In this post, I’m first going to discuss some of the benefits of incorporating a shot timer into your training regimen, and then I’m also going to briefly describe and review the shot timer that I’ve been using, the SHOTMAXX Timer from Double Alpha Academy.
Benefits of Training with a Shot Timer
I held off getting a shot timer for quite some time, as I was having a difficult time justifying the purchase. In hindsight, that was a rather shortsighted perspective. My last two training classes have featured timed drills, and those classes reinforced the value of a timer, prompting me to finally ask for one as a birthday gift from my lovely bride. Those of us that do not often participate in competition might not often shoot with a timer, and may discount its training value. Therefore, let’s look at some of the positive aspects of training with a timer.
First and foremost, a shot timer holds you accountable to a standard, whatever that standard might be. I have some personal benchmarks to aim for based on training drills from classes, and with a timer, I am able to track my progress towards reaching those goals and adhering to a standard established by experience and reputable instructors. It is virtually impossible to know how fast you can put an accurate shot on target without using a shot timer. Likewise, it’s easy to dismiss a flubbed grip or draw that costs a lot of time when you don’t know how much time it actually took to get the gun into play. That error in presenting your pistol has a little more gravity when you’re looking at the actual time it took as compared to what you know you’re capable of…
Another direct benefit of a shot timer is introducing a degree of stress to your training. Admittedly, this stress is somewhat artificial, but nonetheless, if you have even a mild competitive streak, the stress is real and can push you to perform at a higher level. My personal experience has been that having less time available to complete an action forces you to focus on the fundamentals and do what is necessary to quickly put accurate shots on a target.
Finally, having a shot timer allows you an objective method to determine whether weapon modifications or different gear configurations help or hinder your performance. As an example, you might find that you are measurably faster when you carry a pistol in the appendix position vs. behind the hip. Or perhaps you want to know exactly how fast you can deploy a pistol from a sling bag. With a shot timer, you can find out. Measuring both time and accuracy when changing your gear configuration yields objective data to justify or perhaps even nullify those changes.
SHOTMAXX Timer Review
I first became aware of the SHOTMAXX Timer offered by Double Alpha Academy after seeing Mike Pannone wearing and using one during a Covert Carry class. Intrigued by the concept, I googled wristwatch shot timers during lunch and discovered the SHOTMAXX and his endorsement of it. The SHOTMAXX is indeed a wristwatch shot timer with some innovative and unique features. Aside from recording shots and split times, the timer also boasts an accelerometer and Bluetooth capability. The accelerometer allows the timer to record times in noisy or confined environments such as crowded indoor ranges and the Bluetooth capability allows the timer to pair with a smartphone or tablet to transfer the times recorded.
Double Alpha Academy is located in the Netherlands and appears to be heavily focused on IPSC competition. The SHOTMAXX can be ordered off their website ($149.00) and ships internationally for those of us located across the pond. The timer arrives in a remarkably small box and includes a USB cable that is utilized for charging and installing firmware updates. I would not advise attempting to use the timer without first reading the instruction manual and ensuring that the firmware is current. The timer has enough functions to make initial configuration and use difficult without consulting the manual frequently. Fortunately, the instructions include suggested settings for several shooting environments and scenarios. I’ve found the functions and controls of the timer to be somewhat intuitive after moderate use, but there are still things I need to look up on occasion.
The timer is a relatively compact digital wristwatch design. Two different display options are offered, with either a black or white display available. I chose the white display, as it is supposed to be easier to view in a wider range of lighting conditions. If I understand correctly, the black display was an initial offering that was intended to be ideal for bright sunny conditions. Both displays also feature a momentary backlight for dark conditions. Obviously, the timer also functions as a 12/24 hour timepiece with a day/date calendar, stopwatch function, and alarm. Located on the strap above the display is a speaker/microphone and micro USB port. The timer is comfortable to wear and unobtrusive, and I usually just wear it to the range in place of my wristwatch when I train. The timer is also advertised as water resistant. I have read some reviews that criticize the durability of the screen, but screen protectors and silicone skins of various colors as well as a case are available as accessories on the website.
In the timer mode, two different “beeps” at different frequencies can be selected or even silenced depending on the user’s preference and hearing, with four different delay settings. A par time can be set as well, which is ideal for dry fire practice. The timer can be set to record shots using either the microphone or the accelerometer, and each option has multiple sensitivity and filter settings. The accelerometer in the timer allows it to record shot times in environments where other timers would be challenged. Imagine an indoor range with multiple occupied lanes and shot reverberations for instance. By wearing the timer on the wrist of your firing hand (or your support hand if using a two handed grip), you can overcome these challenges. The timer even features an “Airsoft” sensitivity setting in which the accelerometer and microphone are sensitive enough to record the recoil from an airsoft gun! I tested this in my backyard with my airsoft gun using both the microphone and accelerometer modes. The timer functioned as advertised in both modes, although I prefer the accelerometer mode for use with airsoft, as the “click” of my gun being inserted into the holster was enough to register as a “shot” when using the microphone. The accelerometer is also the means by which the timer can function in “spy mode” during competitions, with the recording of times triggered by the sudden movement of your hand to your gun. The timer is capable of recording strings of fire up to 100 shots.
Utilizing Bluetooth technology, the timer can be paired with either iOS or Android devices to transmit data recorded during training sessions or competitions. I have the ShotMaxx Trainer App developed by On-Core Software LLC for Double Alpha Academy on my iPhone ($4.99) and have had some limited success in transferring data. This is in fact my only major gripe related to the timer. I find the currently available App difficult to navigate and use and it seems custom tailored to IPSC and IDPA competitions and training drills. I would prefer the capability to transfer raw data into some sort of shooting log rather than being constrained by a seemingly competition specific application. To be fair, Double Alpha Academy has made the API source code available to developers, so hopefully other Apps will become available in the future. It is also possible and likely that I simply don’t yet fully understand how to best use the currently available App.
I hope the above review has been helpful. I can definitely recommend the SHOTMAXX as an excellent shot timer for individuals interested in tracking their shooting performance. There are certainly other excellent shot timers that I don’t know about, but whichever shot timer you choose, I definitely think you should incorporate one into your training and drills.