AutoTargets: “Shooting Reinvented”

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There are a lot of different target systems either on the market or available soon.  One of the new, upcoming ones, AutoTargets, looks promising.  It is billed as a “digital reactive target system” with which you can (from their materials):

  • Receive instant feedback on your shooting performance with our free app for your Android tablet/phone.
  • Lift & drop targets with a single tap.
  • Set the number of hits required to drop a target.
  • Time your reaction, draw and reloads.
  • Create complex shooting scenarios involving multiple targets.
  • Stay safe with ricochet free targets that last hundreds of rounds.
  • Stay moving – it’s fully portable and easy to set up anywhere.

Their beta testing video:

I like that you can network a number of the systems together and set up scenarios and drills.  While I couldn’t find a current price (the system is going to be available for preorder on Indiegogo soon; no word on actual date), they mention it will be around the cost of a new gun.  Granted that price point is going to be out of the budget for most individuals (especially to utilize the multiple target concept), but it would be great for clubs like 3-Gun, etc.  I imagine ranges could also invest in the system for a new and novel way to shoot.

I’d like to know how many shots a target can take before replacing.  It sounds like replacement panels are going to be in the $20-30 range, so the amount of damage they can take will also be an important factor.

Thoughts?  Would you buy one?

UPDATE: The company emailed us to say …

Regarding target longevity, the answer depends on what caliber you are shooting, but typically they last hundreds of rounds, potentially over a thousand. You can shoot through the same hole over and over again, and it will still work.

Also, the cost of a replacement target should be closer to $20 than $30.



Tom is a former Navy Corpsman that spent some time bumbling around the deserts of Iraq with a Marine Recon unit, kicking in tent flaps and harassing sheep. Prior to that he was a paramedic somewhere in DFW, also doing some Executive Protection work between shifts. Now that those exciting days are behind him, he has embraced his inner “Warrior Hippie” and assaults 14er in his sandals and beard, or engages in rucking adventure challenges while consuming craft beer. To fund these adventures, he writes medical software and builds websites and mobile apps. His latest venture is as one of the founders of IronSights.com; a search engine for all things gun related. He hopes that his posts will help you find solid gear that will survive whatever you can throw at it–he is known (in certain circles) for his curse…ahem, ability…to find the breaking point of anything.


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  • Bobing

    I don’t mind a relatively pricy target so long as 1, they stand well and are clear enough, and 2, the stand bit holding them isn’t some ridiculously expensive thing that’s $300+ (which I expect this is).

    It’s not so much that it wouldn’t be worth $300 or more for the convenience and functions, but that wood stands and cardboard backing and walking back and forth to set up new targets would just be so much easier. The price of the overall system has to fight against the cost of simple minor inconveniences of analog targets.

    • The targets last hundreds of rounds, or even over a thousand, depending on what caliber you are shooting and how accurately you are shooting. You can shoot through the same hole several times and it will continue to detect hits.

      We understand some people won’t be able to purchase a whole system, so we plan to get these installed in shooting ranges. That way you can experience reactive shooting for only the cost of the targets.

      • spotr

        That business model makes the most sense for the price. The other is military and police training.

  • Steve

    The target has two metal layers that provide an electrical connection through the bullet as it passes through. This is actually a method covered in old military sniper manuals for detonating explosives remotely. As an electrical engineer, applying this to targets is truly a “why didn’t I think of that” idea for me…

    Targets are a *little* overpriced, but if the metal mesh is limited to the hit-box of the silhouette, it’s worth it. They should take many, many hits before needing replacement, though precision shooting will wear out a limited area of the target quickly.

    • Steve

      Also –

      “Affordability:

      -Get started for about the cost of a new gun.
      -Replacements targets cost about the same as a box of ammo.
      -If you shot it, don’t sweat it! While we recommend protecting your lift unit from gunfire, modular and field serviceable design allows individual parts to be replaced by the end user.”

    • Steve, there are 3 separate zones of the target, so you know whether it was hit in the body, center of mass, or head. We will be releasing more targets in the future that have up to 4 zones, such as a “hostage” target with shoot/no shoot zones.

      If you hit the target outside of the silhouette, it does not register as a hit.

  • Cal.Bar

    Or… simply use AR-500 poppers or other spring loaded targets which also react when hit, take THOUSANDS of hits before needing to be replaced, are less expensive, don’t need batteries or have screens you won’t be able to see out in the bright sun of the range.

    • We understand that steel targets have their place, but these targets open up a whole new world of possibilities. For one, you don’t have to worry about ricochets, (and for that matter, steel targets are banned at some shooting ranges). Also since they are programmable, you can have the targets pop up and surprise you, to test your reaction time. And since you can require multiple hits to drop the target, it’s closer to what a real-world shooting scenario would be like. You can program a target to only fall after two body shots and one head shot, which is a great shooting drill to practice.

  • ruinator

    Props to AutoTargets for showing and defending/discussing their product

  • lucusloc

    Like the idea, but a little slow to fall after a hit. If you are going through a stage you need the target to fall immediately so you know you got the hits, not half a second after you *maybe* got the hits.

    In the above video, the shooter knows he got the hits, so he calmly waits for the target to react. If this was a high stress stage I could dump a whole mag into one of those targets before it started to provide feedback on the initial hits. That would be frustrating beyond belief.

    • Thanks for your comments! We have already made the units faster and will be posting videos showing that soon.

      Also, you can have the app make a “ping!” sound when you hit the target.

      • lucusloc

        How fast is the ping? I suspect that your feedback time will make or break this product. Ranges that run competitions will probably be a large part of your target market, and you need pretty snappy feedback to make a good competition target. If you have poor feedback delay you might as well just use paper.

        • We have to do more testing to get exact numbers, but it should be about 50-100ms.

          In practical shooting, it actually helps to put a slight delay on the “ping” so it’s not masked by the gunshot. We may add a delay feature on the ping if people demand it.

          But the numbers don’t paint the whole picture, you have to shoot at it to get the full experience, and I can tell you that it certainly feels fast in it’s current configuration!

          Look for videos next week on our website, that should better showcase how fast it responds.

          Thanks!

          • Bill

            Dont do that, or at least make it optional. An instant fall and sound might be fine for competition practice, but for LE/MIL/Defensive training, shooters need to learn that targets don’t always fall fast and that multiple hits are usually the norm. One shot stops are almost unheard of.

          • Good point, everyone trains differently, and everyone has a different idea of what’s “best.” The app is flexible and lets you choose what type of feedback you want. So yes, it’s optional.

          • Are you anticipating the need for saved presets? From some of the different programming options your discussing I can definitely see wanting to save and load “Shooter A” and “Shooter B” profiles.

          • We still have to work out all the details regarding saving, loading, and sharing files, but ultimately it will be a very feature rich app with all of these capabilities. You will be able to program a scenario, send it to your friend over the internet, and challenge them to complete the scenario and try to beat your best score.

            Once the product is in your hands, expect to see software updates and app updates that will enable more and more features. We will never be “done” with the software, it will continue to get better.

          • soloman02

            Its cool someone did this. I had an idea to do this a few years back but I never got it off the “thinking stage.”

            One thing that you could incorporate into the software to make the system more realistic (as an option) would be to allow the system to randomly assign a specific number of rounds to the target before it falls. In real life a human target could take one hit to no longer be a threat or a whole mag. By allowing the computer to determine how many hits are required you more accurately simulate real life since the shooter has no idea how many shots it will take to end the threat.

          • Soloman02, that will definitely be a feature. For anything that can be set to random, you will be able to set a min/max as a constraint. So for example you could make a target take anywhere from 1 to 10 hits to fall, which should be pretty close to reality.

  • consultingdoc

    For realistic targets, how about a target that shoots back? Not bullets. Say, low velocity paintballs? Now that’s realistic. Sort of. Your thoughts?

    • Now that’s an idea I can get behind! How about Nerf guns that shoot back? Same effect but less messy, and reusable projectiles.

      • GearHeadTony

        You have no idea how awesome it is (at least to me) when a company shows up in the comment section looking for feedback and to answer questions. Props.

        • Thanks Tony! We want to make this product as awesome as possible, and that means getting feedback from people and hearing what they want. Keep the ideas flowing, and we will keep innovating.

      • JDH

        Same effect but less messy, and reusable projectiles…..lawyers will luv that!

    • Bill

      Been done with firearms simulators, a Scandinavian company used an air cannon that fired proprietary rounds and was aimed via a video camera viewed by the instructor. Beaucoup bucks.

  • gunsandrockets

    +1!

  • Yeah that’s something I’ll keep an eye on.

  • Max Roberts

    Great idea, but these “crowd funded” things turn out to be nothing but smoke and mirrors way too often. There is no way to guarantee that an actual product will get delivered. You are taking a gamblers chance if you choose to fund this thing. I’ve been screwed over on a couple of projects in the past, so I won’t be buying anything unless it is an actual product available through a reliable distributor.

    • Some of us on the AutoTargets team have supported crowdfunding campaigns and not received their products- we know what it’s like.

      Fortunately, we are different. We are a fully staffed company, we have our US-based manufacturing process in place and have sufficient inventory to start selling a small quantity of units right now. Our Beta units featured on our website were made by us, in our facility, with all the equipment we need to go in to full scale production.

      We are using crowdfunding as a pre-sales tool. In order to deliver AutoTargets at the low price we want, we need to be able to buy parts and materials in bulk.

      We take this very seriously and appreciate your comment, since it’s an opportunity for us to discuss it. If you’d like to learn more check out the “where to buy” page on our website.