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ATK Force on Force Gear

Written by Eugene Nielsen

While square range training is essential, it doesn’t adequately prepare officers to make the right response to the complex, rapidly changing situations they will face on the streets. Training must not only encompass small arms proficiency but in decision making under realistic conditions, i.e., reality-based training. Training needs to be both dynamic and realistic. Paper targets don’t shoot back nor do they require the decision making essential to the judicious use of deadly force.  

According to FBI statistics, hit ratios in officer involved shootings are less than 25 percent. These statistics are not good by themselves. They are even worse when one considers that 90 percent of the shootings take place at less than 7 yards, with the vast majority taking place at under 7 feet. There is an answer. That answer is better, more effective training. It is not so much the amount of training, but how the training is—or should be—conducted.

Training should be a three-step process. Skills or tactics should first be taught under low stress and in isolation. This ensures that student has a grasp of the skill and fosters mental retention. The second step is to test that skill with higher stress under repetition. Finally, the skills and tactics need to be taught and tested utilizing reality-based training.

Reality-based training allows stress to be introduced in a scripted, role-playing scenario. It allows officers to learn how they will react to stress and what needs to be changed, improved or eliminated.

Rehearsing live-action scenarios in training helps to build confidence and proficiency when similar events are encountered in the field. It reduces or eliminates conscious effort, which leads to hesitation when similar events are encountered on the job. It creates a subconscious confidence. It also reduces departmental liability exposure.

 

Training Weapons

The use of existing uniforms and gear with duty weapons that have been specially converted to fire training ammunition provides added realism when running or conducting training. There are a variety of training products that are designed to provide non-lethal, force-on-force training.

While the use of Airsoft and paintball guns is an option, Airsoft and paintball cannot completely replicate the characteristics of duty weapons and may create training scars. The best option is the use of actual duty weapons with special non-lethal training ammunition.     

A special barrel or bolt is employed with this training ammo to convert duty firearms to fire the training round while preventing conventional ammunition from chambering or firing. The converted guns are loaded in the same as live-fire weapons and have recoil and report simulating actual fire. The conversion kits do not permanently alter the weapon and can be easily removed.

Reliability is essential when employing training ammo. Stoppages in a training scenario, either to clear a weapon malfunction or clean equipment, are distractions that waste valuable training time. ATK Force on Force provides excellent reliability and accuracy with an appropriate pain penalty level that’s neither too high nor too low for effective training.

 

ATK Force on Force Products

ATK Force on ForceÒ products come from the producers of Federal Premium and Speer LE ammunition. ATK Force on Force is a comparatively new player in scenario-based training, but has rapidly risen to the head of the pack. The training products are designed to meet all of the needs for scenario-based training for law enforcement. The ATK Force on Force product line is continuing to grow and offers increased training possibilities.

Randy Clifton, Director of Sales and Marketing, and Training Manager for ATK Force On Force, feels strongly that the robust /reliable function and cleanliness of the round clearly separates itself from the competition. Clifton is a former DEA agent and FBI Academy Instructor. He is co-author of the Simunition manual and the author of Force on Force Scenario Instructor Manual, which weighs in heavily on teaching and testing isolation concepts before conducting scenario-based training.

Clifton is passionate about preparing police for use-of-force encounters. It’s both an officer survival issue and liability issue. Agencies can and need to do a lot better in training to prepare for use-of-force encounters. “What training is more important than deadly force training?” Clifton added.

For example, consider weapon malfunctions. While most officers can easily handle weapon malfunctions under low or no stress scenarios, Clifton has found that 4 out of 5 cannot handle instructor-induced malfunctions under real-world scenarios. Upon completion of reality-based training, handling of malfunctions in real-world scenarios is greatly enhanced.

 

Marking and Non-Marking

The ATK Force on Force ammunition product line consists of reduced-energy marking, non-marking, and blank rounds in 9mm and 5.56mm that are designed to be fired from converted weapons. Conversion kits are available from ATK. The Force on Force product line may also be employed in weapons converted for use with SimunitionÒ, so there is no need to buy new conversion kits when switching from Simunition to Force on Force.

All Force on Force rounds have robust recoil and function. The rounds are lead-free and safe for indoor use. There is no gun powder. There is no smoke and no smell. The marking and non-marking rounds are designed to provide an appropriate pain penalty and negligible barrel fouling. Force on Force Training Ammo has a five-year shelf life. It requires no special packaging or storage.

The marking rounds are currently available in both 9mm and 5.56mm. The non-marking and blank rounds are presently available only in 9mm, although 5.56mm is under development as of this writing. The patent-pending Force on Force 5.56mm round separates itself from the competitors with its 1-foot safety standoff. Another feature that distinguishes the round from the competition is a copper driving band on the plastic projectile that engages the rifling of the weapon for superior accuracy.

The 5.56mm marking rounds have a typical group with only 1-inch extreme spread at 40 feet. This is excellent accuracy for any training ammo. The average velocity of the 5.56mm marking rounds is 450 fps. The 5.56mm marking rounds require only a change of the bolt carrier group. ATK offers a complete bolt carrier group that converts the AR-15 platform into an effective training weapon. The conversion bolt prevents the firing of lethal ammunition. It doesn’t interfere with any on-gun (or non-gun?) accessories.

The 9mm and 5.56mm marking rounds are available in five colors: red, blue, yellow, green and white. Other colors are available on request. Different colors can be used to distinguish the shots fired from students and role-playing perpetrators.

 

Paint Splat

The marking rounds leave brightly colored “paint” splatters where they hit. The marking media splatters reveal where the rounds would have hit in an actual shooting situation and can be analyzed after the training scenario has ended. The Force on Force marking media is biodegradable, environmentally friendly, and cold water washable. It easily wipes off duty gear. ATK is also coming out with Force on Force products that do not contain marking media.

The Force on Force 9mm non-marking round is designed to provide the same performance as the marking round, but without the paint splatter of the marking round. The non-marking round is designed for those customers who do not want a visible paint mark left behind after the training projectile hits. Reasons may include reduction in clean-up time or training in places where the mark might be difficult to remove.

The marking media in the non-marking mounds is replaced by a soft UV-cured material. It maintains the accuracy of the round and also minimizes any drywall damage in the event of an errant round. Cleanup after training is simply a matter of sweeping or vacuuming up the fired projectiles and the recyclable aluminum cases. 

The non-marking round is ideal for scenario-based live-action training in actual buildings, such as schools, courthouses, offices, theaters and other public and private facilities.



Blank Round

The Force on Force blank round is designed to add additional options within the 9mm product family. The blank loads and cycles the converted weapons in the same manner as the marking and non-marking products, but without firing a projectile. The noise level of the blank maintains the 1-foot safety standoff that is found on all Force on Force products.

The blanks are a great tool to teach specific skills. Common uses for the blanks include loading and unloading drills, trigger and recoil drills, and high-repetition drills to isolate a specific skill and develop muscle memory. The blanks can also be used by role-playing perpetrators to initiate a scenario while students enter a building and locate a shooter, such as training for response to an active shooter. Cleanup consists of simply policing up the spent aluminum blanks for recycling.

A complete range of accessories are available from ATK for Force on Force training.  Available accessories include a full line of protective gear, marking knife kit and training/certification.

 

ATK Force on Force Training

ATK offers a three-day Force on Force certification program to prepare instructors to train their personnel using accelerated learning methods and technologies that are simple to use and take reality-based training to new levels. Students are taught how to safely, efficiently and effectively conduct reality-based training. The program doesn’t teach tactics, but provides students with a modality to implement desired tactical training into reality-based training.

The three-day course is preceded by an online learning course, which must be completed prior to attending the certification training. The online training reduces the amount of time needed to complete the cognitive and classroom sessions of the three-day certification.

Topics covered during the three-day certification course include safety protocols, ATK Training Ammo, conversion kits, isolation exercise and scenario development, officer scenarios, effective debriefs and selection of remediation techniques, evaluation methods/documentation of performance, and effective and proven training methods.

ATK also offers a half-day familiarization course that is designed for those who want to become more familiar with it. The course consists of a half-day block of instruction covering the features, benefits and advantages of Force on Force training ammunition and protective gear. While not an instructor course, it does provide attendees with an excellent overview. Topics covered include Force on Force 9mm and 5.56mm ammunition, training ammo conversion kits including the Force on Force 5.56 bolt carrier kit, protective equipment, and safety protocols. There is also a demonstration shoot.

 

Eugene Nielsen provides investigative and tactical consulting services and is a former officer. He may be reached at eugene.nielsen@live.com.


Published in Law and Order, Mar 2014

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