Snipers play a key role in the world’s armies. They’re excellent scouts and can target commanders on the opposing side with an outsize impact. Working by themselves, they can pin down a group, creating fear and confusion.
Thanks to movies such as Enemy at the Gates and American Sniper the specialty marksman is having a pop culture moment. People love watching snipers work in films, and they love picking up a sniper rifle in video games.
But expert marksmen weren’t always so beloved. There was a time during the early part of the 20th century when a soldier caught sniping would face execution instead of capture. So what changed?
This article originally appeared at War is Boring in 2016.