VR Practical Shooting: Train At Home

VR Practical Shooting, what is it? Well, it’s a work in progress. VR Practical Shooting is a VR game aimed at communities who enjoy USPSA, Steel Challenge, 3-Gun, etc. It aims to provide a fun but also training-based approach to practical shooting. I played it on the Oculus Quest 2, and it’s available on the Oculus Lab, which is a section for games in progress. The Oculus Lab gives you a warning about the Lab games being incomplete, but I still plunked down my $20 and hit the download button. I was pleasantly surprised at less than half a gig download size.

The game fires up, and immediately, I suggest clicking the training button. You need to learn the controls, and they aren’t obvious at first. This is the first game I’ve played that uses one controller but two hands. Do both the basics and competition training to learn how everything works and dive deep into the controls and how the game works. Also, read the FAQ. Once that’s done, then try your hand at the various modes. Speaking of, let’s break those down.

Modes on Modes

We covered the training mode, but the game also has Free Ranges where you can just shoot for fun. The Jank Wick is my favorite, followed by a steel-style range clearly inspired by Hickock45’s home range. This is where you can get familiar with the numerous targets and how they function. There are steel, paper, and versatile targets that move and groove.

It also has competition stages with various classifiers you can shoot and enjoy. They mimic real classifiers and explain each one before you shoot it. It’s interesting, fun, and easy to get into. They have several classifiers for several different shooting sports, so you can learn how they work and rehearse them in VR, at home, basically for free.

The game menu is where you choose your gun and mode.

The game is clever in how it starts matches. You have to load, make ready, and holster. Then you’ll get already and start signal automatically. Remember to put the safety on if applicable before reholstering.

There is also a custom gun mode that allows you to attach optics, lights, change sights, etc. Different guns have different customization options. For example, the decked-out race guns have a lot more options than the revolver.

Hicock range
This range looks awfully familiar.

Finally, we have a stage-building mode. You can design your own stages with tons of various targets, as well as obstacles and custom cover designs you can implement. You can place them, rotate them, raise and lower them, and so on and so forth. It’s really cool how much work went into this mode. You can save and share your custom stages with friends.

The Controls

The controls are really cool and make the most out of the Oculus controller. For handguns, you use a single controller. Racking the slide and working the safety is done with the flicks of a joystick. Dropping the magazine and releasing the slide are tied to buttons. A grab button allows you to draw the gun, and you can guess what the trigger does.

To reload, you simply make the reloading motion, and your gun picks up on the movement. It’s seamless, mostly, until it occasionally misses your reload. It’s seemingly rare, but it happens. You have to align sights and aim or use a dot, which is my preferred option. This delivers a good deal of satisfaction and realism.

What about long guns? Good question. I’m fairly clueless. I do know that you need to switch to two-controller mode. Other than that, the FAQ and training don’t address it. My short time spent trying to use a shotgun resulted in frustration. I couldn’t figure out how to load, cock, or even how to properly hold and aim the thing. A training mode needs to be implemented for long gun use.

I checked out the Discord for the game, where the developer answers questions. Someone asked how to use long guns, and he referred them to the FAQ, which doesn’t tell you much more than switch to two-handed controls.

cover and guns
My gun is empty, but at least I’m behind cover.

The revolver is also tricky to reload. Specifically, how to get ammo into the gun seems odd and doesn’t function well. Maybe a revolver training mode could be added?

Training Value

Admittedly off the bat, a VR game is tough to sell as a training aid. You might ask, what about recoil, malfunctions, muzzle rise, etc.? Well, we do get muzzle rise, and you can learn to track your sights. We don’t get real recoil, obviously. The training value to me comes from shooting and learning the stages, as well as the rules of practical shooting.

You can shoot through all of the common Steel Challenge stages, the USPSA Qualifiers, and more. Here you can learn how the stages work and mentally rehearse them with actual visual feedback. You can learn to lean out from cover and even sprint between obstacles if you have the room to do so, but that can be tricky outside of a warehouse.

There is also something to be said for finding the dot or aligning sights on the fly, and you can do that here. It’s almost like a very intense dry-fire session. There could be some training value in drawing your gun or at least working through the motions. Sadly, the holster placement mechanism is wonky.

building stages in VR Practical Shooting
You can build stages, which is a ton of fun.

You can basically set your holster where you want it inside a bubble that surrounds your body. Every time I put it on my hip in a realistic place, it would float and disorient and basically be between my legs in the game. This makes it very difficult to play the game properly. I had to set the gun about a foot away from my hip and in the bubble to get this stop, so my draw isn’t quite realistic.

Weapons and Gear

You can play with quite a few guns and gadgets. This includes a Glock, a 1911, a CZ Shadow 2, some tricked-out race guns, A S&W 929, a Laugo Alien, a Benelli M2, an MPX, a Dissident Arms Saiga, and many more. The gadgets include red dots, lights, and more. I mostly played with the handguns since I couldn’t get the long guns to work.

Dots include realistic representations of your favorite models. This includes the Aimpoint Acro, the Trijicon RMR, the Trijicon SRO, Shield Sights, and even a Holosun with the Vulcan reticle. You get tons of customization options with varying weapons, so it’s easy to just sit and tinker in the game’s made-up little shed.

VR PRactical Shooting Shop
The shop allows you to custom-tailor your weapon with accessories

The Jank

As an unfinished Oculus Lab game, VR Practical Shooting has some jank. As I mentioned, it’s not intuitive with long guns. The holster zips around after being locked, and sometimes you can’t leave a mode. Something happens where your hand is stuck in ‘gun’ mode even after you’ve holstered. The only way to leave the stage is to menu quit the game and start over. VR Practical Shooting certainly has some bugs, and $20 feels like a lot to ask for an unfinished game. However, it seems like the developer is quite active with fans and buyers on their Discord.

This gives me hope we’ll see more and more updates. I also need to find someone to 3D print one of the gun-shaped controllers for me. That would make this an absolute blast. VR Practical Shooting has some jank, but I really enjoy playing, especially since I can make the excuse that it’s training.