Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Virtual Bad Guys, Oh My!
A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of experiencing simulator training at Writers' Police Academy. For the purpose of WPA, we were using it to simulate shoot/no shoot scenarios so that the writers could better understand their characters. A great number of writers left the simulator training with a whole new respect for the split-second decision making done by law enforcement personnel.
After WPA I was sold on simulator training, so when Double Tap began talking about installing one to incorporate to his classes, I got really excited. Last week, when Ti Training installed the simulator, I was almost as giddy as he was and couldn't wait for the RMFiTS "sneak peek".
I had an idea of what to expect, but found that my expectations were quickly exceeded. The FATS system that we used at WPA was an older version, but the new RMFiTS updated technology - the scenarios blend together seemlessly.
The tech can control the reactions of the "bad guy" based on the commands of the "good guy". If the "good guy" is giving clear alpha commands, the tech can either have the "bad guy" comply or attack or run away. I find the running away to be hilarious, but there are some bad guys who know when they're out-gunned.
The scenarios vary from basic target shooting, like you would do in a live-fire range, to shoot/no-shoot pop-up targets, to LE/Military-quality scenarios. For the Zombie Killer in all of us, there is even an "entertainment" package that allows you to hunt zombies. Or participate in an Old West Quick Draw. There are also no-win scenarios, where all you can do is try to minimize the damage.
The guns are "real" guns that have been fitted with a replacement barrel containing a laser that is activated by the CO2 "bullet" from the magazine. Since the guns are actual guns, they are the correct weight for training and allow the shooter to experience the recoil just as they would in live-fire exercise. The beauty is, of course, that there is no brass to pick up after you're done. Currently, Double Tap has a Glock 17, with a Sig 229 on the way, and plans to add a variety of handguns in addition to an M4 and an 870.
The beauty in this kind of training is that you get to enter the realm of "what if". Self defense trainers for years have been telling students to imagine scenarios and try to figure out how they would react to those scenarios. With RMFiTS, you can get dropped right into the scenario and practice.
You can easily identify your weaknesses. For instance, I took Tara to preview RMFiTS last week. She ran her first home invasion scenario and realized she was squeezing off one shot, waiting for the bad guy to drop, then squeezing off her next shot, waiting for the bad buy to drop, until on her third shot, she hit the guy. She took a moment to digest what she had done and it flipped a switch in her brain. The next scenario she ran, there was no hesitation, she shot until the threat was neutralized. In fact, not only did she shoot until the threat was neutralized, but she advanced on him did not give up until he was out of the fight.
RMFiTS was a game-changer for Tara. She and I have been shooting together for several years and she knows she needs to draw and fire faster than she does. But she wants that perfect shot (which is why she's 100x better on a long gun than I am) and sacrifices time to get it. However, the sim proved to her that she can get those first shots off and still hit what she's aiming at. I bet the next time we do live-fire training together she cuts her draw to first round time in half.
I was talking to Double Tap earlier and I was trying to explain to him why this post was so difficult for me to write. It's because I don't have adequate words to express how I feel about the depth this can add to a person's training. It's one thing to imagine scenarios. It's a completely different thing to be dropped into a situation with little or no background and have to solve it.
Since I feel like I can't express myself in writing, I took some video of our preview the other day. It's as close as you can get to actually doing it yourself.
You can see Tara's transformation from being hesitant to taking the bastards out. I should mention that Jay also shot the sim and pissed me off. I literally shoot 12x more than he does, yet he can pick up a gun he's never shot before and hit everything. He killed the home invader with one shot. Oh, I wish I had his shooting talent - I have to work at it, while it comes naturally to him.
As far as we can tell, RMFiTS is the only LE/Military-quality firearms simulator open to the public in Colorado and the surrounding states. The rates are exceptionally reasonable in my opinion. $30 for a half hour of simulated range time, where the tech sets up the virtual range and the shooter gets to shoot for thirty minutes straight, or $50 for an instructor-driven training, with one-on-one training tailored to the shooter's needs. Now, some might think the rates are pricey, but you have to figure in that there are NO AMMO COSTS! How many times have you wanted to do some serious training, but have been limited by the amount of ammunition you have available? Also, simulator training allows a shooter to practice things that are generally frowned upon at ranges. Things like drawing from concealment (or even just drawing from a holster), kneeling, using cover, moving left/right/forward - all those things that as defensive shooters we want to practice, but are rarely allowed to outside of classes and matches.
I'm in love with RMFiTS and am excited to have this training modality available to me and my students. If you are in the Northern Colorado/Southern Wyoming area and want to preview RMFiTS, Opening Day is Saturday, October 19th from 9:00 am - 6:00 pm at Rocky Mountain Shooters Supply in Fort Collins.