The third system is the wireless, programmable, turning retriever systems where the drive motor is generally located with the carriage and makes up one complete unit. This allows the system to operate wirelessly via a dedicated WIFI network without the need for a long drive cable to move the carriage down range and back. Shooters operate the system via a touchpad controller, usually with preset distances programmed in and the ability for the shooter to program their own course of fire (i.e. move to distance, turn (friend/foe), turn, move, lights flash, etc.) and, often, save the program for a return visit to the range. Because these type retriever systems are computer driven, the range owner can also write and save various courses of fire to share with shooters and/or use for competition and training. Newer versions of these type retrievers are offering video projection on to targets for gaming and marksmanship training. Pros for these type systems include high technology, fast down and back operation, offer options for shooters, great for extended distance ranges where the distance will not allow cable driven carriages to reliably operate. Training capabilities for law enforcement and advanced classes. Cons include costs per unit which can run as much as 5 times the cost of a trolley system and up to 4 times the costs of a standard railed system. ROI per unit as most shooters do not engage the programming capabilities and merely want to move their target down range and shoot. Increased upkeep and costs of electronics, as well as typical mechanical maintenance from commercial use.
Other considerations for wireless target retriever systems, which may be a pro or con – you decide.
- Digital systems incorporated into these type retrievers is very new and still being considered and tested. Stand-alone systems designed specifically for digital may prove to still be a better choice.
- Programming ease and use – how often will this capability be used by shooters? Will you as the range owner offer programmed courses of fire and to what level of shooters?
- Can you charge more to use this type retriever system; what is the ROI versus other systems and how much can you charge for lane time?
- Are other options available that offer technology on just a few lanes versus my entire range, thus saving me money?