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.

Virtual Simulators are Immersive

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.

Experience Any Imaginable Scenario and Environment

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.

In-Depth Progress Measurement

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?

How This is Accomplished

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.

Professional Actors and Equipment

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.

Using the Entire Toolbelt

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.

Threat-Fire® Consequence Device

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 Scenarios and Marksmanship

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.

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?

Written Tests

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.

Scenario-Based Tests

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.

Working Through Uncertainty

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.

Why Scenario-Based Simulations

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.

Immerse in Realistic Scenarios

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 do you debrief training performance? Are you the law enforcement training instructor that simply reviews a trainee’s performance? Or do you maximize your debriefing time by having trainee’s analyze their own mistakes and discussing corrective actions?

Debriefings are valuable for both instructors and trainees. This is a time dedicated to learning; where trainees learn from their errors while instructors learn about the trainees—their thought process, behaviors and potential training scars. As an instructor, it is difficult to change a student’s actions without understanding why they did what they did.

Begin the debrief by showing an effort to be open and honest so the trainees follow in this mindset. Make it clear this time is set for self-reflection and criticism. To prevent trainees from making excuses to save face, keep critiques centered around the learning and not the person. Be sure to monitor the officer’s physiological presence and physical reactions before, during and after training in the simulator and over time to help determine how training can be improved.

Streamline your debriefing by centering the discussion on these four questions:

What Did You Know Beforehand?

Start the discussion with this question. This provides a clear answer to how the student interpreted the information provided before the exercise. With larger classes, the answer may vary and there could be a correlation between each student’s interpretation of the information and their corresponding actions in the situation.

Analyzing their understanding also helps eliminate future miscommunication. For instance, a trainee might not have clearly understood a term or acronym before engaging in the situation. Or if the student failed to pay attention beforehand, it is clearly exposed.

Another benefit of this question is the ability to see how the stress of the situation affected them. Trainees who fully understand the objectives beforehand could have easily forgotten them the moment the weight of the situation hits.

What Did You See and Hear?

In high-stress, complicated scenarios, law enforcement officers may experience in-attentional blindness. Rather than focusing on every detail in a situation, people naturally concentrate on the elements they deem most important and ignore the rest. This is a natural human phenomenon that can turn deadly for officers, as these small and seemingly unimportant aspects of a situation can quickly turn into a threat.

The same thing occurs with selective hearing. Focused attention on a specific sound helps a person to zero in by ignoring irrelevant distractions. However, the consequence, like with in-attentional blindness, is missing the small details that could be an important signal.

Use this time to review or restart the situation with your trainees and point out small visual and auditory elements they missed that could have completely changed their decisions.

What Did You Do and Why?

Since the previous questions caused students to better understand the situation, now is the time for self-reflection. Whether the trainees made correct or incorrect choices, this question helps recall their actions from a fresh perspective.

During training, instructors need to jump in immediately to correct mistakes. Training is focused on action and accomplishing objectives. But after, debriefing is spent reflecting and understanding why the corrections lead to a better outcome. When students understand the reasoning, they are more likely to rely on those corrections in the future.

What Would You Do Differently?

Ask this question last, as it builds upon the foundation created by the previous questions. If possible, change the debriefing style to a Socratic seminar. Self-discovery and analysis can be more effective as students discuss each other’s performance and reasoning.

The Socratic seminar method engages the class and pinpoints misunderstandings. Perhaps most importantly, this type of discussion helps trainees understand the concept at a deeper level while moving the information to their long-term memory.

Improve your department’s AAR’s and debriefs by balancing the time spent on learning and reflection. Debriefs are made easier through the use of VirTra simulators. With our TMAR picture-in-picture recording system equips the simulator with a camera and microphone to record the trainee. After, review this footage together while discussing their decisions. To learn how to maximize this reviewing function and equip your simulator with a TMAR device, please contact us.

Train hard, stay safe and keep it consistent.

When VirTra’s use of force training simulators are used in Law Enforcement or Military Training, the training processes work in much of the same way. One aspect of VirTra’ s system involves three major parts. These three parts functions together and they are: scenario debriefing, TMaR (Trainee Monitoring and Recording), and the Instructor Control Panel.

Scenario Debriefing

VirTra’s use of force simulators have a unique option that the instructor is able to “Debrief” the trainee immediately after they go through a scenario. It is extremely beneficial to be able to replay the scenario in slow motion and look at what force was used, was it verbal, less lethal or lethal force.  Trainees are able to walk the instructor through their thought process while seeing the scenario in front of them while the instructor is able to point cues that the trainee may have missed.  This feedback is critical to the learning process.

Being able to debrief and collect data from all trainees will show where additional training needs to be focused on. It will also train and remediate training flaws in a controlled environment. Where remedial training can be done prior to a real-life situation. This alone will save officers, solders and civilian lives. Because VirTra’s use of force simulations are customizable, it is possible for instructors to alter the scenario or even put trainees into different scenarios that will help them address weaknesses and better prepare them for the line of duty.

Trainee Monitoring and Recording (TMaR)

Trainee Monitoring and Recording, or TMaR, allows instructors to monitor and record their trainees while they are in the simulator responding to the events. This is advantageous to both the trainee and the trainer. The functionality of this system being able to be replayed during the debrief stage, on the same screen as the scenario makes for an excellent training aid. Trainers are able to point out to the trainee anything that they are doing right or wrong, from having a finger on the trigger to missing an aggressor due to their tunnel vision. This isn’t just an instructor telling a trainee that they need to work on something. This is video proof that is replayed during debrief with the scenario on the same screen showing the trainees reaction to the scenarios.

As the scenario plays out and the trainee responds to the simulation, the instructor can make playback notes for the trainee. Then, the picture-in-picture functionality provides an awesome debriefing tool, allowing the instructor and trainee to review the entire session play-by-play or simply revisit any problem areas that may need addressing. TMaR is an optional package that works alongside VirTra’s use of force simulators.

Trainees who can view their actions during a scenario are far more likely to improve the ways in which they react to those scenarios in the future, whether during a simulation or in the real world. With TMaR and the ability to watch the entire scenario or even parts of the scenario, even in slow motion, it becomes easier for instructors to help trainers understand strengths and weaknesses.

Instructor Control Panel

The instructor control panel is where the instructor can customize the chosen scenario in several unique ways, including adding audio to choosing between different branches that change the outcome of a scenario depending on the trainees’ actions or reactions to what is happening in the simulator.   What’s more, the instructor also has access to VirTra’s Threat-Fire. Threat-Fire is a patented piece of equipment that VirTra is the soul source supplier of. This system gives the instructor the ability to stimulate the stress response of the trainee for any type of situation which raises the trainees heart rate, causes vasoconstriction, activates other endocrine system responses. These all being the response to any stress in the field.

Using these unique features of VirTa’s judgmental use of force simulator will give the trainee a realistic approach to real life scenarios while in a controlled environment where the trainee can learn from their own behaviors and reactions giving them an opportunity to change bad behavior and tactics while honing in the good behavior and tactics. Being able to put trainees through real life situations prior to it actually happening will save officers, soldiers, and civilian lives.

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