Jon Underwood, January 2009
Over the last 6 or so years Scatt is a word that has been increasingly heard around Bisley Camp. Anyone who didn’t know might wonder what we are talking about but I can assure readers that it is definitely not a “dry film coating for boats” or a “treatment for airsac mites”, (just a couple of alternatives that turn up on google)!
Scatt is an electronic shooter training system which is connected to a computer and displays where the shooter is aiming when he/she fires the shot (dry firing only!).
Scatt (СКАТТ in Russian) has been in development since the 1970’s when a Russian electronics engineer and coach of the Russian National team, Oleg Lapkin, was looking for a device to check the accuracy of the shooter’s aim. It then consisted of an oscilloscope and an electronic-optical sensor. Training at 50 metres it was possible to record the deflection of a rifle. By 1975, the Soviet Union National Team started using this device. However, they stopped using it in the early 1980’s because it was found to be inaccurate and inconvenient.
In 1991 another Russian electronics engineer, Artem Khadzhibekov, who was also an Olympic and World Champion, joined the national team and decided to improve the device created by Lapkin. As a result three engineers, Oleg Lapkin, Artem Khadzhibekov and his friend Yuri Khlynin joined forces with programmers Vladimir Vlasov and Yuri Lapkin (son of Oleg Lapkin) to create the prototype of the Scatt training system. Over the years the Soviet Union and Russian National teams have continued to help improve the system. Currently 80-90% of the best shooters in the world use Scatt.
The Scatt company itself was created in 1993 under the management of Anatoliy Aktov. He left the firm in 1996. That same year Alexander Kudelin (a shooter in the National Team) joined the company. He is currently the director of the business. This information about the development of the Scatt system has been very kindly provided by Alexander Kudelin.
The Scatt system consists of 3 main parts; the detector, the target and the software, plus some cables. The detector is attached to a rifle barrel as shown in the photo and will trace out the precise movements of your rifle on your computer screen when you aim at the target. By default it records the trace for 5 seconds prior to firing the shot and 1 second of follow through, and then attempts to display a prediction of where the shot will hit the target.
It was around 7 years ago GB fullbore teams and individuals were looking for ways to improve their shooting performance. An inspired member of the GB team came across the Scatt system, which was being used in other disciplines, and brought it, together with the experts, to one of our GB team training weekends. Following a fairly short introduction into what the system could do for us, many of us were intrigued to come across a “computer game for shooters!” Well not really, but it does involve computer technology which we all love these days. There was the small draw-back of the price though. For something that costs more than 1,000 rounds of good quality ammunition we were somewhat uncertain as how worthwhile it would be, so initially we just purchased a couple of them for the whole team to share. This generally meant we only used them when Scatt sessions were arranged, but those of us using them could see the benefits of being able to trace and review your aim pattern, quality of hold and trigger release.
Over the next few years, individuals saw the benefits of being able to train without live ammo, and many invested in the latest version of the Scatt system. We even organised a Scatt training day where we had 12 Scatts working simultaneously.
However, Scatt is probably best used on your own or in small groups as part of a structured plan to improve your performance. The main difficulty for us as fullbore shooters is that we tend to keep our rifles at Bisley, and arranging to have them at home or having to collect and return them just for an evening or a couple of hours at a weekend can be problematic, so some logistical planning is required.
So what sort of benefits can you gain from using the Scatt system?
You can use the system anytime, independent of weather conditions, anywhere as long as you have space, without additional costs of target hire, markers or ammunition. It records a trace of your hold, so instead of seeing the result of your efforts as a hole in a piece of paper which only takes a split second of the process, you have a whole wealth of information as to what you were up to before and after firing the shot. The only thing it can’t tell you is the effect of recoil, and you will have to continue to rely on the hole in the paper for that! You can consider it as dry firing practice with feedback, a significant improvement.
The important thing to remember when you are using the system is how you compare it to your current shooting ability. The first time you try it, you will probably just be getting used to using the system and how it works. However, to start with you want to remember to do everything as you would normally out on the range, (apart from loading ammo, use a snap cap instead). When you study your first few traces you need to remember that they should show how you currently fire a shot, assuming that you have kept to your normal procedure. Then when you use the system in future, you have a sample set of data to refer back to.
Once you are used to using the system you should be thinking about and working out how you can improve your performance on the range, what your ideal hold pattern should look like and what you need to do with your equipment or whatever in order to achieve that result. You can then experiment to your heart’s content. Test what happens with small changes to position, hand stop position, sling length etc. Even just dry firing will be of benefit to your performance as it keeps your body tuned to firing the perfect shot!
A scatt trace which shows some of the good techniques in the process of firing a shot:
- A short hold “on aim” (green and yellow)
- No movement on trigger release (blue)
- Follow through stays “on aim” (red)
Another great advantage of Scatt is that you can send your traces to friends or anyone who has a PC. The software is freely available and once installed allows you to view anyone’s Scatt trace so you can compare yours with your friends or with some of the top shots in the country. You can look for trends and work on trying to eliminate problems. At the end of the day though, it is still down to you as the shooter to work out how to improve and progress and you will still have to put some lead down the range, but maybe not as much.
I have only referred to the Scatt system here, although there are other systems available, I have no personal experience of them.