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AMTEC Less-Lethal Systems Training Facility

Written by Mickey Davis, Jim Weiss

AMTEC Less-Lethal Systems (formerly ALS), a National Defense company, has long been serving the law enforcement, corrections and military communities with products and equipment to meet their tactical and operational needs. Among their latest endeavors is their new training facility in Perry, Fla. This state-of-the-art facility includes the latest-design shoot house, a two-tier cell block, and a corrections training pod.

Elsewhere at the training facility are live-fire ranges, an elevated engagement platform (7 stories high), a bunk house, and a classroom building that will accommodate up to 80 officers. These will be covered in a future article.

Agencies wishing to use all or part of the ALS facility can make arrangements by either taking part in one of the facility’s training programs, having the agency’s own instructors conduct the training, and/or having the place locked down for an agency’s own training, with only one ALS instructor onboard for safety issues.

Currently, ALS offers over two dozen law enforcement-based and corrections-based training classes along with the staff and facilities to support them. As broad as an officer’s responsibility, from lower-risk patrol stops to high-risk warrants, active shooter scenarios or hostage rescue, ALS has you covered.

Classes slated for 2014 include Less Lethal Instructor, SWAT, Select-Fire Instructor, Operators Tactical Firearms, Cell Extraction, Crowd Management, High-Risk Transport, Clan Labs-WMD Tactical Operations, TEMS (Tactical Emergency Medical Support), Precision Marksman-Observer, Breaching, Armorers, Simunition, and even K9.

 

Dynamic Entry Building (Shoot House)

The need for shoot house training is simple: officer survival. This ALS shoot house is formally called a Dynamic Entry Building. It can be used for many types of training including basic and advanced SWAT, less-lethal, breaching, active shooter, hostage rescue, high-risk warrant, building and room clearing operations, barricaded subject and just about any other tactical training needs. It can also be used for basic police officer tactical training.

The Dynamic Entry Building is basically an advanced, large-scale shoot house, perfected and refined from the old days when shoot houses were made of gravel-filled rubber tires, or plywood on a frame wall with shooting positions indicating windows and doors.

The best of the early shoot houses were built on concrete foundations, and may have had oversized mounds of earth surrounding them and various other ranges.

The better shoot houses might also have advanced to 2x4-backed, non-ballistic plywood walling fitted with overlapping 4x8 sheets of steel with a Brinell rating of 400. Plywood over these steel sheets could facilitate training using frangible ammunitions because frangible bullets would disintegrate against the steel and the fragments would be trapped between the steel and plywood.       

Another common method employed by trainers was to train in non-ballistic structures that had been requisitioned and modified for training, such as condemned buildings in which either dummy guns or Simunition® guns were used. Even tarps on 2x4 frames were used with ball ammunition, although instructors had to know the exact directions of fire. The staff at ALS kept all of this in mind and much more when they created their totally modern shoot house.

 

Designing the Shoot House

According to Dave DuBay, the Chief Technology Officer of AMTEC-ALS, when they constructed the Dynamic Entry Building, they tried to build it so it was the best of the best. The company conducted 100 shoot house reviews before they built theirs with the failsafe design in mind.

They can lock it down to divide it into sections so two teams can run scenarios separately, with a double-locking system for two-team training. In addition to an observation catwalk, there is also a video option in which a video DVD can be burned of teams training in the shoot house. Over the catwalk is a raised roof to deal with overpressure, i.e., the shock waves resulting from explosions.

The Dynamic Entry Building has many features to make training as realistic as possible. It has breeching doors, doors and rooms that can be reconfigured, and lights that can be turned on or left off. The furniture can also be changed around. The walls are built of block filled with steel rebar and concrete, and sheathed with replaceable plywood so Simunition, frangible ammunition, and some live ammunition can be used. While the walls are .308 rated, as an added safety measure and to maintain the integrity of the walls, ALS limits live ammo to 5.56mm frangible and standard handgun ball ammo.

Windows and closed doors can be painted on the plywood sheeting. Inside, the shoot house has multiple doors, which can be reconfigured by placing plywood closures over them. Windows, doors, and other scenario settings can also be painted on the plywood.

 

Scenario Training

Outside the Dynamic Entry Building, sniper teams do their job: covering, monitoring and reporting movement, prepared to take out a bad guy target if the scenario calls for it. From the shoot house comes the bright, white flash of a distraction device. A door breaching team member does his work. Entry is made. Inside, shots bang away at paper targets and traps. SWAT team members, wearing full tactical gear, body armor, gas masks, and helmets, use frangible ammunition. For more active training, role players and Simunition can be used.

A trainer and the SWAT commander look down on the members of the entry team from a grated metal walkway. Hovering overhead, the two observers stay behind the team—it is safety protocol. An ominous and distinct 12-inch red line is painted around the walls of every room 7 feet above the floor, designating a no-fire angle for the shooters. Any round discharged above that line immediately shuts the drill down. If a scenario goes wrong and a round is discharged upward, the catwalk might deflect or offer a degree of protection against any errant bullet, but then again, because it is grated metal, it might not.

Accordingly, the catwalk-positioned commander and trainer never get ahead of the team. If the deputies had been academy trainees and had not evolved in their tactical and shooting skills, neither the commander nor any other trainer would be monitoring from above.

The interior of the shoot house is a challenging maze of hallways, rooms, and doorways. Under the entry team’s gas masks, faces are firm in concentration. Team members work off each other and move through the doorway’s fatal funnel, deeply penetrating the room.

Breaking off from their stack, two-deputy room-clearing teams work: clear the room, rejoin the stack, and move on.

Each entry team member has an area of responsibility. Closing in on additional targets, they tend to keep their guns punched out, since shooting reaction time takes longer when a weapon must be brought up from a barrel-pointed-down position for firing. “Smooth is fast” is their theme.

 

Corrections Training Pod

The realistic Corrections Training Pod is a stand-alone corrections training facility complete with a mess area, real serpentine wire, tier stairwell, and an exercise yard. Should corrections officers need to train for an attack on an officer or inmate in a chow hall, courtyard, or stairwell, this training Pod has it. It can even be blacked out to simulate nighttime or low-light operations.

The main building in the Pod is a two-tier cellblock made up of nine cells of various sizes. Its design concept is unique, put together by a scientifically trained engineer after taking into account multiple corrections pod perspectives and feedback from seasoned corrections officers.

The Pod’s steel doors have steel frames and are based upon real prisoner cell doors; in fact, they are the actual doors used in real facilities. Training can address every type of jail, corrections or prison door in use, including steel bar jail doors. Among the types of doors are slider doors that slide either to the left or right, hinge-type prison doors that pull open to the left or to the right, and cell doors with a service/food/cuffing hatch. Every door in the pod is different.

 

Training at the Pod

The Corrections Training Pod is a facility used to train corrections officers and their special operations counterpart to police SWAT teams, the Cell Extraction or Correctional Emergency Response Team (CERT). It is also used by police officers and other non-corrections law enforcement officers who have cell blocks or holding cells within their police headquarters building and police stations.

For corrections officers, today’s training is about practiced takedowns and knowing how to control inmate body limbs to gain complacence and control. The training involves human dynamics, approved joint locks, strikes, pressure points, and employing the close-quarter and less-lethal takedown tools in their arsenals. It is about corrections tactics against street tactics. Nothing can be faked in a real fight. These are corrections officers who work in sheriff’s departments’ jails, state and federal prisons, and correctional institutions.

CERT teams are the last lines of defense in any correctional institution. Every day in correctional institutions throughout the United States, CERT is called to respond about every 90 seconds. CERT deterrence is used for shakedowns, drug interdictions, to defuse hostage and other nasty situations, and for inmate extraction from cells and transportation vehicles. Even in some correctional institutions that have CERT teams, corrections officers are also trained to perform inmate extractions without calling for the CERT team to do it.

These officers face danger on a regular basis: HIV, hepatitis, shanks, fists, and even feet (one determined inmate in Virginia had a shank taped to his hand and pointed pencils sticking out of his tennis shoes). Inmates do not stop being criminals just because they are locked up. Instead, they have 24 hours a day to think about how they can make correctional officers’ lives difficult.

One corrections officer said that cell extractions take place more than the public realizes. In retaliation, inmates can and do file lawsuits. Consider it this way: Prisons are cities or villages in their own right. Corrections officers in reality are the street cops who patrol these communities. The difference is that the residents of these cities are all criminals.

ALS and its Corrections Training Pod and trainers are tools available for correction officers to take advantage of. Trainers from an agency using the Corrections Center can bundle the different Tactical Training Center’s facilities, such as the Corrections Training Pod with classrooms, various ranges, or other elements when conducting their training needs. The Dynamic Entry Building and Corrections Training Pod can be leased for $500 per day, and traditional firing ranges for about $250.

 

SIDEBAR:

NTOA Courses at AMTEC-ALS

In addition to the courses that ALS offers, in 2014, ALS will host a number of National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA) courses at this facility. These include armored vehicle tactical rescue, precision long rifle, basic crisis negotiations, less-lethal instructor, SWAT team leader development, and barricaded subject–hostage rescue. If you are interested in attending an NTOA-sponsored class at facility, please see their website.

 

Jim Weiss is a retired lieutenant from the Brook Park, Ohio Police Department and a frequent contributor to LAW and ORDER. Mickey Davis is a California-based writer and author.


Published in Law and Order, Mar 2014

Rating : Not Yet Rated


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