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Commenting on a previous TTAG piece about confronting intruders in your home, reader MikeD shed some light on the immensely dangerous activity of clearing a building:

I work out with a large portion of my city’s SWAT team, and since I’m friendly with them I’ve been invited to help them with training (I get to be a bad guy and they hunt me down). Even trained professionals have a very hard time safely clearing a building. In every scenario I’ve run in training, I’ve always shot one officer before they got me. If they can’t do it, I surely can’t do it.

While I’m neither a cop nor someone who helps them train, I learned a sad lesson about the importance of structure-clearing in the early hours of February 24, 2005 when I was awakened by a call regarding my cousin Blake. The Officer Down Memorial Page recalls the event:

(Deputy Gammill) and several (other) deputies went to serve a warrant on a man suspected of child molestation. After arresting the man in the living room, the deputies started to clear the rest of the home. As they cleared a back room, the man’s stepfather pulled a gun and opened fire.  Deputy Gammill was struck in the face. Another deputy returned fire and killed the stepfather. The man they were arresting originally was not wounded. Deputy Gammill was flown to Atlanta Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

The SWAT-type unit in which my cousin served knew what they were doing and trained incessantly.  They were armed with state-of-the-art weapons and shielded by state-of-the-art protective gear.  But one unpredictable old man was still able to fire one round that landed just under my cousin’s ballistic helmet.  Although it’s impossible to prepare for everything, it seems to me that variables like this really underscore the need for greater innovation in the way training systems are designed.

Meggitt Training Systems agrees.  A subsidiary of the UK-headquartered global engineering group Meggitt, PLC, this US-based division focuses on every type of military, police, and security firearms training tool you could imagine. From target systems to live-fire training to simulators galore, the engineers at Meggitt constantly translate real-world problems into training solutions. Given the tragedy experienced by my family, I was especially interested in one of these solutions.

The Meggitt SHOTT (Shoot House for Optimized Tactical Training) house is an ingenious building-like structure that is completely ballistically secure. You can shoot, and shoot, and then shoot some more at any vertical surface in the structure with no fear of penetration or ricochet. And you can do it with calibers all the way up to (and including) 7.62X39. Click on this link to watch Meggitt’s video of the SHOTT house.

Making this possible are the SHOTT’s patented walls, which are both modular and reconfigurable. They consist of half-inch-thick AR-500-rated steel panels with tapered and barbed projection-welded pegs. Affixed to these pegs are two-foot-square, two-inch-thick ballistic rubber panels which overlap to prevent gaps. A narrow space lies between the back of the rubber panels and the steel wall. This space allows the partially-pulverized bullets to fall into a specially-designed rail near your feet. Remove the lower rubber panel adjacent to the floor and spent bullet clean-up is a breeze.

Also easy: Replacing one of the rubber panels. A pry bar, a mallet, $79, and 15 minutes are all you need. (But you’ll only need to do it once every 5,000 rounds.)

Not quite so easy: optional extras such as ballistic roofs, stairs, windows, doors, multi-story layouts, etc. However, the Meggitt representative did tell me that the basic three-room SHOTT house that I inspected (for sale as a demo model, by the way) could be erected by two strong individuals on most any flat surface in just four hours with the assistance of a forklift or a small crane.

One of the key elements that makes the SHOTT house such an inventive training tool – besides the fact that it takes live fire safety to a new level – involves the incorporation of Meggitt’s other training know-how. Add-ons such as virtual simulation projection (on self-sealing screens) and the company’s various live-fire target systems work in concert with the structure’s very authentic tactical environment to wring every last drop of realism out of today’s latest technologies. Closed-circuit cameras (for training review) round out the offerings, and would seem ridiculous to pass up.

Starting well north of a hundred grand, Meggitt’s SHOTT house represents the highest end of the market for live-fire, building-clearing training systems. And yes, there are certainly cheaper alternatives, including do-it-yourself ones. But given the near infinite variability inherent to armed building-clearing – and the life-or-death stakes such activities so often represent – it seems a little lopsided to have a ton of technology attached to your weapon when you’re training inside a structure built of plywood with nothing more than a few paper targets tacked up on the walls.

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  1. I'm sorry for your cousin and his family, but I can't help but wonder why the stepfather would have opened fire on a group of well-armed officers. There was no way he was going to stop the arrest, so unless he was also wanted or involved, he had nothing to gain, and everything to lose.

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