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Thread: Would appreciate feedback for a product idea

  1. #1
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    Would appreciate feedback for a product idea

    Where should I start? Well, I start off by telling you how I envisioned this.

    Last year, I was invited to go shooting at a gun range, something that I have not done in a few years. In fact, I haven't fired a weapon prior to that in almost 4 years. When we got to the range, I was getting excited. It was an outdoor range and there was wooden pallets, plastic barrels, stacks of tires and even an old car that had been shot at least 5000 times. I stood there and watched the guys I was with shoot there M4's and when it was my turn, I stepped up to the firing line and shot a magazine worth of rounds. I had a good time, but I felt something was missing. Something more.....lifelike. I got bored really fast shooting at stationary paper targets and steel plates. I wanted to shoot at something that looked more....human and acted more humanlike.

    On the way back, the guys who invited me were talking about there skills and recapping the whole experience. I suggested that in the real world, your enemy wouldn't stand still and just let you shoot at it.

    This got me thinking.

    Over the coarse of a few days, I started drawing some simple designs and writing notes on how I wanted my idea to work. The problem was, that I didn't know much about what people want from a range. Perhaps people are content shooting at stationary targets. But I was thinking on a "Walt Disney" level. What if I could make an ordinary range feel more......like a real world environment.


    So I started gathering supplies, acquiring some mechanical components and started building some mock ups. What I came up with was a hollowed out mannequin torso with a 1/2" steel plate underneath with articulating shoulders. This would look lifelike as can be, and with the articulating shoulders would allow this target to pull a weapon up to its shoulder and then lower. I also mounted the target on a pole that would allow the target to "lean" out. This target would be otherwise, be concealed behind a wall or some type of barrier, at any given time, the target would lean out from behind cover, draw a prop-weapon up to its shoulder and then return back to cover, giving the shooter a very short window of opportunity to hit that target. The steel plate attaches to a frame and has a piezoelectric sensor which will notify the shooter and indicate a hit or kill. ( ill get into that in another time).

    I dressed up this target to look more like a "middle eastern insurgent" with an Adidas track jacket, black ski mask, basic AK-style chest rig and "ISIS" head band. I thought, what are people most likely going to want to shoot at and so I figured some type of terrorist. I also purchased some clown/zombie Halloween mask and costumes from Spirit and they look spectacular with a black light.

    This was basically a demo and a very crude prototype that is not even recognizable anymore, I have made many modifications and shot it over 1000 times. I used that demo to help create a better product. Right now I have developed my 3rd prototype and I think I am definitely in the ball park. In November of 2018, I was awarded a Patent and Patent Pending status for what I call the "Combat Simulator". What I am doing now is creating 4 simulators that have different characteristics. I have the one I spoke about, this will lean out from behind concealed cover, draw a weapon up to its shoulder and then return to concealment. The second simulator is going to be able to "pop up" from behind a barrier like a car, pallet of barrels etc. and draw a weapon to its shoulder and then return to its original cover position. The third simulator is one I am getting excited about, this one will be able to move between two objects at a distance of 30-40 feet at a speed of about 6-10 MPH and draw a weapon to a "hip fire" position. Basically, this target will run from cover to cover while simulating shooting from the hip. The forth is basically just like the 2nd simulator but operates on a section of track that allows the simulator to move in a 8' area.

    Right now, I am using pneumatic cylinders to operate the simulator. All of the mechanical components, like the articulating shoulders are protected by the 1/2" steel plate or otherwise out of the bullets flight path. I tried using electric stepper/servo motors but the cost would be to high. I am trying to create a product that will be marketable to consumers and affordable. The Patent Pending status I was awarded was on a PLC algorithm that would allow up to 20 of these simulators to operate during a single session without any user input. You would basically step up to the firing line, press a button and the range session would start and you as the shooter would not know which simulators would operate first. This in my mind, would force a shooter to use more quick critical thinking skills and reflexes rather that marksmanship skills. Also, I feel this simulation would give a shooter a more realistic environment to train on.

    So I'm going to stop there and ask my first question:

    Question: Right now I am at a crossroads. I have gotten some feedback, nothing great, but nothing bad. I have heard, "its cool", "no one would really use it", "I think its got potential", "paper and steel plates are a lot cheaper", "people just want to shoot", "maybe for SOCOM but good luck with that". The best feedback I got was at Shot Show 2019 by Erik Prince, who gave me his business card and asked me to send him any information I had. He also set up a lunch for me and some guys who said that run the Range 37 procurement department. But I didn't get a good feel from these guys. They had no facial expressions, they were quiet and asked very complex questions that I didn't have answers for, but they did give me there contact info and asked for me to send them more information. Im about 78% sure they were just wanting a free meal.

    So..... Is this a good idea? Should I continue to fund this out of my own pocket and continue to make improvements or should I scrap this and move on to something else? So far, I've got about $30k into this and all I have is a low quality functioning prototype, some half ass engineering drawings and some technical notes that look like a child wrote them.

    I know a lot of ranges, especially outdoor ranges are not set up to accommodate pneumatic target systems and my targets would require 110/220v and a pretty good size air compressor and an air tank (1000 gallon)- maybe two, especially if your going to run many simulators. I was thinking something like Dave & Busters but for guys like us who own guns. I think I can sell this, but it might take a while to get this off the ground. I would have to convince range owners to update there ranges and to buy my product and then create a realistic environment around my product. That would require them to invest money, buy props like cars, build a façades, add lighting etc.

    Attachment 56110
    This is a photo containing a few CAD drawings and 3D scan I have done as well as Mk2 simulator, which is mocked up to look like an insurgent (ISIS). The torso is filled with a dense rubber and leaves a small cavity to slide over the steel plate. The arms attach using a steel collar and set screws. Arms are possible and made of super think rubber/epoxy resin. I'm trying to get as many pictures into this thread as possible. But basically, I think you get the idea.

    I am including a 10 second CGI animation of what my simulators would look like. The animation is the best I can do. Its not 100% true to the performance but hopefully you will see what I am trying to achieve.


    Looking forward to your feedback and or input from you. I am only interested in hearing back from people who have something relevant to add. Thank you. I will add more photos in a later post. I don't have a working model right now, but should have my MK4 (I sound like Tony Stark) available for a short demo video in a few days.

  2. #2
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    Just my observation as a non-mil/LE shooter, it looks like a more sophisticated version of those pop-out/turn targets that we'd see in the movies (like this scene from 1973's Magnum Force) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oRm-YxsEH8

    I don't see any of the private ranges around here investing in something like that, as there aren't that many people who'd pay the extra to shoot at targets like that. I'd expect a surcharge to cover initial investment, maintenance and repair costs if a range offered something like that.

    With steel alone, you get immediate feedback, but humans don't make steel noises to indicate hits. Cardboard targets can look realistic enough, and will provide hit feedback later on when you check for holes. In this respect, I don't really see much advantage of a 3D target over a 2D one, because you can almost always simulate a 3D target by creating 2D targets of different sizes (side profile, walking, for example).

    I think that having a 3D dummy draw a weapon is going to be overly mechanically complex vs just having shoot/no shoot targets. Something a bit simpler like a card cutouts that fit a specific steel plate size and can just be slipped over the plate might provide a similar experience without the cost and complexity. That, combined with a feedback system like http://steelalive.io/ would provide hit data (just without the LED lights). Shooting 3D mannequins without hit data isn't much use IMHO. I've shot mannequins dressed up before and it's boring as you don't know if you're hitting them (the bullets just go through) and they don't react.

    But, your more complex 3D system combined with a feedback system might be attractive to those ranges with big budgets like KASOTC in Jordan.

  3. #3
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    OP: You can accomplish what you are looking for on one of the many available simulators, such as Smokeless Range. Most use a SIRT-like pistol which is not as realistic as you would like, but their are options to use recoiling airsoft weapons and Dvorak makes a system that fits your actual handgun. Of course you would be absent the outside on the range experience.

    I've evaluated thousands of LE officers going through more high end systems, such as FATS and Ti, at some point most all of them forget they are in a simulation and assimilate into the scenario.

    Additionally, for engagement, in terms of 'getting into it' are you familiar with Rogers Shooting School? For me, this is as good as it gets:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/kcolg#p/u/3/I60Tkn9ylcU
    http://www.youtube.com/user/kcolg#p/u/2/T5gTw3BQ4y4
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nD9ZJsRiCs
    http://www.youtube.com/user/HeadHunt...22/Nr0qBBQ-_sE
    http://www.youtube.com/user/HeadHunt...24/9eF2cJVSokk
    http://www.youtube.com/user/HeadHunt...21/BWUcDHI_b34

    In this video Rogers explains the concepts he uses to figure reaction and shooting time:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elMpzQqSED8

    You don't need human-like targets to wring you out on this system. Here is his layout of targets:

    Attachment 56114

    He will sell you one.
    "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse." - Henry Ford

    “You are responsible for your actions, but the world doesn’t turn around you, so it’s important that you find something bigger than yourself to work for, a way for you to make a difference.” - Drew Dix, MOH VN '68

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by militarymoron View Post
    I don't see any of the private ranges around here investing in something like that, as there aren't that many people who'd pay the extra to shoot at targets like that. I'd expect a surcharge to cover initial investment, maintenance and repair costs if a range offered something like that.
    I agree. Most ranges around N Texas are run down IMO. I don't see any ranges wanting to pony up any money for improvements. However I do feel strongly that people will be willing to pay more to use a range that offers a better overall experience.


    Quote Originally Posted by militarymoron View Post
    But, your more complex 3D system combined with a feedback system might be attractive to those ranges with big budgets like KASOTC in Jordan.
    Do you know why Walt Disney created Disney Land? Because other parks had stationary horses on their carousels with ugly paint jobs. Walt designed a carousel that would add a more realistic movement (up and down) and it became an instant success.

    I think I can build and sell these simulators for around $2500-$3500 each. At Shot Show, I talked to every company who is in the gun range business, Range Systems, Action Target, MGM Targets and a few others. I had 2 of those companies quote to build me a turn key indoor gun range, using a pre existing tilt wall building I own. I provided them the blueprints of the building and the HVAC schematic. I was quoted $1,080,336 for a 12 lane range which included back stop, sound absorption, range management system ambient lighting and ventilation. I was quoted $1,210,992 by the other company for a 12 lane range with similar features. Nothing special, nothing other that a retractable target holder. The cost breaks down to $80k - $100k per lane. Best case scenario is I get 1 person per hour paying $20. A typical 8 hour work day would generate $200 per lane, $1400/7 day week and $72k/year. But a more realistic scenario would be $40 a day which is $8400/year. It doesn't pay for itself. There are like 5 indoor ranges around D/FW that are for sale as turn key businesses right now and all of them are just about bankrupt. One of them is brand new!


    I think covered outdoor is going to be the new thing. But what we have right now just wont cut it. Its the same thing as an indoor range except its outside. You stand here and shoot at a piece of paper over there. The outdoor ranges that you guys have included in your responses are usually centered around specific training courses and classes that cost hundreds of dollars. What I envisioned was an outdoor range that would be the equivalent of Top Golf or Dave & Busters but for the gun industry. A fun shooting experience. And I don't think there is anything like that right now. Think of a range approximately 80x150 with dirt build up on 3 sides, its looks like Ramadi 2005, with militant insurgents running back and forth and popping up hear and there. Or something fun like a run down carnival with zombie clowns, black lights and strobe lights. A typical session would last roughly 45 seconds - 3 minutes and could be programed to run for a beginner or an expert. Maybe a sniper range with a mock 3 story building and your having to shoot targets at 500-800 yards running on the roof tops and poking out of windows. This is what I think this industry needs.

    The aviation industry was perfect until Howard Hughes designed a pressurized aircraft that could fly above the weather and had reclining seats. From then on, everyone in the aviation industry followed his example. These modern day Airbus A380s with private suites...you can thank Howard Hughes. In fact you can thank Howard for the underwire bra, modern hospital bead and putting boobs on the big screed! Im not comparing myself to Howard Hughes or Walt Disney!

  5. #5
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    Well I really do wonder what the target consumer would be for this shooting range. Would it be a destination (like Disneyland), or just one of the attractions in the area (like Battlefield Las Vegas)? What kind of shooters would really travel and spend for that kind of shooting experience? Only ones who live close by or ones with deep pockets, I'm guessing. If I lived close to something like that, it'd be fun to try out, but as much as I like shooting, I probably wouldn't travel far just to experience it unless it were part of my job training.

  6. #6
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    To me, $2,500-$3,500 per target puts you squarely in the "absolute pros" market. Your targets sort of remind me of the targets in some of the fancy-pants shoothouses I've been in (mostly on military bases) that have life-like targets standing on hydraulic bases that can have a set number of hits needed before they go down. They have pose-able arms, but they don't move on command. I'm not sure what they cost, but the 360*, multi-level shoothouses are full of them with spares, so it ain't like the buyer (the government) is counting pennies.

    Yours being able to raise a weapon would be a pretty cool upgrade and I'd like to go through a shoothouse with them inside.

    The problem is that I have no idea how to crack the government buyer nut...

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by elephant View Post

    I think covered outdoor is going to be the new thing. But what we have right now just wont cut it. Its the same thing as an indoor range except its outside. You stand here and shoot at a piece of paper over there. The outdoor ranges that you guys have included in your responses are usually centered around specific training courses and classes that cost hundreds of dollars. What I envisioned was an outdoor range that would be the equivalent of Top Golf or Dave & Busters but for the gun industry. A fun shooting experience. And I don't think there is anything like that right now. Think of a range approximately 80x150 with dirt build up on 3 sides, its looks like Ramadi 2005, with militant insurgents running back and forth and popping up hear and there. Or something fun like a run down carnival with zombie clowns, black lights and strobe lights. A typical session would last roughly 45 seconds - 3 minutes and could be programed to run for a beginner or an expert. Maybe a sniper range with a mock 3 story building and your having to shoot targets at 500-800 yards running on the roof tops and poking out of windows. This is what I think this industry needs.
    So basically Airsoft or Paintball but with real guns and simulated targets (instead of simulated guns and real players shooting back).

    I think you might find your target customer is already playing airsoft and/or paintball, and you may have a hard time drawing them away.
    Last edited by Tx_Aggie; 02-25-19 at 23:00.

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