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Shooting Lessons From Your Parents

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A soldier, adventurer, or other protagonist with marksmanship skills is shown to have learned those skills as a child from a parent or guardian.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
Bagpiper on Jun 5th 2016 at 2:36:41 AM
Last Edited By:
Arivne on Apr 15th 2018 at 5:42:24 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

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Marshall: How long have you been doing this?
Robin: My dad taught me how to shoot when I was a kid. Whenever I'm feeling lonely or depressed I just come here and it reminds me that...guns are fun.
How I Met Your Mother, "Where Were We?"

In Real Life, marksmanship and other martial skills are typically learned as an adult through military or police training. That doesn't have to be the case in fiction. If a character proves to be have Improbable Aiming Skills, their companions will assume that they gained these abilities through rigorous military discipline. Later in a flashback, however, it's shown that their skills were, in fact, simply a result of Dad taking them hunting as a child!

In a fictional environment where shooting is a useful skill, it is natural for a family member (nearly always a father or grandfather) to pass on their skills as a rite of passage to their child (almost always a son or grandson), who will then hone these abilities to a military-grade degree by the time they reach adulthood. This trope is widespread in The Western and settings with Proud Warrior Race Guys, but understandably less common in works set in modern, urban societies, where the ability to use a firearm is not a necessary part of day to day life.

May be used to humanize a Cold Sniper.

See also Military Brat.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In the Detective Conan movie "The Fourteenth Target", we find out that Shinichi was taught to shoot by his father during vacations to Hawaii, after he shoots Ran in the leg while she's held hostage by the villian
  • Lyrical Nanoha: Teana's older brother taught her how to shoot from a young age (up until he died). It plays a large role in her character arc in StrikerS.

    Comic Books 
  • In Brian Woods's Revolutionary War-set comic series Rebels, a young Seth Abbott is shown to have learned how to stealthily kill redcoats from his father, and continues to fight in the Vermont wilderness well into his twenties.
  • Tulip in Preacher was taught to shoot by her father. This was part of her father, without actually challenging her biological gender, bringing her up to have stereotypically masculine talents because he'd have preferred to have a son.
  • Thorgal: Thorgal tries to teach his children to fight so they can defend themselves during his frequent absences, though they have yet to reach his level (he once shot down another arrow midflight before it could hit a bird). Fortunately they all have powers to compensate for it.
  • The prequel comic for Mortal Kombat X implies this was the case for Jacqui Briggs after her and Cassie's ordeal through Outworld. With Jax giving her a handgun at the end and promising her how to use it.

    Fan Works 
  • In From Bajor to the Black, we learn that Kanril Eleya's father Torvo, who lost an eye fighting in the Bajoran Resistance, had schooled both of his daughters in wilderness survival, which Eleya says came in handy during the Bajoran Militia's Hell Week (though she still had to quit early when she broke an ankle stepping in an animal burrow).
  • In the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, Assassin sisters Johanna and Mariella Smith-Rhodes were both taught to shoot and swing a machete by their father, the formidable Barbarossa Smith-Rhodes. At the latest point on the timeline, an older Johanna is mother of three daughters. In a variation of this theme, she teaches all three how to shoot a crossbow accurately and how to swing a sword with intent. She considers this the absolute duty of a loving caring mother. While her oldest daughter is now a Witch and her youngest is keener on being artistically creative, the middle daughter is now following in Mummy's footsteps at the Guild of Assassins' School where she has the reputation, partly due to her mother's training, of being Little Miss Badass.

    Film 
  • The Cold Open of Enemy at the Gates has Soviet sniper Vasily Zaytsev as a child hunting in the woods with his grandfather, who urges him to shoot at a wolf.
  • Luke Skywalker, hero of the Star Wars films, attributes his ability to make highly improbable shots in a X-Wing to his experience hunting vermin in his family's personal transport. - Zero-Context Example
    Luke: "I used to bull's-eye womp rats in my T-16 back home. They're not much bigger than two meters."

    Literature 
  • Time Enough for Love. When Lazarus Long was ten years old, his grandfather Ira Johnson taught him how to shoot. The most important lesson he learned was to never trust anyone else's word about whether a gun was loaded or unloaded, but to always check it yourself. He says that that lesson - expanded to cover most situations - saved his life several times.
  • The Hunger Games: Katniss and Gale both learned their archery and survival skills thanks to their fathers having taken them hunting when they were children, allowing Katniss to have an edge in the games that District 12 tributes rarely have.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Quantico: Shelby Wyatt quickly proves the best markswoman among the FBI trainees, being the heiress of a well-known hunter from Georgia.
  • The Big Bang Theory: In the episode "The Beta Test Initiative", Leonard takes Penny to a pistol-shooting range on a date, having discovered she was taught to shoot by the father who really wanted a boy. It is also possible Sheldon's father, or other significant male relative, attempted to teach him the indispensable rites-of-passage skills necessary to a young Texan.
  • One character in University Hospital was taught to shoot by her father.

    Music 
  • The Beyoncé song "Daddy Lessons" is a recounting of everything Beyonce learned from her father, including how to shoot.

    Video Games 
  • In Fallout 3, the Lone Wanderer is taught how to shoot by their dad, practicing on Radroaches in a deserted section of Vault 101.

    Web Original 

    Real Life 
  • Some Truth in Television: people from rural areas, being taught to hunt from a young age, are at least familiar with gun safety and maintenance. They don't automatically have all the skills necessary for warfare, but they have some advantage over someone who has no experience at all or has only handled handguns.

Feedback: 34 replies

Jun 5th 2016 at 3:44:10 AM

Dad Taught Me How To Shoot is a "sounds like someone talking" name that violates No New Stock Phrases.

  • Capitalized the title.
  • Examples section
    • Removed unnecessary null tags.

Jun 5th 2016 at 2:28:00 PM

Tulip in Preacher was taught to shoot by her father. This was part of her father, without actually challenging her biological gender, bringing her up to have stereotypically masculine talents because he'd have preferred to have a son.

Jun 5th 2016 at 3:55:01 PM

Video Games

  • In Fallout 3, the Lone Wanderer is taught how to shoot by their dad, practicing on Radroaches in a deserted section of Vault 101.

Jun 5th 2016 at 4:23:13 PM

I wonder if there's a more general "mentor parent" trope.

Jun 5th 2016 at 4:53:45 PM

It would probably be a supertrope for this one.

Jun 5th 2016 at 5:13:23 PM

Is there a supertrope to this for learning applicable military skills with down-home upbringing?

Luke Skywalker, hero of the Star Wars films, attributes his ability to make highly improbable shots in a X-Wing to his experience hunting vermin in his family's personal transport.

Luke: "I used to bull's-eye womp rats in my T-16 back home. They're not much bigger than two meters."

Jun 5th 2016 at 11:33:08 PM

I've looked for a more general version of this but try as I might I can't find it.

Jun 5th 2016 at 11:34:58 PM

Would 'Learned to Shoot On the Farm' be a more general and inclusive trope?

Jun 6th 2016 at 8:25:31 PM

There's Education Mama, but it has a certain connotation to it, so it isn't exactly a general "mentor parent" trope.

Jun 7th 2016 at 10:34:40 PM

  • Lyrical Nanoha: Teana's older brother taught her how to shoot from a young age (up until he died). It plays a large role in her character arc in StrikerS.

Jun 8th 2016 at 11:25:02 PM

Music

  • The Beyonce song "Daddy Lessons" is a recounting of everything Beyonce learned from her father, including how to shoot.

Jun 9th 2016 at 3:38:47 AM

Literature

  • Time Enough For Love. When Lazarus Long was ten years old, his grandfather Ira Johnson taught him how to shoot. The most important lesson he learned was to never trust anyone else's word about whether a gun was loaded or unloaded, but to always check it yourself. He says that that lesson - expanded to cover most situations - saved his life several times.

Jun 9th 2016 at 10:03:14 AM

I like Parental Mentor as the supertrope. But I can see guns specifically having a subtrope like this.

Jun 9th 2016 at 4:02:37 PM

How about Daddy Raised A Marksman as the name?

Jul 19th 2016 at 2:15:06 PM

In the episode The Beta Test Initiative of The Big Bang Theory, Leonard takes Penny to a pistol-shooting range on a date, having discovered she was taught to shoot by the father who really wanted a boy. It is also possible Sheldon's father, or other significant male relative, attempted to teach him the indispensable rites-of-passage skills necessary to a young Texan.

Jun 18th 2016 at 6:14:03 AM

Some Truth In Television: people from rural areas, being taught to hunt from a young age, are at least familiar with gun safety and maintenance. They don't automatically have all the skills necessary for warfare, but they have some advantage over someone who has no experience at all or has only handled handguns.

Jun 18th 2016 at 8:59:24 AM

Fan Works:

  • In From Bajor To The Black, we learn that Kanril Eleya's father Torvo, who lost an eye fighting in the Bajoran Resistance, had schooled both of his daughters in wilderness survival, which Eleya says came in handy during the Bajoran Militia's Hell Week (though she still had to quit early when she broke an ankle stepping in an animal burrow).

Live-Action TV:

  • Quantico: Shelby Wyatt quickly proves the best markswoman among the FBI trainees, being the heiress of a well-known hunter from Georgia.

Web Original:

Jun 21st 2016 at 7:57:29 AM

Anime and Manga:

  • In the Detective Conan movie "The Fourteenth Target", we find out that Shinichi was taught to shoot by his father during vacations to Hawaii, after he shoots Ran in the leg while she's held hostage by the villian

Apr 6th 2018 at 2:34:42 AM

Since it seems the OP has forgotten about this one, I'll take up sponsorship.

Updated to here.

Apr 6th 2018 at 3:46:52 AM

Thorgal tries to teach his children to fight so they can defend themselves during his frequent absences, though they have yet to reach his level (he once shot down another arrow midflight before it could hit a bird). Fortunately they all have powers to compensate for it.

Apr 6th 2018 at 10:10:22 AM

  • The Hunger Games: Katniss and Gale both learned their archery and survival skills thanks to their fathers having taken them hunting when they were children, allowing Katniss to have an edge in the games that District 12 tributes rarely have.

Apr 6th 2018 at 2:43:57 PM

Anime Entry Typo:

villian > villain

Apr 6th 2018 at 3:28:25 PM

^^I like that.

Real Life:

  • Simo Hayha was a farmer and hunter before serving as a Finnish Army sniper in the Winter War. He became known as the deadliest sniper in history, nicknamed "the White Death".

Apr 8th 2018 at 1:25:29 AM

^ Who taught him how to shoot?

Apr 9th 2018 at 3:30:15 PM

Fan works

  • In the Discworld of AA Pessimal, Assassin sisters Johanna and Mariella Smith-Rhodes were both taught to shoot and swing a machete by their father, the formidable Barbarossa Smith-Rhodes. At the latest point on the timeline, an older Johanna is mother of three daughters. In a variation of this theme, she teaches all three how to shoot a crossbow accurately and how to swing a sword with intent. She considers this the absolute duty of a loving caring mother. While her oldest daughter is now a Witch and her youngest is keener on being artistically creative, the middle daughter is now following in Mummy's footsteps at the Guild of Assassins' School where she has the reputation, partly due to her mother's training, of being Little Miss Badass.

Apr 11th 2018 at 1:28:02 PM

@Arivne: Well, there's several examples here already of people being good fighters because of stuff they did before joining up. Hayha was a good sniper in large part because he had previously been a good hunter.

Apr 11th 2018 at 4:43:49 PM

^ did they do the "stuff they did" with their fathers?

Apr 15th 2018 at 5:40:02 AM

^^ According to the title, Laconic and Description, this trope is limited to people who gained their marksmanship or other combat skills

  • "...From Your Parents"
  • "...as a child from a parent or guardian."
  • "a result of Dad taking them hunting as a child!"

In short: "...it is natural for a family member (nearly always a father or grandfather) to pass on their skills as a rite of passage to their child (almost always a son or grandson)..."

If they didn't get their skills from a parent or guardian, it's Not An Example of this trope as written. If an example doesn't say who taught them, it's a Zero Context Example.

Apr 13th 2018 at 5:49:25 AM

One character in University Hospital was taught to shoot by her father.

Apr 13th 2018 at 6:55:17 AM

  • The prequel comic for Mortal Kombat X implies this was the case for Jacqui Briggs after her and Cassie's ordeal through Outworld. With Jax giving her a handgun at the end and promising her how to use it.

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