May 23, 2013
A new rifle goes on sale on Wednesday, and it’s not like any other. It uses lasers and computers to make shooters very accurate. A startup gun company in Texas developed the rifle, which is so effective that some in the shooting community say it should not be sold to the public.
It’s called the TrackingPoint rifle. On a firing range just outside Austin in the city of Liberty Hill, a novice shooter holds one and takes aim at a target 500 yards away. Normally it takes years of practice to hit something at that distance. But this shooter nails it on the first try.
The rifle’s scope features a sophisticated . The shooter locks a laser on the target by pushing a small button by the trigger. It’s like a video game. But here’s where it’s different: You pull the trigger but the gun decides when to shoot. It fires only when the weapon has been pointed in exactly the right place, taking into account dozens of variables, including wind, shake and distance to the target.
The rifle has a built-in laser range finder, a ballistics computer and a Wi-Fi transmitter to stream live video and audio to a nearby iPad. Every shot is recorded so it can be replayed, or posted to YouTube or Facebook.
“Think of it like a smart rifle. You have a smart car; you got a smartphone; well, now we have a smart rifle,” says company President Jason Schauble. He says the TrackingPoint system was built for hunters and target shooters, especially a younger generation that embraces social media.
“They like to post videos; they like to be in constant communication with groups or networks,” Schauble says. “This kind of technology, in addition to making shooting more fun for them, also allows shooting to be something that they can share with others.”
A team of 70 people spent three years creating the technology. Schauble says there’s nothing else like it, even in the military. For civilians, TrackingPoint sells its high-end, long-range guns directly. With price tags of up to $22,000, they’re not cheap.