Showing posts from March, 2014

Historical Trivia: Snipe, Sniper, Sniping

The Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) The term sniper has an interesting etymology dating back to 18th century India.   It comes from the common pastime of snipe hunting a hobby popular with British gentlemen who found themselves posted there.   The Snipe lives primarily in marshlands and is an agile, easily spooked bird with an erratic flight pattern that throws off predators and potential hunters.  This makes shooting them particularly difficult as such being a proficient snipe hunter became synonymous with being an excellent shot.    The hunting of the birds often required the hunter to move quietly, make good use of cover and patiently await his opportunity.   All qualities which are today recognised within snipers. Snipe hunting in India circa. 1870 The term is believed to have arisen during the 1770s meaning someone adept at shooting snipe - a ‘sniper’.  The term grew in popularity among British soldiers posted in India during the 19th century and eventually entered military par…

A Concise History of Tiger Hunting in India and Guns

Persian Miniature of Mughal Emperor Akbar hunting tigers in India.
Talking Tigers: Part 4 of a 12-part series India’s tigers have been in the crosshairs for centuries, with elite safaris dating back to the early 16th century. They rose out of Mughal Emperor Jalal-ud-Din Muhammad Akbar’s passion for big game: He began a tradition of  royal hunting, or shikar, that was carried on by Mughal rulers until the dynasty fell in 1857. Paintings from the period depict Mongol, Rajput, Turk  and Afghan nobility hunting from elephant or horseback. These outings were considered exotic, heroic sport—and tigers were the ultimate trophies. Staging elaborate big game hunts was also a favorite pastime for the British Raj that succeeded the Mughals, an activity that showcased their royalty, machismo, power and wealth. They took out tigers with reckless abandon, along with their Indian counterparts that ruled (nominally) sovereign “Princely States.” Kings and lords, generals, and M…