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Is a shooting simulator as good as the real thing?

Home » Is a shooting simulator as good as the real thing?

Last week we mentioned how simulators could be a useful tool for beginners. A one off purchase of the equipment allows for unlimited practice come rain or shine. These simulators come in all shapes and sizes with consumer and prosumer models varying from hundreds to thousands of pounds. While some might consider a simulator as a game they’re actually becoming quite representative of the real thing. Simulators can now provide meaningful data where lessons learned can be taken straight into the field.

Something for everyone

The Gaim simulator is a really interesting proposition. Using the oculus hardware with their own stock you have a wire free, 360 simulator you can set up anywhere. The Gaim product came out of a product Aimpoint made to demonstrate their red dot sights at trade shows. This started with tracking software for bore and rifles and trickled down to shotguns and birds. Gaim then set up as its own company looking to use this software to sell into the consumer market.

The product is actually very simple. Connecting your lead hand handle to the front you then connect their stock as the rear hand. The stock is now reflected in the headset and mirrors your movement in the virtual world. Following the in headset instructions, you can select a number of shooting scenarios for you to practice. This includes, Pheasant, Wildfowl, Stags and Bore amongst others. You can then control variables like height, speed and direction to tailor to your preference.

Most impressively you can then get instant feedback on each of your shots to let you know where you’ve gone wrong. Equally, the feedback will go into detail on how you hit your target with a breakdown on kill shots vs injuring shots. You’ll be able to pick up on bad habits and iron them out before they develop further in the real world. As a tool for out of season practice and as a pre-shoot tune up this really is the real deal.

The Dryfire system

The Dryfire system is a different take on an inhome training system. Using either a laser or a projector, the computer generates a target onto the wall. With a module placed on the barrel of your own gun you shoot at the projected target and get feedback on the computer. You’ll be able to completely customise your inputs to match what chokes and cartridges you use in the real world. Doing so will allow you to take all your learning straight out into the field.

The dryfire simulates a number of clay shooting disciplines but not any game ones at the moment. While the feedback is fantastic the variety is a little lacking. If you are a passionate clay shot then this is probably the system for you. One of their 20,000 customers Aislin Jones won the Junior World Skeet Championship which she credits to increased practice using their system. Removing the cost of travel, cartridges, clays and maintenance certainly adds up over time.

Loosing the headset makes the shooting process much more natural. With zero chances of butting your headset into the stock you can shoot as you would in the real world. Equally, using your own gun builds your muscle memory in relation to the weight and choke choices. While you don’t get the same emersion you do build up a very strong set of fundamentals. For those looking to get the 100/100 scorecards then this is likely the best system for doing so.

The Marksman Simulator

If you’re looking for a simulator to replicate the real thing while giving back some truly impactful data then the Marksman simulator is the premium choice. The sim takes the best of the two previous options and combines them together to create a headset free yet immersive experience. You’re going to need quite a bit of space however and a vaulted ceiling to get the most out of the product. The bigger the space, the bigger the image and consequently the better the immersion.

The Marksman has the broadest number of disciplines you can try from all UK shotgun quarry, Clay disciplines and rifle shooting targets. Using your own gun, a sensor sits in the barrel and a mechanical sensor on the trigger guard to track your aim and trigger pull. This then syncs up with the projected image and computer to give you live feedback on shot placement and hits and misses.

Using this system as Wadswick Country Store it really is impressive. All shots are registered on the laptop as you shoot the quarry. The distance of shot, pattern and point of impact are all saved for you to review when you need to. This can set up to be reviewed after each shot or after a series of shots. For those who also like to golf, the marksman can also be used as a golf simulator too. If you have the space and the budget the Marksman makes sense. Whether you want a gamified game shoot, to try new things or just something new for the mancave, the Marksman will impress.


Picking a shooting simulator is now starting to become an option for most people. The initial iterations of VR required powerful computers and a network of cables. Now, we see wireless headsets and even headset free options that you can use anywhere. The three model discussed go about this process in 3 rather different ways. We think there are now options to suit most people out there from those wishing to play and those wishing to really develop their shooting.

The Gaim is the most user friendly, low impact solution that can be used anywhere and tucked out of sight at a moments notice. Equally, you don’t need to dedicate any space to the Gaim so you can set yourself up wherever the space allows. In contrast the DryFire and Marksman need dedicated space but with that space come with improved data and functionality. For the clay shot the DryFire is a dedicated system and translates directly into improved scores at the range. For those looking to really develop their driven game shooting the Marksman will be the best choice.

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