January 7, 2007 The snipe is a wading bird renowned for being the hardest of all birds to hunt due to being difficult to locate, impossible to approach without flushing, or to hit once in the air due to its erratic flight. In the days of market hunting, those who brought snipes to market were regarded as the best of the best and earned the term snipers. The verb snipe originated in the 1770s among soldiers in British India applying similar skills in wartime with a human quarry. A sniper occasionally takes the one, well-aimed shot that, if done properly, will save lives and turn the course of battle. One of the many skills of a modern days sniper is mathematics – to measure or estimate the range, cross winds, and calculate the allowances needed for one shot to hit its target after travelling up to 2000 yards (the longest confirmed sniper kill of the Gulf War was made by a Barrett Model 82A1 sniper rifle at a range of 1,800 meters).
Even the temperature effects how a bullet travels over that distance. Just a 10mph wind could produce a miss exceeding three meters at 1200 meters range. With all this in mind, DARPA, the same folk who brought you the Grand Challenge, has developed a new Advanced Sighting System (One-Shot) program with a view to enabling Snipers to accurately hit targets with the first round, under crosswind conditions, at the maximum effective range of the weapon (RE).
The system will measure downrange crosswind and range to target and compensate the bullet trajectory to offset crosswind and range related bullet deviations resulting in substantially increased success of kill. The system will operate over a range of visibilities, atmospheric turbulence and scintillation, and environmental operating conditions and exploit novel technologies. You can also couple the increased accuracy likely to result from the proposed system with the new long-range .50-caliber M-107 sniper rifle due to complete fielding in 2008 to conclude that snipers will remain one of the most effective battlefield assets well into the future.
The destructive power of 50 caliber rounds is difficult to overstate according to this knowledgeable article, "One shot, one kill." John L. Plaster, author of The Ultimate Sniper—a military and police training manual— offers the following description of 50 caliber performance: "Here's a bullet that even at 11⁄2 miles crashes into a target with more energy than Dirty Harry's famous .44 Magnum at point-blank."