March 1st, 2012

New Orion Scanning System Approved for NRA Airgun Comps

Orion Scoring SystemLooks like the days of manual target scoring are numbered — at least for airgun shooters. Effective April 23, 2012 (after this year’s Sectionals) the NRA will accept targets digitally scanned and scored with the new Orion Scoring System. Produced by Shooter’s Technology in Virginia, the Orion System exceeds the accuracy standards set by the ISSF, and routinely scores shots within .04mm. Currently the Orion scoring system can work with 5m BB gun targets, 10m Air Rifle Targets, 10m Air Pistol Targets, and 50-foot smallbore (.22LR Rimfire) targets.

50m Smallbore Capability in Development
Orion is working hard on more powerful software that will be able to score 50m smallbore targets — but that’s still many months away.

The makers of the Orion Scoring System claim it can score targets faster, more accurately, and more reliably than scoring by hand using calipers and target plugs. Orion 2.0 will score a 12-bull air rifle target in about 5 seconds — that’s up to five times faster than manual methods. Single-shot accuracy is consistently between .04mm and .10mm, even for low velocity sporter air rifles. Multiple-shot accuracy (when two or more shots overlap on a target) is between .10mm and .25mm.

Orion Scoring System

The Orion Scoring System is a new technology that automates the scoring process. Shooters fire at specially-designed paper targets sourced from Orion. Once each stage of the match is completed, targets are collected and then digitized using commercial scanners. The Orion software reads the target image files, and scores each shot using an image processing algorithm.

Orion’s Dr. Erik Anderson explains how the system works: “Orion’s scoring process uses a computer vision algorithm known formally as ‘Visual Image Scoring’ (VIS). VIS works in a three-step process. First, VIS calculates the precise center of the aiming bull by extrapolating and using the edge of the aiming bull. Second, VIS locates the center of each shot using a similar process using data from the shot hole edge. Finally, the distance between these two locations, called the radial distance, is used to determine the score value. A key to Orion’s accuracy is using the complete shot hole edge. In comparison, manual methods of scoring only look at the inner most edge point and thus have a limited amount of data to determine the shot value.” Anderson says the Orion Scoring System can be as accurate as very expensive electronic targets, though the Orion requires a much smaller investment in hardware. The only special equipment a shooting club needs is a decent flatbed scanner for the targets. Orion says: “most flat-bed scanners manufactured in the last five years are likely to work with Orion.” Another advantage of the Orion System over electronic targets is that a physical copy of the target exists. The match results won’t disappear if someone fries a computer hard-drive.

Orion Scoring System

Orion Match Management and Score Publishing Functions
The Orion Scoring System can generate ranked results and instantly post them online. Once a shooting facility links up to Orion’s Online Results Center, match results (and target scores) can be uploaded for later viewing on the web. If the range lacks a web connection, the Orion score data can be captured on a thumb drive and moved to a computer hooked up to the web.

How Accurate is Orion?
Orion is designed to meet or exceed the accuracy requirements set by the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF):

Air Rifle: 0.125mm radial error
Air Pistol: 0.40mm radial error
50ft Rifle: 0.122mm radial error

How Fast is Orion?
The time it takes to score a set of targets depends on scanner speed and computer processing power. On a dual-core 2.6GHz machine, with Canon DR-6010C scanner, Orion will score:

An air rifle 3×20 set of targets in 1 minute 25 seconds
A smallbore 3×40 set of targets in 1 minutes 55 seconds
A 60 shot air pistol course in 2 minutes 30 seconds

Orion is available from three sources: Shooter’s Technology, the makers of the Orion Scoring System, Gold Medal Shooting, and Orion is licensed on an annual basis. The first year license fee is $398. The fee for the second year (and each subsequent year) is $78. Separate licenses are required for air rifle, air pistol and 50-foot pistol. Both the National Three Position Air Rifle Council and USA Shooting have approved Orion-based scoring for airgun matches.

Story based on report by Kyle Jillson in The NRA Blog.

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