While it does seem like we are starting to come out of the Great Ammo Shortage of 2013, finding ways to practice that don't involve burning through your precious stockpile still makes good sense. LaserLyte has a line of training targets intended to do just that, and its most recent release—the Reaction Tyme target system—has streamlined the process of using a laser training device with a target system. The company introduced the Laser Target a few years ago to go with its LT-PRO training insert, and further laser-based training aids have followed in the intervening period.
Using the Reaction Tyme system requires a LaserLyte laser insert or laser cartridge, which are sold separately. Single-action and DAO pistols require cocking after each trigger press, but double-action handguns will function as they do with live ammo.
Of course, all laser and dry-fire training requires diligence on the part of the shooter to triply ensure their firearm is unloaded and no live ammunition is in the room prior to beginning the laser/dry practice session. A solid backstop is also a must to provide insurance against negligence.
Training with a laser provides significant advantages. Practice can be accomplished without having to travel to a range, making laser training perfect for training after work, in the dead of winter or when you just don't feel like gearing up and hauling everything to your local shooting facility. It also enables the user to practice without the expense of ammunition, which, especially these days, is a huge benefit. Once the equipment has been purchased, the only "reloads" needed are batteries. One of the biggest advantages is it permits safely practicing drawing from concealment and firing—which some ranges prohibit—allowing the user to exercise all the skills needed for a successful training session. The Reaction Tyme target (MSRP $175.95) introduces the variable of pressure into the laser-training regimen.
There are drawbacks to LaserLyte's training system. Those of us who prefer short-barrel revolvers in .38 Spl. are out of luck, as the LT-PRO insert won't work in barrel lengths under 3 inches, and there are no .38 Spl. laser-training cartridges (not to mention you'd need five or six of them). Pistols that operate in DAO, like the Glock and Smith & Wesson M&P series, as well as the single-action 1911, have to be manually cocked after each shot. For pistols with true double-action operation, however, a laser-training insert or cartridge will function very similarly to a live range session.
The Reaction Tyme setup comes with two targets, each with a 2.5-inch target area. These targets have two settings: "On" and "RT". When set to "On" (training mode), the target will register all "hits" from the laser-insert, with two flashes and two beeps to audibly and visually register the hit. In "RT" mode (Reaction Tyme), the device will randomly beep and flash every 3 to 7 seconds, starting a 3-second window in which to score a hit on the target. As in the training mode, a hit on target results in two beeps and two flashes. Units are independent of each other and have wall hanging cut-outs in the back to allow them to be placed pretty much anywhere the user would like to practice.
In use, the targets do exactly what they're supposed to do—they light up and beep, indicating it's time to shoot. Hits (and misses) yield instant feedback, and the random window to shoot helps introduce a level of unpredictability that's important to training. The targets are small, meaning aiming is critical along with speed. Being able to draw from concealment under a time constraint adds a more realistic component to training, as does having multiple targets to engage. While it's certainly no substitute for taking a training class with a qualified instructor, the system provides the ability to practice repeatedly and safely in the comfort of one's home.
Training with the Reaction Tyme targets (sold in pairs), provides an added element of realism along with instant feedback regarding shot placement, making it an excellent tool for dry practice.
One of the things I noticed during testing was several of the tactics learned at the Fundamentals of Combat Focus Shooting course I took a few months ago were put into play. The high-ready stance, pressing out to full extension to shoot and the "figure eight" were put into play with the two Reaction Tyme units. It's instructive to see how repeated practice can ingrain elements into the training routine, even when they are learned later in one's shooting career. The Reaction Tyme training units allow a transition from training-class lessons to ingrained memory repetition, even when getting to the range is not possible.
The Reaction Tyme targets have some room for improvement, too. It was noticed that in lower-light conditions, they do not pick up the laser impulse as easily as in brighter light. Under relaxed circumstances, hitting a 2.5-inch circle is challenging enough. Trying to make a fast and accurate shot adds perhaps more variables than some might find comfortable. As discussed earlier, the training inserts and cartridges require manual cycling with single-action and DAO firearms. These are minor points to be certain, but things to be aware of when considering these training aids. The small problems can easily be overcome with minimal effort and should not dissuade potential users.
For not much more money than a 500-round case of ammunition, the Reaction Tyme target and Laser Training insert can provide hours and hours of practice without ever leaving the house. Insert the batteries, decide which setting to use and place the targets wherever you desire, then practice to your heart's content. If the local gun club doesn't allow drawing from concealment and firing, the Reaction Tyme training target can fill that niche without even leaving the living room.
Best of all, there's nothing to clean when you're done.