Schützen (German, lit. “Shooters”, Sharpshooters), a general designation for those troops of an army which are trained to fight in dispersed or skirmish order, and whose greatest skill is in the precise and deadly use of their firearms; hence they are best armed with rifled long arms. In the Prussian army, this is the case in the Schützen and Jäger battalions; both troop types are exactly alike in their tactical employment, their armament etc.; the only difference being that the Jäger battalions exclusively recruit trained hunters.

In earlier times the infantry Schützen were distributed to the regiments, as is still the case in some armies; they had the present role of forming the third rank. The cavalry has Schützen as well, who fight alongside the skirmishers, s. Blänker; about “Schützen zu Fuß”, s. Jägers, Tirailleurs, Tiraille etc.

Source: Rumpf, H. F.: Allgemeine Real-Encyclopädie der gesammten Kriegskunst (Berl. 1827)

Schützen, typically the same as Jägers; formerly troops of several small German states. At the beginning of the 20th century, only one battalion of the Prussian Gardekorps and the Saxon Regiment Nr. 108 still carry the name Schützen. The former, the Gardeschützenbataillon, was raised from Neuchâtel Schützen volunteers in 1815. Austria had two Landesschützen regiments of three battalions in Tyrol, one division of mounted Tyrolian and one squadron of mounted Dalmation Landesschützen (entirely Landwehr troops). Russia had Schützen brigades. In the language of the time, the infantry skirmisher was called Schütze (Plänkler in Austria, Tirailleur in France).

Since, in modern war, a great deal depends on the independent, well-considered use of the weapon by an individual shooter as well as his morale, the ultimate goal of infantry training is the formation of Schützen. The engagement in dispersed order is called Schützengefecht, the dispersed order itself Schützenlinie (skirmish line), or Schwarmlinie in Austria; it is the primary form of action of infantry, its firing is called Schützenfeuer, the speed of which, apart from the current level of training, must only relate to the acquisition and importance of the target (the swarm salvo is no longer used). A continuous cover for Schützen, dug into the terrain, is called Schützengraben (trench), in deep trenches a Schützenauftritt (firing step) is placed inside, from which the Schützen fire. Since the fire and movement of the Schützenlinie contributes significantly to the outcome, modern infantry tactics are called downright Schützen tactics.


  • Hofschröer, Peter: The Prussian Army of the Lower Rhine 1815, plate B2 (Oxford 2014)

Source: Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon, 6. Auflage 1905–1909

German Infantry Tactics, 1932–1945