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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.