On a number of occasions I’ve mentioned the timer I use for my dry-fire practice. It’s a free Android app named the “IPSC Shot Timer”. The following is a link to it’s page in Play Google:
It’s written by a programmer named Ivan Stoliarov. Given the price, I don’t expect a lot from apps that I install on my phone, and I didn’t from this one. I must say, over the past year or so I have been pleasantly surprised. Before I go into the details of this timing app specifically, let’s chat about timers in general for a bit.
My biggest concern when I hear that a new shooter has purchased their first time is that they will allow the use of the timer to become an excuse to become unsafe on the range. It’s such a temptation to “beat the clock” that draws become unsafe, fingers slide towards triggers before their weapon is up on target and safeties get disengaged way too early. A final plea . . . . PLEASE place safety first, solid weapons handling first, a safe draw first . . . . and then work on speed. Your priorities should ALWAYS BE – safe, accurate and then quick engagements. If you are unsafe, if you are inaccurate . . . . speed in meaningless.
In the timing world there are three primary implementations of recording time and shots fired – Comstock, Virginia and Par. The “IPSC Shot Timer” handles all three methods.
Comstock timing is used for IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation). A stage is configured, a course of fire is defined and the shooter steps into the box. When the timing tone sounds they engage the targets and the timer begins timing when the first shot is fired. And it records the time that elapses until the final shot. There is no concern for time or the number of shots fired. The stage is scored, deductions taken where appropriate and then this final time is divided by the time shown on the timer. A “time per shot” is calculated and a “Stage Factor” is assigned to the shooter. This is the essence of Comstock Scoring.
The IPSC home screen for Comstock looks like this:
While Comstock Scoring places no restrictions on the number of shots fired, Virginia does. The number of shots is fed into the timer a starting parameter. Again, the shooter steps into the box. When the timing tone starts they engage the targets – there are NO makeup shots. The final number of hits and the time elapsed between first and last shot determines the shooter’s stage score.
The IPSC home screen for Virginia looks like this:
A maximum stage time entered into the timer. There is no limit to the number of shots, just the max time. The shooter steps into the box, the timer sounds and they run the stage. Their elapsed time is recorded for the stage.
The IPSC home screen for Par looks like this:
The initial setup screen for the IPSC Timer is simple and easy to understand.
The Threshold sets the sensitivity of the time to the sound it is trying to detect. For dry fire, the bar is set far to the left. For an active range, it is set to the right. The setting you see here actually works well for me in both settings. I do most of my dry fire in the quiet of my office, yet I get few false reports when I am on the live range.
Once you press the Start button you want things to be mixed up when the timer sounds its start tone. This setting allows you a wide range of time to pick from.
This is the percentage of sound level the Live Fire must be above the Dry Fire level to be detected. I have always had mine at 0% and it seems to work just fine.
On a range, particularly where you can hear an echo, you may find that your timer records both the initial shot and its echo. The Echo Delay will allow you to mitigate this issue.
The Timer Selection allows you to choose which timing method you want to use – Comstock, Virginia or Par. Simple radio buttons make the choice.
Simply firing a shot while in the shot Calibration mode will set the initial value for the timer. You may have to adjust this a bit but my experience has been that it is a pretty solid setting.
A result table is available regardless of which timing mode you are using. This table can be saved on your phone or emailed to your mail box for long record keeping.
Simply press the start button, wait for the start tone and engage your stage. It’s as simple as that.
My only issue with the timer is handling it when I’m alone. I find I usually set it on a portable range table or a stool near my shooting position. That seems to work fine.
If you are looking for a beginning timer and you own an Android phone – you simply can not go wrong trying this app. Give it a “shot” (ok, that was too easy) and see what you think. Drop a note in the comments and let me know what your experience is.