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A "Perfect Shot"

By Harry Hoover

I have long been passionate about helping or coaching people to be the best that they can in everything they want to do well at. It’s wonderful to see people who are passionate about something: their music, their fishing, or their sport, especially if it’s a shooting sport.

 

So, I was delighted when Richard at Serious Shooters in Auckland offered me an electronic Shooting Training tool to test, a tool that enables the user to identify everything they are doing well (or not so well) with their shooting skills.

 

The tool is called a “Mantis”. It’s a small motion sensitive device that records all your movements prior to and after the fall of the hammer. It fits on any spare section of picatinny rail and works for either dry firing or live firing.

 

The Mantis accurately records and graphs all movements in the brief period of time before the shot fires as well as all the movement of the gun after the shot. This enables the user to accurately see what happens, shot by shot, in the brief time period before and after shot release.

 

The Mantis is a compact unit that attaches via a short section of picatinny rail.

 

Most shooters will be aware that a “flinch” is the single biggest factor affecting accuracy, but “follow through” also plays a very important part in determining the direction of the shot.

 

Jerking the trigger when we fire the shot usually pulls the firearm away from the target. Once the shot has fired it is also critical that the sights are held on target for a brief period after the hammer fall. Even though the shot discharge occurs over a very brief time span, if the shooter gets into the habit of relaxing “as the shot fires”, then he very quickly begins to relax as the hammer is falling, and consequently, the sights move away from their intended position.

 

“It shows up even the smallest trigger control errors during live fire. As a training tool this is invaluable.”

 

Over the years I have seen many computer-oriented shooting training tools, usually in the hands of shooters or coaches performing Olympic type shooting skills. These devices generally consist of a sensor unit attached to the firearm linked with wires to a target down range. These are connected to a computer for detailed recording of shot to shot data.

 

Very useful, but all the units I have ever seen are cumbersome, expensive, difficult to set up and complicated to use.
The Mantis does all the above in a compact, wireless, very easy to use unit. All data is instantly available to either yourself or your coach, or the shooting buddy standing alongside you.

 

LEFT & RIGHT: The unit analyses your performance shot by shot and delivers a score; the Mantis records every minor deflection of the sights and barrel.

 

The Mantis definitely helps the user learn to correct and improve all the techniques of firing a perfect shot. Once attached to any firearm, the Mantis unit links (via Bluetooth) to your smart phone or tablet/computer and allows you to fire a shot (dry fire or live fire) and instantly see what actually happened during the firing process.

 

Most shooters will understand that “where the sights are at the moment of discharge is where the shot goes”, and anything that changes that sight alignment will influence where the shot hits. Although this is not intended to be a coaching article, here’s  a brief reminder.

 

There are only two things required to fire a single perfect shot:

 

  • Line the sights up where you want the shot to go.
  • Release the trigger without disturbing (or changing) the sight alignment.

 

Everything else (stance, grip, breathing, follow-through, etc.) are only tools that help you achieve the above two things. I should probably define a perfect shot. Obviously, a perfect shot for a benchrest shooter is different than a perfect shot for a hunter. The X-ring on a target might be a perfect shot, the rest of the target is simply a scoring shot.

 

It is possible to fire a perfect shot even if you have a poor stance, a poor grip, etc, but the above two items must still be simultaneously perfect, closely followed by correct follow-through.

 

"Five minutes with the Mantis dry firing, then swapping to live fire shooting showed some very interesting results for everyone who tested it."

 

The first and most obvious training tool for learning how to fire a perfect shot is dry firing your own firearm (unloaded) in a safe environment.

 

Often the shooter can achieve the skills required in dry-fire, but as soon as he swaps to live fire an unconscious flinch can creep in, caused by the anticipation of recoil. This is where the Mantis excels. It shows up even the smallest trigger control errors during live fire. As a training tool this is invaluable. I took the device to my local Pistol Club and everyone who used it was truly amazed. Five minutes with the Mantis dry firing, then swapping to live fire shooting showed some very interesting results for everyone who tested it.

 

Lining up the “perfect shot”..! Shooters at Harry’s club found the Mantis great for identifying sighting errors.

 

Everyone’s shooting performance improved after 15 minutes coaching with the Mantis. Yep, mine as well, and I would consider myself a normally good shooter. Even dry firing at home with perfect conditions, I can’t achieve a 100% perfect shot on the Mantis. I’ve gotten close, (99%), but I can’t achieve the 100% (yet). If nothing else, it shows that many of us can still find something useful to learn.

 

There are several video clips on YouTube about using the Mantis but all you need is in the kit itself. Personally, I love it. It’s seriously well designed and thought out. If you are serious about improving your shooting skills, this is the ultimate tool. Richard and the guys at Serious Shooters are the guys to talk to if you want one.

 

Harry

 

FOOTNOTE:

The Mantis has far too many features to mention here. It can be set up on any firearm with a piece of vacant picatinny rail, or even temporarily attached to a piece of rail taped to the barrel or stock. The instructions/programme are easy to use, step by step and well explained. It’s USB rechargeable and the software is free to download to your device.

 

You can train with groups and link your results with those of your friends.

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