Follow TV Tropes


Arbitrary Minimum Range

Go To

"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."
Eliot Spencer, Leverage

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.


Other weapons have this due to practicality. It is nearly impossible to line up a perfect sniper shot when your opponent is close enough to beat your face in.

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-defense 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 high explosive or splash rounds. (This is why missiles and torpedoes have to travel a certain distance from the launching vehicle before they arm themselves to destroy the target.) 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). In the case of a cannon, it may be unable to depress far enough to strike the target.


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.

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. Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon is a Sister Trope. Insert Grenade Here exploits this trope. Can be one of the reasons why one should Never Bring a Gun to a Knife Fight.



    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Lyrical Nanoha has an aversion that demonstrates the need for the trope: The blast radius for the Arc-en-Ciel Wave-Motion Gun is greater than its maximum range, so a ship firing it must immediately jump out to dimensional space or be Hoist by His Own Petard.
  • Briefly happens in Pokémon during the Johto league, when Ash's Charizard gets into a close-range arm struggle with Gary's Blastoise:
    Gary: Charizard's too close! Blastoise can't aim with his hydro cannons!
  • The melee variation is invoked and discussed in Rurouni Kenshin during the first fight between Kenshin and Aoshi: because Aoshi wields a smaller Kodachi, he lacks the reach of Kenshin's sword but has a much better control of his weapon at close range and thus a nearly-impregnable defense. Kenshin only manages to even the odds by gripping his own sword on the blade, giving himself a reach identical to the Kodachi and allowing him to attack Aoshi from a closer range and hit him.

    Live-Action Films 
  • In Kaamelott: Premier Volet, the first time we see the Burgundians try to lay siege to the castle of Kaamelott, the Jurisconsult pretends that, even if they weren't too inept to make their Siege Engines work, they parked them way too close to the walls and any shot they'd manage to fire would just whiz past above the castle.

  • 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. This is Truth in Television. 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 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 Hammer's 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.

    Tabletop Games  
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Basic D&D causes missile fire devices (bows, crossbows) to automatically miss against targets within 5' (unless it can't move.)
    • 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.
    • Weapons with the "reach" property let their wielder attack opponents that aren't adjacent to them. However, the vast majority of reach weapons can not be used to attack enemies adjacent to their wielder unless the one wielding the weapon has the proper feats and/or class features allowing them to do so.
    • In 5th edition, having any foe within 5 feet, not just the target, confers "disadvantage" (Roll two d20 instead of one, take the lowest) upon any creature using a ranged attack. Saving throw-based attacks like Sacred Flame, however, do not have this disadvantage. The poor net gets hit with this the hardest, since it's considered a ranged attack with a range of only 5 feet, meaning it always has disadvantage when it's used.
  • 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. There are various rationales for the minimum ranges depending on the type of weapon; from ungainly long barrels for AC/2s, the lightest, longest-ranged Autocannonnote  or Gauss rifles that are hard to swing around at short range, to safety features to prevent self-inflicted damage in the case of PPCs (firing a weapon that is essentially a small scale particle accelerator has notably dangerous effects on the electrically-driven muscle fibers of a 'Mech)note , to booster engines not arming the missile until expended for missile weapons.
    • 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 at least a 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.)note 
  • This happens in tactical wargames of the hex-and-counter variety, too. Units in Red Star/White Star with a minimum range had this printed on the counters. Mortars in Advanced Squad Leader have both their minimum and maximum ranges on the counters. In pre-gunpowder games, the effect of swordsmen getting in under the effective range of a spear or pike (see Real Life below) is often handled with modifiers to the attack or defense strength of the units concerned.
  • In BattleCON, certain Styles add minimum range to your attack and will miss if your opponent is closer than that. For all characters, the Burst attack misses at range 1, although it lets you move backwards to make up for it.

    Video Games  
  • Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies: This is the main weakness of the Spaceguard Turret Network, also known as Stonehenge: a circular array of gigantic rail cannons originally meant to shoot down asteroids, now hijacked by the Federal Republic of Erusea and used as a powerful anti-aircraft weapon against the Independent State Allied Forces. Within the array's vast maximum range, entire battalions of approaching aircraft flying above 2000 feet risk being swatted out of the sky by the sheer shockwaves from Stonehenge's high-velocity, four feet-wide rounds. Once ISAF manages to enter Stonehenge's minimum range, however, it becomes vulnerable to direct attack and must rely on fixed defenses and allied squadrons, as its rail cannons can't do squat about individual enemy fighters that fly too fast and unpredictably for them to track.
  • 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.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • All manner of ranged physical attacks in, 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, largely because the minimum range for ranged physical attacks and maximum range for melee attacks had a sizable gap between them, creating a "dead zone" where the player couldn't attack at all (a serious problem for Hunters as they were the only class made to use physical ranged attacks for the vast majority of their abilities). 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.
  • Siege tanks in siege mode from StarCraft and StarCraft II (averted in tank mode, though). The weapons in siege mode are capable of dealing high damage from a long distance, and can be primarily used either as a turtling base defense, or to take out the weaker units in large bursts (such as blasting a bioball of Zerg and killing a bunch of Zergling fairly fast). The problem is that, once the enemy crosses a specific threshold, the siege tank cannot fire. This can be circumvented by a second siege tank covering the first, but siege tanks also deal friendly fire damage, so it isn't advised. Lampshaded in one of its Stop Poking Me! quotes:
    "Why don't you walk about thirty yards out and stand still for me?"
  • Plants vs. Zombies has the Scaredy-Shroom, which can fire at long range and is very cheap, but if a zombie gets too close, it'll hide into the ground and become useless as a weapon. (Hiding doesn't protect it from being eaten by the zombies, either.)
  • Halo: 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:
    • Ballistas and siege tomes (Bolting, Purge, Swarm) have a minimum range of 3. They can fire 10 tiles away in exchange. Some ballistas even have 15 range.
    • Bows have a minimum range of 2. If you surround a bow user with four units, they can't move and can't attack. This is averted in Fire Emblem Gaiden and its remake, where archers can attack and retaliate at point black range. In Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, non-mounted archers can overcome this limitation by using Crossbows as opposed to regular bows, at the cost of dealing less damage, due to Crossbows ignoring their strength stat. The SS-ranked bow, the Double Bow, does not have this handicap, while still allowing 1-range combat. The skills Point Blank and Close Counter also allow 1-range bow attacks.
  • Some spellcards in Touhou Project 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 cannot hit a target 2 hexes or less away. If they try, the missiles will go wild and hit random locations other than the target hex.
  • M1 Tank Platoon. Infantry units automatically fire antitank weapons at any enemy vehicles within range, but they can't hit them if they are 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 and battleships have a one-square zone in which it is unable to fire. MLRS and SAM trucks have a two-square zone. (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 (ditto the similar weapon of its Klingon Moveset Clone, the Mogh-class battlecruiser). 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 Inner Sphere long range missiles fire in a ballistic trajectory with a minimum impact & warhead arming distance of about 160 meters. Arrow IV missiles likewise arc up and arm in mid-flight. Advanced Tactical Missiles (loaded with standard or extended range ammo) and Medium Range Missiles can hit targets closer due to a straight flight path, but both have a minimum arming distance where they deal no damage. The Long Tom Artillery Tank is incapable of aiming down on flat terrain, forcing it anchor down on the downslope of 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.
  • E.Y.E.: 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.
  • While not a hard-coded feature, Splatoon tends to have Charger wielders rapid-firing their weapon or tossing bombs if they spot an enemy Inkling within two or three body lengths of them note . The full charge can still splat at that range, but the time spent prepping it is time their enemy will spend splatting them in turn, as the only alternative to these measures is to swim the hell out of there. The reason it's two or three body lengths? That's the kill range for a Roller.
  • Archers in Shining Force can only shoot enemies two spaces away (or beyond, with certain types of arrows); anything right next to them isn't available to target.
  • In The Battle Cats, there is an ability called Long-Distance which allows the unit to attack enemies farther than the range in which they start attacking, however the unit will have an area where the attack will not hit anything. Examples of units with this ability include Nerd Cat, Radiant Aphrodite and Red Riding Mina.
  • The Demolitions perk in Killing Floor has weapons that shoot explosive rounds, but most of these weapons' ammo only explode after it passes a certain distance to arm. Only a few exceptions exist in the Orca Bomb Propellor (a steampunk grenade launcher that fires bombs with fuses), the Seal Squeal Harpoon Bomber (a harpoon launcher that fires harpoons on a timer delay and, in Killing Floor 2, can be detonated on-command before that), hand grenades that every perk gets (which run on a timer, and in the second game detonate immediately if they hit an enemy directly), and the second game's HX25 (a handheld grenade launcher that fires multiple explosive pellets, which detonate on impact at any distance and don't deal self-damage).
  • In Nectaris, the Lynx MB-4 buggy can launch ground attacks from precisely two hexes away—no more, no less.
  • In Factorio, you can use nukes in your man-portable rocket launcher. But the explosion of these nukes is bigger than the range of the launcher.
  • Ancient Empires: Catapults have the longest range of any unit, but they can't attack units in the four squares immediately adjacent to them. Coupled with their inability to move and attack on the same turn, this makes them very vulnerable to enemy units that get into melee range.
  • Subtlely encouraged or discouraged in Battle Garegga depending on how good you are, where getting close enough to enemies to stop them from firing is one of myriad ways to raise the game's rank.
  • In Monster Hunter, ammunition for Gunner weapons have a "critical distance" from which they do the most damage. Note that while shots from too far will not only fail to inflict full damage, so can shots fired from too close. The Shot Booster armor skill expands your ammo's critical distances, making it a bit easier to achieve the correct spacing needed to optimize damage.
  • In Defense Grid: The Awakening, Cannon and Meteor towers can pick off enemies from long range with their high per-shot damage, however as a tradeoff they cannot target enemies adjacent to themselves.

  • The Whiteboard: The comic has a strip during the first Zombie Apocalypse arc where Doc is reminded how this applies to grenade launchers when one launched at a zombie hits before it has gone far enough to arm itself.
    Roger: "You just wasted one guy with a three hundred dollar bullet!"

    Web Original  

    Real Life 
  • Non-weapon example: radio transmitters operating in lower frequency ranges (AM radio, for example) tend to have "dead zones" in their immediate vicinity. The full reason involves some complicated physics but it essentially has to do with the longer wavelength causing the radio waves to skip over any receive antennas that are too close to the transmit antenna.
  • 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.
  • 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 in one 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, because 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."
    • Nearly everyone prior to WWII 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 around 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 machine guns 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 tank. Rifle-caliber bullets won't hurt tanks, but any infantry on the tanks would be reduced to hamburger.
    • The above about a minimum range for attacking from elevated positions also counts for tanks, in a sort of reverse angle. The Soviet troops defending "Pavlov's House", for instance, were able to defeat German tanks by waiting until they closed on the house then opening fire with anti-tank rifles from the roof; at that range and angle, the tanks' thin top armor was exposed and vulnerable to the rifles, and the tanks were unable to elevate their guns enough to retaliate.
    • A weird zigzag of this for Russian tanks was that they could not take full advantage of placing the tank's hull behind a crest to gain a "hull down" position (exposing only the turret); the tank's gun could not be depressed enough to fire down the slope. This is because in an effort to reduce their tanks' profile and keep the turret armor well-sloped, Russian tanks (with a few notable exceptions) tend to have shorter turrets than those designed by most other nations. Since the breech of the gun has to be inside the turret, it needs room to elevate up while the barrel is being depressed down. A shorter turret results in significantly less room to do so. This design philosophy has been retained in Russian and Russian-influenced (such as Chinese, Yugoslavian and Ukrainian) tank design all the way into the 21st century, giving them some distinct strengths and weaknesses compared to Western tanks.
  • Grenade launchers and similar weapons can be fired at any range, but the projectile won't arm itself until it has traveled a certain distance, about 15 to 40 meters for 40mm grenades, depending on the model.
  • 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 directly fired with a varying difficulty depending on the mortar. Directly firing a mortar (as in pointing the barrel right at the intended target) 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 or deployed. Some larger breech-loading mortarsnote  are specifically designed to have a secondary direct-fire mode, though, and are called "gun-mortars" as a result; there were plans at one point around 2010 to rearm a variation of the AC-130 gunship by replacing its existing 120mm howitzer with an equivalently-sized breech-loaded mortar.
  • 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 propelled by a single gunpowder explosion) never caught on, as it ultimately ended up at a gun with a very strict effective range. Their ammunition took a while to accelerate, meaning they had less momentum at close range - it's very incorrectly rumored that one could stop a gyrojet round by literally sticking a Finger In The Barrel (Do Not Try This at Home if you're lucky enough to actually find someone who owns and is willing to fire a Gyrojet - you'll lose your entire hand this way) - but which also meant they were more affected by wind and obstacles while getting up to speed, meaning they had less consistent accuracy at mid- to long range.
  • In WWII, during the Battle off Samar, the destroyer escort U.S.S. Samuel B. Roberts got so close to the Imperial cruiser Chokai that the latter ship couldn't depress her guns low enough to hit Roberts.
    • Also, in the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, where the destroyer U.S.S. Laffey got within 15 feet of IJN Hiei and the latter, a Kongo-class battleship, could not depress her main or secondary guns low enough to return fire.
    • On the other side of the world, when the British midget submarines X-6 and X-7 accidentally surfaced after planting explosive charges under the German battleship Tirpitz, both did so too close for the ship's guns to aim low enough to hit them, forcing the Tirpitz's crew to resort to small arms fire. X-5 wasn't as lucky.
  • 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 later 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.
  • This trope is why nukes bigger than the Tsar Bomba were never made. The bomber that drops it cannot get out of danger before the nuke detonates.note  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 and torpedoes arm only after traveling 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 RPGs (Rocket-Propelled Grenades) are used to cover this "dead zone".
  • Minimum ranges for an air-to-air missile tend to be quite long, usually at least 500 metres and often upwards of a kilometre, 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). Minimum effective ranges tend to be even longer, as unless the target is travelling in a perfectly straight line the missile will need to turn, and the closer it is the more chance it will overshoot and miss. Machine guns or autocannons do not suffer this limitation, at least not to an extent that matters in air combat. The US Air Force learned this the hard way early in The Vietnam War when the F-4 Phantom, the first US air-superiority fighter to lack gun armament, came up against enemy MiGs that did have cannon and quickly learned the many possible ways the earliest heat-seeking air-to-air missiles could fail.
  • If you're unarmed, it's preferable to run away from someone with a knife. Against someone with a gun, though, it's easier to deal against them at close range, since you can wrestle the gun so it's harder to be aimed at you.
  • 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.
    • Renaissance fencing, while noticeably different, had many parallels. To address this weakness, many fencers would pair their long rapier or their short sword with a dagger. One of the few real-life examples of dual wielding, this dagger allowed them to parry strikes should they slip past the proper guard and allow them to switch focus should they get too close for their sword to fit between them.
  • Longer barreled weapons have a sort of this, they can't fire at someone closer to the person holding it, unless the person with the rifle has the slightest idea what they're doing; in this case, the person with the rifle takes a step backward from the person holding their barrel. The leverage forces the grabber's arm toward the shooter, and brings the barrel of the rifle to point straight at the grabber's chest, so the grabber either ends up releasing the barrel, gets shot in the chest a number of times, or both. Grabbing a rifle's barrel is a dangerous proposition.
    • Some very long-range sniper rifles have scopes so specialized for long range that they're incapable of aiming at close-range targets. This is because at extreme ranges (ie around a mile) there's a lot of bullet drop due to gravity.
  • 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 less effective once the enemies close that distance.
  • In archery, arrows flex when they are fired and take time to snap back into alignment. Fire at an armored 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 and shipboard armor - 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 armor 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 traveling fast enough to defeat the defending armor. This effect can lead to situations where an enemy armored vehicle will go from being immune, to vulnerable, to immune and finally vulnerable again as the range closes. In naval circles, the middle "dead zone" is often called a "zone of immunity" and during the early-mid 20th century naval architects went to great lengths to widen their own zone of immunity with new armor designs, shrink their enemies' with guns, and improve maneuverability to ensure that you were able to fight at the optimum range based on your and your opponent's zones of immunity.
  • Lord Cochrane's 1801 capture of the 32-gun Gama in his 14-gun ship Speedy. He was able to get close enough that the Gama's guns couldn't target the Speedy, while the Speedy could still fire at the Gama. It's a famous enough naval engagement that fictionalized versions of it turn up in several works set in that time period.
  • During World War I: having advanced to the enemy position, soldiers quickly found that their standard-issue bolt-action rifle was practically useless: too long to be easily wielded in the tight spaces, and too slow to fire to be effective. Even with a bayonet, it was clunky and awkward, and so trench-fighting became dominated with knives, clubs, axes, shovels, handguns, and shotguns (to the point that the German government wanted them outlawed), and submachine guns (when they became available; the submachine gun was invented late in the war, with some designs only seeing mass-production start once it ended). At the end of the day, nothing was found to be as easy, instinctive, and effective as a simple combat knife or entrenching spade.
  • The Planck Length is the shortest distance in the universe where conventional physics (including special relativity) make sense; below this, one would have to have a solid theory of quantum gravity to correctly model what goes on at that scale (which we don't yet). This length is on the scale 10^-35 m, about 1 septillionth (10^-20) the size of a proton.
  • Punches and kicks are less effective if they impact the target while the attacker's limb is bent (i.e., before they finish the motion by stretching their arm/leg out). Thus, moving towards your assailant is a good way to mitigate damage in hand-to-hand combat.
  • Many defense techniques rely upon this. A good example being leg checks, which involve blocking a roundhouse kick using you shin muscles. The trick involving the use of the muscle, not the bone, but also driving in with this shin so that kick lacks its peak level of strength.