Arbitrary Minimum Range
See that's why I don't like guns, they have a specific range of efficacy. See, most guys make one mistake, they get too close.Yes, we all know that weapons can't fire an infinite distance, and have a maximum range. This trope is about the opposite problem. Besides a maximum range, some weapons (especially siege weapons) have a minimum range, within which it is a lot less effective or unable to fire at targets at all. If an enemy manages to get within this range, the weapon or its wielder is often forced to move back so that it can still engage the enemy. Of course, considering that they're so effective at long ranges, one would think these weapons should be even more powerful for targets up close. But the reason for this is usually not about the firepower, which the maximum range suffers from - for a target too close, it's very hard to track the target, and most weapons have a limited tracking speed (except point-defence weapons, which are explicitly designed to have very high tracking speed). Also, by firing at a target too close you put yourself at risk from ricochets (yes, it's Truth in Television — bullets can bounce off belt buckles and other metal worn objects), or explosions if you happen to use HE or splash rounds. Additionally, most weapons that use indirect fire (like, for example, the catapult) simply can't strike targets that are too close because the arc would be too small (or they'd have to fire almost straight up). Some weapons have Splash Damage that you must avoid hitting your own men with (unless you don't care). Being Friendly Fireproof, in cover, or being armored enough to withstand your own weapon eliminates that problem. In gaming, this is done mainly for two reasons. First, having such a powerful weapon without a minimum range can be Game Breaking, since it would have few weaknesses. Secondly, this allows them to target only things far enough away that they won't get stuck by continuously tracking an extremely close enemy, and cease to function properly. Subtrope of Artistic License – Physics, although it is very much Truth in Television. Contrast Arbitrary Maximum Range, No Range Like Point-Blank Range and Short-Range Long-Range Weapon. Inversion of Splash Damage Abuse — see above for why. A reason why AA guns can't hit anything. Stray Shots Strike Nothing and Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon are Sister Tropes. Insert Grenade Here exploits this trope.
—Eliot Spencer, Leverage
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- In The Hunt for Red October Russian torpedoes have a safety feature that will only arm the torpedo when it is a safe distance away from the ship that fired it. Captain Ramius knows this so he steers his submarine toward an incoming torpedo so the torpedo does not have time to arm itself and bounces harmlessly off the sub's hull. The pursuing sub then deactivates the safety feature for its next shot so the torpedo no longer has a minimum range.
- The soft sci-fi story Through Space To The Planets has an example of a "ray" gun which also has a gas-like effect, meaning that it cannot be used at close quarters for fear of harming the operator and any other nearby "friendlies".
- At one point in Honor Harrington, some Marines need to use an antitank launcher to blow open a blast door, but can't use the best munition for the job because the range is shorter than said munition's minimum safe distance. In other words, they could use it to get rid of the door, but they'd be blown up too.
- In Mikhail Akhmanov's Invasion, described as the reason why Anti Matter weapons aren't used on planets. After all, since anti-matter reacts violently when it comes into contact with any matter, firing it in an atmosphere means that the first thing it encounters will be the air millimeters from the weapon... and the person firing it.
- This is the reason for the desperation tactic attempted by the USS Walker and USS Mahan in the first Destroyermen book. With the Japanese battlecruiser Amagi ready to pound the two obsolete destroyers to scrap and the rest of the Japanese fleet on approach, the Walker and the Mahan head straight for the Amagi and pass very close to it on either side, thus keeping the battlecruiser's big guns from being able to hit them. However, the smaller-caliber guns on the Japanese ship still did plenty of damage to the destroyers, but the battlecruiser also sustained significant damage from both destroyers' guns. The idea was to hide in the squall behind the Amagi and hope to escape the area. The squall turns out to be a Negative Space Wedgie and sends the three ships to a Parallel World.
- From Strands of Sorrow:
- Mk 19 grenade launchers are used from Amtracks* on a swarm of zombies, but due to limitations of space and having five of them taking up much of that room, they find out that "overkill" really does exist, contrary to usual belief. Many of the grenades don't even get to arm before hitting zombies, who wind up just as dead anyway.
- The minimum range of Tomahawk cruise missiles is why the -D variant (cluster munitions) fired to clear a beach of a mass zombie swarm, fired from the USS Michigan, had to be steered around the long way inland before turning back to their actual targets. The other option, moving the Michigan further out to sea before firing, was considered and rejected.
- The tanks used by Hammers Slammers can only aim their powerguns so low and close to them, so that infantry with satchel charges can occasionally get too close for comfort. So they have a ring of proximity-triggered AP mines around the vehicle's skirts for a second line of defense.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- In the 1st Edition Dungeon Master's Guide section on siege weapons, catapults (light and heavy) and trebuchets all had minimum ranges that they could fire at.
- In Dungeons & Dragons' later editions, firing a bow provokes an attack of opportunity. Because giving your opponents free shots is bad, this means that minimum range is outside of your opponent's reach.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- In earlier editions, barrage weapons had a minimum range. In the 6th edition they still have a minimum range for indirect fire, but can still fire at targets closer than that if they have line of sight to them. However since the rules forbid you from intentionally placing blast markers on your own units (barring a few specific exceptions), blast weapons (which include all barrage weapons) still have a minimum range in some cases; if the entire enemy unit can get so close that you can't place a blast marker on them without hitting the firing unit as well, you can't fire it.
- The Deathstrike Missile has a minimum range of 12 inches on the tabletop, equivalent to 60 feet in real life.
- The Basilisks despite being a cannon with plating has to be using the secondary weapons if the weapon gets close despite the fact that the enemy warlord can be in front of the cannon.
- The Tau are very poor at close ranged combat (because their reflexes are much slower than humans). As a result, most of their weapons have a great deal of trouble locking onto targets at close range.
- Shadowrun: Some grenade launchers made their grenades not detonate until they had gone a minimum distance after firing. This was done to prevent the user being blown up by their own grenade, but also prevented use of the weapon at close range.
- In Big Eyes, Small Mouth, one of the custom variables for the Weapon attribute (which covers all types of attack abilities) is Indirect, which lets the attack strike through a ballistic arc. However, rank 1 of the variable restricts the attack from targeting less than half of its maximum range (determined by the Range variable); rank 2 reduces this to ten percent; rank 3 is the maximum and removes the restriction. Splash Damage is handled by the Area variable instead, so there may not be any practical reason for an attack to have a minimum range.
- Classic Traveller Book 4 Mercenary. Several new weapons could not be used at Close or Short range (from 0 to 5 meters away), such as the various PGMP's and FGMP's. The reason is implied from other material, and is that the plasma guns fire superhot plasma, so firing it anywhere close to the user would result in bad news for the user. Double for the fusion guns, since they are pretty much shooting the power of an atomic blast, and are so strong that nearby enemies to the one shot have a chance to be eradicated just as easily.
- Rogue Trader (the RPG) has minimum range for Nova Cannons, as they cannot safely be used too close to the ship, having splash damage and a chance to explode closer to the firer than intented (technically they can still hit the firer if you fire at the absolute minimum range and roll very badly). This is a holdover from their rules in Battlefleet Gothic, as RT space combat rules are heavily based on that game.
- Of course, it's a Justified Trope in a different way as well, since Nova Cannons have a muzzle velocity that's a not-insignificant fraction of the speed of light... Even if it arms the round within nanoseconds, it's still going to be pretty far from your ship by the time that happens.
- Many long-range weapons in BattleTech have minimum ranges, making it harder to hit within that minimum range.
- Averted in one particularly iconic case: while Inner Sphere long-range missiles are all but the poster children for the trope, their Clan counterparts...explicitly have no minimum range issues at all. Even decades later Inner Sphere engineers — even those with the know-how and resources to laboriously outright duplicate Clan gear — don't seem to have figured out any practical way to adapt whatever trick makes that possible to their own launchers. (Advanced IS-tech "enhanced" LRM racks with an at least reduced minimum range do exist, but in direct opposition to the lighter and more compact Clan models actually add weight and bulk to make that happen, so they're not really it yet either.)
- In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, all tier 3 siege weapons have a minimum range, for all 3 factions. However, you can use a wave-force artillery to force-attack a point, and causes damage to the line of shooting when it fires, including your troops.
- And surprisingly, the Brighton coastal guns and wave-force tricannons does not suffer from this limit.
- Siege weapons in Warcraft all have minimum range, being completely defenseless against melee units.
- Also, siege tanks from StarCraft and StarCraft II.
- Similarly, all manner of ranged physical attacks in World of Warcraft, be they bows, guns, or crossbows, used to have a minimum range. If the enemy got too close, you were forced into melee combat. (This was removed in one of the expansion packs.) Certain turrets and siege weapons still have a minimum range, though.
- Some bosses have attacks that they will not use on players in melee range. For example, Garrosh Hellscream will not use Desecrated Weapon on a player in melee range of them, but if they're even barely out of melee range, the weapon might fall on them, putting everyone near the boss inside a Desecrated void zone.
- Plants vs. Zombies has the Scaredy-Shroom, which can fire at pretty far compared to the normal mushrooms, but if a zombie gets too close, it'll hide into the ground and become useless as a weapon.
- Some vehicles such as Scarabs in Halo Wars are unable to attack extremely close range opponents. Likewise in the main FPS games, tanks without a side gunner are unable to shoot an opponent boarding them without hurting themselves.
- EverQuest and EverQuest II both have a minimum range (usually 10 meters, just outside of melee combat for most monsters) required before anyone can use a ranged weapon such as a bow or throwing knives and shurikens.
- In Pokémon Conquest moves do not have a minimum range per se but merely differing areas of effect. Nonetheless, moves which can only hit two or three tiles away do mean the user cannot defend against an enemy engaging them at point blank, and must take a step back first.
- Fire Emblem - the Ballistas work this way, but also regular bow and arrows act like this also. If you surround an archer with four units, they can't move and can't attack.
- In Radiant Dawn archers can overcome this limitation by using Crossbows as opposed to bow and arrows.
- Some spellcards in Touhou have bullets generated around the boss, but the bullets doesn't have the hitspot immediately. Because of this, a player can get very close to the boss before the bullets are fired, and hence without taking any damage. This video provides examples, like 1:02, 8:46 and 9:52.
- Dune II. Missile tanks could not hit a target 2 hexes or less away. If they tried, the missiles went wild and hit random locations other than the target hex.
- M1 Tank Platoon. Infantry units automatically fired antitank weapons at any enemy vehicles within range, but they couldn't hit them if they were too close.
- Most ranged siege weapons in the Age of Empires series, and towers before "siege holes" is researched.
- In Alien Shooter, Grenade Launcher, Freeze Ray and flamethrowers have a minimum range, and the grenades always detonate at a certain distance.
- In Highborn, Teslas and Cannons have a minimum range of two squares away, unlike most characters/machines, which can attack from one square away.
- In the Call of Duty games, players can use grenade launchers. In most cases, the grenades have to travel a minimum distance before they'll explode, meaning that if someone is too close to you, the grenade will simply bounce harmlessly off the ground or wall next to them. Fortunately, you can usually get a kill with a direct impact.
- Knights and Merchants had this with archers and crossbowmen. If you came near enough to a ranged unit and no other units were in range to shoot at, it would stop shooting. Watch towers were exempt from this, though.
- Subverted in Dragon Age: Origins: you cannot fire ranged weapons at point blank range... unless you take a certain mid-level perk that allows you just that.
- In Heroes of Might and Magic, ranged units are limited to melee attacks if there's an enemy unit adjacent to them- not only can they not use their main weapon against the adjacent enemy, they can't fire at anyone else either. In most cases, they only attack at half strength, but there are some exceptions to this rule.
- The same goes for King's Bounty.
- Advance Wars: Artillery has a one-square zone in which it is unable to fire. Rocket trucks' are two squares (as they have longer range).
- The Nintendo Wars series takes the minimum range and maximum range tropes and sticks to them.
- Averted in Tactics Ogre, as an archer could fire a bow at point blank. Given that for some quirk in the code it can't be countered it is a way to help the player since the game is nintendo hard.
- Averted as well in Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis, the only difference is that this time any arrow at point blank is countered.
- In Final Fantasy Tactics, bowguns, crossbows, and guns have an arbitrary minimum range, but you can get around this restriction by aiming and then firing in the same direction as the target.
- In Stone Vigil Hard Mode of Final Fantasy XIV the cannons used in the fight against the second boss cannot shoot very close to themselves, so you'll have to rely on your teammates to shoot any additional enemies off of you.
- Some weapons in the Super Robot Wars series cannot be used at point blank range. Ironically, this includes the shotgun in most games, which cannot be used against an adjacent enemy.
- In Slender: The Arrival, you can't stun the Proxy with the flashlight's high-beam when it's too close.
- In Anarchy, a Puzzle Game for the Commodore 64, the object of each level is to shoot all the blocks, a task complicated by not being able to shoot any block right in front of you.
- Star Trek Online: The Starfleet Avenger-class battlecruiser's unique weapon, the Variable Auto-Targeting Armament, cannot be fired if the Avenger is within 2 kilometers of its target. Same with the Romulan Hyper-Plasma Torpedo available through the reputation system. In both cases there's a good reason: they're Area of Effect weapons, and in the case of VATA, the further from your target you fire it, the more submunitions it will have time to fire.
- Averted with the Redeemer in the Unreal Tournament games, which is a mini nuke, but it can blow up in your face given the right circumstances.
- Snipers have this problem in Team Fortress 2. A scoped in headshot can kill any class, but being scoped in greatly limits your visual range making it easier for opponents to come at you from the sides or even (almost) straight ahead without being seen.
- This frequently happens in World of Tanks. While normally even artillery can hit what's in front of it, combining bad gun depression with enemies beneath you generally means you can't or shouldn't engage them.
- A simple tactic for fighting dragons in Vagrant Story is to get as close as possible to them and stand under their necks; not only is this the perfect position for Ashley to hit their heads with stabbing weapons, it also puts him within the minimum range of their Breath Weapon and forces them to rely on their much less deadly bite and tail slam attacks.
- MechWarrior carries over many of the minimum ranges from BattleTech, but it's generally most apparent with missiles. In Mechwarrior Living Legends Clan and Inner Sphere long range missiles arc up immediately after firing, with a minimum arc distance of ~150 meters, though Clan versions have no warhead arming distance, allowing them to blasted into someone's face at point blank as a Superweapon Surprise. Arrow IV missiles likewise arc up and arm in mid-flight. Advanced Tactical Missiles and Medium Range Missiles can hit targets closer due to no arc, but both have a minimum arming distance where they deal no damage. Streak short range missiles have no arming distance, but within 50-150 meters their odd scatter pattern (a star shape) makes them deal less focused damage, instead sanding the armor off several sections. The Long Tom Artillery Tank is incapable of aiming down on flat terrain, forcing it anchor down on a hill if it wants to hit anything within 150 meters.
- The Shoot 'em Up genre traditionally has "dead zones" for enemies, especially ground enemies, where the enemy will not fire. This is often to prevent the player from being surprise-shot at point blank.
- Played annoyingly straight in Cossacks European Wars, where ranged units will frequently refuse to engage enemies that have closed to melee range. That's right, they'll just stand there getting hacked to pieces without even using those halberds they use to rest their muskets on to defend themselves.
- EYE Divine Cybermancy takes into account a weapon's length when aiming. If a character is using a long rifle (i.e. the Excidium) and an enemy gets within arm's reach, the weapon will automatically be raised up towards the sky, preventing it from being fired. The user isn't completely helpless, as attempting to fire will result in a psychic Hand Blast that instagibs weak enemies and shoves stronger enemies away.
- Dark Souls games have several attacks that are ineffective when the target is too close. Most of these are certain spells and attacks using long handled weapons. Many bosses are safest when battled up close, as most of their attacks have a minimum range, and those that aren't are clearly telegraphed.
- Enforced by item 868 of Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do in an RPG:
I cannot have a gun with an area of effect larger than its range.
- When a weapon (or the person firing it) is located on an elevated position, it can be difficult or impossible to fire at enemies directly below that position, or within a certain distance. For this reason, fortified locations have towers that can cover one another's bases (along with the length of the wall between them), so enemies can't Zerg Rush within the minimum range and then sap the walls at their leisure.
- The Davy Crockett nuclear rifle failed because it cannot travel far enough for the nuke to not affect the shooter.
- Lampshaded by Eddie Izzard, who points out that if someone's tracking you with a bazooka, you should run toward them, not away.
- All tanks have one. A soldier can get too close to be aimed at by the main gun and it can only point at 1 direction at a time. But the machine guns meant to deal with this also have a minimum range: within about fifteen feet you were perfectly safe from their machine guns: they simply could not depress far enough to hit a man standing so close. But tanks are not usually alone, so another vehicle can kill the annoying soldier. And don't forget it's bad if a tank runs you down.
"It was while practicing that a [Home Guard] bomber got his stick bomb stuck to his trouser leg and couldn’t shift it. A quick thinking mate whipped the trousers off and got rid of them and the bomb. After the following explosion the trousers were in a bit of a mess though I think they were a bit of a mess prior to the explosion."
- During World War II, the British developed an anti-tank grenade that was little more than a bottle of nitroglycerine coated with glue. The user was expected to run up to an enemy tank, smack the grenade onto the armour, and hope to make it to a safe distance before it went off. Although the whole idea was clearly insane, the Sticky Bomb was nevertheless cheap and quick to manufacture - important advantages given that the British were expecting an imminent Nazi invasion and had been forced to abandon most of their anti-tank guns during the Dunkirk evacuation. The main drawback was that it was terrifyingly easy for the user to get an armed grenade stuck to themselves. In the words of one Home Guard volunteer:
- Nearly everyone prior to WW2 had some kind of magnetic mine designed to be thrown a short distance onto a tank. As they were uniformly bad at sticking and required getting within a few feet of an active tank, most nations quickly phased them out a few days after they first tried to actually use them in combat. On the other hand, magnetic mines for naval use are more effective.
- The Germans produced a number of training films that mostly consisted of ways individual soldiers could jump up on a tank and disable it with whatever materials and weapons they had at hand, including hand grenades.
- The machine gun one also applies to nearly every vehicle that has them.
- The Germans also addressed this problem in their own tanks by installing the famous gun that could shoot round corners, the one with the 90 degree bend in the barrel. Installed pointing upwards through the turret roof , it could be traversed through 360 degrees to scythe down any Russians climbing onto the back or angled to fire down into what any approaching enemy might have mistaken for a "dead area" where the conventional MG's could not reach.
- This is one reason why tanks often operated in teams. The best way to fight off infantry in the dead area was to have other tanks machine gun your own.
- Grenade launchers and similar weapons can be fired at any range, but the projectile won't arm itself until it has travelled a certain distance, about 5 metres for 40mm grenades.
- Mortars have one. At around 90 degrees, it will fall back down on the guys that fired it, assuming the wind doesn't blow it away. Oh, there's still the Splash Damage.
- That being said, a mortar might be able to be direct-fired with a varying difficulty depending on the mortar. Direct-firing a mortar was a desperation tactic used by infantrymen in World War 1 when armored vehicles first appeared on the battlefield and anti-tank weaponry had yet to be effectively developed/deployed.
- Non-military: Golf. Try to hit <50 yards with a driver at a target. You can't. Sure you can hit 300+ yards with the driver, but you cannot hit a small target ~150 yards away with it accurately. Or putt with it. An interesting Self-Imposed Challenge, but you need other clubs to be any good.
- In Real Life this was one of the reasons "gyrojet" guns (basically weapons that fired self propelled mini-rockets instead of solid bullets) never caught on. Their ammunition took a while to accelerate, meaning they had less momentum at close range and so little momentum that it can be defeated by sticking a Finger In The Barrel. By comparison, normal bullets had their maximum momentum the moment they left the barrel.
- During the Battle off Samar the USS Samuel B. Roberts got so close to the Imperial cruiser Chokai that the Chokai couldn't aim its guns low enough to hit the Roberts.
- Also in the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, where the Destroyer USS Laffey got within 15 feet of the Battleship IJN Hiei and the battleship could not depress its guns low enough to return fire.
- In the Falklands War a number of British Type 42 destroyers got hit by not only guided anti-ship missiles but also Argentine aircraft lobbing unguided munitions at them. The early iterations of the class were fitted with GWS30 Sea Dart surface-to-air missile system for anti-air defense; problem was, if aircraft or missiles managed to close to within a certain range, software issues with the SAM system caused them to be unable to properly track and fire at targets because they were too close. This limitation was the reason why the class was latter fitted with two Mk.15 Phalanx CIWS.
- Some of the unguided munitions lobbed by Argentine aircraft were conventional bombs. The planes would fly in close to the water, below the radar, then pull up just before encountering a ship and release the bomb. But the bomb had a small propeller in the back that was supposed to unscrew the firing pin as the bomb fell through the air, arming it. If the bomb didn't fall far enough, the firing pin stayed secure and didn't detonate the bomb on impact. The Argentine tactic had the bombs flying a few dozen feet, not the hundreds of feet necessary to arm the bomb. At least one ship had a bomb pierce the hull above the waterline, but the bomb did not explode.
- Pole arms (like spears and pikes) require you to be so far away from an enemy to actually hit them. If they are too close, you can't stab them with the end and won't be able to build enough momentum to hurt them by swinging the weapon.
- This trope is why nukes bigger than the Tsara Bomba didn't exist. The bomber that drops it cannot get out of danger before the nuke detonates. By then, ICBMs were doing the same job.
- Even with smaller nukes the bombers are forced to maneuver not to get hit by the nukes they just dropped. Again, missiles don't have this problem.
- Almost all missiles (yes, including things like RPG-7s) arm only after travelling a certain distance, so as not to catch the firer (be it a human or a machine) in the blast radius. Note that as many of these weapons are still being used long after their 'expiration date' and/or with little proper maintenance it is possible for the warheads to explode before reaching their intended minimum range.
- Guided antitank missiles (especially earlier models) may have a minimum range of up to several hundred meters, so shorter range weapons like RP Gs are used to cover this "dead zone".
- Minimum ranges for an air to air missile tend to be quite long - about 400 meters in the case of the US Armed Forces' AIM-9 Sidewinder - to prevent the firing aircraft from flying through the missile's cloud of expanding debris (a rather obviously fatal circumstance for the pilot of the aircraft).
- When being attacked with a weapon while you are unarmed, you retreat from a blade, but you charge at a gun. This is because while a gun is quite capable of doing serious damage while you try to run away from it, it is not nearly as useful in hand-to-hand combat. Self-defense courses will teach you how to disarm someone who is wielding a gun in hand-to-hand combat.
- Please note this is very rarely a good or realistic option, and is generally taught by people who have never had to attempt it in real-life. If you are close enough to disarm the person you are close enough (and better served) to disable them and to take the gun away after.
- In Olympic fencing, there is an entire category of moves called in-fighting used when your opponent is too close for a standard stance. It is advantageous for small fencers to get in close enough to use standard moves against a larger opponent who would have to infight.
- Longer barreled weapons have a sort of this, they can't fire at someone closer to the person holding it than the barrel. This actually happens in urban situations, where someone can hide behind a corner, not to mention the long barrel means aiming is harder, this is the reason weapons like the M4 Carbine (Which is just a short-barreled M16) SMGs are used in urban situations.
- In general, if you have a small weapon (e.g. a dagger) and your opponent has a large weapon (e.g. a longsword), it's best to be as close to your opponent as possible, because your opponent's larger weapon has worse leverage (and your smaller weapon has better leverage) the closer you are to him. This is the reason why polearms are so great at fighting enemies from a distance but awful once the enemies close that distance.
- This is why pikes and other polearms are better suited for whole armies, where soldiers can cover one another, than lone warriors.
- It's also why short-swordsmen have been used on more than one occasion to fight opponents with polearms. Roman legions beat the phalanx this way, and during the Renaissance, the Spanish fielded them with good effect against Swiss pikemen.
- In archery, arrows flex when they are fired and take time to snap back into alignment. Fire at an armoured opponent at close range and it's very likely that the arrow will hit them while flexed making it much more likely to ricochet off.
- Against some forms of tank armour - typically face hardened - there can be situations where 'Shatter Gap' occurs. This is where the incoming projectile is traveling so fast that it will shatter against the target's armour. As the range increase the projectile slows until it reaches a velocity where the shock of the impact will not cause the projectile to shatter and the armour can be defeated. Increase the range further and the projectile is travelling too slow and the target is safe. However, if the target gets close enough to the firer, while the projectile will still shatter, the shattered pieces are still travelling fast enough to defeat the defending armour. This effect can lead to situations where an enemy armoured vehicle will go from being immune, to vulnerable, to immune and finally vulnerable again as the range closes.