Recently I set out to find where the firearms industry was at regarding training in Virtual Reality (VR). I’m not interested in gun collection games or zombie shoot-em-ups, I’m talking about something that can add to (but not replace) live fire and dry fire reps.
The last statement up there is an important one. When dealing with firearms, nothing can replace hands-on time with a real firearm that is firing live rounds. Dry fire reps can help improve skills. A gas-blowback airsoft clone of your handgun can let you get some great holster draw-n-fire practice, but needs to be washed down with some FMJ’s lest you develop bad habits.
So far in the initial phase of researching an upcoming article, I’ve found two promising apps. One, Practisim VR, was developed by a USPSA shooter. The app “allows you to participate in IPSC, USPSA, Pro-am and Steel Challenge matches within the comfort of your own home”. While the gameplay video (below) certainly looks like it would be a great way for someone to “break into” the competitive shooting sports, I am leery of trusting the software/hardware limitations to deliver serious shooting improvements. I do feel like it could get more shooters into the shooting sports, thus firing more live rounds anyways. Practisim VR runs ~$20, for HTC Vive or Oculous Rift.
The other VR shooting app I’ve started looking into is Urban Carry VR Academy, published by Urban Carry Holsters. This app leads you through videos on shooting techniques, various drills and offers instruction on topics such as “Cover versus Concealment”. I think an app like this will have an even tougher road to hoe that Practisim VR, as it offers specific instruction and will be judged on the quality of that content as well as the quality of the software/hardware integration. So far it seems like this is just a VR headset-enabled method to watch Urban Carry Holsters’ instructional videos. The app is free in the Apple and Google Play stores.
Have you used a VR related firearms training app? Share what you know in the comments below. In the meantime, I’m working to get some VR kit set up to see if I can get some decent training value out of it, but so far I’ve got nothing but a headache.