is more important than ever. And even with the highest tech computer assisted, laser sighted, wonder rifle- In the end, it always comes down to the man, or the woman, behind the trigger.