Kyle was born in Odessa, Texas, the first of two boys born to Deby Lynn (née Mercer) and Wayne Kenneth Kyle, a Sunday school teacher and deacon.
Kyle's father bought his son his first rifle at 8 years old, a bolt-action .30-06 Springfield rifle, and later a shotgun, with which they hunted deer, pheasant, and quail. Kyle and his brother grew up raising up to 150 head of cattle at a time. Kyle attended high school in Midlothian, Texas, and after graduating, he became a professional bronco rodeo rider and ranch hand, but his professional rodeo career ended abruptly when he severely injured his arm.
Kyle went to a military recruiting office, as he was interested in joining the U.S. Marine Corps' special operations. A U.S. Navy recruiter convinced him to try, instead, for the SEALs. Initially, Kyle was rejected because of the pins in his arm, but he eventually received an invitation to the 24-week Basic Underwater Demolition/Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) training (BUD/S) at Coronado, California in 1999. Kyle graduated with class 233 in March 2001.
His first long-range kill shot was taken during the initial invasion when he shot a woman carrying a hand grenade approaching a group of Marines. CNN reported that the woman was cradling a toddler in her other hand. As ordered, Kyle opened fire, killing the woman before she could attack. He later stated, "the woman was already dead. I was just making sure she didn't take any Marines with her. It was clear that not only did she want to kill them, but she didn’t care about anybody else nearby who would have been blown up by the grenade or killed in the firefight. Children on the street, people in the houses, maybe her child.
Because of his track record as a marksman during his deployment to Ramadi, the insurgents named Kyle Shaitan Ar-Ramadi (English: "The Devil of Ramadi") and put a $20,000 bounty on his head that was later increased to $80,000. They posted signs highlighting the cross on his arm as a means of identifying him.
Kyle became known as, "The Legend" among the general infantry, including Marines, whom he had the task of protecting. The nickname originated among Kyle's fellow SEALs following his taking of a sabbatical to train other Snipers in Fallujah, and he was sometimes called "The Myth".During four tours of duty in the Iraq War, he was shot twice and survived six separate IED detonations.
In Kyle's book American Sniper, Kyle wrote a subchapter titled "Punching Out Scruff Face" about an alleged altercation in a bar. In the book, he claims he punched a man he refers to as "Scruff" who told Kyle, "You deserve to lose a few." According to Kyle, the encounter took place at McP's, a bar in Coronado, California, on October 12, 2006, during a wake for Kyle's comrade, Michael A. Monsoor, a U.S. Navy SEAL who had been killed in Iraq. Petty Officer Monsoor would thereafter be posthumously presented the Medal of Honor, on April 8, 2008, for his actions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom on September 29, 2006.
Kyle describes his longest successful shot: in 2008, outside Sadr City, he killed an insurgent sniper aiming at other members of the US military with "a straight-up luck shot" from his McMillan TAC-338 sniper rifle from about 2,100 yards (1,920 m) away.
Kyle left the U.S. Navy in 2009, and moved to Midlothian, Texas, with his wife, Taya, and two children. He was president of Craft International, a tactical training company for the U.S. military and law enforcement communities.
In 2012, HarperCollins released Kyle's autobiography, American Sniper. Kyle had initially hesitated to write the book but was persuaded to move forward because other books about SEALs were underway. In his book, Kyle wrote bluntly about his experiences. Of the battle for control of Ramadi, he says: "Force moved that battle. We killed the bad guys and brought the leaders to the peace table. That is how the world works." In the book and ensuing interviews, Kyle stated he had no regrets about his work as a sharpshooter, saying, "I had to do it to protect the Marines.
Kyle paired with FITCO Cares Foundation, a nonprofit organization that created the Heroes Project to provide free in-home fitness equipment, individualized programs, personal training, and life-coaching to in-need veterans with disabilities, Gold Star families, or those suffering from PTSD. On August 13, 2012, Kyle appeared on the reality television show Stars Earn Stripes, which features celebrities pairing up with a Special Operations or law enforcement professionals who train them in weapons and combat tactics. Kyle was teamed with actor Dean Cain.
On February 2, 2013, Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, 35, were shot and killed by Eddie Ray Routh at the Rough Creek Ranch-Lodge-Resort shooting range in Erath County, Texas. Both Kyle and Littlefield were armed with .45-caliber 1911-style pistols when they were killed, but neither gun had been unholstered or fired, and the safety catches were still on. Kyle was killed with a .45-caliber pistol, while Littlefield was shot with a 9mm SIG Sauer pistol. Both guns belonged to Kyle.
In August 2013, Texas governor Rick Perry signed Senate Bill 162, also known as the "Chris Kyle Bill", to recognize military training in the issuance of occupational licenses. The bill had been co-sponsored by Republican Representative Dan Flynn of Van and Democratic Senator Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio. The ceremony was attended by Kyle's widow Taya.
American Sniper is a 2014 American biographical war drama film directed by Clint Eastwood and written by Jason Hall. It is loosely based on the memoir American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History (2012) by Chris Kyle, with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice. The film follows the life of Kyle, who became the deadliest marksman in U.S. military history with 255 kills from four tours in the Iraq War, 160 of which were officially confirmed by the Department of Defense. While Kyle was celebrated for his military successes, his tours of duty took a heavy toll on his personal and family life. The film was produced by Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper, and Peter Morgan. It stars Cooper as Kyle and Sienna Miller as his wife Taya, with Luke Grimes, Jake McDorman, Cory Hardrict, Kevin Lacz, Navid Negahban, and Keir O'Donnell in supporting roles.