By George T. Williams
Photo Credit: Cynthia Williams, Cutting Edge Training, LLC
“SIRT” Laser Training Pistol
Training Beyond Dry-Fire
It’s no secret that ammunition is both expensive and scarce, negatively impacting law enforcement. If there is no ammo or its cost breaks our budgets, then there is no training. But we still have to train, and, as instructors, train our officers. In light of ammo problems, the question is how? Dry-fire can be an answer, but traditional dry-fire with unloaded weapons has serious drawbacks. Unintentional discharges are a real possibility. Additionally, training scars occur in having to manipulate the slide following each trigger press because when the trigger is pressed and a loud click is heard, the instant reaction should be tapping the magazine, not cycling the slide to reset the trigger.
The question remains: How do we provide the training we need in a safe, economical, and effective manner?
The answer lies in the SIRT Laser Training Pistol by NextLevel Training. SIRT stands for “Shot Indicating, Resetting Trigger,” and this training tool represents a giant leap forward in meaningful dry-fire training. In the form and feel of a fully weighted Glock pistol (other common brands are planned to be introduced), the trigger can be adjusted to match the weight and feel of your duty pistol’s trigger. Depressing the trigger, there is a realistic take-up, resistance, and sear let-off. The trigger then realistically resets, ready for the next “shot.”
Each trigger press results in a highly visible laser dot projected on the target (available as a green laser for outdoors or red for primarily indoor use). The shooter (and instructor) receives instant accuracy feedback each time the trigger is pressed, regardless of whether the shooter is target-focused or front sight-focused. Using the SIRT Laser Training Pistol, powered by a standard CR123A battery, shooters maximize their training regarding trigger mechanics, grip, stance, and accuracy with a realistic weapon utilizing a realistic trigger.
While ideal for individual training, all SIRTs have an additional built-in instructional function. A toggle switch on the top of the non-reciprocating slide provides feedback from two lasers. The first is a laser “trigger take-up indicator” that activates when the trigger finger takes up the slack and the second laser is the shot indicator. The take-up indicator’s laser dot is adjusted below the shooter’s line of sight, letting the instructor observe not only when the shooter contacts the trigger, but also if there is both proper sight alignment and sight picture before the shot.
All of the fundamentals, including precise trigger mechanics, are reinforced by the instant feedback of the laser’s dot. Trigger problems are instantly identified when the dot is off-target. Forget diagnosing bullet hits on targets. Incorrect trigger presses show up as “dashes” rather than “dots” on the target, requiring the shooter to focus on improving trigger manipulation, grip and follow-through. The direction of the dash shows the direction the shooter is pulling, pushing, heeling or otherwise moving the weapon during the shot.
There are three models offered, the “SIRT Pro” and two “SIRT Performer” models. The Pro model has steel construction surrounding the electronics (housed in what is normally the slide on a real pistol). The Performer models are of polymer construction. If I were spending scarce training equipment dollars, there is no question that I would go for the SIRT Pro’s solid construction and resulting capability to withstand abuse by officers.
Far from being a toy, this is a robust training tool that will take the rigors of combative training. While anything can break, you’d have to work pretty hard at it with the Pro model. In defensive tactics (only the Pro model is recommended for DT training), the green shot indication laser dot on the “suspect” provides hit feedback far better than a red shot indicating laser, while the dual laser provides trigger contact feedback to instructors. On the live-fire range, the SIRT can substitute for repetitions between live-fire (saving ammunition while getting trigger presses and accuracy feedback), as well as for safety rehearsals when moving. When used in scenario training, there is no possibility of injury because the lasers are eye-safe, and possibility for damage to property, no cleanup, and each trigger press is estimated to cost less than $0.0002 through the life of the $3.00 battery.
In the time I’ve taken to write this review, I’ve had instant visual feedback on no less than 40 deliberate trigger presses and over 100 rapid-fire trigger presses on various targets strategically placed around my office (single targets, multiple targets, a hostage target, and targets behind simulated barricades, all at various angles, distances, and sizes). On a normal work day, I can accomplish 150 to 300+ quality trigger presses with absolute safety because live ammo cannot be loaded into the SIRT. I also have no need to manipulate a slide between each shot to reset the trigger. Gone are the days of dry-firing my “empty” duty gun at the TV (to my wife’s relief). If this is not enough, I often get up to 50 magazine changes per day using the SIRT’s weighted magazines.
After four decades of intensive shooting and teaching others to shoot, the SIRT has revealed some of my previously hard-to-diagnose problems (I’m evidently good at hiding bad habits, even from experienced trainers). The laser is unrelenting in its feedback, even more so than live-fire because there is no muzzle blast, bullet or hazard to worry about. It is just the mechanics and the laser dot (or the dreaded dash).
There is no other explanation for the improvement of my shooting other than the time I’ve put into the SIRT. It has proven to be an excellent training tool.
With all of the training benefits, the rugged construction, and the miniscule cost per trigger press, there is just no argument against NextLevel Training’s SIRT Laser Training Pistol. PM
George T. Williams is the Director of Training for Cutting Edge Training in Bellingham, Wash. He has been a Police Training Specialist for more than three decades, as well as an expert witness in federal and state courts nationwide and a widely published author for more than two decades. Mr. Williams develops and presents revolutionary concepts within integrated force training solutions through a problem-solving format, functionalizing police skills and tactical training. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.