A Ghillie Suit; a Sharpshooter’s Most Critical Asset

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Not many people who know about camouflage have heard of what a ghillie suit is. You might not see it at all unless you are really looking carefully. Landowners would pay men to go around their properties and catch poachers in the beginnings of the ghillie suit. Ghillies, as they eventually came to be known, would get themselves in the bushes and wait patiently for poachers in outfits they would craft from old rags and shredded materials.

Nowadays ghillie suits are implemented for a variety of activities from the deadly art of sharpshooting to the much less lethal game of paintball. The textiles have changed but the technology behind the covering stays the same. Even when the enemy or target comes within a really close range to them, the modern ghillie suit wearer can stay undetected and look like a pile of leaves in the woods.

Because of their simple concept and high effectiveness, ghillie suits have been associated with sniping. Around the time of the end of the eighteenth century the art of sniping started. Guerillas would shoot at opposing armies from far-away locations to defeat and break the spirits of the opposition. Sharpshooters became popular when weapons became more accurate and sharpshooter could be more than one-hundred meters away from their target.

The use of sharpshooters in military engagements changed the the technique in which wars were fought. Officers would go with battalions and give commands during battle before the massive deployment of sharpshooters. Infantry warfare went from direct engagements to more covered, flanking techniques as more and more commanders were assassinated. Commanders had to attempt to blend in with the lower-ranking soldiers to avoid being killed. More covered areas such as woods and mountains became the choice terrain over open areas as sharpshooting techniques became more prevalent. As more ferocious and far-away techniques were used to fight, the code of conduct that troops in the past held onto was abandoned.

To pick off high-ranking officers and to demoralize enemy troops during WWI, all sides had ghillie suits and sharpshooter techniques. The skill to stay unseen for shooters lies within the suit; materials hang down and give the shooter incredible camouflage protection. There are several different styles of the suit so that the shooter can blend in with surroundings no matter what environment they are in. A woodlands ghillie suit, for example, would look much different than a ghillie suit for the desert.

Modern day sharpshooters still continue to use the suit for protection and security while on important operations. A sharpshooter’s ability to remain hidden is imperative for their safety and life since the majority of the time a sniper works by himself or with one other person as the look-out. Besides the rifle, a well-crafted suit to cover the sharpshooter is a sniper’s most essential asset. If the sharpshooter could not remain hidden until it was time to shoot, his security would be extremely compromised. Escape after a shot was taken is just as crucial to a sharpshooter as the actual shot. The suit adorned by the sniper is often used many times during a retreat.