Regardless of how long we have been shooting, every one of us can improve. Most people will tell you that practice makes perfect. But if you are practicing poor technique, you won't improve.
Everyone, even the best of shooters have some habits we have to overcome to increase our consistency. Rarely does someone recognize these deficiencies on their own. Rather, an instructor or fellow shooter points them out.
But what if you don't have access to an instructor who can critique your fundamentals? Or your shooting partner gives, well, less than ideal advice?
Imagine you could have instant feedback on your shooting technique, every time you squeeze the trigger. Reliable information that would not only tell you what you're doing wrong but how to fix it. And to top it all off, you could do all this not just on the range, but when you dry-fire!
If such a device existed and didn't cost a year's salary, you would want one … right?
Such a product is not only a reality but with an MSRP around $150.00 is also quite affordable.
It's called The MantisX Firearms Training System, and since its release has earned nothing but phenomenal accolades.
What Is the MantisX?
Simply put, the MantisX is an unassuming device that attaches to your handgun or rifle's Picatinny rail. The gadget pairs to your smartphone via Bluetooth 4.0 and controlled with a free app.
What the MantisX lacks in flashiness, it makes up for in substance. It is quite small and light, measuring 2″ x 1″ x 1″ and weighing only 1.1 ounces. You will only see a solitary button which pairs the unit to the phone and turns it on and off. It has one micro-USB port which is how the device's rechargeable battery gets its juice.
The MantisX is a precision piece of gear. The company recognizes that things in your range bag sometimes get banged around. So they thoughtfully send the product in a tiny, well-padded, pelican case so you can protect your investment.
The Set Up:
The instructions that come with the MantisX are brief and simple. The device comes charged up for use. But it comes with an included mini-USB cable once it needs a recharge.
The app, which is free in the App Store and Google Play, is easy to install and navigate. The Mantis guys regularly update the app so you're not going to have to deal with bugs and unresponsive features.
Pair the device with your phone and then set up your information. Settings such as the type of gun being used, what the shooters dominant hand is, and how the device is being used ie. live-fire, dry-fire c02 are just some of the info that helps fine-tune the results.
How Does It Work?
The information this diminutive device provides is invaluable to shooters of all calibers. It's internals detect any movement of the firearm's barrel immediately before, during and after the trigger break. Each individual shot's analysis gets recorded for that training session.
Information is being recorded while the user fires live ammo, dry-fires, or uses co2 driven training guns. This means you can't use the ‘I can't ever get to the range' excuse for not practicing.
The app displays this information in several ways which make it useful to the user:
Overview Screen/Spider Chart:
Each shot is assigned a numerical score between 1 and 100. Rocksteady fundamentals that produce little muzzle movement score high. Doing things like anticipating recoil, slapping the trigger etc. etc. will result in a lower score.
Not only is a score assigned to each shot, but the chart will show the likely impact location for that shot. For example breaking the wrist down during the shot break, will likely result in the shot being low.
This screen will also tell you in plain terms what your fundamental error was. If in fact, you were breaking your wrist down during the shot, it is displayed on this screen.
What is great is that the learning doesn't end there. The app will explain how to correct your deficiency using pictures and advice.
Shot By Shot Screen:
This displays the information in two bar graphs. One shows each shot's score over time, along with your average score. The second represents the amount of movement of the firearm during the hold/sighting-in period. As well as the amount of movement during the shot break.
These graphs are helpful in identifying trends in a particular shooter's fundamentals.
Trace view is unbelievably helpful for the user. It shows exactly how much and where the muzzle is moving before, during and after the shot. On this screen, the hold/sighting-in movement is represented by a green line. Trigger squeeze movement will display in yellow. And the trigger break and follow through will show as a red line.
Handgun Drills Update:
Along with squashing bugs, the app has received some recent functionality updates. One update has been the inclusion of pre-programmed gun drills. Each drill is clearly explained and there are video tutorials describing what to do. Right now there are 8 drills included:
Compressed Surprise Break
Out of Battery Reload
Primary Hand Only
Advancements in Usability-
With the ability to practice drills there is clearly use for the MantisX outside for dynamic and realistic training. Incorporating the ability to train with the MantisX while drawing from the holster is important and there are a couple ways this can be accomplished.
-Because of the size of the unit, it can work with your existing light-bearing holster. Just swap out your light for the MantisX and you’re in business.
What if you don't have a holster that fits a light, or carry a sub-compact. That is an issue as most sub-compacts don’t have tac-rails. It would be a shame not to be able to get the incredible benefits provided by the device, simply because of a lack of a rail. Not to worry.
-Mantis makes replacement magazine baseplates that include a small rail. No matter what type of magazine you have, you can get either a direct replacement or a universal fit adapter.
Now you’re good to go to start your realistic, from-the-holster training with your EDC gun.
If you like to view all your training results on a desktop, no problem. The app allows you to forward over individual screenshots of information you are looking at on your phone. And for a full-on data dump, you can create a user profile at https.train.mantisx.com and sync all your training info to an online profile. Here you can easily see your data over time.
Is It Worth It?
The previous 900 words of this article may have you intrigued with all this thing can do. But manufacturers make big claims about their products. And often times, real-world use of the product exposes faults and shortcomings.
Such is not the case with the MantisX. I found this device to be incredibly helpful for me personally and for use in training classes. The charts and graphics displaying the applications of fundamentals are so useful for people who are data-driven. The device is really accurate in correctly diagnosing a fault.
It is important that the device gives accurate feedback, and I found it to be surprisingly accurate, even in instances where there could be two causes for a very similar reading. For example slightly breaking your wrists forward may look like too much grip to the device. But somehow, almost every time, the MantisX correctly distinguishes between the two and tells you what you did wrong.
In addition to your regular routine of dry and live fire, using the device will help anyone practice more efficiently while using sound fundamentals. Instantly seeing what we did wrong, and how to correct it, is the key to bettering ourselves.
From the packaging to the user-friendly app and consistent functionality updates to the app, the company has shown they take pride in the product. Here is my video, showing it in use:
I know a lot of people who would throw much more than $150 giving their gun a custom Cerekote paint job. There is nothing wrong with that, but it’s not going to make you a more proficient shooter.
This device, without a doubt, is worth every penny. Because using it will identify your fundamental weaknesses and show you how to correct them. Additionally, it will make your training sessions more fun and productive. Hopefully, you found the article and video helpful in understanding the benefits of the MantisX.