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Improve Your Shooting with Garmin’s Xero S1 Trapshooting Trainer

By Rehan Nana

Every now and again, a new product comes along that completely changes the landscape of the outdoor industry.

Nearly seven years ago, I was sent a Garmin Alpha GPS tracking and training unit to test and evaluate. Within minutes of using it, I was utterly dumbstruck. It was such revolutionary technology for dog trainers that I remember thinking it was going to transform how we train, communicate and hunt with our dogs.

Rehan Nana and his dog, Annie.

And it did.

Today, the Garmin Alpha is the ubiquitous GPS tracking and training dog collar in the market, and it has revolutionized how upland, hound and other dog enthusiasts relate to the outdoors.

Now, Garmin has done it again by launching the Xero S1 Trapshooting Trainer. It’s the first near real-time, live-fire device that provides immediate feedback and detailed analytics for every shot you take on the trap range or when practicing upland scenarios. Using radar technology and computer vision, Xero S1 gives shooting enthusiasts never-before-seen insight into shot dynamics, accuracy and performance.

In short, Garmin has figured out how to “see” and record what happens to your shot once it leaves the end of your barrel and intersects with the clay target — and then provide almost-immediate detailed analytical information (per round and overtime) for hits and misses.

What this means is simple but extraordinary. The days of standing at the trap range saying, “I think I was a little behind that shot …” are over. Now, using the Xero S1, you can say within seconds of your shot, “I was 12 inches below and to the right of that at 35 yards. I was shooting a little slow with a reaction time of .74 seconds, which could be why I missed.”

Trapshoot training equipment

As an avid upland hunter and casual trapshooter, I am astounded at the precision and information provided by the Xero S1 Trapshooting Trainer. In the time that I’ve used it, I’ve found Xero S1 functions that have helped me learn about my own shooting, and, more importantly, the things that I now know I can improve on in my shooting performance to give me an advantage on the range and in the field.

‘Reaction Time’

The Xero S1, designed to sit on a tripod near you at the range, automatically detects your shot once you pull the trigger and within a few seconds displays your shooting reaction time.

I always try to get on targets as quickly as I can for both upland and trap. In upland hunting, this helps minimize loss through more pellets on target and closes the distance for a dog to make a find, which is critical. For trap, a faster shot means a tighter pattern, so it is less likely for a clay to slip through.

In my first round on a recent shoot, the cumulative reaction time was displayed after each shot, and I saw a surprising pattern develop. I found that my accuracy was a bell curve with drop off taking place when shooting too fast (under .40 seconds) or waiting too long (more than .70 seconds). Right there in front of me on the Xero S1 was a way to quantify the timing sweet spot for my shooting. If I stayed within that range, I would be a more accurate shooter.

I’ve focused on this ever since, and my hit percentage has gone up.

‘Break Factor’

If two people consistently finish with the same score in a clay-shooting round (say 24 or 25 targets hit), who can say they are the better shot?

Enter Xero S1’s “Break Factor” functionality to break the tie.

After “Reaction Time,” hit or miss information is displayed, and because the trainer precisely sees your shot pattern and clay target, it assigns a point value for the quality of your break: zero for a miss, one for a chip, three for a clean break, and four for a perfect smash.

So while two shooters may be perfect or near perfect on their targets hit, Shooter No. 1 may have a break factor of 80, while Shooter No. 2’s break factor is 63. Shooter No. 1 is the better shot.

Aside from the fun, competitive side of it, working to improve your break factor means you’re working to put more pellets on target and increasing your accuracy performance over time.

For both trap and upland, I try to get the maximum number of pellets on target. Xero S1’s “Break Factor” helps me quantify if I am achieving this goal — and if I’m not, it helps me work toward improving.

Introducing the Xero app

To improve we must learn what we are doing wrong. Historically, this has meant cases of shells, countless rounds and … best guesses. Thankfully, Garmin’s new, and free, Xero app improves on this.

After adding the app to their mobile device and pairing it with their Xero S1 Trapshooting Trainer, users can utilize comprehensive analytics and data to gain insight into improving their proficiency. This is information that either previously wasn’t available or took lengthy data collection. Some of the information includes total rounds, total shots, hit percentage per round, hit percentage per station, shot speed, clay speed, reaction time, accuracy performance at left/center/right, average score, longest streak, best and worst stations, and graphs of performance over time.

The Xero app hosts historical shooting data, too, so users can reference performance based on event, location, station and more.

In addition, after an outstanding round, users can share their data on a variety of social media platforms.

Graphical placement

The Xero S1 Trapshooting Trainer, through the Xero app, also provides users a graphical look at the placement of their shots during either a single round or cumulative rounds.

On my recent shoot, for example, this graph reinforced what I knew: My accuracy is best at left, crossing-away birds. What I found really interesting, though, was that on one particularly bad round I consistently missed the center bird. Once I saw the round statistics, I was able to see I was consistently missing just left of that center target.

With this information in mind on the next round, I started pulling just to the right, and my accuracy on center birds improved.

Trapshoot training equipment

Xero S1 is for upland enthusiasts, too

Every year, I tell myself I’m going to work on my upland shooting, really drill in on chokes and gun fit, and work on troublesome shots. Then, every year, I shoot a couple rounds in the preseason, get frustrated on my weak shots and just hope they don’t come up when I head out.

The Garmin Xero S1 Trapshooting Trainer’s “Upland Mode” holds me accountable by taking away the crutch of, “Well, how can I really tell if I’m improving?” or “I’m not sure how to improve, so being a good shot is good enough.” Simulating upland scenarios, Upland Mode helps users gauge their shooting accuracy by assigning values similar to S1’s Break Factor function.

Using the different modes, the frustration of my weak shots isn’t an excuse anymore.

Faster improvement with fewer rounds

I’ve been trying to figure out during my life just how many shells I’ve shot and how many hours I’ve spent at the range trying to improve. Now, all the answers I’ve been looking for are at my fingertips through the Xero app. For those thinking about buying the Xero S1, ask yourself how much time and money you would save because of the detailed information the Xero S1 provides.

Taking my Garmin “hat” off for a moment and writing as someone who’s spent a large part of his life freezing somewhere in the middle of a prairie in pursuit of birds, I feel confident saying this is the most incredible piece of outdoor technology I have seen since I started in this industry. For anyone who cares about accuracy and performance in trap or upland shooting, check out the Xero S1 Trapshooting Trainer’s product page on Garmin.com to start shooting better.

Rehan Nana is a marketing and sponsorship specialist at Garmin’s US headquarters.

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