ARCHERY LASER TRAINING SYSTEM AND METHOD OF SIMULATING WEAPON OPERATION CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. Patent Application Serial No. 09/987,240, entitled "Network-Linked Laser Target Firearm Training System" and filed November 14, 2001, which is a continuation of U.S. Patent Application Serial No. 09/486,342, entitled "Network-Linked Laser Target Firearm Training System" and filed February 25, 2000, now U.S. Patent No. 6,322,365, which is a National Stage Application of PCT International Application No. PCT/US98/17419, entitled "Network-Linked Laser Target Firearm Training System" and filed August 25, 1998, which claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 60/056,937, entitled "Instrumented Target for Scaled Target Training" and filed August 25, 1997. The disclosures in the above-referenced patent and patent applications are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties. BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Technical Field The present invention relates to a weapon training system employing laser-emitting weapons and laser-detecting targets, and, more particularly, to an archery bow including a laser module that emits laser pulses toward a laser-detecting target which may be linked via a computer network to similar, remotely-located training systems. 2. Discussion of the Related Art Shooting sports today include a variety of competitions including operating handguns, rifles, archery bows and other weapons at bull's eyes and other types of targets. Measures of performance used to determine relative and absolute success include accuracy, speed, shot grouping, range and a host of combinations of these and other criteria. A combination of skills, competitive talents, and weapon performance is required to enable someone to compete successfully in the shooting sports. The skills involved include the integrated act of combining marksmanship fundamentals, such as proper position, weapon management, secure grip and correct sight picture. Competitive talents associated with the various shooting sports include
being able to shoot accurately on the move and being able to control breathing and movement so as to create a very stable platform for achieving pinpoint accuracy on a target. Unfortunately, shooting sports suffer from a number of limitations and constraints that threaten the present and future vitality of the pastime. Foremost among these limitations are those associated with the shooting process itself. When a weapon is operated, some form of projectile is propelled from the weapon toward the target. This projectile (e.g., bullet, musket ball, shot, BB, pellet, arrow, etc.) has the capability to injure or kill. The fact that the sport of shooting currently requires impact of a projectile with a target introduces a safety problem. The projectile propelled by the weapon puts further constraints on the sport of shooting. Safety dictates that proper barriers and cleared areas be in place to prevent bystanders from being hit. This limits the ability of spectators to view competition. Special ranges are needed in order to conduct shooting sports anywhere within populated areas. These ranges are expensive to construct in accordance with zoning restrictions and expensive to insure. Moreover, competitions must be conducted at a common range (i.e., not at multiple, remote ranges) to ensure fair competition and to prevent the possibility of cheating. In addition, the inherent danger associated with weapons necessitates training and practice in order to minimize the risk of injury. However, special facilities are typically required to facilitate practice of handling and shooting the weapon. These special facilities basically confine projectiles propelled from the weapon within a prescribed space as described above, thereby preventing harm to the surrounding area. Accordingly, weapon trainees are required to travel to the special facilities in order to participate in a training session, while the training sessions themselves may become quite expensive since each session may require new projectiles for practicing handling and shooting of the weapon. Various systems for training a shooter without requiring live projectiles have been proposed, including systems incorporating optical and laser technology. For example, the firing of blank cartridges from firearms gives the shooter a sense of how the firearm will feel under live fire conditions. Blank firing conversions for semi-automatic pistols are the subject of U.S. Patent Nos. 5,140,893, 5,433,134 and 5,585,589 (all to Edward J. Leiter), the entire disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference. However, because such systems do not fire a projectile at a target, the shooter is not provided with any feedback as to whether the firearm was properly aimed or whether good followthrough was maintained.
Further, laser drivers have been used for transmitting a laser beam as a training aid in firearms, as disclosed in U.S. Patent 5,344,320, the entire disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference. In laser-based systems, a laser transmitter is typically mounted to one side of the firearm's muzzle, and projects a laser signal onto a target to simulate firing of a projectile and a hit location. One problem with such systems is that the laser signal is not projected along the longitudinal centerline of the barrel (as a projectile would be); thus, the projection angle of the laser must be slightly angled relative to the longitudinal centerline axis of the barrel so that the laser signal hits the target in the same location that a projectile fired from the barrel would hit the target. This arrangement introduces a parallax problem, wherein the laser projection angle must be adjusted as a function of the target range in order for the location of the laser signal on the target to accurately reflect the location that a projectile would hit the target. To eliminate the parallax problem, it has been proposed to mount a laser transmitter directly in the barrel of a firearm. In particular, Bang Corporation has developed a cylindrically-shaped laser module which slides into the muzzle of a pistol and is held in place by frictional force. When the firearm trigger is pulled, the laser module detects resonance of the fall of the hammer and emits a visible laser signal which can be seen on a paper target or the like. However, many laser-emitting weapon training devices, including the Bang Corporation' s in-barrel laser, simply project a laser signal on a paper target or the like without any detection of the laser signal, thereby requiring simultaneous visual inspection of the target and making these devices unsuitable for training exercises involving a sequence of firings. OBJECTS AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to solve the aforementioned problems while preserving as much of the essence of shooting sports as possible, so that the experience is not diminished and the attractiveness of the sport can actually be expanded. It is another object of the present invention to permit realistic weapon training without the space and expense associated with a live range and the safety hazards associated with use of live projectiles. Yet another object of the present invention is to make competition and training more practical by eliminating the need for a live range and by allowing competition or coordination of exercises between shooters at different locations.
Still another object of the present invention is to permit realistic archery bow training without propelling arrows from the bow. The aforesaid objects may be achieved individually and/or in combination, and it is not intended that the present invention be construed as requiring two or more of the objects to be combined unless expressly required by the claims attached hereto. According to the present invention, a laser pulse is substituted for the projectile or arrow of a conventional archery bow. However, the laser transmitter may be utilized with any type of weapon (e.g., bow, firearm, etc.). Preferably, the laser transmitter attaches to an arrow emulator secured to a bow and emits a laser pulse in response to bow actuation. The laser transmitter includes a mechanical wave sensor which senses a mechanical wave generated by the emulator and triggers the laser transmitter to emit a laser signal. Alternatively, the laser transmitter may emit the laser signal in response to actuation of a switch by the emulator during bow operation. The training system of the present invention further includes a laser-detecting target having a planar array of laser light detectors which detect the location and timing of laser pulses received at the target. Preferably, the laser pulses are modulated with a particular modulation signal, and the laser light detectors are configured to detect the modulated laser pulses in order to mitigate the effects of interference. The laser light detectors can be arranged in any manner to simulate any type of competitive or training target. Alternatively, the detector may be utilized to detect laser signals impacting a multi-plane or multi- dimensional target object, such as a bottle. The laser-detecting target may be connected to a computer which analyzes target hit information, keeps track of hit information and statistics, and displays feedback or scoring information. The target and computer provide real time feedback on the location of each laser shot thus allowing a referee, trainer, or spectators to see how the shooter is performing during the shooting exercise. Further, more accurate assessment of weapon marksmanship skills is made possible, because the order and timing of shots is recorded, and credit is given only for hitting an intended or specified target on a particular shot. The computer can be connected via a communications network, such as the Internet, to similar systems, so that competitions or training exercises can be conducted across plural geographic locations. Such competitions or exercises can be controlled from a central system or unit which may be accessible to individual shooters via an Internet web site.
The above and still further objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent upon consideration of the following detailed description of specific embodiments thereof, particularly when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein like reference numerals in the various figures are utilized to designate like components. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS Fig. 1 is a diagram of an exemplary embodiment of the weapon training system of the present invention for use with an archery bow. Fig. 2 is an exploded view in perspective of the laser transmitter and corresponding bracket for mounting the laser transmitter to the arrow emulator of Fig. 1. Fig. 3 A is a view in perspective of an archery bow with a laser transmitter secured to a arrow emulator and responsive to a triggering assembly to emit a laser pulse according to the present invention. Fig. 3B is a side view in elevation of the arrow emulator and laser transmitter of Fig. 3 A. Fig. 4 is a diagram of an exemplary embodiment of the weapon training system of the present invention employing a target motion device to simulate a projectile impact on a multi- dimensional target object in the form of a bottle. Fig. 5 is a view in perspective of the target motion device of Fig. 4. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS The training system of the present invention includes a training weapon in the form of an archery bow which emits a laser pulse when operated under conditions closely simulating the emission of a projectile (e.g., arrow) and a target adapted to detect laser pulses. The system may further include a computer system which determines and stores information relating to laser pulse detections, where the system may be linked via a network to similar, remotely-located training systems. An exemplary embodiment of the training system is illustrated in Fig. 1. Specifically, the system includes an archery bow 50, a laser transmitter assembly 60, a laser detecting target 42, a computer 44 and an optional printer 46. Bow 50 is typically a conventional archery bow and includes a bow frame 52 with a grip 53 and a bowstring 54. The bowstring is secured to each end of the bow frame. An arrow emulator 55 is mounted on the bow frame and permits operation of the bow to simulate shooting a projectile or arrow. By way of example only, the emulator may be implemented by the
Vibracheck Safedraw system available from R & R Enterprises, Inc. of Pensacola, Florida. This system permits practice or training with the bow without emitting a projectile. The emulator includes a pneumatic chamber or piston 56 and a rod 58. Chamber 56 is in the form of an elongated tube that has an intermediate portion secured to the bow frame via a bracket (not shown). Rod 58 serves as a drive shaft for the piston and is partially inserted therein in slidable relation. The rod attaches to bowstring 54 similar in function to an arrow. The bow may be operated, where the rod serves as an arrow and is projected into chamber 56. Thus, training may be accomplished by simulating operation of the bow without emitting a projectile. Laser transmitter assembly 60 includes a laser transmitter module 30 and a module bracket 70. The laser module is connected to piston 56 via bracket 70 as described below. The transmitter module is positioned along the piston a slight distance distally of the bow frame. The laser transmitter module emits a laser pulse of visible or invisible (e.g., infrared) laser light in response to actuation of the bow (e.g., simulated shooting with the rod). A user aims bow 50 at target 42 and operates the bow with rod 58 in order to project a laser beam 11 from the laser transmitter assembly toward the target. The target detects the beam and enables computer 44 to display a simulated projectile impact location as described below. It is to be understood that the terms "top", "bottom", "side", "front", "rear", "back", "lower", "upper", "up", "down", "height", "width", "thickness", "length", "vertical", "horizontal" and the like are used herein merely to describe points of reference and do not limit the present invention to any specific orientation or configuration. An exemplary laser transmitter assembly employed by the training system is illustrated in Fig. 2. Specifically, laser assembly 60 includes laser transmitter module 30 and module bracket 70. Laser module 30 includes a housing 25 having an internally threaded opening 10 defined in a generally cylindrical projection 28 attached to and extending from an upper portion of a housing rear wall. The threaded opening receives a fastener 84 for attaching the laser module to bracket 70 as described below. The housing, opening and projection may be of any shape or size, while the opening and projection may be disposed at any suitable location. The laser module components are disposed within the housing and include a power source 27, typically in the form of batteries, a mechanical wave sensor 29 and an optics package 31 having a laser (not shown) and a lens 33. These components may be arranged within the housing in any suitable fashion.
Module bracket 70 secures the laser module to the arrow emulator and includes a piston engagement member 72 and a laser module engagement member 78. The piston member engages piston 56 and includes upper and lower clamp members 74, 76, each with a generally semi-circular configuration. Upper clamp member 74 includes ledges or flanges 75 extending transversely outward from the member lower edges, while lower clamp member 76 similarly includes ledges or flanges 77 extending transversely outward from member upper edges. Ledges 75, 77 each include an opening or aperture 73 defined therein to receive a fastener 86 for securing the clamp members together. The upper and lower clamp members are disposed around piston 56 with openings 73 within ledges 75, 77 aligned. The collective dimensions of the clamp members provide an opening to receive piston 56, where the clamp members have dimensions sufficient to be disposed about the periphery of an intermediate piston section. Fasteners 86 are inserted through the aligned openings of ledges 75, 77 to secure the clamp members together around piston 56 and attach bracket 70 to the piston. Fasteners 86 and ledge openings 73 typically include complementary threads for a threaded engagement. Module member 78 is attached to the underside of lower clamp member 76 and facilitates engagement with laser module 30. The module member includes a generally trapezoidal configuration with an opening 79 defined therein. The opening is generally rectangular with rounded shorter-dimensioned edges. A filler 82 is disposed within opening 79. The filler is in the form of a block with a configuration similar to and dimensions less than those of module member opening 79. The filler includes a substantially central opening 71 defined therein. Laser module 30 is disposed adjacent filler 82 with threaded opening 10 aligned with filler opening 71. Annular washers 80 are disposed proximate each longitudinal end of filler 82, where the washer openings are aligned with filler opening 71. Fastener 84 (e.g., a threaded screw, etc.) is inserted through the washer and filler openings and into threaded opening 10 of laser module 30. The fastener secures the laser module to the module bracket, thereby attaching the laser module to the piston proximate a piston lower surface. The laser assembly emits a laser beam through optics package 31 toward target 42 (Fig. 1 ) or other intended target in response to detection of bow actuation by mechanical wave sensor 29. Specifically, when the bow is operated, rod 58 is propelled into piston 56 as described above, thereby generating a mechanical wave which travels distally along piston 56 (e.g., causes the piston to vibrate). As used herein, the term "mechanical wave" refers to an
impulse traveling through the piston structure. Mechanical wave sensor 29 within the laser assembly senses the mechanical wave or piston vibration, preferably via fastener 84, and generates a trigger signal. The mechanical wave sensor is preferably implemented by a piezoelectric element, but may alternatively include an accelerometer or a solid state sensor, such as a strain gauge. Optics package 31 within the laser assembly detects the trigger signal and drives the laser diode to generate and project a pulsed and or modulated laser beam from the bow. The laser beam may be modulated (e.g., at a frequency of approximately forty kilohertz), while the laser is generally enabled for a predetermined time interval sufficient for target 42 to detect the pulse. However, any suitable modulation (e.g., 100 kilohertz) or pulse duration may be utilized. Alternatively, the laser assembly may employ an acoustic sensor, preferably a microphone, in place of mechanical wave sensor 29 to sense actuation of the bow and enable emission of a laser pulse. Initially, the bow may produce sound or acoustic signals within a particular frequency range. The microphone detects acoustic signals and, in response to the detected signals having a frequency within the range, generates a trigger signal to activate the laser diode as described above. The microphone may include or be coupled to filter circuitry to determine the frequency of detected signals and the occurrence of bow actuation. The laser transmitter module may be secured to the arrow emulator and triggered in various manners in response to bow actuation. An exemplary arrow emulator and laser transmitter assembly arrangement is illustrated in Figs. 3 A - 3B. Specifically, bow 50 is substantially similar to the bow described above and includes arrow emulator 55 and laser transmitter assembly 160 secured thereto. Emulator 55 is substantially similar to the emulator described above, except that rod 58 includes a notch or recess 110 defined therein toward a rod distal end. The emulator is secured to the bow and permits practice or training with the bow without emitting a projectile as described above. Laser transmitter assembly 160 is similar to the laser transmitter assembly described above and includes a laser transmitter module 130 and module bracket 70 to secure the laser transmitter module to the emulator. Module bracket 70 is substantially similar to the module bracket described above and secures the laser transmitter module to emulator piston 56. However, bracket 70 may be implemented by any conventional or other bracket or securing mechanism. Laser transmitter module 130 is positioned toward a piston proximal end where rod 58 engages the piston. The laser transmitter module is substantially similar to the laser
transmitter module described above for Fig.2, except that laser transmitter module 130 does not include a mechanical wave sensor and is responsive and coupled to a trigger assembly 125. The laser transmitter module emits a laser pulse of visible or invisible (e.g., infrared) laser light in response to actuation of the bow (e.g., simulated shooting with the rod). The laser transmitter assembly and emulator arrangement may be utilized with the weapon training system of Fig. 1 in substantially the same manner described below. Trigger assembly 125 detects bow actuation to enable laser transmitter module 130 to emit a laser pulse. In particular, the trigger assembly includes a rod 112, and a detection device 114. Rod 112 is a generally cylindrical rod and may be secured to an opening in the laser module housing or to a fastener securing the laser module to bracket 70 (e.g., opening 10 or fastener 84 of Fig. 2). Laser transmitter module 130 is secured to the top surface of piston 56, where rod 112 extends proximally from the laser module substantially in parallel with rod 58. Detection device 114 is secured to the underside of rod 112 and faces rod 58. Detection device 114 is preferably implemented by a conventional micro-switch. Basically, closure of this switch triggers laser module 130 to emit a laser signal. The detection device includes a housing 116 and a contact member 118, preferably in the form of a ball, attached to the housing via a spring biased arm 120. The arm biases the contact member downward to enable the contact member to contact rod 58. Housing 116 typically includes switch circuitry to generate a trigger signal to actuate laser module 130. When the switch is in a closed state, the trigger signal is generated to enable transmission of a laser pulse. The switch enters the closed state when contact member 118 enters notch 110 of rod 58 during bow actuation as described below. During bow operation, rod 58 serves as an arrow and is propelled into piston 56 via bowstring 54 as described above. Contact member 118 initially contacts rod 58 in an area outside the confines of notch 110. The rod overcomes the arm bias and maintains contact member 118 toward housing 116. This position of the arm and contact member places the switch in an open state, thereby preventing generation of the trigger signal and effectively disabling the laser transmitter module. When rod 58 is propelled into piston 56, contact member 118 traverses the surface of rod 58 and engages notch 110. The bias of arm 120 urges the contact member into the notch, thereby enabling the switch to enter a closed state. The switch subsequently generates the trigger signal to enable the laser transmitter module to emit a laser pulse. The pulse is emitted for the duration the contact member resides within
notch 110 (e.g., the duration the switch resides in a closed state). Thus, the notch may be defined in the rod with various dimensions to attain a particular pulse width. In other words, the laser pulse width may be adjusted based on the dimensions of the notch. Alternatively, laser transmitter module 130 may include a mechanical wave sensor as described above for laser module 30 to detect vibrations or a mechanical wave generated by trigger assembly 125. In particular, trigger assembly 125 includes rod 112 and detection device 114, each substantially similar to those described above, except that housing 116 does not include the switch circuitry. Contact member 118 is urged by spring biased arm 120 to contact rod 58 during bow actuation as described above. When contact member 118 engages notch 110, the entry and/or egress of the contact member within the notch generates vibrations or a mechanical wave that travels through housing 116 and rod 112. The mechanical wave sensor within laser transmitter module 130 detects the vibration or mechanical wave and enables the laser transmitter to emit a laser signal in substantially the same manner described above for laser transmitter module 30. The laser transmitter module may alternatively be positioned at the piston distal end and be triggered by the arrow emulator. In particular, piston 56 typically includes an opening defined in the piston distal end. When rod 58 is propelled into the piston during bow actuation, the rod forces air from the piston through that opening. Accordingly, laser transmitter module 130 with the mechanical wave sensor may be secured to the piston distal end via any suitable bracket or securing mechanism. A ball or other object 132 is typically disposed between the piston distal end and the laser transmitter module. An enclosed passageway or chamber 134 may be formed and disposed between the piston and laser transmitter module to receive air exiting the piston and secure the ball or object therein. Alternatively, the ball or obj ect may be suspended between the piston and laser module by the bracket and/or laser module. During operation, rod 58 is propelled into piston 56 as described above, thereby forcing air out of the piston and through the piston opening. The ball or object is typically positioned toward the piston opening and is propelled against the laser transmitter module by a burst of air exiting the piston. The impact of the object on the laser transmitter module is detected by the mechanical wave sensor to enable the laser transmitter module to emit a laser pulse in substantially the same manner described above for laser module 30. Referring back to Fig. 1 , target 42 is responsive to the laser pulses emitted by bow 50 and provides appropriate feedback to the shooter via computer 44 or printer 46. By way of
example only, target 42 may take the form of a circular bull's eye, with a visible surface having circular lines drawn at regular radial intervals and horizontal and vertical lines which divide the target into quadrants. A plurality of laser light detectors or sensors is arrayed across the surface of the target to detect the arrival of laser pulses emitted from bow 50. The arrangement of the laser light detectors is such that the location of a laser hit anywhere on the face of the target can be determined from the laser detection signals generated by one or a combination of the laser light detectors in the array. Preferably, the laser light detectors are not sensitive to light energy coming from other sources, including those found in a home or indoor environment and sunlight. In particular, external light sources such as fluorescent lighting systems, infrared security systems, and other electro-optical emissions are filtered out so that the laser light detectors do not report erroneous hits or become desensitized by electromagnetic interference. To prevent such interference from impacting laser pulse detection, the laser light detectors and associated signal processing circuitry are preferably adapted to discriminate laser pulses that are encoded or modulated in a particular manner by the laser transmitter of bow 50. For example, the laser pulses can be amplitude modulated with a 40 Hz signal in the manner described above, and the laser light detectors can include signal processing for isolating the modulated laser pulses from other signals and interference. Other modulation or pulse encoding schemes may be used, and the laser light detectors may employ any variety or combination of techniques for distinguishing an electromagnetic signal from noise and interference, including, but not limited to matched filtering and range/time gating. Optionally, individual weapons can emit uniquely modulated or encoded laser pulses which are distinguishable to the laser light detectors, to allow the training system to identify the individual source of each laser pulse detected. This feature is useful when more than one shooter may be simultaneously or sequentially engaging a target or a set of targets. Each of the laser light detectors provides an electrical detection signal to a corresponding line driver, and the signal is transmitted over a shielded cable 43 or a short- distance wireless link (e.g., radio frequency or infrared) to portable (laptop) or desktop computer 44. Power can be supplied to target 42 via a cord from a conventional AC power source, or target 42 can be battery powered. Computer 44 is typically implemented by a conventional IBM-compatible or other type of personal computer (e.g., laptop, notebook, desk top, mini-tower, Apple Macintosh, palm pilot, etc.) preferably equipped with a monitor 45, a
base 47 (e.g., including the processor, memories, and internal or external communication devices or modems), a keyboard 48 and/or other input device (e.g., mouse, etc.). The computer system may utilize any of the major platforms such as Windows, Linux, Macintosh, Unix or OS2. Further, the computer includes components (e.g. processor, disk storage or hard drive, etc.) having sufficient processing and storage capabilities to effectively execute simulation software. Computer 44 runs the simulation software which analyzes the electrical detection signals and provides feedback information about laser detections to the shooter, scorer or trainer via a display and/or printer. More specifically, the computer processes the electrical detection signals and provides the X-Y coordinates of the hit in the plane of the target face, the time of the hit, and the validation that the laser pulse was from a suitable laser. Further, the computer can keep track of a sequence of shots, and determine information such as the time between hits, mathematical analysis of the grouping information from multiple hits on a target, and the possible cause of shooting errors based on the interpretation of the variance between the point of aim and the point of impact, and report scoring or qualifying information for a shooter engaging the target in a competition or training exercise. It will be understood from the foregoing that signal processing of detected laser pulses and data processing of the electronic detection signals are performed by a combination of target 42 and computer 44 in order to provide feedback information to the shooter. However, the performance of the signal and data processing required to produce output information is not limited to any particular allocation between target 42 and computer 44. Thus, for example, target 42 can send relatively "raw" detection information to computer 44, with computer 44 performing significant signal processing. Conversely, target 44 can include onboard microprocessor and memory capabilities, such that the target simply reports the aforementioned feedback information to computer 44 for display, printing or transmission. Further, plural targets at one range or location can be connected to a single computer for processing of laser hits of one or more shooters on the targets. Computer 44 is capable of receiving, processing and displaying hit information in real time, such that a scorer, instructor or spectator may view the progress of a shooting competition or training exercise while in progress. For shooting competitions, the display can be provided at the shooter's location, for the immediate viewing audience, and simultaneously, at plural locations worldwide. Optionally, the training system of the present invention
includes a standard printer 46 for printing out shooting details including diagnosis of problems and suggested training solutions for correcting a shooter's technique. In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, the weapon training system includes a linked network of laser-detecting targets and computers located at a single site or at plural sites. Each target can be connected to a corresponding computer which is in turn linked to a central computer acting as a server. Alternatively, the server can receive the information from plural targets and process each in turn through efficient software processing. The system includes the electronic linkage required to interconnect the target/computer network at one location with a similar network at one or more geographically separate locations. A candidate for such a link is the Internet, an operational, global, and readily accessible real time digital information exchange. Alternatively, a dedicated network using optical, wire and/or satellite communication links can be employed. All of the information captured from the laser hit on a target can be reduced to a digital format. Consequently, using the proposed invention, it is possible for a shooting sport competitor in one location to shoot at a target and have the result, both in terms of location on target and the resulting score/effect, displayed immediately at plural locations worldwide. The ability to electronically link plural shooting points, or competition sites, facilitates global shooting sports competitions without the associated costs of travel. Organizations such as shooting clubs, college teams, and commercially sponsored teams can compete against one another whenever they desire, regardless of time/distance constraints. More generally, in accordance with the present invention, a facility can have several computer/target "shooting points". This enables teams to compete against each other without having to travel to distant locations. A number of computer/target "shooting points" at one location can be linked into a local area network (LAN) and that LAN can in turn be linked to one or more LANs some distance away. The Internet or other network serves as a wide area network (WAN) for the purpose of plural team competitions. In accordance with another embodiment of the present invention, an Internet web site serves as a competition control unit. Potential competitors "log on" to the Internet using standard protocols and procedures, and access the electronic shooting sports web site in a conventional manner. The procedures for accessing a web site are well known and need not be described here. Once at the electronic shooting sports web site, the potential competitor identifies himself or herself to the site with pertinent information such as name, social security
number, or some membership ID information. This enables the control unit to access the competitor's prior competition history and store information from the present session. The system automatically "shakes hands" with the competitor's computer, and thereby with the target to ensure that the proper equipment is in place and operational. In order to minimize the amount of data required to flow back and forth over the Internet (e.g., X-Y hit locations, hit timing, shot number, etc.), the event for competition can be selected from a menu of options available at the competitor's location, and control of the event at the competitor's site (e.g., presentation of pop-up or moving targets) can be controlled from the competitor's local computer rather than from commands sent from the competition control unit over the Internet. As the throughput capacity of modems and linked networks such as the Internet expands, the opportunity to send real time video scenarios, including moving targets (e.g., skeet, trap, pop up), and animated target reactions (e.g., fall down, explode, shoot back), from the web site to the competitor will expand. The capability to coordinate competitive shooting events or training exercises simultaneously conducted at plural sites introduces unique problems and issues. In particular, it becomes possible for a competitor or trainee at one site to gain an unfair advantage over other competitors by shortening the range to the target, supporting the training weapon in an unauthorized manner (e.g., fixing or mounting the weapon in a vice), or using a more accurate weapon than other competitors or trainees. The opportunity for cheating in such a manner is, of course, increased in circumstances where the competitor or trainee is not directly observed by officiating or supervisory personnel. To minimize the potential for cheating, the training system of the present invention may employ the techniques disclosed in U.S. Patent No. 6,322,365 (Shechter et al) to allow competitors at one location to be reasonably certain of the accuracy and fairness of the results achieved at any other location without requiring the presence of some neutral observer or referee at each competition site. For example, an ultrasonic transmitter may be incorporated in the training weapon of the present invention, while the target may include an ultrasonic receiver adapted to detect the ultrasonic pulse transmitted from the training weapon to determine a user range. Further, encrypted information may be provided in the laser pulse to confirm to the target that the training weapon laser transmitter being operated is indeed authorized for the competition. Serial number registration, such as that in common use with electronic equipment, can be encoded in the laser pulse to help ensure that the competitor
shooting is in fact the person registered for the event. Moreover, the local computer or network system can display instructions for each competitor to shoot at a particular corner of the target in a random sequence, thereby requiring some degree of rapid change in the point of aim and precluding locking down the weapon in a vice or rack to eliminate errors. In addition, the network may also include the ability to recognize artificial results, such as an unnaturally accurate series of hits achieved by placing the training weapon in a vice or other mechanical support during the competition. Other measures for preventing cheating may be incorporated into the system, including, but not limited to, statistical sampling routines, records of a competitor's prior performance, and historical records of the best performance in a given event. The weapon training system of the present invention may also be utilized for closed- loop zeroing of sighted weapons in substantially the same manner described in U.S. Patent No. 6,322,365 (Shechter et al). For example, the training weapon with the laser mounted on a high-accuracy mandrel, is aimed at the target, and an initial estimation is made of a point of impact for a range. The shooter then shoots a group of simulated shots. Assuming the shot group meets the criteria for zeroing, the computer determines the center of mass of the shot group of detected laser pulses and reports the center of mass information to the shooter (e.g., displayed on the computer screen or printed). The sights are then adj usted to compensate for the estimated offset between the aim point and the calculated center of mass. Next, another simulated shot group is fired and center of mass is again compared to the aim point in an iterative process which is repeated until the aim point is at the center of the target and within an acceptable offset, at which point the sights are deemed zeroed. While the target shown in Fig. 1 is in the form of a single bull's eye, the targets may be of any shapes and sizes and can be configured to meet shooting competition requirements. Further, the targets may be in the form of common objects. An exemplary training system employing a target motion device to simulate a multi-dimensional target in the form of a bottle is illustrated in Fig. 4. Specifically, the system includes bow 50 and a target motion device 90. The bow, by way of example only, includes arrow emulator 55 and laser transmitter assembly 60, where the bow, emulator and laser transmitter assembly are substantially similar to those described above. However, the bow may utilize the alternative arrangements described above for the emulator and laser transmitter assembly to emit a laser pulse in response to bow actuation. The target motion device includes a target object 92 in the
form of a bottle. A user aims bow 50 at bottle 92 and operates the bow with the emulator rod in order to project laser beam 11 from the laser transmitter assembly toward the bottle as described above. The target motion device detects a beam impact on the bottle and causes the bottle to move in a manner simulating impact by a projectile to visually indicate a hit. Target motion device 90 is illustrated in Fig. 5. Specifically, the target motion device includes target 42, bottle 92, a support post 94, a solenoid 96, a kicker rod 98, a suspension lanyard or cord 99 and a target interface or controller 100. Target 42 is substantially similar to the target described above and is disposed on top of target interface or controller 100 with the target facing upward. Post 94 is substantially cylindrical and extends upward from the controller to suspend the solenoid and bottle above the target. An arm 95 is attached to and extends transversely from the upper edge of post 94 to support solenoid 96. Bottle 92 is suspended above target 42 by lanyard 99 that is attached to a plunger of solenoid 96. The bottle is constructed of a light reflective material and includes a flat top portion. Kicker rod 98 is substantially cylindrical and extends downward from the solenoid to a position slightly above (e.g., approximately one-half inch above) the front of the bottle top portion (e.g., the side of the bottle top portion facing a user). Controller 100 is coupled to target 42 and includes an interface 102 and a relay 104. When a laser pulse from bow 50 impacts the bottle, the pulse is reflected internally by the bottle and detected by target 42. The target subsequently transmits a hit signal to the controller that is received by interface 102. The interface conditions the signal and energizes relay 104. Relay 104 is typically implemented by a conventional 12V DC relay and energizes solenoid 96. The solenoid is typically implemented by a conventional solenoid and imparts a pulling motion on lanyard 99 to draw bottle 92 upward toward the solenoid. The upward motion enables the bottle to engage kicker rod 98, where the upward motion and kicker rod cause the bottom of the bottle to rotate up and rearward (e.g., move in a jerky fashion), thereby simulating motion of the bottle in response to an actual projectile impact. The bottle motion indicates a beam or target impact to the user. The interface and relay devices may be implemented by any conventional or other electrical and/or mechanical devices performing the functions described above. Target motion device 90 may be utilized with any type of laser assemblies, weapons (e.g., firearm, bow, crossbow or any other weapon propelling a projectile) or objects (e.g., bottles, balls, plates, cans, etc.). In addition, the target and/or controller may be coupled to computer 44 for maintenance and display of various information
and or for connection via a network to other training systems at remote locations as described above. The present invention bow and/or training system may employ various weapons (e.g. , firearms, bows, cross-bows, sling shots or any other weapons propelling a projectile), targets (e.g., various objects or structures, virtual targets, pop-up or moving targets, video/graphic target scenarios on a wall, screen or display, etc.) and laser transmitter modules or assemblies. For example, the present invention training bow or other weapon may employ the laser transmitter assemblies and/or be utilized with the laser training systems disclosed in U.S. Patent No. 6,322,365 (Shechter et al) and U.S. Patent Application Serial Nos.: 09/761,102, entitled "Firearm Simulation and Gaming System and Method for Operatively Interconnecting a Firearm Peripheral to a Computer System" and filed January 16, 2001 ; 09/760,610, entitled "Laser Transmitter Assembly Configured For Placement Within a Firing Chamber and Method of Simulating Firearm Operation" and filed January 16, 2001 ; 09/760,611, entitled "Firearm Laser Training System and Method Employing Modified Blank Cartridges for Simulating Operation of a Firearm" and filed January 16, 2001; 09/761,170, entitled "Firearm Laser Training System and Kit Including a Target Structure Having Sections of Varying Reflectivity for Visually Indicating Simulated Projectile Impact Locations" and filed January 16, 2001; 09/862,187, entitled "Firearm Laser Training System and Method Employing an Actuable Target Assembly" and filed May 21, 2001; 09/878,786, entitled "Firearm Laser Training System and Method Facilitating Firearm Training With Various Targets and Visual Feedback of Simulated Projectile Impact Locations" and filed June 11, 2001; and 10/167,750, entitled "Firearm Laser Training System and Method Facilitating Firearm Training for Extended Range Targets with Feedback of Firearm Control" and filed June 10, 2002. The disclosures of the above-mentioned patent and patent applications are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties. It will be appreciated that the embodiments described above and illustrated in the drawings represent only a few of the many ways of implementing an archery laser training system and method of simulating weapon operation. The weapon laser training system may be utilized with any type of weapon (e.g., hand- gun, rifle, shotgun, machine gun, archery bow, cross bow or other weapon propelling a projectile, etc.), while the laser module may be fastened to the weapon at any suitable locations via any conventional or other fastening techniques (e.g., frictional engagement with
a barrel, brackets attaching the device to the weapon, etc.). Further, the system may include a dummy weapon proj ecting a laser beam for training. The bow may be implemented by any type of conventional bow with any suitable accessories. The arrow emulator may be implemented by any conventional or other arrow emulator of any shape or size and secured to the bow at any location and in any fashion (e.g., brackets, integral unit, etc.). The laser assembly may include the laser module and any conventional or other fastening device. The laser module may emit any type of laser beam. The laser module housing may be of any shape or size, and may be constructed of any suitable materials. The opening may be defined in the module housing at any suitable locations to receive the fastener. Alternatively, the housing and bracket may include any conventional or other fastening devices (e.g., integrally formed, threaded attachment, hook and fastener, frictional engagement with the opening, etc.) to attach the module to the bracket. The optics package may include any suitable lens for projecting the beam. The laser beam may be enabled for any desired duration sufficient to enable the target or other sensing device to detect the beam. The laser module may be fastened to a weapon or other similar structure (e.g., a dummy, toy or simulated weapon, arrow emulator of a bow, etc.) at any suitable locations and be actuated by weapon actuation or any device (e.g., power switch, bowstring, relay, etc.). The laser module may include any type of sensor or detector (e.g., acoustic sensor, piezoelectric element, accelerometer, solid state sensors, strain gauge, etc.) to detect mechanical or acoustical waves or other conditions signifying weapon actuation. The laser module components may be arranged within the housing in any fashion, while the module power source may be implemented by any type of batteries. Alternatively, the module may include an adapter for receiving power from a common wall outlet jack or other power source. The laser beam may be visible or invisible (e.g., infrared), may be of any color or power level, may have a pulse of any desired duration and may be modulated in any fashion (e.g., at any desired frequency or unmodulated) or encoded in any manner to provide any desired information, while the transmitter may project the beam continuously or include a "constant on" mode. The system may be utilized with transmitters and detectors emitting and detecting any type of energy (e.g., light, infrared, etc.). The module bracket may be of any shape or size, and may be constructed of any suitable materials. The bracket may include dimensions to accommodate any arrow emulator or bow. The piston engagement member and corresponding components (e.g., clamp
members, flanges, openings, fasteners, etc.) may be of any shape, size or quantity and may be constructed of any suitable materials. The flanges may be disposed at any location on the clamp members at any desired orientation, while the openings may be defined in the flanges or clamp members at any desired locations. The module engagement member, washers, fasteners and filler may be of any quantity, shape or size, may be disposed at any suitable locations on the bracket and may be constructed of any suitable materials. The engagement member may be secured or attached to either clamp member at any desired location via any conventional or other techniques (e.g., welded, brackets, etc.). The filler may be permanently or removably disposed within the engagement member. Alternatively, the laser module may be secured or attached to any securing device (e.g., bracket, hook, clamp, adhesive, etc.) to secure or attach the laser module to the arrow emulator or bow. The computer system may be implemented by any conventional or other computer or processing system. The components of the system may be connected by any communications devices (e.g., cables, wireless, network, etc.) in any desired fashion, and may utilize any type of conventional or other interface scheme or protocol. The computer system may be in communication with any quantity of other training systems via any type of communications medium (e.g., direct line, telephone line/modem, network, LAN, WAN, Internet, etc.) and may transfer any desired information to facilitate group training or competitions. The computer system may include any type of printing device, display and/or user interface to provide any desired information relating to a user session. The system may be configured for any types of training, qualification, competition, gaming and/or entertainment applications. The printer may be implemented by any conventional or other type of printer. It is to be understood that the software for the computer system may be implemented in any desired computer language and could be developed by one of ordinary skill in the computer arts based on the functional description contained in the specification and figures illustrated in the drawings. The computer system may alternatively be implemented by any type of hardware and/or other processing circuitry. The various functions of the computer system may be distributed in any manner among any quantity of software modules, processing systems and/or circuitry. The software described above may be modified in any manner that accomplishes the functions described herein. The display screens and reports may be arranged in any fashion and contain any type of information. The system may produce any desired type of display or report having any
desired information. The computer system may determine scores or other activity information based on any desired criteria. The system may be utilized with targets scaled in any fashion to simulate conditions at any desired ranges, and may utilize lasers having sufficient power to be detected at any desired scaled range. The target may be of any quantity, shape or size and include any indicia or designs. The target may include any quantity of conventional or other detectors and circuitry and may detect any type of energy beam. The detectors may detect a laser beam encoded or modulated in any fashion. The target may communicate with the computer via any conventional or other protocol or interface. Alternatively, the target may be coupled to a network or other communications medium to directly send information to other systems or a central host processor or server. The processing of hit information may be distributed between the target and computer in any fashion. The target may be disposed at any suitable location relative to a user and may be mounted to any type of target object for training or competition. The web site may be arranged in any fashion and contain any type of information. The server may produce any desired type of display or report having any desired information. The server may determine scores or other activity information based on any desired criteria. The processing of information may be distributed between the target, computer and server in any fashion. The computer and/or target may utilize any suitable compression or other techniques to minimize the amount of data transfer to the server or other training systems. The web site may include any types of target or other data for downloading to the training system computer and/or target (e.g., updates or other software, target images and/or video, etc.). The training system may employ any suitable techniques to prevent cheating on remote systems (e.g., ultrasound range detection, identification codes, requesting a user to shoot at plural locations, shot grouping analysis, etc.). Further, the training system may be utilized to zero weapon sights based on information relating to any quantity of shots (e.g., center of mass, etc.). The target motion device may utilize any target object (e.g., bottle, can, ball, plate, carton, etc.) and may provide motion of the object in any desired direction or fashion. The target motion device components (e.g., post, arm, bottle, lanyard, kicker rod, etc.) may be of any quantity, shape or size, may be arranged in any fashion and may be constructed of any desired materials. The controller, interface, relay and solenoid may be implemented by any
quantity of any conventional or other electrical and/or mechanical devices performing the above-described functions. The controller may alternatively be implemented by a processor to control solenoid actuation. The controller may include a time delay of any desired time interval sufficient to permit reset of the motion of the bottle or other target object. The target and relay may provide any type of actuation signal of any power level (e.g., voltage and/or current level). The solenoid may provide any motion to the lanyard to move the bottle or other target object (e.g., push, pull, rotate, etc.). Further, the lanyard may be of any material, may be implemented by a rigid post or other structure and may be secured to the target object at any desired location. The kicker rod may be disposed at any desired location relative to the target obj ect or bottle at any orientation to provide bottle motion in any desired fashion. The bottle or other target object may be constructed of any material that reflects the beam sufficiently to enable detection by the target. The target may be disposed at any suitable location relative to the bottle or other target object (e.g., proximate or on the object, etc.) that enables the target to detect the laser beam. The target may alternatively be implemented by any sensing device (e.g., camera, etc.) to detect beam impacts on the bottle or other target object and facilitate actuation of the solenoid. The trigger assembly and corresponding components (e.g., rod, detection device, housing, arm, contact member, etc.) may be of any quantity, shape or size, may be constructed of any suitable materials and may be arranged in any fashion. The rod may be secured or attached to the laser module or bracket at any angle via any conventional or other securing techniques (e.g., bracket, hinge, fastener, etc.). The housing maybe secured or attached to the rod via any conventional or other securing techniques (e.g., bracket, hinge, welding, etc.). The arm may be biased in any suitable direction via any biasing member (e.g., spring, resilient member, etc.). The arm may be secured or attached to the housing at any angle via any conventional or other securing techniques (e.g., bracket, hinge, etc.). The switch may be any conventional or other switch (e.g., mechanical, electrical, momentary, micro-switch, etc.) and have any conventional or other associated circuitry to generate any type of trigger signal (e.g., any desired voltage or current, AC, DC, etc.). For example, the switch circuitry may include a power source, where closure of the switch closes the circuit to provide a trigger signal to the laser module. The contact member may be any object (e.g., ball, block, etc.) of any shape or size. The contact member may be secured or attached to the arm via any conventional or other securing techniques (e.g., bracket, etc.). The notch or recess may be of
any quantity, shape or size and may be defined in the arrow emulator rod at any suitable locations. The dimensions of the notch may determine the pulse width of the laser signal, or the laser module may emit a pulse of a predetermined or specified pulse width in response to detection of bow actuation. The laser module may be enabled based on any state of the switch (e.g., open or closed). The detection device may be used with or without the switch and corresponding circuitry, where the engagement of the contact member with the notch produces a mechanical wave or vibration detected by a laser module wave sensor. The notch may be implemented by any type of deformity (e.g., recess, bump, ridge, spike, etc.) that alters the state of the switch or produces a detectable energy wave (e.g., mechanical wave, vibration, acoustic wave, etc.) to enable the laser module. The air exiting the piston may force any quantity of any type of object against the laser module or other object to enable the laser module. The object may be of any shape or size, may be constructed of any materials and may be disposed at any locations enabling contact with the laser module or other object. The object may be disposed within an enclosed or partially enclosed chamber or passage (e.g., tube, passage, chamber, etc.) of any shape or size or may be suspended or disposed between the piston and laser module in any fashion. The piston opening may be of any quantity, shape or size and may be defined at any location on the piston to release air, where the object and laser module may be disposed proximate the opening. Alternatively, a tubular member may extend from the opening to provide the exiting air to the object and/or laser module disposed remotely from the opening. The exiting air or other gas may directly impact the laser module to enable transmission of the laser pulse. From the foregoing description, it will be appreciated that the invention makes available a novel archery laser training system and method of simulating weapon operation, wherein an archery bow includes a laser transmitter assembly to simulate operation of the weapon. Having described preferred embodiments of a new and improved archery laser training system and method of simulating weapon operation, it is believed that other modifications, variations and changes will be suggested to those skilled in the art in view of the teachings set forth herein. It is therefore to be understood that all such variations, modifications and changes are believed to fall within the scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims.