I’ve been informed on multiple occasions that the trigger press has a huge effect on accuracy, to the effect of some large percentage which I’m not able to find in a casual Google search (somewhat like a lot of other colloquial wisdom underpinned by numbers and statistics).
Dude, Pull My Finger
It’s probably unfair to point the finger at the finger as the thing that makes or breaks a shot, considering how many other biological factors come into play, e.g., main hand grip, support hand, the non-trigger fingers, arms, wrist, and so on. One usually takes so many of these biomechanical elements for granted without realizing the combined effect they have on accuracy.
While I’d been doing a lot of dry fire practice to work on the interconnected elements that affect marksmanship, getting timely and actionable feedback has been a bit sketchy when the most you can do is try to see how much wiggle the little laser dot makes on the wall when you press the trigger.
Your Own Accuracy Tutor
I got my hands on a Mantis X10 which is basically an accelerometer sensor that sends motion data via bluetooth to a smartphone app.
The sensor gadget attaches to the firearm on a standard mounting rail, which works great with the Glock G19. However, in order to practice holster draws, you’d either have to get a holster that’ll accommodate the gadget, or use the included rail adapter on a magazine like this.
I’m Doing It Wrong, Evidently
The Mantis magic happens in the app which analyzes the movements detected before, during, and after the trigger press to present the user with what all went wrong with the shot.
This screenshot from the Mantis website shows the results of a 10-shot session where the vast majority of shots went to the left, thanks to “not enough trigger finger.” Given the limited feedback that I’d been able to get from my previous dry fire setup, this was a revelation of sorts which evolved into an albatross as I continued practicing.
Getting Better Every Day
In the two weeks that I’ve had the Mantis, I’ve been clocking around 100 practice shots a day. That “not enough trigger finger” was and remains an element that I’m constantly working on, especially when (dry) firing one handed. Oddly enough I do better one handed with the support hand. I’m guessing that it’s the years of guitar playing that made my left hand stronger in ways than my right.
I’ve also found that combining training gadgets also help. Using a laser training cartridge with a scaled down IPSC target and a shot tracking app in addition to the Mantis seems to result in higher overall scores. I’m thinking that by focusing on a target, ironically one stresses less about the minutiae of what the Mantis is measuring.
Here’s 10 shots with a G19 using a laser cartridge at a simulated 9 yard target. Of course this adds another smartphone into the mix as well as the accompanying added gadgetry, but why not smoke ‘em if you’ve got ‘em?
Pop Goes the Mantis
Since the Mantis gadget fits on any standard mounting rail, it also works on the Sig M17 air pistol. There’s a setting in the Mantis app to calibrate for CO2 guns, although I’ve found that it won’t detect all shots because of… um, reasons?
Still, I’m able to get more feedback than what I was previous able to get from carbon-based pew pew in the garage, and I think that being mindful of having Mantis analyze these shots tend to make them more consistent.
The Mantis app has a couple of training programs that lead you through a series of exercises to make you a better shooter. The Basic Marksmanship regimen is as self-explanatory as the Advanced Marksmanship counterpart. Both require you to make certain scores in normal, one-handed (main and support hand), and timed shots.
Once you pass each program, the folks at Mantis mail you a patch for your achievement. I’m waiting for the Basic Marksmanship patch to arrive in the mail, and in the meantime, I’ve completed the Advanced Marksmanship program.
I guess this is the perfect excuse to go get a riot shield, although I’m betting they’re all sold out these days.
I’ll continue practicing with the Mantis, especially with live fire once I’m able to get to the range. Oh, there’s also a social element to the Mantis experience, as you’re able to follow other users and join groups to compare your progress to others. Gamification is pretty much the norm now, yeah?