Warfighters and soldiers in the field face numerous dangerous and life-threatening situations every day. Not only are the enemies they face unpredictable, but they must also make decisions based on their unique environments, which are difficult to mimic or simulate using common learning methods. A simulator that utilizes real video is a highly effective way to train soldiers, and with time, this style of training can lead to better reactions and decision-making skills.
In many cases, recruits learn how to handle situations they may encounter in the field by listening to a lecture, watching a video, or going out into the field and practicing a variety of maneuvers. Though these things can and often do help members of the military learn what to do in certain situations, these methods lack realism and do little to properly train soldiers. When faced with a life-threatening situation, soldiers who have experienced that situation before are far more likely to react appropriately.
VirTra’s simulators are designed to provide a completely immersive experience and help soldiers feel as if they are truly out in the field. They utilize high-quality video and sound, and they come with dozens of pre-programmed scenarios that can be customized for unique situations. This makes a simulator one of the best tools available for training.
Another of the biggest benefits associated with utilizing VirTra to train warfighters is the simulators’ ability to recreate almost any scenario in any possible environment. For example, a vehicle may react differently in dry conditions than in the rain, and by simulating both experiences, soldiers can learn the differences and make appropriate decisions. Types of military scenarios include green-on-blue, active threat, key leader engagement and more. Essentially, with the ability to control the scenario, the weather and the visibility, it is possible to help soldiers and warfighters learn what it is like to work in a wide range of conditions that they may not experience otherwise.
The same goes for virtual range training, where VirTra’s marksmanship programs are both customizable and ballistically accurate. This makes it a perfect supplement for live fire range training. Instructors can change the setting of the range from the time of day, weather, wind and more so military members can experience the effects different conditions have when firing. Instructors may also change the types of targets and how they appear, turn or pop up.
VirTra gives military service members (and their instructors) an opportunity to review the actions that were taken during the simulation and improve their behaviors based upon the result. In other words, it is possible to measure soldiers’ progress objectively and completely. Simulators track everything a soldier says and does, and they can even record reaction time. Following a simulation, it is possible to review footage for debrief of any given individual’s performance. The more a servicemember experiences these scenarios, the better he or she will become at making quick decisions.
Service members out in the field experience a wide range of unpredictable situations. Because of this, it may seem impossible to train based on real-life experience, but this is not the case. Simulators can provide an incredibly realistic simulation of any imaginable situation in any environment, and when soldiers can learn by doing, they are far more likely to make the best decisions when faced with those scenarios in the field.
To learn more about how VirTra can help train your military squad, speak to a specialist.
We often discuss the power of our training scenarios, with their branching options, professional actors, high-end filming equipment and scenarios that are based on real-life incidents. And while we may touch on our debrief technology, this article is here to give it the recognition it deserves.
VirTra’s debriefing technology, known as TMaR—Trainee Monitoring and Recording—is a camera and microphone accessory fixated at the top of the training simulator. During scenarios, TMaR records a trainee’s performance, both visually and auditorily. After the scenario is complete, instructors can properly debrief by replaying every aspect of the scenario in the simulator.
In fact, instructors can pull up the recording on one screen, then replay the scenario on an adjacent screen (for users with a V-180 or V-300). The video and recording are synced, showing exactly how the trainee responded to the visual cues and threats.
Debriefing in this manner allows both the instructor and trainee to analyze the trainee’s movements, timing and even shot placements at any given time in the scenario. Does your current training simulator provide this in-depth of a debrief?
Watch TMaR and its benefits in action below:
Stress is one the tenets of Reality Based Training. Most of us by now have heard of Jeff Cooper’s Awareness Color Code. As officers we were taught to remain in condition yellow while on the job. In condition yellow you should be calm and relaxed but alert to your surroundings, aware of the people around you and paying attention to any physical cues they may be giving off. Alert, but not paranoid. In a perfect world, your training scenarios are requiring your students to operate in that same environment.
In my experience as a firearms instructor, I’ve seen plenty of students perform flawless reloads and weapons manipulation on a flat range. That’s because they know exactly why they are there and what the parameters are to complete the evolution successfully. They may be operating their weapon from condition yellow, being well aware of their environment, relaxed, but alert to changes in their weapon’s status or aware of physical cues that their weapon may be giving them to reload or clear a malfunction. On the other hand, I have seen some of those same officers stumble and hesitate when operating the same model firearm in a simulated training environment.
When being pressed by a threat the awareness level can quickly go from yellow to orange to even red, and trying to figure out why your weapon didn’t go bang when you pull the trigger becomes a difficult task for some. This is why it’s important to sometimes let your student fail in training. Ever heard the axiom “the more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat?” When your students are made aware that they’ve became task saturated, they need to learn from it and not leave the training venue without figuring it out. It is our job as trainers to provide them with the required remediation and let them work through the scenario again. Find out what caused the meltdown, let them figure it out and put them back into the same scenario.
All too often as instructors we forget that good repetitions are what makes good training. Using the Socratic method, we ask leading questions that help the student solve their own problems. It’s the same learning method that takes place in a simulated training environment. Our training and content team at VirTra makes use of law enforcement professionals to develop realistic training scenarios that are based on real world experiences. Every effort is made to ensure realism, and that immersive training can be accomplished. Play back features and the use of TMaR (Trainee Monitoring and Recording) camera enables instructors to play back what the student was doing at any point during the scenario in real time.
At our training center in Tempe, AZ, it’s interesting to watch when an officer who is “locked on” goes through a scenario that they have never seen before. They are confident in their abilities and operate efficiently in the 300-degree environment. That’s because they’ve been there at one point or another in their career, but that’s not the only reason. Periphery devices such as VirTra’s Threat-Fire® stress inoculation device, handheld and weapon mounted lights, ECW and OC cannisters are set up to operate exactly as they would function in the field. Use of these devices in our simulator enable students to use the same tool belt that they do in the streets.
As instructors we should be training our people in an environment that closely mirrors the real-world conditions that they may face on duty. In my mind, training is the best weapon our students carry with them into the field.
This article was written by Mike Clark, VirTra Law Enforcement Subject Matter Expert. Prior to working at VirTra, Mike had a twenty-year career in Federal Law Enforcement, where he had the opportunity to work at his agency’s national training center outside Washington D.C. Mike is also an active competitive shooter and NRA-certified instructor.
Training should not be a second thought, not a rushed affair and certainly not taken lightly. So why do some departments still train with outdated equipment? Depending on the equipment, its age and lack of technological advances, it could produce training scars. So why take the risk?
VirTra’s training simulators and accessories are designed to immerse the trainee in real-life situations, making training so physically and psychologically real that skills are easily transferred to the field. This allows instructors to maximize training hours and lessons while knowing each trainee is receiving the best training possible.
To begin, VirTra’s scenarios are filmed with professional filming equipment and paid actors, ensuring high fidelity visuals for officers. VirTra does not use any CGI-characters in scenarios, as they are unable to recreate the small nuances that make humans realistic, such as micro-expressions, subtle body language and more. Instead, VirTra goes the extra mile to train professional actors how to move, speak and interact with other characters, often guiding them through multiple scenario outcomes, thus allowing us to create branching options for the instructor to select from while the scenario is in action.
With VirTra, trainees are not stuck in simple shoot-don’t-shoot police training scenarios. Instead, due to our technological advances and accessories, trainees can use the entire toolbelt. This includes duty TASERs®—once outfitted with VirTra’s drop-in laser recoil kit—and OC spray. Now, trainees can practice with the entirety of force options, starting with verbal de-escalation and going up to less lethals or lethals if the situation demands it. As an instructor, you can provide better training on the use of force options.
In a nutshell, the Threat-Fire is a consequence device that is attached to a trainee and delivers an electric impulse that simulates return fire, dog bites, explosions, etc. Instructors can use this device to safely apply stress and immediate negative consequences, if the scenario demands it. In addition to stress inoculation, Threat-Fire tests the trainee’s ability to stay engaged in the scenario and carry on with the mission despite the physical distraction. See this device in action while learning other details in this video.
Debriefing with VirTra is much more than a rudimentary summary of the scenario. Instead, VirTra offers the TMaR accessory—Trainee Monitoring and Recording—whose camera and microphone records the trainee’s performance during the scenario. Now in debrief, instructors can scrub through the scenario and replay any aspect, analyze any movement and review timing and shot placements. Can your current training simulator provide a debrief this in-depth?
Every training simulator, accessory and curriculum is designed to help keep officers and their communities safe. Learn more about how VirTra’s high-end technology can transform your department’s training by contacting a VirTra specialist.
This article was written by TJ Alioto, VirTra Subject Matter Expert.
Before I was a Field Training Officer (FTO), or even just a street officer, I was just another kid growing up. While I was out exploring the world, my mother would be right there to teach me, guide me and remind me of the things I can and can’t do. When I would see her do something that she said I’m not supposed to do, she would say “Do as I say, not as I do.”
Moms can say that. FTO’s cannot.
As an FTO, you have the opportunity to shape a new officer in a way that will guide them through their entire career. You’ll set the standards of what is and isn’t acceptable behavior, how to interact with the public and how to train effectively. A great way to start that path for the new officer is to do some one-on-one training in a simulator with them.
Think back to when you were a new officer. You probably had a million different things being thrown at you, all at the same time. It is a constant barrage of laws, policies, procedures and tactics. And as you’re trying to absorb all of this information so you can learn the job, you need to protect yourself, and those around you.
By using a training simulator, such as the VirTra V-300, you can remove some of the stressors a new officer experiences so they can focus on the exercise. And, as an FTO, you can model that behavior that you want that new officer to replicate. The trainee can be beside you in the simulator as you have them watch your movements, listen to what you say and see how you react. And they can do this in an environment where the only thing they have to focus on is the training.
Using the simulator will allow the FTO to slow the training down and explain as necessary the goals and how to get there. Scenarios can be paused for some training time, or branches can be selected for specific training items. Using the V-Author software, FTO’s can make their own custom scenarios to tackle some of their more common training issues with new officers.
Another great feature of using a training simulator in the FTO program, is the ability to capture the new officer’s performance early in the FTO training, then compare it to how they are doing near the end of their training. Training scenarios can also be used for officers that might have some “Not Responding to Training” (NRT’s) or “Unacceptable” ratings during their FTO program. The FTO can utilize the training simulator to help the officer by focusing on exactly what the concerns might be.
In those unfortunate situations where a new officer isn’t going to make it out of the FTO program, you can rest assured that you’ll have great training documentation if you used a training simulator and the VirTra Trainee Monitoring and Recording system (TMaR).
Being an FTO is, in my opinion, one of the hardest assignments an officer can have. Perhaps it can be a little easier and hopefully more effective by using a training simulator. And when you walk into that training scenario with your trainee by your side, you can become the FTO that says “Do as I say, AND as I do.”
Stay Safe. Stay Dedicated.
As an instructor, it is your duty to train and prepare officers in a variety of skills designed to perform in the field. After all, skills ranging from contact and cover protocol to recognizing and reacting properly to subjects with mental illness may all potentially save a life.
But after training is said and done, how do you ensure officers will retain and utilize this information when it is needed most?
Issuing a written test after the training regimen allows instructors to test the officer’s knowledge while creating proof that the officers knew the concept and passed the curriculum. VirTra recognizes the importance of testing and incorporated it into our V-VICTA™—Virtual Interactive Coursework Training Academy—program.
This program is specifically designed to teach, train, test and sustain officers on critical topics, such as: Autism Awareness, Mental Illness for Contact Professionals, Active Threat/Active Killer and more.
To begin, trainees engage in a pre-test prime their mind to learn the information about the given topic. Pre-tests are a teaching tool, that ready the mind to learn information that will be taught in the class. After, instructors then teach the concept through a combination of PowerPoint presentations, lectures, videos, scenarios and so forth, keeping officers engaged.
Each V-VICTA curriculum comes with corresponding scenarios, allowing officers to practice the newly learned skill in a real-life situation. Instructors can utilize this as another form of hands-on learning the concept while simultaneously testing the officer. After, instructors can issue the V-VICTA post-test to have a written record of the officer’s understanding of the course material.
As touched on in the section above, scenarios are an efficient way of teaching and testing an officer in a realistic situation. Each VirTra scenario has an average of 85 branching options, allowing instructors to change the situation depending on the officer’s choices and producing an individualized scenario for each officer.
Another helpful scenario teaching and testing tool is the TMaR—Trainee Monitoring and Recording—accessory. This picture-in-picture recording system equips the simulator with a camera and microphone, each of which record the trainee. After the scenario is complete, the instructor and officer can review the footage and scenario together to see what the officer saw, reacted to or discharged their weapon at in any given time.
By implementing TMaR, instructors have another way of analyzing an officer’s movements, and therefore, create a better discussion on decisions, actions and stances made in the simulator.
VirTra does more than create state-of-the-art training simulators. We create a well-rounded training experience. Learn more about how V-VICTA, TMaR and other programs and accessories can teach, train, test and sustain your department by contacting a VirTra specialist.
Police academies and departments across the nation utilize a wide variety of methods and strategies to train new law enforcement officers. This can consist of roleplaying, lectures, trips to the range and so forth.
While each form of training has its benefits, they all fall short when utilized alone or siloed. This is because many training methods cannot account for the unpredictability officers will experience in the field, nor do they realistically immerse the trainees in the given scenario. This is why VirTra’s immersive simulators, such as the VirTra 300-degree judgmental use of force law enforcement simulator, provides a far more effective training.
The immerse quality is more than the physical immersion, though the V-300’s five screens do physically immerse trainees and officers, once they step into the simulator. Rather, immersion is taken to the next level with surround sound audio and integrated and interactive characters on each screen. In addition to this are the accessories: the Threat-Fire® provides real-life consequences and stress inoculation while VirTra’s recoil kits and CO2 magazines allow officers to utilize their personal firearms within the simulator. Instructors can take advantage of these immersive qualities to train officers in a variety of real-life situations from a safe, controlled and realistic environment.
Law enforcement officials must work with unprecedented levels of environmental and situational unpredictability. After all, it’s a part of the job. While it is possible to account for some of the variables an officer might face, it is impossible to account for every variable in every situation, every day.
While lectures are important—after all, discussing the correct order of events provides direction and understanding—it cannot be the only form of training. Instructors can take training to the next level with roleplaying, though going through a scripted situation can only provide so much additional training. Simply put, there are no traditional teaching methods that can best prepare officers for the modern uncertainty they could face at any moment.
Even though there is a time and place for lecture-based and scenario-based training, trainees must train with immersive simulators to gain the best possible experience with ever changing outcomes in the moment based on the actions and reactions of the students. VirTra combines state-of-the-art technologies, certified curriculum and professional research to create a highly realistic training environment that increases and transfers skills to the field.
Instead of being told how to work through scenarios, trainees are placed in the middle of any given situation. The scenario begins with a voiceover of the police call from dispatch, then opening on the scene. After, trainees must engage with the subject(s) and make decisions to discover the best possible outcome. Each VirTra judgmental scenario is equipped with extensive branching options, allowing the instructor to choose the path of the scenario, based on the trainee’s decisions and actions inside the simulator. Training after this manner allows officers to engage in the same scenario multiple times, but receive a different ending each time, based on mistakes or proper choices made.
At the end of the day, immersive scenario-based training establishes critical thinking and potentially life-saving skills that lectures. By surrounding trainees visually and auditorily, officers treat the training more seriously and find themselves engrossed in the situation.
Though VirTra’s simulators cannot completely replace other forms of training—such as live fire—it complements these skills and provides a foundation for an officer to build off of.
One of the most beneficial parts of the VirTra simulators is the debrief ability. After the scenario ends, instructors and trainees can replay the scenario and see what the trainee did correctly or mistakes that could have been avoided. The real-time play back, Picture-in-Picture playback videos and after-action provides extra training elaboration. No traditional method of training provides this debriefing opportunity or is as effective at helping officers understand the consequences of their actions.
VirTra’s immersive judgmental use of force simulator is a critical component of any department’s training program. Help your officers learn, build and maintain skills in the most realistic way possible with this immersive technology. To learn more, contact a VirTra specialist.
How often does your agency train with their simulator?
Surveys have shown that most law enforcement agencies only train with their simulator once a quarter; or even worse, only once a year. While agencies are busy completing other tasks and jobs, this lack of consistent training simulator use creates considerable downtime. Instead, your department can use the simulator in other areas to improve the agency while maximizing on your investment:
Each VirTra scenario library is packed with a variety of scenarios, locations and events. However, agencies can take training to the next level with the V-Author program. Utilizing this software, agencies can take pictures of local landmarks or high-activity areas and upload them to the software. Once there, instructors can add characters into the image, making the training more personal and beneficial.
The Utah Attorney General’s Office uses their simulator in various ways to maximize their use of force training. For example, the Office has seen a great improvement in an officer’s ability when using their system for items such as remedial training and educating prosecutors. By showing prosecutors how memory is encoded and recalled, they can teach them about common perception distortions experienced in a critical incident. These videos, Cop Talks, are released as a monthly series on YouTube.
VirTra’s V-VICTA curriculum is especially applicable in this case. Instructors can teach a lesson, tactic or principle in the classroom through slideshows and tests. After, trainees can put the lesson into practice, thus moving it to long-term memory, by engaging in the correlated scenario. Training after this manner allows instructors to maximize time while providing the best training experience.
These are only a few examples of how to incorporate training into other agency avenues. Innovative ideas, such as these, can give training a boost while keeping it consistent. For more ideas on how to maximize your training simulator, contact a VirTra specialist.
Social learning theory, in simple words, is learning from the actions of others. Every day we learn from the people around us and the experience they have, though we may not consciously realize it. People naturally learn by modeling and it is this trait that instructors can take advantage of.
Oftentimes, instructors create a “secret squirrel” mentality in law enforcement and military training, where trainees are asked not to divulge what they experienced to others as not to “remove the learning option for them.”
Instead, instructors who allow trainees to gather together and watch as each participates in a simulation exercise recognize this huge learning opportunity. By analyzing how their peers handle a situation, trainees glean bits and pieces of actions that work or fail, thus learning and mentally cementing better habits before stepping foot into the simulator.
Think about how this benefits the class as a whole. By the time the third or fourth trainee enters the training simulator, they have learned from the mistakes of the previous trainees and can take advantage of that knowledge. Together, the class grows stronger and better, rather than everyone struggling with the same mistakes behind the closed door of the training room.
When implementing social learning theory into the classroom, there are some points to take into consideration to maximize the learning exercise:
As discussed before, people naturally learn by watching the actions of others. In the case of training, students learn by watching the mistakes and successes of those who have gone before.
Instructors need to provide a reason for trainees to pay attention. The motivation may differ depending on the trainee or class, with the most common being pride, satisfaction or accomplishment. Training in front of others also creates the motivation not to fail in front of peers—a powerful emotion instructors can capitalize on in the classroom.
One aspect of learning is the performance, which refers to short-term memory and mastery. In this case, performance would be to pass a scenario or test after a short training period or hastily analyzing previous trainees and mirroring their actions. To successfully transfer this information to long-term memory— creating newly changed behavior—trainees must practice and recall that information often.
A benefit to having multiple people watching a training session is an improved debrief. Instructors have the option to change debrief from checking the boxes to a Socratic method of questions and answers. By asking the trainee, or their peers, open-ended questions, it allows the selected trainee to replay the event and analyze their performance while providing the instructor with an insight as to why they behaved the way they did.
Having multiple people also allows for multiple viewpoints and opinions to be shared, again allowing a class to learn from each other and improve together. For ideas on how to maximize training sessions with these real-life simulators, contact a VirTra specialist.
High quality law enforcement training is more than what is shown on the screens. While the video and graphics are high-quality, the screens alone do not provide the most immersive experience possible for law enforcement trainees. To create the most powerful law enforcement training environment, VirTra’s engineers and subject matter experts work tirelessly to design and perfect hardware that is then paired with the simulator. Each piece of hardware manufactured in-house is tested and designed to replicate the true feel and accuracy of the tool it represents.
VirTra’s durable recoil kits and CO2 magazines transform officer’s duty weapons from live fire to simulation-ready in under two minutes. These kits require no permanent modification, allowing officers to practice utilizing their own weapon while saving departments money.
The kit allows the firearm to communicate with the training simulator, while the CO2 magazine provides the realistic recoil. The recoil provided is the best in the industry, providing officers with a true-to-life experience while saving money on ammunition and improving safety, as the gun foregoes blanks.
Since VirTra manufacturers recoil kits and magazine for a majority of popular on-duty weapons, police can practice using a whole arsenal, from pistols to rifles. For rifles, the recoil kits are integrated into the duty weapon by removing the bolt carrier group and replacing it with VirTra’s kit. As for pistols, the recoil kits are designed as barrel replacements.
Law Enforcement officers can practice utilizing their whole toolbelt inside VirTra’s simulators. After all, VirTra is so much more than a shoot-don’t-shoot simulator—instead, each simulator is programmed with a variety of scenarios that allow and encourage trainees to practice using Axon® TASER® and OC spray. Each less-lethal device is laser-based and equipped with an OEM form, thus replicating the size and weight of the same tools used in the field to minimize training scars.
For TASERs, VirTra’s cartridges simply drop into the existing TASER X2 or VX26P. The intelligent software allows instructors to see where the simulated probes landed, even when multiple students are using TASERs simultaneously in the simulation.
As for OC, every aspect from the size of the can to the placement of the button replicates the SABRE® MK3 OC spray. This includes the angle of the spray, which is perfectly positioned to allow training skills learned in the simulator to transfer to life in the field.
VirTra’s patented Threat-Fire reminds law enforcement trainees that simulation training is not a game. The Threat-Fire is a lightweight device that clips onto a trainee’s belt and is used to simulate return fire, dog bites, explosions and other consequences. This serves to elevate an officer’s heart rate and cause stress, mimicking psychological environments.
This tool is a more powerful teaching device than traditional “shoot back” devices. Other consequence devices shoot projectiles, which can cause injury, or produce vibrations or noises, which are ineffective. Instead, the Threat-Fire trains officers to continue performing even under stressful conditions, making it incredibly valuable for all training environments.
Unfortunately, many subject encounters occur in less-than-ideal times, such as at night. Instructors can incorporate the use of rail-mounted or handheld flashlights within any VirTra scenario to truly replicate real-life conditions and encourage practice in low-light environments.
VirTra offers both handheld and rail-mounted flashlights with adjustable illumination for beams of different shapes and sizes. Each light is laser-operated and projects onto the screen accurately, even when multiple trainees are using flashlights simultaneously in the same simulator. This is due to V-Lux™ technology, which allows the beam of light to transfer smoothly and accurately across the screens.
VirTra is so much more than a simulator training company. With state-of-the-art technology, realistic lethal and less lethal tools, consequence devices and more, law enforcement trainees are better prepared for the field. For more information on how you can maximize your VirTra simulator with high-tech equipment, contact a specialist today.