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An American marksman looks for enemy activity along the hilltops near Dur Baba District, Afghanistan (2006) Marksman in Afghanistan.jpg
An American marksman looks for enemy activity along the hilltops near Dur Baba District, Afghanistan (2006)
A soldier with a G28 of the German Army CIMIC Joint Training, GER and ITA Army, Capo Teulada, Trident Juncture 15 (22678987186).jpg
A soldier with a G28 of the German Army

A marksman is a person who is skilled in precision shooting [1] using projectile weapons (in modern days most commonly an accurized scoped long gun such as designated marksman rifle or a sniper rifle) to shoot at high-value targets at longer-than-usual ranges.

Shooting act or process of firing firearms or other projectile weapons

Shooting is the act or process of discharging a projectile from a ranged weapon (such as a gun, slingshot, crossbow, or bow. Even the acts of launching/discharging artillery, darts, grenades, rockets and guided missiles can be considered acts of shooting. When using a firearm, the act of shooting is often called firing as it involves initiating a combustion process.

Telescopic sight sighting device for firearms

A telescopic sight, commonly called a scope, is an optical sighting device that is based on a refracting telescope. They are equipped with some form of graphic image pattern mounted in an optically appropriate position in their optical system to give an accurate aiming point. Telescopic sights are used with all types of systems that require accurate aiming but are most commonly found on firearms, particularly rifles. Other types of sights are iron sights, reflector (reflex) sights, and laser sights. The optical components may be combined with optoelectronics to form a night scope.

Long gun Category of firearms fired from the shoulder

A long gun is a category of firearms with longer barrels than most other types. In small arms, a long gun is generally designed to be held by both hands and braced against the shoulder, in contrast to a handgun, which can be fired being held with a single hand. In the context of cannons and mounted firearms an artillery long gun would be contrasted with a howitzer or carronade.


In popular and historical usage, "sharpshooter" and "marksman" are considered synonyms. [2] [3] Within the shooting sports and military usages today, however, sharpshooter and marksman refer to distinctly different levels of skill, which are never conflated. Specifically, in the US Army, "marksman" is a rating below "sharpshooter" and "expert". [1] Four levels of skill are generally recognized today in both military and civilian shooting circles: unqualified, marksman, sharpshooter, and expert. Marksmanship badges for the three qualified levels are commonly awarded to both civilian and military shooters who attain proficiency in shooting higher than "unqualified".

A sharpshooter is one who is highly proficient at firing firearms or other projectile weapons accurately. Military units composed of sharpshooters were important factors in 19th-century combat. Along with "marksman" and "expert", "sharpshooter" is one of the three marksmanship badges awarded by the U.S. Army.

Shooting sports sports involving firearms used to hit targets

Shooting sports is a collective group of competitive and recreational sporting activities involving proficiency tests of accuracy, precision and speed in shooting, using various types of ranged weapons, mainly referring to man-portable guns and bows/crossbows.

The main difference between military marksmen and snipers is that marksmen are usually considered an organic part of a fireteam of soldiers and are never expected to operate independently, whereas snipers usually work alone or in very small teams with independent mission objectives. Snipers are also often tasked with responsibilities other than delivering long-range fire — specifically, conducting reconnaissance and directing coordinates for artillery fire or air strikes. Within the military, marksmen are sometimes attached to an infantry fireteam or squad (where they are known as designated marksmen) where they support the squad by providing accurate long-range shots at valuable targets as needed, thus extending the effective tactical reach of the fireteam or squad.

Sniper Highly trained marksman

A sniper is a military/paramilitary marksman who operates to maintain effective visual contact with and engage enemy targets from concealed positions or at distances exceeding the target's detection capabilities. Snipers generally have specialized training and are equipped with high-precision rifles and high-magnification optics, and often feed information back to their units or command headquarters.

Artillery class of weapons which fires munitions beyond the range and power of personal weapons

Artillery is a class of heavy military ranged weapons built to launch munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry's small arms. Early artillery development focused on the ability to breach defensive walls and fortifications during sieges, and led to heavy, fairly immobile siege engines. As technology improved, lighter, more mobile field artillery cannons developed for battlefield use. This development continues today; modern self-propelled artillery vehicles are highly mobile weapons of great versatility providing the large share of an army's total firepower.

Infantry military service branch that specializes in combat by individuals on foot

Infantry is a military specialization that engages in military combat on foot, distinguished from cavalry, artillery, and tank forces. Also known as foot soldiers, infantry traditionally relies on moving by foot between combats as well, but may also use mounts, military vehicles, or other transport. Infantry make up a large portion of all armed forces in most nations, and typically bear the largest brunt in warfare, as measured by casualties, deprivation, or physical and psychological stress.


Marksmen competing in Australia USMC-120506-M-SR181-006.jpg
Marksmen competing in Australia

Middle ages

In the Middle Ages, in the first use of the term 'marksman' was given to the royal archers, or bowmen, of a palace guard, which was an elite group of troops chosen to guard a royal palace or the royalty. This was around the 10th century, although records of some 9th century English Kings show the listings of groups of marksmen specifically chosen for their militaries.

Middle Ages Period of European history from the 5th to the 15th century

In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western history: classical antiquity, the medieval period, and the modern period. The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.

Archery art, sport, practice or skill of using a bow to shoot arrows

Archery is the art, sport, practice, or skill of using a bow to shoot arrows. The word comes from the Latin arcus. Historically, archery has been used for hunting and combat. In modern times, it is mainly a competitive sport and recreational activity. A person who participates in archery is typically called an archer or a bowman, and a person who is fond of or an expert at archery is sometimes called a toxophilite.

Palace grand residence, especially a royal residence or the home of a head of state

A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence, or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop.

Marksmen in different countries


In the Australian Army, marksmanship is currently recognized by the award of one of three skill-at-arms badges. The 'Skill at Arms Badge' consists of a representation of crossed .303 Short Magazine Lee–Enfield (SMLE) rifles and is awarded for achieving a prescribed standard of shooting skill. This must be repeated within twelve months for the badge to be awarded in perpetuity to the recipient. The 'Sniper's Badge' is similar in design but incorporates the letter 'S' into the design and is awarded to soldiers who qualify on the Army Sniper's Course. The 'Army Top 20 Badge' consists of crossed .303 SMLE rifles upon a laurel wreath and is awarded to the final 20 competitors in the annual Champion Shot for the Army. The winner of this competition is also awarded the Champion Shots Medal. Only one badge may be worn. [4] [5]

Australian Army land warfare branch of Australias defence forces

The Australian Army is Australia's military land force. It is part of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) along with the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. While the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) commands the ADF, the Army is commanded by the Chief of Army (CA). The CA is therefore subordinate to the CDF, but is also directly responsible to the Minister for Defence. Although Australian soldiers have been involved in a number of minor and major conflicts throughout its history, only in World War II has Australian territory come under direct attack.

The Champion Shots Medal is a military award of Australia. In Australia the three armed forces, the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Army and the Royal Australian Air Force, conduct annual target-shooting competitions with standard issue weapons. Three medals – one for each force – are awarded to the winners.

United Kingdom

In the British Armed Forces, "marksman" is traditionally the highest shooting rating and holders may wear a crossed rifles badge on the lower sleeve.[ verification needed ]

British Armed Forces combined military forces of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The British Armed Forces, also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces, are the military services responsible for the defence of the United Kingdom, its overseas territories and the Crown dependencies. They also promote Britain's wider interests, support international peacekeeping efforts and provide humanitarian aid.

A British soldier aims on a shooting range in Iraq, 29 July 2006. A British soldier aims his SA80 rifle on a shooting range at Basra, Iraq. MOD 45148015.jpg
A British soldier aims on a shooting range in Iraq, 29 July 2006.
From Army Operational Shooting Policy for the Annual Personal Weapons Test (APWT) Combat Infantryman (CI):Marksman (Combat Infantryman). To qualify for Marksman all practices are to be completed and the firer must achieve a score of 55 (85%) or more of the total Highest Possible Score (65) for the entire shoot. Soldiers achieving a non-marksman passing score are NOT permitted to re-shoot practices in order to qualify for Marksman. Infantry soldiers who qualify as Marksmen during the Combat Infantryman's Course (CIC) are entitled to retain the award on joining their units. Soldiers who qualify as Marksmen are entitled to wear the Marksman badge for one year before they must requalify. (Page 3 - 70, Amdt 1/Feb/07)

United States

In the United States Army and Marine Corps, the marksmanship of the soldiers is ranked based on their skill: marksman-sharpshooter-expert. Holders of each level wear qualification badges below their ribbons with bars for the weapons they qualify in. In the United States Navy and the United States Coast Guard, full-sized medals are only issued at the expert level. Both services award separate medals for pistol and rifle proficiency. The United States Air Force gives just a ribbon for qualifying at the expert level, although a bronze star can be earned if the wearer qualifies on both of these types of small arms. [6]

U.S. Army soldiers fire a FGM-148 Javelin, 16 August 2006. FGM-148 Javelin - ID 061024-A-0497K-004.JPEG
U.S. Army soldiers fire a FGM-148 Javelin, 16 August 2006.

Within the United States military, a marksman in the U.S. Army is referred to as "Squad Designated Marksman" (SDM), and a marksman in the Marines is called a "Designated Marksman" (DM).[ citation needed ] The United States Army particularly emphasizes the fireteam concept: according to US Army Field Manual 3-21.8 [7] (Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad, formerly FM 7-8) a typical United States Army fireteam consists of four soldiers. In the context of a Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT)'s Infantry Rifle Companies, [8] [9] one man from each fireteam in a rifle squad is either the Squad Anti-armor Specialist (RMAT), armed with the FGM-148 Javelin, or the Squad Designated Marksman (DM), who carries the M4 carbine and M14 rifle. In both cases this specialized function replaces the basic rifleman position in the fireteam.


As with other Commonwealth armies, the Marksman in the Canadian Army is a shooting achievement recognized by a badge bearing the monarch's crown and crossed .303 Lee–Enfield No. 4, Mk I rifles. On operations within the Canadian Infantry Battalion, rifle company designated marksman can be assigned. This is not to be confused with Canadian snipers, who attain a high level of marksmanship and fieldcraft through in a very grueling selection course and must achieve a recce qualification and marksman before being considered for the basic sniper course.


The Indian Army uses a locally manufactured licensed variant of the SVD Dragunov in the Designated Marksman role as part of each infantry platoon. The Dragunov is used in conjunction with the INSAS family of weapons to give flexibility and striking power at short to mid range firefights, to Indian Army infantry units engaged with opposing forces.

The Army Marksmanship Unit trains members for sports shooting as well as military shooting. [10]

Civilian marksman

United States

Sharpshooter from confederate state Sharpshooter from confederate state.jpg
Sharpshooter from confederate state

The United States has a long tradition of marksmanship going back to its beginnings including the role of common men in its Revolutionary War. There are several organizations which promote civilian marksmanship including the Civilian Marksmanship Program which began just after the turn of the 20th century as a government chartered program and the Division of Civilian Marksmanship. One of the newest and currently the fastest growing marksmanship programs in North America is Project Appleseed which was started by the Revolutionary War Veterans Association in 2006. Shooters who score 210 out of 250 or better on the "Quick and Dirty" Appleseed AQT [11] earn the Rifleman designation and are issued a Rifleman patch. [12] Similar to the U.S. military marksmanship ratings of Unqualified, Marksman, Sharpshooter, and Expert (see Marksmanship Badge (United States), the Appleseed ratings have the same levels, with the exception that instead of "Expert", the equivalent performance level is called "Rifleman". [12]

The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) is an American nonprofit organization founded in 1871 that sponsors marksmanship events [13] featuring shooting skill and sports.

See also

Related Research Articles

Squad military unit size

In military terminology, a squad is a sub-subunit led by a non-commissioned officer that is subordinate to an infantry platoon. In countries following the British Army tradition, this organization is referred to as a section. In most armies, a squad consists of eight to fourteen soldiers, and may be further subdivided into fireteams.

Fireteam small military unit of infantry

A fireteam or fire team is a small military sub-subunit of infantry designed to optimise "bounding overwatch" and "fire and movement" tactical doctrine in combat. Depending on mission requirements, a typical fireteam consists of 4 or fewer members; an automatic rifleman, a grenadier (M203), a rifleman, and a designated team leader. The role of each fireteam leader is to ensure that the fireteam operates as a cohesive unit. Two or three fireteams are organised into a section or squad in co-ordinated operations, which is led by a squad leader.

Designated marksman

The designated marksman (DM), squad advanced marksman (AD), or squad designated marksman (SDM) is a military marksman role in an infantry squad. The term sniper was used in Soviet doctrine although the soldiers using the Dragunov SVD were the first to use a specifically designed designated marksman's rifle. The analogous role in the Israeli army is sharpshooter.

Section (military unit) military unit size

A section is a military sub-subunit. It usually consists of between six and 20 personnel and is usually an alternative name for, and equivalent to, a squad. As such two or more sections usually make up an army platoon or an air force flight.

Marksmanship Ribbon

A Marksmanship Ribbon is a United States Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard award that is issued to its members who pass a weapons qualification course and achieve an above-average score. Additionally, there are select State National Guard organizations that award marksmanship ribbons for high placement in state-level marksmanship competitions.

Marksmanship badges (United States) US military decoration

In the United States (U.S.), a marksmanship badge is a U.S. military badge or a civilian badge which is presented to personnel upon successful completion of a weapons qualification course or high achievement in an official marksmanship competition. The U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps are the only military services that issue marksmanship qualification badges. However, marksmanship medals and/or marksmanship ribbons are issued by the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Air Force for weapons qualifications. For non-military personnel, different U.S. law enforcement organizations and the National Rifle Association (NRA) issue marksmanship qualification badges to those involved in law enforcement. Additionally, the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) and the NRA issue marksmanship qualification badges to U.S. civilians. Most of these organizations and the U.S. National Guard awarded marksmanship competition badges to the people they support who succeed in official competitions.

Marksmanship Device

A Marksmanship Ribbon device is primarily a miniature metal rifle, pistol, target, service star, or letter E or S which may be worn if authorized on a Marksmanship Ribbon awarded to members of the United States Coast Guard, United States Air Force, and United States Navy.

Marksmanship Medal

The Marksmanship Medal is a United States Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard military award and is the highest award one may receive for weapons qualification. The Marksmanship Medal is the equivalent of the Expert Marksmanship Badge in the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps. Additionally, select State National Guard organizations award marksmanship medals to guardsman who achieve some of the highest aggregate scores at state-level marksmanship competitions.

The School of Infantry (SOI) is the second stage of initial military training for enlisted United States Marines after Recruit Training. Since the initial training pipeline is divided between coasts, Marines from areas east of the Mississippi River usually graduate from MCRD Parris Island and move on to SOI at SOI East, while those from the western half of the nation attend MCRD San Diego and move on to SOI West at the Camp San Onofre area of Camp Pendleton in California. Female Marines are an exception, all of whom go through MCRD Parris Island and SOI East. As of March 2018, non-infantry female Marines were integrated into the Marine Combat Training Battalion at Camp Pendleton, California.

United States Army Squad Designated Marksman Rifle

The United States Army Squad Designated Marksman Rifle (SDM-R) is a heavily modified M16-series semi-automatic rifle intended to provide increased accuracy at longer ranges, giving infantry squads greater firepower.

Badges of the United States Army military decorations issued by the United States Department of the Army

Badges of the United States Army are military decorations issued by the United States Department of the Army to soldiers who achieve a variety of qualifications and accomplishments while serving on active and reserve duty in the United States Army.

Badges of the United States Marine Corps

Insignia and badges of the United States Marine Corps are military "badges" issued by the United States Department of the Navy to Marines who achieve certain qualifications and accomplishments while serving on both active and reserve duty in the United States Marine Corps.

Designated marksman rifle

A designated marksman rifle (DMR) is the scoped high-precision weapon system used by modern infantries in the designated marksman (DM) role. Although the "sniper" and the "designated marksman" are distinguished by mission and deployment role, rather than by operational range, the DM's role generally fills the engagement range gap between a regular infantryman and a dedicated sniper. DMRs are developed with the mindset to fulfil this middle ground in tactical role.

Rifleman infantry soldier armed with a service rifle

A rifleman is an infantry soldier armed with a rifled long gun. Although the rifleman role had its origin with 16th century hand cannoneers and 17th century musketeers, the term originated in the 18th century with the introduction of the rifled musket. By the mid-19th century, entire regiments of riflemen were formed and became the mainstay of all standard infantry, and rifleman became a generic term for any common infantryman.

Presidents Hundred Tab

The President's Hundred Tab/Brassard is a badge awarded by the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) to the 100 top-scoring military and civilian shooters in the President's Pistol and President's Rifle Matches. The tab is authorized for wear on military uniforms of the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Coast Guard. The brassard version is authorized for wear on enlisted uniforms of the U.S. Navy. The tab is 4 14 inches (11 cm) long and 58 inch (1.6 cm) high, with the word "PRESIDENT'S HUNDRED" centered in 14 inch (0.64 cm) tall letters. The Army's and Air Force's miniature metal replica of the tab is a full-color variant of the tab once authorized for wear on the old Army Green Service Uniform and is about 2 inches (5.1 cm) in width. The brassard is a 3 12 inches (8.9 cm) long by 1 inch (2.5 cm) high curved bronze metallic arm patch with an enameled representation of the Flag of the President of the United States flanked by the Seal of the President of the United States to the left and the seal of the CMP to the right. At the top of the brassard are the raised words “PRESIDENT’S” to the left and “HUNDRED” to the right.

A marksman is one who is skilled in shooting.

Schützen (military)

Schützen ("marksmen") is a German plural noun used to designate a type of military unit of infantrymen, originally armed with a rifled musket and used in a light-infantry or skirmishing role - and hence similar to the Jäger. The individual infantrymen are termed Schütze. Prior to the introduction of firearms the word was used for 'archer', and is sometimes used in the form Bogenschütze. When used as a verb schützen has the meaning 'guard' or 'protect'.

Army Mountain Warfare School United States Army school

The Army Mountain Warfare School (AMWS) is a United States Army school located at the Camp Ethan Allen Training Site, Jericho, Vermont to train soldiers in mountain warfare, the specialized skills required for operating in mountainous terrain. It is home to the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The school is located in Vermont's Green Mountains.


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  2. "MERRIAM-WEBSTER DICTIONARY: "Marksman"" . Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  3. "Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus: "Marksman"" . Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  4. "Special & Qualification Badges of the ADF 2002 Page 2". Digger History. Retrieved 2011-01-23.
  5. "Chapter 26 Military Skills Badges". Army Standing Orders for Dress. Australian Army. 1996.
  6. HQ AFPC/DPPPRA (2001). "The Air Force Awards and Decorations Program" (PDF). p. 31. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-02-16
  7. Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad, FM 7-8
  8. John Pike. "FM3-21.11 Chapter 1". Retrieved 2013-08-17.
  9. A. Goodman. "Sharpshooters: The Truth about A.C. Snipers". A. Goodman. Archived from the original on 2015-02-03. Retrieved 2015-06-19.
  10. "The Army Marksmanship Unit".
  11. "Earning your Appleseed Rifleman Patch". My Knowledge Guy. 2018-05-11. Retrieved 2019-02-26.
  12. 1 2 Ayoob, Massad (May–June 2010). "The Appleseed Project" (123). Backwoods Home Magazine.
  13. Program, NRA Marksmanship Qualification. "NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program". Retrieved 2019-02-26.