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Where did the first Russian snipers come from, and why did the enemy drummers get the first bullet?
Where did the first Russian snipers come from, and why did the enemy drummers get the first bullet?

It is impossible to establish the exact time period for the appearance of snipers. The closest thing to the truth is the statement that the jaeger military units stood at the origins of the sniper craft. During the reign of linear tactics, these units were formed by the most well-aimed marksmen, who operated in loose combat. The first jaeger battalion in the army ranks appeared in Russia in 1764. And although the gamekeepers are considered the predecessors of modern snipers, there was a significant difference between them.

The first human hunters

A group of servicemen of the Life Guards Jäger Regiment, after 1913

Rifled firearms have been owned in Europe since the 17th century. There is evidence that a few samples have been encountered before. But the troops of the European armies up to the 19th century were armed mainly with smooth-bore guns, firing salvo fire in battle at close distances. As far as Russia is concerned, the first units operating "high-precision" rifled weapons appeared in the Seven Years War. The task of such formations was to knock out officers, drummers and buglers from the advancing enemy ranks with accurate shots.

If everything is clear with the officers, then the meaning of military musicians should be explained. At that time, the army was controlled by horns and drums. Eliminating a drummer from a line regiment was about the same as killing a radio operator in the war of the 20th century. Shooters with a special combat mission were called rangers, which is translated from German as "hunters". The actions of the huntsman, in fact, were a hunt for a two-legged victim in a military uniform.

The first Russian battalions of long-distance shooters

Jaegers in battle

Jaeger infantry formations played an important role in the Russian army of the 18th century. Firearms at that time were not perfect, and the army was in dire need of well-aimed arrows.

The initiator of the creation of a full-fledged battalion of hunters in Russia was General Rumyantsev. This battalion consisted of 5 companies of a hundred men each. The equipment in this unit was used lightweight: instead of swords, there were bayonets in the harness, the grenadier's bag was replaced by a less heavy musketeer. The approach to performing tasks was also fundamentally different. The warriors were instructed on the importance of choosing convenient camouflage positions in villages or forests, they were instructed to quietly and silently wait in ambushes, supporting the light cavalry.

In 1763, Count Panin, as part of the Finnish division, created the first jaeger detachment of 300 soldiers. This was due to the fact that in that area the light cavalry could not cope with the assigned tasks. Empirically, the benefits of a special kind of infantry were established, and already 2 years later, 25 infantry regiments were replenished with jaeger teams. In 1775, separate battalions were formed from riflemen-hunters. On the battlefield, the huntsmen were responsible for well-aimed hits, acting in loose formation. The first historical evidence of the gamekeeper's work was left by a French artillery major after the battle of Smolensk. Faber du Fort told about an unknown Russian non-commissioned officer of the Jaeger regiment, who had sat down on the opposite bank of the Dnieper. The Frenchman admitted that well-aimed hits from the coastal willows stopped the offensive for the whole day.And when the unit nevertheless crossed the river and reached the enemy's firing position, a single dead huntsman was discovered.

Lesson from Finnish "cuckoos"

Finnish sniper cuckoo

In 1914, a telescopic sight on a Mosin three-line rifle was tested at a Russian proving ground. Since 1916, this device, manufactured at the Obukhov plant, has been recognized as suitable for use in regular troops. Special attention was paid to the education of snipers with the advent of the Red Army. Then sniper training was organized at the higher courses of shooters "Shot". Later, they began to train snipers at military units and at OSOAVIAKHIM.

In 1932, the shooting sport developed, and the honorary title "Voroshilovsky shooter" appeared. Despite everything, during the winter military campaign of 1939, the Finns taught the Russians a cruel lesson. Soviet commanders had to face Finnish cuckoo snipers. They worked as efficiently as possible, and their combat tactics differed in a non-statutory approach. The Finnish snipers were nicknamed "cuckoos" because they fired from trees, communicating with each other with bird voices. Having set up a position on the branches of century-old pines, the Finnish archers waited for the appearance of the victim and "shot" it with one shot. After that, they descended on a rope behind the barrel into a previously prepared dugout and safely waited out the return fire. In the meantime, the machine gunners were distracted by volley fire at trees, on the other side the partner of the hiding shooter was already aiming at them.

The Soviet command, after a series of unsuccessful duels with the Finns, drew reasonable conclusions. For sniper purposes, the development of new types of weapons began: the Tokarev self-loading rifle and an optical sight for it. In the same period, experts generalized combined arms sniper tactics and developed practical methods of shooting training.

Sniper School of the Great Patriotic War

Sniper personnel of the USSR

With a powerful military force, trained Soviet snipers manifested themselves in the Great Patriotic War. The Infantry Combat Regulations prescribed them the destruction of enemy snipers, officers, gun servants and machine-gun crews, tank crews, low-flying enemy aircraft, etc. The pair work of snipers, alternately performing the role of an observer or a fighter, turned out to be the most effective. The Wehrmacht relied on high-quality weapons and high-quality optics. The USSR, on the other hand, followed the path of mass character, forming whole companies from long-range riflemen.

The numerically superior sniper forces of the Red Army at first baffled the Nazis. Over time, the Germans increased the number of lone shooters on the battlefield. But the Russians had their own advantages. For example, a considerable number of female snipers fought in the ranks of the Red Army, who fought no worse than their male counterparts. Many films have been shot on the topic of the phenomenal results of Soviet snipers, including in Hollywood.

A special sniper deserves special mention. At the age of 90, a world-renowned academician took up a sniper rifle and went to defend the Motherland.

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