Training With the Strikeman Dry Fire System
With ammo and free time in short supply these days, not to mention the crazy cost of ammunition (when you can find it), dry-fire practice IS the ticket. Honestly, dry-fire practice really should be part of your ongoing training. Getting your hands on your gun and “working it” on a regular basis is the only way to stay fine-tuned for your armed self-defense. Unless of course, you have a range in your backyard and a storage room full of ammo!
You can read more about the basics of dry fire practice here
Dry Fire Tools
There are a lot of dry fire training tools out there to choose from and trust me, I have tried many of them. For me, the key is not how high tech it is, but rather how easy it is to set up, use and employ. I’m pretty good on a computer, smartphone, and even Switch, but some of the dry-fire training kits are just too complicated. Me, I like things fast and simple. If it’s not, no matter how great it is, I simply won’t use it. Time is precious.
The beauty of a laser/app system like this is that you can really improve your skills. The app tracks your progress and allows you to see your improvement. The app uses your smartphone camera to track and time every hit on the target. It then can store the data so you are able to really monitor training and improvments as a shooter. The app has both training and competition options, which are a lot of fun. More on the app later.
For me, having the ability to train with my own gun is huge. That is the gun I carry and will depend upon to save my life if necessary. Training, moving, sighting, and pressing the trigger on my gun is the only way I can truly train to be the best self-protector possible.
Not having to use a provided pistol that is nothing like my gun or have to change out the barrel or other components to train is something to really consider when selecting a laser dry-fire system. Some other key points on the overall system are that like any laser cartridge type system, with most semi-automatic handguns, you have to rack the slide to re-set the trigger for each shot.
The Strikeman System
The Strikeman comes in two versions, the Strikeman and the Strikeman Pro. The original comes with a single target, a laser cartridge, a smartphone holder, and access to the app. The price is $99. The Pro version comes with a large target stand, 2 target versions, laser cartridge, smartphone tripod, target screw knobs, feet, ropes, and stakes for outdoor use, and access to the upgraded Strikeman Pro app.
The Pro has a price of $199.00 and an optional app subscription of $9.99/month. You don’t have to do the subscription, but it does allow you to keep and store all of your history. The laser cartridges are available in 9mm, .380. .40 S&W, .45 ACP, .38 Special, .357 Sig, and .223/5.56. The laser cartridges have a rubber “activator button” so it won’t damage your guns’ firing pin. This is an important feature.
Packaging and Contents
The Strikeman arrived beautifully packaged. Clean and well-organized, not a ton of pieces. Just my style! Most importantly, it had a simple one-sheet, easy to read, illustrated instructions, not a novel. This says to me that if a company cares this much about its first impression and how their product is presented, they take the same level of care in the product and their customers.
Getting Set Up
I got it set up literally in minutes. The target stand was incredibly light. I didn’t have a good table to set it on, as I wanted the target up higher off of the ground so I put it on my couch! Worked great. I downloaded the app, upgraded to the “Pro” version. After inserting the batteries into the laser cartridge, I was ready to go. Seriously, the instructions couldn’t have been easier to follow. I just wish everything I bought came with such clear, simple, and illustrated instructions!
Before I began my practice, I removed all ammunition from the room and spent some time on the app to familiarize myself with it. There are a lot of great features, so spending some time exploring them is a good idea.
I chose to buy the subscription, which comes with a 2-week trial. In the open app, at the bottom, there are multiple tabs on the bottom of the screen, Profile, Metrics, Train, Compete and Feed.
The lighting is also important. You don’t want any shadows, or light reflecting on the target that could interfere with the app’s ability to track shots. A big plus is that you can use this indoors or out so you aren’t limited by having to be connected to a TV or computer monitor.
In the Profile tab, you can set all of your personal preferences on how you want to interact with the app. Here you add the firearm you are using and can add as many firearms as you like. You will also find all of the tutorial videos here. There is a video tutorial for just about everything. These are very helpful.
The Metrics tab holds all of your training history and data. You can view detailed analytics of all of our training sessions. For example, your shot score (where on the target you hit) VS your shot time (how long it took you to fire the shot). You can also view the target to see the percentages of where on the target your shots are hitting.
The Train tab is where the fun happens. Here you create your own training templates that you can reuse at any time.
On this tab, you set all of your preferences for your training session. You can select the following settings:
- Which gun you will be using
- What type of drill you want to do
- Which target. Single, multiple or humanoid
- The training “game“
- The built-in shot timer,
- How many shots you will fire (or how long of a time frame for the session)
- The distance you will be shooting from
- If you want to do more than one session
- And more
It allows you to name and save your templates so you can quickly do the same training again, anytime.
You can create multiple templates, each focusing on different training goals. You can train shooting at a single target, or if you have the Pro you can shoot at multiple targets. The app audibly call out a target and then track where you hit the target and how long it took to get the shot off.
Here, you can also select Critical Thinking in which the app will call out a target by letter, number, or color. It forces you to have to then figure out which target it is, and shoot. Again, the app tracks your shots scores and times. There is also a Rapid Fire option and a Free For All. These “game-like” training setups are great. The app also will allow you to repeat the training session and will prompt you by voice to repeat the session.
In the Compete tab – you can set up matches with other shooters. You can even set up a complete tournament made up of multiple matches. Again, the app will track everything for you. What a great way to train and have fun with friends and family members. You can set up the matches with any of the single or multi-target “games” like in the Train tab.
The Feed tab is a place to share your results and share photos of your training with friends. And.. get some kudos and encouragement! The app defaults to automatically posting your results. You can change this setting in the privacy settings of the Profile Tab.
Before you start – you need to sight the laser. In fact, each time you put the laser cartridge into your gun to begin training, you will sight the laser. This is done in the Profile tab and the sight laser button shows on each gun you have entered. It is a critical step as it will give you more accurate shot detection. This process is very quick and for me, worked every time.
When beginning a training session, the app will prompt you with a safety prompt, to help you ensure you follow proper safety protocols. I think this is a good thing. Making sure you are taking the steps to stay safe and be in the proper dryfire mindset is a very smart thing.
The app uses your phone camera to automatically calibrate the target. This will “connect the dots” so to speak so that the app can accurately track your shots on the target. The phone, in the provided tripod, should be at least 3-8 feet and squarely facing the target. The distance really depends on your phone’s camera. I found around 3 ½ to 4 feet worked best with my particular phone and I also learned it works quickly and best when you “start” the process of calibrating by fitting the target into the phone screen with no zoom. Then make any necessary zoom adjustments.
The tutorials found in the Profile tab guide you through everything. There are also some helpful videos on the Strikeman website.
IMPORTANT TIP: remove the batteries from the cartridge when not in use to preserve battery life.
My Personal Thoughts
I really enjoy training with the Strikeman. It is easy to use and I love being able to see all of my analytics and see my progress. The laser cartridge worked flawlessly and I had no issues inserting or removing it from my gun.
Outside of the app missing and not registering just a few shots, (likely due to some shadows on the target) and some difficulty in seeing the differences in the target color labeling (likely due to my “slightly older” eyes) I found the entire system worked extremely well.
The app, which is really the heart of this system, worked really well. It was fairly intuitive and easy to move around. The sound effects and voice prompt during training are really helpful and useful. It was very fun to use. Although I am training for something really serious, if you’re not enjoying your training, it is much, much harder to stick with it.
With the smaller, single target system, storing and keeping it readily available would be so easy. But, I can easily store the assembled larger target in the back of my closet. This way, getting my regular dry-fire practice in will be even easier.