From the Middle Ages on the most precise shooters have been employed as marksmen or sharpshooters, and equipped with the best available weapons. The German states made the first serious use of sharpshooters on the battlefield during the Seven Years War. Some of these talented riflemen were then employed as mercenaries in America, where the tactical use of the rifle in wooded terrain was valued. By the Revolutionary Wars, American riflemen were formidable, able to blend into the landscape and take out targets at long range. Their potential was noted by the British who began to train rifle units; during the Napoleonic Wars, the Green Jackets were the elite of the British army. The mid-19th century saw the advent of mass-produced high-quality firearms, and the development of optical sights, meaning that the units of sharpshooters raised in the Civil War were even more lethal. In World War I the press coined the term 'sniper' at a time when accurate German rifle fire was terrorising the British trenches, leading to the creation of dedicated snipers and developments in weapons technology, sniper training and counter-sniping that has continued ever since.
An authoritative guide to the guns used by elite forces Fully illustrated with photographs and diagrams Written by a world authority on firearms The war against terrorism continues. Hardly a day goes by without the report of a new outrage. Foremost in the struggle against terrorism are the Special Forces. Guns of the Elite Forces provides a penetrating account of the weapons that elite fighting troops carry into combat. Such elites have always existed in the armies of the world. During World War II, elite units sprang up in most theatres of conflict - the German Brandenburgers carried out clandestine operations in Poland; in the Western Desert, the Long Range Desert Group and SAS penetrated deep behind enemy lines; for larger-scale raids the British Commandos and the US Rangers and Marine Raiders were formed. From 1945, the Special Forces continued to prove their value, operating as small numbers of highly trained fighters carrying out precision tasks to maximum effect and minimum cost in human lives. These qualities have proved essential in the ongoing war against international terrorism, where the risk to non-combatants is a major factor to consider. In the last few decades, and particularly since 9/11, a very special sort of fighting man - a member of an international elite, his fighting skills finely honed - has risen to prominence. At Entebbe, Mogadishu and the Iranian Embassy in London, he has shown his mettle. At the crucial point, the operative must depend upon his gun. Bursting into a room to confront a terrorist, the raider must be sure his weapon will perform perfectly. At long range, precision is similarly essential. In this illustrated book, expert John Walter provides an overview of the weapons elite forces carry into action, as well as the guns their enemies wield. John Walter is the acclaimed author of a number of books including Military Rifles of Two World Wars, Military Handguns of Two World Wars, The Greenhill Dictionary of Guns and Gunmakers, Guns of the Third Reich and The Luger Story.
A sniper is not just a good shot. While marksmanship is crucial, it is not this alone that defines the sniper. Snipers must also be superb bushmen, possess limitless patience, iron discipline, rat cunning, extraordinary stamina and attract more than their share of luck. The well-trained sniper will stalk his enemy or lie in wait for his target to appear. He will eliminate his target with just one shot and escape to repeat his mission time and again. The history of the Australian Army is replete with untold tales of brave men who built reputations as daring and skilful snipers. From the training grounds of the Boer War and First World War, Australian snipers honed their deadly skills and earned a fearsome reputation. In the Second World War they duelled with their German counterparts in the Western Desert and the hardy Japanese snipers of the Pacific War. The valuable lessons of two major wars had to be relearned for the Korean War where ‘naïve young men who knew nothing of combat sniping’ learned quickly or didn’t survive.
The snipers of today’s Australian Army have learned the lessons of history and are held in the same high regard by friend and foe as their Gallipoli forebears. Snipers have become an essential force multiplier and have deployed on every operation since Somalia. One Shot Kills is the story of the sniper’s journey from the South African veldt to the recent battlegrounds of Iraq and Afghanistan. It is also the story of the development of the modern sniper’s combat weapon system in which technology has been harnessed to produce extraordinary results on the battlefield. Australian Army snipers are justifiably regarded as among the best in the world.