Police Tech & Gear
with Tim Dees
SHOT Show 2013: Target lock for long-range shooters
A unique new rifle and scope system being unveiled at SHOT Show 2013 won’t fire until it’s on target
Long-range marksmanship, whether the shooter is a sport hunter or combat sniper, has always been more of a craft than dependent on technology.
It takes a long time and lots of practice to get good at it, and some people never get good at all.
New technology scheduled to appear on the market this month may level that field a bit, though at a considerable premium.
Big Unit, Big Advantage
The company with the new technology is called Tracking Point, and using their mated scope and rifle combination is more like being a fighter pilot than a hunter. The rifle looks more or less like any other, but with an added red button alongside the trigger, facing to the side. The scope is oversize to accommodate optics, video, and a microprocessor.
When the shooter chooses his target, he dials in the relevant environmental characteristics such as wind speed, and gets the target onto the scope’s crosshairs. When the intended impact point is under the crosshairs, he pushes that red button.
This “tags” the target with a red dot that remains stationary even if the sight picture moves or changes. If the dot isn’t exactly where the shooter wants it, he can re-tag it as many times as necessary to get it in the right place.
When the computed impact point is within the desired radius of the tag, the crosshairs turn red. The shooter then squeezes the trigger to fire. If the computed impact point is outside of the radius, the rifle won’t fire. A video from Tracking Point demonstrates the system in use. Tracking Point has a separate, sport-oriented video here.
Watching the video output of the scope is like the movies I’ve seen of missile aiming systems on fighter jets (having never been in a fighter jet, I can’t speak to how realistic these might be).
When the pilot maneuvers the jet so the target is within an aiming circle, the circle turns red, indicating target lock. As long as the pilot doesn’t get the aiming point too far away from that circle, he can launch his missile.
The missile’s tracking system will “remember” the target and stay on track while the pilot attends to other business. The video output from the Tracking Point scope will stream wirelessly to an iPhone or tablet computer, allowing a second party to see exactly what the shooter sees, and record the video for documentation.
The precision-guided prototype is based on a Remington XM 2010 sniper rifle, the replacement for the U.S. Army’s M24. The rifle fires the standard Winchester Magnum .300 cartridge or the improved Mark 248 Mod 1.
Effective range is 1200 meters — almost three quarters of a mile.
Promotional information for the new system claims that anyone can become an effective long range marksman with very little practice, using this system. I’d like to think there’s a little more than marksmanship that goes into becoming an effective sniper, so those of you in that elite community are still safe in your jobs for the time being.
If you’ve decided this is now on your “must have” list once it becomes available, start saving your nickels and dimes or get good at guessing lottery numbers. Formal pricing hasn’t been announced, but the best guess is in the $20,000-$30,000 range. That’s per unit, friends. Maybe they’ll throw in a box of ammo.