Author(s): Gary Yee
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 terrorizing 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.