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Shooting Lessons From Your Parents

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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 dedicated training, like from the military or police. 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, and is commonly part of the backstory of any Southern Fried Privates.

See also Military Brat.


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    Anime and Manga 

    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 bringing her up to have stereotypically masculine talents, without actually challenging her gender, 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.
  • Robin: When Tim gets a tranquilizer gun confiscated from his dorm room as a "riffle" Tim and Alfred use this to explain why Tim had it when Alfred poses as Tim's dad and rambles on amiably with the supervisor before agreeing to never send Tim another gun at school.

    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.
  • Lampshaded in Son of the Sannin. When Haku suddenly demonstrates the ability to match Sasuke blow for blow with a sword during the Chunin Exam finals, he points out that all three of his parental figures are swordsmen. It'd be more surprising if they hadn't taught him anything.


  • 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.
  • InCryptid: This has been the case for several generations of the Price-Healy family since they left the Covenant. There are several references to going to the range for training and maintaining skills, even not being allowed to go there as punishment. Of the current generation; Alex is the deadliest shot, Verity is the best shot, and Annie best with throwing knives over pistols and long guns the former two use.
  • Six of Crows: A heartwarming version with Jesper, whose mother taught him all manner of practical skills for rural life, especially handling guns. She was a Fabrikator, too, and may have been teaching him to use his powers to control bullets without him realizing it.
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bosch: In "Donkey's Years", LAPD cop Harry Bosch indulges in some father-daughter bonding with his teenaged daughter Maddie by taking her to a shooting range. She proves to be very good at it.
  • In How I Met Your Mother, Robin, whose dad Wanted a Son Instead, was taught by her father how to shoot when she was a kid. When Marshall is depressed from his break-up with Lily, she takes him to a shooting range to cheer him up.
  • 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.
  • In Dollhouse, Echo's current Imprint is asked if she knows how to shoot. "I have four brothers." *cocks gun* "None of them Democrats."
  • Supernatural: Sam and Dean were both taught to shoot by their demon-hunting father, John. When the brothers discover their father's storage locker, Dean is touched to discover John kept a sawed-off shotgun Dean made in sixth grade as a keepsake. Later Subverted as Dean takes great pains to prevent his surrogate son Ben from ever touching a gun and is heartbroken when forced to do so.

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

  • Some versions of William Tell mention that he makes a crossbow for his son Walter, and presumably teaches him to shoot with it.

    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 using a BB gun.
  • An evil example shows in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus as part of B.J.'s flashbacks. At one scene at the beginning of the game, B.J.'s dad Rip catches B.J.'s dog and tells B.J. to kill him, even putting the dog at line of sight of the shotgun. B.J.'s refusal has his father catching the dog and shooting it. Another flashback, a more benign one, has B.J. awakening Rip from his sleep in order to chase a "monster" lurking on the night, so Rip gives him another shotgun and they go chase it. As some poetic justice, after it's revealed how far Rip went with things like selling out his family to the Nazis, B.J. ultimately shows that he wouldn't hesitate to kill him when he wants to.
  • In God of War (PS4), Kratos teaches Atreus how to fight with a bow over the course of the story. He goes from being unable to hit a common deer to fighting gods and developing Improbable Aiming Skills.
  • In The Sacrifice comic for Left 4 Dead, it's revealed that Zoey learned how to shoot a gun from her dad, who was a cop. This helped her survive against the zombie outbreak.
  • The Walking Dead (Telltale) has a moment in the third episode where Lee teaches Clementine how to shoot a gun while they're on the train they commandeered. This, along with Clementine's Important Haircut, goes a long way towards deepening the bond between surrogate father and surrogate daughter, and help prepare her for the world that isn't kind to unprepared individuals.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Maria was raised at a time when the concept of Huntsmen was in its infancy. Her father was an old soldier and a great teacher, so taught her all of her combat abilities, as well as how to use her silver eyes. Although she never went to any 'fancy schools', the quality of his training and her dedication meant that she aced the Huntsman licensing exam, obtaining higher marks than anyone else.
  • Helluva Boss: A flashback in Exes and Oohs suggests that Moxxie learned his Improbable Aiming Skills from his mother while he was still a child. Although his father appears to have encouraged his marksmanship training too, by all indications he was more interested in turning Moxxie into a killer than a competent marksman.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • On King of the Hill, Hank teaches Bobby how to shoot, just like he was taught by his father, Cotton. The twist—Hank is actually a terrible shot (something that he considers so shameful that he basically repressed the memory of it), while Bobby, despite his typical goofiness, proves to have a talent for it.
  • One American Dad! Christmas Episode has Stan buy Steve a gun and start teaching him to shoot while they're still in the mall parking lot. Unfortunately, Steve accidentally kills a Mall Santa. Worse, that wasn't a Mall Santa, it was the real Santa Claus, and he's pissed when the elves manage to revive him.

    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.
  • Shooting a longbow requires strong muscles built in childhood. King Edward III's famous quote, "To train a longbowman, start with his grandfather," refers to the early training.
  • Balearic slingers were famed as mercenaries as far back as the Roman era, and supposedly taught their children the skill by putting their children's meals in a basket on a tree, forcing the kids to knock it out via sling if they wanted to eat.