Recently I was invited to try out a new product named Mantis. The device, just smaller than a weapon mounted light, attaches to the Picatinny rail of your pistol and analyzes your shots in order to help you improve your shooting ability and precision. Frankly, I was really skeptical, but after testing it, I was quite surprised by its potential as training aid and want to get the word out.
The set-up was on a static indoor range and the Mantis device was attached to a couple of rented guns—an H&K in 9mm and a Sig DA/SA .40 S&W. Because most pistol engagements are close, I opted to shoot at 5 yards. Later I shot at 15 yards to see how the product would work at a longer distance.
The Mantis connects to a mobile device via Bluetooth and uses an app to create a digital readout of a shooting session, with each shot being recorded and analyzed both individually and as a group. This app allows shooters to review data and assess where and how they shot after each shot, as well as visualize various information about their entire shooting performance through graphs. One central feature that I really appreciated during my time testing is that, even if I couldn’t see where my rounds landed on target, the Mantis did, and the device gives instant feedback on its digital display about this that didn’t lie and which might save a couple trips downrange.
I find that interesting because the device does not measure a user’s aiming abilities. It also doesn’t track the target, so you can shoot at anything. All shooting evaluation is done purely through tracking the barrel movement. Therefore, Mantis’ developers like to say the device only measures precision, not accuracy, leaving the aiming to the individual shooter.
Once the Mantis is attached to a handgun, it keeps track of the barrel movements during the trigger pull and, from that data, it determines which direction from the aiming position the gun moved and by how much. This information is then displayed on the screen of the phone: the direction on the wheel and the magnitude of the movement through the score (100 equals no movement).
Additionally, the Mantis attachment tells shooters what they may be doing wrong, gives pointers on how to improve and evaluates consistencies so that over time that data can help individual shooters as well as coaches, identify and emphasize what needs work.
I envision a lot of individuals improving drastically using this machine, even without a trainer. According to the website, 94% of beta testers improved after using Mantis for just 20 minutes, and with the ease of use and simplicity of instruction I experienced, I tend to believe them.
For a while I have seen the potential for training instructors for private citizens, security companies, law enforcement and even the military to make dramatic improvements to their training programs through virtual feedback. I would rank this device among the most promising to this new arena of shooting instruction. Not only does it give instant feedback to coaches and RSOs who wouldn’t have to walk up to the target to see where the shooter hit, but it can analyze individual and agency scores over time to help structure training and dispense data driven, critical feedback. But I think most of all, this tool would be awesome for problem shooters looking to conquer the poor habits and instincts holding them back.
There are some limitations. At this point, it can’t detect double taps or super rapid firing, but it can track consistent rhythmic, static shots. The company plans on adding tactical shooting scenarios and drills in the future. No worries. Like a Navy SEAL I used to work with used to always remind people, you can’t “run and gun” well until you can shoot and hit what you’re aiming at well.
The Bluetooth range on the Mantis extends pretty far. I walked downrange without a hiccup while the iPod was behind me. Currently one device will be connected to one smartphone, so there won’t be any data crossover from multiple devices.
Mantis will debut in September and are available for pre-orders now. For interested buyers, according to the MantisX website, use code Mantis20 for $20 off MSRP before the end of September. Happy shooting.
Safety warning: Jeffrey Denning is a long time professional in the art of self-defense and any training methods or information he describes in his articles are intended to be put into practice only by serious shooters with proper training. Please read, but do not attempt anything posted here without first seeking out proper training.