Stormtrooper “marksmanship”: Explaining Stormtrooper inaccuracy
Just about anyone who is familiar with the Star Wars franchise is in some way aware of the phenomena of “Stormtrooper Aim”. Indeed the marksmanship of Stormtroopers is often the but end of the joke. But are they really such bad shots? Well yes and no. So what is causing them to be perceived as having such bad aim?
Well the most common instances of them having bad aim can be found in the Original Trilogy. So picking apart these scenes would be the best way to do so. Now I could write a long drawn out explanation of each scene and what is happening to explain the bad aim, but an Imgur user by the name of Kyro has already done that for me in meme form.
Anyway, my work here is done so thanks for reading and...
Just kidding, if there is one thing that you should get out of any of my articles is that there is never really just one reason that can perfectly explain something, and like with the other things I have talked about the issue of the marksmanship of Stormtroopers is no exception.
Now the other reasons are a little more complicated and involve the clone troopers. The first of which is the equipment they used, or more specifically the blaster that became the standard in the Empire the E-11. Designed by BlasTech and based off the DC series of blasters used in the clone wars. It offered improvement in durability and was suited for just about any environment the Stormtroopers would find themselves in. However, it had its faults. It had a maximum range of up to 300m but its effective range was only 100m meaning it was better suited for close to medium range combat than long range combat, mainly good in the corridors of ships or an urban city, but on the open battlefield outclassed by just about any other modern blaster rifle.
Additionally, they had terrible recoil. Bad enough that it was a near constant complaint from the ranks of the Stormtrooper corps, and a joke amongst them that if you missed your first shot you were unlikely to hit them with any follow up shots because of the recoil. Making matters worse is that the E-11 could fire on both semi and full auto. The latter only made the recoil and by extension accuracy worse. OF course the Stormtrooper corps is a professional army that would surely know that and be trained to not use the full auto setting unless absolutely necessary right?
Well I’ll get to the point about the Stormtroopers being a professional and well trained army later but first a counter to this point with a real world example. In the Falklands war of 1982 both the Argentinians and British used versions of the FN FAL which too was plagued with heavy recoil especially when fired on full auto. The British aware of this had a modified version that only had a semi-automatic mode while the Argentinians used the standard version that was capable of both semi and fully automatic fire. As a result, the British soldiers would come to prefer the Argentinian rifles to their own and were known to ditch the rifles they were issued in favor of a captured Argentinian rifle whenever they found one. Again the main difference between the two was the full auto capability of the Argentinian version. Even with the foreknowledge that the rifle had bad recoil that was made worse by full auto fire, the British soldiers would still happily give up their own rifles for the ability to fire on full auto. So if highly trained soldiers in our own history would use weapons with already horrible recoil on a setting that only makes it worse, it is highly feasible that soldiers in the Star Wars galaxy would do the same.
Now about the “Professional Soldiers” I eluded to before. If you have read one of my previous articles on the Stormtroopers, you will know that the Jango template clones were in the process of being phased out and by the time of A New Hope only around a third of the Corps were made up of Fett clones. This is very important when discussing the effectiveness of the Stormtrooper corps. The remaining 2/3rd were made up of a mix of clones from other genetic templates and human conscripts, with the latter making up the majority of the corps. And these conscripts were significantly inferior to their clone counterparts. The Fett clones in particular were bred from a human template that was already well suited and motivated for combat which I will go into further detail about later. However, because they are modified clones they can and were enhanced with specific traits that made them better and more effective soldiers. Things like increased strength, endurance, reflexes all were included in the Fett template to make the best soldiers possible. Even the non Fett clones would have these enhanced traits but the conscripts wouldn’t and as they make up the majority of the corps the corps would not be nearly as effective as the clones of the Republic were. Now it is difficult to say exactly all that the Kaminoans and the other cloners put into their clones. But it would make a considerable difference in how they fought and how well they fought.
These extra traits are not the only advantage that the clones have on the conscripts, in fact it isn’t even the biggest factor in them being not as competent in combat. That factor is the difference between a volunteer and conscript army. This should be fairly obvious but an army that is made up entirely of people who chose and enjoy fighting, that army will be much more effective than an army full of people forced to fight. Sure some individuals in the latter army may have wanted to serve, but they would be in the minority. Now while yes the clones like the human conscripts are in a sense forced to fight. However, the clones, in particular the Fett clones come from a template of someone who wants to and enjoys fighting. With a few exceptions if given the choice most clones would prefer to be on the front lines to a civilian life, and therefore closer to a volunteer army than a conscript army. The non clones on the other hand are more or less forced to fight, either through coercion or fear. Because of this conscripts are going to be less motivated to fight than their volunteer counterparts. They aren’t taking the extra time on the range to be better shots, they aren’t learning the faults of their equipment and how to overcome them, and in a fight they aren’t the ones taking the initiative and doing that extra bit that wins the day. What they are doing is keeping their head down, following orders and just trying to stay alive until their service time is up.
Going back to the meme, you will notice that the instances where the Stormtroopers are good, the Stormtroopers in question are the 501st who even at that time were still 100% Fett clones, and the instances where they are seemingly incompetent and can’t hit anything are regular Stormtroopers who are most likely human conscripts.
So in a majority of the instances where Stormtroopers are cited to have bad aim, you have ill motivated soldiers, using rifles that are known to be inaccurate after the first shot, and being put into situations where their objective isn’t to defeat the enemy forces but rather to set a trap. Of course they are going to miss.
So as always I hope you learned something new. I know this one was more OT than EU focused but I thought I would show ways that the EU can help explain certain things in the movies. Let me know your thoughts and if you agree or disagree with anything I have laid out and if you would like more of these. As always, thanks for reading and until next time!