Gear Review – Mantis Laser Academy

by Tommy Grant

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The ratio of keeping your skills sharp to the amount of money you have to spend on ammo is one that’s spiraling out of control. I miss the days of 9mm running for 8.99 a box. Sadly, I don’t think those prices will ever come back. Lots of dry fire is the new normal, but dry fire can be a rather dull affair. The good news is that technology has stepped in to make dry fire a bit more entertaining. As such, the latest and potentially greatest entry into the high-tech dry fire market is the Mantis Laser Academy. 

There is a lot to the Mantis Laser Academy, so let’s break it down step by step. Mantis are the dry-fire people. They produced the first sensor that provided real-time feedback on your trigger pulls. They’ve evolved, creating better sensors, the Blackbeard system for ARs and the MCX, and now the Laser Academy. The Laser Academy has four main parts to the system. 

We have the: 

  • App
  • The laser
  • The targets
  • The support gear 

Breaking Down the Laser Academy One by One

To provide the most information possible, I think it’s easier to break down each component. Let’s start with the app. 

The App

The Laser Academy App is available for iOS and Android phones. It’s a fairly small download, and it’s designed to utilize your device’s camera to ‘see’ and recognize targets and the ‘shots’ fire on them. The Laser Academy App comes with several different modes under three main categories. We have Drills, Courses and Videos. 

Drills are the main training portion. Here, we have a variety of drills, including drawing, reloading, close contact form holster, free fire and more. The drills also have a multiplayer competitive option, so you and your friend can train and drive up the stakes via competition. 

Under courses, we currently only have one course, and it’s the Pistol Marksmanship Course and the Pistol Marksmanship Test. We’ll talk a bit more about that later. We also have videos that break down a variety of topics and serve as training guidelines. There’s a lot of good info here. 

The Laser 

The laser, which Mantis calls the Pink Rhino for reasons unknown to me, is a core part of the system. The laser is available in a number of different calibers for rifles and handguns. I have the 9mm variant, and the device drops in and is fired when the firing pin strikes the ‘primer’ of the laser. The app can record where the laser hits and allows you to track accuracy and progress. In the event your laser isn’t hitting where your sights sit, you can calibrate the laser offset quickly and easily. 

The Targets 

The system comes with 15 targets. Two of the targets repeat themselves, and one is a calibration target. There are 12 different practical target designs. They include a variety of options, including IPSC and IDPA targets, the B-8, BT-55 and even a Dot Torture target. I got both large and small targets with my setup. 

Each of these targets has four unique signs in the corner, and the app reads those little signs to recognize the target. This allows the app to give you a proper score depending on the target. 

The Support Gear 

The support gear includes a tripod and phone holder, a case to carry the stuff and various target stands. The inclusion of these little items means the system is ready to run right out of the box. 

Sighting In With the Laser Academy 

I started with some simple free-style dry fire to get the hang of the system, but quickly moved on to try the Pistol Marksmanship Course. The course is shot at either four yards with the big targets or two yards with the smaller targets. We used the IDPA, IPSC, Bull’s Eye, Dot Torture, the BT-5s and Hunt Target. 

The course consists of 13 stages, each becoming increasingly difficult. Each stage has a minimum passing score and round count, and you are assigned an overall rating. Once you have completed the course, you can take the test. The test is made up of five stages. This isn’t a review of the course, but it’s not difficult to pass, but it is difficult to perfect. A perfect score even gets you a free patch from Mantis. 

Shooting the course gave me a good idea of how the system functions overall. Setting the system up and shooting is pretty easy. You do need a good, well-lit area, or the camera will have a hard time reading the targets. It doesn’t need to be super bright. An overhead light is good enough. Calibrating your gun and laser is important, so I’d always start by doing just that. 

The app provides both audible and visual cues when you hit the target. If you go to the drills, at the end of every drill, you can see a picture of your target, with your hits marked and scored with a split time between shots. My favorites are the speed reload drill, the holster draw drill and the malfunction drill. They work exceptionally well with a standard handgun that requires you to rack the slide with every operation. 

The Laser Academy and Skill Improvement 

To establish if this thing can really help you build skills, I decided to work on my draw. I wanted to establish a sub-second draw from concealment with one accurate shot on target. One of the neat things you can do with most of these drills is adjust the amount of shots fired per session and adjust a timer. You, of course, get your time between shots, but you can get a failure buzzer if you go too slow. 

I practiced daily for 15 minutes for a few weeks. The same draw and fire over and over and over. It took some time, but I was able to get my draw down to less than a second with a shot on target. An accurate shot at that. I went outside, touched the grass and tried the same. Live fire added a little more pressure, but after a few tries, I was getting the gun out and into action in just under a second. 

It’s not a huge surprise that constant practice and training make a difference. Could I have accomplished it without the Laser Academy? Yeah, probably, but the Laser Academy kept me training and practicing because I got accurate time-to-first-shot times. I watched that time slowly drop over and over, and the fact I had a tiny target that recorded my shots forced me to be accountable for my accuracy while I practiced. 

I’m going to apply that same effort to reloads, malfunction fixes and more. I want to see those times drop and my skills improve. The Laser Academy app, targets and laser make training fun and entertaining. 

Final Thoughts On Laser Academy 

The Laser Academy system delivers a fantastic and innovative training option. The system is responsive, easy to set up, and relatively drama-free. It’s a useful training app and I hope Mantis continues to release various courses and support the system. They have released numerous targets, including a Christmas theme Jingle Bells, the Konami Code and a Die Hard target. You can print these for free or order the extra targets online. The price of this system is $159, but the travel system is only $99. 

Ratings (Out of Five Stars) 

Ease of Use – *****
Setting the system up takes all of five minutes at most. You can shoot quite quickly, and there is nothing overly complicated or difficult in setting up the app or gun.

Bang For Your Buck – ****
$159 isn’t chump change, but with the price of ammo it’s not exactly that expensive either. It’s a one-time purchase, there is no subscription or monthly service fee. Buy it once, set it up and forget all about it. You get everything you need to start shooting and get after it.

Overall – ****(and a Half)
I’ve tried a lot of laser training systems. Of them all, the Laser Academy is my favorite. It’s the best blend of simplicity, affordability and useful training. It’s easy to use, easy to setup, and entertaining enough that you won’t get bored after five minutes of dry fire.

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