As a professional law enforcement and military instructor, I have seen many training tools come and go over the years. It is important to vigilantly evaluate promising tools and new theories to stay relevant.
Recently I met the owner of Next Level Training, Mr. Mike Hughes. He is a competitive shooter, firearms instructor, and Season 3 finalist on Top Shot. Mike founded Next Level Training and created the SIRT Pistol. He is larger-than-life, focused on human performance enhancement, and constantly seeking improvement.
As a competitive shooter, instructor, and practitioner, I endeavor to remain aware of emerging technologies. The most convincing remedy to improvement is personal recognition of deficiencies. We must be able to selfidentify and analyze.
Frequent, well-executed, and repetitive manipulation develops reflexive proficiency under stress. To support practice, we need to perform self-diagnosis, maintain interest, and have fun. Yes, I said “fun!” Sometimes people focus too much on the work aspect and lose the fun. This reduces motivation and creates labor from what should be mentally stimulating and enjoyable.
I advise my students to dry practice at least three times a week for 10 to 15 minutes per session. When students complete a course of instruction and return home, they practice as recommended for a couple weeks. But slowly they lose motivation and begin to reduce or totally eliminate dry practice sessions. The NLT SIRT Pistol brings back the fun!
NLT SIRT PISTOL
The NLT Training Pistol is designed for “highvolume self-diagnostic firearms training.” The SIRT (Shot Indicating Resetting Trigger) Pistol is a replica gun that emits a laser when breaking the trigger (no need to rack the slide). The SIRT Training Pistol is an inert training tool incapable of firing real rounds.
It is equipped standard with a second “takeup” laser that activates when the trigger is indexed, held and depressed, but not broken (taking the slack out). This second take-up laser is primarily for the instructor or assistant to diagnose shooter performance during dry practice sessions. The device physically resembles the Glock 17. It will fit in all holsters and equipment as needed and required for like designs. You can attach your light on a rail of the SIRT.
The newest version resembles a Smith & Wesson Sigma. You can remove the stock sights and replace them with your preferred sight. NLT also produces a replacement bolt for use in your AR-15/M4 platform that projects a laser. It comes standard with one magazine weighted to simulate a fully loaded real magazine. However, the SIRT Pistol emulates the functional features of real firearms for the most beneficial training effects. The lasers fully adjust for elevation and windage using a small Allen wrench.
The device comes with a fully charged battery that lasts hundreds of hours and is ready to use out of the box. NLT provides detailed instructions for use, plus a CD and hard plastic case. Per the enclosed instructions, check zero when you receive the pistol. Adjust the lasers to the sights, not vice versa. The trigger is fully adjustable as well for take-up and break, and relatively easy to accomplish.
My initial perception was that it is a training tool for beginners. This misconception was promptly disproved.
I began using the device for personal skills development. Instead of dry fire sessions with real weapons, I used the NLT SIRT Pistol. I have used it in my office and then traveled with it to maintain skills on the road. I routinely travel across the U.S. and abroad, and am often unable to carry firearms. I have taken the NLT SIRT to South and Central America, Europe, Scandinavia, and all over the U.S. without any difficulty. (Read up on traveling with simulated- type weapons. Know and understand the specific regulations of the area you are traveling to before you embark on a journey carrying this device.)
I introduced the NLT SIRT Pistol to training with basiclevel students. It has reduced training time frames, range session usage, and ammunition consumption while developing student confidence.
The device also provides a safer, more relaxed, and less stressful indoctrination and orientation for new shooters. More advanced shooters can self-diagnose and self-correct without argument, denial, or subjective opinion. After all, personal recognition of flaws and failure is the strongest medicine for improvement.
The instructor assists, notes errors, and then provides opportunities for students to self-analyze. As a test, we conducted non-profit instructor training courses with the NLT SIRT Pistol. Our first group was a cross-section of instructors based in Scandinavia. The evaluation group invited to support the instructors consisted of novice shooters.
This was an eight-hour instructor course. The student group was restricted to four hours of training with NLT SIRT Pistols, after which live-fire qualification courses were conducted. Student scores were on average 42% higher. Nearly the same result was achieved with two other focus groups of novice shooters.
With experienced professionals (competitive, law enforcement, and military personnel), the rates of improvement were much lower, within the 3 to 6% range, which was still remarkable, not to mention reduced live-fire operations and overall cost reduction.
I have now conducted 11 instructor classes with varying skill levels (amateurs and professionals) throughout the world. My results have been relatively uniform and consistent.
NLT has an excellent online and YouTube support channel for customer service and training. The training videos are comprehensive and to the point. NLT customer support is above average, streamlined, and responsive to customers. My company, I.M.T.T., now has ten of the pistols in the field and uses them routinely. Anytime I have contacted or requested support, NLT has been prompt, responding to calls and e-mails for service without hesitation or delay.
TRAINING WITH THE SIRT PISTOL
Follow all basic rules regarding dry fire practice. Do not have a real pistol or ammunition in the vicinity. When dry firing off the range, clear the room of all ammunition even when only dry firing with the SIRT Training Pistol. If dry firing in conjunction with your live-fire gun, conduct safety checks of all firearms.
When on the range, it is beneficial to train trigger mechanics with the SIRT Training Pistol between live-fire drills. In this environment, treat the SIRT Training Pistol as a real gun and follow the four basic rules at all times. When holstering the SIRT, be sure to slide lock your real firearm without a magazine when placing it down for temporary storage.
Flip the top toggle switch backward to activate the red take-up indicator. When you only want the shot indicator (green laser), flip the switch forward. During most training, the take-up indicator is turned off.
For beginners, the take-up laser is to identify trigger mechanics issues during slow fire. After ensuring a proper grip, stance, body posture, and other fundamental skill sets, observe the motion of the laser during the trigger pull. Ensure the student is first taking the slack out of the trigger and then having a clean follow-through, with the green laser showing the shot break.
After a shot is broken, release the trigger sufficiently to shoot off the reset, where the red laser is still on, and then re-press the trigger to break a second or subsequent shot. If the lasers go completely off, you have completely disengaged the trigger from the sear. This indicates you’re not identifying the reset point. It further allows you to practice correct finger placement and the correct moment during the presentation and prepping the trigger correctly.
Have the shooter align the target, prep and break the trigger. If the lasers are steady during this, they are engaging in proper trigger mechanics. If the shooter is, for example, right-handed, and the lasers sweep from right to left (a nine o’clock sweep), the shooter is not engaging in proper trigger mechanics. Observe the laser motion when breaking the trigger. Any comet-tail sweep is an indicator of poor trigger mechanics.
Advanced shooters should, of course, train the same fundamentals as above. Many advanced shooters have fundamentals to train and strengthen, such as prepping the trigger prior to coming onto a target during a target transition. But advanced shooters need to train in higher volume with higher quality of movement.
Such further training includes: shooting on the move, high-speed transitions (one target to another), high-speed wide transitions (over 90° between targets), and highvolume training. This is a supplemental tool, not a replacement. You still must do live fire and practice recoil management.
ADVANTAGES OF THE SIRT PISTOL
The SIRT Pistol is tremendously convenient for high-volume training. The lasers help identify mechanical trigger issues, ensuring proper trigger mechanics and sight alignment when breaking the trigger. You can set up training events anywhere at any time. The cost of training is zero, and range and ammo costs are completely eliminated.
It allows you to focus on prepping the trigger, the break, re-set, and proper trigger control, all this while forcing the shooter to focus on the sights correctly and never having to fire a shot. I have been able to set up scenarios in client police stations and have the officers train while on duty intermittently, as well as set up in-station training with simulated ranges in the interior spaces prior to the officers qualifying the next day. Of course strict adherence to safety and protocols was implemented.
DISADVANTAGES OF THE SIRT PISTOL
SIRT is not a replacement for live-fire training, but a supplement. There is no recoil impulse simulation or slide operation during use. Shooters have a tendency to look at the laser impact and make corrections through this method instead of focusing on the sights.
Users occasionally develop complacency relative to safe weapons handling. Assumptions of harmlessness begin to sneak into the mindset of the individual, and he may treat the weapon as a toy. This should be constantly monitored, highly discouraged, and eliminated. Treat and handle the device as a real weapon at all times.
Obviously sometimes during force-on-force or other types of training, the device will be pointed at others. Treat it in the same manner as a marker-type projectile training weapon and strictly adhere to the highest safety protocols.
The SIRT is not waterproof. If used in the rain, cover the upper opening in the slide with a small piece of tape.
The SIRT Pistol and rifle bolt are incredible training tools. You can have them in your home, office, or work place and set up scenarios safely without using real weapons to clear spaces. The possibilities are endless.
I use this SIRT for training in vehicles in place of real weapons and for safety during demonstrations and practice at home. I routinely use it when demonstrating entry tactics and/or building search methodologies. It’s an excellent tool for students during the “crawl, walk, run” phases of training inside locations and during complex exercises for safety.
My former agency purchased the devices and has integrated them into defensive tactics training. Some groups, individuals, and organizations use the SIRT Pistol and laser bolt for force-on-force scenario training. The SIRT Pistol allows instant feedback that is visible from the very first time they press the trigger, making their lack of trigger control obvious to them.
You can place reflective tape at varying distances on targets to indicate hits. The laser strikes the reflective portion and reflects with high intensity.
SIRT is a perfect training tool for anyone who owns or carries a weapon. Many police and military agencies are now purchasing these devices and integrating them into regular training for officers, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Los Angeles Police Department to name just two.
When you cannot get to the range or adverse weather hits, the SIRT allows you to continue practicing. If you live in an urban area and are unable to visit the range regularly, it helps you maintain skills between sessions. I believe in this product and cannot recommend it more highly, based on testing, use, customer service, and ruggedness.
Suggested retail price for the SIRT Pistol is $239.00. The AR bolt is $139.00.