Target Vision’s Camera System for Long Range Shooters
Jon Stokes 01.14.14
Some ideas are so right that when their time finally comes, you see a few different versions start popping up. Last year at SHOT, Top Shot champion and TFB writer Chris Cheng discovered the Bullseye Target Camera, and a few months ago he posted a positive review of it.
A the SHOT 2014 range day, I came across a similar effort called Target Vision. Target Vision is similar to the Bullseye product, but there are a few major difference.
First, the price: at $1,295, Target Vision costs double what the Bullseye system does, so my first question to the company’s founder is, “Why would I pay double for a product that does roughly the same thing?”
In response, he listed a few of the major advantages of the Target Vision system, and I have to admit he made it seem pretty compelling. First and foremost, Target Vision aims to be the Apple of target cameras. The system is dead simple with very minimal initial set-up, and once you’re set up, it’s even simpler to use.
There are two parts to the system: the camera unit and the base station. The camera unit is a tube with a camera window on the side and a single button on the outside. You position it so that the camera has a view of the target, then press the button to turn it on. That’s it. There’s nothing to plug in, no antenna to set up, or anything at all to configure.
The base station contains a wireless access point, so you download the Target Vision app (iOS and Android are both suported) onto your tablet or smartphone and then connect via wifi to the base station. The camera unit then begins streaming a view of your target back to the app. The range is 1 mile.
Unlike the Bullseye system, there’s no laptop needed. This is a blessing and a curse — a blessing because it means one less piece of gear to carry to the range, and a curse beacuse the Bullseye application is a little more feature rich, with shot recognition and so on. All that the Target Vision app currently does is give you a feed, so you don’t get the nicer features (yet) that Bullseye’s software has.
The base station als contains two USB ports for charging your tablet or phone while you shoot. Both the base station and the camera unit are rechargeable.
Target Vision is a great package, but they’re going to have to come way down on price before it’s compelling. Long range shooters are used to spending money on gear, especially the .50 cal crowd, whose guns cost more than most people’s cars. But they’re also pretty tech savvy, and I doubt that the Bullseye system is too intimidating for them to set up. Plus they no doubt appreciate the Bullseye software’s extra features.
If Target Vision can get their app up to speed and get the price down, they’ll definitely be able to compete. I know that I’d rather use their product if I got to choose.
As for when the price will come down, that’s not clear. Right now, these guys are bootstrapping this company themselves, and they have an Indiegogo campaign running where they’re trying to raise $25K. That’s obviously not a lot of money, especially for a hardware startup, and my guess is that it’s all going into app development. The founder’s father has a background as a successful business owner in something related to wireless security camera systems, so my guess is that they’re hand making the hardware in small batches out of wholesale, off-the-shelf parts. They’re probably also waiting until they get traction before investing in a full-blown production capability for these things.
Ironically, the fact that they’re taking a “lean startup” approach to this space by first releasing an MVP is yet another reason why their price tag is way too high. If you’re smart, and you see that there’s an Indiegogo campaign going for this product, then you also know that if it flops, they’re going to abandon it. If this MVP experiment fails after you’ve bought one, you’ll have tough time getting support and warranty coverage for something you paid $1,300 for and are one of the only users of.
But for the adventurous long range shooter with money to burn and a little patience, this is definitely a premium package. It seems to have a lot more promise than the Bullseye system, and if the company does get traction, then you might find that you get treated really well as an early, critical customer. I wish those guys the best, and I hope to see that they’re still around at next year’s range day.