Probably the only good news out of the Biden administration is that gun sales are up… WAY UP! With millions of new gun owners, we hopefully have millions of more people who will defend the Second Amendment. That’s the good news. The bad news is all of these new gun owners have been buying ammunition, so much so that we have one of the biggest ammunition shortages in recent history.
Most of us have been affected by the shortage by either not being able to find the ammunition we want or by having to pay vastly inflated prices to get it. This has caused many of us to not practice our shooting as much as we should, or at least as much as we have in the past. Given that shooting skills are perishable skills, what is to be done? Do we get a second mortgage to feed our need to practice shooting, or is there another answer?
Mantis is a company that produces dry fire systems. In two previous articles for GunsAmerica Digest, I reviewed the Mantis X10 dry fire system (here and here). In another article, I covered the Mantis Blackbeard laser dry fire system for the AR15 platform. Both systems are excellent tools to keep your shooting skills sharp. Mantis is now introducing the Mantis Laser Academy, which is the focus of this article.
The Mantis Laser Academy is a system that utilizes smart targets, a trigger-activated laser, and an app for your phone. The targets may be purchased from Mantis in sets of either 5×7 inches ($14.99) or 8 1/2×11 inches ($24.99). The Mantis targets are printed on heavy stock paper and seem quite durable. Alternatively, you may download the targets from Mantis for free and print them at home using this pdf.
The Laser Academy app is also free. Trigger activated lasers, called Pink Rhino Laser Training Cartridges are available for purchase from Mantis in 9mm, 40 S&W, 45 ACP, 380 ACP, 38 Special, 357 Sig, and 223/556 ($39.97). To use the system with an AR15 platform, Mantis sells the Blackbeard mentioned above (starting at $199). The Blackbeard is an auto-resetting trigger system that is extremely fun to use. The only other thing you will need is a tripod to hold your phone. Mantis sells these too. The full-meal-deal with large targets, small targets, target stands, two tripods with phone holders, access to advanced drills and one laser cartridge runs $149.
There are free drills included in the app, such as Open Shooting – Single Target, Bullseye 5-Shot, and Shot From Guard/Low Ready – Single Rep. These drills are what they sound like. You may also purchase more complex drills from Mantis such as Open Shooting – Multi-Target, Close Contact from Holster, Holster Draw, and Multiple Shots on Multiple Targets. The app includes a shooting history.
Using the Mantis Laser Academy is straightforward. Once you have your laser, targets, tripod, and app you are ready to train. First, last, and always, ensure your gun is unloaded. After that fire up the app and select a drill. Position the camera so it registers the target and get to work. The system is intuitive and very easy to use. At the end of each drill you get to see how accurate you were, how long it took you to shoot each shot, etc. This accuracy feedback is what’s new.
As with any system, some errors can occur, but the Troubleshooting guide addresses common issues pretty well, e.g., if the camera is moving/bumped then erroneous results will occur. Similarly, if poor trigger control results in a moving pistol and a moving laser when the trigger is pulled then multiple shots may be recorded. It’s worth noting that I had no malfunctions when testing the system.
My previous reviews of Mantis products were very favorable because the products worked as advertised and were solid training platforms. The Mantis Laser Academy is no different. The Blackbeard and the X10 platforms were great for dry fire training, but what was missing was a measurement of accuracy. The Mantis Laser Academy solves that problem.
- Good value with a low-priced, entry-level option.
- Well-designed intuitive system that is very easy to use right out of the box.
- The system also works with laser pistols sold by other manufacturers.
- Good drills.
- Extra o-rings for the Pink Rhino Laser Training Cartridge should be included with the system. In testing, one of them came off, so I would view them as consumables.