GC: n

S: (last access: 26 March 2015)

N: 1. a person who shoots at another person from a hidden place. The soldiers were attacked by a sniper.
— often used before another noun: a sniper attack.
snipe (v.): “shoot from a hidden place,” 1773 (among British soldiers in India), in reference to hunting snipe as game, from snipe (n.): Figurative use from 1892. Related: Sniped; sniping.
snipe (n.): Long-billed marsh bird, early 14c., from Old Norse -snipa in myrisnipa “moor snipe;” perhaps a common Germanic term (compare Old Saxon sneppa, Middle Dutch snippe, Dutch snip, Old High German snepfa, German Schnepfe “snipe,” Swedish snäppa “sandpiper”), perhaps originally “snipper.” The Old English name was snite, which is of uncertain derivation. An opprobrious term (see guttersnipe) since c.1600.
2. By the late 18th century the word ‘sniper’ was being used in letters sent home by English officers serving in India, some of whom took to referring to a day’s rough shooting as ‘going out sniping’. The snipe is a small, fast-flying game bird with mottled black and brown plumage and a particularly erratic, twisting flight that make it difficult to see and even more difficult to hit. It took a skilled sportsman with a flintlock gun to bring down a snipe in flight. Such an accomplished shot was regarded as above average and inevitably during the 18th century the term ‘snipe shooting’ was simplified to ‘sniping.’ However in a military context, soldiers who were particularly able shots were referred to as sharpshooters or marksmen, but never snipers, and its use appears to come from the press during the early months of the First World War.
3. Highly trained marksman and observer who can locate an enemy, however well hidden.
4. He can stalk the enemy or lie and wait, often for extended periods of time, unseen, and kill with one round using special weapons and equipment.
5. Some people have said that the Geneva Convention states that snipers are a violation of the Rules of War, however I have been unable to find it. Regardless, there is not a single (decent) military that does not employ them. Snipers are very highly trained individuals and can be critical to the success and failure of a mission.
Snipers do not just shoot at enemy targets using pinpoint rifle fire from some location in the jungle, that is just the movies. A sniper’s most important skill is observation, the next most important skill is stealth and THEN marksmanship and everybody knows a sniper has to be an excellent shot so he must be even better at the other two skills!
When properly deployed, snipers work in two man teams. One is equipped with the sniper rifle and the other one is equipped with a weapon (either a SAW or assault rifle with a grenade launcher), a spotter scope and a radio. The sniper may also have another weapon in addition to his sniper rifle.
The radio, not the sniper rifle, is the most dangerous weapon they have. With a radio those two snipers could lay waste to an entire division by calling in artillery, close air support, mortars, ect. Scout snipers also provide valuable information to the commanding officer.
A two man team is ideal for stealth but not combat. A squad of ten men would have little problem dealing with two men if they found them. That is why snipers are so careful with their appearance and use ‘ghillie suits’. That is also why the second sniper is more heavily armed than the first. Snipers usually spend a lot of time on their hands and knees sneaking around.
6. Distinction between a “sniper” and a “marksman”:
The “sniper” seems to be someone involved in military operations, and is trained to shoot people from concealed locations. A “marksman” on the other hand is someone skilled in shooting. The first, may take on a more sinister image in the public eye or in the view of a court. The second merely refers to someone skilled in shooting.
7. In the field of Biathlon: marksman.
8. In the field of Shooting (Sports): sharpshooter.
9. Cultural Interrelation: We can mention the movies Enemy at the Gates (2001) by Jean-Jacques Annaud and American sniper (2014) by Clint Eastwood.

S: 1. MW – (last access: 26 March 2015); OED – (last access: 26 March 2015). 2. (last access: 26 March 2015). 3 & 4. TERMIUMPLUS. 5. (last access: 26 March 2015). 6. (last access: 26 March 2015). 7. GDT. 8. TERMIUMPLUS. 9. (last access: 25 March 2015); (last access: 25 March 2015).


CR: franc-tireur, rapid humanitarian intervention force.