Managing partner of GNAT Warfare George Ford says the company has a motto. "We blow stuff up." It's even on Ford's business card, only it doesn't say "stuff." GNAT Warfare's motto is currently very accurate. But it might not be soon.
The company was built on exploding radio-controlled aerial targets. Now GNAT Warfare is expanding its offerings with a new line of radio-controlled ground targets for law enforcement, military, and civilian tactical training.
GNAT Warfare's new Tactical Target is a fast-moving, self-propelled target system built on a motorized carriage. Ford says the company originally envisioned its new product as a ground version of its reactive and exploding aerial targets. "We wanted to build a ground target and load it with explosives and have it blow up as just another attraction," he explains. "It was going to be a target that travels parallel to the shooting line while people fired at it with ARs, and it would explode."
The original marketing plan changed when GNAT Warfare saw more potential for the ground system. "Some of our customers wanted them for training tactical shooters," Ford says. To meet that demand, GNAT Warfare redeveloped the ground target as a tactical training tool.
The GNAT Warfare Tactical Target comes in three versions:
- A tall silhouette version of the target system features a human torso and head target that can be fitted with reactive clay pigeons. Also, since the black material of the target scuffs white, shooters can track their shots by marks on the target.
- A pop-up-and-down target that teaches shooters both accuracy and threat awareness. Center mass hits drop the target. But it can pop up at any time when it receives the operator's or instructor's radio-controlled commands. In a multiple target environment, this system can be used to train students to stay alert to potential threats from targets that appear to be down. "It's hard to eliminate a threat, and just because threats go down that doesn't mean they are out," Ford says.
- A target on a gimbal that can move along a number of different axes and be programmed to behave erratically and in a more lifelike manner. Like the other versions of the GNAT Warfare Tactical Target, the gimbaled version can also be operated by a human via radio control. "That's one of the things our customers like about our targets is that it's human against human," Ford says. "You have a thinking person at the controls.
The targets can also be fitted with "eyes," cameras that let the operator maneuver them in tight quarters and see the movement and position of the shooters. Ford says the camera-equipped targets can be very effective for urban training in shoot houses.
GNAT Warfare will be supplying the Tactical Target to law enforcement and to training companies by the end of this month and hopes to eventually start selling the product to individual customers. "The SWAT guys are extremely interested in it. They see our Tactical Target as a really good training tool," he says.
And there are clearly applications for the Tactical Target system outside of SWAT. Ford says the target can be fitted with "arms" and a variety of objects can be attached to the hands, including replica weapons and benign items like cellphones or hairbrushes. Ford believes that, in this configuration, the Tactical Target could make an excellent shoot-don't shoot training tool for law enforcement.