Long-Range Rifle Tech Simplifies Shooting
|Bret Boyd gets into shooting position with the new TrackingPoint rifle, but the demo was done on an iPad.|
LAS VEGAS — Bret Boyd has just returned from a big game hunting trip to South Africa where he put the TrackingPoint, a precision-guided long range rifle, to the test. He was able to take down a type of antelope called an eland at 649 yards, a type of gazelle called a springbok at 1,099 yards and a blue wildebeest at 1,103 yards. Boyd is a skilled hunter, but surpassed his own long-range shooting abilities with the aid of technology.
"Long-range shooting is hard," Boyd explained to TechNewsDaily at this week's Showstopper event, part of the weeklong parade of new technology at the Consumer Electronics Show here this week. "Technology helps us do things we couldn't otherwise do."
The TrackingPoint rifle was designed by an Austin-based startup that had more engineers than gunsmiths, Boyd said. The targeting system is similar to jet fighter lock-and-launch technology. For obvious reasons, Boyd was unable to demonstrate the gun in the ballroom of the Wynn Las Vegas, but showed how the system worked on a harmless iPad.
First, the hunter locks on to the target with what's called the Tag Button. At that moment, the inner sensors and processor of the rifle are activated and calculate a long list of factors to determine the perfect shot, including relative humidity, the Coriolis effect (related to the rotation of the Earth), wind, temperature and inclination from the shooter to the target. A red dot appears on the target and a blue circle appears in the head-up display. When the hunter aligns the blue circle exactly with the red dot, he may make the shot. However, the trigger cannot be pulled until the dots are aligned.
Boyd lined up the dots, tapped the virtual trigger and the iPad let out a bang, loud enough to be heard over the crowd. That night, we shot a tree.
As any hunter knows, the sport is a lot better when shared by fellow hunters. TrackingPoint can stream video from the head-up display that can be viewed by another person such as a guide on an iPad, using the TrackingPoint app. The video stops recording 15 seconds after the trigger is pulled and is then automatically saved to the hunter's iPad (included with the rifle). From the app, video can be shared to Instagram, Vimeo, YouTube, Flickr, Facebook and Twitter. In this way, hunters can prove their shots.
Boyd knows the technology isn't for everybody — in fact, some have called it cheating.
"However, it allows people who do want to hunt long range to do it right," he said, referring to the rifle's capability of providing more accurate shots, instead of those that might only wound an animal and lead to extended suffering.
TrackingPoint's precision guided firearm system will be officially launched next week. No prices have yet been announced. The guns come in three models, with a maximum range of 1,200 yards. Each comes in a hard case with 200 rounds of ammunition, batteries, chargers, magazines and cleaning supplies, as well as an iPad preloaded with the TrackingPoint app.