"(1) Emotional balance. The sniper must be able to calmly and deliberately kill targets that may not pose an immediate threat to him. It is much easier to kill in self-defense or in the defense of others than it is to kill without apparent provocation. The sniper must not be susceptible to emotions such as anxiety or remorse. Candidates whose motivation toward sniper training rests mainly in the desire for prestige may not be capable of the cold rationality that the sniper's job requires."
—U.S Army Field Manual: Sniper Training
What happens when The Army
employs a would-be serial killer: the cold, silent hunter with a scope, a rifle
and a very good eye
who can shoot you in the face
from a mile away and not lose a wink of sleep over it.
A trope commonly applied to a lot of snipers, mostly the evil ones, what with loners being evil
. Prevalent due to the allure and popularity of the idea of a lone, stealthy, and emotionless hunter. May overlap with Emotionless Girl
and The Stoic
, as well as The Hunter
. Thankfully, the overlap with Psycho for Hire
and Sociopathic Soldier
is very rare.
See also Weapon of Choice
. Compare with Archer Archetype
in medieval/fantasy settings. Likely to find work as a Professional Killer
. A common subversion is the Friendly Sniper
, who is not only much more personable but also usually saner (and is more likely to be depicted as a good guy).
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Caine the Longshot from Trigun is a prime example of this trope, having without a doubt, the longest sniper rifle ever conceived by anyone's imagination. While some of the other Guns occasionally display emotions, Kain doesn't - he doesn't even speak. When he is found by Vash, he calmly draws his backup piece, and shoots himself.
- The Full Metal Panic! Light Novels introduce a Cold Sniper in the person of Wilhelm Casper, who trained Kurz and is now a member of the villain organization called Amalgam. The ending of Approaching Nick of Time reveals that after Casper chose to take a kill-shot which also critically injured an uninvolved eight-year-old girl, Kurz made up his mind that he didn't want to be a "real sniper" if it meant becoming a monster like Casper, and thereafter seems to have exerted himself to be a Friendly Sniper instead.
- Limelda Jorg in Madlax starts off as a professionally Cold Sniper but gradually descends into the Psycho Lesbian zone due to her bitter rivalry with the show's eponymous lead (who is also a formidable sniper but in no way a cold one).
- Golgo 13. So cold, the temperature of the room goes down when he walks in.
- Lupin III's Daisuke Jigen. Outside of battle, however, he's a sardonic Deadpan Snarker - no-one can be completely serious around Lupin, after all.
- Both sides of his characters are best shown in The Movie Lupin III Episode 0 First Contact: Jigen spent half of the movie being a cold sniper and trying to kill Lupin, then, when both are prisoners of the main villain, Lupin's latest way to humiliate their captor is force Jigen to try and stifle a laugh before cracking up.
- Subverted by Dieci of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. She's introduced as a sniper as emotionless as some of her cyborg sisters, but she's later revealed to be not as cold as she appeared, having second thoughts about their goals when she sees the six-year old Vivio in pain from being used to activate the Saint's Cradle, and showing hesitation when shooting down Nanoha as she arrives to rescue her daughter.
- Simultaneously Justified and Subverted by Riza Hawkeye in Fullmetal Alchemist. She's the resident stoic, and expert sniper. When her old friend Roy Mustang is reunited with her after she saves his life during the war, Mustang notices that she has acquired the eyes of a killer. However, it's shown that her stoicism is a reaction against the horror of war. When Kimblee taunts her with the intent of getting her to admit to loving the moment of killing, she can't admit that, and is horrified. The reality is that under the stoic exterior, Riza is actually an extremely warm-hearted character.
- She even mentions how guns detach one from the act of killing. Though, as a sniper, it's the exact opposite of detachment.
Riza: I like guns. Because they're not like swords and knives, the sense of death doesn't linger on the hands.
Roy: That's self-deception. Are you lying to yourself so that you may continue to soil your hands?
Riza: Yes, sir. We soldiers should be the only ones with blood on our hands. No one else should have to go through what we did in Ishbal. If the world can be expressed through equivalent exchange as the alchemists claim, then for future generations to be happy, as payment, we must carry corpses on our back across a river of blood.
- Van Auger, a member from Blackbeard's crew in One Piece, is extremely cold and obsessed with fate, armed with a sniper rifle, and is able to pick off seagulls from a distance that the island isn't even visible from.
- And completely inverted with the main sniper of the series, Usopp, who is a loud, Cowardly Lion fighting with a slingshot and usually a hammer. His secret identity, Sogeking, however, is portrayed as a cool-headed hero who officially declared war on the world government without so much as split second of hesitation... But in battle he's usually just as cowardly.
- Averted and played straight in Monster. When Nina asks for advice from a sniper he tells her that in order to kill someone she had to "forget the taste of sugar": The man in question retired specifically because he found himself empathizing with one of his targets (namely he started wondering how the man's coffee must be tasting because he'd poured so much sugar in it) and found that he couldn't be a Cold Sniper anymore because of it.
- Mana Tatsumiya of Mahou Sensei Negima! is a slightly lighter version of this; she never actually kills anyone (maybe), but she's entirely unapologetic about using ammo that paralyzes people for days, even if it's the guy that she has a crush on.
- Saito of Ghost in the Shell, although he's more 'professional' than 'psychotic' and appears to be no less mentally healthy than the rest of Section 9. He also doubles as The Quiet One, though he is occasionally sarcastic and openly breaks out in laughter in one of the novels. Granted, he's laughing at how pathetic someone is, so it doesn't really earn him any points towards Friendly Sniper.
- He even has an episode for his own in which he tells about the only time someone managed to get past him and made him scared for his life. But in the end, it seems quite likely that he just made it all up with a completely straight face, just to show someone how unbelievably good he is at bluffing. Or did he?
- When her glasses come off, Mey-rin of Black Butler goes from a clumsy Meganekko to a sniper easily capable of blowing your brains out. And with her extreme farsightedness, she need only the iron sights to snipe.
- Author Hiroki Endo loves this trope, as demonstrated by Eden.
- Reki from Hidan no Aria. Further emphasised in the light novels at one point when the protagonist mused to himself over rumours that she had once engaged in black ops for an organisation with a Thou Shalt Not Kill policy. And she is completely unperturbed at her acts.
- In an episode of the Area88 TV anime, a sniper terrorizes the entire base. He's never seen from anything beyond his own first person perspective, and never says anything, at any point. Cold's a good word for it.
- YuYu Hakusho offers an interesting twist with the villain Kaname "Sniper" Hagiri. Per say, he doesn't actually use a real sniper rifle (he does use a pistol), but he can flick objects (marbles, dice, a tank truck filled with fuel) with insane force and accuracy. Moreover, his "territory" lets him imprint enemies with bulls-eyes that attract anything he throws with deathly speed. That said, personality-wise he fits the bill of the Cold Sniper quite well - out of all the Sensui Seven, he's the least emotional and crazy, and fights purely methodically. (Though he can also be Not So Stoic, and after Itsuki he is the most unfalteringly loyal to their leader Sensui.)
- Tarantula aka Lundi's brother Jean Jacques Cortot in Honoo No Alpen Rose. He works for Count George de Germont, who is associated with Those Wacky Nazis. However, after the Count orders him to kill General Guisan, he refuses to work with the Count and almost shoots him to death after he finds out of his plan.
- In the Green Lantern The Sinestro Corps War, Bedovian is a Sinestro Corps member who had been numbed of all emotions after centuries of isolation and can snipe targets from three space sectors away. His shell also acts as an armor.
- And John Stewart, the badass former Marine turned architect turned Green Lantern, beats Bedovian at his own game by using his ring to construct a sniper rifle and firing back. Presumably non-lethally, since Green Lantern Rings at the time can't kill anyone.
- Bedovian is still active, and proving he's the best sniper out of any Corps. How you ask? Well, Kyle and Munk wrap Dove up in a Green bullet, which Bedovian promptly shoots out of his construct rifle, then she is energized by the light of six corps, and she goes straight through the BLACK LANTERN ANTI-MONITOR'S head! That crustacean is HARD-CORE!
- Little Sure Shot of Sgt. Rock's Easy Company is an antisocial Native American who tends to eschew teamwork in favor of working alone.
- Cloud 9 of Avengers: The Initiative is jittery, compassionate, and easily shaken, in an almost complete inversion of this trope... but she becomes a straight example later on as she is forced to be more violent more often.
- DCU Antihero/Villain Deadshot claims not to care if anyone lives or dies, including himself.
- During one of Frank Castle's tours of Vietnam, he served as a counter-sniper, and occasionally puts those skills to use during his vigilante career. To say he's not emotional is an understatement.
- Sin City: Hell and Back had a sniper assassin going after the main character. The man was very calm and collected, although apparently unbalanced considering he had just killed a woman simply so he could use her apartment as a stakeout.
- Miho also counts as a bow and arrow Cold Sniper. Being the Voiceless, she never changes her blank expression and her aiming skills are second to none.
- Lowlight in the G.I. Joe comic book was always there to make the little blue dots stop moving.
- His COBRA counterpart Black Out also qualifies, though he has a sadistic streak and an extremely sour disposition. His motivation comes from being turned down by G.I. Joe due to some red flags popping up in his psychological evaluation
- Inverted in Sturmtruppen: The resident sniper becomes so obsessed with scoring kills that he starts to shoot other soldiers and officers, until the Sergeant is forced to behead him with a machete.
- In the IDW Transformers line, Perceptor becomes one after a brush with death convinces him that he needs to be more combat effective. He adds multiple upgrades to himself that give him superior targeting and weapon stability, then snipes the vulnerable spots on Monstructor.
- In Project Ignition, there's Kroitchov, BFF's current top sniper. He's dark, somber, and does not care who or what he shoots. He hardly says anything, either in his NEXT or not. Curiously, he's a former Silent Avalanche pilot, trained for NEXT piloting during the course of For Answer and is the catalyst for the 72AN project (which is simply to retrain surviving Silent Avalanche Snipers into NEXT pilots). Contrasting him is Aerilynn, who's full on Friendly Sniper.
- Nack from Prison Island Break talked about his job as a professional assassin as if it was a day job.
- In Child Of The Storm the Winter Soldier shows no emotion about his kills. Mind, he's The Voiceless and doesn't show emotion about anything. He's also confirmed as the man who killed Kennedy.
- The Cold part changes as we get more and more of a look inside his head and his brainwashing begins to wear off.
- Lieutenant (JG) K'lak of Bait and Switch isn't exactly unfriendly, but he does have a very dour demeanor.
- Act of Valor: Weimy, who's completely silent except to confirm kills during a mission.
- Saving Private Ryan has Daniel Jackson, who is a mix of this and Friendly Sniper. He believes that he is God's agent of justice, praying as he fires and sleeping like a baby every night. On the other hand, he socializes with the rest of the squad.
- Erwin König in Enemy at the Gates the ruthless sniper who duels Russian hero Vasily Zaytsev. The film was based on the real-life Zaytsev's memoirs, which are now considered apocryphal.
- The sniper from the film The Caller is a sadistically cold example of this trope.
- The resident sniper of the Wild Seven in Battle Royale II never speaks a word and is shown as mostly blank. His character's expanded on a bit more in the movie's novelization — and is still mostly cold and emotionless.
- Phone Booth's sniper does have feelings - but not exactly the expected ones. He has no problems killing a random pimp to provoke his target and a perfectly innocent pizza guy to avoid suspicion.
- Ex-colonel Sebastian Moran is this in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
- Played with in Full Metal Jacket, when the drill instructor exalts the marksmanship of two murderers, Charles Whitman and Lee Harvey Oswald, who were both Marines. The trope is ultimately subverted when a VC sniper turns out to be an adolescent girl using an basic assault-rife without even a scope fitted.
- Dragan, The Dragon of the Serbian gangsters in Layer Cake turns out to be a cold sniper. Expecting to get the drop on Dragan, the "heroes" arrive early at a meeting spot and hide out, ready to shoot the Serbian as he arrives. Turns out Dragan had arrived even earlier and scoped the place out, allowing him to snipe the sniper.
- Sniper: Thomas Beckett is the stoic loner type. He's shunned on the base he's stationed at both for being a sniper among regular soldiers, and for being rather notorious for losing partners in the field.
- Tom Bishop in Spy Game (before he becomes a spy).
- Bob Lee Swagger in Shooter showed no remorse over anyone or anything he ever shot at, not even innocent cans of soup. He has plenty of emotions; he simply does not regret killing people. He was rather attached to his dog though.
- In Jarhead Swoff is drifting into this trope, and repeatedly references his need for 'the red mist'.
- Sabotage features the married sniper team of James "Monster" Murray and wife Lizzy.
- Zero from X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He even cracks a smile after he had just murdered two innocent people and watched their barn blow up.
- Wolf Creek has its antagonist. Once you realise he's not so friendly, Mick Taylor (not the Rolling Stone) proves that guns can be just as scary as knives.
- That goes double for the sequel. In the opening scene he manages Cold and Friendly sniper "at the same time".
Live Action TV
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Faith after her Face-Heel Turn.
- JAG: In "High Ground"; when a promise by his former CO not be deployed to Bosnia is reversed by the new Colonel; Gunnery Sergeant Ray Crockett shots the rear mirror of the Colonel’s car, when moving at 1 000 yards distance, as a warning before he takes off to the hills.
- But he's also at the same time a Friendly Sniper, because he felt he was unjustly treated and never meant to harm anyone.
- An episode of CSI: Miami had the typical cold emotionless sniper serial killer. So cold that the investigator didn't care what his reason was when the sniper asked if he wanted to know. Thanks a lot, Horatio.
"Don't you want to know why?"
"I don't care. You're evil, you enjoy death, I hope you enjoy yours."
- Averted/played straight (depending on your interpretation) on an episode of NCIS, when Ari kills Kate with a perfectly aimed shot between the eyes. As he lowers the rifle, he simply says "Sorry, Caitlin"
- Gibbs is/was this too (he was a sniper in the Gulf War and he still has the ability), and Ziva is capable of being one too.
- Both, however, are much nicer, more caring, and at least in Ziva's case, more personable.
- A Villain of the Week was an aspiring sniper who was rejected from the Marines because he showed signs of sociopathy. Gibbs grudgingly admits that he was one of the best and most resourceful snipers he had seen.
- Averted in Generation Kill: after one of the company's snipers scores (rather bloody) headshots on a couple of targets, he is seen looking visibly disturbed.
- Criminal Minds had Philip Dowd, a sniper also called a "Long Distance Serial Killer". He started off in the military, but was discharged dishonorably, then kicked out of the police, and finally became a doctor who sniped people and then saved them later. He used an M-4 with .223 caliber rounds (which fragment on impact), shooting from the back of his van equipped with a retractable license plate.
- Sherlock: Sebastian Moran, in contrast to John.
- Super Sentai: The Blue Rangers, either Red Oni, Blue Oni or The Lancer, is often the Cold Sniper. Dekaranger's Hoji is THE personification, being blue, obnoxiously cool and collected, and the team's resident sniper. Paralleled by Tsubasa, Souta and Gunpei.
- None of the above are particularly emotionless or sociopathic, though. The best Sentai example is Cyclops, one of the Ten Infershia Gods, who spends two episodes shooting at the team from the comfort of a pocket dimension. Once Tsubasa finds his own way there, the two have a very satisfying snipe-off, with Legend MagiYellow one-shotting him. Unlike most examples, Cyclops has a nasty temper, but whenever it flares up his eye starts flashing in warning and he composes himself by stroking his chin.
- All three main characters on Burn Notice are capable of this, with either Sam or Fiona usually taking on the role while Michael shows off his hand-to-hand or undercover skills.
- Subverted in The Sandbaggers. Sandbagger three starts to crack after being forced to kill Sandbagger two in an early episode.
- Subverted frequently in the Canadian-made police series, Flashpoint, beginning in its very first episode which follows the aftermath (emotionally and professionally) when a police sniper is forced to kill a man. The series continues to subvert it by establishing that use of deadly force in this fashion is considered a failure, and by a sympathetic female character as one of the snipers (played by the actress who used to play Pink Ranger in Power Rangers, yet). However, the trope is slightly supported by having one police sniper character being a seasoned war veteran with no qualms about pulling the trigger.
- Said character, is revealed to have killed his best friend by accident in Afghanistan, and to have seen his younger sister die in an accident when he was a child.
- Somewhat subverted with Seeley Booth in Bones. He was a sniper and it's implied he was a very good one but he doesn't really enjoy talking about it and went into the FBI to save as many people as he had killed. Might be played straight later in season 6. Some spoilers mention a sniper killing people.
- The cold sniper in Season 6 turns out to be a former mentor of Seeley. The sniper himself points out that Seeley certainly isn't a cold sniper: as he sees it, Seeley's weakness is that he refuses to pull the trigger if there's any question about the target's guilt.
- Richard Harrow from Boardwalk Empire, a WW1 veteran with a horrible facial injury, befriended by Jimmy Darmody. Proficient with all kinds of firearms and an excellent marksman. At first he comes across as a likeable, kind-hearted fellow (his physical appearance notwithstanding) but then all of a sudden there's this little bit of dialogue between him and Jimmy as they discuss how to get rid of the d'Alessios:
Richard: Chalky — Mr. White —- heard back from his men in Philadelphia. Mrs. D'Alessio, the mother, is there; their sisters and another brother.
Jimmy: Which one?
Jimmy: Never heard of him.
Richard: He's a dentist. (...) I could go there, to Philadelphia.
Jimmy: What good is that? They're lying low. Somewhere else.
(in his usual dispassionate voice
): I could kill the mother. The sisters. And the dentist. That would make them stick their heads up.
- His coldblooded nature is shown in his first episode when he kills a guy as his first job for Jimmy. He does not know the target and he only met Jimmy a few days earlier. He wasn't even a criminal up to that point. Jimmy simply offered him a chance to do what he is good at. After making that shot he packs up his rifle without showing any emotion.
- Over the course of the series, Richard undergoes a lot of Character Development and regains his humanity.
- Tujurikkuja parodies this trope in one of their clips where a sniper shoots everyone his instructor mentions.
- The Kill Point features one working for a SWAT team. He also fancies himself something of a Warrior Poet.
- Justified has Deputy US Marshall Tim Gutterson, a sniper who was with the Rangers in Afghanistan. He is a very friendly guy who likes to joke around but when he aims his sniper rifle at someone he is deadly calm and has no qualms about pulling the trigger. His boss is even concerned that Tim might like killing too much. However, it is strongly implied that Tim is suffering from PTSD and might be an alcoholic as a result of having to kill so many people.
- John Casey on Chuck is a Cold Sniper beginning to defrost. How bad-ass of a sniper is he? He once took down about a dozen mooks converging on his exposed position at close range (he had a fallen tree for cover) while protecting an injured Sarah Walker, every one of them wre one-shot, one-kill. And then to one-up that, in a later episode he cleared a room of bad guys in an office building from a rooftop across the street. Doesn't sound that impressive? The blinds were closed, and his only visual on the targets was the hidden camera fit in the eyeglasses worn by his partner trapped in the room. He then wiped them out without looking through his scope and relying solely on the visual feed through a computer. All but one were clean one-shot kills, and the last was only because the target was trying to use his partner as a human shield.
- Ernest Cobb from Alcatraz is one who uses his abilities for random killings
- Koch from the German World War II drama Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter is a subversion. He's initially presented as cold and trigger-happy - at one point he's about to shoot a cute little kitty, prompting Friedhelm to snidely remark, "You like shooting, don't you?" Turns out the reason he goes after animals is because it reminds him of time spent hunting with his father as a child, and in any case, the first time we see him point his gun at a human is when he attempts to protect a Jewish girl from the Sicherheitsdienst.
- Major Crimes: The team chase a cold sniper (with his loner status being continually highlighted) in the episode "Long Shot".
- ''NUMB3RS: In most of his appearances Agent Ian Edgerton is the embodiment of this idea. Occasionally his lighter side shows, as in the finale, but not often. In an almost Batmanesque manner, he appears to value justice over law.
- The Vindicare in Warhammer 40,000 are born and raised to fulfill this trope. According to the fluff, their entire vocabulary consists only of words needed in the field. They are molded from childhood to kill without thought or feeling.
- While many 40K armies sport snipers (and the Vindicare are the best), some mention must go to the Space Marine version - specialized Scouts. This doesn't sound to impressive until you realize that Scouts are teenagers who have yet to be promoted (and augmented) into full genetically-modified warrior-monks, but have already passed the trials... which tend to be extremely lethal.
- On the less superhuman end of the scale, the Imperium also has the kleptomaniacal Ratlings as cooks/snipers for the Imperial Guard.
- The Eldar Rangers and Pathfinders are some of the scariest and hardest to kill long-range infantry out there.
- Tau Sniper Drones, pretty self explanatory.
- Warmachine and Hordes each have their own cold snipers. Kell Balioch is a mercenary assassin whom asks no questions and gives no quarter, while the Khadoran Empire employs squads of emotionally detached snipers called Widowmakers. Grim Angus is an ex-bounty hunter whom decided to leave his old life to help his old kinsmen. He was once feared for his preference to take more bounties in dead than alive with his long ranged rifle, Headhunter. Now he is just feared for never leaving anyone alive.
- A subversion comes in the form of Kara Sloan, who only acts cold around her troops out of guilt over the fact that she's in a relationship with one of her junior officers.
- The Chem.IMN from Mutant Chronicles. Cybernetic assassins with long range rifles and chemical weapons who get dropped from orbit and look like the Terminator. Uh huh, THAT one.
- The canon NPC Stanley Chang in Unknown Armiesnote is a painfully shy, timid man; the only time other people don't make him nervous is when he's looking at them through his scope from a good distance away.
- In the opening fiction of the Weep sourcebook, one of his "co-workers" recounts one time where Chang backshot a pregnant woman without so much as blinking.
- There's an image macro with a still shot from the music video from Jason Derulo's "Breathing" with a caption that quotes the line "I only miss you when I'm breathing." Immediately below it is a U. S. Marine Corps sniper in the desert looking downrange through the sight on his anti-materiel rifle, with another caption stating "I know that feeling, bro."
- In the Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode "Hostage Crisis", a group of bounty hunters led by Cad Bane take over the Galactic Senate building. One of them, Aurra Sing, first takes out most of the Senate guards outside with a long range sniper rifle from a nearby building.
- In "Duchess of Mandalore", a Mandalorian warrior is assigned to assassinate the Duchess Satine on Coruscant and stalks her in the lower levels of the city-planet. He misses her the first time but manages to kill an informant giving her important information.
- "Our Newest Member, Calvin", a Robot Chicken sketch, plays with this. Calvin, a new sniper recruit for G.I. Joe, starts out extremely light hearted, but ends up receiving an embarassing codename after the Joes ridicule his overfriendiness. The humiliation prompts him to join COBRA for the mere sake of getting back on his former mates, effectively becoming a Cold Sniper by killing all but Duke in cold blood and with absolute precision.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, it's made clear that a firebender specializing in combustion is essentially a human cannon. Now fast-forward to Book 3 of Sequel Series The Legend of Korra, and pair the above with P'Li's ruthless, standoffish demeanor and uncanny aim.
- The Yu-Yan Archers from the first season of A:TLA count as well. Always silent, unfazed by pressure, with legendary accuracy and extremely effective. They only use bows and arrows instead of rifles.
- Real-life example and subversion: Häyhä, the deadliest sniper in history, who killed more than five hundred Soviet soldiers in the Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland, and then bagged another two hundred more with his submachine gun, all over a war that lasted only a hundred and five days. He aptly earned the nickname "White Death" thanks to that—despite counter-snipers and artillery strikes, the Soviets just couldn't kill him. However, it turns out that Häyhä was actually a small, quiet, and unassuming Finnish farmer who "did what he was told as well as he could" and quite amiable guy outside the battlefield. During his career, he avoided using a telescopic sight to present a smaller target and avoid revealing reflections from a scope lens, and kept snow in his mouth to keep his breath from being seen. In the end, he was shot in the head (with an exploding round) and lost a chunk of his face, but lived to the age of 97. He also shot the guy who shot him in the face.
- The Winter War ended a few days before Simo Häyhä recovered from his injuries. This is probably a coincidence, and not that the Soviets were terrified of having to face him again. Probably.
- The Shooter quote is taken from a false (but humorous) exchange between a sniper and a reporter. The reporter, understandably trying to get the sniper's insights into the emotional state needed to do the job, asked him, "When you see your target and pull the trigger, what do you feel?" The sniper shrugged and said, "Recoil."
- This is also referenced in Secret Warriors issue No. 4 where Nick Fury is asked what he'll feel about killing former SHIELD agents who transferred to HAMMER in part because they have to take care of their families. As he pulls back the bolt on a sniper rifle he says "Recoil."
- A similar apocryphal story has a somewhat more sociopathic interviewee reply to the question "How can you shoot unarmed women and children?" with "They don't run as fast, so you have to lead less."
- Discussed in the book One Shot, One Kill by Charles W. Sasser and Craig Roberts (Roberts is himself a former sniper). The U.S. military originally simply issued sniper rifles to the soldiers with the best aim, but they're now selected for their mental state and personality, with aim being a secondary concern. It's easier to teach a decent soldier better aiming skills than it is to teach the wrong soldier how to cope with the psychological demands.
- ... for a given value of "decent" - not the one you'd like applied to your neighbours.
- There was a History Channel special on snipers, which included a somewhat-famous bit of rifle marksmanship that occured during the Vietnam War. On St. Valentines Day, just before midnight, 20 Vietcong soldiers were crossing a river, holding their rifles over their heads because the water went up to their necks. On the other side of the river was an American sniper who killed them all with one headshot apiece in about 30 seconds. An unpleasant, but necessary, part of war. We see a recreation of the shooting narrated by the original sniper. After the recreation, he discusses the shooting a little bit more before saying, "Yeah, that was my St. Valentine's Day massacre present to the Vietcong" and laughing. Brrr...
- On the same special, there was a United States sniper from the Iraqi War. The main point of the segment was him killing an enemy sniper who had been terrorizing a town. At the beginning of the segment, he appeared to be reasonable. However, as the segment continued, he began to give off a decidedly... sociopath vibe. He repeatedly referred to using fellow Marines as "bait" for the enemy sniper without informing them of this. He also was talking about how he regarded the entire population of the town as possible terrorists, to the point where he would cover them with his rifle if he saw them doing anything "suspicious". When he finally found the sniper (after waiting for him to shoot twice at friendly troops to pinpoint his (the enemy sniper's) location), he wanted to use an airstrike in the middle of a populated town to kill the sniper. He said that his commanders (obviously) denied this, and proceeded to mock their rationale that it would lead to civilian casualties. Brr indeed.
- Aside from the examples given able, in general snipers, at least military snipers, are trained in the "one shot, one kill, no remorse" philosophy and numerous media stories have been done on how snipers feel no remorse for killing other people. It may not be to the extent of the "would-be serial killer" described in the introduction to this trope, but nonetheless the very concept of a sniper requires cold-bloodedness. It helps that many snipers believe, often correctly, that their role in eliminating key targets quickly and precisely from a great distance is vital to protecting their fellow soldiers and is actually reducing total casualties for both sides.
- Theres also the fact that often, the sniper will see his target's face, and then snuff his life out. It's a very different thing from shooting someone in the heat of battle, It's simply killing someone, holding the power of life and death over someone else and having to pick death because it's the sniper's job. These days most modern armies don't pick who's the best at shooting, they pick the ones who won't be mentally scarred from it.
- Finnish Army Sniper Manual states that those conscripts who are trained to become snipers must be of higher than average intelligence, psychologically stable and not easily scared. Sniper trainees are usually selected amongst those college students who refuse reserve officer training. Shooting skills can be practised, but innate abilities not.
- Canadian Sniper Rob Furlong who got a 1.5 mile kill shot on a Taliban soldier. Just watch this video.
- The late Chris Kyle, came off as this in his book. Least concerning shooting insurgents. By most accounts, when dealing with his family, and teammates, he was a very nice guy.