It is easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to training. After an instructor perfects their method of teaching, they will often follow that same pattern for months, or even years. The mental fixation on “this is how we always do it” becomes a limitation, but one that is self-inflicted.

Do note that this isn’t just in regards to classroom training. The same frame of thinking is just as capable of appearing in simulation training. Often this appears as a five-step process: trainees are brought into the training room, organized by groups and placed into the simulator, confronted with an unknown scenario, complete the scenario, then debriefed by the instructor. This process is then repeated over and over for years, with the only changes being different scenarios and different officers.

VirTra encourages breaking free from this mold and maximizing the training simulator with added realism and more-complete environments, which is made possible by adding real-world 3D space and 4D aspects.

Adding 3D Elements

One of the easiest methods of adding 3D elements is to add a 3D object. It’s just that simple. Instructors can add props to the simulator—such as tables, chairs, plywood walls or fake trees—depending on the scenario and what lesson the instructor wants the trainees to learn. The key is to make the environment as realistic as possible, so all props should resemble the simulated environment. Fake trees do well in park and nature scenarios, but not as much for home-based scenarios.

Adding 4D Elements

As for the fourth-dimension, it encompasses all of the 3D aspects, but now includes time. In the real world, civilians and subjects move around, which is shown by characters moving across VirTra’s screens. To help mimic the passage of time, instructors can move the 3D objects inside the simulator to different points at different times. Training in this manner helps trainees learn to reposition, use cover and concealment properly and adjust fields of fire for better hit probability.

Adding 3D and 4D elements is a quick and easy way for instructors to maximize training while breaking old training patterns. Now, trainees have a better understanding of how to react in similar circumstances in the field because they are better prepared. If you are interested in a training simulator or have questions about incorporating props into the simulator, please contact a VirTra specialist.

Have You Thought About a 3D Simulator?

If you are an instructor, chances are you need new teaching solutions beyond presentations and video lessons. These methods of teaching are outdated and ineffective, especially when contextualized by a real-world event. Law enforcement officers can be experts on the protocol on paper, but not always in a high-stress, dangerous situation. Due to this reality, the best way to train a department is through real-world, immersive experiences.

VirTra’s firearms training simulators enhance a department’s training, especially through the addition of 3D props. Read these tips on adapting your simulation to make training as immersive and effective as possible.

Realistic 300-Degree Use of Force Simulation Training

The first step to creating and effective 3D training simulation is obvious: purchasing an immersive simulation system. VirTra specializes in state-of-the-art 300-degree simulation technology, which uses five screens, surround sound and seamless video for maximum physical fidelity. Difficult decisions, extensive branching options and the addition of return-fire helps create psychological fidelity—fully immersing the trainee in the situation.

The V-300® also allows trainees to apply training principles to a real-life situation without worrying about making mistakes or compromising their safety or the public’s. Training in this manner helps law enforcement and military experts to develop skills in stressful, high-pressure environments that translates to life in the field.

Have a Prop Budget? Try for Maximum Accuracy

The next step to creating a 3D environment is adding props to the simulator. First and foremost, instructors must choose props that are realistic and accurate to the scenario. For example, if the scenario is an active shooter in an office, props could include desks and chairs. If possible, use actual objects as the props—it becomes less effective and realistic to use multiple chairs in leu of a desk, or a bucket in place of a water cooler. Focus on props that are relevant and believable.

Lightweight, Durable Props Are Your Best Bet

After deciding which scenario and props to use in the training simulation, consider purchasing high-quality props. There are a few guidelines to keep in mind when buying props: invest in props that are portable and lightweight. Bulky, heavy props become a hassle to move each time an instructor wants to stage a training exercise. But weigh ease of movement with durability. Durable props will last through more training exercises, as trainees can damage the prop when training. Finding a balance between portable and durable props will maximize the longevity of your 3D environment.

Using Audio to Replicate Background Noise, Speech, & More

Physical props are an excellent way to add realism to a 3D environment. However, instructors also need to consider the auditory environment, which is best manipulated through sound. Few law enforcement and military situations are without loud, distracting noise, which can come from scared bystanders, the threat or the background. Thus, adding an audio component to the judgmental training simulation makes the circumstance feel more realistic and immersive.

Live Actors Up the Emotional Ante of a Scenario

Props and audio make for a high fidelity physical and psychological training environment, but the best de-escalation training scenarios involve an emotional element as well. The addition of live actors to the simulation allows participants to learn judgmental use of force while evaluating people’s body language, facial expressions and non-verbal threat cues. Actors can be instructed to aid, distract or confuse the officer as they complete the simulation, depending on the trainer’s instructions.

Why is Realism So Important in Law Enforcement Training?

What benefits can you expect after creating an immersive 3D training environment? Subjecting your team to a realistic situation causes them to gain experience evaluating and de-escalating situations. Using these training firearms simulations also allows participants to practice judgmental use of force and learn the consequences of their actions. Contact VirTra for more tips on how to maximize training.

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Oftentimes, agencies get stuck in a rut on how they train. The mental fixation of years of similar paradigms or “this is how we have always done it” lead to limitations – albeit self-inflicted limitations. One such area that often faces limitations is the use of simulated event training. In most instances, students are brought into a training room, immediately placed into a simulator, and confronted with an unknown scenario. The student runs through the scenario and the instructor debriefs their performance. Then “wash, rinse, and repeat.” VirTra encourages agencies to avoid this rut and get more from their training with added realism and richer environments inside a simulation, which is made possible by adding real-world 3D space and 4D aspects.

The Power of 4D Use of Force Simulation

An example of 3D space includes the use of real cover inside the police simulation training. Adding a simulated wall – constructed out of plywood and painted to look like an actual pony wall – provides a great neighborhood position of cover. Or the front end of a patrol car – constructed out of wireframe, structured with foam, and painted to resemble department vehicles – makes a great lightweight prop.

The fourth-dimensional aspect takes all of the three-dimensional aspects but adds the element of time. This can be accomplished with a live role-player in addition to the simulation. This 3D object is now moving around while the simulation takes place and is at different points at different times. This role-player could simulate a hostage that is moving inside the effective field of fire of the officer. This live role-player movement creates the need to change position to get an open shot or to physically move the role-player out of harm’s way. This is impossible to achieve in live-fire drills due to safety issues.

Advanced Law Enforcement Training

These props – stationary or live-action – dramatically increase the capability of training inside the use of force simulation and adds to the possible training objectives. They add context and difficulty, provide challenges for the trainee to overcome, and increases the immersion of training.

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