FACT Cams could actively help to teach use of firearms

While wandering through the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show last month, I came upon an exhibit with a rather intriguing tag line. The eight words comprising the statement were simple yet powerful enough to capture my attention.

It read, “Don’t let someone else’s video tell the story,” an obvious reference to video displayed in media coverage of officer-involved and self-defense shootings the past two years.

Though the exhibit had little to do directly with the outdoors, my interest was piqued. After all, many outdoor enthusiasts own firearms for self-defense purposes. If you were ever in a critical incident in your home or elsewhere, would there be video to help tell your story?

On a nearby TV monitor played a video showing two perspectives of the same critical incident. The first is from the perspective of a camera that shows a man in a leather coat as he walks down a hall and into an office. As he disappears, viewers hear the voice of a man exclaiming, “Don’t do it! Don’t do it!”

“You think you can fire me?” barks a second man’s voice.

Gun shots soon follow, but the video from the hall camera shows nothing more than the first man entering the office. It provides no help in truly understanding what happened and why the gun was fired. On the other hand, the second camera perspective clearly shows the man from the hallway drawing a firearm from his coat as he steps through the office door and the man who was in the office clearly firing in self-defense.

This is all captured on high-definition video by a tiny camera mounted below the barrel on the firearm used by the man in the office and is made possible by what a company named Viridian calls Fast Action Camera Technology, or FACT Cams. Designed to be used with nearly any handgun that has a picatinny rail under the barrel, FACT Cams are miniature cameras that mount on the firearm, so they capture what the shooter sees at the time they squeeze the trigger.

Unlike images caught by body cameras, however, the shooter’s arms, hands and firearm won’t be blocking part of what is taking place. At the least, this type of interference should be greatly reduced. FACT Cams are activated automatically when the firearm is removed from its holster and turn off when it is returned. This feature can be defined by the user.

“FACT can reveal what really happened in situations when a firearm is involved,” said Brian Hedeen, president and CEO of Viridian. “FACT is not a replacement for a body camera. But with it being uniquely positioned under the muzzle of a firearm, the high definition video and audio captured by a FACT camera may better tell the real story of what occurred.”

FACT Cams come in three models, one for law enforcement use with some extra bells and whistles and two for civilians — the Duty, Compact and Micro. All three models include a forward-facing microphone and storage capacity sufficient to outlast the batteries. The Compact has about four hours of recording time and the Micro one hour.

The cameras overwrite the oldest files so the newest video is available for download, which can be accomplished using a common micro USB cable. You can expect to see FACT Cams on store shelves this year with a price tag of about $250 to $300. More information can be found at viridianweapontech.com/fact.

Perhaps these on-board cameras also could provide some help when teaching someone new to handguns how to use them. The video should reveal at least some of the mistakes the shooter is making.

Sometimes showing is easier than telling.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at intheoutdoorslv@gmail.com.