During the Civil War, sharpshooters brought marksmanship skills to bear, dispatching generals and influencing battles.
After the American Civil War, repeating rifles and smokeless powder revolutionized shooting. Accurate rifles that didn’t give away a sniper’s position, combined with optical sights, made the stalemate of the Great War’s trenches ideal conditions for the sniper’s work.
After the Great War, Soviet Russia sought to upgrade its military capability—especially when it came to sniping rifles. The result was the scope-sighted, bolt-action Mosin-Nagant, used with deadly effect against the Nazis on the Eastern Front.
Without a suitable sniping rifle, and with no training organization in place, the Allies struggled against German snipers early during the Great War. That changed—and then the Americans arrived.
Throughout World War II the Germans used and developed several variations of sniper optics and rifles that evolved throughout the course of the war.
Before sniping could make an impact on the battlefield, two things were required: accurate rifles and optical sights.