The stress-inducing electrical V-Threat-Fire® device brings consequences into the VirTra training simulator. By clipping it to a trainee’s belt, the instructor can activate the device to simulate all safety threats to include gun shots (return fire), dog bites, explosions and other serious threats. With the ability to change the duration and intensity of the activation, there are realistic possibilities to supply negative consequences.

Unlike other consequence methods such as those that fire projectiles, the Threat-Fire requires no clean-up and far less risk of injury. There is no aiming required and the device can be activated by clicking your mouse. Additionally, the V-Threat-Fire is tetherless; no wires mean more freedom for movement within the simulator.


The V-Threat-Fire gets trainees to take the simulation seriously by providing a low-grade shock. The device has been tested extensively to ensure that there are no medical risks during use. The electrical stimulation also creates a distraction that officers have to work through, allowing them to complete the task at hand despite the disturbance.

Stress is a powerful psychological tool that can prepare trainees to perform effectively in difficult situations in the field. Proper implementation helps bring stress inoculation capabilities into a simulated scenario, better preparing officers for life in the field.

Improper Use

It is understandable for tactical mistakes to have a pain penalty. However, using pain to get a student to act when no threats exist is not only questionable, but hazing. Abusing the V-Threat-Fire or activating it too frequently will not get the training result you want. It actually will diminish the effect of the penalty.

Instructors may wish to communicate the intent behind the use of the V-Threat-Fire, especially to recruits and trainees who may feel wary of it. In this case, be sure that trainees understand that there is proven training value to adding consequences in the form of stress during training. The device should not be used as a hazing method or to be used as a plaything, but to achieve transferrable results.


The V-Threat-Fire is a patented device that is designed only for use within VirTra’s simulators. To learn more about its benefits and how to implement it into your training regime, contact a specialist.

It is no surprise: critical decision-making and problem solving become increasingly difficult in stress-filled atmospheres. The weight of the situation, the struggle to remember prober tactics and the knowledge that each action carries significant consequences combine to create a tense environment.

Stress Inoculation Training

Trainees are best prepared for these situations after extensive practice in psychologically-similar situations. Through stress inoculation, not only are law enforcement able to train to think better in difficult circumstances, they can also gain control over advantages such as focused senses, faster decision-making, improved mental function and increased strength¹.

But these benefits only manifest themselves after plenty of practice and personal emotional mastery. Instructors can easily start this process by incorporating stress inoculation into law enforcement training, beginning with the physiological stress. One way is through loud noises, complicated instructions and other forms of distraction.

Another method of adding stress includes competitions. Competitions introduce stress for everyone involved: those more skilled find stress in the thought of losing to someone less skilled. Trainees who are equally skilled become stressed in the race to win. And those who are less skilled experience stress in wanting to beat a more skilled opponent.

Besides noise, complicated instructions (complex goals) and competitions, instructors can add stress physiologically through force-on-force, Simunitions™ and peer grading. While the physiological is a great start, stress is best recreated with the thought of a physical consequence. Training without fear of a physical consequence causes trainees to ignore potential threats, thus adopting dangerous training habits. But when there is a perceived threat and potential harm, a trainee’s behavior changes significantly.

It is the perception of personal risk that creates the proper stress response required for stress inoculation training. This perception can come from multiple areas: being struck while wearing impact reduction suits in arrest and control training or even use of force on force training methods.

Threat-Fire Training

This psychological effect inspired VirTra to create the Threat-Fire®, a small electric impulse device that provides immediate consequences during training. Upon clipping the device onto their clothing, trainees understand the potential personal harm and are thus immersed in a stress-induced environment.

Instructors can use this device to supply negative consequences representing threats to the officer’s safety, such as gunfire, explosions or dog attacks. Not only does this allow for stress inoculation, it supplies realistic, scenario-applicable consequences to trainees.

Beyond adding psychological stress, the Threat-Fire increases simulation training realism by completing the interaction loop. Trainees can engage with simulated suspects who are able to physically engage back, changing one-sided interaction to a full circle.

This ties back to the idea of perceived threat. When interacting with an on-screen character, it becomes easy to disregard the dangerous situation shown on screen. But with the addition of a consequence device, the suspect can “shoot back,” closing the interaction loop and increasing the notion of a threat.

Stress is a powerful psychological tool that, when used correctly, will prepare trainees to perform effectively in tense situations of the field. Proper implementation helps teach stress inoculation, allowing trainees to learn critical skills that transfer to the field. Learn more about how VirTra’s simulators can teach your trainees stress inoculation by contacting a VirTra specialist.

  1. Kliem, Von. “New Study Tracks Officers’ Response to Stress During Calls for Service.” Force Science 7 Nov. 2019.

Over the past few years, several types of consequence devices and “pain penalties” have been integrated into law enforcement training sessions. Instructors initiate these so trainees experience a potential negative consequence after performing an incorrect action—both teaching and enveloping the trainee in stress (Central Nervous System arousal) for the duration of the session. Stress then becomes a fundamental part of learning, as trainees learn to control their responses and function under pressure, which applies to the field.

Learning from Stress with Use of Force Training Simulators

However, these benefits only occur when the proper consequence or “feedback” device is used. Not just any device will work—the tool must be safe and effective to be considered an operative training supplement.

To explain the purpose of these simulation training tools, one must understand what the tools should not do. Many consequence devices are “shoot back” devices meant to simulate return fire. But by solely using devices as gunfire penalties, instructors are limiting a trainee’s learning and stress inoculation. VirTra recommends using feedback devices to also simulate explosions, dog bites, knife attacks, punches and other actions that would cause injury in the field.

As mentioned before, another primary function is stress inoculation. While physical pain penalties can teach trainees proper actions, the knowledge that one may be shocked causes the trainee stress (arousal) and increased physiological state. The simulation no longer becomes a game—it becomes a situation where they must control their physiological arousal to perform their best.

The Good

While good consequence devices can be used for stress inoculation and provide real-life consequences, they must be effective and safe. VirTra ensures trainees have minimal risk of personal injury and can experience stress within the judgmental use of force simulator with Threat-Fire®. The device attaches to the belt and is instructor initiated, providing the trainee with a small electric stimulation on the surface of the skin when needed. Its lightweight design, adjustable shock duration and training enhancement features make it the perfect addition to police training simulators.

The Bad & The Ugly

However, not all consequence devices are created equal! Some outdated stress-inducing methods include firing actual projectiles during the scenario. This can be dangerous, as small projectiles could hit trainees in the eye, and require cleaning up after every use. Most trainers have moved away from projectile-based penalties, but there are other devices that are just an ineffective and harmful. These devices also distract the training from student performance while they are aiming the device.

Some new stress-inducing electronic devices include rapidly flashing lights to confuse the senses. According to the CDC, flashing lights could be hazardous as about 1.8% of American adults experience epilepsy. In rare cases, some trainees may not know they are epileptic until experiencing a seizure triggered by flashing lights.

These devices also are equipped with a piercing sound designed to over-simulate the senses, with some reaching sound levels up to 120 decibels (dB). The Hearing Health Foundation states that sounds 115 dB or higher can damage a person’s hearing within under 30 seconds of exposure to the noise.

While flashing lights and piercing noises are indeed distracting, they have two big downfalls. One is their lack of realism. The second is that this additional light and noise masks critical information that should be coming from the simulation.

Trainees cannot effectively learn from feedback devices such as these. Instead, with VirTra’s Threat-Fire, trainees are provided with a powerful, realistic consequence that safely provides stress-inoculation. Furthermore, the Threat-Fire completes the interaction loop; in training, the trainee engages simulated suspects and now the simulated suspects engage the trainee in a safe, responsible manner.

Training environments are a safe, controlled environment where students and trainees are able to make mistakes, learn and overcome them before entering the field. If the risks of injury are high, training becomes a dangerous task and may cause deep training scars. Providing stress and real-life consequences in a simulated environment is an effective way to prepare officers and warfighters in training, but note the good, bad and ugly ways of doing so. Research extensively before investing in a feedback device. For more information about the Threat-Fire, such as research articles published or case studies produced, please contact a VirTra specialist.