The Moto Shot Target System
The Moto Shot Target System is controlled by a magnet that allows the upper torso to fall when struck by gunfire. Photos by Dave Spaulding
The Moto Shot Target System
(Photo by Dave Spaulding)
FEATURED IN TRAINING
You don’t have to be a physicist to know that a moving target is harder to hit than a stationary one. Shooting while moving is one of those “advanced” techniques that everyone wants to learn. Let me give you the secret: Separate your upper body from your lower body, using the upper half like a tank turret, while the lower half acts as a shock absorber. For example, have you ever over-filled a hot cup of coffee or cocoa and then walked it to the cashier to pay? Not wanting to spill, you carefully picked it up, lowered your center of gravity (hips), bent your knees and purposefully walked—heel, ball, toe—with the hot liquid in front of you. Congratulations! You’ve just created the body position needed to shoot on the move.
The tank-turret method allows you to twist at the waist and shoot in multiple directions, but moving backward is problematic. I’ve been to schools that teach either a “shuffle step” or a “step-and-drag” while moving backward. Both options are intended to let you know if something will trip you. Admittedly, these techniques work great on the range, but they often fall apart on the street.
In one well-known video, a deputy sheriff involved in a gunfight with a white supremacist exchanges rounds and then moves off camera to the safety of his cruiser. What many people don’t realize: The deputy tripped and fell while moving backward! Nothing got in his way—the street was flat and uncluttered. His butt just bowled over his feet. The deputy told me, “You can’t run backward no matter how flat the ground. It was the scariest part of the fight. I was on my back with my bottom exposed.”
I’ve seen this happen repeatedly, but running backward while shooting is still taught, which is fine because it’s a skill that can be useful under certain conditions, such as backing slowly away from a confrontation. But maybe we should also teach officers to turn their upper torsos and engage one-handed to the rear, while the lower body moves forward. According to cruiser videos, this is what happens more often than not.
Although shooting on the move and shooting and then moving are both essential skills, police get little training on shooting at a moving target. For years, the solution was the “Running Man,” which offered a cardboard target or steel plate moving back and forth across the range. Although this is a great for follow through, I haven’t seen many armed suspects run back and forth in front of a cop in a fight.
Clint Smith, the master instructor and founder of Thunder Ranch, has a good idea. He takes swinger targets and straps them together so a line of shooters each have a target that wobbles back and forth, which is more like the bobbing and weaving that occurs in a fight. I have copied Clint’s idea in my courses, but I’ve also added a series of springs that allow me to get more spastic motion from the targets. As good as this idea is, the targets are still stationary. Interactive training (force-on-force) is a must in my opinion, because it reinforces and validates all of the necessary fundamental skills. Interactive training builds confidence that an officer’s skills will work in a crisis event, which, in turn, reduces fear and makes for a more responsive officer. But interactive training, as indispensable as it is, isn’t live fire, and realistic live fire training is also a must.
So what we need is a moving target with lifelike motion that looks like a person. It must also react to gunfire (go down) so officers can train to stay in the fight until the threat is over—no more shoot-two-and-holster stuff. It also needs to be affordable. I know, too good to be true, right?
Enter the Moto Shot Target System. Editor-in-Chief Dale Stockton and I came across this at the LE Targets (www.letargets.com) booth at the 2009 SHOT Show. Dale and I immediately recognized its potential. When I asked how much it cost, I was told that it depended on the features added, but the most expensive model was a little more than $2,000. Yes, that is a chunk of money, but even the smallest agency can budget that much for a very effective and court defensible tool.
Manufactured and distributed by LE Targets (www.motoshot.com), the best way to describe the Moto Shot is that it’s like an electronic toy car on steroids. For years, such toys have been used in firearms training, carrying everything from balloons to paper targets, to give officers something moving to shoot at. Moto Shot takes this concept to the range and makes it work. They call it “affordable, reality-based robot training,” which is a good description.
Unlike similar units that are armored and cost approximately four times as much, the Moto Shot can be carried by one person and transported in the trunk of a car. It’s a digital unit with a 2.4-GHz digital spread spectrum with variable speeds both forward and back. The control unit is much like that on a toy car, with a trigger that controls speed and a side-mounted wheel that steers it—but it’s much more powerful than any toy.
The Moto Shot can be used as far as 1,000 meters (line of sight) from the target, making it useful for sniper training. In its basic form, the Moto Shot uses a humanoid torso target attached to an electronic sensor. When the torso is hit by gunfire, it stops instantly. However, I would strongly recommend the upgraded unit with the reactive target feature that allows the torso to fall over when hit. This is accomplished via an ingenious magnet system that holds the target upright and, when hit, releases the target, allowing it to fall. This same feature is also the only criticism I have with it, because not every hit to the torso will necessarily stop a suspect. I spoke with the manufacturers about this and was told they realized this and were already working on several possible solutions. For now, trainers will just have to discuss proper shot placement with their officers.
I was supplied with a Moto Shot target and was able to work with it for several weeks. This allowed me to develop some simple scenarios, use it with a number of shooters and gauge its reliability. Most importantly, I was able to have shooters engage this moving target while they were moving as well. You know what? First, accuracy really suffers. And second, people want to stop and shoot, rather than run, which may or may not be good!
In the end, I was most impressed with the Moto Shot, and if I were still in charge of my former agency’s training, I would lobby hard for this. The Moto Shot is so responsive it can actually be used to run the rooms and halls of shooting houses, surprising officers with a target that charges just like a human being. When I did just this, a number of the shooters froze in place, not believing what was happening before their eyes! This is the type of thing that should be discovered in training rather than in the streets. Interestingly, the officers that suffered this lag time had done just fine during Airsoft training. They were expecting human confrontation in the interactive environment, but were expecting nothing more than paper targets in this one. As police officers, we should always expect the unexpected, and the Moto Shot was able to reinforce this lesson. While I hate to sound insulting, I feel it’s necessary to caution anyone using the Moto Shot to have an appropriate training venue for its use. This means a backstop that will stop rounds fired in any direction the Moto Shot may be used. I know this sounds basic, but I’ve been surprised before at the lack of range safety displayed by some law enforcement firearms instructors, so be forewarned: Use the Moto Shot only in locations where a backstop is multi-directional, like in a tall, three-side berm or shoot house.
Every police firearms instructor in America may have to take the stand and act as their own expert in the event of a shooting by one of their officers. Few give this any thought, but it’s the harsh reality. This is why smart instructors record at least one of each of their training sessions, as well as stay abreast of case law. If a shooting occurs, you’ll have to defend your program—essentially, why you did what you did—so be prepared. How easy do you think it will be to defend the use of a human shaped, moving target that makes officers respond on their feet?
The Moto Shot is limited only by the instructor’s imagination and the facility they have to use it in. Make your chief or sheriff understand this, and they’ll see that this alone is worth the two grand.