Mantis Firearms Training System
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- Last updated: 19/05/2017
When I visit any of the major shooting and tactical shows, I’m always on the lookout for something that I find truly ‘game changing’ and for this year’s SHOT Show, there was one product that stood out for me. ‘MantisX’ is a relatively new training tool that quite literally puts a top-level shooting instructor in your pocket!
How often do we rail on about the importance of regular and thorough training when it comes to firearms, but for many of us, getting that all important ‘range time’ is not quite as simple as it sounds. When I lived in the USA, I would shoot handgun at least once, if not twice, a week at my local range and take as many courses as I could with highly experienced instructors at hand.
Having now returned to the UK though, my regular handgun training has been relegated to using either air or airsoft replicas in order to ‘keep my hand and eye in’, and given that there is no handgun culture here, it’s very difficult to find instruction of any kind, as handguns fall under the ‘Section 5’ banner, which is restricted pretty much to Mil and LE. I do travel abroad when it’s feasible and there it is possible to shoot handguns, but sadly constraints in both finances and simply time make this a lot rarer an occurrence than I’d like in an ideal world. Whilst the replica handguns do allow me to work on my holster work and manipulations, they are in reality a poor second to the ‘real deal’. Although there are numerous highly effective laser training solutions out there, these sadly cost considerable amounts of money and once again having the space to make proper and full use of them is an issue; not really an ideal situation when it comes to training at home and on a really regular basis. Even with a home training set-up though, there’s another element that comes into play; although you may hit a target with a laser trace or indeed some form of ‘pellet’ projectile, it could be that without the remedial input of an experienced instructor/mentor, you are actually setting possible bad habits in stone, which will undoubtedly affect your competence and performance when it comes time to ‘go loud’. I’ve been searching for a training solution that I could use effectively and regularly at home, but to date hadn’t found one that I was comfortable with. That all changed when I encountered MantisX.
The idea for the MantisX was conceived in early 2013 when Austin Allgaier, the company president, was at lunch and the group was discussing invention ideas. He thought it would be great if there was some kind of mobile firearms training system for the everyday shooter. At the time, all of the training systems required complex equipment and were expensive to purchase. The motive behind the MantisX is to allow the shooter to have a coach in their pocket every time they train. They have enabled the shooter to have the same system for both live fire and dry practice, one that could be enhanced without additional purchase, and a system that requires minimal setup. With those parameters in mind, the MantisX was born. The MantisX has come a long way since the first prototype. From a PCB that was ducttaped to a Glock, to the current rail mounted system, the team have learned a lot and made many improvements. Because the hardware integrates with an app, they are able to constantly update the software to customise it according to the feedback of real users. They launch new updates every six weeks that are always available to all users. Since MantisX was launched in December of 2015, the team has continued to grow to meet the demands of the industry. The system has been well received by consumers, Law enforcement agencies, the military, and instructors around the globe. MantisX is well on its way to becoming one of the leading training systems on the market. Quite simply, MantisX is a revolutionary patent-pending handgun attachment that helps firearms enthusiasts and professionals train more efficiently. While attached to a handgun, it analyses every shot and generates actionable data that you can use to improve your shooting mechanics. MantisX detects each shot you make, analyses the movement of the firearm during the trigger pull, and assigns a score to each shot that signifies deviation from the aiming position. Based on the movement patterns of the firearm, MantisX identifies areas of improvement and provides coaching that will improve your mechanics, your score, and your precision. MantisX also keeps track of all your shooting sessions and generates useful reports that will help you identify your shooting trends, gauge your progress, and set adequate improvement goals.
You can connect the diminutive MantisX unit to the accessory rail of any firearm, just like you would with any other attachment like a taclite or a laser, and it works equally well with live fire, dry fire, airsoft, and CO2/air. There’s a free App to download, which you can install on most smart devices, and once you have this you simply turn on MantisX, and pair the system with the phone or device via Bluetooth. Once the unit is paired with the device, it’s a case of taking one shot, which acts as your point of aim/impact from then on; each subsequent trigger pull will show how far you are deviating from that original point of aim/impact and show you detailed data of exactly what you are doing wrong! Each shot is scored depending on how much you moved away from your point of aim/ impact position during the trigger pull. The perfect score is 100 (impossible unless the handgun is locked in a vice!). For each shot, MantisX detects the direction of the barrel movement during the trigger pull; if you tend to shoot to the right, the right sector will light up on the on-screen ‘wheel’ just like the military ‘correction target’ of old.
After a few shots, the training device shows the pattern of your movement. Analysing an individual shot or the group of shots, MantisX provides you with a suggestion as to what you’re doing wrong (in the case of pulling right it suggests ‘Too much trigger finger and Thumbing’) that could improve your shooting mechanics. If the terminology is not familiar to you, then reading the coaching tips that are included as part of the App will enable you to focus your efforts in specific areas for the next round of shooting.
You can basically track the movement of your handgun’s barrel during the trigger pull. Shots are grouped according to movement pattern similarity. You can track the score of each shot individually, which easily allows you to analyse trends. A detailed trace will indicate Green: your hold/sighting, Yellow: trigger pull, and Red: the shot breaking and recoil pattern.
In their own words the guys at MantisX state: “We’re gun nuts, with some heavy geek seasoning and a deep passion for our families and our future. Like you, we want to shoot better. Like you, we recognise that shooting is a perishable skill. We want more options for effective, efficient training. Like you, we believe that when performance is measured, performance improves. Like you, we want to take the guesswork out, and replace it with cold, hard data. So we made Mantis – for us. And it turns out that a whole bunch of other people felt the same way. This is only the beginning for Mantis.
We work tirelessly to improve algorithms, give actionable data, and help shooters at every skill level – to shoot better.” The guys also state that “94% of the beta testers improved markedly after using MantisX for just 20 minutes” and I can attest to that being the truth; the details given by the system really focus you on what you are doing right, what you are doing wrong, and how to rectify the negatives.
On my first attempt with the system, with an unfamiliar handgun model and some good old-fashioned nerves about performing in front of my USA-based peers thrown in I was pretty abysmal; after I’d had a long, hard talk with myself I returned and tried again, this time actually taking note of what the data screens were telling me. This led to a somewhat more respectable final score of 87.4 out of 100, but I know that with time and practice using the system I could better this even further!
MantisX really offers a new paradigm that is a totally fresh way of doing things and that has a profound effect on performance. ‘New paradigm’ draws its roots from the idea of a paradigm shift in science, in which technology or new findings completely change the way people think about or interact with something, and to me MantisX does exactly that in relation to firearms training. It’s a complex system that actually makes training far simpler, and given its miniscule size and negligible weight, it’s a tool that you can quite literally use anywhere; as there’s no projectile to contend with; this is even something I could train with if I had a few spare moments during my working day in the office, and the mounted unit fits neatly into my Safariland Glock/Surefire holster.
Overall, MantisX is a truly stand-out product for me, and thus far everyone that I’ve shown it to has been in total agreement. Whether you’re a tactical shooter, a competitor, or simply a dedicated recreational shooter who wants to perform at the best possible level then this is one bit of training kit that you will most definitely want! Land Warrior Airsoft in Scotland will soon have stock, although a final UK price is awaited at the time of writing due to shipping and duties.