Monday, August 15, 2011

Friday Range Run; There's an app for that!

Spent a couple hours on the pistol range last Friday. As always, it was an interesting outing.
Been trying to get at least one range run a month this summer. I know ...'tis pitiful. That's actually an increase from years past.
Wanted to run some FAST drills ... to get a baseline of where I'm at. I mean, I know I'm slow. But how slow? 
courtesy of

When shooting at a club match, there's all kinds of perks you don't get when practicing solo. Like a Safety Officer, running a timer. A FAST drill without a timer is ... meaningless. 

I ain't gots me a timer. What to do? Wait. I've got an iphone. I KNOW there's a gotta be shot timer app, right? Sure enough ... there's a handful. Surefire has one fo' free!
So downloading and installing app went on the list for range run prep. That went off without a hitch. Cool. Print out copies of FAST target. Done. Collect guns, ammo, range pass, etc., etc., and we're off.

Range was fairly busy. There was still plenty of room available. As I was carrying gear to the line, there was one guy shooting near the sign-in shack. At the far end of the line, a foursome of older teens, under adult supervision, taking up four lanes. They appeared to be having a lot of fun. Watching them from a distance, gun handling habits appeared to be up to par, muzzles kept pointed downrange, actions open when on bench, etc. Good to see.
Pic confirms my refurbed Nikon Coolpix no longer focusses. !@$!#

The "Barrister o' the Berms" showed up. After some warm up targets, it was time to see if the shot timer actually worked. Since this was an informal test, I strayed from the FAST drill just a bit. We were already set up with targets at 10 yards. We left the targets there rather than call the range cold and pull the targets to the specified 7 yards. Drawing from the holster is allowed, as long as all other safety rules are being observed. However shooters unfamiliar with IPSC, or IDPA, tend to get a bit nervous. As a range courtesy, we elected to just pick the handgun up from the bench at the buzzer. We also shot a total of 5 shots/string vs. the usual 6. We did include the reload after 2 shots.

Looks slick ... but does it work?
Operation of the app is simple and straight forward. Hit the START button. You can adjust the mic sensitivity on the fly. This allows you to filter out unwanted shots from down the line.

Adjust settings, enter email address, etc.
The settings screen allows you to enter your email address. The app can send each strings results to your mailbox. You can tweak the start delay option, from 1 to 3 seconds, for solo training or enable the Par Time mode and try to beat the clock. Adjustments can be made to filter out unwanted shots, calibrate microphone, etc. Further instructions can be found at the "Help" screen.

Displays the elapsed time and the split time for every shot fired

Bo'b shot the FAST drill while I ran the timer. The first drill, I was picking up shots from all the shooters on the line. I was able to adjust the sensitivity easily to pick up only Bo'b's shots. We each ran the drill a half dozen times or so. After each string, I hit the "email results" button. Wasn't sure this was working til later.

emailed results!
One bug I quickly noticed, the app added a shot at the beginning of each string. It consistently added shot1 at 0.10 secs. Once added this at 0.29 secs. Not sure if this is a sensitivity issue, software bug or what. Further range runs will tell.
All in all, I liked shootin' with this app available. While it won't replace a dedicated timer, it fills the niche for a shooter that doesn't own one. After one use, I'd give it a B+. As a free app, I've got no complaints. The mysterious added shot is the only thing keeping it from being an A+. I'll keep ya posted on further use of this cool app. SureFire is offering the ShotTimer application free for a limited time ... if you don't have a dedicated timer, and have an iphone, grab it now!

On future drills, I'll adhere to the FAST drill parameters more accurately. To answer the question of "How slow am I?" ... umm ... 10+ seconds being the floor for Novice ... well ... whats below novice? Doofus?

Full disclosure: SureFire LLC provided zero remuneration or consideration for this blog post. Just thought I'd share my results of using this app. YMMV.

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