Virtual Training: Dry-Fire Practice with Innovative Software
January 03, 2019
“Clean your room,” “clear your plate” and “turn off the lights” are commands we got tired of hearing as children. As adults and firearm enthusiasts, the new repetitive command is “remember to dry-fire practice!” Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to do.
I don’t need to be convinced of the value of dry-fire practice; my range days with a rifle or pistol start off with dry-fire, and I dry-fire at home three days a week with a laser trainer and reflective targets. But dry-fire practice can become stale, so I’m always looking for ways to liven it up. I recently came across Shooter Technology Group and their innovative dry-fire training software called Laser Activated Shot Reporter (LASR). I was immediately impressed with the new dimensions it would bring to dry-fire practice and couldn’t wait to add it to my toolbox.
Dry-Fire Shooting Range
LASR is a Windows-based dry-fire training software that works in conjunction with a webcam and laser trainer to give you endless dry-fire capabilities. Simply set up targets within the camera’s view, designate the target areas in the software and, voila, you have a shooting range. The targets can be anything from a piece of paper with a dot to a stuffed animal.
The software isn’t a one-trick pony either. LASR keeps track of your hits, provides audible feedback, has a par timer and includes a multitude of shooting modes. It also offers extensive customization of your shooting experience, including designating how many hits it will take to down a target, and an online community with training exercises.
The software could be overwhelming, but the interface guides the user through the process with highlighted, blinking buttons and offers useful links. For example, when the software couldn’t read a target, a link was readily available to help determine possible solutions. From my experience with LASR, it’s clear that the software development team went through considerable testing to ensure that a shooter wouldn’t feel lost using the software.
What’s beneficial about LASR is that you can set up a range in any location with very little gear. All you need is a laser trainer or a laser-training pistol, such as the SIRT 110 Pistol, that allows for repeat shots. My setup includes a Beretta Px4 Storm and Laser Ammo’s SureStrike.
The software is designed for Windows OS versions 7 to 10. If you have a Mac computer, visit their website for setup details. Currently, there are no mobile app versions. Shooter Technology Group also sells a LASR station with the LASR software, a small Windows tablet and a webcam mounted on a tripod.
Installation & Use
I installed the software on my Microsoft Surface Book Pro laptop with the latest Windows 10 build without any glitches. For the best experience, LASR recommends using a standalone webcam mounted on a tripod instead of a built-in webcam because it’s easy to bump a laptop and misalign the designated target zones. I agree; the standalone webcam offers the most flexible setup for a dry-fire range. An inexpensive web camera will work as long as it’s compatible with your computer.
To begin, find a wall or a table, set up several targets and point the camera toward the targets. Open the LASR software; it will prompt you to choose a camera and resolution. You will then be guided to outline the targets in the viewport. The outline tells the software what area to monitor for hits. The outline shapes include circle, square, triangle and custom. The custom shape allows you to draw around the perimeter of any object, which comes in handy when setting up silhouettes or competition targets.
The targets are automatically numbered in the sequence they were outlined. Clicking on the target properties button in the lower left-hand corner allows the user to designate several options with the target. An area or a target can be set as a virtual button to start, stop or reset the session. I like to designate a target as a session reset, so I don’t have to physically press the start button in the software. On the computer screen, the virtual button displays as a distinct red-and-black grid that can’t be confused with shooting targets, which have a blinking, dotted outline. You can also set the sound a hit makes and assign targets a name (for example, alpha or circle).
Once you set up the targets in the software, choose a shooting mode. The shooting modes include basic (not timed); timed modes with immediate and random starts; and a call-target mode that calls the target by the number or name assigned in the target properties.
This is where the fun begins. If you want to practice trigger control and accuracy, leave it in basic mode; to add speed, select one of the timed modes. The timed modes have many useful options that are also found in shot timers. The call-target mode calls targets by number or name, and the user can set the par time for the session.
One standout feature is the user’s ability to choose a preparatory command that is commonly heard on a shooting line or in a competition, such as “load and make ready, standby.” These add a reality to training that you can’t get by saying those words to yourself.
The software can monitor up to 20 targets, making it flexible for an endless possibility of shooting setups, including a competitive shooting course with mini-targets, shoot/no-shoot targets, multiple target drills (e.g., the Mozambique drill) and precision shooting. Using the call-target mode allows the user to set up a drill with their back to the target and have LASR call the number or name they set.
The software is most beneficial because it shows multiple hits and its hit detection is precise. Before using LASR, I would dry-fire practice with a laser trainer and reflective targets. I would remember mostly successes, therefore lulling myself into thinking I was shooting better than I was. Seeing the location of the shots encourages me to slow down and focus on the fundamentals.
Thinking ahead, LASR developed a community portal where members can create new dry-fire exercises and download drills from and existing library. I expected this to be a simple web-based forum where members shared their exercises and instructions, and others would print them out. I was wrong. Impressively, the LASR exercises are integrated into the software. I opened the exercise page and found over 50 dry-fire exercises to choose from. One of the drills I chose was the Dot Torture Exercise.
I printed the target, hung it on the wall and hit “begin exercise.” A semi-transparent template of the Dot Torture Exercise target appeared in the viewport. The next step was to align the template with the paper target. Getting them aligned required a little finessing of the camera (distance, resolution, template size), but the time was worth it. Once I aligned the paper with the template and locked it in, the play button began to blink, indicating that I was ready to start. Each time I completed a section, I hit play and it walked me through the whole exercise.
When the exercise was complete, LASR generated a comprehensive report, displaying the shooting data and screen captures of each section with the hits and times. Reviewing the documented evidence of a training session is invaluable. It made it hard to ignore my weaknesses, which only encouraged me to practice more. The reports are available for drills and exercises.
LASR is a feature-rich dry-fire software that will open up new worlds to your dry-fire training. I’m able to practice drills and gain insights into my performance that I wouldn’t get with just a laser trainer and shot timer. The software can be used with any laser trainer, any webcam that’s compatible with your computer and any targets. What’s equally important is the report that provides evidence of what the user is doing right and what they need to work on.
Type: dry-fire training software
Operating System: Windows-based, non-mobile
Hardware Required: computer or tablet, laser trainer, webcam (available for purchase with the software)
Manufacturer: Shooter Technology Group