I sort of viewed laser practice pistols as a gimmick until Mike Pannone introduced them to me and a group of ladies. I now wish I knew all this back when I first started shooting.
WHAT IS A SIRT?
The acronym stands for Shot Indicating Resetting Trigger. It’s two laser pointers in pistol form that give you immediate feedback on your weaknesses and progress.
Traditional dry fire requires the shooter already know what they are doing incorrectly and then attempt to remedy it. The SIRT’s immediate feedback ID's your mistakes for you to correct. Its feedback also shows your progress as you practice. Your SIRT complements - not replaces - your live and dry fire practice.
The first laser is the trigger laser that appears when you first press the trigger.The whole point is to identify trigger “slack” or “take-up” which is the initial sliver of slack you feel as you press back on the trigger and before the shot is fired. All semi autos have some measure of slack in their trigger. The purpose of this SIRT is to simulate a real semi automatic pistol as much as possible. You can turn this one off with a simple switch on top of the slide.
The second laser that will appear is the shot laser. When you “fire” a shot, a second laser dot appears and this should be resting right above your front sight. It indicates the point of impact if it were an actual firearm. You’ll also quickly distinguish between the slack and that little extra pressure you need to “fire.”
It is meant to complement – not replace – your range and other dry fire practice. The noise and movement of live fire masks recoil anticipation and inappropriate trigger finger placement and manipulation. The SIRT allows you to refine all that without the disturbance. Video yourself with your phone while you practice. You’ll be amazed at how candid that camera eye can be but it is so much easier to self-critique.
Another training feature is the weighted magazine. You’ll see a magazine release button on the side, just like a real gun so you can practice loading and unloading magazines. The mags are weighted to simulate a full load of ammunition. You can purchase extra weighted magazines, too, if you want to practice mag changes.
HOW TO PRACTICE WITH A SIRT
Zero in Your Sights
First make sure the sights and your shot laser are properly aligned. It’s called “zeroing in the sights.” Your package will come with a couple little allen wrenches and an instructional DVD (or you can just click on this YouTube video). It literally took me a turn or two with the wrench and less than 10 seconds….after I watched the video. It’s very simple.
Your end goal is have the shot laser point rest just above your front sight.
Your laser resting atop the front sight reinforces you looking at the front sight. If it’s improperly zeroed, you will be looking for the laser and therefore reinforcing looking off your sights – that habit of looking over your sights to see where your shot landed - when you press the trigger and an improper follow through. Gotta break those bad habits!
How Far Away Should My Target Be?
The ideal target distance is 5 to 25 yards, based on your vision.
Light switch plates are a common and popular target due to their height on the wall and their small size. All the ones in my house have been subjected to target practice. Mostly I see whether I end up shooting where I believe I am aiming.
If you’re practicing around your home, consider what is the longest distance in your home that you would ever have to shoot. Most defensive shooting is done at close range.
Competition shooting is a different story but you can adjust the zero for a specific distance so when the shot breaks the laser dot appears right on top of your front sight.
Initially you will see that infuriating habit of recoil anticipation if that’s one of your issues.
This comes from your mental connection between pressing the trigger and immediately managing recoil. This is manifested as a flinch. Each time you press the trigger without anticipation you are conditioning yourself not to anticipate.
You and the SIRT are reprogramming your mind to omit that recoil management flinch and focus on the follow-through, which is nothing more than maintaining control at the break of the shot for a bit longer.
The only thing that should be moving when you fire is that trigger finger pressing rearward. Practice isolating the trigger finger movement as you grip your pistol.
Due to its pinpoint laser, the SIRT ultimately works on your precision practice. Now, here’s one little caveat. The front sight is just black so I put a drop of my daughter’s brighter colored nailpolish on it so it would stand out. That’s the only “modification” I made.
You can use the SIRT to practice almost anything you could with a real pistol:
· Draw from holster
· Pick up from a nightstand or table and shoot
· Shooting in low light
· One handed shooting
· Magazine changes
· Shooting on the move
With shooting on the move, you’ll really see that laser bounce as you figure out the smoothest way to walk and shoot.
It’s also an ideal way to check your body and pelvic alignment at the time of shooting. Your pelvis and upper body should be facing your target. Practicing this way will reinforce your body position for correct shot placement. This is also a skill taught by Mike Pannone in his handgun classes.
How Do I Know if I'm Doing it Right?
If used properly, you’ll see a consistent dot projected on your intended target, not dashes or a moving laser. It may not be perfectly still, but you’ll see very little to no movement when you’re doing it right.
If your laser point(s) are moving and streaking, it's an indication of inconsistent grip tension. It can also mean your trigger finger placement is off or you’re snatching back on your trigger instead of pressing back with slow and even pressure.
Many trainers – both competition and tactical – use it for physical conditioning.
It is weighted like a real gun on purpose. Your arms – especially if you’re a woman – will feel that strain after holding out a firearm for extended periods of time. It’s not unlike lifting weights at the gym. Keep practicing and the weight of that gun will be nothing.
Also, you’ll get a clear picture of how much your hands/arms - and therefore your sights – move.
At Home Practice, Between Range Visits
I can’t always get to the range to practice live fire, so this has been a great tool to keep my skills up. Remember, shooting is a perishable skill, especially if you’re in the earlier stages of your shooting career and are still trying to form good habits.
Practice 5-10 minutes, 3x/day. It will be more effective than 1 hour straight. You’ll concentrate better.
The best part is that it saves you ammo and time (driving to the range and back) and therefore money.
SIRTS And Teaching Kids Gun Safety
Another added bonus is using it to teach your younger ones gun safety. I’ve used it to practice with my 6 year old son.
We go over what to do if he sees a gun, i.e. don’t touch, tell an adult, etc. I’ll leave the SIRT on random occasions on my desk, coffee table, kitchen counter without him knowing, then leave the room and see what he does. I praise him effusively when he does what he’s supposed to do. Each parent knows their child best. You can adapt your positive reinforcement and teaching methods accordingly to instill gun safety in them.
Like a drill, we practice over and over. In fact as I was writing this post, my back was to the door and my son wandered into my office and saw my SIRT on my desk. He immediately said "Mommy, there's a gun on your desk."
The beauty is that the SIRT takes away risk of using a possibly loaded firearm to teach the same lesson. Yes, he has commented on the color and that it looks different from guns he sees in pictures, TV and movies but then I show him all the tricked out guns on the internet and their rainbow of colors. Now he knows that real guns can come in all different looks and shades, and to leave it to that adult you notified to make the final determination.
WHAT COLORS & OPTIONS ARE THERE?
GLOCK OR M&P MODELS
If you haven’t already noticed, the pistol modeled above (SIRT 110) is modeled after Glock 17/22- one of most common models out there.
The Glock itself is a simple pistol with a consistent trigger pull and no manual safety like a 1911 or de-cocking lever like a Sig Sauer or CZ pistol. You’re working on shooting, not necessarily manipulating a gun’s bell and whistles (except for the mag release button). The simpler the better and it doesn’t get simpler than a Glock.
The manufacturer just came out with a full-sized M&P model (SIRT 107) but it is only available in a steel slide and for some reason, is considerably more expensive.
POLYMER OR STEEL SLIDES
You can get the SIRT110 (Glock model) with a polymer slide or a steel slide, in red or purple. The polymer is lighter.
The advantage of steel is its weight. Manipulating that model is very close to the actual firearm.
The lighter pistols need less input to move them and stop them (draw, present, or move your gun from target to target). Any practice with the lighter guns will pattern you to manipulate with more ease; however, this will manifest when shooting your live pistol because you won't exert the proper energy on the gun to move it and stop it effectively. You end up relearning with your live firearm out at the range, which can detract from you live fire.
In other words, the same amount of energy when fired is present when the same 9mm in the same casing is fired in either a polymer or a 9mm metal gun. The difference is that the weight and mass of a metal gun will absorb the energy better than a polymer gun. (And this is why all-metal CZ pistols are the top choice for USPSA Production Division shooters.) That being said, I own a polymer one because - in my mind - it replicated my Glock.
Remember: The goal is to replicate as much as possible the weight and balance of an actual firearm.
The trigger laser is red, no matter what model you buy.
The shot laser comes in either red or green. You pay more for a different colored laser.
The different colored laser allows you to tell the difference between the take-up laser and the shot laser. This is especially useful in formal use of force training so instructors can see when you actually put your finger on the trigger enough to register by the take-up laser activating. LE Use of Force training commonly uses SIRTs with different colored lasers to see exactly when an officer under stress puts his or her finger on the trigger regardless of whether they actually pull it.
If you're using it at home it's likely you're not going to have an instructor watching you. The different color laser is more for the outside party evaluating you. In fact, I turn my trigger laser off and just use the shot laser most of the time.
PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE
Live fire is the validation of your dry fire, including dry fire with the SIRT. That is why you’ll hear the more experienced shooters and trainers counsel you over and over to “dry fire dry fire dry fire…” Done properly, you will see your dry practice translate directly to higher levels of proficiency at the range ….without a shot fired beforehand.
Not only did I see a marked improvement in my live fire at the range, I saw a marked improvement in my ability to draw from a holster or tabletop at a moment’s notice and know I could hit at which I intended to aim. My body is becoming conditioned to know what “right” feels like. This makes me a more responsible gun carrier because – heaven forbid – if I ever need to use my firearm, at home or elsewhere, I’ll be sure of my ability to use it.
This is an ideal starter for those that have not yet purchased a gun but still want to practice shooting. It's half the price of a standard Glock, even without the discount above.
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