Gear Review: Targetize Personal Firearms Training System

The Targetize Personal Firearms Trainings System is one of a few new devices that track muzzle movement of your pistol in order to improve your marksmanship.

Although I’m sure the technical devil is in the details, the concept is fairly simple. A motion sensor attaches to the bottom of your pistol and measures any movement of the muzzle during the trigger squeeze. An app downloaded onto your smartphone then provides analysis and feedback on your results and technique.

Targetize System components (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

According to their website:

The system measures your muzzle movement, acceleration and orientation a thousand of times per second, to pinpoint the difference between your POA (Point of Aim) and where the muzzle was pointing as you made the shot.

The system does not see the target. It doesn’t know if you have a target. It’s a motion sensor only. The idea is that you’ll put the sights on the target, the sensor will recognize that point, and then track everything that happens to the muzzle after that.

The app then gives you corrective feedback. It’s not clear where the intersection of data analysis and feedback occurs, but the Targetize website says that it was developed by former Israeli Special Forces as well as professional shooters and trainers.

Setting up Targetize is petty easy. Buy the device, download the free app on a smart phone, and follow the prompts. My Galaxy S7 Edge is usually horrible at pairing with other devices, but it connects just fine with the motion sensor.
The motion sensor attaches to any Picatinny or Glock style rail under your pistol. If you don’t have a rail, it’s not going to attach and the whole thing is a no-go.

Targetize System motion sensor (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

The charging set-up for Targetize is more annoying than it has to be. The cord has a USB connection on the outlet side, and a propriety connection to the motion sensor on the other. That side’s connection is held on loosely and will fall off and disconnect very easily. I had to prop it up in order for it to continually charge.

Fortunately, that charge only takes a couple of hours. I don’t know what the fully battery life is, but I used it for 10 minutes of dry fire practice a day for a week without having to recharge it every.

Targetize System app menu (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Targetize works in either dry fire, CO2, or Live Fire modes. You’ll need to choose which mode prior each session of training.

You’ll also need to choose a firearm from their list and add it to the in-app “arsenal”. (Their word, not mine.) Lots of guns are there, but there’s also an “other” category if yours isn’t.

The point of adding your firearm to the “arsenal” is so that you can track your training and your results with each firearm. I found this feature pretty useful. This allowed me to compare my muzzle movement between pistols. For instance, I could look and see the difference in muzzle movement between a Wilson Combat 1911 and a stock Glock 21.

Targetize System unstable (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

With the Glock, the muzzle moves more during the trigger squeeze, but basically starts and ends up in the same place. With the Wilson, the muzzle doesn’t move far at all, and stays in line the whole time. Oddly enough, although the diagnosis for the shot above with the Wilson is on target, it also says “not stable”.

Note that the device is tracking the trigger squeeze only. It doesn’t track and display what happens to the muzzle in recoil.

There are a couple of interesting features with the Targetize system. There’s a built-in series of drills in the app. It also has the ability to track share your scores. Put those two things together and you can challenge other users of the Targetize system using a standard set of drills, including with live fire. I’m a big fan of competition, and including a way to add stress and to compete against others is a great addition to the system.

Targetize System log (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)
My primary concern with the system is that it did not accurately display where the rounds end up on the target in live fire.

During live fire use, the gun tracks the muzzle and, after you fire, it tells you where the shot should have landed on the target.

In the company’s online promotional video, their sales manager points out that it’s frustrating to have to pull you targets back, or inspect your target after firing to see where the round lands. He goes so far as to say that with the Targetize system, that’s no longer necessary. You don’t need to see where your shot landed on the target because the Targetize does all that for you.

Except it doesn’t.

I tried the Targetize system on several different firearms, including an M&P 2.0 Compact, a GLOCK 21, a GLOCK 19, and a Wilson Combat CQB Tactical LE. I also asked two other people to use the system at The Range at Austin. They downloaded the app on their own phones and shot with either the GLOCK 21 or the M&P2.0.

We all shared the same experience. Sometimes the app showed right were the round ended up, but often it didn’t. This issue was the same for every shooter, on any phone, with both guns we tried.

Targetize System point of impact prediction (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

For instance, in the screen shot above, it tells me that almost all of my shots are low and to the left. The reality is shown below. For point of reference, I was standing with a two-hand grip and aiming at the bottom line of the 4″ circle at 15 yards. Obviously, all of my shots were quite high, not low.

Targetize System point of impact(image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

I’ve emailed the company with the issue but haven’t gotten a response. In their FAQ online, they state:

Please notice the sight image on the center of your screen represents your POA (Point of Aim) each circle on the “live” screen represents the difference between your muzzle position at POA (Point of Aim) and muzzle direction as the bullet was leaving the chamber. You can also see the trail your muzzle made between these two points in time. Sometimes when the target does not match what you are seeing on your phone screen it may mean that your actual POA may be different then what you believe it to be. For any additional details please contact us.

So I guess they mean I’m not really aiming where I think I’m aiming, nor are the other shooters who tried it. I’m supposed to believe the app, not my lying eyes.

Even if that were true, there’s very little training value to be gained in live fire using this device if it misrepresents the point of impact and can’t be trued for point of impact.

Live fire is a validation of your training, and if the system doesn’t recognize that, it’s not going to help you actually put lead on target.

Targetize System diagnosis (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Now, take a look at the overall prognosis, “slapping the trigger.” This group was done in slow, controlled fire, with a Wilson Combat smithed GLOCK 19 with a Zev trigger. Each of the shots were taken in slow fire, with a slow and careful trigger squeeze.

What is actually happening is that I’m squeezing too hard on the bottom of the grip, “heeling” the pistol. That’s causing my right wrist to break ever so slightly. It’s a recurring problem I have when shooting slowly, and it occurs mostly when I’m shooting two-handed and later in my range sessions. It has nothing to do with slapping the trigger.

I know this because MSG Paul Howe (Retired) diagnosed it for me and showed me an effective method for correcting the problem, all in about five minutes of shooting.

The training value I see in the Targetize app is in studying the track line of the muzzle during the trigger squeeze. There is some real value there.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot more to shooting accurately than that, and the Targetize app doesn’t address those points at all. At least for me, and the other people who I witnessed shoot with it, the system doesn’t provide value in diagnosing imperfections in technique, and certainly can’t consistently identify where the rounds fall.

Targetize System in box (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Specifications: Targetize Personal Firearms System

Retail Price: $74.99 (via the recommended vendor, Amazon)

Rating (out of five stars):

Overall * *
The system easily pairs with smartphones and provides a way to record standard drills and compete with others. It’s easy to use and fairly inexpensive. Unfortunately, it failed to accurately show where shots land in live fire, and didn’t correctly identify issues with improper technique.

comments

  1. avatar Hasaf says:

    It sounds a lot like the MantisX. I have the MantisX and it works well for me. However, It promises less than this one does.

    This one seems to claim that it can predict where the shot will land, and it fails at that. The MantisX claims to analyze the shooters performance in relation to proper form, that translates to movements just before the hammer hits.

    Based on your review, and my experience, it seems that the Targetize over promises. In comparison, the MantisX promises less; however, it does deliver on its promises.

    1. avatar Chris H says:

      MantisX delivers.

      I’ve owned one since the first pre-order batch and it provides solid feedback with an ever improving application. It gets the job done, well.

      This seems to be a bit out there on the hype scale.

      My money (literally) is on MantisX – still. It has been one of the few products that met and exceeded my expectations because the expectations were realistic from the get go and they kept improving.

      Don’t get me started on phone-based shot timers – including those with dedicated “hardware” as they are a perfect example of the opposite scenario.

      1. A lot has changed in the last 2.5 years since that initial review! And there is a lot more to come….

        1. avatar joleolsen says:

          Wow. You guys are on top of your game watching for product mentions.

          I respect that.

          Going to check out your stuff next.

  2. avatar Pete says:

    I prefer a laser myself.
    When teaching a new shooter any jerking or flinching is instantly obvious.

    1. avatar binder says:

      Exactly!!!! Get one that is momentary and “fires” with a trigger pull. Makes dry fire practice 200% better and will even teach you the basics of point shooting.

  3. avatar Brandon says:

    I have the MantisX which seems similar to this but is basically designed to work on trigger control. The MantisX does a good job of helping you get excellent trigger co trol, but it doesn’t claim to know where your shots are going. Overall this looks like a knock off MantisX which promises more while delivering less with a worse UI.

  4. avatar Jedi Wombat says:

    I was going to talk about the MantisX myself. Have one, use it a lot, even with a laser. I dont know if it helps everyone, but it definitely helped me go from a squeeze to a press, isolating my trigger finger as much as possible. For someone who doesn’t get to the range as much as he would like, it has done good things for me. YMMV.

  5. avatar Rocketman says:

    Seems to me that the reason that sometimes the sensor fails to function is because the sensor is reading that the gun is still in motion after and during the shot is made. I dry fire quite a bit with my laser equipped para-ordinance and can see that their is a very slight movement to the left at the 9 O’clock position when I shoot. Still working on correcting it.

    1. avatar Anymouse says:

      First guess is the trigger is too high on your finget and your pull is pushing the gun to the left, assuming you’re right handed. If you’re left handed, the trigger would be too low on the finger, and the trigger pull is pulling the gun into the hand. Dry fire is a great way to figure out the Goldielocks spot for your hand and that gun.

    2. avatar Jon in CO says:

      What’s actually happening is when you squeeze trigger, the other 3 fingers squeeze the grip and force it down and left. Just really work on single finger manipulation, and you’ll be fine.

      Honestly though, if you’re hitting man size targets at 25 without issue, I wouldn’t worry about it.

      1. avatar jwtaylor says:

        That is an extremely low expectation for performance.

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