By David Crane
defrev (at) gmail (dot) com
All photos contained in this article were taken by DefenseReview.com, and are copyrighted. DefenseReview.com owns the copyright on these photos. The photos were shot with a Canon PowerShot S90 10-megapixel digital camera (still camera with video capability).
March 8, 2010
Recently, at SHOT Show 2010, DefenseReview got to view and handle what we believe could prove to be one of the most important pistol training (and shooting training, in general) products ever developed, in terms of training hardware designed specifically to enhance and improve the shooter’s “software”, i.e. his/her shooting skill set. That might sound like hyberbole, considering that there are so many training products that have already been developed, but we’re serious. We think this new product could be just that important, provided it lives up to all the hype, and is reliable and durable under hard use.
It’s called the SIRT Training Pistol, “SIRT” standing for “Shot Indicating Resetting Trigger”. The SIRT Training Pistol, invented/developed by patent attorney/lawyer Mike Hughes, is essentially a simulated Glock 17 (G17) pistol with an auto-resetting trigger, allowing the user to engage in laser-enhanced dry-fire practice designed to dramatically improve the shooter’s trigger mechanics, and therefore, his accuracy during rapid-fire shooting drills and events. While Mr. Hughes isn’t protecting people’s intellectual property or hanging out with the family, he’s shooting, which is what drove him to develop the SIRT. His goal was to develop a product that would both lower the daily entry barrier to quality pistol shooting training and allow him to do many more reps (fire many more shots) at the range, thus allowing him to progress and improve his shooting skill set much more quickly than would otherwise be possible.
Defense Review can’t actually sign off on the SIRT until we’ve T&E’d it for awhile, though. So, we’re going to try to get a test sample in-house, soon. In the meantime, we’re going to let Mr. Hughes tell you all about it. Almost three months before SHOT Show 2010, I interviewed Mr. Hughes about the SIRT Training Pistol, and it turned out to be a pretty informative and enlightening interview. We hope you enjoy it.
David Crane: All right, we’re on with Mike Hughes, we’re discussing…Mike, what system, now, are we discussing?
Mike Hughes: We’ll call it the SIRT Training Pistol, S-I-R-T, “Shot Indicating Resetting Trigger”.
Crane: O.k., and this is Mike Hughes, he’s a patent attorney and also a competitive shooter. And, Mike, you are aware you’re being recorded, now?
Hughes: I’m aware.
Crane: O.k., good. Aw’right, so take me through it.
Hughes: You want me to start from the top, David, give you sort of an abbreviated background on it?
Crane, Yeah, yeah, yeah. Take me through it.
Hughes: O.k., well, talking with Rodney May at Nationals a little over a year ago, we were talking [about] shooting on the move. One of his suggestions was to attach a laser to the gun, to the rail, and the activating pad behind the trigger, which worked. It works particularly for his setup with his SIG, but for striker-fired, we have to rack the slide. It’s not as effective. I evolved that with the first proof-of-concept model where I put a laser in the slide and an auto-resetting trigger–I think by Glockmeister or one of the other ones–into the trigger assembly and made my own switch system so the laser is activated, a red laser, every time the trigger is pulled, o.k.?
Hughes: And the key features there [were] having an auto-resetting trigger and also just having a shot indication, ’cause I was amazed, utterly amazed, at how many misses I had, even with my hardcore front sight focus [which I discovered through] the peripheral awareness of the laser showing me the orientation of the muzzle when the trigger broke. Does that make sense?
Hughes: So, anyhow, I made that embodiment just for training in shooting on the move, but, naturally, it evolved to where I use it for all my training. For example, I do my cardio in the morning on the treadmill while I dry fire, so I can get several hundred reps there of draws, reloads, presentations, transitions while I’m doing my cardio and practicing shooting on the move, too. So, anyways, this little tool evolved to where I use it for all my dry firing–and I’m a front sight-focused shooter–did not make me target-focused, o.k.? It gave me a lot more quality of movement where I had poor trigger mechanics with regular dry fire than with the laser, ya’ know, the story that told me.
So, anyhow, I decided to make the full model, aw’right, and I had a lot of feedback from a lot of competitive shooters and high-end shooters and law enforcement that this was a really neat idea. It filled a niche which was just a huge void. ‘Cause you have Airsoft, but Airsoft has a lot of drawbacks. I like it as a tool, but it has drawbacks. You have have retrofit [unintelligable] barrels, and I like some of those tools, and I can aim like the laser light, but the problem is when you retrofit it, you don’t have an auto-resetting trigger. So, I figured you cannot go with a retrofit system. You have to make a whole new pistol.
So, the pistol we designed, it has six levels of adjustment, David. This is actually one of the neat applicable features. You can adjust the initial position of the trigger, the initial force pickup, the second, the sear engagement, [i.e.] where it engages the sear, ya’ know when it stops, right?…
Hughes: …when you have that simulated sear, the degree of sear engagement, like how far does it slide along the sear, and the amount of sear’s breaking force–there’s another spring for that–as well as the overtravel, how much overtravel after it breaks, o.k.? So there’s six levels of adjustment to this trigger, so you can emulate a standard Glock, you can emulate a competition Glock, you can make a heavy trigger if you really want to test trigger mechanics, you can have an extremely light trigger when you want to see [in] force-on-force if there’s trigger affirmation when they put the finger on the trigger when they shouldn’t, o.k.?
Crane: Hmm. [Finding this aspect interesting].
Hughes: And then there’s a lot more to it. So, an adjustable trigger is one of the elements of…unique features. ‘Cause one thing that bugs me, David, about auto-resetting triggers out there, and I don’t want to knock products and all that, but they’re not adjustable. You know’, you adjust them with a dremel tool, and it’s sort of a one way adjustment, right?
Hughes: Ya’ know what I mean?
Hughes: So, anyhow, another design feature I threw in this, when I train people, a big element of shooting is the trigger take-up, taking up that slack, right?
Hughes: When you come into a target, you should have that trigger taken up, ya’ know, particularly with a [Glock] safe-action or double-action, particularly [Glock] safe-action-type pistols, and you can never tell that. So, the red laser is activated when the trigger’s taken up, when the internal trigger tongue touches the sear member, if that makes sense. Ya’ know what I’m talkin’ about? That closes the circuit so the red laser’s activated and you have visible awareness of what’s going on. Now there’s a lot of benefits to that, David, where someone has poor transitions, when they transition to target, what I call tuning forking it, ya’ know, they go back and forth, you can see that. If they don’t prep the trigger coming into the target, you can see that, right? And, when you pull the trigger and break it, the green laser goes off, and the green laser’s awesome. It’s a Class-3 laser, and it’s visible in daylight, aw’right? So the shot-indicating laser, the green laser, you can see it in daylight, so it’s a useful training tool outside, o.k.?
So, anyhow, I don’t wanna’ get those features too much involved around the shot, the red-green action, because that’s really one attribute to it. A lot of your high-volume training is just with the shot indicator. There’s a switch you [hit to] turn the take-up indicator off, and you just have the shot indicator on, so it’s less busy. There’s certain traing tools, when you use it, it’s very convenient. You just turn the take-up indicator off, o.k.? So, does that make sense? Do you have any questions at this point, before I forge on?
Crane: Yeah, well, my only questions would be how much does this thing cost and how robust is it?
Hughes: Well, it emulates a Glock, I mean, it’s 24 ounces, you do mag changes, it form-fits, you can use it in force-on-force [training scenarios], comes with a case, ya’ know, blah blah…The cost, our price point right now we’re lookin’ at [is] for $399. The reason we have that price point…well, one thing is like, the green laser is a military-spec laser. We sourced it from the same Class-III lasers that are going to Afghanistan, for the quality and such. And it also [comes] with a weighted magazine. The magazine has—this is a little feature, too—there’s three different weights in it to emulate 10 rounds of nine [9mm Parabellum a.k.a. 9x19mm NATO], 17 rounds of nine, ya’ know, 124 grains, and fifteen rounds of 180-grain forty [.40 S&W a.k.a. .40 Liberty ]. Because, for me, when I do high-speed mag changes, have you ever done mag changes to an empty magazine and [then] go to your loaded magazine? I don’t know if you’ve done that, but you’ll be completely off. So, to try to train as [realistically] as possible, we wanted to have a weighted magazine. Well, you can actually adjust the weights to really suit [you]. If you shoot production like I do, it’s ten rounds, so we have that. Seventeen’s a little bit different feel, so you pop it off…and a rubber base pad, too, so you can drop it on a wood floor and it won’t damage the floor.
Crane: And how robust is the adjustable trigger, and all that? How rugged is the gun?
Hughes: Tough, I mean, that’s one of our criteria is to make it tough. I mean, you can drop it. We’re still engaged in that endurance testing. Right now, we’re…it’s one of our top criteria. Service, if someone breaks it, bam, I mean we have some ready to go, to replace it right away.
Crane: Right, Mike, do you have a website on this thing?
Hughes: It’s NextLevelShooting.com [www.nextlevelshooting.com].
Crane: Well, man, I gotta’ tell ya’, I’m really excited about this. This seems really cool and badass to me.
Hughes: I hope it does. Here’s the three things I wanna’ squelch, ‘cause here’s the three things people ask, o.k., and this is stuff I would’ve asked, ‘cause mind you, Dave, this came out of me training, ya’ know what I mean? Me wanting to win Nationals. Ya’ know, I’m a friend of Dave Sevigny’s, I [redacted]. I’m just tellin’ you, ya’ know what I mean?—that’s where I’m sittin’ on this. And, if there was a tool out there, that did what we want it to, we’d use it. Ya’ know, like if Airsoft worked, if the retrofits worked…but the problem is, too, like with the big systems, like the big $100,000 targeting systems is, practically, like if you work out, if you go to the gym, ya’ gotta’ have things convenient, ya’ know, to really train, and if you have to do calibration and setup and proprietary targets, that’s a pain in the ass.
Hughes: Ya’ know? I mean, so you need to just pick it up and train in like two seconds is really what we’re really after, here. ‘Cause I’m a busy…I’m dedicated, but I’m busy. I got the family, I got my firm, I’m settin’ up this business, ya’ know, so that’s a huge criteria is to lower the barriers to entry to training. And the three things people ask, Dave, is do you go target focused? And, like I say, I’m in the front sight camp. I don’t wanna’ get into the debate: front sight or target-focused. Like I say, I’m a front sight shooter, and I keep front sight awareness, and the laser hitting is so obvious in your peripheral vision that you don’t need to go target-focused. In fact, when I throw a mike [miss] with bad trigger mechanics, I automatically, viscerally, pull back to my front sight and clean that shit up, ya’ know?
Hughes: So, the second thing is, like, “how do you record your shots?”, and I hope the video conveys this, ya’ know, because what’s neat—and this is what I learned, I didn’t plan this, I just learned it from using them all–either flash visual impulse memory, you know, your flash memory, it tells you where the shot was, even if you do a string of like twelve shots, [which] you can do with the auto-resetting trigger–ya’ know, bop-bop-bop-bop-bop-bop-bop-bop-bop—you can call those misses, and they sit in your memory, ya’ know? And this goes back, David, to “do we need a big targeting system?”. Well, no, that’s almost the opposite of what we want, because, if you’re done, if you wanna’ shoot five hundred rounds in like fifteen minutes–ya’ know, five hundred trigger pulls, right?—you don’t wanna’ go back, and look at…you don’t wanna’ look, ya’ know, logs and tar…, ya’ know know what I mean? That’s a pain in the ass. That’s another barrier to entry. You just wanna’ pickit up, go, if you see somethin’, bam, you correct it right then, and you move on, clean up your trigger mechanics and keep goin. So, that’s the second thing, like a ya’ know, “how do you record your shots?”
And the third thing is, is like “well, how do you emulate recoil?”. And the answer is: you don’t. I mean, and our whole message is we’re not trying to replace live fire. I mean, every marketing piece we have is we’re trying to complement it, because the fallacy people have…the biggest issue is trigger mechanics. And it’s so obvious with that green laser. When you pull that trigger, if you’re to pull that trigger, ya’ know, nothing against…this is even with national champs, I’d be surprised if hold a nice tight dot through that whole pull. That green laser, it shows a [common till?]-like effect. Ya’ know, again, your flash memory picks up to clean up trigger mechanics, and it’s awesome to see, ‘cause you put it into someone’s hands, and they’ll sweep the hell out of that trigger, right away, like a nine o’clock sweep, for example, generally, with a right-hand shooter [laughs]. And, naturally, they tend to push straight back into that meat of their hand, in between your forefinger and thumb. And, ya’ know, really, if I had to boil it down—I don’t want to boil it down to one thing—but, this is, I guess, a tool that would clean up trigger mechanics like no other, but I don’t…but I’ve gotta’ be careful about how I communicate, ya’ know–like I know you’re writin’ an article—I just don’t want…you know, I don’t want misconceptions to go out there, or like, I don’t want a misconception about “this is just for trigger take up with a red laser”. Well, no, actually, for ninety percent of your training, you turn that feature off, ya’ know, and it’s just a shot indicator.
So, I really hope, I mean, I’ve got high hopes on this, just because the feedback’s been so darn positive, and I really, really hope it adds value and enhances pistolcraft, because at a fundamental level, I mean, we don’t train enough, Dave. I know I’m just ramblin’ off here, but here’s my analogy: I mean, you take a high-end shooter like Robbie Leatham, o.k., everyone knows [about him], right? He probably shoots 50,000 live rounds a year, right? Thereabouts. Maybe 60 [60,000], maybe 40 [40,000]. About 50,000. Let’s say 75,000. If you take, say, a high school basketball player, they shoot hundreds of thousands of reps, of shots, of basketball, ya’ know, free throws, layups, right? It’s volume. I mean, it’s about volume and quality of movement to really perfect a skill, right? And, with 20 cents a round, or 30, or whatever it is, even at 10 cents a round, you just…ya’ know, the economics does not [allow for] that volume [level], but you need the volume for recoil management. But all the other skillsets–like your trigger control, your transitions, your draws, your reloads—we need, in the United States, I mean, shooters need to train at that higher volume. I mean, I might just sound cheesy or patriotic, but I just think, gosh, we’ve gotta’ lower the barriers to entry for that volume to take place because a lot of people are not gonna’ drive to the range, once or twice a week, ya’ know, they’re not gonna’ budget out a huge amount, and primers are short, and even if [ammo prices] get better and we get back down to where it should be, we still need tools.
My favorite protocol on this, which I use with live fire—and I budget out a lot for for live fire too, ya’ know. I have 80,000 primers and such, so I’m stocked up and not really limited there, and I’ve got my home range and everything, so I’ve done a lot to lower barriers to entry for my training–but still, I’ll, and this is what works the best for me, is I’ll do a plate run—boom-boom-boom-boom-boom—o.k.? I’ll pick up the SIRT, and I’ll do the same drill four times with the SIRT pistol, and I’m amazed at when I throw mikes [misses], sometimes, like when I break it [trigger] too late, when I pulled off, and, ya’ know, on a white plate, it shows plainer than anything. So I get four quick sets, then I pick up the real gun, load [inaudible], and do another rep. So now I’m getting 4x (four times) the trigger pulls. There’s four times that reps that I would have [inaudible]. So in that session, that training session, I’ve made it—ya’ know, I’m not gonna’ say I 4x as productive, ‘cause, ya’ know, there’s an element of recoil and everything else—but I’ve at least doubled the productivity of that live-fire session with no extra time and no extra expense, other than the up-front cost of the gun, right? So…
Hughes: Anyways, I know I’m throwin’ a lot at ya’, here, but that’s where I’m sittin’ with this thing, right now.
Crane: Do you have a rifle version that you’re doin’?
Hughes: O.k., uhm, here’s what I got goin’ on [there]:….
To be continued…in Part 2!
So, stay tuned…
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