A Video Game trope. Often in games with a Sniper Rifle, you're expected to press a button and look through a scope to aim properly. Occasionally, however it's possible to shoot someone without it through luck or skill, a feat belying reality due to the unwieldiness of such large weapons in close quarters. Usually made even less realistic because they're hipshots, not that video game guns usually have sights. How easy this is depends on the game;
Some make the rifle harder to aim without the scope. Often hiding the cross-hairs, making them shake, or adding random error to fired shots.
Some go in the other direction and use assisted aiming when the scope is up.
Others simply make the weapon slow to fire with a long range and with high damage in specific areas, encouraging accuracy and thus the use of the scope.
Outright increasing the damage when it's scoped, or disabling locational damage when unscoped.
Very rarely they don't bother with any of these. This can lead to a Game Breaker, since it can be used at close range as well.
Compared to Real Life, this is a form of Fake Difficulty. Actual sniper rifles are just as deadly and accurate with or without a scope. Oftentimes a sniper rifle is just an assault rifle with a scope added and a longer barrel (See the Mk12 SPR or SDR-M). On the other hand, dedicated sniper rifles tend to be much more unwieldy because of their size and are sometimes heavier. The actual issue is weapon stability and the need for a bipod/resting point (some games reflect this by making the weapon effective only when crouched or prone) and the fact that real life sniping happens at distances several times the width of a typical FPS map.
See also Sniper Pistol, contrast Short-Range Long-Range Weapon.
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First Person Shooter
In the first game, the accuracy of sniper rifles is unaffected by looking through the scope – it's just easier to line up your shot at a distance. One case is an exception: the Jakobs Bessie, one of the rarest guns in the game, has 100% accuracy when scoped, and whatever the listed accuracy stat is when unscoped. Sniper rifles that aren't Gambles always have at least 90% accuracy, but there's still a difference. Similar to the Crysis example, two snipers – Whitting's Elephant Gun and the Gearbox Rider – come with iron sights instead of a scope.
In the sequel, there is even a badass challenge for killing enemies with a hip-fired sniper rifle. Vladof's "Droog" sniper rifles and the legendary Lyuda are ideal for this due to their high damage and rate of fire, especially in Salvador's hands as his ammo regeneration while Gunzerking makes up for the low ammo pool of sniper rifles. Zer0 the assassin also has a talent which increases sniper rifle accuracy when firing from the hip; this makes the targeting reticle smaller, so it's easier to see where your shot is going to land without having to look through the scope. Much like the first game, there are two non-scoped sniper rifles: the Buffalo, awarded for completing the "Demon Hunter" sidequest, and the Longbow, which is obtained from slaying the BadassCreeper in the Caustic Caverns. The third DLC added Sir Hammerlock's Elephant Gun, a reference to the gun in the first game and to Theodore Roosevelt.
In the classic Half-Life mod Science and Industry, the crossbow arrows have a travel time when shot with no scope, making them quite useless for killing other players.
Half-Life 2's crossbow, on the other hand, has a travel time and projectile drop in either mode. It can be used fairly effectively without scoping, but it cycles slowly (being, obviously, a single-shot weapon) and its ammo is rare. It does lots of damage, though, which makes it effective against Hunters.
Team Fortress 2 gives you an achievement for killing five enemies with the Sniper without the scope, which is extra challenging because the scope needs to be used for the rifle to "charge" to full power or register headshots. It's called "Trust Your Feelings", a reference to what might be considered another example - Luke in Star Wars turning off the targeting computer and using the Force to target the exhaust port on the Death Star.
No-Scoping as a sniper has one small advantage: because TF2 sniper rifles have no bullet spread (they always hit straight down the crosshairs, something only shared by the Soldier's Rocket Launcher) and no damage falloff (normally, weapons do less damage at greater distances), they always do 50 base damage while no-scoped and are relatively easy to aim, making it a good speed or surprise tactic for finishing off a wounded enemy without pausing to scope.
The outrageously overpowered AWP/AWM sniper rifle in Counter-Strike was often found being used more like a shotgun... given that a hit to almost any part of the body was fatal, it was every bit as deadly being toted carelessly at close range as it was using it with a scope. Getting a kill with an unscoped sniper rifle in Source or Global Offensive unlocks an achievement.
The Call of Duty series makes your firing significantly less accurate when fired from the hip rather than aiming down the sights, while generally being pinpoint accurate when deliberately aimed. This is even more noticeable on scoped weapons, where hip firing tends to send the shot flying off somewhere in the middle third of your screen. The game also provides a degree of auto-aim when you use the sights in campaign modes, and aim-assist in multiplayer. On the other hand, you move more slowly when aiming. The tutorials take the trouble to point out the difference and, in Modern Warfare 2, Corporal Dunn will berate you if you continue to shoot from the hip during "The Pit".
In an assassination mission in Call of Duty: World At War, if you get a kill by firing your sniper rifle from the hip, your companion will congratulate you, "No scope? Haha, nice!"
Modern Warfare 2 has a Shout-Out to this trope with the "One Man Army" backpack - "No Scope" is embroidered on a patch on the bottom of the pack.
Modern Warfare 3 also nods to this sort of thing in the campaign level "Eye of the Storm", where you're given a sniper rifle with a unique version of the "Hybrid Optic" normally limited to assault rifles - which, in this case, is just the regular gun, scope and all, with a red dot sight attached to the side of the barrel. For when you need to shoot someone with a high-powered sniper rifle from five feet away.
Don't expect people not to use the Barrett .50 cal at close range. It does so much damage that even one bullet is almost guaranteed to be a kill shot, and it holds 10 per magazine. Since it is semi-automatic, if you get in close, all you need to do is spam on the trigger and hope for a hit.
In Serious Sam: The Second Encounter, the damage done by the sniper rifle is significantly less if you aren't using a scope. This is explained as the rifle having a failsafe that reduces the shot power if it isn't being held properly, to avoid breaking the user's wrist. The HD rerelease also does the usual "bullet goes everywhere but where you want" when fired while not scoped; the sniper rifle in BFE also does this, but without the lowered damage.
Crysis actually allowed you to detach the scope from your sniper rifle and just use iron sights if so desired. Or stick that same scope onto other weapons. Including shotguns.
In the XBLA port of Perfect Dark, there is a "leaderboard crown" (basically one of 26 tasks you must complete to unlock a particular achievement) that requires you to get five no-scope headshots on the Carrington Villa stage on Perfect Agent. You're apparently not even allowed to zoom in to line your shots up before zooming back out to take the shot.
Halo 2 made it particularly easy to hit opponents with the sniper rifle (and also the alien counterpart, the beam rifle) without using its scope thanks to the game's massive auto-aim. While instantly lethal headshots still required a certain amount of skill, it became common practice to quickly follow up the shot to the body with a melee attack which, in combination, was lethal as well.
The generous auto-aim returns in Halo 4, though this time reserved for the beam rifle. The new Promethean Binary Rifle, on the other hand, is almost impossible to aim without the scope; when not using the scope, the crosshair is huge and the shots fly off in unpredictable directions. The game also introduced the Snapshot medal, which is awarded for pulling off a No Scope.
Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad makes you not have to do this for sniper rifles - one may realistically switch to the much clearer iron sights instead of a scope with a marksman's rifle if closer combat is expected.
Other realistic and semi-realistic shooters since then have followed suit, and allow you to use back-up sights on a magnified optic or take the scope off of a sniper rifle, such as Battlefield (starting from Bad Company 2) and ARMA II and III.
The sniper rifle in the first Unreal Tournament has a crosshair like all other weapons. This being a game where recoil doesn't exist and headshots are instant death...well, it's the most popular weapon for a reason, and was brought back heavily nerfed in the sequels.
Operation Flashpoint mainly aims for realism. As such, it's all-but-impossible to zero in at someone standing hundreds of meters away without using the scope, to say nothing of bullet drop compensation (the SVD's scope has a functional stadiametric rangefinder for a reason). And if the target is close enough to actually NOT be obscured by the crosshair, why the hell aren't you using an assault rifle with burst fire instead? On the other hand, the M21's magazine capacity almost reaches assault rifle levels but its single shot is a bit too slow for close combat. Not to mention that while you're trying to hit someone at ranges where they're barely a few pixels tall, that someone will kill you with their assault rifle before you can blink.
Many of the early Medal of Honor games completely removed the reticule from the snipers when not scoped. Despite this, it is still possible to hit an enemy without scoped, a particularly skilled player could aim the rifle at an imaginary point where the bullet shoots (since gun shaking hadn't caught on then). It usually devolved into a lucky shot though.
In Frontline, a good trick to conserve rifle ammo is to aim at an enemy with your sniper scope, then snipe them with your pistol. In this game and Allied Assault, the non-scoped M1 can (and sometimes must) also be used for sniping. This trick is also possible in Return to Castle Wolfenstein with its binoculars.
Silent Scope can actually be played quite well even without glancing into the scope. The hard part is getting headshots. Oh, and fucking Cobra.
There are a few segments in the series where enemies will be so close that you don't even need the scope to headshot them. In fact, it's pretty much required for Monica's first phase.
The Ratchet & Clank fandom calls it "hip-sniping". Given the power of most R&C sniper weapons, they become almost more effective at close range then sniping from a distance.
Size Matters has a sniper rifle that for some reason is more powerful when zoomed in further (complete with a gauge to show shot power that increases with zoom). This encourages the player to use the scope properly to snipe at long distances, since shooting short ranges targets while zoomed is difficult and the power of no-scoping is Nerfed
In the first two games, the rifle uses the "does more damage when zoomed" variation in multiplayer mode. Zooming in gives a 3x damage bonus.
In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the sniper rifle is suitably inaccurate when fired from the hip, but attaching a laser sight makes up for this, giving you a rifle that can one-shot most enemies at any range. Indeed, shooting from the hip with a laser sight is more effective than the scope.
Guns in the first Mass Effect fire at the center of a circle rather than at a targeting reticule, and aiming makes the circle smaller to make it easier to center your shots in the target. Sniper rifles in particular have a circle taking up most of the screen, and switch to a scope with a reticule when aimed. However, if you can consistently center the circle, firing a sniper rifle without using the scope can be to your advantage on a slow computer, since when you're using the scope the slightest vibration of the mouse will move the reticule away from your intended target. Also worth mentioning is that crosshairs turn red when upon an enemy, so you know if you'll hit him or not before you try.
The second game uses more conventional targeting reticules, and the sniper rifle reticules are tight enough that the (powerful, single shot) Mantis and Widow rifles can be used to kill stuff that's in your face.
An interesting example from the Fallout and Fallout 2 was the scoped hunting rifle, which received a massive accuracy penalty at closer than four yards. Sadly, none of the other sniping weapons exhibited this trait.
In Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, increasing the relevant weapon skill to 100 will completely eliminate weapon shake so long as you also meet the strength requirement. It's very much possible to hit something with the sniper and gauss rifle at long range without using the scope... as long as the target is in range, naturally.
Hellgate: London firearms have a base weapon spread and a spread multiplier for motion. Rifles have a lower base spread, more accuracy, but higher multiplier, so movement throws aim off more. Marksmen can learn to take a firing position to stabilize the weapon and increase accuracy, restricting ground movement, while trained snipers in sniper mode are immobilized, with field-of-view restricted to tunnel vision on their crosshairs, for top accuracy and critical rate.
The MMO Metal Assault plays this trope unimaginably straight. Sniper rifles are purchased and even used without scopes, even allowing headshots without them, thus making the weapon incredibly overpowered compared to the other weapon types. this is slightly counterbalanced by the weapon's slow reload.
Third Person Shooter
Gears of War allows the player to aim the Longshot sniper rifle while keeping the camera in third-person view.
Real Life: Simo Häyhä, one of the most renowned snipers in the world, preferred to snipe without the help of a scope, believing that the light reflecting off the scope would give his position away to the opposition, a technique he often used to locate and kill enemy snipers.
The No Scope Song, as noted in the quote, parodies the fanfare given to them in some games.
Many real-life sniper rifles, particularly from (but by no means limited to) the Eastern Bloc, kept iron sights on sniper rifles, and mounted their scopes so as to keep them still useable. Some scoped assault rifles, such as the Steyr AUG do the same.
Some other odd related examples would be, for example, the rare sniper variants of Swiss K31 rifles and certain variants of the ACOG or SUSAT scope. These are designed to replace the iron sights that would normally be attached to the weapon (though the British SA80 is almost never issued without the SUSAT), with built-in iron sights on top for situations where the scope's magnification is counter-productive, or if the scope becomes damaged. The ones for the K31 look rather odd, as they're miniature tangent-leaf sights added onto the side of a scope.
Back-Up Iron Sights (BUIS) are very common on military rifles, even the Barrett M82 was updated to include them.
The Canadian Forces use C7-A2 assault rifles with C79 optical scopes◊ that are fitted with mini-sights on the top, allowing soldiers to make use of whatever is more appropriate on the fly.