Dry-fire practice at home is one of the fastest ways to improve marksmanship and gun handling. With a regular routine of dry-fire practice, you can quickly improve vital gun-handling skills like a smooth trigger press, a quick and efficient draw and fast, smooth reloads.
But here’s the dirty little secret about dry-fire practice: it’s boring. It’s like eating your vegetables as a kid: Yes, we know it’s good for us, and it’ll help us grow, but it’s just not as fun as other things like the noise and recoil you get when pulling the trigger on a live round.
That’s where dry-fire training aids come in, and several companies have teamed up the computing power and built-in of the modern smartphone with inexpensive lasers to create dry-fire practice systems that make practice at home a lot more fun.
There are essentially two different types of smartphone dry-fire apps available today: Ones that use the built-in smartphone of your camera to record the hits on the target, usually a scaled down version of a practical pistol or bullseye target, and then there are the ones that use another device to track hits and those those results are communicated to your phone for review. Apps that use your smartphone’s camera typically cost less up-front that those with a dedicated target stand, but then you also have to factor in the added cost of buying an adapter and stand for your smartphone in order to hold it in place as you do your training.
There are also two different ways to put laser “hits” onto the target, a small bullet-shaped laser that fits into the barrel of an unloaded pistol, and dedicated laser training pistols like those made by LaserLyte and Next Level Training. As always, for maximum safety when performing any dry-fire practice, make sure your pistol is unloaded and there is no live ammunition anywhere in the room where you are practicing. Here’s a look at some of the smartphone-based systems for dry-fire available today:
The G-Sight Pro app uses your smartphone’s built-in camera to record laser “hits” on the target. The free version of app tracks the location of up to ten shots on your targets, and offers upgrades such as a unlimited laser shots on the targets and a shot timer to record your draw speed and time in-between (virtual) shots.
The Sharpshot EZ uses a dedicated, Bluetooth-enabled receiver and recorder that tracks your hits and then transmits the results to your smartphone or tablet, allowing you to see results of your practice without walking back and forth to your phone in between drills. The Sharpshot EZ ships with one bullseye-style target and other target styles will soon be available.
iDryfire for smartphones is an adaptation of the same application for PCs and Macs, and tracks hits on your printed-out targets using the camera in your smartphone. The app has a rich set of features including a built-in timer for measuring your draw speed and time in-between shots and the ability to export your results to email, social media or your photo collection.
The iTarget Pro system uses a dedicated target sled and target to hold your phone as you practice. Because the iTarget Pro uses a dedicated target, it can score your hits on the target and record your total shot time, and it also offers in-app purchases for other practice modes such as quick-draw and high-score competitions.
The Shot Veryfier app is another app that uses your camera to track hits on targets posted to a wall or similar location. It features two modes: Precision mode, which when calibrated to the target on your wall, tracks your score on a bullseye-style target, and Silhouette Shooting mode, which tracks hits on up to six scaled-down IPSC Classic targets.
Website: Available on Google Play Platforms: Android Cost: $9.99 (has in-app purchases)
Laser Range has some unique features compared to other apps that use a smartphone camera to record hits. It has a bullseye scoring feature like other apps in this article, but the app will also calculate the hit factor (HF) for sports such as USPSA or IPSC of your practice run after the drill is over.
Dry-fire training is a proven, effective way to improve your marksmanship, and using an training app such as the ones listed here can turn a boring, repetitive process into something an enjoyable, challenging contest that entertains you as they build your skills.