BadaBang Interactive Target Shooting System Review
BadaBang – what a great name! But what is it?
Well it’s quite likely that the Air Venturi BadaBang Interactive Target Shooting System is likely to be the way of the future for home airgun target shooting. In fact, it’s yet another example of how cellphones are becoming integrated into airgunning.
Already we have seen chronographs, digital rangefinders and even one air rifle that operate using a cellphone link. Now we can add targets to that list…
Air Venturi has been working on this system for a long time – we first saw it at the 2019 SHOT Show. Now it’s available. HAM has used several early production models for testing. It works!
BadaBang is an airgun target system that’s set-up and controlled by software running on your cellphone or tablet. It uses Bluetooth as the means of wireless connection. First you buy the physical BadaBang target, then go to the Apple App Store or Google Play store – depending on your wireless device – and download the free app.
The app not only talks to the physical target, it also includes two target shooting games. But – as with all such software – the really big deal here is that it can – and will – be upgraded in future releases with additional capabilities, games and improvements using the free app.
Here’s a view of the BadaBang page in the App Store.
As a Apple user, I tested downloading the Badabang app to an iPhone 6+, an iPhone 12 and an iPad Air. Each time, the app downloaded with no problem. HAM Tester Eric Brewer had no issues downloading to his Samsung Galaxy S10 Android phone from the Google Play store either.
Oh, and you’ll need an airgun, safety glasses and some pellets, too…
For testing, I mounted a Leapers UTG Bugbuster scope onto a Umarex Fusion 2 air rifle. That proved to be a good combination.
There’s also a practical carrying case included so that you can transport your new target system in style.
Let’s Fire-Up Badabang
As a stand-alone device, the physical target box needs a power source. This is provided by three AA batteries (you supply and install these). Then the target is turned on. The trick here is to know that the on/off switch is located at the rear of the unit, otherwise you’ll spend some time looking for it!
In fact, the batteries, circuit boards and other electronics are very sensibly located at the back of the target as protection from incoming pellets!
There’s an LED on the back of the unit. When powered-on it flashes blue, red, green. Then it goes out but flashes green every few seconds. That means that all is well!
Now you fire-up the cellphone app. The phone pairs with the target and just a few taps on the screen has you ready to start shooting. This Pyramyd Air web page has a short video that shows these steps clearly. BadaBang Interactive Target Shooting System
Every time Eric and I tested the units – we had one each – our phones paired with the targets and connected with no issues whatever.
Your cellphone stays next to you when shooting – don’t leave it next to the target box! Then your hits on those 1.75-Inch target paddles are displayed instantly.
Note that the paddles are not like Field Targets. They don’t fall when hit, however they are pushed-back enough by the impact of the pellet to trip a micro-switch under each one. That sends a signal back to the cellphone. You’re all set!
You shoot at the target and enjoy playing the games. Your phone keeps track of it all…
Currently there are two games supplied in the app. They’re called “Spooning” and “Call Em”. Air Venturi plans to add more games in future. When available, they’ll be free and easily downloaded to your phone (or tablet) through the app. That’s one of the great benefits of the software side of the system!
The games allow you to compete on both accuracy and speed of shooting. You can compete against other Badabang owners too, remotely. The app compiles all your shooting statistics so you can monitor just how much you are improving.
As you would expect, the target box is manufactured from solid steel. The back is angled in the operational position, acting as a backstop.
BadaBang Usable Range
Air Venturi does not specify a maximum range at which this target system can be used. However, the games are set for a maximum distance of 10 Yards. So that’s the implied maximum range.
However, in HAM testing, we found that we were able to successfully use the system at considerably longer ranges.
As Badabang is a systems solution, the operational range will depend on the capabilities of the user’s cellphone. It will also depend if the phone is used in a case (and what type of case).
Eric and I found that – if a reasonably modern, high-spec phone is used, then the usable range of Badabang can be 20 Yards or even greater. If the user has a low-spec, old unit, or one in a substantial case, the usable distance will be less.
In HAM testing, the maximum ranges (measured with a SIG SAUER Kilo850 digital rangefinder) that our phones paired with the target box were:
iPhone 6 Plus (Bluetooth 4.0) – 26 Yards
iPhone 12 (Bluetooth 5.0) – 21 Yards
Samsung Galaxy S10 (Bluetooth 5.0) – 25 Yards
So why did the “older technology” iPhone 6 Plus achieve a longer range than my iPhone 12? Almost certainly it was because of the much more substantial case that’s on the new phone.
Suitable Airguns To Use With Badabang
As with all products, this new system has limitations and we need to accept them. Probably the most significant for Badabang is that it’s suitable for use with airguns having a maximum Muzzle Energy of 12 Ft/Lbs.
Because many folk don’t think naturally in terms of Ft/Lbs, here’s how this translates into FPS specifications with a range of calibers and pellets at 10 Yards range…
Maximum power in .177 caliber at 10 Yards:
875 FPS with 7.0 Grain lead pellets
825 FPS with 7.9 Grain lead pellets
Maximum power in .22 caliber at 10 Yards:
675 FPS with 11.9 Grain lead pellets
615 FPS with 14.3 Grain lead pellets
However, if your cellphone can pair with the target box out to 20 Yards, then a wider range of air rifles become possible…
Maximum power in .177 caliber at 20 Yards:
1,300 FPS with 7.0 Grain lead pellets
1,100 FPS with 7.9 Grain lead pellets
Maximum power in .22 caliber at 20 Yards:
875 FPS with 11.9 Grain lead pellets
675 FPS with 14.3 Grain lead pellets
The main issue HAM found with the target box was that of significant ricochets. We experienced ricochets even with wadcutter lead pellets hitting both the target paddles and the backstop. Backstop hits were intentional, of course 😉
HAM recommends that the wearing of shooting glasses is mandatory for all shooters and observers when using BadaBang. Of course, we should always be doing this, shouldn’t we…
In addition, we would shoot only lead pellets at the target box. We’re too scared of the ricochets from steel BBs and alloy pellets to use them at all!
So, stick to lead pellets and shoot them in relatively low-powered pellet pistols and air rifles.
In the HAM Team’s testing experience, we would recommend the target system primarily for outdoor use. This is due to the prevalence of ricochets. If used indoors, it should be in a basement or garage, where the ricochets can easily be cleaned-up to avoid ingestion by pets and young children.
If your phone will pair with the target box at 20 Yards (or more), that definitely makes the shooting more interesting as obviously the target paddles appear smaller at the greater range. Not to mention the potential for using the ubiquitous “1,000 FPS” springers that everyone owns…
Although the target box has it’s own built-in angled backstop, it’s really not that large. So it’s vital to ensure that there’s a safe backstop that extends well beyond the dimensions of the target box, just in case of a complete miss.
Another finding is that you need to make sure your cellphone battery is fully charged before starting. It’s easy to get carried-away and shoot for longer than you intended. The result can be a well-drained cellphone battery unless you are prepared.
And as with any software product, there’s a few bugs in the BadaBang software. These were most prevalent in the multi-player mode.
We’ve reported our findings to Air Venturi and they’re taking action to correct them. That’s the great thing about software, issues can often be fixed and rolled-out to you with a new release!
Remember, too, that the software app is still in “Version 1”. OK, that’s Version 1.26.4 running on my phone right now, so there’s already been many pre-production development releases. But we can expect the capability and usability to improve with time. Air Venturi has an on-going development project to do just this.
It has to be said that we’re not big fans of the printed documentation. The User Instruction Manual is very basic. You’re better-off watching the “get started” video and working the rest out by experience.
Overall, the HAM Team’s view is that Badabang is undoubtedly the start of something big. In the future, most of us will be shooting our airguns at targets like this. The software will improve with time and new technology undoubtedly will increase the operating range.
This is definitely a “Version 1” product, but it’s already usable and fun. It would be a great tool for training young shooters and for whole family competitions. Enjoy!