by Soda

Shooting Issues

What most people find when they start the game is that they have difficulty in hitting anything. They often run into a situation where they “spray and pray” simply opening fire and moving their aim point around while hoping to land hits. This simply doesn’t tend to be very effective, nor is it a good use of valuable ammunition (since you really only have a limited amount along with you). This is not unusual though.

Initially, you need to understand that there are two types of projectiles that are fired, kinetic and explosive. Kinetic rounds are ones that damage through impact, usually using a solid shot designed to drill into and through and aircraft (often called armour piercing or AP rounds). Explosive rounds (commonly called HE) are ones that are designed to explode, and thus the act of firing them is a process of getting them to the target. Explosive rounds do cause kinetic damage, but their main purpose is to explode and cause damage from that.

Now, you do not have a choice of the type of ammunition you take, it is decided based on the type of gun you fire. In general, all weapons that are cannons (20mm and up) fire a mixture of kinetic and explosive rounds, while all smaller caliber guns only fire kinetic rounds. That means, for a US .50 cal (~12.7mm), you have AP ammunition, as do you for British .303’s, or German 7.7mm. Once you reach 20mm, you have a mixed ammunition load, which you cannot control, that includes both AP and HE rounds. The British/US Hispano 20mm, many German weapons from 20mm-30mm all have this mixed ammunition (AP and HE). Obviously, the HE rounds, as described earlier, tend not to be as affected by longer ranges and maintain their damaging power.

So, you might think that cannons are the only way to go but that’s simply not the case and it’s not like you have a choice to arm a plane however you might like. Each plane comes with a set number of options that you can chose from, so you have to learn to use what you have.

What is the Range of Guns

This question is pretty typical of new players but the answer is not so simple. There are a couple of ways to look at range so it depends on what you are looking for. If you are asking about how far the bullet travels before it has no chance to hit then the answer would be D1.4, or there about. If you are asking how far the average player can actually land an aimed shot at a basically non-maneuvering target, then the range is more like D600, less than 1/2 the maximum range, and that’s in a best case scenario. If you are asking what is a realistic range, then something more in the range of D300 is probable for damaging hits on an enemy who is maneuvering to defend themselves.

In general, you should consider anything inside D250 as short range, D250-D400 as medium range, D400-D600 as long range, and anything in excess of that as extreme range, on average. These are somewhat generic numbers though and don’t take into account the complexities involved with aiming and hitting under anything but the best conditions. Differences in maneuvering, speed, gun types, gun positions and convergence settings can all make shots more or less difficult.

It is possible to make longer shots though. In prime conditions it can be possible to reliably land hits out to almost D1.0, though these are rare. Some players also resort to spray’n’pray tactics where they have lots of ammunition to throw away hoping for a couple of lucky hits. Most planes don’t have this luxury though and cannot afford to fire where there is little reasonable chance of success.

What can I do to help my shooting ability?

Most new players will find that they are having aiming problems and spending a lot of time shooting towards a target but not hitting it. There are a couple of things you need to consider in which to improve:

1. Get closer. Pretty simple concept, but most new pilots are trying to shoot at too long a range. Aiming at D150 is simple, aiming at D400 is more difficult, and aiming at D900 is almost impossible.

2. Select a better package of guns. Simply said, more typically is better as long as it doesn’t affect the overall performance of the aircraft too much. More guns likely means more bullets flying around with a better chance to hit something.

3. Leave the really big guns in the hanger. 30mm might be cool, but it is terrifically difficult to use at ranges where other guns would still be easy. In those instances it might be wise to take something that has more ammunition, fires faster, and is easier to aim.

4. Unload your aircraft. I don’t mean take less weight, what I mean is, get into position so that you don’t have to pull as many G’s while taking your shot. This is a technique that helps settle the aim point a bit, since rather than both planes moving aggressively, you get to your spot, then let up a bit and wait for him.

5. Turn off tracers. Some people think that it’s better to have them off vs. on. I can see the point, as with them off sometimes your opponent might not even realize you are shooting at him since he can’t see the rounds passing by. That gives you a longer time to shoot while he many not even try to avoid. Some people also feel it makes you pick your initial aim point better rather than trying to “walk” the bullets onto target. I tend to think this second point is better for someone trying to move from intermediate to advanced gunnery though.

There is also a target you can use to see exactly where you should be aiming to account for bullet drop. I wouldn’t recommend this except in offline mode, but when in an airplane, use the .target X command (where X is a range between 0 and 1000). This will display a target to your north (always to the north) at the range you specified. You can then shoot at the target and watch where the hits land. You will notice that no two bullets actually pass through the exact same spot, but you will see concentrations of fire in certain spots. The target will reset after about 1000 hits and you can turn it off by issuing the command and using a range of 0.

One other suggestion and this is made for a number of reasons, is stay with a single aircraft for a while. Learn that one plane, how it handles, and where to aim with it. Don’t immediately jump from plane to plane looking for the guns that best suit you, look to learn how to use the guns. The Spitfire V that you are currently flying offers a nice starting point for you to learn. The twin hispano 20mm cannons it has are the best cannons in the game and easiest to aim. The .303’s are a perfect example of convergence issues since they are widespread on the wings. If you get the convergence set properly, they can still be effective. Then, if you want to move up, the Spitfire Mk IX offers the same hispano cannons, and an option to replace the four .303’s with a pair of US .50’s. The change tends to add easier aiming as the .50’s are the best you can get in the game at all ranges, but there are only a pair of them vs. the four .303’s you replaced.

Custom Gunsights

There are links on the Aces High website to historically accurate, and custom, gunsights. The process to replace a gunsight is very easy, simply download it, copy it into the directory /gunsights and then in setup, open up the gunsight selection screen. From there, simply select the plane and assign the gunsight to it.

Some gunsights have markings to help judge distances, though largely this is unnecessary considering that all aircraft in the game will display an exact range with their icon. There are sights that have some deflection aiding components that can be useful though deflection shooting is as much art as science. Some sights also have markings to help you aim rockets, or bombs, or you may decide to create one yourself.