VirTra’s V-ST PRO® firing range simulator is an excellent marksmanship tool for police departments worldwide. Its V-Marksmanship® program is a highly effective tool for training and maintaining law enforcement marksmanship. (While the V-Marksmanship program is equipped on all simulators, this article focuses on the abilities of the V-ST PRO’s V-Marksmanship program.) Here are a few ways VirTra’s firing simulator provides a superior training experience and helps supplement training in a traditional firing range:
The V-Marksmanship program allows instructors to use pre-designed environments and add an unlimited number of targets, environmental affects—wind direction and speed, weather, etc.— and other variables in a variety of distances to test and hone an officer’s skill.
Training after this manner allows instructors to test in multiple situations; something that is not able to be duplicated on the range. For instance, a certain day at the range may offer 80 degrees with a 5mph wind coming from the north and 30% humidity. This is the only variable an officer will train on that day. But with a simulator, instructors can change the variables drastically for every single shot.
Traditional firing ranges offer minimal variables for marksmanship training. For example, targets on ranges often are only able to “move” along motorized wires, track systems or are attached to robotic systems. While these options are certainly better than standard stationary targets, it could be more.
The V-Marksmanship program allows targets to be programmed to move front to back, left to right or in a box shape—and at different speeds. Now when officers stand in front of the V-ST PRO, they can engage in a training situation that would not be possible in the field.
Going into the V-Marksmanship technology, the program is equipped with an accurate ballistics calculator. This ballistics calculator duplicates the speed, trajectory and aim based on the type of weapon fired and the selected weather conditions. Furthermore, it is independently verified up to 2,500 meters with .02 milliradians accuracy—thus providing a powerful training that other marksmanship training simulator programs cannot provide.
While the simulator, programs and technology are excellent, training is taken to the next level with the officer’s weapons. VirTra offers multiple weapon options to best fit the department’s needs:
• Recoil Kits— The drop-in laser recoil kit is inserted into an officer’s duty weapon and outfitted with a laser, allowing it to interact with the simulator.
• CO2 Magazine— As for the CO2 magazine, this provides realistic recoil as the officer pulls the trigger. Instructors can choose to outfit their trainee’s weapons with the just the recoil kit, or the recoil kit plus the magazine for added realism.
• Non-Guns— VirTra also offers non-guns, which mitigate real weapons being brought into the training environment. For maximum realism, each non-gun tool has replicated the shape and weight of the weapon it represents: the Glock 17/22 will look, feel and act like the real thing.
VirTra’s firing range simulators and accessories are much more customizable and powerful than any traditional firing range, making them an ideal supplement for officer marksmanship training. With a wide variety of pre-programmed and customizable environments, variables, and weapons, this program can take marksmanship training to the next level. Learn more by contacting a VirTra specialist.
The most advanced training magazine produced by VirTra is available for Glock 19 pistols.
The Advanced Skills Magazine (ASM) is refillable with liquid CO2, providing the officer or warfighter with lifelike recoil when training in a VirTra simulator. It communicates with VirTra simulators using Bluetooth low-energy technology. Instructors may induce a simulated malfunction during a scenario or simulated range session. Trainees, veterans, and everyone in between can practice working through malfunctions or “jams” to prepare if such instances happen in the real world.
Along with the laser-based recoil kit, using this product can make firearms training more realistic and transferrable.
The purpose of the Advanced Skills Magazine is to allow users to practice with their duty weapon in a way that is transferrable to the real world. The magazine simulated an end-of-magazine event where one must “reload” by removing the magazine and re-inserting it before being able to fire once more. Instructors can initiate a bolt hold-open malfunction to prepare the user, forcing them to clear a class 1 malfunction. Class 3 malfunctions are possible as well, where the user must strip the magazine, re-insert, then cycle to be able to fire again.
Advanced Skills Magazines replicate the size, shape, and weight of a real Glock 19 magazine for a true-to-life experience. CNC machined aircraft-grade aluminum housing is durable to withstand drops and many uses. It is blue in color to distinguish it from real magazines in the training room. The use of CO2 not only provides realistic recoil, it is also safe and requires no cleanup. The possibility of training scars is eliminated by ensuring physical fidelity.
The Advanced Skills Magazine, as well as other magazines such as the Standard Magazine without Bluetooth capabilities, is available for select pistols and rifles and is designed for use with VirTra’s recoil kits. Recoil kits and CO2 magazines are used in law enforcement agencies around the United States, plus 40 countries worldwide, where they have assisted trainees and officers alike in perfecting their firearm use.
Learn more about VirTra’s recoil kits and CO2 magazines here.
Less than 5 miles from VirTra’s HQ, Gilbert Police Department has built an impressive training program for officers from rookies to veterans. The goal behind it is simple: keeping officers and the community they serve safe. There was no denying that Sgt. Bill Campbell, Gilbert PD’s Training Sergeant for the Gilbert Police Academy, cares greatly about the success of the training program and those he instructs.
The 52-acre facility in Gilbert, Arizona is shared by both their police and fire departments. Not only is the building integrated for all aspects of public safety, but training is too. There is no need to drive across the city to get to a range or a driving test track.
Scenario-based learning – or even classroom learning where students learn the theories behind their actions – is traditionally segmented from marksmanship training. Sgt. Campbell believes it is not enough to teach only on a range and in a classroom – there must be a way to get students into the environment to practice, but in a safe and secure way.
Gilbert PD officers and recruits at the Gilbert Police Academy can use real firearms within their 5-screen V-300® simulator. This allows them to not only get practice with their real duty weapon, but also go through a multitude of scenarios. Each scenario is modeled after real life incidents and authored by subject matter experts who are retired officers themselves. The video below shows two Gilbert officers going through an active shooter scenario, learning how to respond at the right time.
What can also be seen in the video is a custom Action Target range. While VirTra’s V-Marksmanship program is highly accurate, nothing can quite mirror the training provided on an actual range. Their indoor range is big enough to allow a squad car to enter, stop, and have students exit the vehicle and begin shooting targets.
Sgt. Campbell spoke highly of the capabilities of both his simulator and indoor range. As an experienced instructor, his words are not only inspiring to us, but helpful to other law enforcement agencies who wish to find an integrated training style.
“I have been a professional instructor for more than 25 years now, and I teach all over the country. I have seen pretty much every type of range there is and every type of simulator there is. My experience has been that the VirTra simulator system is the gold standard.” –Sgt. Campbell
It is also important to mention the evolution of training over the years. Sitting in a classroom for the entirety of the learning process will not engross students in the topic(s) or give them the proper practice needed to succeed in their careers. “A practical test may have worked in my day, 30 years ago, but it’s not as effective today,” said Sgt. Campbell, addressing the need to keep students engaged so learning retention increases.
Unlike training for other careers or job positions, law enforcement is one where mistakes can be costly – and not just monetarily. Lives are at stake, and that is why it is important to dedicate as much as possible to a well-designed training program. To learn more about VirTra’s simulator training options, contact a specialist.
Proper recoil is essential for training, which is why VirTra designs high-quality recoil kits. When an officer or military servicemember is training, they must account for the weapon’s recoil and how it may affect their position and aim. Training with a non-recoiling weapon in the simulator is simply not realistic, as real guns produce the “kick-back” sensation each time a bullet is fired. This is especially true for rifles such as the M4 and AR-15, as they produce heavier recoil than a pistol.
One of VirTra’s latest hardware developments is the M4 Recoil Kit. They are designed to convert real firearms with no weapon modification required. This allows a duty weapon to go from live to simulator-ready within minutes with a simple exchange of the barrel. The recoil kits operate with liquid CO2 magazines to provide the most realistic recoil on the market. This hardware can be used within a simulated environment without the limitations of a cord or tether.
M4 recoil kits allow an officer or warfighter the ability to use their own rifle in their VirTra simulator. This maximizes skill transfer as the student is training in a similar manner to the way they would perform on the field. The kits can be used in all VirTra suites and in either scenarios or marksmanship ranges.
VirTra’s recoil kits are manufactured in the company’s own CNC machine shop in Arizona, never sourcing from overseas. Using ArmorGen® coating exceeds the durability of other coating options, such as DLC. Black nitride coating over a carbon steel body ensures that the product will not corrode. This also reduces the need for lubrication.
M4 recoil kits as well as recoil kits for many other weapons are used by VirTra clients not only around the United States, but in 40 countries worldwide for training. Instructors have noted positive experiences using VirTra’s hardware. This is due to their transferability to a real-life setting, including a live fire range.
Learn more about this product here.
Starting today, VirTra is at I/ITSEC at Booth #641 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL! It is also our first Orlando-based event since the grand opening of VirTra’s new facility in the same city.
Every year we add new training scenarios, marksmanship capabilities, and add to our list of supported weapons. I/ITSEC is where we display the latest technology available to military units with the goal of keeping servicemembers well-prepared for the field.
If you are at the show, or will be in the next few days, come visit Booth #641 or reserve a private demonstration. Contact a product specialist to skip the lines and schedule time to experience the V-300 4K!
Think about when you first became a law enforcement officer—whether it was a few years ago or decades. Either way, few officers had Red Dot Optics/Sights (RDS) mounted on their duty sidearms. But as time has gone on, technology has advanced and evolved to bring modern officers a tool that produces increased accuracy in the field. As such, pistol mounted RDS are becoming increasingly popular and departments everywhere are discussing the accessory.
A simple Google search will display dozens of departments nationwide who have made the switch to RDS, and often, their means of purchase. Since RDS isn’t exactly a cheap accessory—accuracy is critical, so understandably quality materials and precision cost more—some departments have to get creative with finding funds, whether it be through a fundraiser, donation or grant. This goes to show the dedication departments have to improving their officer’s abilities in the field.
So why do departments care so much about RDS? Simply stated, RDS allows officers to focus on the threat while overlaying the dot on its intended point of impact. It is easier, quicker and more accurate, making it a valuable tool to decrease liability in officer involved shootings. But as with any new technology, before jumping in, departments must fully understand both the transition from iron sights to RDS, as well as the pros and cons of this accessory.
To begin, the pistol mounted RDS was originated and popularized by Aimpoint®, which offers several models and versions, depending on the specific need. Differences can include MOA dot size, night vision settings, weight, submersible abilities, length and more—providing departments with the best accessories to fit their officer’s jobs. However, with all of these abilities comes a learning curve. The learning curve will be especially steep for veteran officers who have spent their careers relying on iron sights. It becomes a matter of learning to rely and familiarize oneself with a new sighting system. This, in addition to cost of new equipment and training, are the biggest cons to RDS.
That said, the pros to RDS are substantial. Some of the most notable are:
While the RDS is revolutionary, it does not replace the already-established fundamentals all officers know and were trained on. Stance, grip, trigger control and follow-through do not change, so officers simply need training on using the accessory. This reduces the learning curve to just learning the accessory, not having to change or relearn anything previously taught by instructors or the academy.
To aid in easing the learning curve, while also increasing one’s familiarity and expertise with the accessory, VirTra created a 4-hour nationally-certified course on the pistol mounted RDS. Titled “Red Dot Optic Training & Sustainment,” this course was created in collaboration with Victory First® utilizing the Acro P-2 by Aimpoint®. Instructors receive all materials needed to teach the course, such as pre-tests, surveys, rosters, instructor’s manual and, best of all, 21 training drills that are compatible with VirTra simulators to test the officer’s knowledge and RDS skill.
After all, classroom teaching can only get an officer so far. Extensive range training—whether it be on a physical range or virtual—allows for increased practice and familiarity that easily transitions to the field. VirTra’s virtual range is especially beneficial, as instructors can easily provide range training with the RDS right there in the classroom. Gone are the days of expensive marksmanship training, or that done with iron sights.
Since Pistol mounted RDS is a relatively new technology, your department may not utilize it, or at least not completely. But as your department transitions and modernizes, to ensure your officers are properly trained on this accessory, remember to train with nationally-certified materials. “Red Dot Optic Training & Sustainment” can help your department, no matter the size, unique difficulties or learning curve. Now is the time to embrace new technology, implement it and stay two steps ahead.
When shopping for televisions, speakers, smartphones, etc., consumers understand variations of these technologies exist. When shopping for a TV, you consider clarity, size, features and more. So why wouldn’t you do the same research when making an important purchase— training for your department?
Variations of virtual reality law enforcement training tools exist, but not all provide the same results. Using screens and projectors gives an entirely different experience and result when compared to virtual reality (VR) goggles/headsets or police virtual reality training. VR is an improving and promising technology, but it is still not up to the task of training officers. Training is a task that requires high-fidelity environments that immerse officers.
Training scars – also called negative training – occurs when what you do in the classroom does not accurately match what is done in the real world. VR is lightweight and compact, plus the shiny new technology can sway agencies, but how is the training content?
Marksmanship is just one example of how dangerous negative training can occur with VR. When aiming a replica weapon with VR goggles on, the ballistic accuracy is not accurate enough to provide an experience that transfers to the field. The movement is not realistic, and one company even has trainees sitting down in order to use a CEW device. Officers are seldom seated when deploying a CEW weapon, so this can cause accuracy issues when trainees are moved into a real-life situation.
VirTra’s police virtual reality training is video-based, and for good reasons. Filmed with professional equipment and real actors, the goal is for the scenarios to be immersive and lifelike. This allows officers to develop empathy for on-screen characters, just as they would in reality. CGI has drastically improved over the years as we have seen in movies and video games, but VR training graphics tend to be cartoon-like and do not elicit an empathetic response.
Low-quality virtual reality law enforcement training can also feed into the previously discussed topic of negative training. When simulated humans are unrealistic, it is likely that trainees will not be able to pick up on subtle visual cues such as expressions and minor motions. It is also unlikely that officers will be able to experience stress in the same way as they would if they were interacting with a video-based character. If the environment is not realistic, recruits will not take it seriously.
VirTra’s Co-CEO Bob Ferris and Director of Training Lon Bartel have explored this topic. If you would like to learn more about the differences between police virtual reality training and screen-based simulation training options, click here: All That Glitters is Not Gold with VR Headsets_VirTra_Whitepaper
Knowing if or when you should draw your firearm from your belt is very important when de-escalating a scene. Each call is unique, so knowing when to draw your gun versus when to pull your CEW device, or even just use your voice, is crucial.
Being able to train with your own duty equipment is crucial in establishing proprioception and developing the kinesthetic awareness of what it should feel like to draw our service weapon. Simply put, training with the weapon that you would be using on a call is the best way to refine your skills with that weapon. However, when firing live guns in training, costs and cleanup can add up.
VirTra mitigates those additional costs and cleanup time with our laser firearms training simulators.
VirTra’s drop-in laser recoil kit converts a live firearm into a simulation-ready weapon with no permanent modification. Trainees can fire their real weapons in the VirTra simulators, gaining the experience of what it feels like to shoot their own firearm all in our immersive, true-to-life scenarios.
We have various laser firearms training simulator scenarios ranging from de-escalation to marksmanship. In the de-escalation scenarios, officers learn how and when firing their firearm is necessary. With extensive branching options, officers are able to learn the different de-escalation tactics that may or may not involve drawing their gun.
In the marksmanship courses, they can practice firearms fundamentals. With moving targets and selectable environmental conditions, officers can practice how to manipulate their firearm and develop a winning mindset.
Additional curriculums include Red Dot Optic Training & Sustainment, Weapon Transitions, Active Threat/ Active Killer, and more!
VirTra’s laser firearms training simulators range from one screen to five screens depending on what a department’s specific requirements are. For scenario-based firearm practice under full immersion, the V-180® or V-300® would be best. For a smaller training environment that supports both marksmanship and use of force training, the V-ST PRO® is a great option as well.
With minimized costs and cleanup and a revolutionary training system, VirTra is a valuable asset in police firearm training.
To hear more about our drop-in laser recoil kits and high fidelity simulators, contact a VirTra specialist.
One thing can always be counted on: there is nothing constant but change. One change that has come to many law enforcement agencies is the switch between iron sights and red dot sight (RDS) optics for pistols. There can be a learning curve like there is with acquiring any new skill – but VirTra provides solutions to help overcome the nuances.
If you have a VirTra simulator, you can access the “Red Dot Optics Training and Sustainment” course. This NCP-certified curriculum has 21 accompanying training drills. It was created in conjunction with Victory First® utilizing Aimpoint® red dot optics. The goal is to allow officers to learn skills in the simulator, then practice on the range with minimal transfer time.
One of the ways officers have gotten to practice both in a VirTra simulator and on the range is through the recent Action Target Law Enforcement Training Camp (LETC). VirTra’s Subject Matter Expert Mike Clark taught the Red Dot course to several members of law enforcement. Those who completed the course received a certificate as well as new knowledge to bring back to their agencies.
An agency that is about to switch out their iron sights for RDS is Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Sgt. Micah Evans took Mike Clark’s Red Dot course in preparation for the change. Sgt. Evans and his colleagues currently utilize the simulator at Utah Attorney General’s Office.
“The simulator drills help get the officers dialed into using the optic,” said Sgt. Evans, referring to how training in the simulator helped his performance on the range. “The transition to live fire using the same drills really helped get the officers familiar with the optic.” While no training can imitate real-life ballistics with 100% accuracy, VirTra gets close with accuracy up to 2,500 meters within .02 milliradians.
It is common to hear people say they are visual learners. Many say that they learn better by doing rather than listening to a lecture. Practicing the motor skills is far more engaging than reading about it in a textbook or listening to a presentation. It also helps acquire the skills as well as learning the difference between RDS and iron sights.
The Red Dot Optics course at LETC allowed attendees the experience of having an indoor classroom with pre-tests, indoor simulator sessions, then going to the live fire range to apply the knowledge learned.
When asked if the style of training completed in the LETC Red Dot Optics course was something he would continue to practice, Sgt. Evans stated that it is a style he attempts to do with officers whenever they train. “I am a strong believer in situational based training over flat range and class room,” said Sgt. Evans. “Using the combination that this program offers is exactly the type combined training I strive to provide to my officers.”
As mentioned above, the course is NCP-certified – but what does that mean for you? VirTra ensures its V-VICTA® courses (such as Red Dot Optics Training and Sustainment) are certified by IADLEST to ensure quality of content. NCP certification is recognized by POST in 36 states, allowing officers who complete the courses to receive continuing education credit.
This type of coursework allows learning to be done beyond just listening to an instructor verbally explain a topic. Students practice and are tested using the VirTra simulator while learning topics based on case law and real after-action reports. Courses being pre-certified saves time for instructors. Normally approvals would be needed, coursework would need reviewing…and it would have to be written! Just one hour of curriculum saves an instructor 65 hours of research, preparation, writing, reviewing, and approving.
Red Dot Optic Training and Sustainment is much more than just a lecture or repetitive range drill. It contains 21 drills to test the student on what they have learned – plus accurate debrief sessions that follow. It only takes a second to pull in the target so you can see the point of aim over point of impact and repeat!
VirTra highly recommends situational-based training as it prepares trainees and officers for the real world better than any lecture could. If your agency is switching to red dot optics and interested in practicing the skills in a simulator, contact a product specialist.
Service members must be highly proficient with their primary weapons systems this requires early training for them – almost day 1.
Unlike a red or blue inert training weapon that some use to build skills, training should be as close to real as possible. Without the recoil, accurate ballistics, and the weight of a real weapon to contend with, you simply lack training fidelity and will not be as prepared.
For any military branch, basic marksmanship is a crucial skill to acquire immediately. Skills may also become rusty if they are not practiced enough. Though nothing can compare to live fire training, VirTra’s marksmanship training options are an accurate supplement.
V-Marksmanship® allows for customizable environments and a staggering number of targets. Targets also can be programmed to move in different directions, speeds, and set up in various ways. The virtual range can be customized to include wind, rain, direction of sunlight, and nighttime conditions. With these features, a new environment is possible every time your squad steps into the simulator.
VirTra takes ballistic accuracy seriously. The ballistic calculator on our systems mimics real bullet trajectory based on the weapon being used. The ballistics have been independently verified for accuracy up to 2,500m and .02 milliradian accuracy.
Taking realism even further, VirTra’s recoil kits and CO2 magazines provide critical recoil in the firearm that creates a disruption of a soldier’s sight picture, that must be re-established for follow-up shots. This allows skill transfer from the sim to the range. Because recoil kits and magazines fit numerous rifles and pistols, there is one out there for your duty weapon.
Installation is simple and takes around two minutes. For a rifle, remove the bolt carrier and replace it with the stainless steel, durable recoil kit. If using a pistol, the kit is a barrel replacement. Magazines fit snugly into your weapon and have the same weight and feel as a real one. The VirTra kits also preclude the loading and chambering of a live round to ensure high levels of safety.
Besides simulating an empty magazine, the custom VirTra mags can also simulate a malfunction. Firearms don’t have unlimited ammo and they sometimes “malfunction” so we make sure you are prepared for those situations too. Practice clearing a malfunction and reloading your weapon quickly and accurately while moving or finding appropriate cover.
The V-ST PRO training simulator excels in supporting marksmanship training due to its range-like structure and ability to create six firing lanes per screen. It also provides the option to add up to five screens to train as many as 30 servicemembers simultaneously.
Clinical studies have shown that when officers are in a great deal of stress, they sometimes make the wrong judgement call. The high-definition, realistic environment shown on-screen can help trainees experience stress and learn to work through it – all while still accurately using their duty weapon as needed.
To learn more about how VirTra helps soldiers and warfighters excel in marksmanship training, contact a product specialist.