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Part 5 - Laser Cartridges, Laser Trainers, IR & Recoil, what do I need to get?

Before you pay for anything, know what you want to get out of it.

This evening, I was driving around Plano, TX, listening to Michael Bane on his podcast MichaelBane.TV on the Radio Podcast. For me, he is the Britannica Encyclopedia of Gun content, and every chance I get to talk with him at tradeshows or conventions, I learn something new. If you don't know Michael, Duck-Duck-Go Michael Bane and check the First Entry--(actually click on any entry on the first page). In the episode dated Nov 29, 2022, he drives the point home about making a bullet list of what's important in the gun you're looking for and rating guns against that list so you'll be happy with your find when you buy.

Likewise, our friend, retired Sgt Don Gulla, founder of Arrestling, who travels the world giving training classes, advises that if you're looking for a trainer/instructor, first determine what it is you want to get out of your training, then go and interview instructors.

I think this also applies to what you purchase for dry fire training gear and any dry fire "tech" (i.e., apps, software programs, etc.) While they may look like they do the same, each has strengths and weaknesses. As a Co-Owner of LASR, you may think I'm biased toward our stuff; I probably am because I know it better than the other guy's tech (which you'd expect). However, that also means I know our limitations, and all of us at LASR are responsible enough to tell you when your use case is better served by something else.

While I have most of the popular devices and have used them, it would be nearly impossible to have each new one on the market as they come out (some or flashes in the pan). Others are thousands, if not several thousands, of dollars which in my opinion puts it out of the reach of the evey day gun owner. So what follows is my experiences speaking as a consumer and I'll write only in course categories of tech not in brand names. Your opinions may vary based on your experiences.

So if you are trying to create that list of what techie device you want to use along with your trainer, hopefully, the following will help tease out the nuances. NOTE: what follows is based on my personal experience; yours may differ, and your mileage may vary. ULTIMATELY MY DESIRE IS THAT YOU DO SOME FORM OF TRAINING REGARDLESS OF THE PLATFORM YOU CHOOSE.

Strictly phone-based apps

This is probably the most prolific category. You've likely heard these advertised on conservative podcasts and talk shows, and often they come with a visible laser cartridge (VLC), which I discussed in Part 2. This is where I got my first exposure to dry fire years after leaving the Marines. I bought a system and gave them as gifts.

Dry fire tech in this category is a good starting point for someone who wants practice, as the barrier to entry is usually less than $100. I still have mine and the laser cartridge (red), and the phone holder that it came with. You typically d/l the app from your phone's app store, and once your laser arrives, you're in business. However, as you progress, you'll reach its limitations. For one, there is no shot clock to see your splits or par times. This makes sense because, with a VLC, you must rack the slide each time, so shot times would not reflect real shooting performance. While you can shoot at the target as you move, if you are at the stage where you are trying to incorporate dynamic movement through multiple rooms or engage multiple targets, you won't be able to with these systems.

SIRT pistols with a red laser work with the version I have but not the SIRT with a green laser or the IR. Also, my concern is with phone apps; you must d/l from an app store. You could be at the mercy of certain tech companies who might not like Americans, our guns, or our way of life and remove them from the app store tomorrow (e.g., Parler).

For me, the plus was they're fun, low cost for the items you get, and the laser cartridge. But if you are looking for a basic laser cartridge, you can get them from Concealed Carry Inc for much less. The red laser light is generic and nothing proprietary.

Web-based / Software as a Service (SaaS)

I believe LASR we are the only ones on the market here with our LASR X. (Definitely reach out to me if there are others). What I mean by this is Web-based is as opposed to phone-app to access Web-based SaaS programs, you log into a website via a web browser to access the capabilities and features (e.g., your bank). There isn't anything to install or download onto your device. So as long as you can reach the website, you can train.

Because it is web-based, you only need a web browser, an internet connection, and a webcam. This means you can use it on multiple-platforms Mac, Windows, iOS, Andriod, etc. The limitation is the horsepower of the hardware your running it on.

Teaching gun owners the importance of moving in the event of a gunfight to "GET OFF THE X" cannot be emphasized enough. This is true whether moving to cover, moving while shooting, or moving to break contact and escape/evade a bad situation. Don't train to stand there!

A huge plus with LASR X is that you can incorporate dynamic movement because it is internet-based. You can link multiple devices together in different rooms by purchasing additional device licenses. That means a Laptop in the office, an iPhone in the hallway, a Surface in the classroom, an Android in the foyer, and a tablet in the auditorium. Next, place targets in the different rooms, and you can train with LASR X using room-to-room or shoot-house scenarios IN THE ACTUAL PLACES you are protecting or living.

It includes shot clocks so that you can get splits and par times. There are additional plugins for common targets, but you can use almost any object, picture, or target for your practice. This includes target scoring, saving presets, and sharing presents with other users. If running this on a computer with a USB port, you can use an IR camera and IR trainer to challenge yourself even more.

The disadvantages are you need an internet connection to run SaaS applications. So if you're in a remote area with unreliable or no internet, LASR X is not an option. Also, an issue with all static camera-based systems is that they cannot be used outdoors or with moving targets. Constant changes in light (e.g., outdoor light coming through foliage, flickering CFL bulbs, etc. will trigger false shots and result in a very frustrating training session.)

On-board software-based programs

There are more options to choose from in this category, and you can see a broad range of features. However, most of the ones I have encountered, including our own LASR Classic, require software to be installed in a Windows environment, so if you own a Mac, you'll need to use Apple's Bootcamp feature or run these on a virtual machine program like Parallels.

I have used or seen all the programs using a webcam attached to a computer to do the shot detection and scoring. Most software-based programs require an additional projector to project an image or background on which your targets will appear. Want to engage targets from all 360 degrees in a room

I believe our LASR Classic is the exception, where you still place physical on walls or surfaces in the room. One added plus is if you use an inexpensive 360-degree camera by J5Create, you can place targets all around the room. This can lead to some interesting scenarios that you typically don't get to practice.

Want Recoil-Simulation

This category is the level where you begin to see recoil-simulation devices. It's likely due to the additional computing demand higher-speed cameras require to detect the extremely short laser pulses used by recoil lasers. If this is the route you will go, discuss that with the company you are buying from to ensure you have their necessary peripherals (e.g., camera) and that your computer hardware and laser trainer meet the technical requirements. Because these are still camera-dependent to detect shots, they still require controlled and stable lighting conditions.

At this level, you will likely have all the features found in the previous categories in addition to games, and challenges, where you can compete with others or post, exercises you create and invite others to use (LASR Community). This is where other companies introduce their video scenarios to introduce movement with good guy/bad guy interactions.

As you can expect, these features come with higher price points. While a complete LASR Classic system, including a Logitech C270 webcam, is $249, the next system up in the price continuum is $600 and will require a projector and then go into the thousands from there, depending on the additional modules you choose.

Accelerometers, dongles, and networking proprietary targets

This category is special because it covers the hybrid phone app and proprietary hardware space.

I own a device that fits into this category, and the one unique thing about this device is it can be used during live fire. However, I have never tried it for that purpose. This is unlike systems in the other categories that cannot/should not be used when shooting real ammo. This device does not use a laser but can provide feedback about those live shots just as it would during dry fire sessions when attached to your firearm. It reports on your firearm's trigger press and pre and post-shot movement and, based on what it detects, recommends corrections to improve your results. The software that comes with it falls in the phone-based app category.

I noticed an issue when dry firing and training with movement (you can tell I like lots of movement), my device consistently failed to detect my trigger presses each time I broke the shot. This was regardless of whether I was bounding or traversing the target walking heel to the ball. So if your practice involves more than standing still and shooting at a target, the training feedback may be limited.

No network, but still want dynamic movement.

I have not used systems with proprietary targets that network with each other; however, if you are in an area with no internet, you can still get training with dynamic movement and room-to-room training. These systems can come in handy as no computer is required yet the targets will synchronize with each other. They will also handle the lasers from recoil-simulating devices.

Hopefully, these past few posts have given you a view of what is out there to help the millions of gun owners. You can see there are many opportunities to spend money. The questions you want to ask yourself--

  1. Where are you right now in your training? There's no need to get the projector-based IR system with recoil simulation if you haven't even shot or bought your gun. Your money is better spent buying the gun and getting instructor-led training.

  2. For what purpose are you training? Are you looking for Everyday Carry (EDC), work qualifications, or competition?

  3. What are some of the specifics you trying to fix, correct or improve? This is where your instructor trainer can recommend drills, and based on those exercises, it will become clearer what system and hardware will serve you now and as you progress.

If you have questions, give us a call at the office at 402.965.1778 or email

Talk soon!

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