I have a photo at home of the company my son was serving in at the time in Germany, before they deployed to Iraq, and several of the men had the German shooting badges.
To answer the question about "ropes," it varies. Before WWI when the US Army was still wearing blue as a dress uniform and OD for everything else, they wore "breast cords" purely as an adornment as full dress. With one exception, all other cords worn in the army are French decorations, I believe, though I don't know the origin in the French army.
The British go crazy with unit uniform distinctions, so much so that the word "uniform" is rarely used. Most of what is seen now in the way of shoulder cords originated as whistle or knife lanyards. They tend to wear unit colors, sometimes even company colors. Plaited shoulder cords are worn on full dress uniforms in the Household Cavalry mounted squadron and at the time of the American Revolution, very similiar but much plainer cords were worn as marks of rank.
One distinction that is an exception in the US Army is the shoulder band (if you could call it that, don't know how the regs refer to it) worn by the 3d Infantry. It's supposed to represent the shoulder strap of a pack, so the story goes.
The most curious use of cords on a uniform were the cords worn by hussar regiments in some armies as late as WWI that consisted of a length of wool cord about 1/4 inch in diameter that also had a number of "barrels" of metal along the length. It was doubled and wrapped around the waist about three times, the metal barrels all lined up nice and neat and the ends tucked away somewhere. It was something like the sash still worn at military academies but I don't remember the name, even in English.
Remember, the side with the plainest uniforms wins.
Just remembered: it's called a barrel sash or hordó szárny.
Shoot low, sheriff. They're riding Shetlands!
Underneath the starry flag, civilize 'em with a Krag,
and return us to our own beloved homes!
Buy War Bonds.
Last edited by BlueTrain; August 29, 2012 at 10:13 AM.