It's worth a shot

Posted by Lewis on October 24, 2005

In Reply to: It's worth a shot posted by Victoria S Dennis on October 23, 2005

: : Does anybody know the origin of the phrase "It's worth a shot"? As in - You might not succeed but you might as well try. I read it in a short story recently - it was said by a Frenchman which I found a little incongruous as I've always thought of it as American.

: I've always assumed that the shot in question is a cartridge for one's gun, that "it" is a bird / rabbit / other potential dinner, and that the phrase means that the speaker judges that there is a good enough chance of hitting the target to make it worth the cost of the cartridge. (VSD)

slings probably preceded bows, but they generally use small stones as ammunition which doesn't cost. archers put more effort into their munitions so would try to recover undamaged arrows that missed the target.
archers might well have been the first people to need to judge whether the chances of hitting the target justified the loss of an arrow.

also, the cost might be higher than a piece of ammunition - somebody in cover would reveal themselves by shooting and the consequences of a miss could be their life.