"The great thing about Jeremy's shooting is that you are perfectly safe just as long as you stand
right in front of the target."
The ineffective deployment of More Dakka
. Bullets fly left, right and center, but no one is getting hit. Their remarkable ability to expend enormous amounts of ammunition without managing to hit anyone (important
) distinguishes them as honor graduates from the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy
Related to this is when the goodies deliberately miss their shots because they do not wish to kill anyone.
This trope is often Truth in Television
, particularly after it was statistically analyzed in World War II. Officially this trope goes by the term spray and pray
as any sustained automatic fire from a hand held weapon will require divine intervention to actually hit its target. The causes for this trope are rooted in physics because the recoil from each successive shot from an automatic weapon will force the weapon's muzzle to rise up
until all of the rounds are passing harmlessly over the target.
Since soldiers stopped lining up and charging the enemy head on, it has become much harder to actually hit your opponent, even with well-aimed shots. Targets that move quickly and stay behind cover are naturally harder to hit, and when they are returning fire one's own ability to concentrate, aim and shoot will be seriously impacted. Today small arms tactics revolve around suppressive fire
and maneuver, which use aimed shots to suppress, or pin down the enemy, to allow other elements to move in close for the kill. Back in the late 1950s, in Robert A. Heinlein
's Starship Troopers
he points out that military histories show that it takes several thousand
rounds per person
to kill an enemy soldier (in today's era of machine guns that shoot hundreds of rounds of suppressing fire, it takes at least 250,000 rounds to kill one militant in Iraq!note
), even under normal circumstances; in combat, accuracy with small arms goes way
down. Way, way down. It should be noted that long before machineguns and semi-automatic rifles like the WWII M1 Garand were developed, artillery was the big killer on the battlefield and still is.
Perhaps this trope is employed as an alternative to the opposite extreme of Guns Are Worthless
and Annoying Arrows
. A writer trying to be realistic about how dangerous both arrows and bullets are in the right hands would have to make the people firing them unable to hit the broad side of a barn in order to draw fights out for dramatic effect.
The real reason, of course, was the fact The A-Team
was nominally a kid's show in prime time, and killing was a network no-no
(similar rationale can be given for the original animated G.I. Joe
). At the time, it was overlooked due to the Rule of Cool
. (And still is, so much so that the movie remake was heavily criticized by fans for actually showing the heroes killing people.)
The opposite of Improbable Aiming Skills
. See also Bloodless Carnage
and Non-Lethal Warfare
, which often motivate this trope. Compare Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy
, when this trope only seems to apply to the bad guys and the heroes returning fire are picking off one Stormtrooper per shot, and Powerful But Inaccurate
, when the inaccuracy is canonically a property of the weapon.
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Anime & Manga
- Lampshaded in Detective Comics # 858, which features The Question as a second-feature after the main Batwoman storyline. In the last chapter of a five-part story involving The Question breaking up a kidnapping/prostitution/smuggling organization, she is fleeing the home of the ringleader while being shot at by numerous members of his villainous entourage, only to simply run straight past the entrance gate without even a token roll to evade the gunfire. When she has run out of sight, one of the shooters turns to the others and states that they "are the worst shots ever."
- Played painfully straight in the "Two-Face: Year One" comic. A SWAT team is sent in to a room full of unsuspecting supervillains who are making phone calls on behalf of Harvey Dent's reelection campaign, with orders to kill everyone but Dent. In spite of the order, and the fact the illustration makes it look like they're spraying the room with bullets, the most damage that the team inflicts is shooting Scarecrow's horse and (non-fatally) wounding the Ventriloquist. Everyone else is brought in unharmed.
- In The Walking Dead, this is Tyreese's biggest problem. Even given lessons on a makeshift firing range, he can't hit the broad side of a barn. Good thing he's capable with a hammer.
- Doubly subverted in Largo Winch. When Penny reminds him that Largo ordered them to do the operation without killing, Simon tell that there is no need to worry, because he has terrible aiming skill. Then one mook is shot, and Simon explains that this prove how bad he is, because he aimed at the roof.
- In Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Batman tight-ropes over two buildings and two guys with automatics unload on him. He gets hit. A lot. Right in the three-inch-thick steel chest plate he wears under the bright yellow Bat-Symbol, apparently designed for this exact purpose.
- Swerve from Transformers: More than Meets the Eye is a comically bad shot. He's only scored three direct hits in the entire run of the comic. Two were accidental headshots on the ship's psychologist and himself (both of them got better). He manages to miss the broad side of one of the largest Transformers shown thus far at point blank range. On the Decepticon side of things, there's Misfire, who can basically be summed up as "Like Swerve, but worse in every way." He's killed more Decepticons by accident than he has Autobots on purpose. Apparently when he's called upon to actually try to use a gun properly, he's very, very bad at it.
"They call me Misfire. Long story. Actually, you know what? It isn't. It's a very short story involving a machine gun, a misunderstanding, and a dozen dead Decepticons."
- Pretty Cure Perfume Preppy has this happen to Hanae at one point in episode 36.
- In the Pony POV Series, Shining Armor gets a stolen enemy machine gun at one point. He misses every shot...at point blank range...in a crowded train car. This is a bit of a Running Gag, as Shining Armor's aim stinks no matter what he uses, something he fully admits.
- This trope is the reason for "Try Again" Bragg's nickname in Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000: Gaunt's Ghosts series. Fortunately, due to his sheer strength he is a heavy weapons trooper and usually totes a machine gun-equivalent with ammo to spare.
- Stephen King's The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three takes a time-out to explain exactly why a mook misses with a fully automatic weapon, in realistic terms.
- Played for Drama in the Dale Brown book Executive Intent. A Kill Sat is used to try and take out terrorists who have commandeered ballistic missiles, but misses and kills many civilians. Things get worse.
- Seen in Malevil when the castle comes under siege and discipline fails for both the defenders and the attackers. Malevil opens fire when the gates are breached but before the enemy enters the Death Course, the invaders go prone and open fire despite not seeing any of the defenders. Both sides waste precious ammunition firing at nothing before their commanders can get them back under control.
- In the 1632 series, Noelle Murphy (later known as Noelle Stull) is a famously poor shot. Including missing an aimed shot at a stationary body from less than seven feet away.
- Blood Makes the Grass Grow Green, Johnny Rico's (real name) autobiographical account of a self-described hippie liberal serving as a US Infantryman in Afghanistan, plays this trope straight. It is, after all, Truth in Television. In one scene, the soldiers and Taliban exchange fire for over a half hour. The soldiers engage with weapons they qualify with, most of them ranked Experts. The Taliban engage with weapons they've been carrying all their lives. Vehicle mounted weapons and rocket-propelled grenades are fired. There were no American casualties and no enemy bodies or blood trails were discovered. In another scene, Johnny forgets Concealment Equals Cover does not apply and dives behind a haystack, but the Taliban repeatedly miss at short range. Finally, a soldier unloads his M240 (light machine gun) when his platoon is engaged into a nearby hill where there might be enemies, but none are visible. He didn't want to carry all that heavy ammunition around anymore.
Live Action TV
- The A-Team made this famous, with heroes and villains both firing ridiculous amounts of bullets at the climax of almost every episode, to practically no effect.
- They hit lots of glass windows, car tires, radiators, and other such things. They just never hit any people. (Cracked, the source of the page image, also speculated on "the hundreds of bystanders they likely gunned down with their hail of stray bullets.")
- Guns don't kill people. People kill glass windows, car tires and radiators. And many a Memetic Mutation too.
- At least one episode ("Say It With Bullets") saw the team set up an elaborate ruse by making their antagonist Col. Decker believe they were hiding in the guest house on an Army base; the team had rigged a stereo system to play, by remote control, a sound-effects record where one of the tracks was machine gun fire. When Decker is tipped and brings his convoy to the guest house to call the team out, Hannibal cues the stereo, making the soldiers think they are being fired upon ... and they return fire, heavily damaging the house. When nobody is found inside, Decker blows his stack, realizing that tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition had been wasted as part of a game played for Hannibal's amusement.
- They were also pretty good at hitting those amazing exploding bushes which inevitably caused a jeep to flip over (without injuring the occupants, of course).
- Subverted in the show itself, in that the times where characters did get shot on-screen, Face and Murdock in different episodes, though they got better, only a single bullet is fired each time.
- The Ashes to Ashes premiere has an A-team style shootout moments after Gene Hunt refers to his team as The A-Team. Justified on the part of the cops in that pistols are not accurate at the distance from which they were firing, plus they were dodging automatic fire at the same time.
- In Auction Kings, Cindy managed to hit the device which carries the target at the shooting range. Paul is a much better shot.
- Doctor Who has some bad, bad examples of this trope. In "The Gunfighters," seasoned cowboys repeatedly miss some people walking down the middle of a road. In "The Caves of Androzani," the Doctor runs through a long mudfield with little cover except for a few hills, while about a gazillion rounds are fired at him by the pursuing gang of mercenaries, and still manages to escape relatively unscathed- so long as you ignore the terminal case of spetrox toxaemia.. There was also a lampshaded defiance of this trope in the more recent episode, A Town Called Mercy, in which the Doctor questions the skill of a gunslinger who only hit the target's hat, only to be informed that it was deliberate. Later there was a justified example, in which said gunslinger somehow managed to shoot much faster than usual, blowing up the town's clock, several windows, a street lamp, and much more besides, without even coming close to the Doctor he was on his knees and flailing his weaponized arm in all directions due to the Doctor overloading him though, so YMMV on whether or not it actually counts as this trope
- Alias used it for the first season and a half — then Sydney started killing people. It's not that Sydney missed her shots, though; in general she used tranquilizers until the writers decided they preferred Sydney to off people instead.
- Any enemy on Andromeda. To be fair, in one episode, the crew of the Andromeda Ascendant were shown to be wearing "ECM Generators" that "play hell with smart bullets."
- This is worst when automated defenses are used. These will track dodging enemies, but walking straight at them is perfectly safe. These are the main ship defense weapons used by the heroes, too.
- It got hijacked and used against them so many times in the first season alone that one of the characters commented something along the lines of: "Automated ships defenses. What kind of a retarded engineer had that put in?" while taking cover from said automatic defense turrets.
- Generally averted on Airwolf.
- Ryutaros, who controls Kamen Rider Den-O's Gun Form, has a tendency to hold his gun sideways and dance while fighting. This causes a lot of property damage and very rarely hits the Monster of the Week it was supposed to.
- However, Ryu never misses with his finisher, which is a single, carefully aimed shot.
- Parodied in Police Squad!, one of which was where the lead and antagonist are missing shots while 1 foot apart before ducking behind cover. Repeated in The Naked Gun 2 1/2; same distance and same cover.
- While being chased by the laser-zapping Monster of the Week on Red Dwarf, Lister laments "Why don't we ever meet anyone nice?" Cat asks "Why don't we ever meet anyone who can shoot straight?"
- Usually averted in Stargate, where the Red Shirt Army at the very least show a modicum of competence.
- Threshold: The government agents just stun the bad aliens with electronic bullets.
- Carlos Mencia once addressed the way gangstas stereotypically hold their guns (sideways, for no readily apparent reason). When taxed, one of them responded that he holds his gun like that when he shoots because it makes him look cool. He's astonished to find that the aiming guide on top of the gun lines up with his target when held the right way up. Then Mencia makes some remark about how only porn stars should look cool when they shoot.
- Everyone on Chuck sucks with their guns. Many of the fights devolve into hand to hand combat, and any stand off is solved just by either side having an extra gun pointed at the rest.
- The panicked wedding party in Harper's Island are all lousy shots. Once they work out they're being attacked, they break out the guns, hang onto them obsessively and all completely fail to hit the Big Bad, even from a few feet. Possibly justified in that they're tired, hungry, terrified civilians without any training and they don't have much dakka.
- In The Wire there's a shootout between rival street gangs in which nobody gets hit, except from a kid who catches a stray bullet on the second floor of a apartment building.
- The Wire actually deliberately invoked this trope. At one point one of the police officers observes that most of the kids in the gangs are so untrained with guns that they're more likely to hit innocent bystanders than their intended target.
- Parodied in a Mad TV skit in which a veteran cop gets a new partner who's a rookie. The veteran cop is captured by a thug wielding a blade and the rookie tries to shoot the thug, only to hit his partner... repeatedly. The veteran suggests aiming for him instead of the thug and just ends up getting shot in the nut-sack. He declares that he'd rather take his chances with the blade, which is kind of dull, but the rookie cop insists he's not letting the thug get away. The thug eventually decides to leave the scene and he walks way. The rookie "pursues," but no matter how close he gets, he can't achieve the shot and the ricochet bounces to the veteran. The thug picks up a penny off the ground and leaves. The rookie cop calls for medical aid for the veteran, but reaches Domino's Pizza instead.
- Parodied in the first episode of Danger 5, when the heroes and villains fire directly at each other in a nightclub to no effect, other than killing every single random mook and Innocent Bystander. A Running Gag in the series involves the Big Bad always escaping via Super Window Jump after evading a hail of gunfire by Danger 5.
- Everyone in Fort Courage shoots like this, which might explain why they were sent to Fort Courage in the first place. In one notable episode, every single member of a firing squad missed the person they were supposed to be executing, instead shooting the water tower.
- Warhammer 40,000: Orks + guns = hilarity. Orks in general tend to shoot more to hear the noise their guns going off than to actually kill anyone with them. The Rogue Trader RPG points out that all Ork weapons are actually smoothbore, as their genetically-engineered technical knowledge apparently doesn't include that whole "spin-stabilized ballistics" thing.
- Warhammer Fantasy Battle: Orcs + bows = roughly the same.
- In Warmachine, any Menoth unit with a ranged attack is guaranteed to have laughable accuracy. This is most notable in the case of the Zealots, whose whole strategy is throwing remarkably unstable explosives at ludicrously short range.
- In D20 Modern, automatic weapons get the shaft. 2 feats are required in order to properly use an automatic weapon, one for proficiency with guns, the other to not suffer a penalty when firing full-auto. And even if you have those feats, you target a 10-by-10 area with a AC of 10, to make the opponents have to make a DC 15 reflex save (fixed, with no way to modify) to take no damage; you use 10-rounds to attempt to hit at most 4 halfling-sized enemies with 1 bullet each. A third feat is required for you to be able to burst-fire, which is actually not useless. Without that third feat, you can target a single target with auto-fire, but it is a senseless waste of ammo because only 1 round (of the 10 fired) can hit. Some guns even have a 3-round burst mode, but if you don't "know" how to burst-fire, then tough luck, you can't use that mode (you can, but much like auto-fire against a single opponent, it's a waste of ammo). To summarize: Without building your character to fully use automatic weapons, you will quickly get to the point to where you can't do anything but spray-and-pray with automatic fire.
- In the second and third editions of Shadowrun (as well as the first edition if optional rules from a later expansion were used), the more bullets you fired, the less likely you were to hit with any of them. This was because the number of bullets fired was added to the target number for the attack, and only one roll was made to see if that attack as a whole hit. Thus, firing a single round might have a target number of 4, while firing a ten-round burst would increase that target number to 14, and if you didn't beat that 14, all your ten rounds would miss. (The reason for firing more than one round was that the damage caused would increase per round, so if you did hit with a ten-round burst you pretty much guaranteed instant death with most weapons.
- On a smaller scale, Church in Red vs. Blue. A man (sort of) that can point his gun at a guard, empty a full magazine from less than a foot away, and still manage to completely miss.
Church: Uh, hey, can I get a little help, I'm... out of bullets.
[cue Wash staring at him for a moment, then dropping the guard with a single shot.]'
- Doom wastes a lot of ammunition on Arenas. Few shots actually hit the opponent.
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja generally plays this straight for the main characters, but one episode features a subversion. A Batman parody called the Beeman leaps at a trio of bank robbers, who open fire with automatic weapons, killing him. The Alt Text for that comic reads "How many times have frustrated Batman writers typed this out, stared at it for hours, sighed, and then deleted the script?"
- Inverted in Homestuck: Caliborn is able to shoot and hit Gamzee repeatedly with his machine gun. Justified because Rule of Funny
- In Bob and George, Megaman complains that Roll is moving too much, he can't hit her.
- In Sunset Grill, a gang member who usually hits his target on the second shot is considered a pretty good shot. The author's comment on this highly-spoilery page explains:
A note on guns: what Darwin (and pretty much the rest of the gangsters here) is carrying is an automatic-fire needle weapon, better known as as a gunther or popgun. There are certain advantages to gunthers — they're extremely easy to get ahold of, they're cheap, they're light, they're recoilless, and their design simplicity means you really have to work at breaking one — but these are offset by their utter lack of range, accuracy, or power. Your best bet with a gunther is to wave it in the general direction of a target and pull the trigger a lot. Since this is how most gangsters shoot anyway, gunthers are the street weapon of choice.
- Kickassia was slightly less extreme, in that at one point one person was hit.
- In Suburban Knights people unload machine guns at each other for several seconds and fire guns at each other from pointblank range without ever hitting. Occasionally sparks indicate that bullets are bouncing off of the swords people are holding, but never hit an inch to the right or left.
- This proud tradition is upheld in To Boldly Flee, where once again, with a few rare exceptions, the only time anyone gets close to hitting anyone else with standard guns is when the target has a chance to block it.
- Except when Angry Joe shoots the weapons guy.
- Parodied in the New Grounds video Mr. T vs Superman, in which Mr. T pulls an AK 47 out of thin and despite Superman only being a foot away from him, misses with the entire clip, Mr. T forgetting about this trope, though Superman points that wouldn't have worked anyways. Later we have members of the A-Team shooting at bad guys that believe in this trope, but it's subverted, the A-Team learned how to aim.
- The episode of Family Guy where Peter and friends dressed up as the A-Team lampshaded this, which then turned into something like a deconstruction. When Peter explained to some loggers what they would do to stop them from cutting down some trees, referring to actions from the show such as driving them off a road, causing the logger's vehicle to tumble over only for them to climb out dazed but unharmed, the main logger explained how a friend of his suffered debilitating injuries from a low-speed crash.
- Several episodes of The Boondocks showcased this. It should be noted that at least one Spear Carrier level character has been shot in scenes that would otherwise be pure examples of the trope.
- Example: Two pissed off Black guys take semiautomatic guns, point it at each other (one is directly against the cheek, the other directly up the nose) and fire for about three seconds, completely missing.
- Even when they were looking away while firing in sheer terror, something should have connected, unless they jerked the guns totally out of the way. Of course, it was used to demonstrate the idiocy of pulling out a weapon over nothing, and then unfairness (or prudence?) when a pair of cops plug them despite their having made up.
- Example two: Ed Wuncler and Gin Rummy with semi-automatic assault rifles versus three Middle Eastern store owners with handheld automatics. None of the gunmen are hit, Huey and Riley took cover and are apparently OK, and the one policeman? He got hit, but he was OK. In fact he managed to stand up and get shot again.
- Another amusing example of this was the Gangstalicious episode, where Riley discovered his hero was not only not gangsta, but also gay. Gangstalicious' jilted ex-lover and his crew tried to execute a naked, tied-up 'Licious, only to empty their guns from six feet away and miss. The Latino banger in the group lamented, "Man... we suck."
- In the same episode, Gangstalicious and his rival E-Dirt get into an argument in a club. They pull out their guns and... each of them proceeds to accidentally shoot himself.
- The DCAU version of Batman frequently swung down to kick automatic-weapon-toting enemies, inexplicably not being hit by the massive amounts of lead coming his way. Bullets coming his way seem to vanish into the aether milliseconds before they should rightfully swiss-cheese him.
- In the comics the main reason Batman operates at night as well as the massive cape he wears are to cause this trope by having the darkness plus their fear cause the shooters be unable to effectively aim at him, the heavy body armor deals with the few shots that do get through.
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja referenced this directly, with more logical results.
- Gotham Knight has some fun with this, where Bats tries to run straight at Deadshot while the latter is blazing away with a two-barreled automatic Arm Cannon... and connects. Cue Deadshot quipping about how this was the first time he had ever seen anyone try to dodge his bullets by running at them.
- In Zixx, during the virtual reality/game sequences, the heroes will often be chased by mooks ineffectively spraying laser fire at them. It tips over from Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy to outright A-Team Firing when the heroes are pinned down, with nowhere to turn and nothing to defend them, with enemy lasers still going in wild directions around their general vicinity, long enough for them to panic, work out a plan, and get out of there without being hit once.
- Lampshaded in Stroker and Hoop where Hoop explains that he "always aims just slightly above the head" to avoid actually killing someone. This lampshade then leads to a subversion where Hoop manages to actually kill someone despite aiming slightly above their heads.
- Subverted in another episode where the only time Stroker and Hoop actually manage to shoot someone is when their guns discharge after being dropped.
- They also shoot Hoop's girlfriend and David Copperfield.
- This trope runs rampant in the animated G.I. Joe. The only exception is when shooting at a manned vehicle, wherein the people inside get to escape before the vehicle is destroyed... often making their escape before even coming under fire, let alone the vehicle actually taking any damage.
- Homestar Runner parodied G.I. Joe in a commercial for the Cheat Commandos. The Commandos and their perpetual enemies, Blue Laser, are lined up only a few feet from each other and firing like crazy, but no gets hit.
- Parodied in an episode of Twisted Toyfare Theatre when Spider-Man says "You'd actually hit something if you aimed lower", physically pushes Duke's gun down, resulting in a dead Cobra trooper and everyone staring in shock.
- Also parodied in Robot Chicken series 4 where both Duke and Cobra Commander note that their respective "Walls of Honour" don't list a single name (aside from Junkyard the dog who died after eating too much chocolate)
- But averted in the later Resolute mini-series which not only shows most shots by the Joes hitting their targets, but several Joes - including "kind-and-gentle" Scarlett - killing unaware soldiers in cold blood in order to infiltrate a Cobra base.
- Parodied in an animated episode of Community where Jeff Wingman kills Destro during a firefight and is thrown in prison for it. The Cobras are in a state of shock since this is the first fatality they sustained in all the years of fighting the Joes. It also causes financial problems for the Cobras since their insurance rates go up and their soldiers now demand hazard pay. It is also inverted when Jeff fires his submachine gun in order to lay some harmless suppressing fire and instead kills a squad of Cobras and accidentally sets Lifeline on fire.
- Averted in the Venture Brothers' parody of the G.I. Joe opening sequence. Not only are OSI agents shown gunning down SPHINX goons, there's also lots of blood to go around. OSI is also depicted as extremely brutal, with a couple of Kick Them While They Are Down moments like shooting an ejected pilot, multiple agents ganging up on one downed goon and beating him with their rifle stocks, etc.
- In Kim Possible, neither Shego with her green plasma whatevers nor Duff Killigan and his exploding golf balls appear to do any damage at all ever, except to the background.
- More because Kim Possible is a cheerleader-ninja with Badass Normal dodging skills. And because it's pretty hard to hit a target-like a person with a golf ball, even exploding ones.
- Happens a lot in TaleSpin. Everyone uses real guns, and the Sky Pirates especially do a lot of filling planes with bullets, but miraculously no one ever gets shot, though there are a lot of dramatic near misses.
- For all that they're programmed and trained war robots who've been through millennia of combat, the Transformers seem to have an awfully hard time hitting anything; particularly the Decepticons, especially considering that not only are they the military bots and should have the better hardware and accuracy, but also that their leader (Megatron) transformed into a gun himself. Granted, they're a bit better than the cast of G.I. Joe in that they can actually aim at all, but still.
- Check out this fan video to see a glorious Lampshade Hanging on the use of the trope in Transformers. It uses nearly every single clip of Shockwave firing his laser at the Autobots.
- In the latter half of the G1 two-parter "Dinobot Island", the Decepticons not only succeed in hitting the Autobots, but essentially pin them all to the ground with a sustained round of gunfire. Apparently they just had their guns set to "ticklefight"... at least, until the movie.
- During the aforementioned movie, the Decepticons succeed in overrunning an Autobot ship filled with cast members from the previous series and are able to land dead-shot bulls-eyes on their opponents in what seems like mere seconds. Given that there are 20 years between the previous season of the cartoon and the movie, this would logically seem to suggest that after millions of years of war on their home planet.... it took landing on a foreign planet to learn how to aim.
- This has been somewhat improved upon in recent years over the varying versions of the franchise, often through using robot parts for Getting Crap Past the Radar. Transformers Energon, though, had copious amounts of laser-dakka getting sprayed all over the place to no effect.
- Subverted in Beast Wars: Rhinox was so obviously aiming high that even the other Maximals (who are at best very very guilty of this) could spot he was aiming high, whereupon the delicate application of dakka caused a significant chunk of cliff dropped on the Predacons' heads.
- Bullit in COPS fits this to a T, at least according to his toy's bio. He's a gun nut in the extreme, wanted on illegal weapons charges for his love of powerful belt-fed machine guns, but he doesn't have any actual violent crimes on record because he's a really, really crappy shot.
- Happens very often in Samurai Jack to a point where shooting at Jack is almost like Shooting Superman. He always manages to run faster than the people trying to shoot him can move their arms.
- The (in)famous Hawthorne Inn Shootout, which occurred in the Chicago suburb of Cicero in 1926. Al Capone's greatest rival, Dion O'Banion, sent a motorcade full of gunmen to directly assault Capone's headquarters. In all, over 1,000 shots were fired but no mobsters died (in fact, the only casualty turned out to be an innocent bystander).
- Pretty much embodies battlefield tactics from the 17th century to the mid 19th century. The average infantryman of the period had a gun that was troublesome and slow to reload, as well as literally being unable to hit the broad side of a barn at 200 yards. Most muskets were made with sights little more than a little bit of metal at the end of the barrel, the remainder without any at all. Instead of the popular "ready, aim, fire", "aim" was replaced by another word along the lines of "point your gun in a general direction" or omitted altogether. Rather than rely on any sort of individual marksmanship, massed fire was relied on to overcome these inherent disadvantages, and so a soldier was incessantly drilled and trained like an automaton to fire as fast as the man next to him.
- Any attempt at accuracy was further bodged by the enormous amounts of smoke black gunpowder would produce. After more than a few volleys of men doing this, and the battlefield was shrouded in gray-black smoke.
- The number one source of causalities in the musket era was from artillery fire, especially when artillery were used as giant shotguns firing canister or grapeshot.
- This trope was inverted during the The American Civil War when the new rifles actually tended to hit what they were pointed at, with disastrous consequences. This was the result of infantry weaponry recently becoming more advanced and deadly, but the doctrine of their use was still based around that of massed volleys of musket fire.
- To be fair, tactics changed with formations spreading out and happening at further ranges. Look at the positions of the Union and Confederate Armies in most battles after 1862 and you would be surprised to see just how far apart they became. The close in firing usually happened during assaults, which inflicted heavy casualties on the assaulters. The low rate of fire still meant that massed fire was the name of the game, but it began happening at greater and greater ranges.
- This was actually an accepted strategy for naval gunnery for the half century from the first armored warships in the late 1850s until after the construction of the Dreadnought in 1906. Simply put, despite improvements in guns and propellants that allowed warships to shoot farther than in the days of Wooden Ships and Iron Men, there was no way of guaranteeing that you could actually hit anything at ranges much beyond a mile or so. The initial solution was to fit large numbers of small but relatively quick-firing guns to supplement the handful of BFGs carried as the main armament, because the more shells were in the air, the more likely it was that some of them would hit the target.
- Supposedly what separated First World soldiers from Third World enemies... although this has been unfortunately averted, and not simply by heavy volumes of fire that by chance happen to hit. (I'm not speaking of "Black Hawk Down" either.)
- Untrained militia in Islamic countries use spray and pray techniques. A lot.
- Third World fighters will also be stuck by the Boom Stick effect naturally assuming that the More Dakka will naturally kill anything without additional skilled input from the user.
- As a product of studies conducted since WWII, which revealed either the "reluctance" or "lack of skill" plus "shooting-under-stress" factors cited above, modern training practices for professional militaries now train weapon-handling drills into soldiers' rote-memory as a matter of course... though even with knowledge of proper aiming techniques, marksmanship standards do tend to suffer in nominal peacetime, when bureaucracy and cost-cutting measures often mean troops aren't allowed enough live ammunition or range-time to establish/maintain proficiency.
- Actually, that would largely be because most First World armies now emphasize fire and maneuver and copious use of suppression fire. The reason a large portion of gunfire doesn't impact into the namely is because it's not MEANT to impact into the enemy, but to force the enemy to duck and cover to allow somebody to go around and fire into them at close range.
- This was the subject of a Ron White anecdote. He saw a shootout on CNN where a large amount of LAPD officers were firing on a man hiding behind his Suburban. After the shootout was over, the man still hadn't been shot. In fact, not even the Suburban got hit.
- During The Troubles in Northern Ireland, military intelligence agents and plainclothes police got into a shootout due to mistaken identity. Over 100 rounds were fired, and no one was hit.
- The NYPD is quite infamous for its poor overall marksmanship, hitting what they shoot at less than a third of the time, over all ranges. The closer the range, the more accurate they are, but even then accuracy is abysmal.
- Police forces in general tend to lag far behind military or militarized organizations in this: police are generally meant to do mundane things like direct traffic and ticket people that (usually) do not involve ballistic exercises. Police firearm doctrine absolutely dictates firing at center-of-mass until the person is no longer a threat, with the understanding that this is often coincident with the person's death or mortal wounding. Their typical poor marksmanship has a lot to do with the different conditions on which they're using their firearms - soldiers typically have rifles in their hands and ready to fire at all times, and rarely have a conversation with a person who inexplicably pulls a gun and starts shooting - and the understanding that their marksmanship is poor and their best chance is to focus on volume of fire rather than well-aimed shots.
- Accuracy in any firefight is abysmal. Also, they don't train with their firearms as much as a front line unit would, which can be reasonably expected to be practicing, either in a simulation (EST systems are good for this), or with live ammunition on a more regular basis. The police are still far more accurate than most perpetrators though.
- Another factor is that most police officers use pistols which are not the most accurate weapons in the world, comparatively speaking. In addition, police officers tend to use ammo with poor penetration power (to prevent bullets from passing through a target and into something behind like civilians) and relatedly trained to be concerned with what's behind their intended target (to prevent missed shots from hitting something behind their target like civilians). And lastly, police officers are also trained to try and talk people down from dangerous situations first with gunplay as a last resort or defensive option (for themselves or others) - even SWAT teams, typically much more heavily-armed and armored than the regular police and sent in when the perpetrators are highly dangerous, will prefer to subdue rather than kill.
- This is one of the modern military strategies — powerful machine guns, operating on a More Dakka concept, lay down enough suppressive fire to keep the enemy in hiding long enough for air support to show up.
- Suppressive fire in general is expected to not hit whatever it's firing on — it's to force the enemy to not return fire, stop them from moving into the cone of fire's direction, or just plain scare them to keep their heads down. Suppressive fire is also generally utilized for the purpose of soldiers just getting closer and flanking the suppressed enemy so they can (very reliably at such ranges) shoot them.
- There are three main reasons for poor accuracy in a high stress environment: First, the instinctive reluctance for most people to use lethal force. Second, the stress itself ensures that you aren't steady while firing. And finally, recoil alone kills accuracy. As a note, Heinlein's factors to thousands of rounds to kill a single man are from studies done during the Second World War.
- The training methods used by First World military forces to train accuracy involves a number of factors to improve accuracy.
- First, instead of standard targets (i.e. precision bullseyes), targets such as the US Armed Forces E-Type silhouette are used. This trains soldiers to fire at human shaped targets.
- Second, rewards for good performance on the range (ranging from shinies to add to the uniform, to added pay (old method, still used for specialized marksmen such as snipers in some cases), to unofficial rewards such as a three or four day pass.
- Third, training to react to fire: You get shot at, you return fire if you can see the enemy. This training method alone raised the firing rates to 95% in Vietnam.
- Fourth, training in "accurate" un-aimed fire, or SRM. This is basically snap the weapon up, double-tap, snap it down. Ranges vary from service to service, but are designed to build the habit of bringing the weapon up and already having it aimed more or less towards center mass, without the aiming part.
- The final part is the stress-shoot. Using physical activity, and possibly other factors, such as explosive simulators (which can be loud for the Artillery sims), to force the heartrate up and shoot accuracy to hell. It is also timed, and you are graded on accuracy and speed.
- In his book on the Congo rebellion, mercenary commander Mike Hoare defined "reconnaisance by fire" as "firing wildly at everything in sight to see what's not there" — however he does note one incident where failure to use this technique led to his men driving into an ambush.
- The North Hollywood Shootout in 1997 was considered the greatest shootout in Californian history between the police and two heavily armed and armored bankrobbers, with hundreds of rounds shot during a 44 minutes period. Although about a dozen people were injured, NOBODY was killed except the two robbers, one of them actually committing suicide after he was shot and surrounded, though he reportedly received a potentially fatal hit at the same time he shot himself.
- The American M2 Carbine (a full-auto-capable version of the World War II-era M1 Carbine) was still a standard-issue weapon during the Korean War. Soldiers who used it were suddenly very critical about a supposed lack of stopping power - in reality, most soldiers were simply missing with the majority of their shots, firing in full-auto beyond the weapon's effective rangenote .
- In the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War, the American fleet fired some four-thousand shells at the (stationary) enemy ships, and only about eighty of them actually hit their targets, due to a lack of training and effective fire-control. However the Spanish still lost.
- "Project SALVO," a US government research program that eventually led to the adoption of the M16 assault rifle, encouraged this. Analyzing thousands of battle reports from the Second World War, the researchers determined that traditional marksmanship training was of little use in maneuver warfare, that the chance of being hit by small arms fire in combat was essentially random, and that the single largest predictor of success in a firefight was the number of rounds fired. Due in large part to the troubled history of the M16, the Project SALVO report is highly contentious, with many claiming it was falsified or based on faulty data, and many others claiming it was accurate, but suppressed due to the ground forces' heavy emphasis on the rifle range. The rifle it spawned would lose its full-auto capability, and gradually increase over time both weight and effective range.
- In the course of a documentary, Jeremy Clarkson opened up on a (stationary, unoccupied)van from a couples of yards away with an AK-47(or something that looked like one) and didn't hit it once. He would have done more damage if he had just flung the gun at it.