The ATLAS 8™ dry-fire training system from Salted Earth, LLC, based in Chandler, Arizona, was developed specifically for military and law enforcement training applications. It has a number of features that set it apart from other laser training systems. It peaked my interest so I arranged to meet up with company reps for a hands-on demo of its capabilities.
The ATLAS 8 allows training to be conducted virtually anytime and anywhere, turning any location into a dry-fire shoot house for safe and effective training in real-world scenarios, providing trainees with real time prompts and feedback. The system has a full-color visible display with 49 programmable hit regions that provide virtually unlimited possibilities.
ATLAS 8 Features
The adaptive sensor array on the ATLAS 8 can detect red, green, and infrared laser emitters, while differentiating between laser aimers and flashlights/weapon lights to enable true low light or no light training. Most laser training systems on the market cannot differentiate and, as a result, greatly handicap training.
The ATLAS 8 target can be used outdoors although it may be necessary to adjust the direction of your training to keep the target sensors out of direct sunlight. The target is weather resistant. That being said, it should not be left outdoors for prolonged periods, or in weather exceeding the maximum operating temperature window of 120 Degrees F (49 Degrees C).
ATLAS 8 targets feature an on-board rechargeable, cost and environmentally effective lithium battery that provides over 8 hours of training on a single charge with standard settings. The battery is easily recharged using the included charger or any USB power source. The ATLAS 8 can be used while charging, so training will never be interrupted by a depleted battery. The battery is included and easily replaced by the user if needed.
ATLAS 8 targets are wirelessly-enabled and mesh networked for robust communication. They can be easily deployed in large scale operations to create sophisticated training environments. Multiple targets can be connected together to create immersive training environments anywhere. The wireless functionality can be disabled for use in secure locations or for solo practice
During my evaluation of the ATLAS 8, targets were placed at opposite sides of a building several hundred feet apart and separated by glass and steel framing. The targets communicated together flawlessly. Line of sight between targets increases this range even further.
The ATLAS 8 has numerous training applications. These include, but are not limited to training students on a square range, putting officers through active shooter scenarios, practicing room clearing, hostage rescue, tubular assaults, vehicle take-downs. All Salted Earth products come with lifetime free firmware updates to continually expand the available features and adding new training modes as they become available.
All products in the ATLAS family are fully compatible to give the user the ability to expand the system at any time and train for any mission requirement. This also enables departments to grow their training capabilities to meet ever evolving budgets and needs.
The ATLAS 8 has a standard 1/4-20 UNC mount on the bottom of the device that enables it to be mounted to tripods, RAM mounts, or any standard camera mounts, allowing you to mount the targets to suit individual needs. Optional accessories include a magnetic target stand, vehicle suction mounts and a magnetic battery cover. The lanyard loop on the ATLAS 8 allows the unit to be secured with paracord as a backup when using the trainer in precarious positions.
Easy to Use & Multiple Training Modes
You can simply turn on the ATLAS 8 and begin training or take advantage of the many training modes that are programmed to the device, including Reaction Time & Draw Stroke; Accuracy & Trigger Control; Memory & Cognitive Improvement; Decision Making & Crowd Control; Shot Indicator and Heat Map; Reload and Malfunction training; Mozambique Drills; and several other modes. The user simply initiates the desired mode and then waits for a visual and/or audible prompt to engage target. When using multiple targets modes can be mixed to simulate almost any custom training regimen.
Reaction Time & Draw Stroke Mode
The Reaction Time & Draw Stroke mode is designed to help trainees improve their draw stroke, reaction speed, and split times when using multiple targets. The tracking metrics in this mode can provide a historical data set to visualize muscle memory improvement and draw stroke refinement over time. A hit within the ‘Hit’ region on the target will stop the timer and record the metrics; the users reaction speed scrolls across the target for immediate feedback.
Accuracy & Trigger Control Mode
The Accuracy and Trigger Control mode forces trainees to make quick decisions as to which targets should or should not be engaged, combined with the need to place precise shots on the appropriate areas of the target. It is designed to increase speed of target recognition and requires the trainees to practice adjusting for height-over-bore at varying distances. Metrics can be tracked to know split times, reaction speed, overall accuracy, number of ‘shoot‘ vs. ‘no-shoot‘ areas struck. A hit within the ‘Hit’ region on the target will stop the timer and record the metrics. The color of ‘hit’ and ‘no-hit’ regions is set at user’s discretion within the mobile application.
Memory & Cognitive Improvement Mode
The Memory & Cognitive Improvement mode is designed to improve cognitive function and memory. It requires the trainee to memorize a sequence of colors. The targets must then be engaged in the correct color sequence in order to pass. A hit in an incorrect color is a fail. This mode can be run on multiple targets and include stationary / moving targets. The target will cycle through three colors with an associated auto prompt, these colors must be remembered in the correct order. The target will then illuminate with several colored boxes and each box must be hit in the correct color sequence to pass. This mode works well for cover and concealment training when using barriers.
Decision Making & Crowd Control Mode
The Decision Making and Crowd Control mode is designed to assess trainees’ abilities in shoot / don’t shoot scenarios. It provides numerous targets that will change over time that must be assessed by the trainee not only by the color but minor differentiating features to determine if they are ‘hostile’, ‘friendly’, or ‘neutral’ and engaged accordingly. The targets can be set to update randomly or change in response to feedback from trainees in order to create a realistic crowd environment and increase trainee’s ability to assess evolving situations with multiple targets. Hits on “Hostile”, “Friendly”, and “Neutral” are recorded. The method of completing training mode can be user-set (e.g., end on “friendly” hit, end on X “hostile” hits, etc.).
Shot Indicator and Heat Map Mode
The Shot Indicator and Heat Map mode is designed to give real time feedback of shot-placement and group size. The targets can be configured to give a visual prompt indicating “Threat” or “Non-Threat” or no visual prompt prior to engaging the target. A hit on the target will display where the shot would have impacted. Visual feedback can be in real-time or after-action at the user’s discretion. Heat map mode shows shot placement and frequency of heats with colors: light blue = 1 shot, Red = 5+ shots.
Mozambique Drill Mode
The Mozambique Drill mode is designed to practice placing multiple shots on multiple targets. The Mozambique Drill, which is also known as the Failure Drill, Failure to Stop drill, the “Djibouti Shooty”, or, informally, “two to the chest, one to the head,” is a close-quarters shooting technique that supposedly originated with a Rhodesian mercenary, Mike Rousseau, in the Mozambican War of Independence, hence the name.
In the Mozambique Drill mode, the ATLAS 8 can display a number from 1-5 and must be hit that number of times as quickly as possible. To add a level of uncertainty, the targets can also be set to display a shape and conceal the number of hits required from the trainee. They will visually and/or audibly alert the trainee that the target was struck the correct number of times. The sound can be turned off if desired.
Multiple trainers can be deployed and set to require the trainee to engage them a specific pattern, randomly, or at their discretion. A hit on the target will generate an audible and/or visual feedback to alert that it was struck, once the target has been engaged the correct number of times, depending on how the training is configured.
The ATLAS 8 is compact, lightweight and ruggedly constructed to meet the needs of professional training. It measures 6”x4.5”x1.2” (15.24cm x 11.43cm x 3.05cm) and weighs in at only 12oz (340g). It is water and dust resistant designed to meet IP65 standards. As previously mentioned it has a ¼” x 20 tripod mount and a docking connector for charging and connection to powered accessories. A USB charger, USB cord and battery are included.
The ATLAS 8 is an outstanding laser training system. It is easy to use and exceptionally versatile. Pricing for basic the ATLAS 8 Dry Fire Trainer (Target Only) is $699.99. Salted Earth offers a 30-day trial and 15% discount to law enforcement for $50.
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