‘Fitbit for weapons’ under trial at Enoggera

A trial is underway to test if dry firing with a ‘Fitbit for shooting’ can improve soldiers’ live-fire skills.

CAPTION: A scientist from La Trobe University checks the readout from a MantisX system attached to a shooter’s weapon – and, right, a typical readout from the system (click to enlarge). Story and photos by Corporal Michael Rogers.

Personnel from 7 Brigade are undertaking a four-week program using the MantisX training system to test its suitability for Australian forces.

The device uses a sensor mounted on a weapon to track barrel movement, trigger pull and weapon stability, then delivers a score and barrel vector for each shot, similar to WTSS.

WO2 Mark Biviano, of Land Combat Faculty, bought a MantisX in 2016 to help improve his competitive pistol shooting and soon realised its potential for Defence.

In 2019 he ran a proof-of-concept program using MantisX at 13 Brigade and said the immediate feedback, coaching and shared network of data resonated with the group.

“Users demonstrated a significant improvement very quickly because of that very short learning loop – you press the trigger and you see feedback,” WO2 Biviano said.

“This device and application are the shooting version of Fitbit or Strava, where for every rep in the gym and step on the run you get immediate feedback.

“With MantisX, whether it’s dryfire, live-fire or non-lethal training ammunition, every trigger press counts and data is stored against your profile, so shooters can see how they’re progressing.”

WO2 Biviano took the idea to Jemma Coleman at Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG), who agreed the system had potential.

“DSTG have provided ongoing support to the human-factors components of weapon design since the introduction into service of the EF88,” Ms Coleman said.

“This device has the potential to give Defence operators a better feed-back loop while undertaking training drills.

“At the moment, test and evaluation trials mainly focus on accuracy and timing, usually using static drills on weapons ranges.

“They don’t take what is happening to the human into consideration.”

MantisX mounted on an EF88.
MantisX mounted on an EF88.

The trial started on 22 April with baseline dry- and live-fire testing of participants from three groups of soldiers – non-combat corps, combat corps and infantry.

Following the training program, using only dry-firing with feedback from MantisX, shooters will be retested to see if it has improved their live-fire ability.

The study will also use 150-image-per-second motion capture to detail what soldiers’ bodies and weapons are doing.

A joint effort between DSTG and La Trobe University, the trial is funded through the Land 159 weapons replacement program.

Lead academic for the trial, Kane Middleton from La Trobe, said dry-fire training could mitigate the cost and resources of shooting at a range and still provide skill improvement.

“MantisX really provides an opportunity to be able to put the sensor on any weapon,” Dr Middleton said.

The trial will also study how soldiers take in, and act on, information during room clearances, a concept called ‘perception-action coupling’.

“If we find that expert shooters look and move in a certain way, it might give us information about how they actually perceive the environment and then act,” Dr Middleton said.

“Then we can try and inform training practices to foster those perception-action behaviours associated with skilled combat shooting performance.”






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Posted by Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

One thought on “‘Fitbit for weapons’ under trial at Enoggera

  • 13/05/2024 at 12:32 pm

    Good to see Army Reserve Warrant Officer from 13 BDE working outside the square and achieving real results that will be of benefit to ALL army unit


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