It’s an appealing idea, to be able to record your shooting and play it back afterwards – whether that’s to analyse your performance and perhaps brush up your technique, or simply to share with other shooters via Facebook or YouTube. Capturing anything worth watching, however, is quite a challenge. One of the first commercial offerings was the Shotkam, which is great for understanding lead and swing, but doesn’t show the shooter’s whole field of view, or the view along the rib.
Enter the Aimcam, which has taken a completely different approach to the problem. It’s based on a pair of shooting glasses, with a tiny camera mounted just above the aiming eye. That means the camera records the view almost exactly as the shooter sees it, looking down the rib of the gun. Not only that, it captures the whole of the action, showing the hold point, the target appearing and the gun coming to the shoulder, as well as the shot itself.
Building that into something that is comfortable and practical to wear and use is an enormous challenge. The Aimcam in its latest incarnation, the Pro 2i, is a masterpiece of design and engineering. The fact that it works at all is little short of a miracle. But it does, and does it very well. The frames are bulkier than standard shooting glasses, but I found them comfortable to wear and they stayed firmly in position.
The Pro 2i has several new features, as well as an upgraded camera that produces full HD 1080p video at 30 frames per second, or 60fps at 720p. I really liked the new vibration feature, which means you can feel the glasses buzz to confirm when you start and stop recording.
The key to getting useful video is aligning the camera precisely with your eye, something I found a little fiddly although I got better with practice. Fortunately the camera will link via wifi to your smartphone, using Aimcam’s dedicated app, so you can fine tune the alignment. Once it’s aligned, you can leave it alone, taking care not to knock it out of position when you take the glasses off and store them in the protective case.
Watching the videos back afterwards, two things struck me. First, that viewed in real time everything happens so quickly. Even a relatively unhurried shot feels much faster than it happened in real life. I’d like to do some more experimenting, but I suspect the videos will be more watchable, and more useful, if they’re filmed at 60fps and then played back at half speed.
And the second thing? I was surprised how much I moved my head around before, during and after each shot. My head – and therefore the camera – flicked this way and that more than I would have guessed. It makes the video a bit hard to watch, but then that’s a large part of why shooters will buy the Aimcam – to gain an insight into how they set up for and shoot a target, and see how they can improve.
Another point is that the camera’s field of view is quite wide, although not true fisheye, so more distant targets can look further away than they are. The video certainly benefits from being watched on a large screen, which more accurately reproduces the feeling of ‘being there’.
All in all, if you’re a YouTuber, don’t expect the Aimcam to turn your day’s shooting into a gripping movie. It’ll provide some great clips to cut in and out of, but not the main film itself. As a shooter, however, it will give you a fascinating insight into your foibles and failings, and could be a useful tool in refining your technique – and to my mind that alone makes it well worth the price.