Stormtroopers are crack shots in Star Wars just like Obi-Wan Kenobi said. They wade through the rebels at the beginning of the movie, taking few losses. Obi-Wan points out specific shots to Luke at the Jawa massacre to prove it wasn’t Sand People. The Stormtroopers want to take everyone alive in Mos Eisley. Even the Star-destroyers could have easily blasted the Millennium Falcon out of the sky, but they don’t. They want those droids. They want to know who’s got those droids and if the data has already been lifted. The Falcon is then treated with kid-gloves at the Death Star. It’s captured. It’s cautiously examined, which is why our plucky young heroes are able to get the drop on a pair of troopers. The Stormtrooper or two in the detention area are taken completely by surprise. Next thing we know, the troopers can’t seem to hit the broadside of a barn. Orders, they have to let the rebels escape, but they’ve got to make it look convincing. It has to look like they were really trying to stop them. They have to miss while making it look like they weren’t trying to miss. The Stormtroopers sent to retake the cell block already know the rebels have to be allowed to escape, which is why they keep missing three people standing in a hallway with basically no cover.
Cut to Empire Strikes Back, and the Stormtroopers are cleaning up on Hoth. Then, we get to Cloud City, and they are under orders to take the prisoners alive. Now, I don’t know why they didn’t switch to stun, which they had no trouble doing on the blockade runner in Star Wars, but they don’t on Cloud City. Since stun is blue, it’s possible they knew that stun blasts would encourage the rebels to fight back, resulting in more loss of life. Maybe, it was more efficient to drive them to the hyperspace disabled ship where they would be very, very easily caught by tractor beam. They certainly had no reason to believe an astro-droid would act on its own initiative to re-activate the hyperdrive.
Finally, the Stormtroopers clean up on Endor. An impressively precise shot takes out R2D2. Then, while jumping in and out of cover in an effort to avoid getting hit themselves, they keep enough situational awareness to subdue the main rebel they are under orders to capture without killing her. It’s not their fault the rebel leader is such a badass she takes out two troopers after having been wounded.
Now, to be fair, I’ve been as guilty of believing that stormtroopers were incompetent as anyone. I remember hearing that stormtroopers couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn as far back as an old text-only adventure game, and I wish I could remember the name of the text-adventure company. It was a seriously small outfit churning out these games about the same time as Zork was crushing the competition on the old Apple 2 Plus. Oh, shit, except I just hit the mark with an Internet search. I’m referring to that legendary game designer Scott Adams. I sucked at his text-adventure games, but they were still awesome, all the same. It’s not mentioned on Wikipedia, but I swear he did a Star Wars game, too. Maybe, I’ve got the wrong developer, but I’m pretty sure it was this guy.
Anyway, it didn’t finally sink in that Stormtroopers were crack shots missing for very specific reasons until this year.