Shot timers are excellent live fire and dry fire training aids and tools always used in competition shooting sports. Shot timers are electronic devices with speakers, microphones, and a screen to display the numeric information they record. The shot timer works by creating an audible beep allowing the shooter to begin and digitally measure and record the time from the beep to the first and at shot after that. This data is usually recorded to hundredths of a second (centisecond) to provide high accuracy and reliable, quantifiable data. Like in other professional sports, competitions are won or lost by fractions of seconds; in shooting sports, a shot timer is the tool used to generate that measurement.
SHOT TIMERS MEASURE THE FOLLOWING PERFORMANCE DATA
- Time to First Shot: The time from a start signal to the first shot on target.
- Split times aka Splits: The time between shots on the same target.
- Transitions: The time between shots on different targets.
- Total Elapsed Time: The time from a start signal to the final shot.
- Par Times: Pre-determined time intervals for completing various skills and drills on the clock.
The types of data that a shot timer can record are extremely helpful in enabling shooters to gauge their performance and improve their skills. The shot timer can be a rather humbling and illuminating tool. A shooter’s perception of time may not match reality, and the timer will reveal they are either faster or slower than they believe. By recording the performance of the same drill multiple times, a shooter can discover inefficiencies and expose areas of improvement by comparing the timed results. Many shooters keep a logbook to track their progress over their training career. There are fantastic shooting drills that are a fun course of fire and incorporate a time and score standard to meet. Some of these drills are demanding and require practice and dedication to master.
Beware the speed trap! Before introducing a shot timer and trying to “race the clock”, a shooter must first develop correct and safe gun handling skills. Safety ALWAYS comes before speed. A newer shooter can utilize a shot timer to measure the time it takes to complete a task flawlessly, emphasizing accuracy and technique. As those skills are honed, they can work to reduce their personal par time by half a second to shave time off drills. Experienced shooters can use the shot timer to push themselves to measure their top performance at peak speed.
Shot timers come in a variety of sizes and at a range of prices. They can have simple or complex controls and record more or less data. Some apps exist for smartphones that will do in a pinch but are not as precise or reliable. Because shot timers are the ultimate “truth teller” and measure a shooter’s performance, they are excellent tools for introducing a level of competitiveness and psychological stress. Rather than letting the timer beep paralyze them with fear, experienced shooters look forward to the buzzer as it allows them to do that thing they love most – shoot!
Pro Tip – READ THE MANUAL! It is amazing how many people never read the owners manual and miss out on so many great features!
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