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State of the Art in Firearms Simulators

Today’s simulators provide challenging firearms training, offering such options as single-screen, 90-degree, 180-degree and 300-degree simulations, with actors and settings making the scenario as close to real as possible.

Such simulations can enhance marksmanship skills, but more importantly, they also improve an officer’s decision-making skills, and the appropriate selection of force used. Most provide branching scenarios that allow the use of OC and ECD, some allow for an actual baton strike or take-down on a dummy next to the screen.


The more advanced simulators can actually create physiological and psychological stressors not only for single incident simulations, but also multi-incident, full-immersion scenarios that can include such situations as the taking of hostages, reading a suspect’s body language through his/her protective clothing, reacting to suspects that “shoot back,” and experiencing realism in handling a standard-issue weapon equipped with a recoil kit, realistic ballistic accuracy, and even practice in the methods of de-escalating a situation.

Beyond that advantage to officer training and safety, there are the extra benefits of effective, realistic training that helps keep the public safe, and helps departments avoid liability risks.

Of course, single-screen training can be simple, yet beneficial and challenging, but most single-screen training is limited to about 60 degrees’ field of view. That limits the physical movement the trainee can use and it also emphasizes a forward view without regard to what might be occurring in another direction.


In real life, not keeping aware of a full field of view could lead to disaster. A 180-degree screen opens the field of view wider, but the ultimate in present technology is the 300-degree simulation that forces trainees to keep aware of all directions, available cover, and other real-life elements that affect officer and public safety.


Simulators offer realistic scenarios, but it is important to assess the quality of the video being projected. A computer-generated “human” might look rather fake and may not be detailed enough to enhance the officer’s ability in reading body language, eyes, subtle motions and other factors that affect decision making in handling or de-escalating a situation. High-resolution video and use of human actors does enhance the training experience, making it seem real. Here is your guide to the market’s leading training simulators.


Laser Shot

The company’s “Interactive Judgmental Training” is its most advanced simulator, yet the components (minus the screen) fit into a two-piece hard plastic case with four lockable wheels and custom racks and mountings for hardware components—all to make the unit a “plug and train.” The simulator features over 600 HD multi-branching scenarios, creation software, skill builders, and the capability to let instructors move freely during training sessions and not have to stay with the system hardware.


The Portable Small Arms Training Simulator (PSATS Law Enforcement) is the company’s “plug and train” system and it can be customized for virtual indoor shooting ranges. It is compatible with both inert and recoil weapons, and comes with a software package of 50 scenarios; drills for improvement of speed, accuracy and decision making; steel targets; head plates; a wireless monitor tablet; and speakers. It can use laser inserts, simulated recoil weapons, inert trainers, or the company’s Thermal Shot™ live fire system.


The “Judgmental Training Editor” system allows trainers to create branching videos, or to group multiple scenarios together in a scene list to present diverse training situations. The software features real-time HD video and provides for various possible outcomes, based on the trainee’s actions. Fifty training scenarios are included and the system allows use with a digital TASER™, handgun or pepper spray.



Meggitt Training Systems FATS

Meggitt Training Systems is the only company that delivers simulation training systems combined with live-fire indoor and/or outdoor shooting range solutions. The company specializes in integrating off-the-shelf hardware and software that provides realistic training in marksmanship, judgment, shoot/don’t shoot, use of appropriate force, low-light/no-light situations, cover/concealment, and realistic simulations.


The company assists with range design and installation, ventilation and lead abatement, target carrier and retrieval systems, steel and rubber bullet traps, shooting stalls, ballistic baffles and wall, and mobile ranges.


Meggitt’s “Courseware” features both standard packages and user-specific customized systems to meet specific needs. A library of over 200 scenarios is available to build skill in analyzing situations and responding accordingly. For each segment of a video scenario, the instructor has a list of possible outcomes or branching options to tailor the scenario outcome, based upon training objectives.


“BlueFire®” wireless weapon simulators use Bluetooth® technology to communicate with the training system, to allow full range of motion in weapon use. To enhance the training experience, weapon recoil is achieved with a rechargeable magazine of compressed gas (delivered through a proprietary fill station and providing refills in just a few seconds with either compressed air or nitrogen).


The live-fire screen simulation allows use of live fire weapons. Round placement is determined through acoustic scoring. (The live fire screen is not designed to stop bullets. Instead, bullets pass through the front and rear screens and continue. A bullet stop or trap containment is used in conjunction with the screen.)


The “Hostile Fire Simulator” increases realism by discharging soft foam projectiles at trainees to improve their skills in cover and concealment. Single-shot, three-round burst, and fully automatic firing modes are all supported in the simulations.


Virtual firearms training is offered in Meggitt Training Systems’ FATS® L7 Compact Firearms Training Simulator that expands existing indoor range offerings. This enhancement encourages skill improvement, good judgment, and practice in a low-pressure environment. The unit is mounted on casters for easy transport and has four carrying handles for easier lifting. It can be used as is, or mounted on a ceiling. A wireless PC touchscreen controls the unit, and operation is intuitive to reduce the time needed for instructor training in the device’s use. Up to eight system-controlled weapons can be used at a time, which enhances team training.


Meggitt Training Systems also offers basic training with the purchase of any training simulator.


Refresher courses are also given. Advanced training is available in system features and capabilities for those wanting to customize their system.



MILO Range

MILO Range offers a variety of simulators, with the “Pro” system the most feature-rich. It offers over 700 scenarios, firearms drills and exercises, and is ready “out of the box.” An on-site trainer’s course is included in the purchase. MILO Range is the first to offer a fully compatible touchscreen system for training sessions and, with the new MILO 4 training interface, the trainer can quickly and efficiently deliver training without a keyboard or mouse.


The Pro uses HD video and is the only simulator that supports the user’s filming a full HD 1080 video scenario without any video editing software or special skills. The Pro offers both standard and high-definition branching video scenarios, and interactive, graphics-based firearms exercises and drills through “GraphX.” The modules range from basic target tracking, to complete, user-defined course of fire and marksmanship drills.


The settings can accommodate the skill level of the shooter, and both laser and live-fire modes are supported. Up to 16 simultaneous users can be supported with up to four weapons assigned to each trainee. Features include weapons, low-light, flashlight, scenarios, action capture, ECD, return fire, live fire, and recoil weapons.


The MILO Range Advanced training system offers many of the same features, but is packaged in a more portable format. The MILO Range Classic is a lower-cost, interactive simulator that offers full digital video branching scenarios, packaged within a compact design easy to transport and set up (20 minutes).


The MILO Range Theatre system offers a fully immersive training environment that offers dynamic realism. It is interactive from all directions, thus allowing the trainees to respond to multiple threats and to use appropriate tactics. A single instructor uses either a touchscreen monitor or wireless tablet. Configurations of 180 degrees or 300 degrees are possible. Up to 16 trainees can participate in the simulations.


A three-screen configuration provides an enhanced field of view. The system operates with three standard HD projectors, three laser projection screens, and a surround sound system. The Theater 300 system has five screens for the most challenging and realistic training environment, using five standard HD projectors, five laser projection screens, and surround sound.


The company also makes the MILO Range Shoothouse system for an interactive, high-definition video in a multi-room training environment to meet the needs of team training. Again, the system is operated by a single instructor. The system supports two to five rooms, with full HD video in each room, in varying lighting conditions. Over 470 video training scenarios are available in the MILO Range Shoothouse.



Ti Training

This company’s Training Lab™ is an interactive experience in use of force and firearms in a combination of the latest technologies, with unique, theatre-style simulation that allows for customization and being “in the action” of the situation being depicted. System flexibility and range of use make it possible to present a wide range of force options including TASER™, baton and firearms. Daylight and low-light settings are available, and up to 18 trainees can participate in the pre-loaded, 500-plus scenarios. Self-created and customized scenarios can also be loaded.


Scenes are filmed with cameras of the same quality as those of commercial motion pictures.


Special effects enhance the realism. Updates of the scenarios are included at no cost for the life of the system. These updates present completely new situations, with updated learning objectives and possibilities. The system design allows adding weapons, feature sets and software updates.


The unit is mobile and comes in two industrial-strength carrying cases weighing less than 60 pounds each when loaded. The screen folds into its own enclosure.


Standard features include complete weapons control to simulate weapon firing, malfunction, clearances and reloads, and multiple trainees can use multiple devices. The Training Lab operates under normal lighting conditions and within nearly any space because of its adaptability. Life-size images in a 9x16 HD format are projected onto a large screen or a simple wall.


The screening features include play, scenario scrolling, frame-by-frame playback, and slow motion, as needed. Scene magnification is also possible. Optional items include ECD devices modified for use with the Training Lab, less-lethal options, return fire cannon, tether-less recoil weapon systems, live fire capability, ballistically correct graphics through Firing Line™ marksmanship instruction, and controls of such environmental effects as lightbar, strobe light, wind, smoke and fog.



VirTra offers a full line of the very best judgmental use-of-force training simulators along with full weapons simulator training capability. VirTra offers portable single-screen firearms simulators all the way up to the most challenging and advanced use-of-force simulator in the world: the V- 300™ LE. Our customers enjoy the only upgrade path in the market, they can upgrade from one screen to three screens or even upgrade to five screens (300 degrees) as their future budgets permit. In the top-of-the-line 300-degree wraparound simulator, police can train for the most difficult real-world situations, such as ambushes, active shooters, and maintaining situational awareness during extreme stress. Officer presence, verbal skills, less-lethal force options, and deadly force, are all available for simulation use. As part of VirTra’s ongoing effort to revolutionize firearms simulation training, VirTra invented Threat-Fire™, the world’s most effective and patented electronic return fire simulator, adding real stress during training. Over 200 agencies have embraced VirTra’s new, higher standard, in use-of-force and firearms training simulators. Contact VirTra for a demonstration.


Stephenie Slahor, Ph.D., J.D., writes in the fields of law enforcement and security.

Published in Law and Order, Mar 2015

Rating : Not Yet Rated

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