A character picks up a gun, bow, crossbow, throwing-knife, shuriken, or other ranged weapon, and gains Improbable Aiming Skills.
This enables such feats as Blasting It Out of Their Hands, creating a Pinball Projectile, knowing how to Lead the Target from kilometers away, or the Offhand Backshot (the firearm-based answer to the Offhand Backhand), and is in no way dependent on the factual accuracy of the weapons in question. Bizarre and Improbable Ballistics are always employed in some way.
A frequent user of this trope is The Western, where the heroes are often using guns that were, in real life, notoriously inaccurate at anything other than point-blank range, for feats that would make a modern-day sniper with a top-tuned high-tech rifle turn green with envy. It can also be done by an Archer Archetype, who might emulate Robin Hood by splitting an arrow down the middle. Improbable Aiming Skills is a prerequisite if an archer wants to pull off a Multishot successfully.
In game settings, this can be a natural result of a game simply allowing characters to be that good. If skill improvement is open-ended rather than hitting a Cap at some point, or if caps exist but the maximum allowed by the rules is sufficiently high, a character's raw skill rating (however a specific ruleset expresses it) may end up outweighing situational modifiers enough to make even "improbable" shots pretty much routine. (Depending on the system, of course, this can also quickly lead into Crippling Overspecialization and/or Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training territory if you're on any sort of character creation/advancement "budget".)
Is sometimes parodied by implying that the shooter meant to do something entirely different and messed up in a spectacularly lucky way.
The Achilles' Heel to someone with this ability is someone who can Dodge the Bullet, although it can be the other way round if the shooter is way more skilled. They tend to have little problem with Human Shield situations, as they're easily able to Shoot the Hostage Taker.
Almost always used by The Gunslinger (or, in fantasy settings, an archer). Contrast with A-Team Firing, More Dakka (which emphasizes quantity over quality, but is sometimes used with this trope), Shoot the Rope and the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy. When the computer AI pulls this off, it's The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard. See also Always Accurate Attack, Gun Fu.
- In one Dodge truck commercial, the guy wakes up to the sound of a cricket chirping, in the middle of the night, across a babbling brook, and silences it with a single accurate shot with a compound bow in between chirps.
- An advert on ESPN America, to coincide with the first Sherlock Holmes movie with Robert Downey Jr. (in normal clothes but clearly referencing Holmes), had him suggest that a play where a Quarterback's pass was tipped by an opposing defender, only to land in one his teammate's arms and be easily run in for a touchdown, may not have been a fluke.
- Killzone 2's "Bullet" commercial, shows a single shot from a standard rifle flying across a chaotic battlefield. Going through a melee, and passes an enemy sniper before hitting an officer who just so happens to be turning in the eye.
- Subverted when Peter throws a baseball and hits a can on a post, dislodging the mouse inside. Cut to Peter talking to Jason in catcher getup about how that would be impressive if he was aiming for it.
- Lampshaded in another, as Jason fires a water balloon from a slingshot. It travels quite a distance (including over desert and icebergs) before falling. Cut to Jason aiming again at Paige five feet in front of him complaining about how hard it is to aim.
- Jeremy from Zits once gets really, really, lucky in a story arc involving him making a twice-in-a-lifetime, back-handed-courtlong-backwards-eyes-closed shot in a game of HORSE with his friend, Hector. Of course, the jury's out at the end of the story on whether the shot counts if the ball goes through their neighbor's driveway's hoop instead of their own...
- Older Than Feudalism: Odysseus shoots an arrow through the handle rings of twelve axes in The Odyssey.
- The Bible records Israel's war against their own Tribe of Benjamin. Within it, we get a description of some very talented Benjamites: "Among all this people were seven hundred select men who were left-handed; every one could sling a stone at a hair's breadth and not miss." (Judges 20:13 NKJV) Though we aren't given a description of the distance across which the stone would have to fly, it's safe to assume that it would be a distance short enough for the travelling stone to kill a man, and also long enough to be an effective talent against an incoming army.
- David himself also deserves a mention, during the famous battle of David vs. Goliath, he sniped down Goliath with a sling, this is akin to pulling out a pistol and sniping down someone's head from a distance.
- William Tell, of Swiss legend, famously shot an apple off of his son's head, making him the Trope Maker for William Telling.
- Robin Hood is widely regarded as the greatest archer in all the land. His most famous feat is Splitting the Arrow, firing an arrow at another arrow and splitting in in half.
- Invoked in Data East's RoboCop, as the player must successfully make multiple shots at Target Practice to enable the million-point bonus.
- Also invoked after loading the Uzi in Lethal Weapon 3, where a villain appears on the display and the player must pull the gun trigger and shoot him... while the ball(s) on the table are still in play.
- In Capcom's unreleased Kingpin, Trixie the Moll is killed only after her jewels are methodically shot off first.
- Zen Archery and Zen Marksmanship divide range penalties by 3 when used successfully. The Precision Aiming technique is meant to be a more realistic version, taking much longer to do and requiring special equipment for a more modest gain.
- GURPS also features traits and/or skills that specifically allow Blasting It Out of Their Hands, Pinball Projectile, Leading The Target from kilometers away, and the Offhand Backshot, as well as tricks like Shooting The Rope, shooting off hats, cigarettes, etc., all the way up to outright impossible tricks like curving shots to hit people behind cover, all depending on the realism settings.
- Games Workshop games:
- Warhammer: The Tileans are already notable for their skill with the crossbow, but the Marksmen of Miragliano are truly something special. Being able to put a bolt through the center of a coin from 300 paces is considered the bare minimum of skill needed to get into the regiment to begin with, and constant training afterwards results in some of the most ludicrously accurate long-range marksmen in the Old World.
- In Warhammer: Age of Sigmar Tzaangor Skyfires are able to use their precognitive abilities to pull off incredible feats of marksmanship. In-game this is represented by a re-roll to hit and their attacks having a 1-in-6 chance of automatically wounding.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- Imperial Assassins are all trained to a ridiculous degree, each and every one of them qualifying as a superior shot to the best master-snipers in the galaxy by the time they are ready to be sent on actual missions. And then there's the specialist sniper school of Assassins, the Vindicare Temple, where the end goal is an entire army of guys who shoot like everyone else on this page. They specialise in making headshots through active forcefields, at ranges of multiple kilometres, just to silence one recidivist governor or heretical demagogue before he can do enough harm to require an intervention in force.
- The Eldar Exarch skill Crack Shot eliminates enemies' benefit from cover, to the point that Maugan Ra has close to a 50% chance per shot of killing a Space Marine in a fortified bunker.
- The Skitarii, primary cyborg troops of the Adeptus Mechanicus, can be an entire army of this. They trade melee skill for accuracy, but with the Protector Imperatives at maximum they're only a couple percentage points less accurate than the Vindicares, and that includes the Neutron Lasers mounted on their Dunecrawler walkers.
- Hive Guard from the Tyranid Race. These models are so accurate, they're capable of attacking models they can't hit or even see — with no penalty to their hit roll. This is due to a combination of being controlled by a psychic hive mind and the fact that their missiles are alive.
- Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team: Weapon specialists from the 2016 game and Sniper specialists from the 2018 version can take a number of skills that increase the effectiveness of their ranged attacks above that of their fellow warriors, enabling them to fire accurately beyond the usual effective range of their weapon, hit the most vulnerable part of an enemy with pinpoint accuracy or pick out targets in cover as if they were standing in the open.
- The Deadlands spell Kentucky Windage removes all penalties to the target number. Called shot to the head, shooting from the hip, watching the target in a shaving mirror while your back is turned? No problem!
- Exalted: load enough points into Archery and learn enough relevant Charms, and you can reasonably shoot an arrow through a keyhole on the other side of the country. Mind you, this is small potatoes given that one martial arts combo allows you to destroy the world in one mountaintop kung fu move.
- In Aberrant, all Novas with Mega-Dexterity have improbable aiming skills, but those that take the "Accuracy" enhancement are even better. They get three bonus dice for any aimed attack, in addition to the bonuses they get for having Mega-Dexterity in the first place. It has to be a pretty tricky shot for such a Nova to miss. Those who take the new Golden Gunslinger martial arts style from "The New Flesh" sourcebook, can things such as shoot bullets out of mid air, make holes in cover and then shoot through those same holes to deny cover, and expand rifle range by about 10 times normal range.
- In Adventure, the daredevil Knack Trick Shot halves most difficulty penalties, while adding the value of the original difficulty penalties in bonus dice (up to the rating of the character's relevant ability).
- In Strike Legion, some of the gun skills gives you the ability to do things like bend bullets and laser beams in mid-flight, redirect automatic fire between multiple targets (i.e. firing a burst of bullets and directing each bullet to a different target) and become even more accurate while wielding Guns Akimbo than with a two-handed weapon. This is before using things like biological and cybernetic implants to further amplify accuracy. The Imperium's elite supersoldiers also have some pretty crazy accuracy, including power-armored, wall-running gun priests dual-wielding laser pistols.
- Mage: The Awakening: A core Fate spell is called "Sharpshooter's Eye", and eliminates penalties (except cover penalties) to the caster's next ranged attack. With enough successes, it's possible to shoot a small object held by a moving target in a driving rainstorm in the dead of night.
- Iron Kingdoms:
- Khador's Widowmakers recruit anyone with good aiming skills and put them through training from hell until they've got it.
- Cygnar's Gun Mages use rune-carved bullets, which give them extreme accuracy among other tricks.
- Psionics: The Next Stage in Human Evolution: Several techniques allow the player and enemies to have this. A character with Trick Shot and Long Shot can shoot a gun out of an opponent's hands at 400 yards, if they're using a rifle to attack. It doesn't even have to be a sniper rifle.
- BIONICLE classifies this as an actual superpower, with the Kanohi Sanok, the Mask of Accuracy, giving the wearer the ability to turn any object into a projectile that will always hit its target. Many characters have Improbable Aiming Skills without the help of a mask, however - in fact, the one known bearer of a Sanok finds himself rarely using it because his unparalleled Kolhii skills as a Matoran already make him a crack shot as a Toa.
- Umineko: When They Cry gives us the four Chiester sisters. Their first appearance is for them to shoot down two people running away from them with a single arrow. After the people have turned at least one corner. And that's their most basic shot. They go on to do things like firing an arrow from the other side of a forest, through an open window and then through a keyhole into a locked room to kill two people.
- Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai! has Miyako and Yoichi (one of the new characters in the sequel), who are both members of the "Five Bows Under Heaven". Less improbable but still impressive is the Prime Minister with a rifle.
- Fate/stay night: While Emiya Shirou is usually more associated with swords, his skill with a bow is downright inhuman. Before he quit the archery club, he was known for getting perfect bullseyes with every shot. The one and only time he missed his target, he'd done so on purpose, just to see what missing the target felt like. There's a reason his future self was summoned as an Archer class Servant rather than a Saber.
- Sunrider: Sola is an insanely skilled markswoman, both in and out of her Ryders cockpit. Her character profile mentions that she can hit targets from up to 100,000km away, and that she once shot the wings off a sparrow while standing on the second moon of the planet that the sparrow was on. In gameplay, her sniper rifle has the best range and accuracy of any weapon, and when she goes into her Super Mode (which explicitly enhances her visual acuity, perception and reflexes, amongst other things) she can hit any enemy on the map from any distance with 100% accuracy.
- Spirit Hunter: NG: To further show off his impressive physicality, Akira is able to use a rock to knock a flashlight out of a guard's hand from a distance, and then use another to accurately strike a lamppost light that was on the other side of the plaza.
- 8-Bit Theater: One comic has Black Mage and Red Mage discussing on who'd win in a fight, Bullseye and Green Arrow, based on either's Improbable Aiming Skills. RM says that Green Arrow could shoot several arrows precisely at once. BM argues — and is pinned to a tree by such an attack...
- Parodied in this strip of The Last Days of FOXHOUND with a shooting contest between Sniper Wolf and Revolver Ocelot. Ocelot shoots into his mouth and hits a bird in a nearby tree, which both of them had been taking potshots at, causing Sniper Wolf to do a Spit Take.
- Better Days: In one strip, the main character manages to shoot two men directly in the head while holding an obese man still with one arm.
- Gunnerkrigg Court:
- Magick Chicks: As the captain of her school's Archery Club, Callista "Deadeye" Archer is naturally the best there is. In her very first appearance, she demonstrates why she has her distinction, by firing three arrows at once (from the rafters) and hits all three of the Hellrunes' belt buckles with perfect precision. But that's not all:
Callista: (proudly) "I even took care of that nasty spider that was crawling up the redhead's skirt!"
Jacqui: (in utter amazement) "Wow! That's impressive!"
Melissa: (irately) "Jacqui!"
Jacqui: (still impressed) "Well, IT IS!!"
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: Gordito's late father, the Flying Shooting Juan, was a sharpshooting trapeze artist with amazing skill. This was exemplified by a circus act in which he dove into a small pool of water while shooting a playing card chosen by an audience member, a Queen of Diamonds, out of a deck of cards thrown into the air. When the cards came down, the volunteer couldn't find the Queen of Diamonds and the show was assumed to be ruined. One quick phone call later, it was found that Juan did, in fact, shoot a Queen of Diamonds—in the pants pocket of the burglar who robbed the volunteer in a different part of town.
- Mitzi's specialty is precisely aimed demolitions. She uses this skill to land a treasure chest on Dark Smoke Puncher, and get the Doc's katana back to him. And she did this before she knew where they were going to be standing.
- Gone with the Blastwave:
Crosshairs: Hey, it worked.
- One of the characters can headshot a plane pilot with a sniper rifle... at the moment that leads the now-unpiloted plane to crash into an allied tank.
Pyro: .... you've been doing this for too long.
- A few pages earlier, the same sniper shoots the air hose on a Blue's gas mask, then the filter off the same soldier's mask. Then he shoots a toxic material storage drum and watches the Blue suffocate.
- Runners: Cember, the Candy Bandit, bets a substantial amount of money on his own ability to shoot through a finger-sized hole. And wins.
- Selkie: The title character gets a pair of bullies who have stolen Moonsong's ball to throw it to her. She then throws it back in such a way that it bounces off both bullies' heads and lands neatly in Moonsong's hands. Selkie's father Todd assumes it was an accident.
- Averted with all character that use firearms in Homestuck, two of them simply use More Dakka and huge guns, while Jade has never really been in a fair fight to begin with.
- As soon as Jade has a chance to make her own weapons, she immediately goes for More Dakka and big guns
- Also, in the second gun minigame with jade, (and the one in act 5 with the imp) you can shoot anywhere, but jade always aims at a specific spot, like the eye (or in bec's case, wherever the eye WOULD be.) She would probably do a really good job if not for all the teleporting.
- Fey Winds gives us this one: Four ricochets for a possession gem dangerously close to her brain.
- Kit, wielder of The Dreadful, is apparently good enough to shoot the hammer of a spinning gun, thereby causing it to fire.
- In this strip of Scandinavia and the World, Finland snipes a key out of Åland's hand. From Switzerland.
- morphE features Amical, a mage who uses an enchanted flintlock pistol which is incapable of missing. In one strip he shot five bullets in half a second and each one of them came to a freeze an inch from the target's faces.
- Sire has Emile who inherited improbable aiming skills from his Sire, Jarvert. He can make any shot he attempts but has to shoulder his Sire's harsh morality and crippling failures as a trade-off.
- The Order of the Stick #936 has Haley shoot two arrows straight at Tarquin's eyes using her foot to point (her left arm is broken).
- Guilded Age: Byron is really good with those axes.
- In El Goonish Shive, the aberration, Scarf, has these according to Word of God. It would have been an Informed Ability in the comic itself (since he never gets a shot off) but Dan decided to just mention it in The Rant instead.
- A Survival of the Fittest example is Trish McCarroll. Using an AK (notorious for recoil) that she'd never fired before (or any guns for that matter), she managed to hit Sloan Henriksen four times in the heart and six in the lungs in a single burst of fire. It's put down to luck, but still, for somebody who has never used a gun it was an incredible feat. Amusingly, given that SOTF is a play by post game, it was actually Sloan's handler that caused the Improbable Aiming Skills. (by mentioning which places the characters was hit in the death post)
- Along similar lines is Reika Ishida who was shot in the heart or where her heart would have been had she not been a mirror-image twin by Kris Hartmann who not only has no gun experience, but was turning around at the time of firing. The killer later shot Amber Whimsy in the heart as well, this time while lying on their back and not bothering to set up the shot. This can be somewhat forgiven, however, as both characters were relatively close to one another.
- Clio Gabriella was able to shoot Chris Davidson in the face despite the fact that not only did the character have nerve damage to their hand, but they hadn't been intending to pull the trigger.
- During one of the YouTube channel Outside Xbox's videos of dishonoured, Mike pulls off a headshot on his (moving) target from a building on the other side of a town square, using a flintlock pistol.
- Just about any time Mike picks up a gun in an assassination game is one of these moments.
- For instance, when he uses a shotgun (yes, you read that right) to kill Dalia Mogul one of the targets in the Paris level of Hitman. From the ground floor of the mansion. While she's on the top floor. And he's running, with the red death filter.
- Whateley Universe Chaka. It's part of her superpowers. She can use her Ki to throw just about anything wherever she wants. Knives, shuriken, throwing spikes, you name it. She has a 'dartboard' that is the size of a quarter, and she throws sewing needles at it. She still hasn't missed the bullseye.
- Also, Hive and Deadeye have superpowers that let them be unbelievably good snipers. Okay, Hive had decades of experience as a U.S. Navy sniper before getting those powers.
- Loophole can use her Technopath power and ability to compute trajectories in her head to master any weapon just by touching it.
- Red Eagle, Briar Rose, The Bowman, Obsidian Arrow, Yeoman, Artemis, and Warpath are all "super archers", and are able to skim the wings off flies in mid-flight with their arrow-shots.
- In the horror tale ''Melon Heads'', female lead Sarah Haley is surprisingly good at hitting the titular monsters with thrown rocks. Elaborated in an "interview" with the character, who reveals a softball background.
- Red vs. Blue:
- Inverted with Church in season 6. He unloads his entire magazine at someone less than three feet away... and misses every single shot.
- Played straight in the flashback segments with Agent North Dakota, the Freelancers' sniping specialist. He makes several impressive shots, culminating in dual-wielding sniper rifles and rapid-fire shooting several in-flight anti-personnel missiles out of the air milliseconds before they would've hit Tex.
- Jason Teller of ASH has very low-level telekinesis and a superhuman grasp of angles, resulting in this.
- Circus, from the web original Worm, has this alongside the rest of his/her abilities.
- Later, The Number Man demonstrates this skill using a sniper rifle-thanks to his Awesomeness by Analysis powers, he can perfectly predict the path of a bullet and even cause them to ricochet.
- RWBY's Pyrrha Nikos has these, as shown in her Establishing Character Moment. She pins a person who's falling through the air to a tree and leaving him completely unharmed. All this at a range that it takes 5 seconds for her javelin to hit its target.
- Zero Punctuation has Yahtzee frequently complaining that the AI enemies in modern FPS's that aren't completely stupid are frequently granted aiming ability that far surpasses his own.
- Mary from Twig is completely normal, aside from being a Laser Guided Tyke Bomb clone raised to assassinate people, and can make impossible shots with her knives from absurd distances. The Duke of Francis, introduced later, is actually enhanced and can reliably make headshots against enemies that can Dodge the Bullet.
- In Overwatch animated short "Reunion", McCree demonstrates absurd aiming skills during the gunfight, including taking out someone while not even looking in their direction and then, at the end, putting bullets through multiple grenades he'd tossed at one time toward his opponents.
- Kitten in an If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device special rigs a coin flip by shooting the coin in midair.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- The Yuyan Archers can literally shoot the wings off a fly (or at least pin it to a tree from a hundred paces away — without killing it), or at least that's what Zhao said. Though this was most likely hyperbole, they are able to pin Aang to a log by his shirt and nail someone hiding behind a human shield in the head, from a great distance in the middle of the night.
- Mai has also demonstrated impeccable and deadly accurate knife-throwing skills. Although sometimes it's shuriken. She keeps several dozen in the sleeves of her robe.
- Sokka never misses with his boomerang, including once hitting a man dead in the forehead at extreme range from around a corner by clever use of it's arc.
- In one episode of Class of the Titans, Atlanta splits an arrow Robin Hood style. Then splits that one. While upside down. On a rope.
- Averted in Code Lyoko, where Odd and Yumi miss quite frequently, especially when the shot would be difficult in real life (i.e. shooting at a moving target). Then again, since often the enemies simply dodge, and Odd's arrows are often shown moving as fast as a real arrow, this might be a case of The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard. Played relatively straight with Aelita (after she gains her Energy Field in season 3), who only misses when she's distressed, though her attacks have the added advantage of being deadly wherever they touch the monster, with no need to aim at their weak spots.
- In King of the Hill, Bobby has very few talents, but at a carnival after picking up a BB gun at a shooting gallery, he finds out he's an excellent shot. Later, when taken to a shooting range, he shoots off his rounds pretty quickly. Hank is disappointed that Bobby didn't listen to him, only to discover all of his shots hit the target dead center.
- One episode of Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness shows a particularly high-level kung fu feat; the practitioner must throw three needles in the air in such a manner that one needle passes through the eye of another and splits the third from tip to tip.
- This is just one of Link's repertoire of improbable skills in the animated adaptation of The Legend of Zelda.
- In the Looney Tunes short "Wild and Woolly Hare", Bugs Bunny brags to Yosemite Sam that he can ricochet a shot all over the saloon until it parts Sam's hair right down the middle. He fires, and the bullet does indeed carom where Bugs said it would, but it seems to have missed Sam... until Sam's hat splits open, revealing a perfect part through his hair. Bugs Bunny also does a trick shot with a glowing rivet (who needs guns) in "Homeless Hare".
- Used in M.A.S.K. episode "The Golden Goddess" to a ridiculous degree. Alex Sector (never previously known for his aiming skills) disables an elephant with laser cannons without harming it. He fires the cannons the elephant's feet such that the elephant steps/falls into the blast craters... which are the size of its feet. Alex accomplishes this feat:
¤From above and behind¤While parachuting from a plane in a semi truck¤With the giant laser cannons mounted distally on the truck¤Hitting beneath all four feet on both sides of the elephant, without hitting the elephant¤Missing only one set of three paired shots¤With the "camera" noticeably rocking to convey how unsteady a platform he's shooting from¤This just after commenting "... if I can just keep this blasted truck steady enough."
- Phineas and Ferb:
- Ferb in "Ain't No Kiddie Ride", as Candace is falling into a canyon on a coin-powered rocket when she run's out of quarters. Ferb casually does "The Robot" for a couple of tourists, who give him a quarter. Then he proceeds to slingshot the coin straight into the slot and save his sister's life.
- In both "Meapless in Seattle" and "Last Day of Summer", Candace saves the day by throwing a small object at some sort of target.
- Ricochet Rabbit of Ricochet Rabbit and Droop-a-Long Coyote have bullets for just any occasion that he can always shoot off just right.
- Played with in South Park: Butters hits his target every time, without looking — however, the bullet always hits them in the crotch, no matter where Butters is aiming. This gets him yelled at by Cartman, as shooting a man in the crotch is is too cruel even for him.
- The ARC Troopers from Star Wars: Clone Wars possess impressive powers of accuracy, almost every shot blasts a droid's head off and a single trooper takes out a Trade Federation armored tank in less than 5 seconds by running up the side of it, blasting the top off, shooting several shots from the inside of the machine and running like hell.
- Sky on Total Drama Pahkitew Island displays this when performing a target shooting act using her super-strong belches. She destroys two targets with a single belch, without affecting Chris who is sitting in between them.