In an answer to this question (Why aren't phaser rifles used more often?), one author quote from Major Kira:

It's Federation standard issue. A little less powerful, but with more options; sixteen beam settings, fully autonomous recharge, multiple target acquisition, gyrostablized, the works.

If it has multiple target-acquisition, then theoretically you should never miss. I can see hand-phasers missing (unless they also have target acquisition) but why would a phaser-rifle miss? Bad targetting computers? Or are the phaser beams really slow and you can literally dodge them?

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    I would assume that it would automatically target anyone (not) wearing a red shirt.
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 1:23
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    A phaserbeam travels at the speed of light You can not dodge them.
    – Einer
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 8:09
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    The real, unanswerable, question is why Starfleet is so bad at designing weapons. Kirk-style phasers could take down a crowd with a wide-dispersal phaser beam. Just wave your phaser in the enemy's general direction, hold down the trigger and wait until they all hit the floor. TNG phasers apparently can't do this anymore. They missed obvious derivative weapons, too. Stun grenades? Nope. Aliens-style sentry guns? Nope. They started to get creative on DS9 during the Dominion War but until then it's as if they memory-wiped everyone who could design a weapon nastier than a toothpick.
    – Kyle Jones
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 19:54
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    If the "multiple target acquisition" works about as well as the auto-focus on most cameras, the issue isn't accuracy, it's time: by the time the target acquisition has locked on to anything, it's too late (The Niece[ahem, sorry]the enemy is half a football field away), so most people just aim roughly and fire, hoping for the best.
    – Martha
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 21:31
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    Starfleet with competent weapon designers would be terrifying. A boarding party on your starship shouldn't stand a chance, you control the environment entirely. Down to /gravity/. That actual humans have to walk over there and shoot at you is a clear sign that nobody in starfleet knows how to make a decent weapon.
    – Phoshi
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 14:06

1 Answer 1

  1. No technology can completely remove human error from the equation. There are cameras today that have image stabilization and multiple focus points that will track a moving object across the frame. Neither of these innovations has eliminated badly framed photographs, even when wielded by an experienced and determined photographer. You still have to point the camera and trip the shutter at the right time.

  2. Soldiers aren't always trying to shoot accurately. Sometimes they are laying down suppressive fire to keep the enemy from fulfilling some objective, be that advancing, retreating or being able keep his head up long enough to shoot accurately. So in Star Trek episodes where you see combatants missing their apparent targets, consider that they might just be trying to pin the enemy down.

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    Two thoughts: 1) I'd assume my camera in the 24th century would have excellent face detection, be able to focus in a nanosecond, and have essentially no shutter lag. 2) I don't think that suppression fire is the answer. Even when troops are advancing directly towards the Feds, they still miss.
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 23:14
  • @RoboKaren I expect, that we won't be making photos in 24th century at all (assuming, that humanas manage to survive that long; don't forget, that ST is an utopia!). When evaluating future technology development level, I always look back and take similar period of time. Photography exists for 150 years, so I don't expect it, in similar form as we know today, for longer than next 150-200 years (so 23rd century). Who knows? Maybe we'll be writing photographs directly to our memory or accessing our brains like photo album? :>
    – trejder
    Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 10:35
  • @trejder Well they did have holorecorders in some of the later episodes...
    – Andy
    Commented Dec 21, 2022 at 17:40

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