Watch for these tech trends to take over the shooting industry.
The name of the game for firearms in the coming years is going to be a simple one: safety.
Where the hunting and fishing industries are both looking to utilize technology in intriguing ways to help kill more game and catch more fish, shooting enthusiasts can expect tech to impact their sport by making firearms more difficult to be misused.
But while gun control laws and saving lives are going to be the big topics that gun companies try to address with technology, shooters can still be on the lookout for a few tech revolutions that will make them better at their craft.
View the slideshow to see the upcoming tech innovations that will shape the future of shooting.
1. Smart Guns
It’s becoming increasingly more obvious that the concept of “smart guns” is going to define the technology landscape of the shooting industry over the next few years. The first smart handguntested and approved by the ATF – the Smart System iP1 from Germany-based gun maker Armatix GmbH – hit the market just a few months ago, taking the form of a pistol that can only be discharged when used in conjunction with a wristwatch.
The watch is sold separately from the gun, which is kind of impractical and is an obvious cash grab that other companies will need to correct at some point down the road.
However, the basic concept behind the firearm and wristwatch combo is undoubtedly an interesting one. The wristwatch uses radio frequency identification (RFID) in order to unlock the gun and make it possible to fire. To discharge their weapon, a user would have to enter a PIN number into the watch and then essentially hold the watch near the gun in order to unlock it.
The smart gun concept is an attractive one because it essentially makes it so that only the owner of a weapon would be able to discharge it – a fact that would in turn cut down greatly on the number of gun-related accidents that take place in the United States each year.
With that said, the Smart System iP1 takes so many steps to activate the weapon that it’s difficult to see it ever becoming something that shooters would embrace. Digging out a wristwatch, entering a PIN, and worrying about the proximity of the watch and gun is a series of nuisances that most gun enthusiasts aren’t going to take kindly to.
But what if there was a gun that used the same basic premise without the wristwatch add-on? What we mean is a gun with a biometric fingerprint scanner. Technology has advanced enough to make a biometric gun a reality. If the goal is to keep people from using guns that don’t belong to them, we’d predict a fingerprint scanner would outperform an expensive wristwatch system.
3. Ballistic Calculators
Ballistic calculators are already a reality – and a very competent technology, for that matter – so perhaps they don’t fit in with trends to “watch out for.” However, the number of ballistic calculator applications currently available in the form of mobile device applications is certainly one of the most pervasive trends going on in shooting right now, and therefore deserves a mention.
Ballistic programs aim to take the guesswork out of long range shots, taking into account a variety of information about a specific shooting situation – distance, wind speed, pressure, angle, etc. – to calculate the trajectory of the shot. These calculations in turn can be used by the shooter to better plan out a perfect shot, and are considered a valuable aid to long-ranged accuracy.
If you don’t have a ballistic calculator yet, you can probably expect them to start appearing as a component on other shooting gear – from rangefinders to firearms themselves.
4. Smarter Optics
Speaking of shooting gear that may soon be capable of calculating ballistics on its own, “smart” optics might be something to look forward to.
Just imagine it: scopes and rangefinders that not only give you magnification of a target or tell you what distance you’re dealing with, but which also give you minute advice on how to alter your shot to score a direct hit. Some shooters probably wouldn’t care for this kind of technology, since it would almost take the challenge and human factor out of the pastime.
However, for those whose prime goal is hitting the target or landing a killing shot on a game animal, smart optics are something to look for.
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5. “Precision Guidance”
If you’ve ever played a first-person shooter videogame, then you’re probably familiar with the concept of auto-aim, which basically targets enemies for you so that you can get your shots off more quickly. Just like the gadgets of Bond films are coming alive (per the second entry on the list), it appears that something similar to auto aim could be on its way to hunting rifles in the near future.
“Precision guidance” is a term used by the firearm company Tracking Point, and its something that defines the hunting rifles that the company manufactures. Combining a Linux-powered Wi-Fi “networked” scope (a twist on the “smarter optics” we discussed on the previous page), a guided trigger, and ammo meant specifically for long-ranged shots, Tracking Point’s Precision Guidance weapons essentially take into account all of the factors that a ballistic calculator does.
Add considerations of trigger pull and aim, and Precision Guidance is essentially able to tell shooters precisely where to fire to hit their target spot on. In other words, it’s a different type of smart gun, and it’s not necessarily something that gun purists will approve of. Heck, some shooters might even think it qualifies as cheating! All the same, it’s a technology that’s here and advancing, so watch for its impact.