Mantis Laser Academy: Shooting the Pistol Marksmanship Course

I just finished the Mantis Laser Academy Pistol Marksmanship Course and passed the Pistol Marksmanship Test. My hands are still a little sweaty, and my P365 still has the laser cartridge sitting in its bore. I figured there was no time like the present to write down my thoughts, feelings, and experiences with the Mantis Laser Academy Pistol Marksmanship Course.

What’s the Laser Academy?

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, we should talk about the Mantis Laser Academy. Mantis released it a couple of years ago to a very receptive audience. As a company, Mantis has taken the dry fire world by storm and produced a wide variety of tools to enhance dry fire. It all started with a sensor and has evolved into tools like the Blackbeard and now the Laser Academy.

Laser Academy setup
Ignore the bad lighting, but the setup of the Laser Academy can be fairly simple.

The Laser Academy system is a mixture of a laser dry fire cartridge, a series of smart targets, and an app. The system comes with a tripod to support the handgun, as well as a wooden dowel to remove the dry-fire cartridge. The laser cartridges come in numerous calibers, and the Blackbeard is compatible with the Laser Academy.

If you choose to, you can purchase just the laser and print the target free from Mantis. The app has a free mode, but to unlock everything the app has to offer, you’ll need to purchase the full app. If you just want a responsive dry fire target system, then the free side of the app works. If you want to complete the Pistol Marksmanship Course, get the paid app.

What’s The Pistol Marksmanship Course?

The Laser Academy app has two sections of training material. We have the drill’s side, which is full of different drills, courses, and just fun things to do, including a Die Hard shot with its own free printable target. The drills are fun, and I try to squeeze in some practice with these drills every now and then.

view through phone camera
Here is your view through your phone’s app.

On the flip side, there is a section labeled courses, and sadly, there is currently only one course (Can we use Mantis for new courses? I’d love to see a Blackbeard-oriented AR course).

Anywho, currently, the Pistol Marksmanship Course is the only course available, and below it sits the pistol marksmanship test. You unlock the test when you complete the course.

The Laser Academy utilizes two target sizes, big and small. With big targets, you shoot the course entirely at four yards. With small targets, you shoot the course at two yards. The course and test will make use of multiple shooting targets. This includes IDPA, IPSC, A Bull’s Eye, Dot Torture, the BT-5s, and a Hunt target.

Shooting the Course

The Pistol Marksmanship Course is made up of 13 stages. Each stage provides you with a target and minimum score to make with a certain number of shots. You also get presented with one-handed shooting with both your dominant hand and support hand. Each target provides its own complications, and through each stage, the targets will get a little more difficult to shoot. I was half tempted to use my P320 with its SIG ROMEO2, custom grip, and all the bells and whistles, but I figured I might as well train with my daily carry: the P365.

target complete with score
The Hunt target requires one shot per mini target.

The course starts with the easier targets and gets progressively more difficult. Most of the challenges are to achieve a certain score within five shots fired. At the beginning, you have to score 35 points in five shots with a maximum possible score of 50. As you shoot, the scores tighten up, and you have less slack.

The 10-point zone on the targets also starts to shrink, making it more and more of a challenge to score a perfect 50. The Dot Torture target and the Hunt target are used in a different way. With both targets, you have to hit each individual target one time. Dot Torture provides bigger targets and is easier to hit. Hunt provides not just smaller targets but more of them. A miss means you have to start over, which could be frustrating.

Score on the course
96% haunts me. I can do better.

At the end of each stage, you get a score, and while we all shoot for 100%, you’d be surprised how easy that is to miss. It’s easy to pass each stage, but a single 9-ring shot will keep you from 100%.

Shooting the Test

After we complete the course, we can take the Pistol Marksmanship test. The test has five stages and uses the IDPA, BT-5S, Bullseye, and Hunt targets. You’ll shoot some similar drills using two hands and one hand. You’ll conduct a hunt with the Hunt target, and overall, it’s not too bad.

prep screen
Before each round, you get a prep screen.

It simply takes everything you did in the course and puts it on the “Hard” setting. You’ll use the IDPA targets where the only 10 zone is a headshot. The Hunt target provides smaller shapes, and missing one would suck. I passed the Pistol Marksmanship Test on my first try but only scored 97%. It’s quite frustrating to see two stars instead of three, so I plan to keep chasing that perfect score.

That perfect score of 100% will even get you a free patch from Mantis. They’ve done the free patch thing for the other MantisX training systems, so it’s nice to see it continued here. A little trophy is more than enough motivation to train.

The Value of the Pistol Marksmanship Course

If you’ve been shooting pistols for a good length of time, then the course and test are not that difficult. You’ll pass, but you might not get 100%. It’s nice to pass, but for me, I want to chase that 100% score and get my patch! It seems silly, but it makes me want to dry fire, makes me want to train, and that’s a very good thing. It’s easy to get bored with dry fire, but the Mantis Laser Academy drives me to dry fire more, and that’s valuable.

target shot during laser academy
Your targets are very judgemental, and you can’t fake your score.

For a less experienced shooter, this is a great beginner’s course. It teaches you some basic skills and has you practice extensively. The guided nature of the course and test ensure you always understand what exactly you are doing. Regular old dry fire is great, but the Laser Academy guides you through different skills you may not work often or even know to work.

final score on the test
Two stars! I can do better than that.

Mastering the basics is the building block to those funner, sexier skill sets. I’m not an expert or all-around awesome shot, but I am a subject matter enthusiast, and I was able to improve my support hand shooting. I corrected my grip, which did a lot to increase my overall accuracy. I can’t wait to try it with live ammo and see the accuracy difference.

Staying Trained

I’m going to hit that 100% soon, and I really want more courses. I hope that Mantis continues to update the Laser Academy app and release more dry-fire courses of fire. Maybe we can get an advanced class or a concealed carry skills class. It could focus on drawing, shooting from retention, and fixing malfunctions.

This would spice things up quite a bit. Here’s to hoping, but for now, give the Pistol Marksmanship test a try and let us know what you think about the Laser Academy.

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

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