Weapon Transition

From Lethal to Less Lethal & Vice Versa

It is widely known that most law enforcement officers carry both a TASER® CEW device and a Glock firearm on their belts. When a subject is not compliant and continues to resist, a TASER is often deployed to subdue or de-escalate the individual. The temporary immobilization may help, but not always. Situations can evolve in an instant, so while an officer may need to draw a TASER in one moment, the next may warrant a lethal option. This applies vice versa as well, such as if a subject no longer poses a threat to one’s life and the officer can move down the use of force continuum.

In situations of high stress, it is possible for the two tools to be confused, despite being on opposite sides of an officer’s belt. This is why law enforcement weapons training that specifically addresses transitioning between force options is vital.

If proper practice on weapon transition drills is not maintained, deadly consequences may arise. For example, in the Daunte Wright shooting in 2021, a veteran police officer apparently mistook her gun for a TASER and appeared surprised when a bullet fired from the weapon she thought was a less-lethal CEW device. The article referenced above also mentions several other incidents where the incorrect tool was drawn and used, causing death or significant injury.

The Challenges When Transitioning Weapons

What the Research Indicates About Law Enforcement Weapons Training & Weapon Transition Drills

A study was published in The Police Journal using the VirTra V-300® five-screen simulator. The study showed that transitioning from lethal to less-lethal is not the same as going up the use-of-force continuum – in fact, it takes more than twice as long to switch from a firearm to a TASER than it does from TASER to firearm.

This study, authored by Dr. Paul Taylor, Paul Sipe and Lon Bartel measured police officer response times during weapon transition drills using the marksmanship range on a V-300 simulator. With their own duty weapon modified with VirTra’s drop-in recoil kits and hardware, study participants – who were all current law enforcement members – demonstrated weapon transitioning on rotating targets.

When signaled, participants would switch from their simulator-ready duty firearm to a TASER equipped with VirTra’s Simulator Training Cartridges – drop-in replacements that allow the use of the CEW device within the simulation.

Obtaining Sufficient Law Enforcement Weapon Transitions Training

How VirTra Can Help Improve Your Weapon Transition Drills

According to the previously mentioned study, some officers participating in the research gathering process were uncomfortable or uncertain during moments when they had to quickly change from one force option to another. This indicates a lack of practice that could be solved easily. Additionally, 70% of participants were not required by their agencies to perform weapon transitions. This means it may not just be a deficiency of practice, but a complete absence of law enforcement weapons training altogether.

VirTra is the only simulation company that offers a certified law enforcement Weapon Transitions drill course. This 5-hour, NCP certified course is part of the V-VICTA® library of pre-authored curriculum designed for law enforcement officers. Like all VirTra curriculum, it is research-based and thoroughly reviewed by IADLEST before reaching law enforcement agencies around the United States.

Instead of neglecting this important skill, make sure your officers are trained to avoid serious consequences. To learn more about Law Enforcement Weapon Transitions Training and other certified V-VICTA curriculum, visit our website or contact a VirTra specialist.