A ghillie suit is a special type of personal camouflage that is used in the field to blend into the surrounding environment seamlessly. It differs from other kinds of camouflage in that the ghillie suit uses its surrounding to also compose it. With the ghillie suit's special composition other elements can quickly and easily be added in order to match the current environment - such as twigs, grass, leaves, and an assortment of other vegetation and dirt. The ghillie suit also can become very hot, as it is usually a one-piece full body suit, and being covered in all of the materials means that it can reach upward of 120 degrees within the suit on a moderate day. On hot days it is impractical.
The ghillie suit is most often, in the military, worn by snipers, and the term actually came from a Scottish unit. Ghillie is also, in Scottish Gaelic language, the word for 'boy'. This term became used later on as a reference to the assistants and servants that would accompany and help or scout for nobles or others who would partake in hunting expeditions and fishing trips. Eventually this term began to be assigned for other uses, as often they would camouflage themselves in scouting.
The first uses of the ghillie suit came from its use as a hunting screen, or hunting blind. Later on in the First World War it would find use in sniper units, being comprised mostly of Scottish. Previously it had been used in the bloody Boer War and as such contributed to the victory. Ghillie suits come in a variety of manufacturers who go and supply you with a fully finished synthetic suit, or give you the basic parts to assemble yourself.
Most snipers and sniper units do not use pre-manufactured ghillie suits, and would rather construct their own. The mastery of making one comes with time, as in the beginning it can take weeks or months of work to make an excellent ghillie suit. However, a trained sniper may be able to assemble his or her suit in less than two hours. Usually a ghillie suit will be made from burlap, which is highly flammable, or it could be made out of something as simple as a one piece with the netting it needs sewn onto it. Practically any piece of clothing with long sleeves, or better, any one-piece suit, can be turned into a ghillie suit with the proper usage of threading and also skill in patterning.
A ghillie suit can not be washed, nor should it be gotten wet - for if it does get wet more dirt may need to be applied. However, some ghillie suits are manufactured out of water proof material, and can handle the wet conditions many snipers may find. Ghillie suits have also found popularity outside of the military in the civilian game of paintball, and many other such activities.
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