War Thunder guide: Using ranging shots in naval

The ranging shot is one of the most useful tools in naval gameplay, specifically in bluewater fleet gameplay. Despite that, I very rarely see it used at all. So here I thought it’d be pertinent to cover what a ranging shot is, how to use it, and why it is one of the most powerful tools in bluewater fleet gameplay.

What is a ranging shot?

The ranging shot is a feature that allows you to fire the guns one at a time instead of all together in a single salvo. It is ostensibly meant for being able to determine the range to a target without having to fire a whole salvo and then waiting for a reload, but it has much better uses than that.

How to use a ranging shot

In order to use a ranging shot, you first have to set up a keybind for it. Go to Controls → Naval → Weaponry → Ranging shot. Make sure you set a button that you are comfortable holding repeatedly for long periods of time. I would highly recommend setting it to either MB4 or MB5 (the 2 buttons on the left side of a right handed mouse or the right side of a left handed mouse) because those are very easy buttons to hold down for long periods of time using only your thumb while still being able to use the rest of your mouse as normal.

(surprise Tandem MAI cameo in the background)


In order to use the ranging shot feature, hold down on the ranging shot button. This will fire your guns 1 by 1 in order, going from the leftmost gun listed on the list at the bottom to the rightmost. In order for this to work, you need the follow bullet camera setting disabled. To do that, go to Options → Naval Battle Settings → Follow Bullet Camera. Thanks to @Morvran for reminding me that follow bullet camera needs to be turned off.


Why ranging shots are more useful than normal salvos

The biggest benefit of ranging shots are that your fire is not concentrated all on 1 point. With a normal salvo, all the fire is directed at 1 point, with the only separation being from the spacing of the gun barrels of for turrets with multiple guns in them. All the fire being on 1 point can be devastating to that 1 point, but it can often leave the rest of the ship unharmed, and that can be especially detrimental if you are in a vessel such as a battleship which has a very long reload.

What a ranging shot allows you to do is to rake a target with gunfire. Because it fires each gun individually, you can move your guns as they are firing so you have time to adjust your fire to hit specific pieces and/or move the guns enough to cover an entire target with shells in 1 salvo. This is super, super useful. I have used this to great effect at every tier of bluewater fleet gameplay.

It also means that you can keep a consistent stream of fire going as your guns reload. The best example of this use is the USS Atlanta. On the USS Atlana, the reload is fast enough and the vessel has such a huge amount of guns (16 main guns in 8 turrets, 14 of which can be fired at once on a broadside) that you can keep up near-constant fire on a target because by the time your last gun has fired using a ranging shot, there is less than 0.5 seconds left until your first gun reloads.

Also, though this is an issue that nearly no one ever will run into, ranging shots do also come with the added benefit of allowing you to conserve ammunition by allowing for you to stop firing partway through a salvo if a target dies, goes behind cover, or if you need to turn the turrets to something more important.


Ranging shots are, in my opinion, the single most useful feature in bluewater fleet gameplay. And yet, I see nearly no one using it. The only time I have seen someone else using it in the last 6 months is that afformentioned USS Atlana which absolutely shredded me using it. I know not many people play naval compared to the other gamemodes, but I hope this guide helped those of you who do play the bluewater fleet or are looking to get into it.


I have it bound but haven’t found it very useful because I haven’t gotten into the big slow guns yet. But I see your point about the steady stream of shots. I will have to give it a try.

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A correction or additions is needed here. This only works if you have Bullet Camera disabled (Options > Naval Battle Settings > “Follow Bullet Camera”) With that option enabled, pressing and holding does fire a single turret, but instead it tracks the round when fired and not fire mutliple turrets. You can still exploit the same use case with this enabled. But instead you have to just tap multiple times.

In some vessels this is potentially the ideal tactic anyway. For example, in the Belfast, firing in this manner unleashes the full salvo over the course of 2ish seconds, leaving you to reload for the next 5 seconds. If you instead manually tap fire, and space the fire out, you can maintain a truly continuous barrage. Firing 1 turret every 2 seconrds or so. Which can bring down heavier targets with ease.

This is probably my main use for ranging shots. Except when in a long reload ship, like a battleship. In that case. Ranging shots are handy to use for actually guaging the range of the target.

Oh true. I forgot that I disabled that ages ago.

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You don’t even need big gun ships for this. I use this with destroyers usually because I don’t enjoy big gun ships.

There are other advantages as well:

  • Helps “walk” your fire onto a target

  • Great against small targets (coastal navy), e.g. with destroyers: full salvos are hit or miss on those fast, agile targets, with the ranging shots you can “pepper” a larger area continuously, increasing your chance of a hit (and one is often enough)

  • You can “oversaturate” a target: It’s more aggravating and annoying to be peppered constantly than to get a hit every few dozen seconds. Atlanta excels at that, but basically all US destroyers with twin 5" turrets with their fast reloads arge great for that…


Remember to tag tutorial and naval. 👍

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Oh right, thanks. I forgot.

Great advice, I’ve been using it always…

Just a side note… when the ammo of one or more turrets are gone, ranging shots stop to work.

Idk if it’s a feature ( I’m wondering why…) or it’s a bug.

Thank you for your guide to an unhistorical feature that real ships would never use because of the inherent limitations of optical rangefinding and naval artillery accuracy… I guess?

What makes sense for simulating an indirect fire battery in ground (which is what this mechanic would really be useful for) makes no sense for naval guns, which needed salvos to determine fall of shot reliably.

I look forward to future guides like this on other ways to game the War Thunder system to make it feel less immersive. (kidding, kidding)

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Wouldn’t say no to radars for range finding. It’s a shame Britain for example, can’t fire accurately without LoS like what happened with Belfast Vs Scharnhorst

Idrc if this feature is ahistorical because this guide isn’t about if it is historical or not, it’s just about how to use it.

Radar ranging’s main value is it gives over-visual horizon and night/low-vis capability, and in detecting changing surface target course and speed changes faster. Even ships with radar turrets fired groups of shells in a salvo though.

Full broadsides were pretty rare too, to be fair. The point was always to fire three- to four-shell groups and adjust. If you want the maximum historical experience, probably the closest we have in game currently is to use ranging fire with the turret ranging fire toggle in Control settings set to YES.

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Yes it is not historical, but the whole use of naval weaponry isn’t.

I think it would be best if the whole was revised: Why do we not have the possibility to select exactly when which guns fire? Shell groups vs single shots vs full broadsides?

And was it a thing that all canons always fire at the same target?

And what I dislike most: there is no way you can fix your guns on a target (or a azimuth and elevation). No, whenever someone looks out the bridge, magically all of those 100 ton turrets think they should follow that guy’s gaze on the other side…

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Another important thing here, this may depend on crew skills, but for me Atlanta reloads so fast that holding down ranging shot will not fire all the guns.

Once the first gun is finished reloading it switches to firing that, and the last two/three/four-ish guns never fire. The trick to solving this is to only hold down the ranging shot button for one “cycle”, and once it loops back to the first turret switch to holding the regular fire button; this will fire those remaining turrets, then fire every gun as soon as it reloads.

This only applies to a tiny number of ships, but it’s worth knowing. One can also bypass this, as well as get a sort of middle ground in general, by toggling on the turret ranging shot setting, which fires by whole turret instead of single gun per button press.

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Thank you. I did not know this because I currently don’t run the USS Atlanta in my lineups because I don’t run a 5.3 naval lineup.

I tested this feature one time and i absolutely love it. Thanks for making this post, without it i would probably never even have tried out this feature.

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Nice to hear!

I will have to use it more on IJN Isuzu, I think. That ship has really low capacity ready rack.

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