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"I've never fired a gun before, but I can't miss at point-blank range."
Takashi Komuro, Highschool of the Dead

Guns are inherently awesome in their ability to make things significantly less alive from a distance. But every once in a while, firing from a distance just doesn't cut it. Maybe your opponent is really good at dodging bullets, or keeps putting up some kind of barrier, or your knowledge of guns is a bit... challenged. Never fret, for there is always one range that you can be sure will be effective against any opponent: two inches from their face.

Can obviously apply to things other than guns.

May not apply to graduates of the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy.

Compare Short-Range Long-Range Weapon for when you're not supposed to use guns at close range, but do anyway.

Examples of No Range Like Point-Blank Range include:


Anime and Manga

  • In Speed Grapher, Saiga encounters an opponent whose sonic abilities block his explosive photographs. So he does what any good war photographer does to get a better picture; he moves closer.
  • In Full Metal Panic, Kurts tricks an elusive opponent into getting close enough that he can hit him in the face with a round from his giant mech's rifle. Damn Lambda Driver...
  • In Highschool of the Dead, Takashi is just an ordinary high school student who knows next to nothing about handling a firearm. So when he does get a gun, he uses this strategy more often than not.
  • In Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt, Panty, who uses a gun, often finishes off foes this way or fights foes who use melee attacks this way.
  • In Pumpkin Scissors, it's part of the basic tactics of the 901st Anti-Tank Troopers - they've got a Hand Cannon that can penetrate the weakest parts of a tank's armor, but only a point-blank range.
  • This happens in Yu Yu Hakusho during the dark tournament saga when Yusuke is facing Jin. Jin is using wind to deflect Yusuke's spirit gun blasts, so Yusuke blasts him point blank into a tornado swirling around Jin's arm.
    • This almost ends up killing them both which Jin then quickly lampshades by yelling, "you don't make bombs go boom in your face!" Hilarity ensues.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima, Mana pulls this right out of the blue, complete with a Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam 00 season 2, Lockon operates by the following: even though I'm underwater, if I stay close enough, I can't miss!
  • In Soul Eater, Kid delivers a double dose to Crona during their battle. In the face. In mid-air.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam's backstory (as detailed by the MSV design line), there's a Zeon Ace Pilot named Brenev Auggs, "The One-Shot Killer"; he accomplishes this feat by using this trope, pressing his gun's muzzle against the enemy machines' fuselages.

Comic Books

  • In the first Gargoyles comic series [1], Elisa uses this against a ninja, knocking him to the floor and sticking her gun in his face. While she doesn't fire, she tells him that she bets his 'fancy footwork' won't let him dodge a shot this close.

Literature

  • In Inkheart, many of Capricorn's mooks carry shotguns or pistols, but in all the times someone has one pointed at them, it's never from more than about a foot away since hardly anyone knows how to handle them properly. Most memorably is Elinor shakily jabbing Basta in the ribs with his own shotgun, "I may have never held a gun before, but I'm sure I can manage to pull the trigger."

Film

  • Trinity's famous "Dodge this." scene from The Matrix. Even an Agent can't dodge a bullet fired 2 inches from his ear.
  • Pandorum features a non-lethal riot gun capable of blowing a person across a room. Now, the whole "non-lethal" aspect assumes that you're firing it from a safe distance away. If you're not, well...
  • Corporal Hicks in Aliens jams a shotgun right into a xenomorph's mouth. Of course, the creature's acidic blood spatters everywhere, burning him and several other marines.
  • The climax of Double Indemnity, when Walter shoots Phyllis in the abdomen at point-blank range.

Live Action TV

  • Burn Notice advises against this, noting that pressing a gun against your target's head negates the single greatest advantage that a gun gives you. Michael demonstrates by slapping his enemy's gun off target and then disarming him.
  • Season One of Heroes:

 Thompson: What am I thinking now, Parkman?

HRG: (cocks pistol) Your last thought. (Pulls trigger)

  • A thug from Smallville attempted to use this on the Flash, but was stopped before he could.
  • In an episode of Human Target, Winston shoots an enemy at close range to save Chance.

Real Life

  • Subversions of this when attempting a suicide have happened (and are known to be especially sucky with lots of exotic flavours of irreversible brain damage). Even with the barrel-in-mouth strategy. You can always miss.
  • The "bullet to the back of the neck" execution, popularized by various fascist regimes.
  • Truth in Television example: During the Normandy landings, the Navy ships found they were unable to give effective fire support because smoke from the heavy gunfire on the beaches was obscuring their view of the battlefield. A commander of a Destroyer decided to break through the smoke by sailing his ship dangerously close to the shore, delivering broadsides from his five inch guns at what most naval commanders of the day would consider distance more appropriate for a knife fight. In terms of naval combat, a destroyer's five inch gun wasn't all that big, but compared to many of the guns the German defenders had to fight back with, it was more than enough.
  • Also, many larger guns used by field artillery and tanks use a type of round called a "Canister". Effectively, it is a shotgun shell for large-bore cannons, designed to invoke the Chunky Salsa Rule against enemy Zerg Rushes, and for obvious reasons, is only used at short ranges.
  • The phrase originates as an artillery term for when the target is so close the gun isn't elevated to compensate for distance.
    • With modern mortars, this is referred to as a "zero charge" shot. Mortars have their range increased by attaching additional propellant packs to the base of them. Thus a zero charge shot is one that, in artillery terms, is just barely making it out of the tube in the first place, and is only used as a desperation measure.
  • During the age of smoothbore musket warfare, where a musket was only remotely accurate up to ca. 100 yards, it was a rule of thumb to wait "until you could see the whites of their eyes" to open fire, i. e. until the attacking enemy had approached to within ca. 50 paces. In practice this was not as easy as it sounds to hold fire that long, which is why it did not work out that way often enough. The matter was not just that of range, but also that in the heat of battle the chance of a musket misfiring increased with each subsequent shot, while for the first salvo you still could take your time and even further increase your chances of hitting the enemy by loading two balls instead of one (as the Hanoverians did to beat off a French cavalry charge at the battle of Krefeld in 1758. If you could also achieve surprise, as the British Guards Brigade did at Waterloo (they hid in a wheat field and only stood up to fire when the French Old Guard was almost upon them) the effect on the morale could be even greater.
    • The British used the same tactic against the French at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham outside the walls of Quebec City in 1759. The French fired too early and from out of effective range. The British loaded two balls in their muskets waited until the French got too close. The battle took fifteen minutes.

Tabletop Games

  • In Dark Heresy, firing point-blank is a +30 to your to-hit chance (in a system where most characters try to roll less than 35-40 on a dice ranging from 1-100). It is also the default way of using shotguns, who only get their signature 'scatter' damage point-blank.
  • D20-style games allow a ranged weapon to deliver a 'coup de grace' attack (instant critical, can kill instantly) when up close and personal. The 'Point Blank Shot' feat (or similar) usually gives a bonus to attacks within 10m or so.

Video Games

  • One of the new moves of Metroid: Other M involves Samus blowing the hell out of some enemies by standing on them and blasting them thusly.
  • In the Disgaea series, units with guns will eventually be able to learn the "Proximal Shot" ability, which allows them to fire at point blank range (i.e. in the next square, like most melee weapons) and blast themselves back to a safe distance with the recoil.
  • In Mass Effect 2, Thane Krios prefers to kill his targets up close (though he is pretty handy with a rifle too. Taken to extremes when he drops from the ceiling, kills some Mooks in hand to hand, then shoots a Corrupt Corporate Executive in the stomach from point-blank range. He puts off firing just long enough that she can realize what is about to happen.
  • In Red Dead Redemption, approaching an enemy from the front with a gun out often shows Marson shoving his pistol straight into the chest or head of the enemy and killing them in one hit.
  • Guilder from Skies of Arcadia will occasionally use his guns on an enemy right next to him. He also fires it Gangsta Style.
  • In Super Robot Wars, a mech that normally specializes in long-range Beam Spam and Wave Motion Gun attacks will have a short-range Super Attack that involves latching on to the enemy and unloading from point-blank range. It's usually called something like "Point Blank (name of weapon)".
  • Melee-switched Commissars in Dawn of War do this as their sync-kill. The enemy folds in a Pose of Supplication, at which point the commissar gives him a bullet between the eyes at point-blank range.
  • Guild Wars: Occasionlly comes up in discussions of Rangers (especially in PvP). Arrows, being projectiles, can often be dodged, so rangers will sometimes try to get close to a target to prevent this occuring.
  • Painfully, painfully subverted in Valkyria Chronicles II. Even if you are literally breathing on each other, there's still a chance that your target'll hit the deck and avoid all, or at least most, of the damage you just threw at their face. Particularly painful during certain missions that turn a normal Wake Up Call Boss into That One Boss.
  • "Nearsighted" Jeego from Ghost Trick is a hitman who can always hits his target... as long as they are at point blank range.
  • One of the many finisher moves in The Godfather video game.
  • Forced aversion in World of Warcraft. All attacks that use ranged weapons cannot be used in melee range.
    • Well, almost all: Scatter Shot has no minimum range, and it does half the damage of a normal Auto Shot and disorients the target for 4 seconds. It's purpose is to give you time to move to a range where your other abilities were usable. It's an "Oh shit, a rogue" button.
  • Forced aversion and double aversion in Chrono Trigger. Marle (crossbow) and Lucca (gun) will use melee attacks (buttstroke, hammer) if too close, unless it's a critical hit; in those cases, they do the normal two-round shot.
  • Using "The Shot" as a finishing move in Red Steel 2 turns it into this, with point blank shots from either the Revolvers Are Just Better, Shotguns Are Just Better, Johnnygun, or the rifle, depending on which is equipped.

Web Original

  • On Red vs. Blue Church manages to subvert this trope hilariously in one episode of Reconstruction. Church normally uses the Sniper Rifle with comical inefficiency but surely he couldn't miss using a pistol from a foot away, right? WRONG! Not only does he fail to kill the target, he manages to empty an entire clip of ammo without even grazing his target (who is standing still) once.

Notes

  1. Not the 2006 revival
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