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DryFire: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

This page answers many of the questions we have been asked about DryFire.

Click on a question to see our answer - please contact us by email if your question is not answered here.

Other sources of detailed information about DryFire:

Top questions

Other questions

Is it for home or club use?

DryFire was designed for individual shooters to use at home but it has found its way into clubs world wide.

Practice builds skills. Practice builds muscle memory and hand/eye coordination. Practice allows you to concentrate 100% on the three most important things in clay shooting: "the target. the target and the target." (George Digweed said that - and he should know!)

You could use every session at the shooting ground for practice or, if you are serious about improving your scores, you could use DryFire to provide concentrated and regular practice in your own home - leaving time at the club for shooting real targets or competitions.

DryFire is perfect if you are working with an instructor - between coaching sessions you can consolidate what you have learned with hundreds of practice targets at home.

Some simulation systems are expensive, take up a lot of room, need to be permanently set up and require a data projector for all targets.

With DryFire you can start with the laser version in a small space and add projection later if you wish. In both cases the system can be set up in a couple of minutes.

What size room do I need?

The simple answer is anything from 12' (3.66m) wide by 12' (3.66m) deep. Wider is better but nothing beyond 20' (6m) is necessary.

You need a fairly flat wall or screen - rough walls, stone or brick, may be a problem. So take those flying ducks off the spare bedroom wall and off you go!

DryFire users have managed with all sorts of spaces - the back of garage doors, garden sheds, basements, cellars, spare bedrooms, a room in the attic (DryFire supports sloping walls in attics), shooting over the dining table, etc. One World Champion uses DryFire in a very awkard space - shooting through a doorway!

Think of the wall as if it was made of glass and you are looking through it at a real layout. The worst possible case is a wide crosser - such as Skeet station 4.

Click on the diagram below to download a PDF showing an ISSF Skeet layout.

The high house is 54.63° to your left when on stand 4.

The diagram and spreadsheet table show the wall width you need depending on how far back you stand. For example, if you stand 2.5m away, the wall will have to be 7m wide to enable the full path of the clay to be shown as it emerges from the trap house.

Standing closer reduces the wall width required while standing further back increases it. However, standing too close doesn't feel comfortable, you feel crowded.

DryFire solves the problem!

The laser targets generated by DryFire don't require a wide wall because the start and end positions will appear on the side walls - so you can use a smaller room. The DryFire software knows the width of the room and, even though the start and end positions are on the side walls, the angles are perfect - you swing through exactly the same angles as you would outdoors.

Small but obvious warning!

The lasers on DryFire can simulate all targets, including tower shots to be taken directly above your head! Make sure that your room has enough space overhead for you to swing your barrel vertically - don't select the tower targets if your room is too low - otherwise you will be replacing the lights and ceiling plaster!

Having said that, DryFire users tell us that they successfully practice overhead shots while kneeling down in rooms with a "standard" ceiling height of 2.4m!

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How does it compare with other systems?

That really depends on what you want out of a practice system.

If you want to improve your clay shooting scores with intensive practice and detailed feedback then DryFire has no competition.

No other system allows you to practise at home with a choice of laser or projected targets:

  • at a reasonable price,
  • in a fairly confined space: spare bedroom, attic, garage etc.
  • using your own gun, chokes and cartridges,
  • with the full range of trap, skeet and sporting targets,
  • with full allowance for wind,
  • with a choice of targets: projected or laser (no projector or screen required for laser targets),
  • with overhead incoming and outgoing birds,
  • with an accuracy of feedback that is impossible outdoors.

DryFire is designed for those who are serious about their sport and want to do better at it - and the only way to do that is with intensive and focussed practice - not with a shot-em-up.

Our focus now, as it always has been, is on helping the winners and champions of the future - whether you want to be a better Sunday shooter or a world champion.

Having said that, DryFire is serious fun! Our increasing list of add-ons offers far more than straightforward clay shooting - but that's for you to choose.

There are a few cheaper "simulation" systems and there are a few vastly more expensive one (costing tens of thouands!) - but no comparable ones.

We have provided a comparison chart for you to judge DryFire against any other system.

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Do I need a projector?

No - but you have the option!

You can use DryFire Laser straight out of the box - after installing the software and entering a few setup values.

DryFire Laser displays targets as laser dots while DryFire Projection displays them as images of clays on the screen in front of you. In both cases the targets follow the same trajectories as real clays outdoors. The system can be used on any reasonably flat wall or screen 12' (3.66m) or wider.

Laser dots v projected clays

The dot generated by DryFire Laser represents the leading edge of the clay - and it has the huge advantage of being clearly visible.

A clay is about 110mm in diameter so if it is about 25m from you it subtends an angle of about 0.25° towards your eyes. That angle gets smaller and smaller as the clay travels away from you.

The laser dot doesn't change size - which we think is a good thing because it lets you to focus totally on the three most important things in clay shooting: "the target, the target and the target".

The clays shown by DryFire Projection do change size as they travel towards you or away from you - and you have the option to make their size larger or smaller if you wish.

"DryFire Projection" is an optional software add-on which enables the system to be used with a PC data projector - in which case the targets are shown against a photographic background. Without doubt this makes the system more visually attractive and much more "like the real thing".

It's a matter of personal choice - the laser system can be used in a fairly small room (see above), is quick and easy to set up (you can be shooting in under a minute) and provides the intensive practice required to improve performance - or to become a world champion. On the other hand a projection system looks great but requires a projector and takes slightly longer to set up.

Note about projection systems

Projection systems, which show a photographic background or a computer generated "virtual reality" background, are excellent - and very lifelike. DryFire offers projection as an option.

However, projection systems with computer generated clays have some limitations for accurate clay trajectories - they can't show very wide crossers unless you have a very wide screen (and big room!) or you stand very close to the screen - and they can't show overhead shots or even the top of a Rising Teal trajectory.

DryFire with projection offers the best of both worlds: laser targets or computer generated targets. So, for those targets that fit on the screen the computer generated ones are great but laser targets are best for those targets where the start/end of the trajectory may be to the side of the screen or above it.

When looking at alternative systems check how they handle wide crossers and overhead shots. Check how far you stand from the screen - if you are 10' from it, and shoot on Skeet stand 4, the screen must be 28' wide when using computer generated clays!

You mean all it does is ... ?

Heard at the local shooting ground from a visitor who knows nothing about clay shooting:

"You mean all it does is throw a coloured disk into the air and you shoot at it? That sounds easy."

As we all know, it is easy! (Cough, splutter!)

We often get the same thing said about DryFire:

"You mean all it does is move a spot of laser light across a wall and you shoot at it? That sounds easy."

Yes, that's all it does - move a spot of red laser light, or an image of a clay, across the wall in front of you and you shoot at it.

The trouble is, that spot of laser light, or projected clay, is following exactly the same angular path as a clay fired from a trap and it is moving at exactly the same angular speed. You have to do exactly the same things you would do on the stand to hit it: take up position, wind back, look back toward the trap, acquire the target, mount, swing, allow for lead, fire and follow through.

To hit a target generated by DryFire, your technique and body movements must be exactly the same as when shooting at a real clay - if you get it wrong with DryFire you will miss - just as you would miss a real clay. That's what makes it such a powerful training aid.

Of course it's easy - to someone who has never done it!

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How do I know it will work?

Thousands of DryFire users world-wide say it works - including world champions.

Try this with your own shotgun:

  • Stand about 6 feet to 8 feet from the middle of a wall.
  • Close your eyes. Imagine your are on Skeet Stand 4.
  • Mount your shotgun.
  • Swing to the left where the high house trap would be
  • Open your eyes and note where you are looking
  • Close your eyes again and swing to your right as if following a high house clay
  • Open your eyes and note where you are looking

You have just followed a very wide crosser from the trap to the ground - you have probably gone from the left hand side of the wall to the right hand side. In angular terms you have swung from -55° to +55° relative to your straight ahead position.

That's exactly what DryFire does.

For Stand 4 High House skeet it puts a moving target spot on the wall that follows exactly the path you have just followed and at exactly the same speed as a real clay. That's why it is so good for practising and for building up muscle memory.

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What exactly do I need to use the system at home?

  • A Windows 10 PC or an Apple Mac. Details of PCs and operating systems may be found on the support page.
  • A suitable room (see above).
  • A table, desk or tripod on which to mount the DryFire simulator.
  • A PC data projector if you are using DryFire Projection.
  • Your shotgun.

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What is the warranty?

Details of the warranty are provided in our Terms of Sale.

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How EXACTLY do you use the system?

Take a look at the "glass wall" illustrations of how the system works.

  • Put the simulator on a table or on a camera tripod, and point it at your wall.
  • Connect the simulator to a PC.
  • Attach the trigger switch and UGA (Universal Gun Assembly).
  • Run the DryFire software.
  • Provide the software with measurmeents about where the simulator is and where you are.
  • Select the discipline ("English Skeet", "ATA Handicap Singles" etc.) and target ("Station 4 high", "Rabbit" etc.) you want.
  • Stand behind the simulator and take up position ready to take the shot directly in front of you - i.e. within your "comfort zone". Wind back towards the "trap" position.
  • Call "Pull".
  • The target will be "released" and you must see it, swing, fire and follow through as for a normal clay.
  • Lower the gun and relax for a moment. (An 8lb gun can soon feel like 20lbs if you don't relax between shots.)
  • DryFire will tell you if you had a hit or miss - you will see where the cloud of pellets from the cartridge went in relation to the clay. Of course, you will have to allow for lead and elevation just as with a real clay.
  • Take up position, call "Pull" and you will get the same target again (if you selected an individual target) or you will get the next target in the sequence (if you selected a discipline).
  • Keep going as long as you have the energy and as long as you can maintain concentration.

Warning

DryFire shooting is addictive - just like real clay shooting. To create the muscle and other memories required for shooting outside it is essential to lower the gun and relax after each shot. You should also take a break after each round and have a cup of tea when your concentration starts to fall off.

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Can it teach me to shoot and will it make me a better shooter?

No, it can't teach you to shoot - you need a club and instructor for that.

To become a better shooter you need:

  • a properly fitted gun,
  • a good instructor,
  • a willingness to learn
  • a willingness to stop playing with gizmos (chokes, beads, adjustable this, adjustable that etc.)
  • a perfect technique - that's why you need an instructor,
  • lots of practice,
  • some natural ability.

DryFire helps enormously with lots of practice.

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Can it handle overhead shots above my head?

Yes for the laser version. The simulator can put laser targets beyond the vertical so you will have to lean backwards to take an incoming overhead shot if you wait too long..

Word of caution:

Your ceiling must be high enough to do this. If you try this in a "normal" room (with a ceiling height of about 2.4m) your gun barrel will strike the ceiling. We have some shooters who practice overhead shots while kneeling!

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Can it handle specialist chokes?

Yes. The system supports all standard types of choke by default but you can define your own if you wish.

The information about chokes is used to determine the spread of shot at different distances and to decide how many pellets, if any, will strike the clay.

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Can it handle different types of clay?

Yes. The system supports all types of clay (standard, midi, mini, battue, rabbit) but you can experiment with changes to the clay definitions if you wish.

During the development of the system we took videos of various clays in flight and we created a mathematical model that defines the way the clay "flies". A clay does not follow a ballistic trajectory (it is not a bullet!) but it tends to rise on leaving the trap and then float when it reaches to the top its trajectory. Different types of clay have different shapes and this determines how they fly.

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Can it deal with clays at different angles?

Yes. The system knows the angle the clay is presenting to the shooter at any point during its flight. A clay is harder to break when it is edge-on compared with belly-on and obviously an edge-on clay will present a much smaller surface area to the shooter then a belly on one.

The system supports normal clay release (with the clay horizontal to the ground) and "chandelle" type release (with the clay at right angles to the ground.)

DryFire knows the energy required to break any type of clay at any angle to the shooter. It also knows the energy remaining in any pellets that strike the clay. If the energy remaining in those pellets exceeds the energy required to break the clay you get a "hit". It is therefore possible to have the clay right in the middle of the shot string and to get a "miss" - if the clay is far enough away and the remaining energy in the pellets is insufficient to break it.

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Do rabbits bounce?

Yes - bunnies bounce beautifully.

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Do I need a PC? If so, what sort?

Yes - you must have a PC because:

  • The PC controls the simulator to generate the targets and to see where you fire.
  • The PC shows you exactly where you fired in relation to the target.
  • The PC allows you to access this site for the latest news and software.
  • The PC allows you to contact us for support via email.

You need a PC running Windows 10 or an Apple Mac.

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Which versions of operating systems does it support?

The downloads section of the support page contains details of operating system required.

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Does the target change size with distance?

Yes with the projection option, no for the laser version.

For the laser version we provide distance information in a number of ways:

  • for trap and skeet disciplines you know the distance anyway - because they are repetitive;
  • for all targets we show the distance from the shooter to the trap(s);
  • the optional Doppler effect produces a rising tone if the clay is approaching you, falling if it is going away.

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Does the target jiggle when changing direction?

No for the projected version, slightly for the laser version.

All motors suffer from backlash - the movement within a gear chain as the motor changes direction.

Servo motors have a "deadband", they have to be instructed to move a certain amount before they get going. This shows up when the motor reverses direction.

We have investigated different types of motors and different brands/models of servo motors. The HiTec servos we use have a very small deadband and is used to control expensive model jet aircraft at over 200mph - so they are as accurate and reliable as possible.

DryFire laser targets show a slight jerk when the target changes direction - for example, when an upward moving target reaches the top of its flight and begins to fall to the ground.

This effect is minimal with fast targets that have a large amount of angular movement - such as sporting crossers or targets on skeet station 4. The effect is slightly more on going away targets which rise very little and which have very little movement across the shooter's angle of view - trap shots for example.

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Why not forget the laser and shoot at a projected PC image?

You have a choice - laser or projection versions.

We offer DryFire Projection as an add-on and, as well as adding a tremendous feeling of reality, it also projects your results directly on the screen in front of you. Obviously it also requires a short-throw PC projector - which we don't supply.

Bear in mind that projected targets must fit within the projected area, laser targets can move over a much wider area.

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What's the downside?

Nothing is ever as good as it claims so what are the weaknesses of DryFire - warts and all?

No recoil

There is no recoil when you press the trigger with DryFire. You hear the "bang" on your PC speaker, and you can turn that up as loud as you wish, but you get no recoil.

Recoil can bring about its own problems - flinch (the anticipation of recoil) being the main one. Watch a shooter the very first time he uses DryFire and 9 times out of 10 you will see him move slightly backwards when he presses the trigger - he is anticipating the recoil and it shows that more people suffer from flinch than realise it.

We don't claim that DryFire is a cure for flinch but it does do two things:

  • It identifies if you flinch when pressing the trigger.
  • It allows you to practice with no recoil until there is absolutely no movement of your shoulder when you press the trigger.

Two dimensional targets

DryFire targets are accurate - they fly at the same speed and angles as clays on the range. Because DryFire displays the target on a two dimensional surface (a wall) you don't get the same impression of distance as you do on the range.

The projection option adds more reality because the image of the clay changes size as it moves away.

Take a look at the answer to Is the simulator exactly the same as the real thing? to see what we have done to overcome this.

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Who needs DryFire?

Newcomers to clay shooting.

DryFire is the ideal way to get a lot of practice when learning the skills of clay shooting. If you are sensible you will book a series of lessons with the club instructor then you need all the practice you can get. DryFire allows you to practise any time, anywhere; at home or at work and it helps you to develop the skills that will rapidly get you ready for competition shooting.

You've bought the gun, the jacket, the ear defenders, the safety glasses, the cap and the ammo, you've joined the club and had the lessons - now's the time to practise so that you can pulverise those clays!

Competition shooters.

Shooting under competition conditions is stressful - no matter how easy the guy standing next to you makes it look (that's just gamesmanship!) Competitions are not the place to practise - they are the place where you want to be 100% confident that your technique is perfect. Between competitions you need to build on your existing skills as you improve your average and move up through the classes. DryFire allows you to chose the time and place for practice and lets you shoot one round or fifty rounds without worrying about the weather or travelling to the club. You may want to try a new technique - follow through instead of maintained lead for example - DryFire allows you to give a new technique a fair chance without risking your competition scores.

Experts.

An expert is the first one to recognise that practice makes perfect. Without practice, skills begin to erode, muscle learning begins to decay and the mind begins to wander because the art of 100% concentration is lost. Experts know that beginners can quickly improve their skills because they are starting from a low base, but keeping high scores, and improving on them, is a serious problem. DryFire can provide you with better practice than the club because you will have to maintain a high level of concentration for a longer period of time. With DryFire in front of you, every time you call "Pull" you get a target. There is no moving between stands, no waiting for someone else on the squad to shoot - just 100% dedicated full-time practice. If you have the concentration skills to maintain high scores for half an hour with DryFire then you will have the skills to build your scores in competition.

Instructors

Newcomers and experienced shooters benefit from instruction sessions and an instructor can quickly spot bad habits that have crept in over time.

DryFire provides intensive prectice between sessions so the intructor can see if new skills have become firmly embedded in the shooter's style.

Shooting grounds and clubs.

DryFire allows you to extend the services you offer to your members. It allows people to shoot at any time of the day, no matter what the weather outside and it is perfect for those corporate days where you want to give people some instruction and practice before they start shooting at real clays - 5 minutes with DryFire overcomes all initial problems and boosts initial scores - a certain way to get your corporate clients to return again and again. It can also provide you with an additional source of revenue!

Those who enjoy some fun.

DryFire provides serious training aids but they are also fantastic FUN!

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Do you shoot at the target - like using a rifle?

Absolutely not!   No way!   Never!   Not in a month of Sundays!

Rifles shooters have it easy - they just point the rifle at the target and squeeze the trigger. This is said by an experienced small-bore/full-bore rifle shooter with apologies to all other rifle shooters - we do know it is a totally different skill in its own right but we hope you understand what we mean. Those who have shot competition prone small-bore or full-bore will know that one of the primary skills is muscle relaxation - absolutely no movement and no muscle twitches.

Clay shooting is not like that and we rarely aim directly at the target. Clay shooting is about accurate and smooth body movement and the key word is "lead". Aim at a crossing bird, squeeze the trigger and you will miss several feet or yards behind because the clay will have moved on by the time your shot arrives. The speed of the target, its distance away from you and its angle of flight determine how much lead you have to allow.

DryFire simulators take all this into consideration.

DryFire is NOT like "laser clay" shooting where a reflective clay is fired into the air and the shooter fires a beam of infra red (IR) light directly at it from a special gun. IR light travels at the speed of light but cartridge pellets don't! The laser clay system relies on reflection to detect hit or miss so you must aim directly at the target - great sport in itself but nothing to do with the hardest part of clay shooting - judging the right lead.

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What variables does it take into consideration for targets and shots?

Targets

  • Starting point and height of clay
  • Landing point of clay
  • Intermediate height of clay (eg: 4m high at 10m from the trap)
  • Type of clay: standard, rabbit, rocket, battue etc.
  • Wind direction and speed
  • Orientation of clay: edge-on clays (crossers) are much harder to break than face-on clays (driven etc.)
  • The drag factor that will slow down the clay over distance (this will change with orientation during the flight)
  • The effect of gravity
  • Amount of energy required to break the clay (this will depend on the orientation of the clay to the shot string)

Shots

  • Barrel length
  • Chokes in each barrel
  • Muzzle velocity of the cartridge
  • Size of shot (pellets) in cartridges
  • Number of pellets in the cartridge
  • Amount of energy in each pellet as it leaves the muzzle
  • The drag factor that will slow down the pellets over distance
  • The effect of gravity
  • The amount of angular lead required - this will depend on the trajectory and speed of the clay
  • The position of the clay in relation to the centre of the shot string at the time the shot string and clay are at their closest
  • Total number of pellets that strike the clay - depends on distance and distribution of pellets within the shot string
  • Amount of energy remaining in each pellet when it strikes the clay (distance dependent)

If the clay is within the shot string, and the total amount of energy remaining in the pellets that strike the clay exceeds the amount of energy required to break the clay, then the shot is recorded as a hit.

Note: at long distances it is quite possible for the clay to be within the shot string but to be struck by insufficient pellets to break it - especially for edge-on clays.

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How quickly does it cycle targets?

Interesting question. DryFire provides singles, simultaneous doubles and on-report doubles so in theory the cycle time is zero - simultaneous means that the simulator is processing data for two targets at the same time.

However, the question probably means "what is the time between calling 'Pull' for one target and then for the next?" The software allows you to fire two shots at a target (assuming two barrels or two cartridges in a semi-auto). It then sets up ready for the next target (or the same one again if that is what you have selected) and off you go again.

We do not recommend keeping your shotgun at the shoulder and just called "Pull" repetitively - that's not genuine practice and the gun will soon get very heavy! Lower your gun between targets and take your time before calling "Pull" again - that's far more realistic.

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How does the simulator work?

The simulator has one or two "heads" free to move in two dimensions: up/down/left/right.

The target is represented as a moving laser spot or a projected image of a clay and the shot is detected by one of the digital cameras mounted within the moving heads.

The procedure for using DryFire is simple: make ready, call "Pull", acquire the target, swing, allow the right amount of lead, fire, follow through, relax - exactly as you do at the shooting ground.

The difference is you are at home, in the warm and dry, and DryFire tells you exactly where your shot pattern went - to the nearest few millimetres or fractions of an inch!

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How big is the simulator??

The base is 185mm x 140mm x 45mm (7.25" x 5.5" x 1.75") and the camera head(s) add another 65mm (2.5") in height.

Underneath the base is a tripod bush for fitting to a camera tripod.

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How do I get updated firmware, software and targets?

Check the support page for the latest version.

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How much do you charge for updates?

Updates are changes within a version of software - usually minor changes or bug fixes. These are free of charge and the latest version is always available for download from the support page

Upgrades are totally new versions of the software with many new features. These are chargeable.

We also offer a range of chargeable optional add-ons.

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Can I design my own layouts?

Yes.

Target Designer is an optional add-on

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Which bits do I need?

The Home Pack contains everything you need: simulator, gun assembly, power supply, USB cable, software.

If you wish to shoot with someone else, or have the system set up on two guns, you can purchase an additional gun assembly.

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Do I need a special gun or do you provide a "toy" one?

It is absolutely essential you use your own gun - anything else would get you into bad habits and indoor practice would not translate to outdoors.

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Is the simulator exactly the same as the real thing?

Pretty close! There is no recoil but, other than that, what you do indoors is exactly the same as outdoors.

Many first time DryFire users are shocked at how realistic it feels - despite being in the warm and dry, facing a blank wall only 6 feet away and tracking a moving laser spot!

DryFire provides a two dimensional representation of a target - it "flys" across the wall in front of you. On the range you have the advantage of three dimensions so that you can judge distance. DryFire helps here by providing you with a display on your PC screen to show you the targets in the setting of a shooting ground so that you know exactly where they are coming from, and going to, before you call "Pull".

You can also select audio feed-back so that a tone is produced depending on the distance and speed of the target - a going away target will start with a high tone and this will decrease as it gets further away - a bit like the "doppler effect" in the sound a car or train coming towards you or going away from you.

Our field tests have shown that having the image of the stand on the PC screen, and seeing the target move across it, is sufficient to "set" the shooter ready for the target spot as it moves across the wall when he calls "Pull". The brain is excellent at retaining the image of the stand and using it to control the shotgun when shooting at the target spot.

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How accurate are the targets?

Very accurate. The path and speed of the target, the amount of angular lead you must allow, the moment when you first see the target, the moment it disappears (a rabbit between bushes for example), the moment it goes out of range, the effect of a strong wind blowing the target towards you or away from you - all these are programmed into the software.

DryFire works with angles - when standing on station 4 of a skeet range the angular distance from the high house to the low house is about 105 degrees. When you are standing behind your DryFire simulator the angular distance from the high house to the low house is about 105 degrees - you are standing fairly close to the wall the target is projected on so the movement from left to right, or right to left, requires EXACTLY the same swing as on the range.

The skills required to hit the moving spot of light are exactly the skills needed to pulverise clays on the range - that's what makes the DryFire simulators the perfect way to improve your clay shooting skills.

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Can it handle simultaneous doubles?

Yes. The system supports simultaneous doubles and on-report doubles.

For simultaneous doubles the system shows both targets at the same time.

When you have taken both shots (or failed to take both shots!) DryFire will show you the shot location for both targets.

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Is a laser dangerous?

Lasers are part of our every day lives - your CD player, DVD player and PC laser printer contain lasers. Looking directly at the bright midday sun is a very dangerous thing to do - don't do it unless you wish to risk blindness. The same rule applies to a laser light source - never look directly into a laser.

The DryFire simulators direct the beam of light in front of you for projection against a wall or building. The beam is switched on only while the target is moving - thus minimising the time it is in any one position. The beam and the spot it projects on a wall are certainly not dangerous - you can safely put you hand in the way of the light beam.

The laser source used by DryFire simulators is very low power and is the same as that used by laser pointers so it meets all the requirements for the safety regulations defined for them.

The pulse of invisible light sent during shot detection is of such short duration (a few thousandths of a second), and such low power, that it creates no danger of eye or other damage.

Never stare at the sun, never stare into a laser - both can damage your eyes.

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Do I need a darkened room?

No and maybe.

DryFire works best in subdued light. This is because the pulse of invisible light fired from your gun barrel is in the infra-red part of the spectrum. Direct sunlight also contains infra-red so it is best to ensure that sunlight is not directly falling onto the wall you are using for target projection.

In most cases DryFire will work perfectly well during normal daylight though you may have to close the curtains (drapes, blinds) slightly to avoid direct sunlight.

DryFire has an auto-exposure function and will tell you if there are stray sources of bright light in the room.

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Why doesn't to work outdoors like Laser Clays?

Sorry, but this has to be a little technical.

Laser clays

Laser clays involves using a special shotgun to shoot directly at special reflective clays. When you squeeze the trigger the shotgun sends out a powerful beam of invisible infrared light and this bounces off the reflective clay (assuming that you are aiming directly at it) and is picked up by a special receiver on the ground.

The beam of infrared light is "modulated" - this means that it is switched on and off several thousand time a second. The receiver picks up ALL infrared light, including that produced by the sun and by lights, but it ignores these until it sees some infrared light flashing on and off at the right frequency. It therefore knows when it has received a reflection from the special clay - therefore it knows that you have hit it. Each shotgun uses a different modulation frequency so the system can tell which shooter has hit the clay.

DryFire

DryFire also uses an infrared laser in your shotgun muzzle but it is of low power (for safety reasons) and it is not modulated. The reason for this is simple - with DryFire you do not have to aim directly at the target - you have to allow the same amount of angular lead as when shooting at a real clay. The camera in the DryFire simulator has to do two jobs:

  • Tell when you have fired
  • Tell where you have fired

There is an infrared filter over the camera so that it is only sensitive to infrared light and it will "see" a bright spot when you press the trigger. It uses the location of the spot to calculate whether or not you have a hit - taking into account the trajectory and speed of the clay, the muzzle velocity of your cartridge, the type of cartridge, your barrel length and the chokes in use.

Lead

Lead is critical in shotgun shooting and is the key feature that makes DryFire such a valuable training aid. Normal levels of domestic background lighting are fine with DryFire because the exposure level of the camera can be adjusted so that it does not respond to the levels of infrared light in the room. However, if direct sunlight is coming into the room, or spotlights are trained directly on to the wall being used for shooting, the camera will not be able to differentiate between those sources of infrared light and the reflection of the infrared laser when you press the trigger - the camera will be swamped with infrared light.

DryFire does not modulate the infrared laser because it is using a camera to detect exactly where you fired and a camera "sees" the world at about 30 frames a second - far slower than the frequency of modulated light. With laser clays the receiver does not care where the modulated signal comes from so it does not use a camera but a simple photo-sensitive device which just knows that somewhere in front of it, anywhere in front of it, is a source of modulated infrared light.

Swings and roundabouts

Laser clays can be used outdoors but requires that you shoot directly at the clay with no allowance for lead. DryFire requires exactly the same angular lead as on the shooting station and it provides very detailed feedback as to exactly where you fired and where your shot string is in relation to the clay. The downside is that it must be used in a normal domestic environment with normal domestic levels of background lighting - no direct sunlight or spotlights.

Marketing problem

Unfortunately the very accuracy of DryFire creates a marketing problem for us and our dealers. Most major shooting competitions and country shows have trade stands where exhibitors display their goods in tents outdoors. On a bright day this makes it impossible to demonstrate DryFire because the levels of infrared light coming through the tent fabric are much to high for the system to work.

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Does it work with a release ("set") trigger?

Yes.

The gun assembly can be set to use either normal trigger (fire on press) or set trigger (fire on release) - details are in the User Guide.

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Does it work with American Trap targets?

It certainly does!

Our US distributors are experts on American trap so the best we can do is refer you to their their web site.

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Does it handle Browning B425, Kolar, and Krieghoff shotguns?

You use your own gun with DryFire so the weight and swingability are exactly the same as normal. The manufacturer of the gun does not matter to the software.

It is worth remembering that George Digweed using a $500 Baikal would knock spots off most (all?) of us even if we were using $10,000 Krieghoffs!

Things that are vitally important for our calculations are the chokes in each barrel and the barrel length.

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Does it handle American shotgun shells?

This question broke down into two parts:

  • Can you define a shotshell performance i.e. velocity, hardness of shot (such as trap, or tungsten, or hevishot for waterfowlers), amount of shot?
  • How about a Ruger Red Label 28 gauge configuration for my son, could this be modelled?

We supply a sample set of cartridge data and you can add as many more as you wish. Normally you specify the cartridge by weight (24g in the UK for example), shot size (7.5 for example) and muzzle velocity. If you want to get very technical you can set the percentage of the pellet energy available to break the clay - the lower the percentage, the softer the pellet. We treat clays in a similar way - the amount of energy required to break the clay at a specific angle towards you - it takes more energy to break an edge-on clay than to break a face-on one for example.

Our 12g muzzle insert is made of soft nylon so that it cannot damage chokes or bores and it can be squeezed down in size. We may add more muzzle insert sizes in the future depending on demand.

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Where's the hold point and what about target speed?

Michael Hurst of Moline, Il, USA asks: "I am a competitive skeet shooter and I have specific hold points (where I hold the gun just prior to calling "pull") and these are mostly found by comparing the barrel to the skeet house, using it as a reference point. For example I hold at 1/3 of the distance out from the high house to the center stake, and as high or higher than the top of the high house when I am about to call for High 4. Can I see the simulated high house on the wall to use as a reference?"

DryFire displays the path of the clay not the actual trap or trap house. It is of course a simple matter to mark the start of the target's flight on the wall with something like a Post-It note but this is usually not necessary since getting to the right hold point quickly becomes instinctive - just as it does on the range. In fact, it is a good idea to practice closing your eyes, taking up position and winding back to the hold point before opening your eyes and calling "Pull". This way muscle memory does most of the work for you and you can focus 100% on the target.

Note: DryFire can use its laser to show trap, hold point and stake (hoop). You can program in your own hold point percentages.

Michael also asks: "the web site says it duplicates target speed. Does this mean the target slows down the further it gets across the field, as does a real target?"

It certainly does. Watch a skeet target - it hurtles out of the trap house, rises to its highest point (it rises because the shape of a clay resembles an aerofoil) then begins to float down to the ground (the undercamber of the clay acts like a parachute.)

DryFire accurately represents the speed and angular trajectory of the target as seen by the shooter on the stand. If you want to simulate wind conditions by entering wind direction and speed it will also show the effects of wind on the target.

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Is DryFire suitable for disabled shooters in wheel chairs?

Edward Dickson of Coram, NY, USA raised a number of very interesting issues one of which concerned the suitability of DryFire for use by shooters in wheelchairs.

This was taken into consideration when the system was designed and it is possible to locate the simulator to the side of the shooter rather than directly in front of the shooter. Once you have set the system up it is a simple matter to tell the DryFire software exactly where the simulator is in relation to the shooter - from then on the software does all the calculations necessary to display the correct target path as seen by the shooter.

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Where's the price list and do you take XXX cards?

The price list and payment details are in the Store.

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Clay speed - some questions and answers

This section represents a series of points, questions and answers in an email to DryFire.

  • Clay Shooting is all about lead.
  • Perceived lead - amount of visible daylight between end of barrel and clay is not dependant on distance to clay (although some additional lead is required for longer distances due to de-acceleration of shot, but forget this for the moment).
  • The lead is a geometrical calculation related to speed.

Agreed. Lead is in fact the "angle" ahead of the clay rather than the "distance" ahead of the clay - distance ahead will increase the further away the clay is from the shooter - but the angle will remain almost the same.

  • Speed is therefore, paramount to understanding visible lead.
  • Perceived speed is also paramount.

Maybe "perceived 'angular' speed" would be more accurate. In other words, if it takes 1.6 seconds to swing from a clay leaving the High House to reaching the distance marker, over an angle of, say, 110 degrees, then it should take the same time, and swing through the same angle, on a simulator.

  • A clay at say 60mph. at 40m range will be perceived as being slower than one at 60mph. 10m range.

Agreed. One point here - traps are defined (according to all the rule books!) not in terms of speed, but in terms of the distance thrown and the height at an intermediate point. The longer the distance, and the lower the intermediate point, the faster the clay will be. E.g. a clay thrown 80m with an intermediate point of 4m at 10m out will be a lot faster than one thrown 80m with an intermediate point of 8m at 10m out. It all ends up with slower/faster clays but traps are set up (officially) not by speed but by distance and intermediate height.

  • With DryFire the shooter to wall is a constant approx. 2-3m.
  • How therefore, is speed dealt with?

Angular speed is the same as on the range. Traps in DryFire are defined in terms of distance thrown and intermediate height - just like the real thing. Stands are designed as being at a certain position and facing a certain direction. So, a stand close-in to a crosser will result in a much faster target spot than a stand defined further away - just like the real thing.

The distance of the shooter from the wall is taken into account by DryFire's calculations so that the part of the clay's angular flight that will fit on the wall, as seen by the shooter, is displayed. If you can see a full High House to distance-marker clay on a wide wall at 2m from the wall, but you then stand back to 5m, it is obvious that you will no longer see the whole flight path on the wall - DryFire will show that portion of the flight path that you would see. Please look at User Guide for room details.

  • What speeds are represented by the CLAY SLOWDOWN data?

The DryFire Clay Slowdown feature does not change the angular flight of the clay - it simply introduces delays into, or speeds up, the travel over that flight. So, a slowdown factor of 1.5 will make a 2 second clay take 3 seconds. The "normal" value is "1".

Clay slowdown is not a change to the trap itself (it does not change distance or intermediate height) - it is simply a convenience for training purposes. We like to start people on a factor of 1.5 and work up to 1. We have some Olympic shots who practice at a factor of 0.75 on the grounds that if they can hit those they will have much more thinking time when they shoot real Olympic clays.

  • Without the shooter appreciating speed DryFire can't work.

Absolutely correct. The comments above should answer that - that's why DryFire's angular speeds match those of clays from a trap.

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How much lead do I need and how curved are the trajectories?

Remember that DryFire provides two things:

  • Accurate angular speed
  • Accurate angular target trajectories

To hit a DryFire target you need the same angular lead as on the range. If we talk about lead in terms of yards or metres we all know that this will depend on a number of factors:

  • The speed of the clay
  • The angle of the clay's path to the shooter - crossers require maximum horizontal lead, driven targets require no horizontal lead
  • The distance the clay is away - it takes time for you to squeeze the trigger, for the gun to fire and for the shot string to reach the clay's distance.

A close-in target will require you to swing much faster but the lead required will be less than for a target further away when you will be swinging much slower.

It is tempting to think that many of the clays we shoot at perform a large graceful arc in flight. In most cases this is not the case for two reasons:

  • Clays are not missiles - their shape means that they actually "fly" through the air. At the start of their flight, when they are edge-on to the direction of flight, they perform like missiles but as their energy decays and they reach the top of their flight they begin to slow down and fall as they become belly-on to the direction of flight.
  • Many of the clays we shoot at (particularly Trap and Skeet) do not reach great heights - 4m or so for trap and 4.57, for skeet. If our eye position is about 1.75m then it is obvious that we do not have to look up much to see the clay at the top of its flight path.

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Does a simulator take business away from the shooting range?

Absolutely the opposite!

Ask any shooting ground owner about his "conversion rate" - the percentage of visitors/trial lessons he turns into long-term shooters. The majority of people who come along with friends for a trial shoot, or as part of a corporate day, get disillusioned about how hard it is and they are never seen again.

Having a DryFire simulator in the club allows a new shooter to get a lot of practice within a very short period of time. A good instructor is essential but when the lessons are over the novice can take up position behind a simulator and really work on technique while looking at results and problems on the PC screen. No longer does he have to rely on someone with a good pair of eyes looking over his shoulder and spotting the shot pattern - with DryFire he can see exactly where his shot pattern went in relation to the target.

Knowing that you are "behind and below" is very helpful but the software goes further than that. If you are firing low it will advise you to raise your eyes slightly off the comb or to make sure that your muzzle is raised to the flight path before called for the target. The software knows what has happened and it can provide a list of suggestions to rectify it.

So, the novice gains confidence and the next thing may be an order for a gun and a lifetime of cartridge sales, membership fees and competition fees.

Corporate entertainment days

DryFire simulators are perfect for use by shooting grounds on Corporate Days or when the weather is not suitable for everyone to be shooting in the open. There is nothing worse that a group of visitors hanging around in the wet with nothing to do!

Instructors and coaches

Instructors and coaches will find DryFire simulators particularly useful. Once the needs or weaknesses of a shooter are identified the instructor can provide advice and then set up the simulator so that the shooter gets intense repetitive practice on that one skill before going down to the range. This makes DryFire simulators one of the fastest of all possible ways to cure problems with technique.

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