It’s only in recent history that the military sniper has been regarded with esteem. For much of their history, snipers and their craft have been regarded with suspicion — if not outright hostility — particularly by those who view surprise attacks as dishonorable. Due in part to the cold efficiency with which snipers ply their trade, they were often treated with a mixture of fear and distaste by their peers, and if they ever fell into enemy hands, were frequently executed rather than captured.
Now, however, public perception is shifting as more and more people view shots fired in combat in terms of lives saved, rather than taken. From the story of Scottish marksman Patrick Ferguson who decided not to fire on an unknown enemy officer — George Washington — during the Revolutionary War, to Chris Kyle’s service in Iraq, the history of the sniper is full of stories about when to take the shot and when not to.