Buy a Shot Timer!

Recently I mentioned a concealed carry holder might try competition because the stress of a timer is real. Along those same lines, you can induce stress in your own training if you are willing to forego some Pumpkin Spice Latte’s this fall and instead buy a decent shot timer.

Buy a Shot Timer

You might be thinking, “I’ll just download an app” and for dry fire that is a serviceable solution. But for live fire, you really need a real deal, dedicated shot timer. Your phone’s speaker is not really suitable and it can result in, well, spotty results. Even for use in dry fire, I now recommend purchasing a real shot timer over an iPhone app.

Why for dry fire? To be honest, I did not understand the difference, between real vs an iPhone app. I used what I felt was a decent iPhone app for dry fire and went about my practice willfully ignorant. Then I sold some crap and bought a Competition Electronics Pocket Pro II.

The first time I used the Pocket Pro II, was a wow moment!

In addition to being easier to use and quicker to reset, it was glaringly obvious the iPhone app I was using had a long drawn out beep (measured in hundredths of a second) while the Pocket Pro II has a loud, sharp and abrupt beep. Using my USPSA Production Gear and the iPhone app it appeared I was cutting 0.70 draws. Once I started using the Pocket Pro II, it became obvious that was not true. With the Pocket Pro II the best I have got is a 0.80 with most being a 0.90.

But what about stress and such for practice, you know, the thing I mentioned at the start of the article?
One word: DRILLS. Borrow or buy a timer, go to the range when you can be by yourself and work some drills against the timer using your CCW setup. Run some popular drills and us the PAR time feature. See how good you really are compared to common standards. It won’t take long before you find yourself getting “amped” up and trying to improve your times. That is good, just remember the goal is speed AND accuracy. Speed and Accuracy… a subject for different post.

So what’s the takeaway?

  • If you’re using an phone app you might be surprised to find you are slower than you thought, at least in dry fire.
  • If you haven’t ever shot your CCW rig under a timer, you might discover you fall apart under the pressure. I promise you, it is better to identify those weaknesses now versus standing in line at the fast food joint.

Don’t take my word for it.  Prove it too yourself. I deal in truths that are proven by my own experimentation and study; so should you.


  1. A shot timer is a “must” for effective and measurable training. A random signal, combined with shot to shot times allows one to see and measure progress and ability. Useable on all drills and scenario based training the shot timer reflects the shooter’s actual performance.

  2. I’m a big fan of the CED Shotmaxx wrist watch style timer. For solo practice, it can be set to measure recoil impulses so it isn’t thrown off by other shooters when you’re sharing the range.

    It also has an “airsoft” mode that will register dryfire – at least on my hammer fired guns. YMMV on striker fired guns.

  3. I agree the phone one is spotty, and surely not entirely accurate, but it does create stress in my opinion. I’m stressed waiting for the timer, when it buzzes, and if it fails to record shots I’m a little bummed but 90% of the time it ‘works’. I use the droid version though.
    Even with that said I am saving up for a real shot timer.

    1. Agree with this.

      I wouldn’t throw the phone app under the bus, it’s not going to be as accurate but it still is a decent way to track improvement and creates some stress the same as a real shot timer.

  4. Try a chest rig for holding the shot timer. I made one with bungee cords, a hunk of leather, some grommets and some coarse nylon mesh. It takes a little time, but stepping through the splits and recording them on a rough drawing of a stage layout is enlightening as to where your time is going. Using the par time setting with a SIRT pistol can be quite humbling, and can be easily set up in the garage on a rainy day.

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