To recap the progression of dry fire training devices we discussed so far, it looks like this--
Dry fire with your safe and unloaded firearm (basic dry fire)
Snap Caps loaded into your magazine. Requires racking the slide of SA semi-autos; snap caps are ejected.
Visible laser cartridge (VLC). Uses your own safe and unloaded firearm. Similar to snap caps, it also requires racking of the slide for the laser to be actuated with each trigger press. However, the VLC is NOT ejected.
SMART Dryfiremag. Also permits the use of your firearm (if Glock). Uses proprietary VLC and electronic magazine that DOES NOT require racking of the slide.
Dedicated Visible Laser Trainer. Similar to your firearm but uses a dedicated insert trainer. Addresses concerns about introducing an actual firearm into a dry fire clean space. Has interchangeable magazines. DOES NOT require reracking of the slide with each trigger press.
Like any hobby or pursuit, there are always ways to pour more money into it. As gun owners, I think we can all nod in agreement. This is why up until this point, I have not mentioned any software even though at LASR, we have the premier dynamic dry fire platforms, LASR Classic and LASR X; software, phone apps, etc., are needed, although you would be losing 80% of the feedback critical to improving.
Training to trust your sights with IR
However, we leave the visible laser space once we move further up the continuum. Now we are looking at infrared lasers. Without computer/smart device assistance, you could invest almost $1000 in a training device, but unless you now invest in tech, you would not get any more insight or feedback than with basic dry fire because you wouldn't see your shots.
One of the challenges of shooting with visible lasers is the temptation to watch where the laser hits and then adjust your fire to the target before your next shot without referencing your sights. Unfortunately, it's very easy to do without realizing it is happening. So, we removed the visible laser and replaced it with infrared to remedy this.
The lack of a visible indicator will force you to rely on your sights for your sight picture with every shot. Here, an IR-capable USB webcam watching your target attached to a computer running LASR software would be used to spot and mark your shots. LASR gives you point of impact, post-shot diagnostics, shot times, and scoring.
In actuality, LASR software can be used much earlier in the training continuum. LASR can be used with the visible laser cartridge. A $12.99 LASR X monthly subscription that you can use with any device that has a web browser, internet connection, and webcam (e.g., smartphone, tablet, laptop/PC) and a visible laser cartridge is inexpensive paring for first-time shooters. LASR X and a VLC are great tools for first-time shooters who want to become comfortable with their firearm before going to the range, or work on drills between instructor-led lessons, and smoothing out the draw from the holster & concealment, etc.
The IR devices start at $120 for a 9mm IR laser cartridge (Surestrike by LaserAmmo) to full SIRT trainers, which run a little more than the green laser SIRTs of the same models. Don't forget the--
and you're set.
At this point, we've covered the undebated ground of dry fire training from basic dry fire to IR-based dry fire. However, if you are still looking for one last technological fix to make the dry fire that much sexier, there is one more point on the continuum. That is the addition of Recoil Simulation to dry fire.
Rocking with Recoil Simulation
In November, shortly after USCCA, I published a blog titled, Shooting Accuracy: The Dilemma of mixing Recoild with Dry Fire. In it, I wrote about one of the little-known issues with recoil simulators: they initially produce the reverse recoil of an actual semi-auto handgun when firing. You can read about it here and arrive at your own decision.
But if you want to take your training one more step, that would be to incorporate recoil simulation. Recoil trainers come in both visible and IR lasers as well. However, the standard IR webcam will not suffice. For software to make sense of recoil simulator post-shot diagnostics, they have to capture the laser that is already moving due to the recoil in addition to the shooter. To do this, the recoil laser pulses must be as short as 6-8 ms. This places it beyond the refresh rate of the standard USB webcam.
Using recoil with software requires using LASR Classic and the LASR Classic Advanced Camera (LCAC), which has a high refresh rate/shutter that allows LASR Classic to detect the short laser pulse. The LCAC is also IR capable, so both use cases are handled in one camera. (Web-based platforms do not currently support recoil simulation; hence LASR X does not support recoil).
LASR Classic and the LASR Classic Advanced Camera work with Cool Fire and LaserAmmo's recoil devices. These devices don't come cheap, and this combination of software camera and trainer will run you around $800 - $900.
Now that you have an idea of the dry fire hardware options available to you for dry fire practice, in the last installment, I'll touch on some expanded scenarios available to you with LASR to increase the return on your hardware investment.