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Triggers - Weapons That Changed The World

Want to see the TRACS robots in action?  Tune into the Military Channel's newest show beginning November 30, 2011


Former Army Ranger and Air Force Pararescueman Wil Willis hosts Military Channel’s newest look inside the history of modern warfare in TRIGGERS: WEAPONS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD.

Combining history, science, technology and revealing demonstrations, this cutting-edge series examines the evolution of firearms and how the development of each one changed the face of combat forever. With access to the top firearms collections in the world, Willis takes viewers on an all-inclusive look into each weapon as he thoroughly examines, tests, critiques and fires each one.

From the early days of gun duals to the high-tech weapons on the modern battlefield, this six-part series leaves no man-made trigger unfired. TRIGGERS: WEAPONS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD premieres Wednesday, November 30 from 10-11 PM (e/p) on Military Channel.

“As an expert on weaponry, coupled with his inside knowledge of the military, Wil Willis brings unique insight into how the development of each of these weapons has changed history forever,” said Ed Hersh, SVP of content strategy for Military Channel.

“TRIGGERS allows our viewers to get up close and personal with powerful and historical weapons they might not have the opportunity to otherwise explore.”

In each episode of TRIGGERS, Willis is joined by historical and technical experts to test a series of iconic firearms and examine what made each one unique from competitors in its class. Gun-mounted cameras and high-speed photography capture every moment of the bullet’s trajectory, featuring its explosive escape from the barrel to the powerful force the impact makes on its target. Each weapon has an antecedent that sparked its development, as well as a successor that improved upon its technology—or was developed in response to its supremacy. Each was developed for one reason: to gain a competitive edge over the enemy, and the winner was the biggest, best or fastest weapon.

In the premiere episode, Willis examines handguns and focuses on the most influential gun of the 20th Century: the COLT M1911 – the .45 caliber semi-automatic sidearm that was the standard issue for the military for nearly 75 years. In a series of revealing demonstrations, Willis examines why this weapon has gained a worldwide reputation as the ultimate stopper. Subsequent episodes of TRIGGERS explore battle rifles from the musket to the modern day sniper rifle, submachine guns, artillery, and even the AK-47, a Cold War creation also known as the single most deadly firearm in history. The series also looks at the Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs), known as the AK-47 of rockets.

This episode traces hand-fired rockets from their origin centuries ago as ancient Chinese projectiles to the new kid on the block, the Swedish-made AT-4.

Previously host of Military Channel’s hit series SPECIAL OPS MISSION, Wil Willis is a man whose vast array of military training and knowledge has earned him unparalleled tactical skill sets. Willis joined the Army 1993, and after completing basic training AIT and Basic Airborne School, he completed the Ranger Indoctrination Program (R.I.P.) and was assigned to a Co. 3d Battalion 75th Ranger Regt. Willis carried that post until June, 1998 when he cross-trained to the Air Force. After completing the Air Force Pararescue Pipeline, he was stationed at the 56th Rescue Squadron in Keflavik, Iceland as part of a ten-man Pararescue Team. In 2001, Willis received the Sirkorsky Rescue Award for actions leading to the squadrons 299th Rescue. In 2002, Willis was stationed at Kirtland, NM as an Instructor of Weapons, Tactics, and Air Operations. In August, 2007, he enlisted in the Air Force Reserves and was a Pararescueman with the 308th Rescue Squadron until August, 2008. Willis currently resides in California and teaches Tactical Combat Casualty Care to deploying military units.

TRIGGERS: WEAPONS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD is produced by MorningStar Entertainment for Military Channel. For MorningStar, Gary Tarpinian and Paninee Theeranuntawat are executive producers, and Gary Benthin is series producer. For Military Channel, Ron Simon is executive producer, Sara Kozak is senior vice president production, Ed Hersh is senior vice president content strategy and Henry Schleiff is president and general manager.

About Military Channel:
The Military Channel brings viewers compelling, real-world stories of heroism, military strategy, and significant turning points in history. The network takes viewers “behind the lines” to hear the personal stories of servicemen and women and offers in-depth explorations of military training, aviation technology and cutting-edge weaponry. As the only cable network devoted to military subjects, it also provides unique access to this world, allowing viewers to experience and understand the full spectrum of human drama, courage, and patriotism intrinsic to the armed forces, as well as, the long-held traditions of the military. For more information, please visit

Hannibal Reactive Target System

The Hannibal Reactive Target System is a new approach to hit sensing reactive targets.cWhile there are many reactive targets on the market, we found that none of them had the feature set and capabilities that we wanted. In particular, we wanted a product that could be used in conjunction with the TRACS Robot.

So we decided to design our own.

Multi-purpose Trailer

Taking careful note of existing product limitations, we incorporated a number of unique design elements. First, when used in conjunction with the robot, we knew that impacts from incoming rounds were a possibility. So we built Hannibal from ¼" military-grade armor plate with a Brinell hardness rating of 500.

Then we found that all off-the-shelf targets had just a simple 90-degree rotation from standing to the dropped position. This results in two problems: The target requires a lot of space behind it to land in and the center of gravity shifts making it less stable when mounted on the TRACS Robot. Our patent-pending approach is to pivot the target about the waistline forward as that pivot point drops and rotates rearward. This motion maintains center of gravity while reducing clearance requirements. An added benefit is a more realistic body collapse. Only in Hollywood do bad guys fly backward when they are shot.

The next task was to give it the power it needs to be able to lift full-size mannequins with arms and leg parts rather than limiting the user to just military Ivan type targets. Hannibal has a variety of target mounting options from mil-spec E and F type targets, to Ivan and man-on-a-stick targets, to full mannequins.

But we didn't stop there. Hannibal has brains as well as brawn.

We designed the electronics package around an embedded Linux single-board computer system. With such a system we are able to support traditional computer networking via 10baseT Ethernet or even 802.11 WiFi. Using an industry-standard Linux environment also means that software upgrades with new features are a snap.

Then we gave it a voice. Hannibal has extensive sound capabilities. A variety of sounds can be played when the system detects a hit or a kill shot. But we also gave it an attitude. Hannibal can be configured to play taunting sounds adding another element of realism to close-quarters combat training.

Next we gave it some smarts. Hannibal can be configured not just for a specific number of hits necessary to register a hit but a random number of hits so that a group of students can train on the system and never know how many hits each student may need to drop the target.

Hannibal also has a bobbing feature for use on ship-borne sniper training. The target moves up and down slightly required the shooter to plan the timing of the shot.

Hannibal supports two vibration-type hit sensors. The system could be configured as a hostage/terrorist dual target, one sensor on each. Should the student miss the terrorist and hit the hostage, the system can respond accordingly.

Hannibal has accessory inputs and outputs. When used as a standalone target in a shoot house, a pressure pad can be connected and placed in the doorway of a room. When the entry team steps on the pad, the target can pop up from behind a couch. The accessory output could be connected to a suicide belt simulator and triggered if the student doesn't take the headshot.

What is your preferred caliber?