I’ve just been playing with these long enough to form an opinion worth sharing, in my opinion.
And.. if you are anything like myself, then whenever you get asked what to be gifted your mind immediately blanks and you stare at your friends, family, or co-workers like you have never heard the concept of a gift before in your life.
Your brain immediately dumps its memory of anything and everything you’ve ever considered useful or fun and you stand there, reaching for an answer you no longer possess.
So this article is for those people who, when they see you, a person who likes shooting, standing there going through a hard reset on the concept of stuff. Here is an answer you’ll very likely appreciate.
If you’ve been around a minute you may recognize the name of one of the most successful motion training applications on the market. The MantisX 10 Elite and the associated training programs are an excellent set of dry fire aids for those looking for more informative feedback. MantisX is a feedback driven company seeking to help shooters understand their movements during presentation, trigger press, and follow through. These most critical moments of the shot process make or break a difficult shot.
MantisX could (and can) be used for live fire too, it tracks your muzzle movement live rounds or otherwise. It can sit on a handgun, rifle, shotgun, or bow.
But the mad scientists over at Mantis aren’t done, they have a couple new toys in the mix.
1. Laser Academy
Smartphones make for smart ways to train, with the proper app. Laser Academy uses the nice, shiny, modern phone camera and the QR code tech on smart targets to give you a trackable dry fire range just about anywhere.
A tripod and phone clamp, a laser cartridge of your caliber choice, and a code for the smart application sets you up. It comes with the packs of smart targets and some backer to put them up anywhere you’d like.
What’s the dowel for? The cartridges are rimless to make dry fire cycles easier and not wear on your extractor, they’ll stay in the chamber until you pop it out with the dowel.
Easy to use?
Open the app after getting it via your code from the appropriate app store.
Point camera at the smart targets.
Pick a training program, including the tutorials.
Put the laser cartridge in an appropriate firearm.
Perhaps the coolest aspect from a data standpoint is that, with a 2nd smart device, you can run MantisX too. This gives you both motion and target feedback to work on making efficient all those micro inputs we tend to disregard while shooting. Keeping the gun still takes muscle discipline, that gets built through repetitions, if these help you put in those repetitions (and the app even reminds you and subtly shames you for being lazy) you are set.
As a rifle enthusiast, Blackbeard hits all the right buttons.
Namely resetting the trigger in my AR’s while I gleefully point the laser everywhere (sometimes even at the target while Laser Academy is running).
The Blackbeard replaces the bolt carrier, charging handle, and magazine with a laser and battery pack. The module lines up above the hammer and will reset the hammer when you pull the trigger allowing you to do a full cycle pull and reset instead of having to manually charge between shots.
You can use it for stand alone dry fire, or link it to Laser Academy and the smart targets. Either way it allows for rapid reps on the trigger of your AR with a point of impact feedback.
- Fitment with non DI AR’s may be problematic as pistons do not always take up the same internal location as the gas tube. Best with DI AR’s.
- Fitment/use in the Radian AX556 (due to the special magazine release/bolt catch linkage) can prevent the battery-mag from releasing because the bolt catch does not have free movement with the Blackbeard in place above it. It will work with any regular lower receiver that does not have a similar linkage. I know this because I didn’t consider it when I threw it in my BCM/Radian M4gery, the system works but you have to crack open the upper and lower to remove it instead of just pressing the magazine release. So Radian owners note you must shotgun open the receivers to emplace and remove the system.
This is the most fun I’ve had with presentations and dry fire in a long time. The available feedback data is fantastic.
Laser Academy, like MantisX, has a delightful degree of adjustability available to account for things like sight offset. It can be calibrated for your specific settings with a little time and patience. The settings are also firearm and user specific, so your P320, 92X, SBR, and DMR settings can all be kept seperate.
It’s a feature that makes me enjoy the whole system more as it helps with organizing data if I should want it. It’s the little things, the attention to detail, that make it clear the whole product line has been focused on the end user.
Hands free controls on the individual targets are also another fine touch, not having to walk back to the screen until you are done with a session brings in big convenience points.
We understand, and so do they, that convenience is crucial in how useful people find these tools. MantisX has done a superb job in this regard.
Final Note: Light
The smart targets need contrast to work with cameras properly, when selecting a place for Laser Academy targets use a darker wall and lights on that minimize glare for best results. The app will tell you what it is sensing and if it is properly picking up the hit zones and control locations.
When it doubt, just play with the Blackbeard until the battery runs out, then plug it into the nearest USB charger and repeat.