Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"The villains in thrillers are such bad shots they'd suck at video games."

When only the Bad Guys suffer from A-Team Firing. Also called The Principle of Evil Marksmanship. The good guys (the non-Red Shirt ones, at least, and sometimes even they) can stand in the middle of the firefight and never get hit, and can pick off any bad guy with even the most casually-aimed shot.

Extra points if the bad guys first demonstrate impressive accuracy on a range, but can't hit anything when it counts.

Also known as the Stormtrooper Effect, this Trope is named for an actual (optional) rule in the GURPS tabletop roleplaying game, which in turn is based off of a misconception of Stormtrooper accuracy in Episodes IV and VI.

Dodge the Bullet is the inverse of this. For the bladed weapon variation, see Never Bring a Knife to A Fist Fight. Opposite number to Improbable Aiming Skills. The use of More Dakka can either overcome this, or make it even sillier. When the bullets don't just spray around the target, but consistently hit where the target was a moment ago, it's a case of Hero-Tracking Failure. See also Plot Armor for the reason the bad guys are such lousy shots.

In reality, this is Truth in Television, as by far most shots fired in firefights or combat are misses. Some sources report that in WWII, the average soldier needed to fire two hundred rounds for every hit scored on an enemy; numerous other examples are mentioned in the Real Life section of this page. So the fictional bad guys don't actually suffer from unrealistic accuracy; rather, the heroes's fictional performance would count as Improbable Aiming Skills in real life.

Even Wikipedia has an article on this, called the "Principle of Evil Marksmanship." That article covers this trope (which is called the "Stormtrooper Effect"), the "One-at-a-time Attack Rule" (or as we call it, Mook Chivalry), and the Conservation of Ninjutsu (which is called the "Inverse Ninja Law" over there).

Ironically, the selection for the actual Stormtrooper academy has extreme standards, so the Stormtroopers are the best of their class!

Examples of Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy include:

Anime and Manga

  • All of the enemies on Noir.
  • Lampshaded in Excel Saga: Excel explains to the mooks firing at her that they'll never hit her because of this trope, and doesn't even bother to move.
  • Any officer assigned to Zenigata to help stop Lupin must have gone to the marksmanship academy. Yes, Lupin is skilled, but he doesn't even have to try and dodge, he can just run in a straight line and they'll miss.
  • For a gang of supposedly skilled criminals, Alcapone's gang in Soul Eater has colossally crappy accuracy considering the fact that they couldn't hit Black?Star and Tsubaki who were standing DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THEM ON A TABLE.
  • Any missile volley in Macross fired at a single target (and not for saturation effect) is practically guaranteed to miss, particularly if the missiles have homing capabilities which defy the laws of physics.
    • In Macross 7, a military police officer fails to hit a stationary enemy soldier at a range of six feet with a handgun. Even worse, in a similar event later the officer only manages to wing his coat with a rifle.
    • Macross Plus surpasses that: Myung is trapped in an elevator, and two security guards spray the inside of the elevator with automatic weapons... Not. Hitting. Her. Once.
  • One Piece tries to avoid this trope by having the navy use swords more often than using guns. Whenever the marines use guns on the Straw Hats, it's only against the stronger members that can easily dodge the bullets or disarm the snipers. If fighting the weaker members, they normally are too close and will be attacked by them or reasonably too far away to hit them.
    • Of course, in the Impel Down Arc, they are easily able to hit Crocodile... Not that bullets could hurt him, of course, seeing as his body is living sand.
    • Played very straight, however, in the Whole Cake Island Arc where Pudding pulls a revolver on Sanji and tries to shoot him while he's carrying her. Sanji does have near-superhuman reflexes (the reason her next five shots do no better), but that's hardly an excuse when you are at near point-blank range and take your target by surprise.
  • From the second Naruto Shippuuden movie, the ninja of the Sky Country have gatling guns that fire kunai. Apparently they're a deadly force, but they just seem to land by peoples' feet more often than not. One of them almost hits Shizune's foot as it just barely misses Tsunade, but she just has to stand there. Then Sai fights several of them in the air and just stands atop his giant bird thinking to himself while a volley of kunai fly over his head. But then, perhaps this also involves the Inverse Ninja Law.
    • The first Naruto film had similar devices, mounted on a train, mow down a crowd of Red Shirts charging down a hill dowards it yelling (It was an honor thing). Our heroes are all appropriately cowed.
  • At one point in FFVII: Last Order, Zack evades Shinra fire by backflipping rapidly. Combined with Hero-Tracking Failure, as the troops in question seem to be firing at his feet. (Compare to a similar scene in The Matrix Revolutions, and you'll see why this shouldn't have worked.)
  • Black Lagoon plays this trope straight and often to a level that threatens one's Suspension of Disbelief. But, then again, its an action movie masquerading as an episodic anime, so it makes sense, and besides, most of the named characters are known in universe for being near unkillable anyway because they are just THAT good at surviving.
  • This has the mooks in Xabungle wondering why they are even bothering to shoot at the protagonists.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, anyone who shoots at Scar will fail miserably, even Riza Hawkeye who is known for being a highly skilled sniper has only been able to graze him.
  • Happens all the time in Kimba the White Lion. The second episode has an exaggerated example where Kimba avoids the gunfire from a group of African Terrorists that is chasing the boat he is on by running towards them, ducking every now and again, and using the log that jammed the boat's wheel as a shield while removing the log.
  • Happens fairly regularly in Cowboy Bebop... only to be dramatically subverted at the worst possible moment.
  • Happens a lot in the various Gundam series, where if you are not an Ace Pilot you can't hit a space colony while standing on it. The 08th MS Team had a hilarious instance of the hero utterly failing at marksmanship: as Shiro is sliding down a tower, he opens up on his enemy with every single machine gun the Gundam has on it... and misses spectacularly. His opponent remarks, "Well, that looked impressive."
  • Amarao's men in the fifth episode of FLCL simply cannot hit Haruko, no matter how many of them there are. For context, at one point, a dozen or so men dogpile her and are apparently shooting at her while in this position, but still not a single shot hits her.
  • Space Pirate Captain Harlock episode 39. The Mazone invade the Arcadia. They are supposedly well-trained troops and are constantly firing. Arcadia personnel mow down hundreds of them with the number of friendly deaths being at most in the single digits, and except for a single named character (whose death is foredold in the episode title, who is the only one to get a dramatic death scene, and whose death is the only one that makes an impression on the crew), none of those other deaths are even confirmed.

Comic Books

  • Justified in Marvel 1602, when the alternate continuity's X-Men use telepathy to make the gunmen see their ship as being in a different place than it really is.
  • Amusingly enough, in the comic book crossover between Spy Boy and Young Justice, Robin actually asks Spy Boy's team if they indeed took the Stormtrooper Marksmanship course—never realizing that HE was also displaying Stormtrooper level of accuracy.
  • Parodied in an old Heavy Metal magazine where the heroes of the story are escaping from an enemy castle and none of the archers are able to hit them. One of the archers becomes fed up, takes aim, and proceeds to kill all three of the heroes with the next three shots. His celebration is cut short when his commanding officer reprimands him for the deed, stating that they were all missing on purpose and that the story couldn't continue now that the protagonists were dead.
  • In one Twisted ToyFare Theatre issue, a bunch of troublemaking Stormtroopers of various types are forced to community service in a retirement home for the Empire's most honored veterans: The Clone Troopers.

Stormtrooper: Wow, so you guys actually used to, you know, hit things with your guns?
Clone Trooper: Oh, yeah. Jedi, droids, small children... One time I hit the broad side of a barn!
Stormtrooper: Wow.

  • AIMLESS in Normalman, a mysterious paramilitary organization under the thumb of the nefarious Cephalopod... well, their name says it all, really. They're all really poor marksmen, but it doesn't exactly matter since their nemesis, Sgt. Fluffy, Agent of S.C.H.M.U.C.K., is completely invulnerable to bullets.
    • Or... is he? No, no he's not. Too bad he didn't know that when the Cephalopod got fed up with the indirect approach and decided to take care of the guy himself.
  • By a similar token, Decepticon Targetmasters Misfire and Aimless in Transformers. Misfire held the record for failure in the Decepticon Academy, and only passed because they needed every last soldier. Aimless, his gun, doesn't exactly help matters because he doesn't even try. Megatron actually sees potential in Misfire, however, saying that he's much more deadly than your average gunman because he's a danger to everything except his target. In any case, he's become a surprisingly useful soldier to officers who use his lack of ability in creative ways.
    • Again, similarly, Strafe of the Technobots is inherently inaccurate. His targeting computer is defective, it's impossible for him to aim well... but tries to cover it up by saying things like "I shoot everywhere because that's where the enemies are."
  • In the Lucky Luke story The Treasure of the Daltons, Lucky Luke and The Cavalry are assaulted from four sides by bad guys armed with gatling guns. They proceed to dump several rounds of ammo into the area until Lucky Luke disarms them with his Improbable Aiming Skills. The only casualties? The lieutenant's horse whip and the trumpeteer's trumpet. And the lieutenant even refused to take cover!
    • Another Lucky Luke story, The Rivals of Painful Gulch, features two feuding families who's been fighting for ages, but never wiped out each other since they were all such bad shots. At one point, the town undertaker even pleads for the hero, if he cannot bring peace between the families, to at least teach them how to aim so they can finish each other off.
      • In the beginning of that story, the mayor is showing Luke around town when they come to a place where one member of the feuding families was cornered by three members of the opposing family. They had been firing at their victim for 15 minutes, but not a single shot hit. The wall at the spot is riddled with bullet holes everywhere, except for the place where their target stood.
  • Nazis in Black Terror -- how do they manage to miss?
  • Anyone who tries to fire at Tintin will either miss or only graze him. If they graze him, they will only ever graze his skull, and he'll be unconscious/in hospital long enough for them to make a plot-relevant getaway.
  • The Mad parody "Bat Boy and Rubin!", from back when it was a comic, lampshaded a since-forgotten subtrope of this, where the heroes charge straight at villains who miss them with every shot:

Rubin: Poor fools! Don't you know us comic book characters are always missed when we run at the guns?

Fan Works

  • My Immortal: Ebony shoots at Snape and Lupin "a gazillion times" and fails to cause them any actual harm beyond making them fall off their broomsticks and break their camera lens.

Film - Live Action

  • Star Wars is the Trope Inspirer. The Imperial Stormtroopers are notorious, even among casual Star Wars fans, for their inability to hit the heroes, particularly in A New Hope or Return of the Jedi. In the prequel trilogy, the standard battle droids are arguably even worse than the Stormtroopers, while, oddly enough, the Clone Troopers (predecessors of the Stormtroopers) tend to be much better shots than the Stormtroopers. A lot of ink has been spilled on this subject, both in official Expanded Universe publications and by fans and critics, either lampshading or attempting to rationalize this shoddy marksmanship. Click here for a more detailed analysis of the issue.
    • In A New Hope at least, they may have had an excuse; seeing as Tarkin wanted the heroes to escape after putting a tracking device on their ship, it's likely they were ordered not to kill them and were missing on purpose.
    • Also, from the special edition, Greedo misses Han while he is sitting from across a tiny TABLE. They tried to fix it later by having Han dodge it, which raises all kinds of other issues.
  • Eric Kriegler from the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only. An Olympic biathalon competitor, who gets the drop on 007 with a rifle, and still can't hit him.
    • This may possibly be justified since Kriegler, as a biathlon competitor, would have been used to hitting a stationary target, rather than a middle-aged Englishman careening down an alpine slope. When Bond takes cover and tries to retrieve his fallen pistol, Kriegler is able to shoot his ski pole in half at a decent distance.
  • In The Matrix, as the agents chase the heroes through the program, they fire repeatedly but are unable to inflict more than minor wounds except when shooting at point-blank range. Also, Agent Smith misses throwing a knife at Neo by a rather wide margin. This is made all the more ironic since the agents are computer programs with presumably superior aiming skills.
  • The Nazis, Thuggee cult, and the Russians in the Indiana Jones films have the trend to shoot badly, except for the shootout at Marion's bar in Raiders of the Lost Ark (which involved locally hired henchmen, not Nazis).
    • The Hovitos in the first film. Not one of their arrows or darts hits Indy as he flees the jungle. Not that they seemed able to aim well in the first place . . .
  • Parodied in The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy, where Arthur, Trillian, Zaphod, and Marvin are surrounded by blaster-wielding Vogon soldiers. All of them take cover in Arthur's caravan except Marvin, who remarks, "I don't know what all the fuss is about. Vogons are the worst marksmen in the universe," and is immediately shot in the back of the head. This isn't a real accomplishment though, since this version of Marvin has a huge head, and gets back up after a minute.
    • However, Marvin's tempting fate is justified by the fact that in all previous scenes of the movie where we see the Vogons shooting, they use their weapons which have multiple barrels which shoot loads of laser blasts in every direction except towards the characters. In fact, this one time where they hit Marvin is their only hit in the entire movie.
      • Plus, they never would have made that hit if a less genre-savvy character hadn't screamed "don't hit the robot!"
  • Ruthlessly mocked in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode Space Mutiny:

Crow: Here's a little free advice for the mutineers: Just stop and aim, you idiots!
Tom: Why is [the hero] so impossible to hit? How can they keep missing this slow, giant white thing?
Mike: Y'know, they shouldn't have set their phasers to miss.

    • Especially remarkable considering they're aiming at Big McLargehuge.
  • Parodied (along with a lot of other Star Wars tropes) in the movie Spaceballs. During the "escape from prison" sequence, the only shot of the evil stormtroopers which hits true is one which just barely singes Princess Vespa's hair. This launches her into an Unstoppable Rage in which she guns down all of the enemy stormtroopers, Rambo-style. Also spoofed earlier in the movie when "Gunner's Mate First Class Phillip Asshole" is asked to fire across the nose of a princess Vespa's ship, and almost hits her. When told "I said across her nose, not up it!", it is revealed that the gunner is cross-eyed. As is the rest of his family (most of which are on the crew), prompting this quote:

Dark Helmet: I knew it! I'm surrounded by Assholes! (slams his visor back down) Keep firing, Assholes!

  • In Equilibrium, which features a fair number of demonstrations of the Academy's graduates in action. In one particularly (in)famous scene, protagonist Preston stood still in the middle of a crossfire while his opposition opened up and failed to hit him anyway. This was explained away by virtue of the fictional "Gun Kata" martial art, which teaches its practitioners to seek locations with minimum probability of getting fired at.
  • Parodied spectacularly in UHF's Rambo homage, where George strolls towards an enemy soldier while the latter is desperately firing an assault rifle directly at him. Even after George stops with only a few feet between him and the goon... and proceeds to slowly ready his bow, the enemy still can't land any hits.
  • Judge Dredd justifies this to a certain extent in an early scene, with Dredd pointing out to the other Judges (who are hiding behind cover while Dredd is out in the open) that despite the large quantity of gunfire coming down around him, apparently they're well beyond the manufacturer-listed "lethal range" for the guns that are being used, and so Dredd doesn't see the need to hide.
  • In the Blaxploitation film Three The Hard Way, the three heroes, armed with single-shot cap pistols from a considerable distance, defeat a larger group of men, who are armed with fully automatic machine guns, killing all but one of them (whom they capture to interrogate). One of the heroes gets a small flesh wound, the others are untouched.
  • The end of Behind Enemy Lines, when Owen Wilson's character is fleeing through open ground IN THE BLEEPING SNOW but isn't hit once by the fire from dozens of Serbian paramilitary troops, mobile anti-aircraft batteries, snipers, and a tank. Instead only one poor U.S. Red Shirt in a helicopter is hit by the salvo of destruction.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger in the film Commando. He stands on the lawn picking off guys one by one while little squibs go off all around him. Also has him running on an open field while his enemies, maybe 30 meters behind him, shoot uselessly in his vague direction. Arnold, on the other hand, is the Anti-Stormtrooper in that movie, as he hits goons he's not even aiming at!
  • In Predator the American soldiers kill a camp of South American guerillas without losing a single man. Only one gets hit, but he completely ignores the injury. And they did not really try to get into cover most of the time.
  • The entire U.S. military in the 1998 Godzilla. Having lured out the title creature, an immense artillery barrage begins, firing at a target several stories tall. The small arms fire may have been ineffective, but several dozen missiles all miss from a range of half a block to a hundred feet or so.
    • Even in the original Japanese movies, the military were exceptionally bad shots. If you watch closely during some of the older movies, their missiles normally just fly right past Godzilla and his mates and hit the buildings. They probably caused more property damage then Godzilla did.
    • The missiles do manage to hit something, though. Namely, the Chrysler Building, after the giant reptile dodges them. The mayor of New York is not happy.
  • The Musketeers in The Man in the Iron Mask manage to fire several massed volleys down a stone hallway at four men marching abreast and not so much as scratch them. Justified in that they are deliberately missing -- the people the king is ordering them to shoot are the legendary Three Musketeers and their own commanding officer Captain D'Artagnan, and they just can't bring themselves to kill their childhood heroes.
    • In fact, given the narrow confines of the corridor and the fact that they're firing smoothbore muskets, its an exceptional feat of marksmanship that they didn't hit anyone.
  • Once Upon a Time In Mexico protagonist El Mariachi has spent the last two movies diving for cover when the shooting starts. In this movie, maybe because he's got a death wish, maybe he's just spent so much time fighting the last several years he's just that much of a Badass, he tends to stand in the wide open areas and massacre his opponents.
  • The enemies in the Arnold Schwarzenegger Affectionate Parody movie True Lies fit this trope perfectly. Even when using submachineguns at close range they cannot hit the hero, (while the hero manages to take them out with a pistol). At one point, the guards jump through the air, on skis, A-Team Firing, and hit nothing. Meanwhile, Arnold's character is able to roll backwards through the snow and fire perfectly aimed shots before hitting the ground. His wife fares even better, managing to kill a dozen enemies simply by dropping her Mac 10 down a staircase.
    • There's also the part where Gib uses a light pole as cover while standing straight up, a la Looney Tunes, and the Big Bad standing several feet away doesn't hit him, even though he empties a submachine gun clip at him.
  • Lampshaded in Shoot Em Up by the villain Hertz: "My God. Do we just suck, or is this guy really that good?"
  • Parodied nicely by Die Hard 2: Die Harder, where there's a massive fire fight outside a church between good guys and bad guys where nobody gets hurt despite the enormous amount of gunpowder being discharged. The fact is they were all shooting with blanks, since they were all bad guys.
  • In the DVD commentary of The Kingdom, the director mentions that he asked a group of ex-special forces people watching a preview if it wasn't a bit too implausible that none of the good guys were getting hit by the terrorists in the final shootout. They assured him that such lousy accuracy was nothing unusual.
    • You can see in that movie how often the special forces take position and then aim deliberately while the untrained terrorists just point their guns in the general direction and fire.
  • Justified in the film version of Iron Man: Obadiah Stane has difficulty hitting Tony Stark in the final battle because Tony had disabled the targeting computers.
    • Though due to the Iron Man armour being bulletproof, most of the time bad guys are a pretty good shot. An improbably good shot in the case of the tank.
  • Common in James Bond films. Bond frequently walks alone into a massive group of enemies with AKA-47s of some description, carrying nothing but his trusty Walther PPK, and caps every single one of them with precise single shots whilst they all blaze away and hit nothing but air, or with extreme accuracy, any metal railings between bond and the gun.
    • At one point in Quantum of Solace Bond's car and the bad guy's drive side-by-side for several seconds. The bad guy riddles Bond's car with bullets but never touches Bond. The cars separate. Bond retrieves his own machine gun. The other car comes back into view. Bond immediately puts three bullets into the bad guy, killing him instantly.
    • In Tomorrow Never Dies, Bond uses his PPK in conjunction with a captured MP5 SMG for suppressive fire. A good portion of the climax is both of them forcing the baddies to keep their heads down.
    • In the opening sequence of Casino Royale, Bond and his hostage run desperately through an embassy with lots of enemy troops firing on them. Bond is going all out with tactics and hand-to-hand to avoid being shot, and the troops outside can't see very well.
  • The Remans in Star Trek: Nemesis are supposedly the fearsome shocktroops of the Romulan Star Empire, and yet an army of them pursue Picard and Data through their ship for several minutes without hitting either of them.
    • Justified in the 2009 Star Trek film, where Kirk and Spock are involved in a running gun battle with the Romulan crew of the Narada. The Romulans can't hit anything, while Kirk and Spock are wasting them with precise shots. However, these Romulans are former miners with no military education and just barely got out 25 years on Rua Penthe, while Kirk and Spock are Starfleet and trained in combat and tactics. It can be assumed that marksmanship is a requirement for any Starfleet officer.
  • The battle robots in The Black Hole are frequently described in reviews as being bar none the worst shots of anything ever committed to celluloid. They don't even seem to be aiming at anything. This is made all the more jarring by a scene near the beginning where some unseen attacker blasts the gun out of one person's hands and effortlessly disables only the laser systems on the robot.
  • Played with in Pulp Fiction, where Vince and Jules are shot at with a Hand Cannon at point-blank range and missed. Vincent calls it a freak occurrence, Jules is convinced it is a miracle. Subsequent events seem to favor Jules.
  • The Lord of the Rings has this. In the book, it's not made clear how accurate orcs are with bows and arrows, yet in the movies it's apparent that you won't get hit unless you're heir to the line of Stewards of Gondor. They're actually shown to be quite competent marksmen in the books, both at shooting down fleeing enemies at Cirith Ungol and when a scout orc shoots an arrow into the eye of a warrior Uruk after an argument, killing him.
    • Although for some reason, their marksmanship isn't quite good enough to hit Faramir fatally in either battle at Osgiliath in which he's involved, even though everyone else dies on the second attempt.
      • Well you have to hit someone in either the heart or head to kill them quickly with an arrow, otherwise you'll just have to wait for them to bleed out, or hope they make a wrong move and tear up their guts around the arrow.
  • Used straight, and rather brutally, in Falling Down. A carful of thugs tries to kill the main character in a drive-by, spraying bullets everywhere and killing about half a dozen pedestrians before dying in a car crash themselves. The protagonist walks away without so much as a scratch. He didn't even duck.
  • Parodied in The Naked Gun films, when Lt. Frank Drebin and one of the bad guys are shown firing at each other from behind trash cans in separate shots, before it is revealed in a wide-angle shot that they are three to four feet apart.
  • Three Amigos. In the battle between El Guapo's banditos and the villagers, the criminals don't manage to hit a single villager while the villagers kill about ten of the bandits. This despite the fact that the bandits are a lot more familiar with using guns than the villagers.
    • The villagers were all dressed like the Amigos to mess with the banditos' heads, and were picking them off from random locations, then ducking out of sight before they the bad guys could get a bead on them. Plus, the villagers had to have guns in the first place, didn't they?
  • Played ridiculously straight in Mr. and Mrs. Smith with a squadron of expert mercenary snipers. Who have circled said eponymous characters. Who, while completely missing John and Jane (STILL FIRING AT THEM IN A CIRCLE!), proceed to then get completely gunned down by two people hiding behind nothing more than each other.
    • Surely "the firing squad formed a circle" is a well known bad-guy mistake?!
  • Lampshaded and Justified Trope in The Men Who Stare at Goats. During a flashback to Bill Django's time in the Vietnam War, he orders his soldiers to fire on a single Viet Cong soldier. While they do open fire, every shot misses. The main character's voiceover reveals that the men were aiming high on purpose, because they didn't actually want to kill anybody. It's also stated that only about twenty percent of all soldiers in the war actually shot to kill. Naturally the Viet Cong were quick to take advantage of this. The incident was what inspired Django to create the New Earth Army.
  • Justified in Sin City; Roark Jr. is firing at Hartigan and Nancy and not hitting a goddamn thing. Hartigan says it's because he's throwing away bullets, and not taking the time to aim.
  • Used for both sides in Shanghai Noon during the final gunfight between Roy O'Bannon and Sheriff Van Cleef. In O'Bannon's case it makes some sense as he's a lot more talk than he is ability; but he HAS shown some gun skill in the film, yet his shots are hilariously wild and off the mark, never hitting anything. Van Cleef, however, is meant to be a highly skilled and ruthless killer of bandits. O'Bannon ends up with one last bullet while Van Cleef has two full revolvers, every single shot of which misses, if just barely. O'Bannon thinks he's invincible after he notices in awe that such a renowned marksman missed him that often from that close.
    • He then tried doing a slow walk into thugs who are firing at him (from behind the door anyway) after noticing there are so many bullet holes in his robes, and yet he was unscratched, saying they they can't hit him.
  • Played to its most comedic end in the banjo-laden chase scene in Raising Arizona, in which H.I. is chased by a police officer who fires at him constantly for at least five minutes of film, and never once hits him. The cop must fire 300 rounds from his sidearm, and yet you never see him reload.
  • The Predator from Alien vs. Predator 2 has really bad aim when trying to hit aliens with his double shoulder cannons, at one point accidentally blowing out the power to the entire city. He does better with his pistol however.
  • Everyone who tries to shoot at The Blues Brothers. Especially Carrie Fisher's Mystery Woman. In fact, the character with the best aim (although an example of A-Team Firing) was Ray Charles...
  • Beverly Hills Cop and its sequel both play this absolutely straight during the films' respective final shootouts. In both cases, the bad guys have a dozen or more machine gun-equipped goons who are completely incapable of hitting the pistol-armed heroes. It even rubs off onto the good guys in the first film, although it's at least justifiable in this case by the Beverly Hills police using service revolvers far beyond their effective range.
  • Parodied in OSS 117: Lost in Rio (hey, it's a James Bond Affectionate Parody): the hero is never shot, while he doesn't even bother to go into cover, alone against a handful of bad guys (OK, a lot of unarmed red shirts are killed). In another scene, when he is running away because an autogun is firing at him, he makes a dramatic pause and go back, because he has forgotten something. Twice.
  • In George.A.Romero's The Crazies the soldiers seem to completely ignore all military training and very rarely take cover and can never seem to hit poorly trained Civilians even when the soldiers drastically outnumber them and have better rifles.
  • Stephen suffers from this at the beginning of Dawn of the Dead. He gets better as the film goes on, though.
  • This trope is played with quite deftly in Unforgiven with the character of English Bob. When we first see him, he displays quite a bit of aptitude with a pistol during a pheasant shooting contest (on a moving train, no less). Later, we learn that he is a bounty hunter of great acclaim for killing outlaws in honorable combat, most notably "Two Gun" Corky. The character of Little Bill soon reveals this to be false. According to him, Bob just happened to be drinking in the bar that Corky walked into and took a shot at him and missed because he was so drunk. Corky gets startled and shoots himself in the foot trying to draw his (only) gun. Bob takes a second shot and misses again. Corky recovers, takes his time and aims carefully, but the gun blows up in his hand. Bob only lands a shot when Corky is wounded and defenseless.
    • Again in the final shooting. Most of the gunmen in the saloon don't hit Munny from even a few meters away in the chaos. Even though it's practically a Mexican Standoff, the shoting last for a full half minute.
  • The Lady Vanishes inadvertently draws attention to this by letting the villains kill the train conductors with one shot each. Naturally, the only other good guy who gets shot makes a blatant target of himself.
  • Parodied in Austin Powers, during the final raid of Dr. Evil's base. The bad guys are shooting submachineguns at the agents and Austin, never hitting anything. Austin just picks them off with his tiny pistol.
  • A particularly egregious example is Jet Li's Danny the Dog, during Raffles' ambush of Bart. Three men armed with military-grade assault rifles empty them at a stricken car with four helpless men inside that's maybe fifteen feet away. The result? Flesh wounds. And do they bother administering a Coup De Grace, or do they just run as soon as their guns click empty? Three guesses, first two don't count...
  • All of the villains in The Mummy Trilogy. The mook with a machine gun who manages to miss the heroes hiding behind a couch two meters in front of him in a bedroom in The Mummy Returns deserves a special mention; either he was secretly on their side all along or a wall killed his parents when he was a kid and he swore vengeance on their kind.


  • There was an urban legend that went something like this: In 1971 a marshal and a general in Uruguay decided to settle a conflict the old fashioned way; with a gun duel. After standing back to back, they walked twelve steps, turned around, and started shooting. First once. Then twice. Nothing happened. They ended up firing 37 shots each without hitting each other before the duel stopped by itself due to the lack of ammo. The explanation the men gave? They forgot to put on their glasses, apparently.
    • Another variation of this story has an alternate ending: After seeing that all their shots missed, they decided to call off the duel and shake hands. As they were approaching each other, one of them let out a yelp—his foot had been burned by stepping on a mass of lead where their bullets had hit each other and fused together.


  • Until the last book, the Death Eaters of the Harry Potter series were generally poor shots, although with wands rather than guns. Actually Justified Trope in Half-Blood Prince in which Harry's friends happened to have all taken a rare luck potion before the Death Eaters showed up, which is an example of One-Shot Revisionism.
    • Since, unlike guns, wands can do more than just kill, there's a Harry Potter-specific corollary to this trope, which we shall define thusly: "the more deadly and/or permanent the curse is, the less likely it is to hit its target."
    • Also Dawlish is easily dispatched by Hagrid and later by Augusta Longbottom the latter requiring him to be sent to St. Mungo's despite being a fully Qualified Auror. It's become a running gag that every time he appears or is mentioned, he gets hexed or something similar.
      • To be fair, Hagrid is pretty much invulnerable to anything short of the Killing Curse and Neville's grandmother is the Granny Weatherwax of Wizarding Britain. Dawlish probably does all right vs. normal criminals.
  • This happens in Animorphs, whenever the Yeerks (human- and Hork-Bajir-Controllers) fire Dracon beams at the Animorphs, they will usually (but not always) miss. In book 29, Visser Three even yells <Would it be asking too much for one of you to actually hit something?!!>
  • Subverted and lampshaded in Legacy of the Force: Invincible. Jaina Solo and Boba Fett are defending Roche against an Imperial assault. The stormtroopers first shoot Boba's gun, causing him to raise his hand, then blow a hole through it. Jaina is thinking "these weren't her mother's stormtroopers."
    • Very often subverted in Star Wars books, especially when the protagonist is on the same side or at least neutral towards the Empire. It is not completely uncommon to see the Stormtroopers really were the best of the best.
  • In a Tim Dorsey novel, this happens for justifiable reasons in an incident that is largely irrelevant to the plot. A man who was denied a driver's license for failing a vision test walked into a DMV and emptied a pistol at the clerks, hitting nobody.

Live Action TV

  • The Cylons from the original Battlestar Galactica—killer combat robots that almost wiped out the entire human race—couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with their toes up against the shingles.
    • The silver Cylons robots were the dumbest type and they almost always reacted the same way to the same type of attack. The humans could usually guess which way they would turn in a battle and shoot where they were going to be. Watch a space battle and you can see that the vipers don't shoot at the Cylon ships, but at where they will be. The same could be said about gun fights with hand guns.
      • At one time, it was common in some BG and SW fan circles to refer to the "Imperial/Cylon School of Gunnery" to refer to the lack of accuracy of both Stormtroopers and the original Centurions—except when the plot called for them to actually hit someone (e.g., to kill Serena). Reference to the School was generally followed by the tag-line "Could not hit the side of a Death Star."
    • The ones from the reimagining are hardly expert shots, thought to be fair it's not like they needed to be to nuke the colonies to extinction. The sentient Raiders suffer this pretty badly it would seem with one notable exception, which became well known even among the human fleet. Considering in almost every engagement the human pilots, flying 40-year-old machines remember, are extremely outnumbered and have a very limited number of people they can call up, casualties are usually very light compared to what they should be were the Raiders any good. It's possible that despite death being "a learning experience" for the Raiders, they just did not learn anything so long as they had the ability to resurrect. The humanoid Cylons may have figured this out given later episodes of the first half of season 4 showed some had been training as colonial style pilots.
  • In the short-lived TV show Police Squad!, Frank and a villain are shooting at each other on a street, each using a trash can for cover. The camera pulls back to reveal that they're hiding behind opposite sides of the same trash can; they're shooting at each other from handshaking range and missing. (Note: The show was a Parody, so jokes such as this are normal).
  • One Monty Python's Flying Circus skit had a bicycler eventually wind up in front of a firing squad. They give the order to fire, and everyone misses. They try a few more times, and everyone misses again. The officer tries to give advice about how to aim, but they still miss. The last time, the Russian soldiers just decide to bayonet the man, and he survives, although the audience doesn't know how, because the scene cuts to a title card labeled "Scene Missing" followed by the bicycler exclaiming "What an amazing escape!"
  • Farscape has the supposedly feared and elite Peacekeepers. One of the main characters in the show, Aeryn Sun, is nothing more than a PK grunt, and is still one of the deadliest crew members of Moya. She frequently goes on about the harshness of her training in the early episodes. Her former comrades, however, get easily killed off by the dozens, and not by just our heroes either. For a good example, see the ending trilogy of the second season, "Liars, Guns, and Money".
  • Firefly includes mooks that are both hilariously incompetent and amazingly adept shots. One particular standout moment is in the final shootout in the pilot, where Mal and Zoe are standing in the open, against a numerically superior enemy force and with no cover. When the gunfight starts up, Zoe gets hit dead center in the chest, but Mal only gets winged, even when he's standing only a dozen meters away and only walking slowly forward and sideways.
    • On the other hand, Rance Burgess' collection of militia and goons can hit prostitutes firing back at them from a good twenty to thirty meters away behind cover, firing rifles one-handed, on the backs of moving horses.
    • Hilariously inverted in "War Stories". When the gang invades Niska's sky complex to rescue Mal and not a single one of them gets hit (even when Zoe stops bothering to use cover), it looks like a straight example of this trope. However, after it's all over, the ensuing conversation reveals it wasn't just the bad guys who couldn't hit the broad side of a barn... Simon couldn't either.

Mal: 'So, I hear you all took up arms in that little piece of action back there... how you faring with that, doctor?'
Simon: 'I don’t know... I... er... yeah, I never shot anyone before.'
Book: 'I was there, son. I’m fair sure you haven’t shot anyone yet.'

  • The Jaffa in Stargate SG-1. Well, at least when they're evil. A Jaffa's aim gets much better after turning to the good side. They do have those bulky staff weapons, but good Jaffa seem to be pretty proficient with them.
    • In the episode "The Warrior", O'Neill hangs a lampshade on this by describing the staff weapon as "a weapon of terror: it's made to intimidate the enemy." and compares it with the P-90, a submachine gun which he says is "a weapon of war: it's made to kill the enemy."
      • He then goes on to demonstrate that the power and accuracy of a staff weapon is pitiful compared to the P-90. That would make this a Justified Trope, if it weren't for the sheer number of times SG-1 manage to escape unharmed despite being shot at by an army of Jaffa at close range.
    • Very few shots are seen of free Jafar shooting (both Teal'c and Bra'tac were first-primes, the equivalent of Secret Service officers).
  • In the pilot of BBC's Robin Hood, several guards miss shooting an escaping Robin and his group when they are galloping towards them!
  • Came up in Conversational Troping when the aliens watched a movie on 3rd Rock from the Sun:

Tommy: Now, how did he beat those guys? I mean c'mon, it was twelve against one.
Harry: Well, he has the advantage. You see, they only have machine guns while he has the broken pool cue.

  • The A-Team. Every episode features a gun battle with every character, hero and villain, emptying hundreds of thousands of rounds at each other - and no one ever got shot. This was because The A Team was nominally a kid's show in prime time. At the time, it was overlooked due to the Rule of Cool, but now it's amazingly funny to consider The A Team were a bunch of Vietnam War Special Ops veterans who couldn't hit their targets at all.
    • Fridge Brilliance: They missed on purpose. They never wanted to hurt anybody. They only wanted to make the bad guys think they were going to hurt them.
  • In the Syfy miniseries Alice all of the suits are horrible shots until it is convenient for the plot, like shooting the motor of the flying flamingos.
  • The Spanish troops in Queen of Swords are spectacularly bad shots, especially when shooting at the heroine. They usually manage to gun down unarmed peasants without problem.
  • Lampshaded on Red Dwarf. When the crew are being chased by a hologram in the episode Quarantine, Cat references the fact that they haven't met anyone who can shoot straight.
  • On 24, no matter what kind of military-grade assault weapons the villains have at their disposal, Jack Bauer can always defeat them with his trusty handgun. And sometimes with a knife.
  • The bad guy in The Invisible Man has presumably-trained guards with submachineguns that can't hit the hero standing three metres away from them.
  • Justified in Castle, when Castle and Beckett test out antique flintlock pistols allegedly used as a murder weapon. They each take one, go out to the firing range, and miss. There's even a montage just showing dozens of impacts on the padded area behind the paper targets. The justification is that flintlock pistols were often inaccurate, and the ones used were worse than most.
    • Not only that, the cop right next to Castle goes to help him after all Castle's shots kept messing with his own target practice. This goes from the cop giving Castle stable platforms to shoot from, to strapping a scope and a laser pointer on the pistol, taping it down zeroed on the center of the target and pulling the trigger with a string. Still misses.
  • In the pilot episode of NCIS, the would-be-terrorist brings a machine gun to bear on Gibbs... firing it single-handedly, starting from the hip and going up. The distance he misses by is almost the width of the Air Force One corridor they were in. (Gibbs, by contrast, puts 2 rounds from a semi-auto square in his chest, dropping him to his knees, followed by a third to flatten him. Game over.)
    • Truth In Television: firing a fully-automatic weapon from the hip, especially if you don't have expert trigger control, will result in the vast majority of your shots going into the ceiling. There is a reason they invented the three-round burst setting. Gibbs, on the other hand, is an expert marksman firing a pistol at short range, and is also actually using the sights instead of hipshooting like some Hollywood idiot, and so can reasonably be expected to hit a man-sized target three out of three. Especially since he's using a proper Mozambique Drill. (Two quick shots anywhere into the torso to turn the target into a stationary object, then one carefully-aimed shot to finish him off.)
  • In the DVD commentary for the last episode of season 4 of Burn Notice, Matt Nix and several of the actors were sporking the entire episode, and anytime Michael was being shot at, they would joke that Vaughn's men were only able to hit their target when they were aiming at tires. Considering the number of times a special forces sniper missed Michael, they weren't too far off.

Robert Wisdom: Hire burned spies and blind gunmen. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

  • On the Syfy series Warehouse 13, this was brought up as the agents had target practice. Steve said something to the effect of "It's not this difficult to fire a ray gun in movies" to which Pete replied "Actually it's very difficult to fire a raygun in the movies. The stormtroopers hardly hit anything."
  • Most of the men from F Troop graduated from there. This is made clear in an episode where Agarn was brought before a firing squad and all the soldiers shot the water tower he was standing next to. Lampshaded in the ballad sung in the black-and-white first season with the line, "...and nobody takes a lickin'."
    • Lampshaded again in several episodes as well, including a memorable scene where O'Rourke and Agarn are, by themselves, staging an attack on their own base (It Makes Sense in Context, we swear). When Agarn complains that they are certain to be shot by their own team...

O'Rourke: "Don't worry. We're perfectly safe as long as they're aiming at us."

  • A shot hits the ground near them.*

Agarn: "Oh yeah, what was that?"
O'Rourke: "That was Vanderbilt aiming at something else."

  • Mash has every North Korean and Chinese soldier missing stationary targets at relatively close range, including supposed snipers, almost to the point of wondering how the Communist armies inflicted any casualties at all. The most jarring example is Hawkeye climbing down a rope, from a helicopter, on Christmas, dressed as Santa, to treat wounded pinned down in a foxhole, all the while under fire. He isn't hit once.
    • "5 o'clock Charlie" would attempt to bomb them every day at 5 o'clock. He was so bad the MASH staff had to leave instructions and pointers to get him to blow up the AA gun so that Frank couldn't organise some shooting back, which would have escalated things.
  • Lampshaded and justified in an episode of Andromeda when a Nightsider dragging Harper and Trance along asks why the bounty hunters shooting at them only seem to be aiming for him. Harper then shows off his personal High Guard ECM generator that prevents smart bullets from locking on.

Tabletop Games

  • GURPS, as mentioned above, is the Trope Namer. Specifically, in the Bunnies and Burrows supplement, where a gun is an incomprehensibly dangerous weapon that the equally incomprehensibly dangerous humans use from time to time, the PCs (all rabbits) are given some comfort by this rule, which states that the first shot fired by a gun always misses. It's also available as a Silly Combat Rule in any other campaign.
    • Other Silly Combat Rules involve being harder to hit the less armor you wear, to the point where being naked is worth Passive Defence +7 (+1 bonus if you're female!). Which basically allows you to stand perfectly still at arms' length from the gun muzzle, and an average marksman would still only have a 5% chance to hit you.
  • Da Orks of Warhammer 40,000 have this as their Hat, being universally hilariously bad shots (their basic troops have the lowest Ballistic Skill in the game, at a mere two out of five[1]). They make up for this with a great deal of enthusiasm, more, more and more dakka, huge, noisy and ludicrously rapid-firing guns—and sheer numbers, reasoning that if you point enough dakka at something, some of it will stick.
    • You can never have enough dakka pointed at anything. You always need more.
  • Feng Shui's Mooks typically have low combat AVs, meaning the only time they actually hit named characters is on a series of sixes, which doesn't happen too often. Mooks with better AVs are more dangerous.
  • Hong Kong Action Theatre's Importance system is not very kind to those of Minor importance. With their typical stats, they can take out characters of no importance, Minor importance, and Moderate importance with some effort, but anyone higher up on the Importance scale (such as many Player Characters) is going to need a natural 20 in order to even hit them at all.

Video Games

  • With the sole exception of Inspector FOX, all ranged enemies avert this. HARD.
  • Goofing on this trope, the Star Wars First-Person Shooter games often feature the Stormtroopers' blaster rifle as the least accurate weapon in the game. Some Lampshade Hanging in Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast: troopers can be overheard talking about how difficult it is to see out of their helmets, how badly designed their rifles are to control recoil, etc. "I'd like to see you come down here and try to hit something while you're wearing this damn helmet so I can sit in an air conditioned office and tell you how stupid you are!"
    • We now have numbers.
    • Actually, in Star Wars Battlefront 2, the medal for horrific inaccuracy has to go to the AI Sand People on Mos Eisley in Hunt mode. If the Sand People had a modicum of intellect and some power of aiming, their sniper rifles would give them a tremendous advantage over the Jawas' lightning guns, but as-is it is nearly impossible to win that map single player as the Sand People, because the AI is so horrible.
  • Lady in Devil May Cry 3 is initially portrayed as a competent gunslinger capable of gunning down demons and incompetent players. After defeating her in a boss fight, however, the ensuing cutscene shows her missing her shots at Dante even as he walks closer and closer to her. Possibly justified if you cut her some slack for the massive loss of blood.
  • In World of Warcraft, Sunblade Lookouts are placed in such a position in order to shoot down anyone attempting to make a bombing run along the Dead Scar of the Isle of Quel'danas. While they do respond to each threat with an impressive volley of flaming arrows, they simply couldn't hit the broad side of a barn if it painted a bullseye onto itself. Who said that elves are good archers?
  • The Vault-Tek Assisted Targeting System in Fallout 3 gives you a percentage chance (which is usually believable) to hit any specific limb of the enemy. should you miss that limb, your shot will miss the enemy altogether. Two things make this worse: first, even if the enemy is shoving his head into the barrel of the gun, your character still has that 5% chance of missing (there is no guaranteed hit in VATS); second, if you somehow (*cough*cheater*cough*) manage to have enough Action Points to have a long series of attacks, it still uses the exact probabilities given to you when you set up your shot sequence, even if the enemy has managed to get out from behind cover, walk right in front of the player, and done everything short of sticking his/her/its finger-analogue down the gun's barrel. Want to hit that person right in front of you? Don't use VATS.
    • Concentrated Fire gives your character a 5% higher to-hit chance for each consecutive time you target a limb in VATS. Without cheats, this can give your last shot a 71% chance to hit an enemy from 10 kilometres away.
  • In Space Quest IV the Sequel Police Cyborgs are lethally accurate most of the time, but still suffer occasions of Stormtrooper Syndrome when the plot calls for it.
  • The Krimzon Guard from Jak II had this trouble if you stood still. They tended to have better aim at moving targets, but that follows this trope closely anyway.
  • Used in Final Fantasy VII, when the Shinra soldiers are firing in Barret and Dyne and Scarlet yells at them "Kyaa haa, ha!! You can shoot all day and never hit them with an aim like that." Then quickly subverted when one of them manages to hit Dyne.
    • At the beginning of its PSP prequel, Crisis Core, Zack is speaking to his mentor about his current mission on a cellphone, while being fired at by a squad of soldiers. The fact that he's perfectly apathetic to the gunfire and calmly speaks on the phone before killing them just shows how much Shinra soldiers suck. Sure, it was a virtual reality mission, but still, that means Shinra programs virtual representations of their own grunts with the faith that they couldn't hit a mark bigger than Mt. Fuji is the fate of their company would depend on it.
  • Played straight as an arrow in any Call of Duty game. AI accuracy is terrible at best, while your weapons seem to fire magical homing bullets.
    • That is, until you play on the Veteran difficulty.
    • In later games, it depends on who you are fighting (whether they depend on quantity or quality to overwhelm you). Random Viet Congs and Guerrillas play this straight since their main challenge is that there are a crapload of them firing at you, but averted hard by Elite Mooks such as Spetsnaz commandos who are deadly accurate, and can shoot you in the face from across the yard right after performing an Unnecessary Combat Roll (even on early missions!) and requires you to take cover regularly.
  • In The Bourne Conspiracy, the game scolds you for bad aim (as in, completing a mission with 10% accuracy or less) with the "Needs Glasses" achievement.
  • Beyond Good and Evil, the chase scenes. They blow up some serious crap, bring along a couple of ships, and soldiers appear within breathing distance of you, but they'll most likely miss, even when you're leisurely climbing a box at a snail's pace.
    • Subverted/averted with the turret-laser that is present on levels that require stealth to pass. No matter where you are and what obstacle is between you and it, if Jade's detected, that laser will hit and kill you.
  • Mooks in James Bond 007: Agent Under Fire are like this. To be fair, it's not entirely their fault as each and every one of the numerous automatic weapons they employ have horrendous accuracy past five meters or so, and they can usually hit reliably with most handguns... after a few shots... assuming they live that long.
    • Speaking of James Bond, this trope can be played with in Golden Eye 1997 64. Unlocking the 007 difficulty allows players to manually determine the enemy's accuracy before starting a mission.
  • Rafa and Malak in Final Fantasy Tactics have skills that are horrifyingly inaccurate. They fire off one to six times, but there is an extremely high chance of the attacks only firing off once, on a spot completely off your intended target. The kicker? They're trained assassins. One has to wonder just how ineffective the rest of Barrington's military forces are...
    • Reis, as a human, has a similar skill that fires only up to four attacks over an area up to thirteen tiles wide. Yeah. Good luck hitting anything with that. The Hydra family has two similar skills that tend to be MUCH more accurate due to that it's easy to limit the number of panels it can target (and thus are actually usable some of the time), so nobody knows why these special character skills are worse than what a generic monster can perform.
  • The lesser enemies in the Time Crisis series are often like this, but when you're about to get hit in the later games, a "Crisis Sight" is shown. The Elite Mooks (such as red soldiers) almost always score a hit on the first or second shot.
  • Most gunpowder-based units and siege weapons in Age of Empires are quite inaccurate. Trebuchets are probably the best example of this; they do huge amounts of damage, but seem to miss just as often as they hit.
  • In Battlefield Heroes, the Commando's sniper rifles are so innacurate when they're not zoomed in that it is actually possible to hit something behind the player.
  • Alfred Ashford in Resident Evil Code: Veronica can't seem to snipe a target to save his life. Ditto for Annette in Resident Evil 2, who suffers from this when she tries to shoot Ada in the sewers, although she accidentally hits Leon when he jumps in the way.
  • Soldiers in the X-COM games are notoriously bad shots. Given that skills grow in proportion with their successful use, constant misses can result in even worse accuracy. Unfortunately, the aliens suffer a lot less from this than the soldiers. Interestingly, given the game mechanics, you never have a 100% chance of hitting anything. At most, the chance is always 95%. This means that, even if the target is right in front of the soldier, there is still a 1 in 20 chance he will miss.
    • Furthermore, since a 'miss' means your bullet is fired at a tile adjacent to your actual target, you can miss your target by up to 45 degrees.
    • The new X-Com didn't improve this part much. See the infamous "65% chance to hit" screenshot.
  • Enemies in the early Syphon Filter games can't hit you until the Danger meter fills up. Which it does much faster on the Hard difficulty.
  • Even on Impossible difficulty, Red Faction's mooks have pretty lame accuracy at long range, not counting snipers and Elite Mooks.
  • A playable example happens in Silent Hill 2. James has never held a gun before in his life, so he's a crap shot at it, being incapable of hitting a non-boss enemy from a room's length. With his flashlight off, you're lucky if you can hit a mannequin at arm's length. When he gets the hunting rifle this changes, though the ammo is so limited that the only enemy you'd use it against is Pyramid Head and Mary, both of which are fought in an arena.
  • Mass Effect subverts this. Enemies will blaze away at cover that they can't hit you through, but this is intentionally done in order to pin you down.

Web Comics

  • Frighteningly enough, the titular character of Furmentation not only sucks at firearms, but with incredibly dangerous magical discharges as well. The head Professor of the Magic School is also responsible for hospitalizing students.
  • Irregular Webcomic makes fun of Stormtroopers... repeatedly.
    • The marksmanship is demonstrated here, with characters casually carrying on a conversation while two stormtroopers attempt to shoot them.
    • Lord Vader knows...

Haken: We have Stormtroopers also in die Third Reich!
Vader: Are your Stormtroopers all highly competent, combat hardened, ruthlessly effective killing machines and expert marksmen?
Haken: But of course, Herr Vader!
Vader: You wouldn't mind sending us some, would you?


    • Another instance is when that same person tried to attack his friends and kill them. Good news, it hit. Bad news:

"How can you not only manage to miss us, but also zap yourself?"

  • Justified (and a little lampshaded) in Goblins. Two of the protagonists are having an argument about who creeps through a pipe first, while under attack by crossbow-wielding guards, and stand completely unharmed. The guard who appears to be in charge ask; "What's the matter with you!? Can't you even hit one of them?" To which the shooting guard replies "At this angle, the pipe is giving them some cover, sir."
  • The penguins in Fluble are apparently the worst shots in the world: they can't hit the protagonsist with tommy guns from two feet away.
  • The Aimless Renegade of Homestuck believes his marksmanship skills to be impeccable. In practice, not so much...
  • A group of smugglers with automatic weapons in Wapsi Square can't hit Monica at all, even at rather close range. We later find out that there is a slightly more complicated reason than just bad aim.
  • This The Dog House Diaries comic. Every inch of the target is hit outside the shape of the person.
  • Full Frontal Nerdity offers another explanation.

Web Original

  • The popular flash series Madness Combat features Faceless Goons that couldn't hit a sleeping elephant with a sniper rifle. This is arguably done for black humor as its obvious the series takes place in a Crapsack World. If you look closely at the beginning of Madness Depredation there's a Lampshade Hanging. One of the henchmen clumsily shoots himself. Still, a few mooks do get lucky and have managed to hit the protagonists... Not that it helps them.
  • Church from Red vs. Blue was bottom of his class at the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy.
    • Church managed to empty a pistol clip at a soldier standing two feet in front of him and miss every shot. That has got to take some kind of skill.
  • Haloid by Monty Oum, where it takes a mob of Covenant (including Banshees) to drop the SPARTAN-II armor's force field. Once.
  • G.I. Joe: Resolute had a particularly bizarre example in episode 6: Duke and Scarlett are walking down a corridor when they trip an alarm. Some COBRA troops come out of a door at the end of the hallway, and our heroes walk backwards to take cover behind some pillars while bullets miss them by feet. The second they make it there, the pillars start taking hits from the COBRA forces. Strangely, neither Duke nor Scarlett are able to hit the Mooks either, despite sniping several outside minutes before, and the troops being backlit and standing in the open. Scarlett actually notes that she and Duke are pinned down.
    • The even more egregious instance of a Cobra Trooper missing Snake Eyes with every shot from a long burst of his SMG, starting at less than a dozen metres away and steadily decreasing as Snake Eyes runs directly towards him, not even managing to place a single shot on target when the other's gotten close enough to kill him with his sword.
    • There's also the absurd firefight with the Baroness and Destro against Gung-Ho and Roadblock at the HAARP facility. Where either side is about five feet apart, not in cover, shooting each other with automatic weapons, and still don't hit each other.
  • In Legendary frog's Code Veronica flash, Alfred Ashford is shooting at Claire with his sniper rifle but keeps missing, and when she's right in front of him he shoots at her several times point blank and misses every shot, including one time when he hits the wall behind him. In fact, the only time he hits his target is when he shoots at the ceiling to make a point and a piece of the ceiling falls down and hits him on the head.
  • LifesBlood Labs in LG 15 The Resistance, especially in chapter 12.
  • Lampshaded in this College Humor video. Stormtroopers are okay shots until they put on their helmets.
  • Angry Joe in Kickassia, which eventually got lampshaded by Linkara:

Linkara: Excellent job, Mr. Joe. Except for the fact that you missed.

Western Animation

  • An episode of Family Guy ("And the Wiener Is...") pokes fun at this: in a shooting range, various extras are shooting targets specific to their character: a track referee shoots a starter pistol at a target on the ceiling, a blind man shoots at the side of a barn, and an Imperial Stormtrooper shoots at a cardboard cutout of Luke Skywalker—and misses with every shot.
    • Another example happened in Family Guy Presents Laugh It Up Fuzzball. When the group are fleeing the Death Star, no one is ever hit, even when Han (Peter) and Chewie (Brian) spend about 25 seconds standing at the doorway trying to get a couch through the door.
    • In the retelling of The Empire Strikes Back:

Stormtrooper 1: Did we ever hit anything with these guns?
Stormtrooper 2: I hit a bird once.

    • In "Cool Hand Peter", Peter, Quagmire, Joe, and Cleveland are escaping from a Southern prison, whose warden has artibrarily extended their sentence (apparently, not one ever leaves the prison). As they're running for the train, they're chased by the guards, who are shooting at them. When the others express concern over this, Peter calms them down by saying that the bad guys never hit the good guys. Cue the guards firing every which way (including pointing the rifle backwards) but at the escapees.
  • An episode of The Simpsons ("Homer of Seville") is a stark example: After Homer becomes a famous opera star, a fanatic of his attempts to kill him after being rejected. At one of his performances, Marge is able to stop the would be killer with her own poison dart. Then Chief Wiggum gives the go ahead for the Police Department snipers to fire. Each sniper fires multiple times—none of the shots hit her. She even looks at her watch for a moment.
    • Another episode has a hitman storming the retirement castle with an assault rifle to kill Grampa and missing every shot before a nurse drives him off.
  • Most cartoon Mooks can't hit for crap either. Whenever Cobra and G.I. Joe faced off in battle, firearms proved completely worthless in shooting down anything smaller than a helicopter, and most ground engagements ended in a massive fistfight.
    • With the notable exception of the Decepticons in the Transformers movie... prior to and after which they were horrible marksmen. As the Autobots in the movie continued to be horrible marksmen (with the possible exception of Optimus Prime), apparently the Autobots missed the memo that they were fighting for real this time.
      • Later Transformers series handle this somewhat differently. While shots hit often enough, Transformers are very hard to kill as, not only are they heavily armored robots, but the only sure way to put one down for good is to crack their Spark Chamber.
        • The Vehicon armies in Beast Machines could not hit a target that was standing still. Even if the target was running, hundreds of robotic soldiers should have had no trouble getting a few shots in just shooting at random.
  • Most police officers in Superhero series. Surely some police officer would think of just shooting Joker as soon as he shows up and giggles. (Especially given that he's a known cop-killer and mass murderer.) Granted, killing him would kill the series but most of Batman's enemies are not bullet-proof. Theoretically, it would take just one person with a good shot. (Or an NRA member.) In an episode of Batman the Animated Series, Batman himself realizes that he's been very lucky in avoiding death, and wonders aloud if The Joker, Two-Face, or "some punk" will get lucky someday.
    • In many episodes, thugs armed with Thompson machine guns will fire nonstop at a hero or innocent and still miss every shot. True, the Thompson has horrible accuracy, but when the target isn't moving, has no cover, and is up against a wall....
    • Hold up the Thompson doe not have horrible accuracy. Sure its no sniper rifle but the thing was designed for clearing out trenches so at least some of your shots with it will hit as long as your within 50 yards or so of your target.
  • Nobody on The Boondocks ever gets hit by bullets (unless their name is Gangstalicious).
    • Very much lampshaded when a gang tries to execute Gangstalicious and shoots him up at point-blank range... only to still miss every shot prompting this exchange:

"We missed?"
"Damn... we suck, man."

    • And there's the time when Gangstalicious gets into a fight with rival rapper E-Dirt. They draw their guns, and then each of them accidentally shoots himself.
    • Oh and that crazy rich white boy, who got shot point blank with a shotgun, but he was wearing a vest and wanted to get shot.
    • Another great example of this trope is when Huey is explaining that the 3rd leading cause of death for black men (aside from pork chops and FEMA) are Nigga Moments. A scenario shows two otherwise intelligent black men become stupid and they unload Uzis and pistols at each other from point-blank range and miss every shot, only to get instantly shot and killed by white policemen after they apologized to each other and said the whole thing was ridiculous.
    • In another episode, Uncle Ruckus is shot at over a hundred times by police officers because they thought his wallet was a gun. Unsurprisingly, he lives.
  • In the Daffy Duck short Daffy Duck and Egghead, Egghead must have been a top graduate of the Academy-his aim is so awful that he can't hit the apple on Daffy's head, even when he's standing right in front of the gun. Amusingly, he can hit the broad side of a barn. For this Epic Fail, Daffy promptly puts a "blind" sign on Egghead, and walks off in shame.
  • Averted in Batman: Gotham Knight; at first, the shootouts look like the typical "Mooks open fire with automatic weapons, Batman dodges them all easily". However, later in the movie it's explained that Batman actually does get hit with a few bullets whenever faced with automatic fire, it's just that his armored suit protects him as long as he's at long range.
  • This trope shows up a few times in the Star Wars: Clone Wars miniseries. For example, at one point Padme uses Threepio as a target to make an invisible battle droid reveal its position. The droid fails to land a single shot on this shiny target walking slowly in a straight line.
  • The battle droids in Star Wars: The Clone Wars are also prone to this, but with so many of them firing at once they tend to hit things anyway. The droids even lampshade it a few times:

Droid 1: What a terrible shot!
Droid 2: Ah well, it's my programming.
Droid 1: This is too easy!
Droid 2: I still can't hit anything!

    • The series also includes a bit attempting to explain why the Stormtroopers were so much worse than the badass Clone Troopers: Apparently Jango Fett's cloned DNA was getting "stretched thin" by the end of the war, resulting in soldiers with worse combat abilities and marksmanship.
  • Code Lyoko: XANA's monsters are really horrendous shots at times; they rarely hit the heroes with their Frickin' Laser Beams... even sometimes at close range or when they are stationary targets.
    • The heroes with ranged weapons tend to have very bad aim as well, though this is more within "realistic aiming skills". Yumi generally hits after her fans return, rather than after the throw. Odd seems to go between being great and missing everything (considering that his weapon doesn't have Infinite Ammo, this is a bad thing). Aelita can't fight until Season 3, and it turns out that her Energy Balls are the most powerful weapon, but she frequently misses too, especially when panicking.
  • Turtles Forever has this in the most absurd way. Hundreds of Foot Soldiers piling out of the Technodrome versus 9 stationary targets in a clump... and not only does no one get hit, but the turtles actually charge in, closing the distance to mere inches, and still the heroes are no worse for wear! Thee was some laser-dodging, and the Conservation of Ninjitsu was obviously at work, but come on!
    • Well, these are the 80s Foot Soldiers we are talking about here. Despite being (in theory) killer robots programmed to fight with ninja effectiveness; the chances of them actually killing everything was low. They were even less dangerous than any of the Human Foot Ninja throughout the franchise history. Karai from the 2003 series even comments on their poor combat effectiveness (calling them "almost cartoonish") whilst in the process of upgrading them with the 03' series tech. After that, they become much more deadly and almost succeed in killing the whole group of Turtles when they are led to attack the 03' Turtles lair.
      • Yet they still can't shoot anything worth a damn, ironically.
  • In the Classic Disney Shorts Commando Duck, several Japanese soldiers shoot thousands of shots at Donald Duck. He merely waves his hands, disissing them as mosquitos.
  • Parodied in one Robot Chicken short where two 18th century gentlemen proceed to conduct a firing duel but miss every time because of the lack of accuracy of their period weapons. They finally give up to just shake hands and walk away. Too bad that didn't happen in real life.
    • It has actually happened more times then you might think. Sometimes the entire point of duels was just to settle disputes amicably with both sides missing their shots intentionally but still participating to preserve their honor and not appear cowardly to each other or the public.
  • In X-Men Evolution, when Duncan and co. attack Spyke and the other Morlocks only a few of their shots came close to hitting their targets (and those were blocked), even when the target was standing still.
    • The members of The Rippers in "Cajun Spice" weren't much better.
  • In one episode of The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic is made sheriff of an old-western town and is set up to participate in a shoot-out with some of Robotnik's robots. However, Sonic reveals that he's a real poor shot - he can't even hit the broad side of a barn! It takes some quick maneuvering for the hedgehog to take out his foes.
  • Lampshaded in an episode of American Dad where three Chinese Mafia members fail to hit Stan. One remarks on how unlikely it is that they'd all miss, and another says that not killing people is his New Year's Resolution.

Real Life

  • Good marksmanship isn't nearly as easy to master as writers seem to think, and it's even harder to achieve in a life-or-death situation. In a close-range, high-adrenaline situation, accuracy goes to pot and sharpshooters become stormtroopers. Soldiers (especially snipers) are trained to get a decent accuracy, but if a group is attacked by a similar group of a different size, magazines will be emptied with maybe a 10% accuracy rate.
    • Taken to hilarious levels during the execution of Andreas Hofer, who was sentenced to death for his rebellion against Napoleon. After the first salvo of the shooting squad barely wounded him, he even mocked them for it...
    • The real-world A-Team Firing can at least partly attributed to the widespread use of automatic weapons—the recoil from multiple cartridges tends to push the gun barrel upwards and toward the shoulder the buttstock rests against, resulting in an overall decrease in accuracy.
    • Actually, that's because the majority of bullets fired in any gunfight are suppression fire, intended to pin down and intimidate an opponent so that troops can maneuver into position to shoot them from a better location. Machine guns, in particular, are designed for this role. Properly trained soldiers who can deal with the stress of combat are extremely accurate shooters.
    • Even highly trained and experienced soldiers can find themselves emulating Stormtroopers on occasion. On September 23, 1989, in the Hilltop neighborhood of Tacoma, Washington, resident Bill Foulk, a US Army Ranger Staff Sergeant, was having a cookout with several of his friends (also Army Rangers) and their families. He and his party were attacked by local drug dealers in retaliation for Foulk's attempts to organize neighborhood watch and protection programs, which included videotaping of a nearby "crack house". In a gun battle lasting more than 10 minutes, over 300 rounds were reported to have been fired from semiautomatic pistols, rifles, and shotguns; without a single injury resulting on either side. Foulk's party was not prosecuted for their participation in the shooting, as city officials deemed it a clear case of self defense. Their commanding officer was less forgiving, however; and ordered them to spend several months of extended time on the firing range for failing to hit their targets.
      • Note: the battle took place at night. The rangers were firing from concealment in the house, and the dealers were firing from cover, and both were essentially shooting at muzzle flashes. Also The Rangers may have also been attempting to avoid killing anybody; if they had actually shot and killed one of the dealers, then they might have been faced with murder charges.
    • When you think about it, a gun is a metal tube that you put a projectile in, backed by a very fast burning (NOT exploding) fuel. You pull a trigger, a complex set of machinery is set into motion, and this super-fast burning fuel produces intense gas pressures that send the bullet flinging away like shrapnel in an explosion. It's a small miracle that it hits anything you intend it to.
      • Only in case of guns with smoothbore barrels. A metal projectile pressed through a rifled tube receives a spin to keep a certain gyroscopic balance after leaving the tube, so it stays on the same course until it either hits something in it's flight path or is dragged down by gravity. If the tube is directed towards something it will hit unless the bullet is dragged down too much by gravity or loses its momentum from the explosion. That's the reason why musketeers, whose weapons had smoothbore barrels, had to be grouped in large formations in order to hit an enemy which stood right in front of them. The introduction of rifled weapons in combination with musket tactics was part of the reason for WWI's devastating battles and the introduction of trench warfare.
    • During the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, it was estimated that troops were using over 250,000 bullets for every insurgent killed. This includes bullets fired during training, suppressive fire and other activities that are less likely to kill.
  • In a surprising example of Truth in Television, take the story of Mr. Thomas Martin McGouey, who left a suicide note in place for police to find, painted a target on himself, and stood in the center of a clearing with a drawn toy gun pointed at six police officers. After the resulting hail of twenty-eight bullets, Mr. McGouey found himself with a single minor wound to his shoulder, requiring only outpatient care—it's harder to hit a guy if you're trying to do so without killing.
  • This is actually a highly Justified Trope when it comes to shootings on the streets. This is because the guns used most frequently in shootings involving civilians are handguns. Handguns are difficult enough to use accurately even when you have all the time in the world, a stationary target, and nobody trying to kill you. Handguns can easily be taken off target just by squeezing the trigger improperly. Now imagine what happens when you've been taken by surprise, the other guy is moving, and he's also trying to kill you.
  • The above is why rifles and shotguns are recommended as home defense weapons; they are much easier to aim and use than handguns.
  • A fascinating example is none other than George Washington. Despite a long, and mostly disastrous, military career, the Father of the U.S.A. never once suffered a bullet wound. During Braddock's retreat Washington had at least two horses shot from under him and later found bullet holes in his clothing but got nary a scratch. Not only that, but double lines of firing soldiers managed to miss him entirely though he was sitting, his horse big as life between them—and on at least TWO separate occasions! Eerie...
    • This is about half lampshaded, half Justified Trope. An old story from the French & Indian Wars tells of a battle near Fort Duquense where over 1,000 soldiers from a 1,500 man British regiment were slaughtered, including almost all the officers at the front of their ranks, in a lopsided Indian victory. During the battle, the Chief ordered his marksmen to bring down Washington, said to be the last surviving officer on horseback. They fired seventeen bullets, though not one hit before the Chief called them back, remarking that "this man was not born to be killed by a bullet". In a letter to his brother, Washington remarked that he had two horses shot out from under him and four bullet holes in his jacket, but was completely unharmed.
    • Although he might be matched by the Duke of Wellington. In a long and mostly spectacularly successful military career, he had two horses taken out from under him at Assye in India (one shot, one bayoneted) in a battle that included a melee fight, escaped from a French patrol on a horseback battle in Spain, multiple times avoided French cavalry charges at Waterloo and ended the battle with most of his staff hit and wounded or killed but himself untouched, was hit by musket balls at the limits of their range so they didn't penetrate his clothing numerous times, and only had one wound, a minor hit to his leg received in France in 1814, in his entire career.
      • Not as surprising as you think. It's a combination of luck, and the fact that a horse is far more likely to be hit than the rider as it presents a larger target, and it is always harder to hit a moving target.
  • Wyatt Earp in his 30+ year career never got hit once. He once had a shotgun fired at him at point blank range, and every single pellet missed. He didn't.
    • Guns were much less accurate then they are now, and now they aren't spot on. Which makes this Truth In Television.
  • One of comedian Ron White's stock routines is the true story of a police force who had a shoot-out at point blank range only to miss every shot.

"Nice shooting, Elmer Fudd."

    • He then goes on to mention a hard aversion of this trope where "A Kid in Detroit a few years ago, shot 8 bullets, hit 9 people."
  • In Evan Wright's nonfiction book Generation Kill, during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, elements of the United States Marine Corps' First Recon were running a gauntlet through in Iraqi town and took machine gun fire from multiple directions. Their Humvees were riddled with hundreds of bullet holes, but only one Marine was hit and wounded in the arm.
  • Truth in Television: most people (including a number of experienced cops) sincerely believe that More Dakka will instantly reduce targets to hamburger. Burning off too much ammo at once blows accuracy. Inexperienced and/or overconfident law enforcement officers regularly empty their badge-granted leadspitters at unarmored targets at less than five meters, and don't put a scratch on them because they forget to aim. And police forces that rely on intimidation never really get enough weapons practice. Add all that up, then order the poor, doomed mooks to hunt down somebody with actual combat experience. Hilarity Ensues.
    • Experienced soldiers and mercenaries... not so much.
    • Even many experienced police officers are terrible shots because they rarely practice—often the bare minimum required by their department, perhaps a couple hundred rounds, 2-4 times a year. Why? Because becoming a good marksman with a pistol takes a lot of time and effort, and for many police officers it's never a necessary skill. They spend far more time dealing with patrols, paperwork, tickets, investigations, and court appearances than they would ever need to spend thinking about their sidearm. The Police are usually not actually that well trained in shooting, even having just graduated from training. Things may vary by department.
    • The ability to reliably hit and kill enemies while under fire is a slow-to-develop and difficult skill to master. Accuracy can decline as much as 50% during stressful, timed events such as 3 gun matches where nobody is shooting back at you.
  • This trope is actually averted fairly often when civilians use firearms to protect themselves. Civilians who shoot in self defense both tend to hit their target more frequently than the police do, as well as being five times less likely to shoot the wrong person by mistake!
  • Those notoriously-inaccurate flintlock muskets? When firing at wooden targets at typical combat ranges, about half of all shots fired hit. When firing at human targets, about one shot in a thousand. This was mainly because most armies didn't actually include an "aim" step in the order of fire, going straight from ready arms to firing a ragged volley in the general direction of the enemy.
    • Most muskets are inaccurate enough that aiming isn't really going to do much good.
    • Aimed fire requires every man to take his own time, precluding volley fire. A successful volley kills fewer people then a long firefight but kills them all in the same time and place, causing a morale shock that will destroy a formation more effectively for fewer lives. Thus aimed fire is mostly a light infantry technique. Line infantry would "level".
      • At the same time few armies learned to at least adjust for slopes in broken ground which could be done whether with volley fire or independent fire. Wellington's men did this to some degree which gave an advantage.
  • The inaccuracy of early gunpowder weapons was one of several reasons why imperial China did not develop the sophisticated rifles of the West. Contemporary crossbows were much more accurate, as well as easier to manufacture and use, and proved much more effective against the various cultures of the northern steppes, who often used quick, lightly armored horsemen. Meanwhile, the full armor of European knights encouraged the development of gunpowder weaponry as an equalizer.
    • "easier to use" does not apply to actual training - firing a crossbow (or even worse, a bow) takes a lot of practice and exercising. You could still teach a guy to be a rifleman in a week (most of the time teaching him how to stay in formation and when to fire - more dakka takes care of the rest) - even a crossbow has much worse arching of the shot than the early guns. However, it didn't really fit in the tactics and it did require much better infrastructure (to make, repair and stock the weapons with ammo).
  • In Richard Marcinko's autobiography Rogue Warrior, he mentions how his highly trained SEALs in Vietnam could hit paper targets with ease yet missed a moving target. After that he began training them with a moving target. He also noted the tendency of shooters to become twitchy and inaccurate when they were in a pressure situation where their hearts would be pumping and adrenaline surging, so in training, he made his men sprint to their positions before firing - he called this "stress shooting".
  • Non-gun WW 2 example: submarine torpedoes used by all sides of the war (except the Japanese) were badly engineered to an almost comical degree. Most of them ran too deep, and would thus pass harmlessly under their intended targets. The early German ones would stubbornly refuse to detonate unless they hit their target at a precise 90° angle, while the American ones on the other hand would never detonate at that angle, despite the skippers being extensively drilled for such shots and getting chewed up by the brass should they deviate from them. This was true for good torpedoes - a staggering proportion of them were just plain duds. Even worse, some torps would get their rudder stuck right outside the firing tube and ran in a perfect circle, blowing up the sub that launched it; this could also be caused by cold temperatures affecting the steering gear. This is how the most successful US submarine of the war met its fate. At least two U-boats are reported to have sunk themselves with faulty acoustic homing torpedoes, and Karl Dönitz was known to complain quite publically about the various British ships he could have sunk if his torps worked properly.
    • They got better; by 1943 both sides had ironed out some of the larger problems. Even then, there were some major mishaps right up to the end.
    • The American Mk.14 was particularly troublesome due to its Mk.6 detonator which was capable of both impact or magnetic detonation. In practice though, the overly complex detonator generally failed to work at all, which led in some cases to a submarine firing its whole complement to absolutely no effect. The problem was eventually solved in September 1943. The solution? A new firing pin capable of being produced in any machine shop in Hawaii.
  • Anarchist Emile Cottin missed Georges Clemenceau 6 out of 7 times at point blank range, just after World War I. Clemenceau argued he must be punished for the careless use of a dangerous weapon and for poor marksmanship, and therefore be locked up for eight years, with intensive training in a shooting gallery.
  • One Darwin Award Honorable Mention featured the story of some undercover soldiers getting into a shootout with plainclothes cops over a case of Mistaken Identity. Over 100 shots were fired across a busy intersection, and none of them hit anything.
  • A few years back, a Baltimore Ravens player had someone break into his home in the middle of the night. He exchanged gunfire with the robber in the confines of a narrow hallway, and despite police counting over 30 rounds fired by both sides, there were no injuries.
  • SCA Stickjocks and Foam Boffer Fighters love to sit around talking about how that shot couldn't possibly have missed, so the other guy must have been cheating and not acknowledged the hit.
  • The inaccuracy of firearms in stressful situations (or with black powder weapons, because of the smoke produced while firing) was a major point of the documentary looking at the gunfight at the OK Corral due to that fight being an example of this trope. An expert firing a period revolver discovered how the smoke generated from firing rapidly made it hard to see the target, and in a graphic demonstration, a person in a police video simulation trainer had his shots spraying all over the place while "returning fire."
  • Justified by this Cracked article. It doesn't always have to do with the guns, but with the men firing them.
  • According to George Orwell in "Homage to Catalonia," everyone involved in the Spanish Civil War exemplified this trope: “In this war, everyone always did miss everyone else, when it was humanly possible.” The most sensational story he tells of this kind is of how he was accidentally shot at by a Republican machine gun “pointed directly at” him. It still managed to miss him entirely. Ernest Hemingway seems to contradict this in his fictional depiction "For Whom the Bell Tolls" where nearly every shot hits its mark.
    • Although he managed to subvert this in his case, he was sent home after being shot in the neck.
  • Quite a large section of retired Army Lt. Col. David Grossman's book On Killing is spent explaining that human's have an innate and strong resistance to killing; and that only about 15% of soldiers in WWII would actually fire their weapons (if they were infantry that is). Since then the military has taken steps to fix that problem, and now almost all soldiers will fire.
  • The real reason for the poor accuracy of Storm Troopers is also in the choice of weapon - the film props were made from deactivated Sterling SMGs, which had been aged and worn by 30 years of service and poor quality ammo, much hated by the British Army. When they were new however they had fairly high accuracy for submachine guns of the time.
  • There were several attempts to assassinate Leon Trotsky before the fatal ice pick, and one definitely came under this trope. A group of Stalinist assassins burst into Trotsky's bedroom, sprayed the bed with machine gun fire, and proceeded to leave... Trotsky getting up a few minutes later completely unharmed. Every bullet had missed.
  • Many people are surprised that Ted Geisel - yep, Dr. Seuss - served in World War II. He joined in 1943 and was a Captain, commander of the Animation Dept of the First Motion Picture Unit of the United States Army Air Forces. He went on a tour of Europe - and because he was an officer they had to give him a weapon. He was a terrible shot. He never had to engage the enemy or saw any action, but he said if it ever happened "I would probably do more damage gripping my pistol by the barrel and throwing it at the enemy."
  • The NYPD is notorious for hitting more civilians than criminals. This is due to poor firearms training, failing to instill even the basic four rules of Gun Safety, then mandating 15 pound trigger pulls (3 times the factory standard) in an ill thought out attempt to stop the damage of their keeping the finger on the trigger instead of teaching them not to.
  • During the Rhodesian Bush War Communist ZANLA forces, who exhibited exceptionally poor marksmanship even for forcibly conscripted cannon fodder, were regularly found to have set their AK sights to the maximum range (1000 meters. As in, one intended for use against area targets a kilometer away and well above the heads of anyone closer.). Interrogators eventually asked captured ZANLA why they were like this and learned that they thought the higher numbers made the gun more powerful.
  1. Technically ballistic skill can go as high as 10, however values above 5 confer no bonus over a value of 5 so it's extremly rare to see a unit with a ballistic skill of 6+