You already understand the benefits of dry fire training, but different systems will have their own plateaus, and that’s what we’re looking to explore in this comparison of today’s most popular dry fire training tools.
When shopping for the right dry fire training system there is one important question:
What are my goals?
Are you a hunter looking to ethically make the next kill; a competitive shooter wanting to both stay sharp and get an edge; or someone wanting to gain confidence with their carry weapon - maybe a mix of that and more?
Considerations to attain the above goals are:
To be clear, there are “training scars,” that no off-the-shelf product can heal for you. Just as owning a heavy bag doesn’t prepare you to step in the ring, there is no shortcut to becoming a proficient shooter; professional instruction is key. That said, as we’ll see, some systems are more valuable than others in regards to building on this foundation.
The benefits of being able to dry fire practice with the exact same equipment you use live is apparent. Especially for those who make additions or adjustments to their “stock” configuration, true replication requires fine-tuning and potential additional costs. To what extent are you looking to improve and on what specific firearm platform or platforms?
Dry Fire Pistol Training
With the exception of SIRT, iTarget and MantisX offer a product that allows you to use your own handgun. Of course, SIRTs specialty is in their training pistols.
SIRT offers quality approximations of a variety of pistols to stand in for your actual firearm, giving you the general weight and feel of the out-of-the-box version of the real thing. Important considerations here are trigger feel and sights. SIRT pistols offer an adjustable trigger -- giving you a chance at replicating your actual trigger pull -- and their “SPOT” sight that imitates a red dot. If you run a reflex sight on your pistol, it’s crucial to train with one as well to aid in muscle memory for presentation and quick acquisition.
Dry Fire Rifle Training
The limitations for most of the offerings here are that the majority only provide products that fit .223/.556 caliber rifles. The MantisX is not limited to caliber, as it’s attached via picatinny rail or adapter.
Dry Fire Shotgun Training
MantisX is the only one of the group with shotgun fit and functionality, covering hunting, sport, and tactical applications.
The base setup is a static target and app that provides instant feedback on where your shots land, tallying your shot count and score on the seven-ringed target. For an additional cost you can also unlock “Quickdraw”, where the app records your time and accuracy score from a prompted holster draw session. Shooting prompts, audible feedback, and scoring is provided through your mobile device via iTarget's app.
A SIRT pistol’s feedback comes in the form of self-diagnosis based on watching the movement of the laser during your shot. SIRT has different colors delineating the trigger take-up vs the shot itself, which gives you a chance to see if you’re on-target in the first place, as well as where the most movement in your entire shooting process is.
The MantisX system’s unique focus is on the mechanics of every shot; the shot-to-shot feedback acquired is fed to you through an app that can be downloaded to your mobile device or tablet, tracking:
Based on the above data a score will be calculated along with a potential diagnosis, and explanation, of how to improve your technique. Whereas the ocular sample rate of the human eye has limitations and can leave subtleties to conjecture, the MantisX system “sees” what we cannot.
The app also records sessions, allowing you to analyze a day’s practice, up to your lifetime with the tool. There’s also the option to create groups, useful for sharing data with an instructor, as well as individuals looking to compete with friends and family.
Every system here will help you improve your shooting aptitude, provided you put in the time and use them. That said, the conclusion is truly yours to draw; once again, ask yourself the question of what are your shooting goals. From there, which product has the highest ceiling and is most likely to help you meet said goals?