I’m not a big fan of the idea that this accessory or that one can make you a better shooter. There are slight performance variances that different gizmos and doohickeys can deliver, for sure. However, if you don’t know how to shoot in the first place, almost none of them are going to help you very much.
One piece of gear I believe can make you a better shooter, though, is a shot timer. I use the Pocket Pro II, but there are a number of different options out there. A shot timer is a device that allows you to measure your times when shooting, and the device can pick up when a shot is fired.
While they are used heavily in 3-Gun, IDPA, USPSA, and other competitions, you can use them for nearly any kind of training. Even if it’s just for the start signal. How does a shot timer improve your shooting?
Timers and Stress
Timers can be set for a delayed start or instant start. Instant is used when you have another person holding the timer. As soon as you hit the go button the timer starts recording.
Delayed start allows the shooter to set a delay in seconds between the go button and the beep. This is perfect when shooting alone; you can hit the button and assume the necessary position prior to shooting, giving yourself a moment before you have to start.
You can also randomize your time setting with the Pocket Pro II to keep you guessing. Mine is set for random and it can go off any time between four and eight seconds after I hit the start button. This randomized setting and the inability to anticipate the beep adds stress. You can measure your skills with the timer and diagnose problem areas with time-based data.
Par Times and Dry Fire
Par times can be set as a countdown timer on the Pocket Pro II and it can work with both instant and delayed shot times. A par timer — a designated start and end interval — can be used for a variety of different training situations.
Par times can also be set when a drill has a strict pass or fail time. For example, the El Presidente drill gives you ten seconds to finish it so I set a par time at 10 seconds and run the drill.
I like the par time function for dry firing. You can set a timer to beep when doing reloads or when drawing. Without shots fired, the traditional recording use of a shot timer isn’t very useful so par time capability is a must-have. As you get faster you can lower the par times and keep getting faster.
Lastly, the Pocket Pro II can measure your split times. Splits times are the times between shots. Knowing your split times can help you build a cadence while shooting and measure your ability to transition between targets.
Split times are perfect for measuring and diagnosing where you slow down in a drill or in any action shooting sports.
You’d be surprised at the differences in split times when it comes to transitions, especially target transitions at different ranges. Recording and reading your split times on drills like the aforementioned El Presidente can lead you to diagnose where your weaknesses are. If you can diagnose these weaknesses you can fix them and get faster.
The Pocket Pro II
The Pocket Pro II is a tough device and a great shot timer. I’ve been using it for a few months now and its never missed a shot or failed to BEEP when I needed it to.
It does take a little practice and careful reading of the directions to work the settings but once you get the hang of it you won’t have any issues. It saves your settings from the previous use. The buttons are also big and easy to use when wearing gloves. There are only five buttons so once you learn the layout you can use them without even looking.
The Pocket Pro II has a large clip that makes it quick and easy to fit onto a belt or in a pocket. The timer is powered by a 9-volt battery and will last for up to 20 hours on a single cell. The screen is bright enough to read during the brightest of days. The display is big enough for quick and easy reading too.
The only downside is the price. Shot timers tend to be rather expensive, especially considering how simple and low tech they are. The technology really hasn’t changed in decades. However, the Pocket Pro II is a great tool and, to me, it’s well worth the money. It’s made me a better shooter, and that’s well worth it.