What kind of ninja gear do you really need to up your pistol game? New holster? Maybe a bolt-on magazine well and custom slide work? Cerakote job? It turns out, none of those things. It is the American way to ‘try and buy’ a victory, but I’m here to tell you none of those things are going to matter much if you are new. I taught a pistol class over the weekend for noobs, the first I have done in a very long time. I was reminded that people often don’t own the one tool they really need. A professional timer, or ‘pro timer.’
A pro timer is a device that records gun shots, down to the hundredth of a second. It is the most important tool you are ever going to buy for shooting, after the gun itself. Now matter what your reason is for owning a weapon, if you go practice, you want to get better. And the only way to know if you are actually improving is to have data. A pro timer gives you that data. I’ve been using this model from PACT for years, and it has helped me beyond words with my pistol training.
But can’t I just use a stopwatch? Well, 40 years ago, they had to. If you are running a long enough string of fire, that will still give you some data. But a pro timer is fantastic for learning from shorter engagements, and giving you more accurate information. For example, let’s take your single shot out of the holster.
Can you press go and stop on a stopwatch in under a second? Probably not. Can you perfectly say go, hit the start button, and stop it again as soon as you hear a shot break? Not a chance. Can a computer? Turns out, yes it can.
With advanced sensors, a modern pro timer records exactly the time that a gunshot starts. Not happens, starts. The little buggers are smart enough to recognize the initial peak, and not the duration. Which gives you much better data. Taking the draw and fire one example from above, it is a lot different with a pro timer. Not to mention, you can do it all by yourself.
To set up this drill, first I am going to program my timer, if I am working alone. I set it to give me 3 seconds from the time I release the button to buzz the start signal. That gives me time to move my hands off the timer, and to whatever start position I want. Buzzer goes off. I draw and shoot, check my hit, and re-holster the gun. No need to rush any of that after the shot, because the timer has stopped the clock for me. I check my time, and reset the drill.
Oh, you want more? Cool. We can do that too. Let’s say, I suck at draw and shoot. So I’ve been working on it at home with dry fire. I have a 1.5 second draw, and a I want a 1.2 second draw. I can also set what is called a “par time.” A par time is a programmed second buzzer, at whatever interval you choose. This really helps on speed drills, as the timer goes off, whether you are finished or not. Not only do you get a mental feel for where you were when it went off, but your last shot displays exactly how far behind your desired time was.
Just because something feels fast, doesn’t mean it is fast. The best 3-Gun guy I’ve ever seen compete looks like cold molasses moving, but is so smooth and efficient its an illusion. He is faster than most people can dream on the clock. But only a par timer could tell. If you are serious about improving your pistol shooting, then this is the one thing you can’t do without.
Need ideas for a new pistol? Check out this article on the Hellcat!