The Meta Quest 3 Makes VR Firearms Training Much More Useable

Last month, I reviewed AceXR, a VR program that’s actually useful for firearms training. Until very recently, I had been using an Oculus Quest 2 (pre-Meta, but basically identical) to run the app. The motion tracking, the realistic “handset” that makes the gun feel real in the hand, and the realistic physics makes for an experience that’s basically the same as shooting a .22 at the range.

Like a .22 pistol, there’s no recoil so it’s not 100% realistic, but everything else is right. So it’s still not only a lot of fun to shoot, but it gives you an opportunity to practice your marksmanship and is realistic enough to translate to real world experience that goes well beyond just dry fire.

There’s one thing that I was struggling with a bit, though: not being able to see the targets well when they’re further out. The “sight alignment” bullseye shooting drill is excellent for dialing in accuracy, but beyond 25 yards or so, it got difficult to see the target well enough to consistently hit it.

If you watch the video on full screen, it might not look that bad, and my miss might just seem like I don’t know what I’m doing, but what you see with these screengrab videos is what the computer in the headset renders before it goes through the lens to your eyeballs.

The problem is the lens is a major weak point of the Quest 2. Unlike the newer Quest 3, which uses a “pancake” lens, the Quest 2 uses a Fresnel lens on either side. While not terrible for a $250 VR headset, small details can look a little blurry. Other issues include a smaller “sweet spot” (where your eyes need to be to get a clear picture), weird streaks in some situations, and difficulty getting it all lined up right with glasses.

The Quest 3 not only has a better graphics processor and higher screen resolution, but its better lenses give you a much clearer picture. The end result is that I was able to easily shoot the bullseye target all the way out to the end of the range.

Once again, the increased clarity isn’t super apparent because the video here is a pre-lens render, but the results should speak for themselves.

It’s important to keep in mind that these videos don’t give you a very good indicator of what you’ll actually see and experience using AceXR and today’s really good motion-tracked VR headsets. Not only does it feel realistic motion-wise, but it’s 3D. And like real life, you see both the big picture and what your brain subconsciously “zooms in” on.

Here’s a cropped version of the video that I think gives a slightly better idea of what it’s like to look through the optic:

Readers familiar with Primary Arms’ ACSS Vulcan Holosun sights will see that the program even has that option, and that it looks decent. So, there’s a lot of real-world skill to be built.

Final Thoughts

If you’re trying to save a buck, the $250 Meta Quest 2 and an annual AceXR membership comes out to about $500 after shipping. Considering that it’s hard to find a good gun for that price these days. Considering the cost of the ammo you’d save shooting in VR between real-world range sessions, that’s a pretty good deal. Add in some cheap exercise apps, and you can work on your health while you work on your shooting.

For a few bucks more, you can get a much nicer and more clear experience. The Meta Quest 3 starts at $500, which puts the total of the whole setup at about $750. With the better pass-through cameras and the mixed-reality modes the more advanced headset can do, it’s well worth it for people who have another $250 on hand.

All in all, I’d personally recommend waiting and saving the extra $250 if you can’t afford the Quest 3 right of the bat. It’s a very worthwhile upgrade.

2 Responses

  1. +1. The Meta Quest 3 is definitely worth the slightly extra money vs. the 2.

    I’m currently working on a deep dive comparison / review of the ACE XR vs. GAIM (handgun and long gun simulators) for SNW. Having spent many hundreds of hours training on a conventional LaserShot simulator (projector / screen / shot camera), as well as having worked with the Virtra, iMarksman, and similar trainers, I can say that both the ACE XR and GAIM blow conventional simulators away.

    There’s also a lot of new stuff on the horizon (e.g., GAIM has a product about to drop that is a modified Dryfiremag that links to the controller via Bluetooth, so that you use your own weapon as the controller, and a drop-in trigger pack for AR’s that do the same thing), and I suspect it won’t be too long before someone figures out a way to create simulated recoil via weights and servos at a consumer-grade price. (There are some very expensive commercial grade simulators with these capabilities, but nothing affordable yet.) I also have heard that Clazer (older VR clay shooting simulator that uses your own shotgun as the controller) may be relaunched soon for the Meta VR platform.

    Similarly, there are already haptic vests on the market that could be used to deliver a tunable “pain penalty” in simulated FxF training, similar to the pain penalty a trainer could manually administer through the old Virtra “shock belt.” So far, however, I haven’t seen a program that uses either the ACE XR or GAIM sim weapons in a PvP/FxF program.

    I tried my first VR shooter back in 1991 at Comdex (Virtuality’s “Dactyl Nightmare” VR arcade system). I was immediately struck with the potential for using that for actual training as the tech matured, and since then I have been waiting for an affordable VR training program.

    Let’s just say “it’s here” . . . and the future of this kind of virtual training is only going to get better.

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