Previous Post
Next Post

When I was a teenager, I liked to play paintball with cousins and friends, along with a few army guys from church. The realistic fighting environment, including some pain if you lose, was a lot of fun. Being one step removed from risk of death along with some people to teach me about things like cover fire was a lot of fun. During those years, I came across a video game on the shelf at Best Buy that made me laugh out loud (and draw some confused looks from other shoppers).

It was a game where you play paintball, which is silly because paintball is already a simulation. A simulation of a simulation was both unappealing and hilarious. I bring this up because I’d imagine that this is how many readers feel when they hear about VR training.

After all, shooting at the range is a simulation of real fighting, so simulating that is a bit like the paintball video game. Instead of spending money on a pair of VR goggles and some accessories, why not just head to the range, right?

In this article, I want to explain why VR firearms training has become so much more than that.

Benefit #1: Realism

In some ways, 1990s VR was terrible for the industry as a whole. Better VR experiences felt like you were wearing a Volkswagen on your head. Cheaper ones, like the failed Nintendo Virtual Boy, flopped because the technology was just too expensive and immature to impress people. It was so bad that even today, the industry is still making jokes about it, like this recent April Fool’s joke. Other VR and AR flops since then, like the Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR, Google Glass, and Microsoft HoloLens (including a failed military version of the product) further justify people’s skepticism of the idea. Even the $3,500 Apple Vision Pro has been a bit of a joke.

On top of reasonable skepticism, there’s also the problem of sharing what it does with people. Because modern VR headsets give you a 3D view that follows the movement of your head, it’s really not possible to convey the full experience on a 2D phone or computer screen. So, I can share a video of VR firearms training, and people will be like, “That’s a lame video game. No thanks.”

So, the only way I can really convey how much the technology has improved is encourage readers to find a store that lets you try one out. I wouldn’t recommend heading to the Apple Store for a demo, because their headset just doesn’t have any training apps available. The Meta Quest 2 or 3 (I highly recommend the 3) is not only affordable, but can do 80% of what the Apple can do, and probably more because software and games of all kinds are available. Best Buy has Quest 3 demos on weekends at some stores. The Meta website has a tool to look up other stores with demos.

Benefit #2: It’s Very Cost Effective

Once you get a chance to try a Meta Quest headset out, you’ll probably next wonder why you should spend anywhere from $200-$650 on one. But, I’d invite you to both take an inventory of your ammo and then take an inventory of your gun safe. Chances are that you’ve spent a lot more than your significant other knows, and some of it was spent on guns that rarely leave the safe. And have you seen the cost of ammo these days?!

Being able to train not just on your fundamentals, but also things like competition shooting and facing off against other people in virtual environments isn’t cheap on the range, nor is it cheap in places that offer things like airsoft and Simunition. VR can’t replace those sorts of training, but it can help you progress and improve faster for the cost of a PSA Dagger and a few boxes of 9mm.

Think of it as a force multplier in your training toolbox. With ammo-free practice between range sessions, you can get a lot more good out of your live-fire time.

Benefit #3: Time Is Money

Finally, let’s consider how precious your time is. If most of us are honest, we’d have to admit that we don’t get to the range every day or even every week. Many if not most of us struggle to get out there once a month. Unless it’s your job to hit the range, other life obligations make it tough to fit in.

With a VR headset and software/hardware like AceXR, you can hit the virtual range anytime you have 20 minutes to spare. You don’t need to load your guns and targets up, drive to a range, spend time shooting, and then pack up, drive home, and unpack. Reasonably good practice is right there ready to go in two minutes, no matter where you are. You can even pack it in a suitcase to get some range time on business trips!

Next week, I’m going to write a follow-up article that shows you what some of these real benefits are. But, in the meantime, be sure to see if you can find a place to try a VR headset out!

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. Interesting to this old guy but $ is limited. I find unless there’s an explosion & fireball coming out of the barrel I get little benefit. I do some dry firing from time to time.

    • I would only be interested if I could connect with another live “player” to provide me with the real-life unpredictability of human behavior. Computer algos are programmed and can be predicted once recognized.

      To simulate an actual DGU, give me a human being who can provide the experience of an actual DGU.

    • W­o­r­k­i­n­g o­n­l­i­n­e b­r­i­n­g­s i­n $­2­8­5 d­o­l­l­a­r­s a­n h­o­u­r f­o­r m­e. M­y b­e­s­t b­u­d­d­y s­h­o­w­s m­e h­o­w t­o d­o t­h­i­s a­n­d m­a­k­e­s $­2­9,0­0­0 a m­o­n­t­h d­o­i­n­g i­t, b­u­t I n­e­v­e­r r­e­a­l­i­z­e­d i­t w­a­s r­e­a­l, v­i­s­i­t t­h­e st03 f­o­l­l­o­w­i­n­g l­i­n­k t­o h­a­v­e.

      A l­o­o­k a­t i­t—————————–>>>

  2. If you do not have a range on the lower 40 it’s time to improvise and the VR like Mantis can help. Real paintball is also very helpful both physically and mentally…Good article for those who are free to purchase more Gun stuff without boss approval.

    • “…and the VR like Mantis”

      Mantis is not VR. Its a dry fire laser based training aid. But it is a very viable alternative to VR.

  3. I think I would get a CO2 BB replica with the blowback, or that Mantis laser thing before I would spend the money on VR.

    • The tech side of being useful is about there and I would imagine that the cost will continue to come down. I distrust a lot of more advanced electronics for privacy concerns but that is more a me issue so I can see the value for convenience in where one can practice especially with scenarios where even shoothouses may not be willing to accommodate.

      • What I like about the replica or the laser trainer, you could use your holsters and practice drawing.
        Till they somehow can work that into VR, I will pass.

        • Given enough time and development I could imagine a cartridge sized unit that could wirelessly cover low rez graphics for something like this should be possible (reset would be an issue just like laser trainer cartridges) so a to shape replica of common models shouldn’t be too much an ask for the next few years.

  4. (The near literal mountain of faithful gas operated replica airsoft guns)
    “Are we a joke to you?”

  5. There’s an arcade nearby where I can drop some quarters into Time Crisis. Reloads, accuracy , speed, cover. All anyone needs to operate operationally. Current VR is a lot better and cheaper than 90’s VR but it still sucks despite what all the nerds and wannabe “technofreaks” keep claiming.

  6. Hell to the No in using, much less owning, any hardware or software from the Fruit Company ™

    Apple can roast in hell with its organ-stealing fiend founder. (Woz gets a pass, he seems like a genuinely nice guy that got swept along by Steve the antichrist.)

    • Don’t ya like the idea of how you pay for it but don’t really own it. Read the fine print in the user agreements, you never actually own it because they continue to own all the ‘intellectual property’ that goes into it which is everything about it and can actually shut it down or monitor it anytime they choose if its connected to the internet. Its not just Apple, its all of them even Meta. And I have no doubt somewhere hidden in the firmware is code for connecting to a wireless network they can use just for them and trigger like heart pacemakers have for their at-home blue tooth connected monitoring systems that in turn connect to an AT&T wireless based network node you may be close to and can be caused to ‘monitor’ the pace maker at home when they trigger it via the internet across that network.

      • Read Edward Snowden’s book. They can do all that and more. Google isn’t any better.

        • Hell I remember a demo from 05 that showed the ability to log every active cell phone in a room and listen in to ongoing calls. Not new tech then and I have to assume many new products have similar capability now beyond the obvious smart phones, TV’s, thermostats, etc.

      • People pay for and beg for more “labor saving” devices (cause it’s soooo hard to turn on a light or, heaven forbid, change the thermostat setting while they are GIVING AWAY their security and privacy. Not for this old geezer.

  7. I need a much better explanation of how Virtual Reality (VR) training will improve my real-world shooting and defensive skills before I can consider the cash outlay for Virtual Reality technology.

    • Overlay a shoothouses scenario in your home/business and get you more familiar with how you can get got in familiar settings if it is good and on the augmented reality side of things. Downside is your data being potentially at risk.

      • Likely they could use every logged practice session against you in court claiming that it shows you are a bloodthirsty wannabe killer practicing your death-filled fantasies.

        • Yeah thought of something like that amongst other issues came to mind so laser training it is but I am probably paranoid.

  8. Nicely written, but I could not disagree more. The serious scientific evidence that VR bluelight and RF-EMF (being so close to the eyes and brain) dramatically damages the cornea, retina and brain components like the hippocampus and hypothalamus. The best training is always real-world. Humans need to realize a gigantic reason for the mess today is the over-use of technology.

Comments are closed.