Gear Review: Bullseye Camera System

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Since leaving Google in mid-2012, I’ve been searching for firearms stuff that overlaps with technology. While at SHOT Show earlier this year, I was walking down the aisle on my way to the next booth on my list, when all of a sudden a guy literally jumped in front of me and said “hey, have you seen this?!” There was a computer on the table, and that combined with the guy’s excitement got me interested enough to stop and take a short break from a full day of walking the convention floor.

The guy turned out to be Bullseye Camera System founder Nick Skrepetos. His product is a camera system which you put down range pointing at your target, and a laptop screen on your bench will show you your hits. No more squinting through spotting scopes was the promise from this potential snakeoil salesman (for the record, Nick is a really nice guy, and not a slimy salesperson. I just wanted to use the phrase “snakeoil salesman” somewhere in this article). Nick told me about the unique thing about his camera system was its low cost, compared to other camera systems of the same caliber (Nick mentioned a $1500 figure). I had never used a camera system of this type, so I don’t have anything to compare it to. Therefore, my review is only going to cover my experience with the Bullseye Camera System. How well did it work, or not work? Here we go.

I tested the 1,000 yard model which includes a signal booster. There is also a 500 yard model that costs less. You also have the option of buying a netbook, or you can supply your own computer. Mobile support for iOS and Android device is in the works.

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The camera and accessories unpacked from the toolbox. Photo courtesy of Bullseye Camera.

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The Bullseye Camera system comes in a foam-lined plastic toolbox which stores the entire system. A netbook can easily be stacked on top of everything and still allow the lid to lock.

The Bullseye Camera system comes in a nice and simple black toolbox with foam padding to protect and store the camera, wi-fi camera, signal booster, tri-pod, cables, battery pack, laptop, and instructions. Setting up the system is very straightforward. You plug in the colored cables into the battery pack, align the camera with your target, and then sync the laptop to the camera. Notice how the camera is offset from the target, obviously so you do not shoot your camera. If you’re not confident with your accuracy, please practice before spending a few hundred bucks on a product like this.

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A closer look at the tripod, wi-fi antenna, signal booster, and battery pack with color-coded cables inside an organized foam-lined tool box.

With laptop in hand, I walked back 200 yards to my bench with my AR-15 chambered in 5.56mm. The Bullseye software has a number of features where you can load rifle and ballistics data to keep track of your shooting sessions. You can also create multiple user profiles so your friends and significant others can also keep track of their shots all in one session, without having to change targets between shooters. The software has a tool where you can keep track of each user’s shots. The user simply marks each shot with a colored shape of the user’s choice.

The software has two modes to track hits: 1) Shooting mode 2) Live Video.

Shooting mode requires the user to hit the spacebar after taking each shot. The screen then alternates between a freeze frame taken before the shot, and then a freeze frame that’s taken after the shot when you press the spacebar. You can clearly see the shot, but the small downside is that you have to break your hand grip from the rifle to press the spacebar.

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“Shooting mode.” I could clearly see each shot on the netbook screen. Side note: Even though I wasn’t aiming for the bull with each shot, I had some flyers!

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Here’s what the numbered circles look like when a shooter wants to manually tag shots. Data from each shooting session can be saved.

Live Video mode is exactly what it sounds like. You see a live video feed as you take each shot. I could keep my cheek weld and hands in a ready position on the rifle while I just moved my eyes over the screen. When you first start shooting at a target, it’s quite easy to see where the first ten or so shots land. However, once I got above fifteen shots, it became really hard to tell where they were landing, and so that’s when I switched over to Shooting mode.

Be advised that the system works best when you can clearly see a mark through the paper, so the lighting and color of the background behind your target could affect the system’s ability to detect shots. Using a Shoot-N-C type target helps ensure reliable detection, and I’m sure a number of paper targets will work just fine. Nick said that they are continually making software and hardware updates to address any shortcomings in this area.

So at the end of the day, I was really pleased with the system because I really hate squinting through spotting scopes. I think the Bullseye Camera System fills a nice need for the shooter who shoots enough to hate spotting scopes, but can’t necessarily afford a $1500 system.

At $449 for the 500-yard edition (netbook not included), the Bullseye Camera System could hit the sweet spot for many shooters.

www.bullseyecamera.com.


Chris Cheng

Chris Cheng is History Channel’s Top Shot Season 4 champion, author of “Shoot to Win,” and an NRA News Commentator. A self-taught amateur (and former Googler) turned pro through his Top Shot win, Cheng very much still considers himself an amateur who parachuted into this new career.

He is a professional marksman for Bass Pro Shops who shares his thoughts and experiences from the perspective of a newbie to the shooting community. www.TopShotChris.com.


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  • westford86

    I was going to make a smart-ass comment about how I already have a spotting scope, but this is actually cheaper than my spotting scope…

    • uzimandias

      What your smart-ass doesn’t have is a spotting scope that can read a target from 500 yards when the mirage is pronounced. The reason they hung the Hubble telescope outside the atmosphere is that it no longer has to contend with the variable natural refractive properties of air. No spotting scope on earth will give a clear view of a target at 500 yards when the mirage is bad.

  • Ron Fox

    This is pure genius. I say that because I had an almost identical concept and after some research discovered bullseyecamera. Their pricing was cheaper than I could produce my own working prototype for so my plan changed to purchase their 500 yard version as a Christmas present this year. Nice to see a review that isn’t off of their web site. I work in an industry that transmits wi-fi via fractal antennas and custom AP’s and there is a fine line between working wi-fi and unreliable wi-fi. I wondered how the system truly worked. Thanks for the review.

  • Julio

    Thanks for the review, Chris.

    It’s nice to know about how the software adds functionality, but 200 yards doesn’t seem much of a distance test, even for a nominal 500 yard system. What I mean is that at 200 yards you stand a very good chance of seeing the bullet holes through your riflescope, and pretty much any spotting scope could cope just fine, so no additional equipment is really required and the video system is just more gear to take to the range and bring home again.

    IMO, where these systems get interesting is at ranges where spotting scopes are strugling and mirage is a big issue. Bottom line: the wi-fi has to be reliable at 500 yards for the 500-yard version and 1000 yards for the 100-yard version.

    Also relevant -if less so- is how much distance/offset from the target the camera can cope with and still provide a useful target image, as at increased ranges wind-induced variations in point-of-impact of several feet are not uncommon, so you want your camera well of of the way in case of an unexpected lull or gust.

    Were you able to check these range issues out, or only to operate well inside its comfort zone? If not, perhaps you could get hold of the 1000-yard version and see if you can find its limits?

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      I’ve tested mine out to my maximum distance I have available which is 600 yards. It worked as well there as it did at 200 yards. Mine is the 1000 yard version. The camera was setup approx 15′ to the side and 6′ forward of the target.

      • Julio

        Thnaks, Phil, that’sgood to know.

        • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

          Sure glad that helps:-)

    • BullseyeCamera

      We have used our base 1000 yard long range edition out to 1790 yards here in Oregon. When demonstrating the system to the guys at Best of the West, we hit 1600 yards and still had over 40% signal left. This is in a true clear line of sight situation with no powerlines, etc. We also have our YAGI antenna upgrade that will allow you to shoot well over a mile.

      • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

        Thanks for jumping in guys. It always helps to have the company answering questions.

  • cigr

    I’d be way too afraid that a stray shot would hit my $500 camera. Not crazy about having a $500 piece of equipment in the line of fire.

    • Hunter57dor

      same here. and a spotting scope is not that hard to purchase or use. if you have to squint, you are probably nearly blind or bought a terrible spotting scope.

      • JWood_the_other

        Tell us what spotting scope that can resolve a .224 hole in a piece of paper at 500 yds. Like cold fusion and unicorns it doesn’t exist. I just bought one of these systems and it works like a champ. Anyone want to buy a used $1500 Kowa? Mine won’t be coming to the range anymore. Maybe I’ll take up bird watching.

    • Clint Notestine

      seems like you could move the camera off to the side or farther back and still see the hits

      • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

        You can. It’s really in no danger of being hit unless you decide to shoot steel which isn’t the best idea.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      It’s about ten yards from the target

  • gunslinger

    is this just a wifi connection through the built in wifi antenna? or does the laptop need a receiver?

    what’s battery life on the battery pack? low light shooting?

    how far to the side/back from the target can this be?

    thanks chris!

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      The camera has a night vision capability. Ten yards to the side and front is fine. The WiFi connected to the camera transmits the video back to the system which connects to the laptop also through the WiFi private network.

    • BullseyeCamera

      It generates its down WiFi HotSpot that the software connects to for image transmission. The battery is a 5-hour lithium ion rechargable battery. The camera has infrared lights so you can shoot at night. You can set the camera about 6-8 feet away on a 45 degree (or so) angle. In thousands of systems in use, we have yet to have one it!

  • RogerCapiche

    Does the software run on Linux? :P

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      Not that I’m aware of.

    • fuzznutz

      Phil W is too diplomatic to say it, so I will. If you lack the technical savvy to run a Windoze emulator on Linux, maybe you were a bit hasty giving up on Micro$oft. :P

  • Aurek Besh

    Sounds like that shooting mode could be vastly improved with sound activation, with the key-activated setting as a standby when other shooters are present. Just about every recent portable computer has a microphone built-in.

    • BullseyeCamera

      In our testing, the omni-directional was much easier for our users to set up, especially with different terrain types. To reach 1000+ yards, even with a 18dbi YAGI style antenna, the booster was still required.

  • Mr.T

    I feel i can give a honest opinion having built a couple of target cam systems myself. In my expirience it normally cost something like 200-250$ for reciever ,transmiter ,monitor,bateries and antena .(camera was old already lying around) in any case with directional antena range way past 1000y is no problem plus using a typical handycam you are able to position it at least 10-15 feet away , i admit i have no software in my target cam so once there are many holes its a bit hard to tell which one was last and in i would be doing it again i would invest in a better monitor but in any case wouldn’t buy a target cam.

  • Clint Notestine

    damn it why didnt I think of this

  • Simon

    nice system till some moron thinks its a target/good idea to shoot it (theirs always one at any range) and no more camera system, also good luck getting the money out of the guy who shoots it

    • BullseyeCamera

      Bullseye Camera Systems offers a 2-year Downrange Protection Plan for $29.95 that covers all the downrange equipment. If something happens, including someone else shooting it, they will replace the components at no charge.

    • gggplaya

      The camera itself looks like your standard run of the mill security camera. They’re pretty cheap, maybe $50 and a tripod you can get anywhere. I would just keep the black box as far away from your target as possible.

  • Cymond

    For those concerned about errant rounds striking the camera, there are several companies that could construct a shield or enclosure from AR500 steel. If the camera were mounted close enough to the ground, it would be possible to create a simple 3 sided box with a sloped front/top to deflect rounds upward.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      Very true. I have a steel target that I could use to protect it if I thought it was needed.

  • bill b.

    you can do this with any old smartphone (android) and the Longglass app (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=pgo.talltree.longglass&hl=en). use a cheap phone or IP camera ($35) and you are good to go.

    Longglass also has sound activation – automatically detecting a shot, showing where the new hit is located, and saves the timestamped photo for use later.

    the days of dedicated hardware are obsolete. computing power is cheap and everywhere.

  • Jimmy Cline

    If you want a system that will automatically track your shots and store them, take a look at the OCAT System. You also won’t have your money sitting right by the target waiting for a round to take it out.

  • Dave_FM

    I’ve done this with a GoPro before (admittedly not at 1km–the GoPro can’t do that by itself). The included software is what sticks out to me with this system

  • PracticalTactical

    If you’re worried about shooting your video camera, that’s a pretty good indication your $449 is better spent on practice ammunition (or a rifle that shoots straight) rather than on a camera that can read your targets at 500 yards. So stop impugning the design of the camera for your own shortcomings.