Snipers are one of the best-used weapons in armies and law enforcement agencies all over the world. The lone sniper hides behind an open window, waiting for the perfect opportunity. Their guns fire several kilometres away, so they can take aim and get out of a situation quickly without being seen or putting themselves at risk. Or at least… that’s what we think of when we see them in the movies. Evidently, there is a heck of a lot more to using a sniper rifle than these experts are given credit for, considering factors such as altitude, location, light, weather, wind speed, and timing. The documentaries compiled below show the science and art of being an effective sniper.
Just so it’s easier for the viewer to browse, full single-video documentaries are centred, whereas the ones that are split up into separate YouTube videos are aligned on the left. Aside from the Top Documentary, the organization is merely thematic; they are not ranked.
Sniper: Inside the Crosshairs
A fascinating documentary that not only shows some of the greatest feats in sniper history, but they attempt to recreate them with ballistic science. It’s the most accessible pop-science video on this list, and it’s very well-made.
Sniper: Deadliest Missions
Recalling missions from Vietnam to Iraq, snipers talk about their past experiences and how much they struggled. Some of these stories are pretty incredible.
If you want to see this documentary in a single video file, you can click here, but the quality is slightly reduced.
Sniper Rifle History
The Military Channel produced a brief history of sniper rifles. Tracing its history from hundreds of years ago, it shows how far the weapon has come.
Surviving the Cut
Discovery Channel’s TV show “Surviving the Cut,” which has an episode on how hard it is to be an army sniper, as well as a U.S. Marine Scout Sniper. They follow several people through their journey, showing who passes and fails in their various training courses.
U.S. Marine Scout Sniper
The Discovery Channel looked at the U.S. army’s “sniper school.” It also follows a class along the course of becoming a sniper.
Modern-Day Snipers (9)
This documentary shows some of what it’s like to be an American army sniper, especially in the Middle East today.
Training a marine sniper takes almost twice as long (two months) as one for the army, to focus more on the surveillance skills of the sniper.
Coast Guard snipers have very different roles than those who work in the army, usually dealing for criminals who smuggle drugs. These are the guys who snipe from helicopters.
This documentary is about how to utilize the entire military unit to produce the best results for a variety of difficult tasks. It shows the differences between things like levelled shots vs. high-altitude shots, as well as busting into a building during the day vs. the night.
Sniper – Bulletproof
This documentary shows various aspects of life as a sniper, from retaining stealth to deciding which enemy is more dangerous (e.g., the guy with the radio may be a more important target than the guy with the rocket launcher), to calculating distance using the crosshairs of the rifle.
Afghanistan’s Deadliest Snipers
This documentary retells various stories from the American army that occurred in the last few years.
Sniper (History Channel)
World’s Deadliest Snipers
According to this documentary, the world’s best snipers are not in the American army, but part of the British Royal Marine Snipers. It’s difficult to gauge, but let’s say they’re both trained well. If you wanted to know what it’s like to be a British Royal Marine (not necessarily a sniper), there’s another documentary here for just that.
One Shot – One Kill
This documentary has a little bit of everything, showing training, some history, and lots of information on the weapons.
Law Enforcement Snipers
Police snipers, such as members of SWAT, deal with urban situations that contrast to the military field.
The Bottom Line
This post isn’t about glorifying a weapon, and of course several serial killers have used sniper rifles to kill innocent people. This is just a convenient compilation for anyone who may be interested in knowing more.
Ultimately, what we can see from these videos is that media and film portrayals of snipers are quite unrealistic. There’s a lot more to being a sniper than just point-and-shoot, which is especially characteristic of today’s movies and video games.