How do you transition your officers from traditional iron sights to a pistol-mounted red dot optic? There are plenty of good training ideas—such as increased practice on the range, lectures on how the optic works, etc.—but one of the best is having your officers engage in an extensive training course.

One such course is VirTra’s nationally-certified course “Red Dot Optic Training and Sustainment.” This new curriculum has 21 accompanying training drills and was created in conjunction with Victory First® utilizing Aimpoint® red dot optics. Just as it sounds, this course is designed to help officers successfully transition from the traditional iron sights to a modern pistol-mounted red dot optic.

How it Works

Red Dot is one of VirTra’s V-VICTA® curriculum, and thus, follows the same structure. With this curriculum, instructors receive lecture materials, presentations, handbooks, range drills and more to teach, train, test and sustain their officers on the given material. This starts in the classroom, then leads to extensive red dot optic training either in the simulator or on the range.

Since training a new skill requires extensive practice, the Red Dot Optic course includes 21 detailed drills; everything from how many yards out the target is, time limits, rounds and repetitions, etc. VirTra includes this information so instructors can either practice it on their real-life training simulators, or on the range.

After the Course

Obviously, the point of any course is to familiarize officers with the taught skill—in this case, utilizing the pistol-mounted red dot optic—but VirTra’s courses go a few steps further. After the course is completed, officers should be able to identify advantages and disadvantages of the red dot system, identify the importance of target and threat focus instead of the focus on the front sight, and more.

To continue learning about VirTra’s “Red Dot Optic Training and Sustainment” curriculum and how officers benefit from this training, please contact a VirTra specialist.

Law enforcement encounter a variety of individuals during their careers. While substance use and mental illness are discussed and trained for, there are also certain medical conditions and diseases that can affect normal communication. These conditions and diseases must also be taught to officers to prepare them to help any and every individual in their community.

For example, neurocognitive disorders (NCD’s) affect memory, understanding, task performance and much more1. The most overwhelmingly common NCD is Alzheimer’s Disease, and in the past all NCD’s were classified as dementia, when in fact there are multiple types and levels. NCD’s are typically associated with the elderly since it is most prevalent in people 65 years of age are older, but it is not exclusive to this age group.

The way NCD’s work is by causing damage to brain cells. The damage gradually makes symptoms more and more noticeable over time. Sometimes it is not immediately apparent that someone has an NCD – at times it takes a few moments for signs to appear. In general, symptoms law enforcement officers may notice and want to look out for include:

  • Memory impairment
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Getting lost or misplacing items frequently
  • Poor judgment in decision making

Some of these symptoms do not always reflect Alzheimer’s or other similar diseases, but also traumatic brain injury or substance abuse. Law enforcement officers must also be aware that those with NCD’s have the possibility of becoming verbally or physically aggressive.

Officers can strategically communicate with those who have NCD’s by doing the following2:

  • Identify yourself
  • Speak slowly and non-threatening
  • Ask one question at a time, allowing the individual to respond
  • Repeat questions and phrases as necessary
  • Avoid confrontation

‘Neurocognitive Disorders’ is a section of VirTra’s “Mental Illness” curriculum. With a 12-page instructor guide, slideshow presentation and testing materials, law enforcement instructors can familiarize trainees with dementia and NCD’s. The coursework is designed to be used alongside simulated scenarios to allow ‘learning by doing.’

The entire “Mental Illness” set of V-VICTA® curriculum contains 15 hours of detailed coursework certified by IADLEST. To learn about how V-VICTA can be incorporated into your department’s training, contact a specialist.



  1. Psychology Today. (2019). Neurocognitive Disorders (Mild and Major). Retrieved from
  2. Alzheimer’s Association. (2006). Safe Return, Alzheimer’s disease: Guide for Law Enforcement. Retrieved from

It sounds like a simple concept – one officer is a contact officer and another is the cover officer. The truth is, these concepts and principles arose from a number of unfortunate incidents in law enforcement where the contact and cover roles were blurred or even non-existent. Each officer has a role and responsibilities that are vital to safety and must be understood.

A tragic event in 1984 laid the groundwork for contact and cover principles. Officers Timothy Ruopp and Kimberly Tonahill of San Diego PD lost their lives on duty when apprehending two subjects for a misdemeanor charge. While Ruopp was writing the subjects a citation, Tonahill began conducting a Terry Frisk on one subject who overpowered her and shot both officers with a handgun. What went wrong? The contact officer, Tonahill, was not being observed or protected since Ruopp was focused on writing the citations.

Duties and Responsibilities of Contact & Cover Officers

A contact officer must:

  • Communicate, contain and control the subject(s)
  • Search and arrest subject(s)
  • Communicate with the cover officer and dispatch
  • Primarily assigned the use of less-lethal force options

The cover officer must:

  • Protect the contact officer
  • Remain aware of surroundings and third parties
  • Relay intelligence to contact officer
  • Provides lethal cover

It is important to reiterate that role switching is acceptable, but blurring the roles is not. Teamwork is mandatory and effective communication between officers, to subjects and to dispatch is imperative. Officers must monitor and maintain proper positioning and appropriate distancing. At times, subjects may need to be moved to help the cover officer observe.

All of these points and many more are mentioned in the Contact and Cover Concepts V-VICTA™ curriculum. This course is 3 hours of NCP certified material certified by IADLEST. Like other V-VICTA curriculum, Contact and Cover Concepts includes a training manual, associated simulator scenarios, a presentation, testing materials and more.

To learn how to incorporate Contact and Cover Concepts and the vital principles covered within the curriculum, contact a product specialist.

If you have been following VirTra for any amount of time, you may have noticed that we put great emphasis on our content. High-definition video and technologically advanced hardware is not the only aspects that aids in training law enforcement, but it is the training content that ensures effective knowledge transfer. VirTra’s efforts even go beyond intense and realistic scenarios – the VirTra content team of subject matter experts create curriculum for instructors to utilize in a fast, simple way.

This curriculum, known as V-VICTA™ (VirTra – Virtual Interactive Coursework Training Academy) pairs VirTra’s immersive scenarios with actual NCP certified materials. VirTra customers receive lesson plans, scoring rubrics, presentations, class surveys and more. We know that it is time-consuming and difficult to create your own curriculum and have it certified, so VirTra has done all the legwork for its training partners.

V-VICTA has proven to be effective for Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC). Todd Brophy, the Firearms Range Training Coordinator, has incorporated the curriculum into his force options instruction classes. Brophy allows the CJTC students to learn in a classroom setting first, then coaches them while they practice in one of the 10 units, they use VirTra simulations for in their Firearms Program.

“The feedback we are consistently getting from the students is ‘we need more of this,’” said Brophy, who likes to allow his students to work in pairs for practice in communication skills and contact & cover concepts. “The students seem to enjoy the training and provide feedback of what they are taking away at the end of the session consistent with the learning goals and objectives we have identified for each training segment.”

Brophy’s successful method of using the curriculum combines his existing teaching modalities with V-VICTA’s. V-VICTA can be used in tandem with pre-developed ideas, or just used right out of the box. Some of the certified courses offered include:

Beyond VirTra’s in-house subject matter experts who are retired law enforcement members, we also partner with industry experts to ensure the quality of content. Before becoming available to customers, the curriculum is submitted to IADLEST to undergo a rigorous review to become NCP certified.

To receive V-VICTA and its updated content, you must be a current VirTra customer on an Annual Service Plan. To find out more about how to obtain V-VICTA curriculum, contact a product specialist here.

It pays to be prepared. Since the goal is to increase safety for all, officers need to know how to perform first aid not only on others, but also themselves, should an emergency arise.

To help officers in this endeavor, VirTra created the nationally-certified curricula “Tourniquet Application Under Threat”. Essentially, this course teaches officers how to best apply a tourniquet, depending on injury location. Officers are able to practice this potentially life-saving skill first in the classroom, under a trainer’s instruction, then in the real-life environment of the simulator.

The reason behind two-fold training is simple. Practicing in the classroom makes it easier to understand the basics, whereas practicing in the simulator is a test to see if trainees can perform the same function in a high-stress situation. It is only through constant practice in a high-stress, real-life environment that officers can improve stress inoculation, skill building and moving this information to long-term memory. Long-term memory is what will allow the trainee to quickly access the information when in the field.

Since life in the field is unpredictable, “Tourniquet Application Under Threat” covers a variety of lesson topics. This includes: general tourniquet uses, what to do when direct pressure and elevation cannot be maintained, tourniquet myths, the application process and so much more. To help with training, certain VirTra scenarios have an instructor appear on the screen and guide trainees step-by-step in applying the tourniquet while the scenario is ongoing.

You can get a sneak-peek into the tourniquet curriculum in this video:

It’s common to think of a “shooter” when hearing the words “active threat,” but having this mindset doesn’t prepare officers for the incidents that involve explosives and IEDs. Even the infamous Columbine Massacre killers set up explosive devices, although a detonation did not occur due to faulty construction. Because of the frequency of which explosives are used in active threat situations, VirTra’s V-VICTA™ curriculum now has a third module focusing on explosive and incendiary device considerations.

What is an IED?
Improvised explosive devices – commonly shortened to IEDs – are often made from items found at hobby or supply stores. These include pipe bombs, crickets and others. Seemingly inconspicuous, everyday items can be used to make deadly homemade explosives. In overseas warzones, IEDs can even be made from military munitions and ordnance and functioned into vehicle-borne IED’s that can cause massive damage.

How Officers Deal with the Threats
In the face of this type of active threat, there are numerous considerations an officer must be aware of. These include:

• Blast pressure – Try to avoid being in the blast area. If impossible, there are ways to mitigate the effects of both extreme pressure and fragmentation.
• Activation methods – Most explosives have active switches, meaning they can be activated upon command. In rarer situations, there are deadman switches that activate if reached by the subject.
• Headshots – To quickly stop the threat without accidentally detonating the bomb in the process, gunfire must be accurately placed. A headshot is the quickest way to achieve central nervous system shutdown, eliminating the threat.

The Coursework
Because Active Threat / Active Killer events are some of the most challenging events to prepare for, the three-part ATAK series aims to increase officers’ understanding and awareness of various types of threats.

ATAK 3 is an NCP Certified V-VICTA course that contains 5.25 hours of rigorous curriculum. When used with the other two ATAK courses, it amounts to 11.25 hours total. Not only are instructors provided with a manual and testing materials, but also training tips and scenarios where students can practice what they have learned in the classroom in a safe, simulated setting.
If you’d like to learn more about how to incorporate this training into your agency, contact a product specialist here.

Choosing a training simulator is no small task. This training technology can be expensive and there are dozens of simulation companies, so finding the best option for your department quickly becomes a complicated project.

To make searching easier, VirTra designed a simple checklist of common simulation company pitfalls for departments to utilize. The more you research, the more you will discover that companies use certain keywords, but lack information on that topic. Here is how to find these holes and ensure the simulation company you choose is actually well-rounded.

Curriculum—Certified by Whom?

It is becoming increasingly more common for simulation companies to offer certified curriculum. Sure, it’s a popular buzzword and even more important training tool. But how much does each company actually disclose about the certification process?

When shopping for a training company that offers certified curriculum, specifically ask about the certification process. Oftentimes, curriculum is ‘certified’ by the company itself or a close business partner instead of an independent third-party.

Proper training is critical, and therefore, training curriculum must be certified by a credible third-party. No instructor wants their officers training with semi-reliable resources. To the point of credibility, companies should be open and honest about their certification process. If certification information is difficult to find or the company is hesitant to disclose their certification process, this is a major red flag.

A proper example of certification is VirTra’s V-VICTA™ training curricula, each of which is certified through IADLEST’s National Certification Program, which sets the POST training standards for 36+ states. VirTra is proud to have our curriculum undergo this rigorous independent review process and we often discuss it on our website, social media, brochures and other materials.

All in all, when you find curriculum that isn’t certified by a credible third party, you need to ask why.

All About the Experts

When building curriculum, it is popular for simulation companies to collaborate with industry experts. However, if you dig a little deeper, you may find that these experts work with multiple simulation companies. What you need to find out is which simulation company the experts prioritize, or use for their research. If an expert uses a different training simulator company than the one you are looking at, you need to ask why.

Asking this question can help you figure out what the expert sees that others don’t. By taking the time to figure out why experts chose that simulator specifically may uncover that the chosen company is more realistic, responsive, science-based, stress-inducing, etc.

Where’s the Research?

Similar to their ‘certified curriculum,’ companies may boast research-based programs or scenarios. While seemingly helpful on the surface, it is worth asking for the specific research articles and reports. Thanks to the internet, ‘research’ is available on any subject and less reliable research can support virtually any standpoint, but good, credible and independent research is harder to find and less implemented than other sources.

For the most visibility, VirTra proudly showcases all utilized research, complete with the sources and additional supportive information. VirTra wants our customers to have the best training and to understand exactly how VirTra maximizes training time, skill-building and realism. In this manner, ‘research’ is not just a buzzword, it’s how we build our business.

To take a short survey to determine the best simulator for your department, try out our Simulator Configurator. For more information, or to request documents on specific research topics, contact a VirTra specialist!

Sadly, the number of active threat situations within the United States has been consistently growing for more than a decade.

According to the FBI, 277 active shooter incidents have occurred between 2000 and 2018, with 844 people killed. The number of incidents and casualties are staggering, but take notice that these are just active shooter incidents and do not include subjects without guns, but instead armed with explosives, knives and other methods of injuring or killing innocents.

To help officers prepare for these terrible instances, VirTra created two modules designed to educate officers on how to best handle an active threat, protect civilians and minimize loss. These curricula, which fall under the Active Threat / Active Killer (ATAK) program, consist of two modules and soon to be three.

In total, this will be 11 hours of nationally-certified V-VICTA™ coursework, which comes free on all law enforcement training simulators. To ease the instructor’s workload, this V-VICTA curricula includes: class rosters, pre and post-tests, presentations, corresponding video training scenarios and more.

These realistic scenarios are designed to be used alongside the coursework for maximum learning and skill building. To further help instructors, scenarios are often based on real-life events. In the case of Active Threat/Active Killer, the 1999 Combine High School Massacre was used as a foundation for a few training scenarios for officers.

Officers and trainees will, throughout all modules, review the history of ATAK events and learn lessons from past police response.

For more information on V-VICTA and how it can provide effective training for your agency, please contact a VirTra specialist.

VirTra believes that training should be as effective as it is realistic. When trainees feel the real-life pressures of a high-stakes scenario, practice maneuvering through difficult de-escalation conversations or learn proper judgmental use of force in training, it increases their abilities and skill transfer to the field.

Creating powerful training scenarios and curriculum is no easy feat, so VirTra often turns to experts in their respective fields. For example, in honor of Autism Awareness Month, VirTra spent two years collaborating with the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) to create and launch our progressive Autism Awareness curriculum.

By partnering with the experts at SARRC, VirTra was able to create curriculum that helps officers to recognize the signs of autism and to develop skills and strategies for improving interaction while minimizing risk to both the officer and individual. Utilizing SARRC’s knowledge and first-hand experience was critical in creating a powerful curriculum that could benefit officers nationwide.

As touched on before, VirTra also works with industry professionals to create relevant curriculum that isn’t often widely taught. In the case of our autism awareness curriculum, it was recently discovered that approximately 1 in 54 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which suggests that 50,000 teens with ASD are transitioning into adulthood each year. This significantly increases the likelihood of interaction between law enforcement and autistic individuals, making it especially critical for officers to receive this training.

Yet, autism training is not currently widely taught, with only 45% of officers surveyed said they received training on interacting with autistic individuals. It is VirTra and SARRC’s goal to increase this number, to have more officers trained on the topic of autism and to get law enforcement training with nationally-certified curriculum and real-life scenarios.

To learn more about our autism awareness curriculum, and other curriculum formed with industry experts, contact a VirTra specialist.

Like so many other topics, “dog encounters” is becoming more important in training.

Officers who cannot successfully interpret a canine’s behavior—such as reading cautious as aggressive—will react in a way that isn’t justified. In fact, a quick online search will show dozens of cases where departments were sued, and settled, because an officer wrongfully shot a family pet.

To prevent this, the National Law Enforcement Center on Animal Abuse (NLECAA) and the National Sheriff’s Association (NSA) partnered to create LEDET—Law Enforcement Dog Encounters Training. Instructors receive structured coursework and real-life scenarios for officers to engage with on VirTra’s simulators.

It’s one thing to describe the program and another to show it in action. Below is a video of an officer engaging in a dog encounter inside the V-300 training simulator. Watch as the officer analyzes the situation—an aggressive dog near a park full of children—and how he correctly diffuses the situation.

Best of all, this video is 360°! If you are watching via desktop, click and drag to see around the simulator. If you are watching on mobile, tap the screen and drag to see different angles of the situation.

To learn more about this DOJ-approved program, visit this site.

To learn about incorporating this program in your training regimen, contact a VirTra specialist.

This site is registered on as a development site.