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             H
      {o}

      D      S

The S in this case is the sentry. The D is a demoman, running towards sentry with Grenade Launcher. The H is a heavy, firing at the sentry. The o is a scout, and he is concurrently capping a point ({}signifies a cap point)

Will the sentry shoot the scout first? Demoman first? How does it pick its targets? Is it random?

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1  
Whatever's closest to the sentry will draw fire - even if the target is invalid (ie, an ubercharged player or a Scout with Bonk!). Typically if you're a medic ubering another player, you want to run in front of them, so that the sentry's knockback carries you rather than them. There's probably special cases I'm not accounting for though (ie, wrangler) :) –  agent86 May 25 '12 at 19:26
    
So even if a player is capping a point, it'll target those that are closest to it? –  lumbricus lubricant May 25 '12 at 19:29
6  
The sentry cares not for your silly points. It simply shoots at whatever is closest until it is destroyed or runs out of ammo. –  agent86 May 25 '12 at 19:30
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1 Answer

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Whoever is closest to the Sentry Gun within its range will be targeted by it. If the target moves away such that another target becomes the closest, the Sentry Gun will switch to that next closest target. This is why during an ÜberCharge, it's recommended that a Medic stand between his patient and the sentry to tank its gunfire, so that his patient can damage it.

Highly-coordinated team movements could theoretically cause a sentry to turn back and forth without allowing it to open much fire and cause too much damage, but given a typical game's fast pace, I haven't observed that happen yet.

Note that it doesn't matter what a target is doing; only their position relative to the Sentry Gun matters. Whether the Scout is on the control point or not, if he's the closest to the Sentry Gun then it will fire at him. Whether the Demoman or Heavy is firing at it, whoever is closest will be targeted.

Also, if there's a Spy using Your Eternal Reward, then as long as he is disguised he will never be targeted by a Sentry Gun, even if he backstabs somebody while already disguised and within its range.

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Maybe it's good to mention the fact that even if the closest person is a bonked scout or ubered medic/target the gun will still shoot them, hence the effectiveness of bonked scouts –  Dycker May 27 '12 at 23:15
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