Close Look: Targets, Training, and Shooting Apps


How do you become a better shooter? Practice, practice, practice! How do you track and measure results without boring yourself into oblivion? Take advantage of some of the industry’s more creative and effective training tools. Check out this collection of some of our favorites.

Mantis X10 Elite

If we’re talking about skill development on the raw mechanics of shooting, there’s not a better training and analysis tool than the Mantis X10 Elite. This little wonder mounts on a forward rail or magazine base and contains ultra-sensitive sensors to detect movement of your firearm before, during and after a shot.

At its core, the system, paired with your smartphone or tablet, analyzes gun movement as you shoot, so you’ll see whether you’re causing movement during the trigger press. That’s just the beginning. You can also view precisely what happens during recoil so you can fine tune your grip. Want to work on your draw? Mantis breaks it into five components, tracking motion and time for each segment so you can shave off tenths or hundredths of seconds. There’s much, much more and new software updates come out regularly.

It works just fine when dry firing too. For added realism, mount it to a CO2-powered air pistol, with or without pellets, to add some recoil sensation to your at-home practice. This is the best way to improve your mechanics at home and at the range.

MSRP: $249.

LaserLyte Trainer Cartridges

If you can do quality training at home, you can rack up big performance gains without firing a shot. Most of us can’t head to the range every day or so, much less afford the ammo bill, but it’s easy to find a few minutes here and there to practice dry firing at home. The fly in the ointment is dry fire practice can be boring. It also doesn’t offer “success” feedback. While you can watch the front sight for movement, you never really know if an actual shot would have been on target.

The LaserLyte Trainer Cartridge is a high-tech snap cap. Made of brass with a spring-loaded “primer” the unit beams a laser out the front end when the firing pin strikes the “primer” surface. Since the laser goes right through the barrel in a perfectly straight line, you see your virtual impact on the dry fire target of your choice: wall, paper target, woodpile or whatever serves as your practice backstop.

On its own, the unit adds critical feedback to dry fire practice, but it really shines when you combine it with other tools like interactive laser targets or even smartphone apps. Read on for more on those.

MSRP: $105.

Aguila Colibri Rimfire Ammo

Are we really talking about ammo in a story about targets and training tools? Yes. If you have a rimfire pistol or revolver, this ammo adds a whole new dimension to training.

The Aguila 22 Colibri is a powderless rimfire cartridge. Huh? No powder? That’s right. The 20-gr. projectile is driven by the primer only. The resulting velocity is rated at 420 feet per second. From my S&W M&P22 Compact pistol, it’s even lower.

These low-powered rimfire cartridges usually won’t cycle a semi-automatic, so you’ll have to rack the slide. Revolvers work like a champ. Also, don’t use these in rifles — the bullet may not have enough juice to get out of the barrel.
The training benefit is they are supremely quiet. The light projectile at low velocity reduces penetration risk so you have more flexibility with targets and backstops.

You can find it for just over $40 per brick.

LaserLyte Quick Tyme Interactive Target

If you have a dedicated laser training pistol or snap cap laser cartridges like the LaserLyte Trainer Cartridges, why not add an interactive target to your at-home training range?

This one offers a laser-sensitive target with 62 LED lights behind it to show points of impact for each shot. Separate “target” areas serve as buttons to start and reset the device by shooting. The target includes a shot timer so it’s great for practicing drills like draw to first shot on target.

If you want a fancier version with a more precise hit location display, check out the Score Tyme model.
MSRP: $200.

Tactical Target Systems

If you carry concealed, be sure to check out the realistic targets from Tactical Target Systems. In real life, threats don’t come equipped with bright orange aiming points or bullseyes — it’s up to you to know where to hit. You probably won’t get any immediate feedback of where your shots land either, so it’s important to train accordingly.

The company’s Self Defense Target line features realistic “bad guy” imagery with a twist. Subtly overlaid on the target are anatomical features complete with scoring zones based on your hit’s ability to stop an attacker. Unlike traditional bullseye or silhouette targets, you’ll be scored on fight stopping impact points. You also won’t see bright orange or white “splashes” around your bullet holes either. In fact, you may not know exactly where your hits land until you approach your target to evaluate your performance, and that’s by design, just like real life.

A set of 25 runs $29.95.

iDryFire Laser Target System

Whether you’re a serious competitor, tactical ninja, or just dedicated to improving your skills, there’s nothing like a multi-target range to make you better. The iDryFire system allows you to build a range right in your home without risk of perforating your furniture.

Using infrared laser cartridges and your actual firearms (you can also use a laser trainer pistol) you set up multiple targets however you like. Create barriers, set up a course requiring shooting and moving, or whatever best fits your training needs. Using one or more sensor cameras to watch the targets for impact allows the Mac or PC software to monitor and score your performance.

Check out the videos on the company’s website to see just how you can set up full-blown USPSA stages right in your living room.

Prices range from $129.99 to $449.99 depending on options.

SIRT Training Pistol

The SIRT (Shot Indicating Resetting Trigger) pistol is inert but built with realistic training features. As the name implies, the big deal is the resetting (and very realistic) trigger — no more racking the slide between shots when dry firing. That’s not only convenient, it allows you to practice multiple shot strings and rapid fire from the comfort of your home.

When you press the trigger, the pistol beams a laser to show your point of impact on target. You can order two different styles of SIRT pistols, one resembling a GLOCK 17 and the other a S&W M&P pistol. Between the two, you’ve covered the basic grip angle configurations of most pistols on the market. You can also choose between red and green lasers.
The SIRT is compatible with many laser training target systems, so be sure to check before assembling your at-home training range. Oh, and the SIRT includes a realistically weighted magazine. Order a spare mag or two and develop reloading skills too.

MSRP: $239 to $439.

Competition Edge Dynamics CED 7000 Shot Timer

If you want to improve your competition or defensive gun handling skills, one of the best investments you can make is a quality shot timer. Using a timer not only grades your performance objectively, it adds just a little of stress to your routine to expose flaws and weaknesses in your skill set.

The basic mode of operation is simple. The timer emits a starting beep, prompting you to do whatever it is you want to train. If you’re practicing draws and getting a first shot on target, it’ll give you a random starting prompt at which point you draw, aim and fire. A sophisticated microphone detects the noise of gunshots and records the elapsed time for each. If you’re timing the draw to first shot, just stop after you fire and review the time. Since timers keep a running tally until you tell them to quit, you can fire as many shots as you like and see not only the total time elapsed but the split times between each shot. A par time mode allows you to set a starting and ending duration. If you’re at home dry firing, you might set a par time for 1.5 seconds to draw and fire. You’ll hear the starting beep followed by a “drill over” beep 1.5 seconds later.

I like the CED 7000 for personal use because it’s compact and USB rechargeable. Just hang it around your neck and you can run drills yourself.

MSRP: $129.95.

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