Snipers


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mete
April 4, 2003, 09:21 AM
Snipers have always been looked down on in this country but is this changing ? Showing a Marine sniper on tv shooting a Barrett 50 BMG and talking about the importance of brit snipers taking Basra seems a change to me.

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Steve in PA
April 4, 2003, 09:56 AM
Snipers were looked down upon, in this country prior to, during and after WWI and WWII. They were thought of less than honorable somehow because of the nature of their craft.

During the Vietnam War...the snipers came into their own. Led primarily by the USMC and Carlos Hathcock.

The higher ups finally figure out the have a role, a major role to play.......and this is why you see .50BMG sniper rifles now.

4v50 Gary
April 4, 2003, 11:18 AM
The '80s saw a resurgence in sniping and with it, greater acceptance of sniping as a tactical weapon both in the military and by the public (yeah, they scream about the militarization of the police, but when it's a hostage situation, they ask, "Where's the sniper?"). Charles Henderson has done much with his book to protray snipers in a favorable light. Sniping books sell well both here and abroad. Heck, one on the Confederate Whitworth Sharpshooter was even selling as far away as Finland.

Kentucky Rifle
April 4, 2003, 11:46 AM
..and they better damn well NOT!

KR

dongun
April 4, 2003, 12:02 PM
This is my own take on the sniper issue. The bad rep came from the westerns we used to watch on tv and the movies. The only manly way to kill a bad guy was face-to-face on Main Street in a quick draw contest. Shooting 'em in the back was cowardly. Sniping was considered cowardly because the bad guy didn't have a chance to defend himself. (Another example of how Hollywood fantasy has distorted our perception of reality. Not knocking Hollywood, I enjoy a good fantasty as much as the next person, but I don't take it for fact just because I saw it on tv.)

Media coverage of war situations has changed dramatically since WWII. I think we now have a more realistic concept of what needs to be done, so snipers have gained a whole new popularity. Especially in our circle, where we appreciate the skill and craftsmanship necessary to be a for-real sniper.

Paraphrasing George C. Scott's Patton: It is not your job to die for your country. It is your job to make the other poor bastard die for his country.

Chipperman
April 4, 2003, 12:58 PM
I agree with 4v50 Gary.

The familiarization of the public with SWAT snipers has brought more acceptance of Military snipers.

During the Beltway "sniper" incident, I had some interesting discussions with coworkers about sniping and its merits/faults.

One person tried to convince me that sniper training should be illegal and the military should not do it.
After a long discussion I got her to change her mind.

She was convinced that no honest person should be able to get sniper training outside the military. The death blow to her thoery was when I brought up hunting. She then said, except for hunters, nobody should be able to snipe. I said ok, how about paintball shooters?
That's when she finally let go of the issue. :)

4v50 Gary
April 4, 2003, 01:48 PM
The "bad rap" for snipers actually precedes the adoption of the term sniper. In my readings, I've come across numerous soldiers who wrote scathingly about sharpshooters and how they violated the principles of war (like not shooting a man who is answering the calls of nature). While snipers did not inherit this as part of the sharpshooting legacy, the "bad rap" is part based on fear and the other part based on notions of unfair play when an individual is singled out.

moa
April 4, 2003, 01:49 PM
During our War Between the States (the Civil War for you Yankees), there where whole companies of snipers employed on the battlefield.

Some of the first battles of our Revolutionary War was fought with the equivalent of snipers. Even at sea going back hundreds of years, snipers where employed in sea battles. If I remember correctly, I think England's famous Admiral Nelson was killed by a sniper.

4v50 Gary
April 4, 2003, 02:09 PM
There were 4 Regiments of sharpshooters fighting on the Union side. This excludes the numerous battalion or company size formations that were attached to various brigades. The Confederates only had 1 regiment themselves, but, on act of the Confederate Congress in April, 1862, raised numerous battalions during the war. Unlike the Union that had shooting standards for sharpshooters, the quality of the early war Confederate "sharpshooter" varied. By 1864 though, the Confederates issued manuals and instituted formal training (it was actually started as early as 1862 by Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne) and they had become, like their Federal counterpart, an elite force.

You're right in that there were numerous riflemen fighting during the Revolution - on both sides & The first regiment ever raised by Congress was a rifle regiment. The British were somewhat behind but did have a few, notably Patrick Ferguson's riflemen and some within the Queen's Rangers. They also had jagers fill that role and of course, Tory riflemen.

Regarding sea battles, Nelson didn't want men fighting from his tops for fear of setting fire to the sails. He paid for it when he was spied on the deck of the Victory and shot down. The shooter himself didn't outlive Nelson as several RN men shot him in return. There were several small naval fights in which the superiority of American riflemen were instrumental in securing victory.

goon
April 4, 2003, 08:42 PM
People think that snipers are less honorable?
Well, my take on it is, if you don't want to get shot by a US sniper, don't go to war with the US.

What about engineers?
Are they less honorable because they use booby traps?
Or is the infantry less honorable for using ambushes?

On soldier calling another dishonorable is the same as a drunk calling another drunk a drunk.

telewinz
April 4, 2003, 09:31 PM
I think snipers have been looked down upon by the World for decades and still are. Most who disagree IMHO seem to be what-to-be snipers and snipers themselves. They seem like rear area folks that want to "dabble" in war but don't want to get "dirty". I've asked before, since the Civil War we have had the Medal of Honor and snipers, in the 138 years, how many snipers have been awarded that Medal? How many clerks and cooks? Enough said.:barf:

Snipers are regarded as useful tools, that doesn't mean they are "excepted".

Feanaro
April 4, 2003, 10:08 PM
They seem like rear area folks that want to "dabble" in war but don't want to get "dirty".

So snipers, who often operate without back-up, who crawl through enemy infested territory alone or with ONE spotter aren't getting "dirty"? Men who don't rely on tanks, armored vehicles, planes or attack helipcopters to soften the enemy up before going in?

I'm not demeaning any soldier, but the army of today and tomorrow uses long range pounding, airstrikes and tanks to soften the enemy up. They are no more brave or cowardly than a sniper. War is war, however you fight it.

telewinz
April 5, 2003, 09:26 AM
Your "romantic" notion of how US snipers are deployed is in direct conflict with current US Military doctrine. Are we talking about about Special Ops or snipers? The overwhelming majority of snipers spend their service without any connection what so ever with Special Ops. There are Special Forces personnel sniper qualified (in addition with 1-2 other specialties) but to "lump" Special Forces personel and snipers into the same group does a disservice and is misleading. Even so, rarely are snipers deployed without proper backup and when it does occur it is unintentional, part of the fog of war. Snipers are (most often) deployed only when it is felt they will have complete superiority, proper support (no loners) and an excellent method of escape. Mind you, I didn't say a sniper was without honor, just their trade. They are still soldiers that have a skill and they put their lives at some risk. Thats enough to earn my respect and appreciation.

Historically, the use of "riflemen" on the battleline in the Revolutionary War was considered a military failure by both sides.

Kentucky Rifle
April 5, 2003, 10:04 AM
Where did you get the info for that last post, please?

KR

goon
April 5, 2003, 10:34 AM
Historically, the use of "riflemen" on the battleline in the Revolutionary War was considered a military failure by both sides.

I'm not going to dispute that, since I have never really researched the subject.
But I would like to know why the use of riflemen would be a failure.
I would much rather pop the enemy before I was in range of his weapon.
I would think that out of two equal forces, one armed with Pennsylvania rifles and one armed with Brown Bess muskets, that the guys with the rifles would kill the musket guys first.
I know that rifles were slower to load, but I would doubt that it would matter if you started shooting them "way out there".

4v50 Gary
April 5, 2003, 11:40 AM
The tactical deployment of riflemen really wasn't understood by most military minds - certainly not the generals on both sides. They feared that the loose fighting order along with the undisciplined nature of riflemen would lead to lost of control and without it, battles would be lost. While the Germans had the right notion in using them as scouts, vanguards, rearguards and flankers on the march, the Germans generally supported their jagers (both foot & mounted) with line infantry. The British kinda sorta did this, but had very few riflemen themselves. It really wasn't until the Napoleonic Wars that skirmishing (and rifleman tactics) became widely accepted.

The Americans were equally at fault and at Saratoga, while they were instrumental in picking off officers and artillerists, they engaged in a see-saw battle sometimes being chased and sometimes giving chase. Riflemen suffered the disadvantage of not having bayonets (unable to stand up to a charge) and a slower rate of fire. They required support by line infantry (preferably light infantry).

The best integration of riflemen with line units was by the Old Wagoneer, Daniel Morgan at Cowpens. He took the weakeness of his position (back to the river and no retreat), militia (easy to scatter), riflemen (slow and unable to stand up to a bayonet charge), and used them to his advantage and destroyed the myth of the invincibility of the British Legion (Tarleton).

BTW, I was gone for the last two weeks of March because I was visiting a lot of Revolutionary War battlefields including Cowpens, King's Mountain (really a rifleman's battle and one of the few where marksmanship played a vital role), Guilford Courthouse (another defeat for Greene), Fort Ninety-Six, etc.

For more reading on the American riflemen, LaCrosse's book, The Frontier Riflemen, discusses the various battles involving riflemen that were both won or lost. What we can put to rest is that the war was won primarily because of the Continental soldier and a lot of French help (guns, naval support and troops).

Returning to the original topic of sniping, it is now recognized as a viable and important asset. Besides information gathering, snipers can also remove commanding officers, disable equipment, and generate a lot of "fear" among the enemy. Nothing wrong with that.

telewinz
April 5, 2003, 12:55 PM
The main reason of the rifle(man's) failure was incredibly simple, their rifles could not accept a bayonet therefore they were regarded as pretty much defenseless in close quarters combat (this was born out in actural encounters). I guess a tomahawk wasn't much of a match against a British regular with a bayonet whether the knife of hachet was held by a frontiersman or indian. In other words, the rifleman could not survive on the modern (18th century) battlefield. Even the militia who were pretty much disrespected by BOTH sides prefered the musket against the rifle. Remember the common military musket loading was ball & buck, say one 69 cal lead ball and two .45 cal. balls fired as one unit. At OVER 100 yards it was more effective than any rifle load plus it could be loaded much faster. Aiming at a formation of soldiers was the rule, not the exception. A rifle was used pretty much if nothing else was available and the leadership kept them off the battleline for their own safety. There are exceptions in the this long war where the militia and riflemen were decisive or at least not a hinderance but when it occured, even the militia were suprised. When the minnie ball was invented (as everybody knows) thats when the rifle(man) dominated the battlefield. Class over:D Ok, now lets talk about tanks.:D

Gary: You have my respect in your efforts to maintain your interest in the Revolutionary War. What I was taught in school 60's is very misleading compared to the facts. However I feel quite strongly that without the French and the the british people becoming more opposed to the war, we would have lost. England had a choice between America and India to keep under their control, they chose India.

goon
April 5, 2003, 01:38 PM
I never understood why the rifles weren't adapted to be able to use a bayonet.
Also, what was the effective range of one of the old long rifles?
I knew about the use of buck and ball though.:)
In eight grade, my history teacher was a war buff.
I was introduced to the Brown Bess and the PA rifle during a F&I war lecture.
During the Civil War lecture, he brought in a Henry, a Spencer, a '51 Colt, and an Artillery Broadsword.
I had the education that every middle school kid should get.

And Columbine wouldn't have happened at our school either.
He kept a .357 in his truck.

telewinz
April 5, 2003, 01:53 PM
Later on, rifles were of course adapted to take bayonets but the problem was their was no desire to do so by a military power. I guess its possible that a team of gunsmiths/blacksmith's could have used primitive forging techniques to weld a bayonet stud on a rifle but since rifles were not standardized it would have been a slow process. Again, at that time their was little need for the rifle on the modern battlefield so why bother? It was easier to buy or steal a musket and bear in mind the rifle wasn't that impressive a military weapon at the time. Ben Franklin no less, recommended bows & arrows or crossbows and bolts be issued to make up for the lack of muskets.:what:

4v50 Gary
April 5, 2003, 01:59 PM
Golden Age Arms published a book on rifle accoutrements and included in it is a photo of an American long rifle with a bayonet adapted to it. So, there were a few (if not rare) examples of rifles that could take a bayonet. We all know that Ferguson's rifles took a bayonet (an awfully long one at that). BTW, German jaegers carried swords and as far as I know, their rifles did not take bayonets.

telewinz
April 5, 2003, 02:15 PM
I have studied the Ferguson's rifle in the past and years ago a collector let me handle his with white gloves on (Ohio Gun Colloector's Show) The rifle worked and worked well and in the history of firearms the Ferguson rifle seems to me to be one of the great missed opportunities. Even though Ferguson was killed and therefore no longer able to champion his rifle, its a tribute to bias stupidity that no power adopted it.

The smoothbore musket of the 18th century really wasn't all that inaccurate. The soldier was taught and ordered NOT to aim as it would impede the rate of fire. Who knows, in our lifetime we may go full circle and reissue smooth bore assault weapons. With smallarms ammo becoming less and less powerful and the average combat range shortening, how about a laser-straight, smoothbored M16? It works for the 120mm Abrams cannon.

4v50 Gary
April 5, 2003, 02:31 PM
The Ferguson was twice the price of the Brown Bess and would take some time & money to train a soldier how to aim. Many colonels wouldn't do this since they thought it a waste of money (or less profits for running a regiment). Economics set aside, the weakness of the Ferguson design is in the stock. They could not sustain the heavy handling a Brown Bess could. Most surviving Fergusons (like the one at Morris Town, NJ) is cracked in the area of the lock. This was because of all the wood removed for the trigger guard/breech plug and the lock. What Ferguson needed was polymers - a Ferglock or Glockson.

As for the accuracy of smoothbores, Bruce Babits ("A Devil of a Whipping") used undersized balls in his replica Brown Bess and shot at a man size target at 75 yards. I think he hit 6 out 8 shots times. In a passage of To All Sportsmen, Lt. Col. George Hanger wrote, "a soldier's musket is ill bored and will seldom strike a figure of a man at 75 yards"). He also knew Tarleton and Ferguson & wrote about the inaccuracy of muskets. However, he qualified it by stating that it was because the bores were not straight and that if made properly, could be extremely accurate (he thought it was possible for up to 200 yards!). BTW, Hangar in his other book ("Life & reminiscences"(?)) mentions that he was a superior marksman to Ferguson.

Furthermore, by using a .63 caliber ball and by tapping the buttplate against the ground to facilitate loading (instead of using a ramrod), Babits was able to achieve a 5 round a minute rate of fire.

telewinz
April 5, 2003, 02:35 PM
it do get interesting:)

Peetmoss
April 5, 2003, 05:30 PM
I have a great respect for the snipers in our military. It takes a very special individual to do what they do.

telewinz
April 5, 2003, 06:00 PM
I work with convicts and I can tell you it takes a certain kind of person to be a convict. Whats the point?

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