In 1982, Ronin Colman created the PACT Championship Timer. Since then, shot timers have become so trustworthy and prolific that they’re used to decide the outcome of shooting matches worldwide.

While some trainers don’t believe in shot timers, I think they are a great training tool. Not only do they add stress to the equation, but they also allow you to measure progress.

Shot timers can be used in a number of ways to help you improve your shooting with a defensive handgun. For example, during dry practice a shot timer can help you measure and improve handgun presentation speed and consistency. Using the par time feature, you can set it to represent your target draw time. This means you hear a beep as the signal to draw, and a moment later you hear another beep indicating the par time has been reached. Your goal is to complete the draw between the beeps.

A common way to use a shot timer is when working on your reloads.

The same process can be used to measure and improve reloading skills. And, it’s not just limited to handgun training. You can use a shot timer to evaluate how fast you can move into various shooting positions with a rifle. A shot timer can also be used while working on malfunction drills. Of course, these drills and many more can be conducted with live fire, running at real time. You still start on the signal, but the clock — shot timer — records the elapsed time between the signal and the shot. In fact, you can fire multiple shots and learn even more.

This is because modern shot timers record the time of every shot fired. A review function lets you go back in time to see how long it took to fire the first shot and the split time — time between — of every shot fired. Split times are the real-time representation of your shot cadence. They show how fast you can recover from recoil, get back on target, and trigger another shot.

The great thing about the shot timer is because it has a delay start feature, you can use it when you are training by yourself.

One way to make shot timer use more effective is to keep a journal. Keep track of your times and on-target performance for all the drills you commonly practice. Your log can provide an effective way to evaluate progress over an extended period as opposed to just a day on the range.

Of course, competition is one thing and self-defense is another. In a life or death situation, time matters but there will be no beep to signal when to begin the fight. So, how can a shot timer help you train to fight?

You can pick up a PACT shot timer for about $100. Next to money spent on ammo, it might be the best hundred bucks you spend.

Any attempt to sort out a problem with a firearm is nothing more than the measure of accuracy, power and speed. A shot timer lets you maximize your ability to balance this equation. Every portion of a second you save, while still maintaining accuracy with a powerful firearm, will increase your odds of survival. As Barrett Tillman, a Gunsite graduate and good friend of the late Colonel Cooper has said, “You will not rise to the occasion, you will default to your level of training.”

Images by Richard Mann

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