Force-on-Force Sims: The New Front in the Battle for Gun Rights

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“Police use of force is a topic KHOU 11 News has been exploring this week,” the Houston news org reminds readers, “starting with our story on Wednesday with activist Quanell X running through ‘shoot don’t shoot’ training.” In that report, Mr. X had a DIDT (Damn! I did that?) moment, emerging with newfound respect for armed self-defense. HPD PR department clocked that one and took the lesson on the road . . .

The Houston police chief and Harris County district attorney hosted a town hall meeting Saturday at Texas Southern University, where citizens could raise any concerns about police and get a first-hand look at the dangers officers face.

On Saturday, any citizen who wanted to received that same chance, opening another door in communication with police . . .

“They want us to be accountable, they want us to be open and transparent,” said Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland.

In one effort at transparency, citizens got to run through police “shoot or don’t shoot” training with a video simulator.

Darryl Martin quickly found himself in a shootout with the suspect on screen.

“When I saw him react like this here, then I just automatically start shooting,” said Martin.

One of the HPD officers conducting the simulation asked, “What if he was pulling out a wallet?”

“It looks like I would have shot a person without even giving him a chance,” said Martin. “You got to be careful.”

Community advocate Lou Weaver shot down a man charging with a knife in another video simulation.

“He get there pretty quick?” HPD Senior Police Officer Terry Bratton asked Weaver.

“Seemed to be; quicker than I wanted him to,” Weaver answered.

“It really helps heighten our awareness of what’s on the line for them,” said Weaver.

Then I took a turn. In a simulation, a gunman shot another man inside a business. The gunman then turned to aim at me, and I shot him down.

But it didn’t end there. His girlfriend started crying then pulled out a knife. Quickly, I had to talk her into putting it down.

“You did a good job of verbal commands and your reaction time was very good,” said Bratton.

But it’s clear how easy it can be for an officer to second guess.

When she started crying, then I thought for a second, “Oh my gosh, did I shoot a good person accidentally?'” The scariest thought is did you shoot the wrong person?

Those split-second calls are reality for police, with no second chances.

“When a police officer makes a mistake, the mistake can be catastrophic, but still not unlawful,” said McClelland.

Wait. What? Anyway, putting people into a “shoot, no shoot” sim looks to be a game changer – and not just when it comes to respect for the police. It could be a way to get gun control advocates to see that a gun can be an effective method of self-defense.

OK, not antis. They’d just say, “this could never happen! LALALALALA! I can’t HEAR you!” But fence straddlers? To quote Marge, you betcha! So who’s gonna take up the challenge of an armed self-defense road show?

comments

  1. avatar J O E says:

    Those scenarios are based on real confrontations from prior incidents. Not all of them are even police-involved shootings, such as a workplace shooting.

  2. avatar Rokurota says:

    Our SRO ran our 12th grade Government class through a training film (with his unloaded revolver). I completely agree — these simulations are real eye-openers. I know my interactions with LEOs are very informed by that experience, and it’s also a great tool for those of us who carry.

  3. avatar outwardhound says:

    I’ve run through a few of these, albeit military related. They can be quite humbling and definitely instructive, even given the current technological limitations.

  4. avatar PeterK says:

    I would love to run through these myself.

  5. avatar John L. says:

    Re putting an anti through one of these …

    My guess on the result would simply be reinforcement of their belief that only cops should be armed, because clearly even an above-average citizen (aka the anti in question) can’t always make good-in-hindsight calls in high simulated stress situations.

    Of course nobody can, not even well-trained good police, but that’s not their point, right?

  6. avatar Accur81 says:

    Greg Block (name spelling?) based out of Orange County, CA has simulators that shoot back. It’s a turret above the screen that fires nylon .68 cal pellets at around 200 mph, and it shoots quite fast. It also measures response time, hit zones, and has video playback. It’s a sweet training tool.

    It gave a bunch of my CCW buddies a reality check on just how “good” they were. Basically the current and retired cops did well and the non-LEO CCW holders had a lot of “teachable moments”.

    The cost to put about a dozen guys through ran around $1500. It was a fun training class, though.

    1. avatar LKB says:

      Better than a shoot-back device is a Stress-Vest:
      http://stressvest.com/
      No need for facemasks or other protective gear, and no chance of slipping on a bunch of .68 cal balls that may be rolling around on the floor. (What, you’re standing still in a simulator? “Get off the X”!)
      Think of it as a cattle prod attached to your stomach. When triggered (either by an instructor or by a FoF laser hit), then depending on what the training calls for you’ll get from a gentle vibrate, to a mild shock, to a drop-you-to-your-knees pain penalty. You thus know that if you screw up on a sim, it could very well hurt quite a bit — ergo more stress, ergo better training.

  7. avatar DerryM says:

    I don’t think anybody, Trained Police Officer or CCW Holder or ordinary Citizen, can predict accurately what they would do, or make 100% the “right call” every time in the moment of stress, but I do think experience for all in such simulators would be of great value. It might not improve the decision of the moment percentage, but it would surely help people understand the stress of the moment and how hard it is to make that crucial decision in seconds, or fractions thereof, based only on what you can see and what you believe is happening.

    1. avatar Accur81 says:

      Word. With that being said, I wish police could shoot as accurately as non-LEOs.

      1. avatar DerryM says:

        Okay, this ” I wish police could shoot as accurately as non-LEOs.” made me laugh out loud. “Word” back at ya’. Good point!
        If non-LEO’s could get the simulator training/experience, it would be a real confidence booster. Coupled with better shooting skill, it could make Armed Citizens more formidable than many LEO’s. Many Leo’s have the stress experience (half the equation), but lack shooting skill, while many Armed Citizens shoot excellently (half the equation), but lack the stress situation experience. Probably only Combat Military Veterans have both halves put together, but many of them suffer from PTSD. I’m not taking cheap shots at either LEO’s or Combat Vets, but just trying to make the point that it takes both experience with stress situations and shooting skill to make the equation complete and viable in an individual in the real world. And there’s still no guarantee anyone would call it right every time. Remember those Russians we saw a year or so ago who trained with live fire? Those guys were well trained for the real world.

        1. avatar CentralIL says:

          “Remember those Russians we saw a year or so ago who trained with live fire? Those guys were well trained for the real world.”

          I must have missed that story. Can someone provide a link? Thanks.

  8. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    These simulators are certainly helpful. That said, I believe there is a HUGE component missing. We have to teach people about pre-assault cues and ambush tactics.

    Every time a stranger engages you it could quite literally be an attack. Rather than guessing every time every stranger makes a “furtive” movement (such as pulling out their wallet or cell phone) or being in “condition red” all the time, why not be almost certain about their motives before their movement?

    Case in point: a stranger engaged me from about 30 meters in a parking lot. I scanned him and sized him up in about 1/2 second (literally) and then immediately scanned 360 degrees to determine if this was an ambush. After one or two seconds to determine that an ambush was not likely, I assessed the stranger in detail for pre-assault cues and their ability to conceal a weapon … and I did it all at a distance before he was within range of the “21 foot rule”. (If you don’t know why 21 feet is important look it up.) I never let the stranger get closer than 10 feet and I continuously looked for pre-assault cues and occasionally scanned the environment for any indications of an ambush. In this case the man never exhibited any pre-assault cues and I never interpreted any of his “furtive” movements as an attack. And I was right.

    1. avatar tom12121112 says:

      In other words… you cleared him with an ocular pat-down?

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        I did a LOT more than clear him with an ocular (visual) pat down. I cleared the environment of an ambush and I cleared him of “tells” that always betray an attacker’s true motives. That is a world of difference.

        1. avatar Madcap_Magician says:

          But. Did you do a tactical back flip afterward?

        2. avatar twency says:

          While hanging upside-down out the back door of your truck?

  9. avatar Phoenix says:

    H5 tactical just 1.5 hours up the road from Mr. Farago has a similar setup. And 2 doors down is the best gun shop for 150 miles.

    Seems like a good day trip for him……:)

    1. avatar Phoenix says:

      This was supposed to be a reply to Accur81 in his comment about the California setup, not the KHOU described range…

    2. avatar LKB says:

      Asgard National Training Group here in Austin has a portable version of a Lasershot system that appears to be the same one shown in the KHOU piece. Besides the branching video/judgmental training program (over 700 scenarios, many of which have multiple paths), it also has great hi-res IPDA and turning target simulators. (RF has logged some time on it.)

      If any TTAG readers in central Texas are interested in trying it out, let me know and I can probably arrange for Asgard NTG to hold a TTAG event. Maybe make it BYOA (Bring Your Own Anti) . . . .

      1. avatar William says:

        I would be down for that. I can’t guarantee that I will bring an anti, though. All depends on date/time.

  10. avatar Sixpack70 says:

    I did this kind of trainning a few years ago. It’s stressful and very easy to make mistakes. It’s good training though.

  11. avatar Grindstone says:

    *“When a police officer makes a mistake, the mistake can be catastrophic, but still not unlawful,” said McClelland.*

    When a non-LEO makes a mistake, the mistake can be catastrophic, and often unlawful.

    Two classes.

    1. avatar ChiGurh says:

      I was just about to comment on the fact police have unions with deep pockets and lots of lawyers and networking. The average citizen has access to 1% of the resources that any LEO has for after a gun use.

      Two classes, indeed.

  12. avatar Timmy! says:

    Before I got back into guns, about ten years ago, the Railroad Police had one of these simulators setup on campus. Being friendly with the chief, I was one of the few non-LEOs allowed to run through a few sims. It was very enlightening to me as a fence-straddler (at the time). I came away slightly stressed out, both from having to make the split second decisions and realizing I wasn’t as good a shot as I remembered myself being. Soon thereafter I bought the first pistol which was truly my own and “went off the deep end” into the “gun nut” culture.

  13. avatar CentralIL says:

    The tweet about this story was: “Force-on-force simulators under fire?”

    I can’t find anything in this story about them being “under fire.”

  14. avatar Demetri says:

    Buy an airsoft gun. Have a fun weekend with your buddies and learn how quickly you run out of ammo.

  15. avatar Out_Fang_Thief says:

    It’s not the legitimate “shoot don’t shoot” scenario that concerns me as much as the “no lawful reason to shoot in the first place” scenario. I have never unholstered my gun and shot someone’s dog in the back as it was running away, and then lied about the dog attacking me. I’ve never pulled my Sig and dispatched a litter of kittens in someone’s private yard because it was too much trouble to call animal control. I have never become unhinged and dragged a disabled woman from her vehicle because she wasn’t moving fast enough to my, screaming commands. No, it’s all the other stuff that leads up to a bad decision later on, when it really matters. And I don’t have a thin blue line to cover for my poor decisions/choices.

    How about a new police simulation where somebody is filming them in a public space?

  16. avatar jlottmc says:

    I seem to recall a simulation or two here in Plano at a place called Patriot Protection. Good force on force training, using live folks and the UTM Man Marker System. Prices seem reasonable too.

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