Marksmanship Talent Guide

This Marksmanship Talent Guide goes over each of the talents in the talent tree meant to allow you to do the most ranged damage. The marksmanship talent tree has traditionally been by far the most popular talent tree, at one point almost 85% of all hunters were marksman based. However, recently the other talent trees have started to gain favour, especially beast mastery, but most hunters are still marksmanship based.

The tree focuses on ranged attack power, critical hits and extra ranged shot types. It is a solid all around talent tree that allows good raid DPS as well as PvP ability. It is slightly lower in raid DPS than Beast Mastery but still respectable.

Tier 1

Tier 1 is available at level ten, when your first talents open up.

  • Improved Concussive Shot - Max 2 points, increases the duration of your concussive shot's daze effect by up to 2 seconds.
    • This ability helps delay opponents from reaching you.
    • In PvP it is almost a must, as any chance to slow down your opponent is invaluable.
    • Recommended for PvP
  • Focused Aim - Max 3 points, Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting Steady Shot by up to 70%, and increases your chance to hit by 3%.
    • The push back avoidance on Steady Shot is not that great and you should not be being hit at all.
    • The hit bonus is critical though for anyone that is raiding, so that you can save itemization points when gearing for hit cap.
    • Required for Raiders
  • Lethal Shots - Max 5 points, increases your critical strike chance with ranged weapons by up to 5%.
    • A 5% crit increase for 5 points is a solid talent and one that almost no hunter passes up.
    • Almost a 100% lock for your first 5 points in the tree.
    • Must have talent

Tier 2

Tier 2 talents are available as soon as you have 5 points in that talent tree.

  • Mortal Shots - Max 5 points, increases your ranged weapon critical strike damage by up to 30%.
    • This talent provides huge upgrades in critical strike damage.
    • At level 70 where critical's can easily hit 2000+ a 2000 point critical hit becomes 2500+.
    • Hard to say anything bad about this talent, especially for PvP players where burst damage is king!
    • Must have talent
  • Improved Hunter's Mark -
    Max 3 points, increase the bonus attack power granted by your Hunter's Mark ability by up to 30% and reduces the mana cost of your Hunter's Mark ability by up to 100%.
    • This talent boosts Hunter's Mark bonus by a significant amount and makes it free to cast, what more could you want.
    • Recommended
  • Careful Aim - Max 3 points, increases your ranged attack power by an amount equal to by up to 100% of your intellect.
    • By the end game you will have quite a bit of intellect so that you have a large mana pool, this ability makes the most of it by providing more ranged attack power (RAP) from it. This makes picking gear easier as you can select some gear with bonus intellect and not be as concerned about gimping your DPS.
    • A great combo ability with combat experience as that 6% boost to your intellect will result in almost an extra 5% RAP increase from your intellect.
    • Recommended

Tier 3

Tier 3 talents are available as soon as you have 10 points in that talent tree.

  • Go For The Throat - Max 2 points, when you critically hit with a ranged attack your pet will generate up to 50 focus.
    • Considered a must for Beast Master hunters and a real bonus for any other hunter that wants their pet to have focus to continue to attack with abilities at all times.
    • This talent allows your pet to continue to put out damage with its special attack, or even to just keep growling to hold aggro. Either one drops your target faster as both the extra damage and the not having to run from a target to reestablish range both help.
    • Recommended
  • Improved Arcane Shot - Max 3 points, Increases the damage done by your Arcane Shot by up to 15%.
    • Provides a great boost to one of your instant shots, which is on a fairly short cooldown.
    • Recommended
  • Aimed Shot - 1 point skill, this shot increases ranged damage of that shot and applies an 10 second healing debuff that reduces healing by 50%.
    • This ability hits pretty hard but and applies a healing debuff.
    • Other shots do more damage so it tends to be used more in PvP for its debuff ability that for its damage.
    • Extremely strong in PvP where the healing debuff can make a huge difference in a fight.
    • Strongly recommended
  • Rapid Killing - Max 2 points, reduces your rapid fire abilities cooldown by up to 2 minutes. In addition after killing an opponent that yields honour or experience your next aimed shot, arcane shot or auto shot (within the next 20 seconds) causes up to 20% additional damage.
    • This ability provides a good boost in raid damage, allowing you to use it almost every pull (at least every other pull).
    • If you don't use it though, it is a waste of talent points, and many players never bother to pop the ability often enough.
    • If you use rapid fire, grab it you'll love it.

Tier 4

Tier 4 talents are available as soon as you have 15 points in that talent tree.

  • Efficiency - Max 5 points, reduces the mana cost of your shots and stings by up to 10%.
    • A nice talent as it effectively provides almost 10% additional mana.
    • Allows you to put out more special shots before running out of mana (OOM) in long fights.
    • Viewed in high regard by raiders, but generally ignorable to everyone else.
  • Improved Stings - Max 3 points, increases the damage done by your serpent and wyvern stings by up to 30%, increases the mana drained by your viper sting by up to 30% and reduces the chance your stings will be dispelled by up to 30%.
    • Provides a nice increase to your DPS by upping your sting damage significantly.
    • Great for PvP players that constantly use viper sting on enemy healer.
    • Over all a great talent if you use stings and are going deeper into the marksmanship talent tree, it's very hard to find points for given the other talent at this level...
    • Recommended

Tier 5

Tier 5 talents are available as soon as you have 20 points in that talent tree.

  • Concussive Barrage - Max 3 points, your auto shot attacks have up to a 6% chance to daze the target for 4 seconds.
    • 6% is not a lot in PvE but adds up quickly in PvP where any amount of time dazed is huge.
    • Allows you the time to pull of aimed shots more often when it proc's
    • Skip for PvE, take it for PvP
  • Barrage - Max 3 points, increases the damage done by your multi-shot, Aimed Shot and Volley attacks by up to 12%.
    • They already cause decent damage and this is a nice upgrade.
    • The only real issue is in PvE were many times you will not be able to use it due to CC'ed targets in the area.
    • Worth learning how and when to use the shots though as the DPS increase can be significant.
    • Recommended

  • Readiness - 1 point skill, Immediately finishes the cooldown on of all your other Hunter abilities.
    • This is a great ability that allows you to do extra damage or get out of a tight situation when needed.
    • Can be useful for any situation whether PvE or PvP.
    • Recommended

Tier 6

Tier 6 talents are available as soon as you have 25 points in that talent tree.

  • Combat Experience - Max 2 points, increases your total agility and Intellect by up to 4%.
    • Both stats are key hunter stats, agility provides a better critical hit chance and attack power bonus, while intellect allows you to use more special attacks.
    • Very nice to have but not absolutely needed
  • Ranged Weapon Specialization - Max 5 points, increases the damage you cause with ranged weapons by up to 5%.
    • 5% extra damage for 5 points is almost a no-brainer.
    • Scales with you, as your gear gets better the 5% bonus grows as well.
    • This is an amazing talent if you are this far down into marksmanship already.
    • Must have talent

Tier 7

Tier 7 talents are available as soon as you have 30 points in that talent tree.

  • Piercing Shots - Max 3 points, this talent allows your Steady Shot and Aimed Shot abilities ignore up to 6% of your target's armour.
    • Steady Shot is a normal shot in your rotation and as such anything that raises its damage is a worth some points.
    • Add to the above Aimed Shot is one of your best PvP shots and having it ignore armour, makes the talent even better.
    • Recommended

  • Trueshot Aura - 1 point skill, this aura increases the ranges and melee attack power of all party members within 45 yards.
    • This is a very strong ability for raiding hunters as it adds 125 attack power at rank , which when placed in a melee group can really add up.
    • Not very useful while solo playing other than as a slight bonus to your pet.
    • Recommended for Raiders
  • Improved Barrage - Max 3 points, increases the critical strike chance of your multi-shot ability by up to 12% and gives you up to a 100% chance to avoid interruption while casting volley.
    • A nice talent if you constantly use these abilities.
    • The extra damage is great, however the real key is the non-interruptible volley.
    • With the change to the game with the release of Wrath of the Lich King and the dominance of AoE attacks this ability is key if you plan on grouping.
    • Strongly Recommended

Tier 8

Tier 8 talents are available as soon as you have 35 points in that talent tree.

  • Master Marksman - Max 5 points, this talent increases your critical strike chance by up to 5%, and reduces the Mana cost of your Steady Shot by up to 25%."
    • 5% critical hit is almost worth the talent points alone.
    • You will be using Steady Shot in your normal rotation though, so the mana savings makes this a very good talent as every 4th shot will be free.
    • Recommended
  • Rapid Recuperation - Max 2 points. Reduces the mana and focus cost of all shots and abilities by you and your pet by up to 60% while under the effect of Rapid Fire, and you gain 2% of your mana every 2 sec for 6 sec when you gain Rapid Killing.
    • Rapid Killing is an ability that should be used every time it is up. This talent allows you to do all the damage you can while saving mana.
    • Highly Recommended

Tier 9

Tier 9 talents are available as soon as you have 40 points in that talent tree.

  • Wild Quiver - Max 3 points. You have up to a 10% chance to shoot an additional shot when doing damage with your auto shot, dealing 50% Nature damage. Wild Quiver consumes no ammo.
    • This is essentially free damage since it procs off of you normal shots and does not consume any ammo.
    • It can add a significant amount of damage over time.
    • Recommended

  • Silencing Shot - 1 point skill, this shot deals 50% of your weapon damage and silences the target for 3 seconds. The ability has a 20 second cooldown.
    • This ability combined with scatter shot and concussive shot provides a marksmanship based hunter huge control over casters. You can interrupt, confuse, daze or trap them into submission.
    • While useful in PvE it truly shines when controlling an opponent in PvE.
    • Recommended
  • Improved Steady Shot - Max 3 Points. Your Steady Shot hits have up to a 15% chance to increase the damage done by your next Aimed Shot, Arcane Shot or Chimera Shot by 15%, and reduce the mana cost of your next Aimed Shot, Arcane Shot or Chimera Shot by 20%
    • Steady shot is a main shot in your rotation, so you could use it until it procs the bonus and then use your other shot.
    • The damage increase is nice as in the reduced mana cost.
    • This deep in Marksmanship you should grab any damage increase you can.
    • Recommended

Tier 10

Tier 10 talents are available as soon as you have 45 points in that talent tree.

  • Marked for Death- Max 5 points. Increases your damage done by your shots and the damage done by your pet's special abilities by up to 5% on market targets, and increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Aimed Shot, Steady Shot, Kill Shot or Chimera Shot by 10%.
    • This provides a 5% boost in normal damage and a slight boost in your pet's damage.
    • Raises your critical hit damage which is good in all situations, but great in PvP for burst damage when trying to drop an opponent.
    • Recommended

Tier 11

Tier 11 is the top tier talent and is available as soon as you have 50 points in that talent tree.

  • Chimera Shot - 1 point skill, you deal 125% weapon damage, refreshing the current Sting on your target and triggering an effect: Serpent Sting - Instantly deals 40% of the damage done by your Serpent Sting. Viper Sting - Instantly restores mana to you equal to 60% of the total amount drained by your Viper Sting. Scorpid Sting - Attempts to Disarm the target for 10 sec. This effect cannot occur more than once per 1 minute."
    • This shot shifts it effect based on what sting is active on the talent.
    • When combined with Serpent Sting it can be a significant amount of damage.
    • With only a 10 second cooldown it can become a real part of your shot and damage rotation.
    • Recommended

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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

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Byron has been playing and writing about World of Warcraft for the past ten years. He also plays pretty much ever other Blizzard game, currently focusing on Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone, while still finding time to jump into Diablo III with his son.


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