Hunter Kindergarten: Intro to Steady Shot

So, you’ve reached level 50 with your hunter. Congratulations! One of my hunters just hit level 50 as well! His name is Althalor, and he’s a very deliciously good looking Blood Elf who lives with Tauren. This is him:


See, told you he was cute!

When you are level 50, you learn Steady Shot, and because this is a very important shot to all hunters, we’re giving it its own special post. Hunter Kindergarten is in session!

History Lesson: Steady Shot was introduced in Burning Crusade and originally you got it at level 62. It had a relatively short cast time, and it had to be used at very specific intervals to avoid “clipping” your Auto Shots, which would gimp your DPS. To get around this, many people made a macro which automated this process. As for me, well, that completely defeated one of the biggest reasons I enjoyed hunters so much, so I always hand-wove my Steadies.

With Wrath of the Lich King, Steady Shot was overhauled entirely. It was removed from being linked with Auto Shot so you no longer had to worry about timing, although its cast-time was made slightly longer. Unfortunately this meant all Beast Masters had to do was spam Steady over and over, which was heinously boring to me just as using the macro was in Burning Crusade, and it almost had me switching specs.

Never fear, Blizz came along with a Steady Shot nerf and an Arcane Shot buff and here we are today!

Today’s Steady Shot: Steady Shot, in and of itself, is not a very good shot, damage-wise. In fact, it’s pretty bad. For a lot of hunters, it does less damage than Auto Shot.

I see you raising your hand there, ready to ask why we use it then. Simple: it’s there to use when you can’t use anything else. And remember, even a little extra damage is still extra damage.

Keep in mind that because Steady Shot does have a cast time, it cannot be used while moving, and in my experience, you will rarely use it in PvP.

How And When: In general, Steady Shot is for use when everything else is on cooldown. Beast Master and Survival Hunters in particular will find themselves using it more than a Marksmanship hunter would, because a Marksmanship hunter has a few more shots to use. You don’t want to use it more than is necessary, though, because it typically does not do as much damage as any of your other shots. There are of course exceptions to the rule; for example, I know of Marksmanship hunters with very high amounts of Armor Penetration who are able to drop Arcane Shot from their rotation in favor of more Steadies, since Steadies are positively affected by Armor Penetration. For the most part, though, Steady Shot should be the lowest rung on the ladder. Basically, you always want to be doing some sort of special shot to fill in your Auto Shots, and since Steady has no cooldown, it fits the bill a lot of the time.

Glyph of Steady Shot is a very good glyph that many hunters tend to use, because pretty much all specs are using Serpent Sting now for various reasons and because a 10% boost to a shot that you are using so frequently is definitely not bad. Keep an eye out for it, and snag it when you can!

Warnings!: For a low level hunter who already has mana issues, Steady Shot is really going to exacerbate them. Some leveling hunters opt to forego using Steady Shot very much at these low levels to avoid this issue. Others, like me, JUST HAVE TO USE IT NO MATTER WHAT BECAUSE SHOT ROTATIONS ARE FUN AND SQUEE.


You try it out for yourself and decide. >.>

Conclusion: Steady Shot has come a long way. It was designed to be a “filler shot”, was inadvertently turned into our main shot, and has finally been tuned into actually being a filler shot. Don’t treat him too badly, though; we may have broken up with him but he’s still a decent friend when no one else is around.

…nice guys finish last, don’t they…? *gently pats Steady Shot*

12 thoughts on “Hunter Kindergarten: Intro to Steady Shot”

  1. I can has permission to reroll on your Horde server, follow your Blood elf around, and /squee? You make em CUTE. o.o

    Awesome post, and I’m totally going to link it whenever I run into folks who either (1) think steady spam is the way to go / lol hunters have a one spell rotation! or (2) never use steady shot ever because the damage got nerfed.

    PS: I always hand-wove my shots, too. 😉

  2. Lowest rung on the ladder? Maybe, but its also the most mana efficient shot – at least in a BM arsenal.
    When levelling my hunter my shot rotation is usually serpent sting (glyphed), followed by lots of steadies till the mob is dead. Arcane/multi/aimed being too much of a mana hog.

    I dont know if you have noticed in a 5/10/25 man instance/raid, but with a std BM build, a bit of haste from gear and haste from other party members will make the cast time of steadyshot SHORTER than its global cooldown.
    So i end up watching the global cooldown, rather than the castbar.

  3. I’ve got a love hate relationship with steady shot. When i’m raiding as a BM my steady shot hotkey is the button I’m mashing relentlessly (I’m sorry #5). It’s used when arcane/multi shot is on CD and when I don’t need to refresh serpent sting. Unfortunately it is still a pathetically weak shot; a lot of times doing less damage than auto shot. However, for BM steady shot does the 2nd most amount of damage, next to auto shot and its crits proc cobra strikes (I think that’s what it’s called). And since BM doesn’t have its own unique shot, steady shot is going to be the most used speical ability I use. Good thing conqueror and windrunner 4 piece set bonuses have a nice proc effect using steady shot.

  4. Something needs to be done for the Hunter Class. When Wrath first went live I thought BM hunters were about where we needed to be with DPS etc., but Hunters and pets got nerfed badly after that. Example: While doing the fishing quest in wintergrasp the other day, a horde squishy slipped up behind me and ambushed me. I’m not sure what it was, could have been a lock or mage. He killed me with Two (2) shots of whatever he used. Looked like a fire bolt of some kind. I have 19.5K health unbuffed and didn’t have a chance to even turn around. Down I went. The trouble is … I’ve never been able to two-shot another level 80 anything … mob or player. I see Squishes killing same level mobs all the time with two shots and sometimes less. So it makes no difference what shots a hunter uses, Steady shot or whatever, until hunters can kill another player or mob with two shots things ain’t right. Something needs to be done.

  5. @ Ellifain – Actually, Arcane and Steady cost the exact same amount of mana. So, you’ve no reason not to use Arcane when it’s up! *nodnod*

    @ Kate – Isn’t he CUTE? /squee

  6. Yay, thanks for the clarification! I have a lvl 71 hunter alt, and I feel like such a huntard at times because I don’t understand shot rotations… steady shot in particular was a mystery to me. This makes much more sense than whatever twisted logic I had come up with on my own xD;. Thank you!

    (And I just have to ask… is “Sata Andagi” an Azumanga Daioh reference..?! Love that show xD)

  7. @Rock

    That “two-shot” problem is kind of built into the whole BM spec. It’s about impossible to remove from it too.

    The reason being that, as a Beast Master, nearly 1/2 of our damage comes from our pet. The 2-shot damage is still there (in theory) but it would require more of a “four-shot” to achieve (2 from you and 2 from your pet).

    I’ve done extensive Beast Mastery PvP in battlegrounds in the 50s and 60s brackets (about 43,000 kills worth) and where as I have been hit for as much as 5400 before in a battleground, I have never once hit for over 1650 on any attack. Yet I am still consistently in the 1, 2, or 3 spot in damage and kills and whatnot… so the damage potential is there.

    That being said, “being surprised” is not our friend in PvP either… we have a ton of tricks (like Intimidation) at our disposal, but it means very little when an off-guard attack hits us for 1/2 our health.

  8. @ Ellifain – As an addendum to my previous comment, I noticed today that while Arcane Shot and Steady Shot cost the exact same amount of mana at max level, Arcane Shot is in fact, curiously slightly more expensive than Steady at lower levels. I’m not sure why this is, and I still say it is a small enough difference that it wouldn’t warrant dropping Arcane Shot while leveling. However, that is just me!

  9. Steady Shot confused the *hell* out of me when I first trained it! I never thought I’d be firing it 3 times for every Arcane Shot later on 😛

    As regards dropping Arcane shot while levelling, I think it’s worth remembering that Arcane disregards armor. If you kill your target three or four shots earlier than using exclusively steady shot, then that’s more mana-efficient in the long term!

    As Pike’s fond of observing, though, your mileage may vary 😛
    If you find yourself going OOM more frequently with arcane in your rotation and this is unacceptable to you, I’d actively encourage you to disregard everything I’ve said!

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