TTAG School Shooting Simulation – First Impressions

I saw something incredible at the school shooting simulation at King33 Training in Southington, Connecticut. It happened during a scenario where the teacher got a ten second heads-up that an active shooter was in the building. The shooter grabbed a student as a human shield. He opened the door to the mock classroom crouching behind the student with his rifle barrel protruding off the student’s side. Amidst all the noise and confusion, with students rushing for the corner (in lockdown mode), the teacher took aim and shot the active shooter in the face—over the hostage’s shoulder. Cease fire! Now you could say that this simulation didn’t prove a thing. I’m not here to argue the point . . .

Nick is gathering the data from some 20 run-throughs of four basic active shooter scenarios. TTAG’s Test and Review Editor (and former Department of Homeland Security terrorism risk analyst) will describe the experimental limitations involved and present his findings. You will be free to accept or reject the conclusions as you see fit.

But what I saw was simple enough: it is possible for an armed teacher without any law enforcement or military experience to stop a clever, well-armed active shooter dead in his tracks. Maybe not probable. Maybe not even likely. But possible. And that’s good enough for me.

Literally. I carry a gun because it gives me a chance—however slim—to defend myself against a lethal threat. Nothing I saw at King33 disabused me of this notion. And much that I saw made me wonder why any teacher in their right mind wouldn’t want to be armed.

Even in those controlled conditions, where everyone knew that a shooting was in the offing, I was amazed at the speed at which the chaos commenced and the ferocity of the tumult that followed. Even when the action seemed slow it was frighteningly fast.

In another scenario, an armed volunteer responded to shots fired in a classroom (without an armed teacher) from 25 yards out. The first responder seemed to take forever to get to the classroom; “pieing” this angle and that. At the same time, students spilled out of the classroom onto the floor of an extremely narrow hallway, straight towards the first responder.

I thought there was no way he’d get to the classroom before everyone remaining inside was shot. Not to mention the fact that the shooter knew he was coming.

I won’t reveal the stats involved: who shot how may rounds and how many vital or non-vital hits each shooter “scored.” Suffice it to say, the first responder got it done. He got shots on target. To my mind, that’s all that counts. Something is better than nothing.

Not the most unexpected of conclusions, I know. But as Sun Tzu warned back in 500 B.C., the map is not the territory. It’s one thing to say we should allow teachers to conceal carry a firearm, or have armed guards in our schools. It’s quite another to see what can happen when you do just that.

The result is not pretty; volunteers shared the horror of being completely defenseless against a [mock] murderer. But it is effective; in no case did an opposed shooter escape unscathed.

Again, I don’t expect anyone to take these experiments at face value. No doubt: those who are against the idea of good guys with guns in schools will condemn our methodology and reject the conclusions, no matter how carefully Nick presents them. But seeing is believing.

And we will be re-running these simulations, refining our methodology, doing our level best to make the sims more real-world relevant. To figure out not just whether or not someone with a gun should be protecting our children but who that should be and how they should be trained.

Meanwhile, thank you to all our volunteers for helping create this active school shooting simulation. I eagerly await Nick’s data and analysis, knowing that he will help us all by realizing this website’s mission to tell the truth about guns. No matter what.

 

avatar

About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

28 Responses to TTAG School Shooting Simulation – First Impressions

  1. avatarLarry says:

    Outstanding work. Once you get though all the data, let’s get the word out on the street.

  2. avatarToo close to chicago says:

    Looking forward to seeing the results. Data is valuable!

  3. avatarAccur81 says:

    I’m impressed, guys. I’m also considering forwarding the results to DiFi. She may not appreciate your study, but I certainly do.

  4. avatarMark says:

    Send the results to Joe Biden; he’s supposed to come up with a plan.

  5. avatarDale says:

    I participated in a simulation like this a few years back on a college campus. I was supposed to be the “professor” lecturing at the front of the class. At the beginning of the simulation I stated that I wasn’t going to react until the shooting started in an attempt to simulate actual surprise. In other words, I was playing “sitting duck”.

    The room had two doors and the “shooter” chose to enter the one I was farthest from as I paced around “lecturing”. The “shooter” chose to peg the students nearest the door first so I had time to draw and fire. Student #1 took two hits to the chest, Student #2 took an arm wound. “Bad guy” took several center mass hits.

    Total, 2 “dead” (including shooter), one injured, elapsed time roughly 7 seconds.

    Next scenario they jumbled things around a bit. I was an unarmed “professor”, and this time the shooter was a student in the seats. The surprise was real because we thought we were doing the same scenario of a classroom invasion. The “shooter” stood up and apparently decided he hated the “professor” because he shot at me first but the minute I saw a gun I was already moving. The “shooter” was so intent on “getting his target” that he kept shooting at me even after I “went down” and the armed student in the seats was able to stand up right behind him and shoot the “bad guy” in the back while everyone else was on the ground or moving away. The judges determined that I took a “probably non-fatal” leg and hip wound. 1 “dead” (the “shooter”) 1 injured (me), elapsed time 6 seconds.

    They ran 6 simulations with some really clever tricks and the results were pretty much the same over and over. We did have one real injury when a “hero” grabbed the “bad guy” and wrestled the sim-gun away, spraining the “bad guy’s” finger.

    • avatarAccur81 says:

      Good comment. If you have any documentation or additional particulars on this, it may make a great TTAG article.

      • avatarDale says:

        Unfortunately I was just a volunteer participant and all the members of the student organization have long since graduated/moved on. I have no idea if anyone kept records, maybe the VCDL? I could ask but they are just a “little” busy right now.

  6. avatarAaronW says:

    Did any unarmed participants attempt a disarming move against the active shooter?

    • avatarRobert Farago says:

      Yes, although they were NOT SUPPOSED TO. Adrenalin and all.

      • avatarRob says:

        Here’s a question: Why not?

        Was the simulation just for the simulated teacher, to just see how they would react?

        In an elementary school, I could see the students not reacting defensively, but once you get into high school or even college, young healthy people in the prime of physical fitness, I could see the benefits of teaching them not to be a passive victim in that sort of situation.

        Seeing how many shots and how accurate those shots would be with a bunch of people throwing chairs at the shooter would be interesting to see.

        Plus, add an armed teacher with a bunch of students throwing their stuff at the bad guy, and see how many shots the teacher gets off and how accurate that is.

        • avatarAlphaGeek says:

          It is very easy to cause significant injuries to the shooter doing a disarm when charged up with fight-or-flight endorphins. All of the gun-disarm techniques I am trained in, by design, end in broken fingers, destroyed elbow joints and/or dislocated shoulders.

          It is quite hard to throttle those back to non-injury versions when you are running a full-speed sim. Even using guns without trigger guard only eliminates the broken-finger result… All of the other injuries are still a distinct possibility.

  7. avatarDirk Diggler says:

    better still -send the results to Sen Lindsey Graham. He is supportive of our beliefs and challenged DiFi on Fox News last Sunday. This would be great to have him present your findings (and video) from the senate floor !

  8. avatarBlake says:

    Robert, Robert, Robert….you just don’t get it, do you?

    It doesn’t matter if the bad guy “only” kills two people. Two people died because of an evil gun. The gun banners will always use something along the lines of “if we save even one life, banning guns will be worth it.”

    This debate is not about evidence, simulations or actual data. This is about a way for the elite to feel good about themselves and convincing people to give up their natural right to self defense, because “we live in a much more civilized era.”

    Those who would deny our most basic liberties have a way of ignoring a couple of thousand years of history. Remember, “this time it will be different.”

    Lecture aside, yes, this is great for those of us who believe in self-defense. It’s nice to have a little more confidence that in a worst case scenario, being armed gives us a decent chance.

  9. avatarokto says:

    “The teacher took aim and shot the active shooter in the face—over the hostage’s shoulder.”

    I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN SAYING THIS. Any time I see a bad guy holding a gun to a hostage’s head while using them as a shield and the hero of the film doesn’t take the shot I all but lose my mind.

  10. avatarjwm says:

    Did you try a scenario where you had an armed patrol outside of the school building to intercept an incoming badguy before he made it to the classrooms?

  11. avatartdiinva says:

    As someone who has experience as an exercise planner and a sometime participant in various national military exercises I would say the most valid results come from the scenarios where the active shooter has opened fire. It is very difficult to simulate actual surprise. I have been in several nuclear command and control exercises where everything is scripted including the move to an alternative location. I always wondered what would happen if they told us one date and started the exercise at 1600 on the Friday before the announced date.

  12. avatarDavid says:

    Robert,

    It can be done and the exercise demonstrated that. Its not easy to hit a bg in the face but it can be done. Moreover, many military units, LE units, and individuals will take the shot even when their is a high risk of hitting an innocent person. Its a choice and one that has alot of merit. Rehearsals work. Drills & exercises work that is why professional armies around the world do them. Heck, dry runs are one of the reasons why Al-Qaida is/was ahead of the terrorist pack.

    I know from first hand experience they work. I was jumped when in Thailand. I had heard the area I was in had some attacks but I was skeptical. Just in case I mentally prepared myself for what I would do. When the time came I did not freeze. I was unarmed and took on 2 attackers. When a knife got presented I ran (again rehearsed – charge a gun, run from a knife). I fought & fled and I am alive to tell the tale.

  13. avatarCasey T says:

    While some people have advocated sending the results to a specific Senator, I have a different suggestion. Send the results to every Senator, Representative, pro gun media outlet, and pro gun group. That way every elected official with a vote will know the truth and it can be promulgated over and over again.

  14. avatarLoyd says:

    Robert,

    In one of your interviews with Bill Frady on GOA Radio after Aurora, the two of you debated the sheepdog mentality. Frady was of the sheepdog mindset and you said you would only defend yourself and family, unless you were in a position where there was no other option. I respect both schools of thought.

    I’m curious to hear if the Newtown shooting or watching this simulation has altered that mindset at all?

    • avatarRobert Farago says:

      I can’t honestly say. Too many variables, bother personal and environmental. I sure as Hell want the topion to engage though.

      • avatarLoyd says:

        I’m in the same boat. I live across the street from the elementary school my cousin attends. Previously I determined that responding to a situation would be a terribl idea, get shot by the cops, etc. Now? I don’t know.

  15. avatarmc says:

    Any thoughts on coordinating with law enforcement on future simulations? It would definitely give credence to the tests… i.e. it’s no longer “just another private pro-gun organization” running them, but it becomes an official, public exercise. It would also be interesting to see how having a trained l.e.o. vs. “an armed volunteer” (in the second scenario you described) nearby might react. Just a thought.

  16. avatarSnake eater 332 says:

    Kudos to Chris Fields and King33! He’s doing great stuff with training, with both live ammo and sims, here in CT. He’s a definite asset to the training community.

  17. avatarJoseph says:

    “But it is effective; in no case did an opposed shooter escape unscathed.”

    Nuff said

  18. avatarDyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    Good work, gentlemen.

    Only by doing experiments and recording the results in a systemic way can we refute the “it can’t be done, here’s my proof by assertion” crowd on these issues.

    I’d like to point out that since 9/11, terrorists on commercial aircraft have been taken down by the passengers. The TSA has pretty much been a no-op. The passengers aren’t armed, and they’re getting the job done. The mindset of a significant minority of the passengers has changed.

Leave a Reply

Please use your real name instead of you company name or keyword spam.