EVERY SHOOTER SHOULD BE WORKING toward improved performance. Whether that means faster draws, smoother reloads, improved trigger control, or any myriad other things, it all comes down to performance.
So how does one get better? The obvious answer is practice. In a perfect world, all shooters would get to the range as often as they want, burn through as much ammo as they want, and take as many professional training courses as possible. Alas, the world is not perfect, so many shooters resort to dry-fire drills to fill the gap. Now, there’s nothing wrong with dry-fire and home practice, but it does have limitations.
The best part about shooting live ammo and training courses (individually or, ideally, together) is the feedback you get. Targets show hits and trainers provide 3rd-party insight into performance.
Everything has gone digital these days, and that includes home training. One of the coolest systems out there is the new Mantis X10 Elite. I tried it for the first time at last year’s Professional Outdoor Media Association’s annual meeting and range day. They had the system hooked up to an iPad and a CO2 pistol. I was impressed and knew I had to bring one home to try more thoroughly.
The Mantis system has been around for a few years now, but they launched some new options this year that greatly expand the training capabilities of the system. Previous versions worked for handguns and rifles, but you had to get a separate unit for shotguns. This new one works for all three.
On a basic level, the system works in three easy steps:
Connect MantisX to the accessory rail of any firearm, just like you would any other firearm attachment. If you don’t have a rail, they offer adapters, and it works with live fire, dry-fire, airsoft, and CO2.
Install the smartphone application, turn on MantisX, and pair the device with a phone via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE or Bluetooth 4.0).
Evaluate shooting performance, identify areas of improvement, and track progress over time.
What’s In the Box
Inside the nifty zipper travel case for the X10 Elite is (of course) the unit, a mount for rifle or shotgun barrels, rubber shims for precise fitting, hardware for the rifle/shotgun mount, and a charging cable.
Setup is super simple, and yet it’s also very specific, allowing you to pick a make, model, and caliber of the gun you’re using; whether you’re right or left handed; whether you’re shooting dry-fire, live fire, or CO2; and the direction and location of the unit as it is mounted to your gun.
This lets you track your performance for multiple guns and scenarios and compare them to one another for a complete picture of your training.
How Does it Work?
All of this is accomplished by the MantisX tracking the movement of your gun, the barrel, the trigger, and the recoil. Shots are grouped according to movement pattern similarity. Each shot is tracked individually and then grouped to analyze trends.
Then, the data is displayed in three colors: blue tracks your hold/sighting of the gun; yellow follows your trigger pull; red indicated the shot breaking and recoil pattern.
Being able to see what you’re doing right and where you need improvement is great, but it means little if you don’t know what to do in order to get better.
MantisX offers insight into what may be causing the problems and how to fix them. It will let you know if you’re anticipating the recoil, breaking your wrist down, etc. If you click on each of those issues, it will show you what that means and what you can do to remedy the problem.
There’s also an audio feedback option so that you can get shot placement and improvement advice without having to take your eye off the target each time.
The app’s RecoilMeter is designed specifically to track your muzzle rise, recovery time, recoil angle, and recoil width to show you exactly how you’re reacting to the recoil in minute detail down to hundredths of a degree and hundredths of a second. Pretty cool stuff.
The Holster Draw Analysis is perfect for shooters who are looking to improve their draw and reload speed, whether it be in a concealed deployment or competition scenario.
Improving your shooting skills is great, but you know what makes it better? Competing against your friends and being able to brag that you’re a better shot. The app allows you to create groups and link up with your friends so that you can compete together even if you’re nowhere near each other. It’s like having a nationwide, customizable shooting league on your phone.
Looking to the Future
As it exists now, the system is super robust and packed full of features, but there’s always room for improvement. MantisX knows this and plans on rolling out additional features to the app at no additional cost to the user. In the near future, the app will also allow for evaluation of shooting on the move, rapid fire, multi-target, and moving targets (specifically for use with shotguns). A separate – but still free – app is also in the works to use the X10 Elite unit for archery purposes.
If you’ve already got the original MantisX or X3 and want to upgrade to the X10 Elite, the company has a trade-in program. Buy the new X10 system ($249.99) and send back your X or X3 and get a refund of $100 or $120 respectively.
I’ve been really impressed with this product. You get a lot of bang for your buck and I’ve noticed an improvement in my shooting just in the five months I’ve been using it. My father-in-law tried out the dry-fire when he was here and he, too, thought it was great.
He said he took the advice given to him by the X10 Elite and incorporated it into his live fire drills at home. Hell, even my wife thinks it’s cool. She knows how to shoot, but this system has made her want to shoot more. That’s an all-around win in my book!
Hands down, this is the best shooter training system out there for the money. You don’t have to buy a special gun, there’s no need for proprietary “ammo,” and it’s super versatile. Obviously, this isn’t meant to replace in-person, professional training. Rather, it’s a great way to add to it. If you’re serious about becoming a better shooter, I’d highly recommend getting the Mantis X10 Elite.
BONUS GEAR ADVICE
If you’re doing a lot of dry-fire practice, you know how frustrating it can be to use dummy rounds or recoil absorbing blanks with a striker-fired pistol. A-Zoom’s StrikerCaps can help with the frustration. They work just like regular Snap Caps, only they aren’t ejected every time you rack the slide. Instead, they stay in the barrel, so you can reset and fire the striker as often as you want. When you’re done with it, simply push it out of the chamber with a pen or a cleaning rod. Read more here.