An amaz­ing new shooting sim­u­la­tor and much more

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The Gun Shop in Bot­ley, Hamp­shire, have just had a Marks­man ST-2 shooting sim­u­la­tor in­stalled and were kind enough to in­vite me along to try it out be­fore the of­fi­cial open­ing. There are only a hand­ful of th­ese sim­u­la­tors in the coun­try, so I couldn’t refuse the of­fer of try­ing one out, just 20 min­utes from home!

Af­ter a cup of tea and a quick chat, we were led into the sim­u­la­tor room and got straight down to busi­ness. The sys­tem is ef­fec­tively a pro­jec­tor, a huge screen and a se­ries of sen­sors rigged to the gun, all run through a pur­pose-built com­puter. Set­ting up takes only a mat­ter of min­utes, with the cam­era and trig­ger sen­sors fit­ted, a few mea­sure­ment in­puts into the sys­tem, and a quick cal­i­bra­tion shot at the screen be­fore you’re good to go.

You can take your own gun along with you, which I would highly rec­om­mend, or use the dummy gun that comes with the sim­u­la­tor – al­though it must be said the dummy gun does lack a bit of re­al­ism, be­ing just a lit­tle too light for my lik­ing. I man­aged to for­get my gun, but the guys in the shop were good enough to lend me one for the hour.

We got straight into it with some ba­sic clay tar­gets. Noth­ing too fancy, just a few to get my eye in. Once I got a feel for it, I was ready to play with a few of the built-in op­tions. The thing that took some get­ting used to was the trig­ger pulls. You only get the min­i­mal move­ment on the trig­ger for ob­vi­ous rea­sons, but I got over this very quickly. Once I had de­stroyed a good few clays, we moved onto grouse, pheas­ant and duck.

The sys­tem has some quite use­ful tools, which make it an in­valu­able train­ing tool. For ex­am­ple, if you miss a tar­get, which I was guilty of on sev­eral oc­ca­sions, you can have a re­play of gun move­ment in re­la­tion to the tar­get. This al­lows you to see if you were giv­ing the tar­get too much lead – or not enough, in my case.

It will even give you a bal­lis­tics break­down when you do man­age to find your tar­get. This will in­clude how much lead you shot the tar­get with and the im­pact speed, along with var­i­ous other bits of in­for­ma­tion down to how many pel­lets hit the tar­get. I was shooting duck at around 70m and hav­ing to give them a good 3m of lead, some­thing that took me a while to get used to.

The vari­ables of the sys­tem seem al­most end­less. Most fea­tures seem to be cus­tomis­able, with the back­ground pho­tog­ra­phy and tar­gets be­ing changed eas­ily from the grouse moor to a pheas­ant drive. Even fac­tors such as choke, pel­let size and type can be changed to suit the style of shooting you are hav­ing a go at. So, say you’re a coastal wild­fowler who shoots 34g Bis­muth 5-shot car­tridges – the set­tings can be ad­justed to show a bal­lis­tics re­port for that car­tridge.

As well as all the usual game birds and clays, there are some very in­ter­est­ing tar­gets more suited to ri­fle shoot­ers. There is a deer stalking taster, moose, driven wild boar and even brown bear, with the lat­ter be­ing quite in­ter­est­ing be­cause if you don’t man­age a clean kill with the first shot, the bear will then turn on you to at­tack!

I think this sim­u­la­tor is go­ing to prove ex­tremely use­ful to many shoot­ers as a train­ing aid. My ap­pren­tice came along with me to check it out and, hav­ing never even held a shot­gun in his life, was smash­ing clays within min­utes af­ter some quick tu­ition from in­struc­tor Dave. I feel that I could im­prove my shooting with it too, and will most def­i­nitely be vis­it­ing again.

I must say that an hour can be quite test­ing on the arms though! My shoul­ders were cer­tainly burn­ing af­ter about 20 min­utes. It is sur­pris­ingly re­al­is­tic in my eyes, all bar­ring weather con­di­tions, and I think it is about as close as you will get to the real thing with­out get­ting out in the field. The ques­tion is, will the wife let me put one in the front room?!

Check out Dan’s shooting blog, where you can find videos of his prod­uct tests:


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