the Rapid Response curriculum, ALERRT trainers recognized the potential of active-shooter simulation, Nichols said, adding that after careful examination of the latest firearms simulator technology, ALERRT instructors determined IES' technology would be valuable in their training.

With the Range 3000 XP4 training simulator, instructors can easily film and edit custom scenarios through the built-in video editor, which helps identify and address specific training objectives unique to jurisdictions.

"In the ALERRT program, numerous scenarios were filmed, edited and produced specifically addressing active-shooter situations," Nichols said. "Because each scenario was filmed and developed by the instructors who ultimately provide the active-shooter training, the intent and learning objectives of each filmed scenario is clear."

Demonstrating best practices during the scenarios is another benefit of simulator technology. Because ALERRT instructors and local police officers assist with filming of active-shooter scenarios, the tactics performed are consistent with training provided during classroom and practical portions of the active-shooter course -- students are repeatedly exposed to consistent, correct tactics and skills, Nichols said. "This video reinforcement is unobtrusive and subtle; however, students benefit by repeatedly hearing, seeing and performing the skills they are there to learn."

A block of instruction in low-light tactics and techniques is also part of the ALERRT Rapid Response class -- the Range 3000 XP4 technology allows transformation of any video scenario to a low-light format. "Students use a flashlight fitted with an infrared lens to work the scenario displayed on the screen," Nichols said. "Students can use the low-light tactics and techniques they were exposed to earlier in the course for increased repetitions with the new skills."

The training environment also allows instructors to observe a student's weapons-handling skills. "Laser rule" violations, finger on the trigger and other unsafe habits can be identified and corrected before a student is sent into the field. "For rapid-response training and other force-on-force training, identifying these issues before engaging in role-playing exercises is critical," Nichols said.

Enhancement and Potential

Firearms simulators enhance existing training programs and offers potential solutions to many identified limitations of scenario-based training, Nichols said. For example, although safety is a primary concern in a simulator environment, the mandatory protocols during force-on-force training are not necessarily mandatory in the simulator environment -- trainees often secure their weapons in lockers before entering a simulator room, preventing live weapons in the training environment.

Students and safety inspections are also more closely observed because of the low student-to-instructor ratio. Only one instructor is needed for firearms simulator operation, whereas numerous role players, safety officers and instructors are involved in scenario-based training exercises.

Additionally, a dark environment is the one requirement for the best simulator training, and the simulators can be set up just about anywhere -- a training academy, the police department, or a school in conjunction with a comprehensive rapid-response training program.

"Although there is no substitute for actual scenario-based, force-on-force training, today's digital simulation technology provides instructors with an invaluable tool in training students to become first responders who can effectively deal with active-shooter environments," Nichols said. "The use of digital training simulators offers both an enhancement to existing training programs and potential solutions to many of the identified limitations of scenario-based training."

Greg Otte, president of IES Interactive Training, said the Range 3000 XP4 builds decision-making skills by completely immersing the trainee in the interactive training scenario. Incorporating this technology into active-shooter training also provides fundamental benefits: Instructors can easily evaluate a student's judgment and decision-making skills, and students can be exposed to numerous situations requiring split-second decisions that test their judgment and thought processes.

"The lights are dimmed, the video is life-size, the sound is up, the sweat is flowing," he said. "The trainee is given an experience that his mind is telling him is real. The scenarios unfold

Jessica Jones  |  Managing Editor