A few years back, an avid shooter in Northern California started thinking about how little time he had to go to the range and enjoy his hobby and how much he wanted to be able to shoot in his house. That's a thought many firearms enthusiasts have had. Some dry-fire with their real guns, some shoot airsoft replicas, but this shooter was an inventor and he chose to develop a laser-firing practice gun he could use just about anywhere. That shooter's practice gun was the first version of a new firearms instructional product called the Blowback Laser Trainer.
Gary Bombalicki, a partner in the Blowback Laser Trainer, says he immediately saw the potential for using the product as an instructional tool for law enforcement but it needed one special feature to make it a more realistic experience for the user: recoil. Bombalicki says the Blowback Laser Trainer bridges the gap in police training between plastic block replicas and real guns because it features recoil.
In addition to recoil, there are a variety of features that give the Blowback Laser Trainer a realistic feel. It has the design and ergonomics of a generic sidearm, and the weight is equivalent to that of a loaded handgun. Most importantly, the Blowback Laser Trainer's system has a removable magazine to simulate real magazine exchanges. The CO2 cartridge that provides the recoil and the rechargeable battery that powers the laser are housed in the magazine. Bombalicki says users can get 58 to 90 trigger pulls from a single CO2 cartridge, depending on how they use the training gun. "If you do it in magazine-size increments, you will get more pulls from the CO2 cartridge than if you stand there and just constantly pull the trigger, boom, boom, boom," he explains.
Bombalicki says the Blowback Laser Trainer is ideal for agencies working with new recruits who have very little or even no experience with firearms. He says the practice gun helps students master such essential shooting skills as grip and trigger squeeze. Also, since the Blowback Laser Trainer features recoil, it teaches students to adjust their aim after every shot. "If you train with something that has some kind of recoil, it's better than training on something that doesn't have a recoil," Bombalicki says, adding that practicing with the Blowback Laser Trainer can improve shooting proficiency by as much as 30%.
The recoil force of the Blowback Laser Trainer is not quite as much as a duty handgun firing a 9mm or .40 caliber round, but it is significant. Bombalicki says the recoil is 850 pounds per square inch, which he estimates as more force than the recoil of a .22 and less force than a .32 caliber. "I should know since I have shot the Trainer at least 20,000 times," Bombalicki says.
In addition to helping shooters improve their accuracy, Bombalicki says the Blowback Laser Trainer can be used for tactical instruction and for work with police youth organizations. "We have been contacted by departments across the country regarding using the Blowback Laser Trainer for Police Explorer and cadet programs. It allows for the training in a classroom instead of a range," he says.
To accommodate requests from agencies that want to use the Blowback Laser Trainer for force-on-force training scenarios, the company is developing body-worn laser targets. Bombalicki says the company is also working on an AR-style rifle version of the product.