Legend has it that east of Lexington on the morning of April 19, 1775, British Regulars and Royal Marines were tormented by a 55-year-old Hezekiah Wyman. Those his wife told him that he was “too old to fight,” the white-haired gentleman mounted his white horse and rode out ahead of the advancing column, stopped his horse, dismounted, and fired a single shot as they came into the range of his rifle.
A redcoat would fall, Wyman would remount and ride ahead, then dismount, reload, and wait for the column to come into range once more.
It is said that the British came to call him “death on a pale horse,” as he fired his rifle with deadly effect again and again outside the range of their muskets.
A good rifleman has always had the ability rain terror down upon his enemies, a fact as true today as it was back then.
Fast forward to 2014 in Iraq.
The British have long ago decided that having their own long-range riflemen is far preferable to being picked off by one, and they have developed some of the best long range rifles and shooters in the world… a seeming paradox for a country that all but denies their citizens the right to bear arms.
A British sniper team armed with a .50 BMG rifle did to an advancing Islamic State terror squad what Wyman did to the British 239 years before:
Two troopers from the elite British force reportedly used the world’s most powerful sniper rifle to destroy a convoy carrying IS killers.
With just two bullets from the AW50, the pair blasted lorries taking IS fighters towards an undefended Iraqi village, according to the Daily Star Sunday.
The SAS pair had feared the fighters were about to target civilians in a nearby village.
After hearing no jets were in the area for an airstrike, they blasted the first vehicle with a huge bullet from their AW50 rifle.
The powerful shot hit the truck’s engine and split it in two.
The insurgents radioed for a second lorry and when they climbed in, the SAS team fired a second shot that destroyed that too.
A senior source told the Daily Star Sunday: “It was a classic special forces operation.
“The SAS sniping team didn’t want to engage the IS militants in a full-blown battle because they were part of a small patrol spread out over an area.
“It’s not always about killing the enemy but neutralising the threat.”
Even in modern warfare, it isn’t always about drones, bombs, tanks, combined arms, and overwhelming firepower.
In the end, it is the steely-eyed rifleman that takes, holds, and denies ground to the enemy, a fact that has remained largely unchanged for centuries.