US 20050123883 A1
A simulated hunting application for simulating the firing of a projectile such as an arrow or bullet, and displaying its flight path and that of its impact point on an intended target. In a preferred embodiment, the simulated hunting application includes a hunting instrument, such as an archery bow or gun, capable of launching a projectile such as an arrow or bullet; a data capture unit such as a video camera for capturing video data; a range finder for determining distance to target; a display screen for displaying images; trajectory calculating and video editing software programs; and a recording unit for storing the data captured by the data capture unit and data entered into the trajectory calculating software by the user. The flight path of the projectile, as well as its impact point with respect to the intended target, and interplay with background images, may be viewed by the hunter. Safe dry-firing of the hunting instrument may be provided using a momentum suppression rod which also forms part of the present invention. Interplay between the trajectory calculating software and an appropriate clinometer takes into account uphill or downhill shooting.
1. A simulated hunting application, comprising:
a hunting instrument capable of firing a projectile;
a data capture unit comprising a camera for capturing image data and a range finder for determining distance to target;
a display screen for displaying the image data;
trajectory calculating software capable of calculating the flight path and impact point of the projectile based on variable data entered by a user;
image editing software; and
a recording unit for storing the data captured by the data capture unit and the variable data;
wherein the image editing software is configured to allow display of at least portions of a flight path of the projectile based at least in part on the calculations performed by the trajectory calculating software, so that the flight path of the projectile may be viewed on the display screen and an impact point on or near an intended target may also be viewed.
2. The simulated hunting application of
3. The simulated hunting application of
4. The simulated hunting application of
5. The simulated hunting application of
6. The simulated hunting application of
7. The simulated hunting application of
8. The simulated hunting application of
9. The simulated hunting application of
10. The simulated hunting application of
11. The simulated hunting application of
12. The simulated hunting application of
13. The simulated hunting application of
14. The simulated hunting application of
15. The simulated hunting application of
16. The simulated hunting application of
17. The simulated hunting application of
18. The simulated hunting application of
19. A simulated hunting apparatus, comprising:
an archery bow having a bow string suitable for launching an arrow;
a momentum suppression rod, a cavity and a piston moveable within the cavity, the piston being capable of providing back-pressure to the bow string upon release of the drawn string commensurate to that which an arrow imparts when actually fired from the bow.
20. The simulated hunting apparatus of
21. The simulated hunting apparatus of
22. The simulated hunting apparatus of
23. The simulated hunting apparatus of
24. The simulated hunting apparatus of
25. The simulated hunting apparatus of
a data capture unit comprising a video camera for capturing video data and a range-finder for determining distance to target;
a display screen for displaying video images;
a trajectory calculating software program capable of calculating the flight path and impact point of an arrow based on a series of variables entered into the program;
a video editing software program; and
a recording unit for storing data captured by the data capture unit and data entered into the trajectory calculating software by the user;
wherein the video editing software program is capable of displaying portions of a flight path of the projectile based on the calculations performed by the trajectory calculating software program, so that the flight path of the projectile may be viewed on the display screen and an impact point on or near an intended target may also be viewed.
26. The simulated hunting apparatus of
27. The simulated hunting apparatus of
28. The simulated hunting apparatus of
29. The simulated hunting apparatus of
30. The simulated hunting apparatus of
31. The simulated hunting apparatus of
32. The simulated hunting apparatus of
33. The simulated hunting apparatus of
34. The simulated hunting apparatus of
35. The simulated hunting apparatus of
36. The simulated hunting apparatus of
37. The simulated hunting apparatus of
38. A method for a hunter to use a simulated hunting application, comprising the steps of:
aiming a hunting instrument capable of firing a projectile at an intended target, the hunting instrument comprising a data capture unit for capturing image data and a range finder for determining distance to target, and a display screen for displaying the image data;
calculating a flight path and an impact point for the projectile based at least in part on variable data entered by the hunter, using trajectory calculating software associated with the hunting instrument;
storing the data captured by the data capture unit and the variable data using a recording unit;
editing the image data using image editing software to display at least portions of a flight path of the projectile based at least in part on the calculations performed by the trajectory calculating software, so that the flight path of the projectile may be viewed on the display screen and an impact point on or near the intended target may also be viewed.
39. The method of
This invention relates to the field of simulated hunting. More specifically, the invention is directed to a simulated hunting device which may be used, for example, to dry-fire a gun or bow equipped with a digital recording device, rangefinding equipment, trajectory calculating software, and image editing software capable of displaying the flight of a bullet or arrow and its impact point on a display screen, allowing hunting without the actual firing of a gun or bow and without harming the target animal.
Various factors have fueled an increasing need for simulated hunting. These factors include increasing population; industrial growth and corresponding shrinkage of huntable land; the presence of large tracts of government-owned, no-hunting lands such as the National Parks; the desire for competitive hunting venues including hunting leagues and/or competitions; and activist groups lobbying against the killing of animals. Accordingly, hunters have experienced an escalating need for simulated hunting experiences and devices, methods and techniques for providing them.
The prior art in the field of displaying projectile impact points discloses methods of calculating and tracking the trajectory of a projectile exiting a firearm from the time it leaves the muzzle to the time at which it would theoretically impact a target. The prior art considers factors such as gravity; distance to the target; the projectile's weight and average speed; and other environmental factors. Many of the methods taught by the prior art incorporate using a range-finding mechanism, such as laser range finders, to determine the distance from the firearm to the target. Trajectory calculating units attached to a firearm are also known, and may be programmed to calculate the effects of the previously mentioned factors on a projectile, such as a bullet. The actual point of impact of a projectile may then be determined relative to a zero-point reticle calibration. Based on the calculations performed by the trajectory software, a point of impact indicator may then be superimposed on a display unit.
It is also known to provide an integrated display apparatus such as a digital camera attached to a telescopic scope/sight which allows the hunter/user to record the activity seen through the scope before, during, or after firing his weapon. The digital camera may record the activity in its field view from the time it is activated by one of a variety of means, including acoustic detectors, heat change detectors, motion detectors, pressure detectors, electronic detectors, retinal detectors, or manual activation.
Previous methods of simulated projectile targeting do not include coupling the trajectory software with image editing software to provide a device capable of superimposing the entire flight of a projectile, not just point of impact, on the video recorded by a digital camera. No known method of integrating these two disparate software applications has been disclosed in combination with hunting apparatus.
In addition, shooting at up and down hill angles, such as from a tree stand, is common in hunting. However, currently known technology does not take into account the effect degrees of slope have on projectile flight.
The prior art in the field of archery discloses various methods of dampening vibration in the riser caused by the action of shooting the bow. Known dampening methods help stabilize the bow and arrow during firing and aid with bow preservation and arrow accuracy. However, while it is well known in the archery field that dry-firing (e.g., drawing and releasing the bow without firing an actual arrow) can result in damage to the bow and potential injury to the archer, methods enabling safe dry-firing are unknown.
Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide an apparatus for capturing video and/or audio data of a hunting experience through a data capturing unit which may be equipped with a digital camera that can be manipulated with trajectory calculating software and image editing software to superimpose the flight of a projectile and its impact on a target without the actual firing of the projectile.
It is another object to provide an apparatus capable of aiding a hunter in measuring distance, providing aiming information, and recording flight and impact video data of an actual arrow fired at a target or animal.
It is another object to provide such effects using hunting instruments firing either projectiles or arrows (e.g., guns or bows).
It is still another object to provide a device and method for safely dry-firing a bow.
It is yet another object to provide hunting apparatus able to account for shooting from a slope, to provide accurate uphill and downhill shot trajectory.
It is another object to provide a simulated hunting unit suitable for use in year-round hunting, on no-hunting lands such as National Parks, and in competitive hunting leagues and/or competitions.
Definition of Claim Terms
The following terms are used in the claims of the patent as filed and are intended to have their broadest meaning consistent with the requirements of law. Where alternative meanings are possible, the broadest meaning is intended. All words used in the claims are intended to be used in the normal, customary usage of grammar and the English language.
“Archery” means a hunting instrument capable of launching an arrow such as a compound, recurve, longbow, crossbow, etc.
“Clinometer” means an electronic sensing device capable of measuring the degree of tilt and/or angle of a hunting apparatus relative to the intended target.
“Dry-firing” means drawing and releasing the bow string without firing an actual arrow.
“Gun” means a hunting instrument capable of firing a bullet such as a rifle, pistol, shotgun, etc.
“Hunting apparatus” means guns or other weapons for shooting projectiles, including archery apparatus such as bows and arrows, etc.
“Momentum suppression rod” means a device facilitating dry-firing of a bow while substantially eliminating the usual safety hazards to the bow or person firing the bow typically encountered when dry-firing occurs.
“Pre-shot adjustment” means use of the hunting apparatus of the present invention to estimate shot parameters by “firing” a pre-shot allowing the hunter to view the flight path of the projectile and adjust the shot parameters prior to making a final shot at an intended target.
“Projectile” means any element capable of being fired by a gun or bow, such as but not limited to bullets, pellets or arrows.
“Site zero impact location” for actual shots means the location of the intended target, i.e., where the crosshairs or sight pins of the hunting instrument (e.g., gun or bow) are aimed and the respective projectile or arrow impacts that spot.
The objects mentioned above, as well as other objects, are solved by the present invention, which overcomes disadvantages of prior art simulated hunting units and techniques, while providing new advantages not previously obtainable.
In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, a simulated hunting application is provided that utilizes a hunting instrument, such as a gun capable of launching a bullet or a bow capable of launching an arrow. A data capture unit, which may include a video camera, is used to capture imaging data such as video and/or infrared and/or other display data. The data capture unit may also include or be in electrical communication with a range finder, such as a laser range finder, for determining the distance to a target. A display screen is preferably provided for displaying the imaging data, such as an LCD for displaying video data. Trajectory calculating software is employed to calculate the flight path and impact point of the projectile based on a series of variables entered into the program by the user (e.g., wind speed; gun make and model; gun bore length and diameter; arrow shaft length, type, weight, diameter and speed; fletching length, type and quantity; distance to target; parallax; speed of the target, etc.). Image editing software, such as video editing software, is also provided, as is a suitable recording unit for storing the data captured by the data capture unit and data entered into the trajectory calculating software by the user. The image editing software program is capable of displaying portions of a flight path of the projectile, such as generating frame inlays, based on the calculations performed by the trajectory calculating software program, so that the flight path of the projectile may be viewed on the display screen and an impact point on an intended target may also be viewed, such as by interleaving the frame inlays into the video data and displaying the edited frames on the display screen. The display screen may be used to display multi-shot displays corresponding to a plurality of projectiles.
In this manner, the hunting apparatus allows for simulating and superimposing the flight of a projectile and the impact point of that projectile on a target by mock-firing a gun or bow without damaging the target or harming the animal. The software incorporates the variables entered by the hunter into the trajectory calculation, along with the captured video data, to simulate the true path had an actual projectile been fired. The data capturing unit may be used to display and record video data in digital format, record audio, and use laser range finding technology to measure and record distance to targets. The trajectory calculating software may be used to process the video data captured by the data capturing unit and interface with a video editing software program to display a visual simulation of the path of the projectile.
The video display unit may include a liquid crystal display (LCD) screen that displays the distance, targeting information, the real time image the digital camera is recording, battery information, recording information, etc. If desired, the flight path of the projectile and/or its impact point may also be displayed here, if desired. The video display unit may include a zoom lens function that enhances images of long-range targets. This unit can enhance or replace the bow sight pins commonly used in aiming today.
The image editing and trajectory calculating software programs may also be configured to display: (1) a site zero impact location; (2) images adjacent an intended target and interplay between such images and the projectile (e.g., showing the arrow brushing a branch on its way toward an intended target, being buffeted by wind during flight, sticking in a tree stump next to the intended target that it missed, etc.); (3) information concerning results of the shot, such as whether the shot was a “kill” or “grazing” shot; (4) information concerning the speed of the target at the time of the shot; and (5) information concerning the angle of slope/degree of incline in relation from the hunting unit to the target.
The hunting apparatus may electronically communicate with other electrical apparatus, such as PDAs (e.g., a Blackberry, a Palm Pilot, etc.), computers, etc. This allows storage of the hunt, as well as downloading of information from the Internet, for example, to augment the hunting application. If desired, the flight path of the projectile and the impact point of the intended target may be viewed on the display screen without first having to download the video data to the electrical apparatus such as a computer.
In the preferred embodiment of the invention, a clinometer may be incorporated to provide angle information of the hunting apparatus. The angle information obtained from the climometer may be used in conjunction with the trajectory software to provide accurate uphill and downhill shot trajectory. An altimeter may also be used to render shooting, particularly bow shooting, more precise in altitude.
In an alternative embodiment of the invention, a simulated hunting apparatus is provided which includes an archery bow having a bow string suitable for launching an arrow, and a momentum suppression rod which allows safe, dry-firing of the bow. The momentum suppression rod attaches to the bow and the string and controls the speed of the string and the limb system's forward motion. The momentum suppression rod may be pressure adjusted to accommodate a wide variety of bow makes, models, lengths, draw-pounds, etc., and may be adapted for different bow types (e.g., compound, crossbow, longbow, recurve, etc.). It may accomplish this speed control by providing back-pressure equivalent to that which an actual arrow would produce in a true firing of the bow. The momentum suppression rod may constitute a mechanically-actuated rod; preferably, however, it is pneumatically-actuated and/or hydraulically-actuated. This hunting apparatus, if desired, may also include and be configured with any and/or all of the devices described above (e.g., data capture unit, display screen, etc.) to provide any and/or all of the simulated hunting functions described above, if desired.
In one, pneumatically-actuated and/or hydraulically-actuated embodiment, the momentum suppression rod includes a cavity and a piston moveable within the cavity. The piston is capable of providing back-pressure to the bow string upon release of the drawn string commensurate to that which an arrow imparts when actually fired from the bow. In this embodiment, the momentum suppression rod has first and second ends, with the first end connected to the archery bow and the second end connected to the bow string. The second end of the momentum suppression rod may extend toward the bow string in a direction generally normal to the bow string and generally along a centerline of travel of the bow string. The cavity may include a cavity wall and inner and outer chambers separated by a displacement valve. The inner chamber may house the piston, and the outer chamber may include first and second compartments, the first compartment containing a compressed gas, such as nitrogen, and the second compartment containing a liquid, such as a low viscosity oil. The displacement valve may be configured to be adjustable from the outside of the momentum suppression rod to allow varying rates of rod release and back-pressure. The piston, the inner and the outer chambers, and the cavity wall are preferably machined to extremely tight tolerances, such as about 0.010+/−0.005 inches, to minimize or prevent rod flex or distortion. One or more proximity sensors are located in the piston cavity; preferably, these sensors have a reaction time in the range of about 0.2-0.9 milliseconds. Release of the drawn bow string causes the piston to reenter the inner chamber and forces the liquid back through the displacement valve and into the outer chamber. Similarly, release of the drawn bow string also causes the piston to reenter the inner chamber and recompresses the gas, thereby supplying sufficient back-pressure on the bow string to sufficiently reduce shock and vibration on the bow necessary to avoid damage to the bow or injury to the user.
In a preferred embodiment, the momentum suppression rod includes a multistage piston capable of extending in multiple portions. Inner extension limiters may be used to engage outer extension limiters at each stage of piston extension, allowing each progressive piston portion of the multistage piston to extend when the previous portion has substantially reached its maximum extension point. The momentum suppression rod may include a charge coupled device camera with a power source and a zoom lens for facilitating the capture of video data; this camera may, if desired, be located in an end cap positioned at one end of the momentum suppression rod.
In yet another alternative embodiment of the present invention, a method is provided allowing a hunter to use a simulated hunting application. The hunter aims a hunting instrument capable of firing a projectile at an intended target. The hunting instrument includes a data capture unit for capturing image data and a range finder for determining distance to target, and a display screen for displaying the image data. A flight path and an impact point for the projectile are calculated based at least in part on variable data entered by the hunter, using trajectory calculating software associated with the hunting instrument. The data captured by the data capture unit and the variable data are captured using a recording unit. The image data may be edited using image editing software to display at least portions of a flight path of the projectile based at least in part on the calculations performed by the trajectory calculating software, so that the flight path of the projectile may be viewed on the display screen and an impact point on or near the intended target may also be viewed. The hunter may also make a pre-shot adjustment by firing an initial, simulated shot, estimating one or more shot parameters based on analysis of the initial, simulated shot and its corresponding flight path, and adjusting one or more of the shot parameters prior to firing of the next simulated shot at the same intended target.
The hunting unit of the present invention may be used with both actual and simulated hunting applications. Alternatively, the hunting unit may be used to test various conditions and/or devices. For example, the unit may be used to measure distance, provide aiming information, and record flight and impact video data of an actual arrow fired at a target or animal; the rangefinder can help fine-tune distance to target to facilitate shot placement, etc. Preferably, nothing need change in terms of the aspects of scouting, spotting game or other targets, or placing tree stands. Preferably, the fundamentals of firing the hunting instrument remain consistent for both real and simulated hunting.
The novel features which are characteristic of the invention are set forth in the appended claims. The invention itself, however, together with further objects and attendant advantages thereof, will be best understood by reference to the following description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:
Set forth below is a description of what are believed to be the preferred embodiments and/or best examples of the invention claimed. Future and present alternatives and modifications to this preferred embodiment are contemplated. Any alternatives or modifications which make insubstantial changes in function, in purpose, in structure, or in result are intended to be covered by the claims of this patent.
In accordance with a preferred embodiment of this invention, a unit for use in simulated hunting is generally designated with the reference numeral 10, as shown in
Still referring to
Referring now to
When the user releases bow string 5, inner multi-stage rod 214 moves first. Multi-stage rod piston 212 forces the low viscosity oil out of pressure tube 209, through adjustable displacement valve 206 and into reserve tube 210. The compressed nitrogen gas 208 that was permitted to expand in reserve tube 210 during the draw is compressed back to its original pounds per square inch (PSI) level. Spring loaded bump stop 211 may be incorporated in pressure tube 209 and may be engaged by multi-stage rod 212 if the desired maximum compression rate is exceeded.
MSR 2 preferably is compact in shape due to its multi-stage design. Alternatively, though less compact, MSR 2 could be provided with single-stage rods, which would require three times the overall length of the multi-stage rod for proper operation. Piston 212, inner and outer rods 213, 214, and cylinder wall supports 217 are preferably machined to extremely tight tolerances to minimize rod flex or distortion. Supports 217 limit extension of multi-stage rod piston 212. Displacement valve 206 is preferably adjustable from the outside of the MSR using displacement valve adjuster 205 to allow the user to fine-tune the MSR release and back-pressure rate. This feature permits the user to adjust the MSR across various bow draw lengths, weights, release speeds and types. In this preferred embodiment, MSR 2 houses CCD 202 and proximity sensors 216, which preferably employ wireless technology and reduce the mounting requirements (e.g., weight and convenience) of data capturing unit 4 on the bow. Preferably, CCD 202 in MSR end cap 201 has a zoom lens 203.
Alternative configurations of simulated hunting unit 10 shown in
To facilitate use of the invention, the user may determine the “site zero impact location” for actual shots, which is defined by an arrow impacting the target in the exact spot that the crosshairs or sight pins in hunting unit 10 were aimed. The trajectory calculating software can then accurately estimate the lift and drop associated with the arrow's flight path at given distances for editing the impact spot during simulation mode. To do so, the user may first enter certain variables into the trajectory calculating software program, such was arrow shaft length, type, weight, diameter and speed; fletching length, type and quantity; distance to target; and parallax.
The preferred laser range finder is a Bushnell Laser Rangefinder—Model Yardage Pro Sport. This device is preferred because of its accuracy to +/−1 yard; its ability to signal on deer from 5 to 200 yards (the typical bow shot is 10 to 40 yards); its extremely light weight and compact design, which is an important feature when attaching it to the bow; its Integrated Perma Focus monocular optical system 109, providing 4× magnification; and its Integrated LCD display 106 for ranging information, which is easy to capture and display through a camera. Commercially available battery 107 may be used power the range finder.
Still referring to
It may now be appreciated that with use of the present invention, arrow flight and/or impact may be superimposed onto visible backdrop or background images. For example, if the projectile or arrow misses its intended target animal, it may be seen to impact an adjacent tree trunk. Further, during its flight path, the arrow may be seen to brush tree leaves, as another example.
The preferred model for camera 111 is the Panasonic e-wear camera—Model SV-AV1OU. This model is preferred because of its compact nature and light weight, since overall size and weight is a concern when attaching the device to the bow. The SV-AV1OU Scan Disk multi-media cards are lightweight (1.5 g, 32 mm×24 mm, and 2.1 mm thick), have a high transfer rate for fast copy/download, and have a high storage capacity (current cards can store 5 hours of video). The Scan Disk cards also have a non-volatile solid-state with no moving parts, which maximizes battery power. In addition, no data is lost when the power is turned off. The Scan Disk cards consume little battery power, which maximizes battery life. They have an operating shock rating of 2,000 Gs, equivalent to a 10-foot drop to a solid surface, making them ideal for use in a hunting tree stand. Finally, the Scan Disk cards have high vibration resistance and are unfazed by drastic weather conditions ranging from −13° F. to 185° F. Additional features of the Model SV-AV1OU include an integrated microphone, a high resolution 2″ LCD (200,000 pixels), a wide angle pinhole CCD, and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery system.
In more preferred embodiments, the LCD screen changes from a flip-out version to a model that can slide right or left from the rear of the bow to allow for more flexible positioning. This embodiment also consolidates the separate LCD screens for the laser range finder and CCD, so that only one LCD screen is necessary. Preferably, the laser range finder sends the distance to target data to be displayed on the single LCD screen rather than using a separate LCD monitor for the laser range finder. This embodiment eliminates the requirement on the CCD camera of having to shoot through the range finder optic to collect distance to target data. It also permits the ideal placement of the CCD camera in momentum suppression rod/MSR 2.
As referenced above, proximity sensors 216 may be used to control the start/stop recording function to determine the release time of the arrow. These sensors may be integrated into MSR 2. In the preferred embodiment, the proximity sensors transmit information to the trajectory and video editing software wirelessly. However, in an alternative embodiment, the proximity sensors 216 may be connected to processing board 112 via wire 120 to provide time of release information to the trajectory calculating and video editing software in processing board 112, as shown in
The preferred proximity sensors 216 for the invention are Cherry Corp. Proximity Sensors, sensor model MP201701 and actuator model AS201701. These Cherry proximity sensors are preferred because they operate over a weather range from −40° F. to 221° F. Their reaction/operating time of 0.6 msec may be important because the timing of the arrow's flight from draw and release to the start/stop time of the video affects the trajectory calculation and video editing process. 0.2-0.9 milliseconds (msec) is a particularly preferred range for the reaction time of the proximity sensors. These Cherry proximity sensors also have a high resistance to dirt, moisture, etc. which makes them ideal for typical hunting environments. Finally, the Cherry Corp proximity sensors are miniature and lightweight which makes them well-suited for mounting on the bow.
When using hunting unit 10 of this invention, multiple methods of training are possible. Simulation shooting allows the user to learn the simulation characteristics of the unit and how variables such as arrow weight and fletching type impact the shot. The user can also perform real world shooting with the unit. Hunting unit 10 enhances an actual shooting experience by recording actual arrow flights and impacts for later analysis. The unit also allows for slow-motion control during video playback of a hunt scene to view arrow flight characteristics (e.g. arrow shaft flex and oscillation during launch/flight, rate of arrow spin from fletching placement, etc.). Finally, the unit helps a hunter fine-tune his or her distance assimilation. Generally, hunters rely on sighting pins to determine distance and aim. Sighting pins require the hunter to guess at target distances and, therefore, aiming characteristics as well. With the simulation unit of the present invention, a hunter is able to determine the actual distance to a target with the laser range finder, allowing him/her to make better use of the sighting pins. Also, by using the laser range finder during practice, the user can become more adept at determining distances by assimilating what the eye sees in relation to the yardage displayed by the unit.
In the preferred embodiment of the invention, bow sighting pins may be incorporated in data capture unit 4 for display in the LCD camera. This allows the user to aim with the unit 4/LCD combination in the same manner as mechanical pins by employing a utility in the unit that adjusts the pins up and down to compensate for arrow drop. This embodiment of the unit also includes crosshairs for aiming the range finder to determine the distance to a target.
The first step in using this invention for simulated hunting is to open the LCD screen in data capturing unit 4 for viewing. The user may then power on the unit and select the proper mode (video, still photo, etc.). Preferably, the LCD is programmed to display the recording mode information, date and time, target acquisition mode, distance to target, distance units (e.g., yards or meters), aiming crosshairs, and battery conditions for the digital camera and the laser range finder. The user may then position the LCD for viewing to accommodate a comfortable position while aiming and recording.
In firing, the user grips the bow, draws the string, and takes aim in the same manner as when actually shooting an arrow. The user may establish the distance to a target by activating the laser range finder, and may then aim at the target with aiming crosshairs and trigger the laser range finder a second time to determine the distance to target. Data capture unit 4 captures the data from the laser range finder and records the data for use by the trajectory calculating software after firing. With the discussed embodiment, it is desirable to trigger the laser range finder again just prior to releasing the shot to ensure that accurate distance to target data is recorded and used by the trajectory calculating software. If the distance to target is greater or less than 1 yard from the previous reading, the trajectory calculations may be materially incorrect.
Preferably, the user is permitted to manually activate data capturing unit 4 at any time. Thus, a hunter may choose to record only the shot sequence and/or an animal's approach before and departure after the shot sequence. Alternatively, the hunter may choose to capture the entire experience for reference, cataloging, or later recounting to friends.
When in shot simulation mode, the proximity sensors may be activated by the bow-string movement and/or the MSR, to activate the camera's recording start/stop functions. The unit may determine when an arrow is released based on MSR and/or string movement. This information may then be used in calculating the shot trajectory and generating frame inlays by the video editing software. The software preferably marks the video frames during this sequence so that the video editing software recognizes the draw/release frames of the shot for auto-editing the video. As described above, drawing the string activates a proximity sensor which in turn produces a start time that is fed to the digital camera so that it begins recording.
When the shot is released, a proximity sensor triggers a stop time that may then be fed to the digital camera, to stop its recording. With those time stamps, unit 4 determines the time of flight to the target based on the distance recorded from the laser range finder and the speed of the arrow, which is preconfigured into the software. In a more preferred embodiment, the MSR captures speed data and eliminates the need to manually determine the speed of the bow as illustrated in the software program. The software determines the speed of the arrow by measuring the speed at which the MSR goes from extension to rest. This allows data capture unit 4 to determine which frame in the video will be used to mark the shot.
When the frames to be edited have been determined, a pixel-splitting algorithm may be utilized to determine the pixel cross-section on which to place the impact spot. A pixel takes up a predetermined amount of space on the display screen for the data capture unit. An appropriate formula may be derived to indicate the change in pixel size given corresponding target distance changes. Data capturing unit 4 and storage device 114 capture and record this information for video editing. In one embodiment of the invention, storage device 114 may be removed from the unit and the video uploaded to the video software for editing. In the preferred embodiment of the invention, a USB port downloads data captured by the unit to a personal computer/PC (and its video editing software) and uploads configuration data from the PC to the unit. This allows the user to view the shot on the LCD monitor mounted on the bow. Preferably, the video editing software is QuickTime software available from Apple Computer, Inc.
In this preferred embodiment, data files are created during the shot and saved to the storage unit to automate the trajectory calculating and video editing steps. Data capture unit 4 may then use these data files to time bow string release and stop to calculate arrow speed, arrow release, and other variables necessary to calculate the trajectory of the arrow. This configuration also allows the unit to upload the variable data from the PC software to calculate the flight path and impact point of the arrow and display each on the LCD for the user. This configuration provides visual confirmation of the outcome immediately after the shot without having to proceed with the steps of downloading the video data from the unit to the PC for calculating the trajectory. This embodiment also allows multi-shot displays to create a cluster for the user during the exercise. The shot clusters can be saved to the storage device and loaded on the PC for further analysis. This provides the user with the ability to study the effects of changing the variables and how they influence overall performance. It also allows the user to determine how other forces not compensated for by the trajectory calculating software (such as hold and release times, bow vibration, release movement, etc.) influence the result.
A preferred embodiment of the invention also provides remote auto updating of the trajectory calculating and video editing software from a customer's computer, as shown in
As described above, simulated hunting unit 10 preferably includes trajectory calculating software interfaced with video editing software. The software applications are preferably interfaced between the data capturing unit and a PC. In the preferred embodiment, a USB port incorporated in the hunting unit allows for downloading captured data files to the PC and uploading configuration data from the PC to the unit. The PC software preferably includes an arrow speed estimation program that uses data files recorded by the data capturing components. The PC software also preferably incorporates an arrow trajectory calculator which uses trajectory algorithms to calculate the trajectory of the simulated arrow. The arrow speed application may use data captured by the unit such as poundage draw of the bow, arrow weight, fletching type, and other variables to determine arrow speed. Data which may be used by the trajectory software includes distance to target, arrow weight, arrow speed, fletching type, and other variables. Information about the trajectory calculator may be found in Physical Laws of Archery, 1988 (4th ed. 1991) by T. L. Liston. Additional information on trajectory algorithms is available at http://dspace.dial.pipex.com/town/terrace/qq53/.
The trajectory calculator interfaces with video editing software such as QuickTime for Java—Developer Edition, available from Apple Computers, Inc. Using the calculations performed by the trajectory software and the video data recorded by the CCD, the software may be used to determine and display the arrow's flight path and point of impact. The video editing software supplies frame inlays of projectiles (e.g., arrows) to display the flight path and point of impact on the target. In a preferred embodiment, the user can view this information, such as on an LCD screen associated with the hunting apparatus, immediately after the simulated hunt.
A further software application which may be used with the present invention is a target size estimation program allowing the user to estimate the size and weight of the target animal. The program is based on the pixel division calculation functionality used in the trajectory/impact marking program. Because area mass by pixel is known throughout various ranges, the program is able to determine the length and width of objects within the frame.
Industry algorithms exist to calculate animal weight based on length, width, and girth dimensions of an animal. Thus, using the software of the present invention, a user can provide the size of a deer or the size of its rack, for example, and the software will provide its dimensions, through use of the pixel splitting algorithm referenced immediately above, using readily commercially available information. For example, Pope & Young and Boone & Crocket use antler dimension (spread, tine length, etc.) to score an animal for record purposes.
By modifying existing software illustrating animal anatomy, the software of the present invention may be configured to provide information to the hunter concerning the shot result. For example, the software may analyze the shot location and indicate whether the shot was a “kill” or “grazing” shot. In addition, the software of the present invention may also be modified to account for and provide other information, such the speed of the animal at the time of the shot.
Hunting apparatus 10 may be provided with night vision capability, if desired, such as by incorporating a NIR CCD-65L available from ITT Industries. The CCD may be mounted in the MSR, as described for the hydraulic version. The CCD-65L provides a non-intensified NIR low-light-level imaging technology, and is believed to be ideally suited for use in hunting applications both in day and night conditions. With a faceplate sensitivity of 0.00003 foot-candles (twilight=1 foot-candle) and an advanced automatic gain control algorithm, the camera delivers useable imagery under wide dynamic lighting conditions. Benefits of the CCD-65L includes exceptional low-light performance; high sensitivity in NIR; auto-iris drive signal; “C”-mount lens interface; low power consumption; and rugged construction.
In the preferred embodiment of the invention, a commercially available clinometer, such as Accustar Single Axis clinometer, may be incorporated to provide angle information of the hunting apparatus. The angle information obtained from the climometer may be used in conjunction with the trajectory software to provide accurate uphill and downhill shot trajectory. Shooting at up and down hill angles, such as from a tree stand, is common in hunting. Currently known technology does not take into account the effect degrees of slope have on projectile flight. Operating specifications for the Accustar clinometer include: tilt range (degrees): −60.00 to 60.00; number axis: 1.0; accuracy (degrees): 1.0; operating temperature: −22.0 to 149 F; weight: 2 .oz; diameter: 2 inches; height: 1.2 inches. Commercially available altimeters may also be used to render shooting, particularly bow shooting, even more precise when shooting in altitude.
To further describe a preferred embodiment of the invention,
The present invention also permits a hunter to “pre-fire” a shot and view its flight path and impact point on the display screen, and then make a “pre-shot adjustment” by modifying shot parameters. Known simulated hunting devices, which do not allow display of the projectile's flight path, do not permit such a pre-shot adjustment.
Of course, it should be understood that various changes and modifications to the preferred embodiments described herein will be apparent to those skilled in the art. For example, the trajectory calculating software and video editing software described above may be specially adapted for use with simulated hunting utilizing guns firing projectiles. As another example, the MSR 2 and data capture unit 4 may be combined into a single unit possessing, for example, an integrated data chip in which the unit provides the combined MSR and data capture unit functionalities. As yet another example, the MSR described above may be pneumatic/air-actuated and/or gas-driven. As still another example, the projectile or arrow flight path and target point may be displayed, alternatively, on an LCD associated with the data capture unit and/or on a display screen associated with computers, PDAs or other electronic equipment communicating with the hunting apparatus. It will also be understood that the video editing software and trajectory calculating software may be combined into a single program.
Other changes and modifications constituting insubstantial differences from the present invention, such as those expressed here or others left unexpressed but apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art, can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention and without diminishing its attendant advantages. It is, therefore, intended that such changes and modifications be covered by the following claims.