Whether it is for sport, hobby, or self-defense, if you’re not proficient with your firearm, it is of little use to you.
For hundreds of years, the only true way to be proficient with a firearm was to take it somewhere safe, and shoot it. Unfortunately, that can get expensive quickly.
If you own a big piece of open land, you are lucky and it will be the cheapest for you, only costing ammo. If you are not lucky enough to have your own land, remote from neighbors and safe to shoot on, the cost starts rising rapidly.
I don’t know about where you live, but the indoor ranges near me, are expensive, $20+ an hour. I understand ranges are required to have expensive quarter million dollar+ ventilation systems, and they need to recoup that cost, but a 2 hour range trip, plus ammo will set you back almost $70. And that’s if the range is nearby, you’re only shooting one gun and you’re by yourself. Taking a loved one with you, and you are pretty close to $100 for that day.
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It is good practice to hit the range 3-4 times a year to stay skilled with your weapon for self-defense. So you’re looking at a couple to a few hundred dollars a year, just practicing.
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21st Century Tech
Fortunately, we are deep in the 21st century and technology has come a long way since the Flintlock and Puckle Gun.
A company called Mantis Tech has taken the science and parts of your smartphone that let you play games, use augmented reality, mapping, and senses which direction your phone is being held and put it in a tiny sensor that mounts to your firearm. It works with almost any pistol, rifle, or shotgun. (Or even a bow for archery).
The sensor is called the MantisX and its magic is served up by an accelerometer. If you are not familiar with those, here’s a great little video to watch.
The MantisX sensor attaches to the rail on your firearm. If you don’t have a rail on the firearm you want to use it on, they joke that it’s a good excuse to buy a new firearm. However, jokes aside, they got you covered. Mantis makes magazine floorplate adapters with a tiny Pic Rail that the sensor will attach to. There is even a barrel clamp adapter that works with rifles, revolvers, and shotguns.
The sensor itself has a great quick-detach lever/button that drops a gate that fits in the notches of your Picatinny Rail. You don’t have to fumble around with screws or hex head bolts, or have to worry about a lever on the side catching on something and it coming off.
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Once you have attached the sensor to your firearm, you install the smartphone app, and pair the MantisX with your device, using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) or Bluetooth 4.0.
The sensor and app will work with any Android device or iPhone. I even got it to work with an OLD Samsung S3. An 8-year-old phone, running Android 4.4 Kitkat. I ended up leaving it on that phone and using it on there exclusively, to free up my main phone.
When trying to become proficient with a firearm, we learn through success and failure and then attempt to consciously commit the successes to repeatable muscle memory. The MantisX system, hotwires the muscle memory process directly to visual feedback.
Instead of a “shotgun approach” of successes and failures, MantisX utilizes visual feedback. This allows your brain to train your muscles faster and with a more linear progression. This speeds up the learning curve for both new and known firearms.
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I received my MantisX around the same time I got the RIA TAC Ultra 9mm from Armscor. A perfect opportunity to see how quickly I could learn a new firearm without going to the range.
The MantisX works with live fire and dry fire. Of course, I used the dry fire “drills” as they are called on the app, to familiarize myself with the RIA TAC trigger while in my house.
My preferred method to work with the drills, was locating a small point on a wall hanging that I could acquire quickly. And I progressed through the different training sessions targeting that one spot.
It’s Got a Graph for That
For me, the most important information that the sensor gave me was a graph of the little wiggles that you make as you pull the trigger. Graphed on a bullseye type chart, the app will show you 3 phases of your trigger pull, Hold, Trigger Press and when the gun “fires”.
After 30 min of dry fire drills, I had the squiggles on my graphs reduced from a “centipede on acid” to a very light flutter.
The app keeps track of every shot you make with the sensor and you can recall information from the very first shot you make with MantisX, months or years ago, all the way up to the last shot you took.
You can also identify different firearms for each drill, so when you are going back through your history you will know which pistol or rifle you were firing for each set of data.
Each shot is scored out of 100, depending on how much you moved away from your sighted position during the trigger pull.
For each shot, MantisX detects the direction of the barrel movement during the trigger pull. It then visually shows you on a graph your movement for each shot.
It coaches you, giving you feedback on what you might be doing, keeping you from getting a perfect shot, with suggestions such as:
Breaking wrists down
Breaking wrists up
No follow through
Slapping the trigger
Tightening grip while pulling trigger
Too little trigger finger
Too much trigger finger
The app provides guidance through Drills, where you can practice Basic Firing, Timed Shots, Reloading, Primary and Secondary Hand Shooting, and Cadence Shots.
There are even Holster Draw drills that you can practice. Most light-accommodating holsters will fit with MantisX installed. The X10 sensor is 2″ long, 1.25″ wide (at it’s thickest point), and 1″ high (with 0.75″ below the bottom of the rail).
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MantisX allowed me to get familiar with my RIA TAC 9mm review pistol while I was waiting to get out to the range. By the time I went through the drills and training, I was very familiar with the feel of the trigger on that pistol, and once I was at the range, I was shooting targets as if I had been using this gun for months.
Not Just Dry
The MantisX system isn’t just for dry fire drills at home. It is just as awesome at the range and even adds some great features when you are actually firing bullets, such as a recoil meter and a shot timer.
You will be able to see what effect the recoil has on barrel rise and you can even compare ammunition against each other to find an optimum ammo that works best for you and your firearm.
I was able to analyze the difference between the Armscor Ball ammo that I was shooting, and visually compare it to the Liberty Ammo Civil Defense, low recoil ammo that I had.
Each individual shot you take is saved in the history. Every drill and training set is easily brought up to view so you will be able to track your progress over time and analyze your good and bad days at the range.
Dry or live fire, if you’re the type of person to upgrade and tune your trigger, you will be able to see with more precision than any other method, what your new trigger, or trigger work has done for your firearm by analyzing the shot graphs.
A Tool for Everyone
The MantisX system is perfect for both beginners and advanced shooters. It provides familiarization for beginners, and perfection for the advanced users. You would be surprised by what you can learn about your old faithful daily carry just by using the MantisX for a few drills.
If you connect your MantisX to the Mantis Tech servers, you can even practice and compete against other users around the world.
The MantisX is rechargeable. It is charged by the same micro USB cable that your device probably uses and lasts 8 to 10 hours on a charge.
MantisX is proudly made in the United States of America. Assembly, programming, testing, and shipping is all done out of their offices in Illinois.
Mantis Tech has great tech support too. I could not get the sensor to pair with my phone at first, and I shot them an email and had a response quickly. I didn’t email my contact, I contacted their tech support that you would message, to test their response time and quality.
Maintaining proficiency with your firearms can get expensive over the long term. MantisX Shooting Performance System gives you the option to limit your expense while maximizing your trigger time.
It allows you to get the most out of your trips to the range with visual data that you can review once you are home, instead of relying on memory to assess how you did putting lead on target.
The stored history of all shots gives you the ability to compare dry fire at home, to live fire at the range, and compare your range visits, even if separated by many months. Looking at the graphs after each shot will help you determine if that errant flyer was really a flyer, or if you flinched or pushed a shot.
The correlation of a shot recording device with visual feedback, will train your muscles to hone your trigger and muzzle discipline much faster than without. You will be grouping your shots much tighter after just a few uses.
MantisX will give you valuable information that in the end will provide a better shooting experience for hobby or sport and heighten crucial proficiency for self-defense. It is a worthwhile and indispensable tool to add to your firearm collection.
MantisX X10 Elite as tested – $249
Other models available:
MantisX X2 – $99
MantisX X3 – $169
MantisX X7 – $199
Visit Mantis Tech at SHOT Show booth # 2138
About the Author:
DarkStar (obvious pseudonym) has been an active humanitarian for the past decade, running a charity dedicated to helping the mentally challenged overcome life obstacles.
DarkStar left the corporate digital world working for Google and Chicago Tribune to seek more philanthropic pursuits, after becoming tired of helping the “elites” become richer while people were suffering.
With a degree in Computer Engineering and a background in Physics, DarkStar created and patented an Artificial Intelligence to take the place of mental health professionals and services, to help the mentally ill navigate their daily life.
An avid inventor, DarkStar hopes someday to connect with a similarly minded Angel Investor to create a company that can expand to help many more people around the world.
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