When recruits go through the police academy, not only do they need to train for various scenarios and situations, but marksmanship is essential as well. Each state has its own requirements for range performance, and if students do not meet them, they risk being dropped from the course.

There are ways to help improve range training without being on the shooting range. With VirTra’s accurate ballistics, training on a customizable, virtual range helps marksmanship skills transfer to the real range.

One example of how marksmanship simulation training can improve skills occurred with Garden City Police Department in Georgia. Sergeant Dess with the Training and Recruiting Division was concerned that two recruits were experiencing difficulty at the range. With the help of a VirTra System Installer, they were able to recreate the George Pistol Qualification Course on the simulator.

Both recruits had one more day of practice, according to Sgt. Dess, before they would take a range qualification test that they must pass or risk being dropped from the academy. After two hours of simulator practice, the students passed the qualification test the next day and are able to continue on their law enforcement training path. Their qualification scores on the Georgia Pistol Qualification Course were accurate to the scores they achieved while practicing on their V-100® simulator.

“Had they not been able to qualify, they would have been dropped from the academy class which unfortunately would have resulted in being released from employment,” said Sgt. Dess. “That afternoon I spoke to both of the officers via text message and asked if they believed the simulator attributed to their success and they both agreed it did.”

VirTra’s marksmanship program – V-Marksmanship® – allows full customization of the virtual range. Targets and shooting times can be altered to match a qualifications test or just your preference as an instructor. Law enforcement trainers can change the weather, time of day and landscape to test recruits’ proficiency in all conditions.

To learn more about how VirTra can help your agency keep their marksmanship scores high, contact a product specialist.

Making multiple trips out to the range and spending money on ammunition can be expensive. Simulation technology allows trainees to practice in their agency’s own facility and hone their skills before switching to live fire. While this technology is not meant to replace live fire training, it is designed to enhance it and prepare officers or servicemembers so that they perform better on the range.

From the Sim to the Range

With the proper simulator that has enhanced ballistics and tracking capabilities, instructors can deliver a training experience that not only saves time and money, but will give students better scores when they step on the range. By practicing in the simulator first, students can perfect their aim and waste less ammo on the live fire range.

Dave Patterson, a Criminal Justice Instructor at Northwest College in Powell, WY, uses his VirTra V-300® to teach three firearms courses that range from introductory to intermediate. Amazingly, during Patterson’s 2018 Fall and Spring semesters, roughly 70% of his students began with little or no pistol experience prior to the course. But by the end of the semester, the average on-range POST score was over 90%. Through extensive practice and use of VirTra’s simulation, students learned transferrable skills at a higher percentage than in years prior. Patterson noticed that students who get high scores in the simulator only experience a 2% score drop on the range.

Customizable Range Conditions

Real world conditions are never perfect, so why should they be in your simulator? Instructors have the freedom to customize range conditions all from the click of a button; whether its snow, wind, rain, fog or dust. Change the position of the sun to add the distraction of glare, or even let trainees practice in complete nighttime.

The same applies to targets and obstacles within the range. Train in a situation where moving targets pop into view from behind obstacles and through windows, or use traditional human-shaped targets that fall when shot.

Superior Ballistics

VirTra’s technology lets officers and warfighters train using their own weapon – anywhere from a Glock to an automatic assault rifle. This is possible through the numerous recoil kits and CO2 magazines that fit dozens of firearm types. The V-ST PRO® is the best simulator for marksmanship out of all VirTra’s options due to its range-like structure, .02 milliradians accuracy and the ability to have up to six firing lanes per screen. Up to five screens can be added, allowing 30 trainees to practice at once.

Aside from precise ballistics, all of VirTra’s marksmanship simulations are designed to have perspective accuracy; meaning users can kneel, crouch or lay prone without having to tilt their weapon upwards to meet the target onscreen. During the after-action report, students and instructors can view performance, such as targets hit and missed as well as bullet placement.

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.

As a way to ensure servicemembers are well-prepared for any given situation, VirTra’s subject matter experts and content department work together to create high quality, realistic simulator scenarios. Just one example of the dozens of scenarios focuses on vehicle traffic control point training.

Traffic Control Points (TCP), like their name suggests, are locations where military police control the traffic – but it is not just about telling drivers where to go and ensuring orderly flow. Soldiers and warfighters must maintain situational awareness during searches and in case of militant attacks.

The scenario shown in the video below simulates a Traffic Control Checkpoint where a search turns suddenly escalates and an enemy militant opens fire on the student and their squad. This military training scenario allows trainees to understand how quickly situations can turn deadly and how to provide cover for fellow soldiers.

In addition to TCP training, soldiers and warfighters also have access to scenarios for Key Leader Engagement, Combat Training, Green on Blue, Active Threats and much more. Marksmanship is also an important focus, as VirTra has ensured our customizable virtual ranges feature incredible ballistic accuracy so skills transfer properly to the field. Combined with our durable recoil kits and CO2 magazines that fit right into a soldier’s duty weapon, VirTra’s training is the perfect supplement to live-fire.

To learn more about how VirTra can provide intense, realistic and effective training for servicemembers, contact a specialist today.

There is no question that VirTra’s Marksmanship Authoring program is an amazing tool. With marksmanship authoring you can pre-program an entire course of fire with turning targets that expose themselves for select periods of time at pre-designated distances. You can virtually author your entire department’s firearms qualification course into your system to help struggling shooters get their reps in before range qualifications. It’s truly a great tool.

Recently, during an Advanced Trainer Certification Course (ATCC) at our HQ in Tempe I found that many of our clients are not using the free-range portion of our marksmanship program to its fullest potential. As firearms instructor myself, I find our free-range feature to be incredibly functional as a skill builder.

At the last ATCC I had an individual approach me to ask how to counter the argument that simulator training can’t replace live fire. While I can’t counter that argument, I can wholeheartedly endorse the use of our marksmanship package as a supplement to live fire training. Let’s take a minute to discuss the fundamentals of marksmanship.

Stance – Simply put, stance is your foundation starting from the feet up. Just as you wouldn’t want a house built on a weak foundation you can’t shoot well from an unstable platform. Gone are the days of the “Weaver Stance” (I’m old enough to remember that) and current modern law enforcement techniques are teaching a more modern modified isosceles stance with body armor facing the threat in an athletic stance with weight evenly distributed on the balls of your feet to allow for mobility.

Grip – Grip is the manner in which your hands interface with the weapon. Terms like “strong hand” and “support hand” signify which hand you use to manipulate the trigger. Building a proper grip with the principles of leverage, friction, and pressure will enable shooters to manipulate the trigger with an isolated trigger finger allowing for faster more accurate shots.

Sight Alignment – We have all been taught clear front sight placed between the rear sight notch, flush across the top with equal space between each side of the notch and front sight (equal height/equal light). That’s sight picture, but with the advent of pistol mounted red dot sights we need to be open to more modern tools and techniques. (Coming soon… VirTra’s Red Dot Transition and Sustainment program).

Sight picture – This is simply where we place that perfect sight alignment that we discussed above on our target.

Trigger Control – Probably the most important fundamental in marksmanship, trigger control is proper manipulation of the trigger without disturbing your sights. I would go so far as to say that many problems that I’ve solved for problem shooters took place within their trigger guards.

Follow Through – This is a multi-faceted principle. Follow through is a process by which we reset the trigger during recoil and re-place our sight picture on our target. Commonly shortened to reset on recoil, we are setting ourselves up for follow up shots should they be required.

Now back to the VirTra free range function. Completely different from the Marksmanship authoring function, our system provides any number of ranges with or without backstops. Depending on the training objective that you want, you have the option to have a virtual “square range” in your training venue. One of the staples of firearms training is drills.

Once your cadre has established the drills that they want to accomplish, it’s as simple as selecting a free fire range and using the “target management” button to place your targets wherever you need them, just as you would on a square range. There are a number of targets to choose from and there is no limit to the number of targets you can place in your virtual square range. The target “offset” button can used for lateral movement and the “distance” button is used to place your target at various ranges within your virtual space. Quite literally one of the more valuable tools for teaching students’ proper fundamentals without the need for authoring an entire course of fire.  Once fundamentals have been mastered instructors have the option to introduce time standards for the drill by selecting our pro timer.

While nothing can replace live fire, our system is equipped with options that enable firearms instructors to analyze their shooters performance close up and personal, without the normal concerns associated with live fire range practice for pennies on the dollar. Students are likely to feel more comfortable with simulator guns and may be more susceptible to trying new techniques if they aren’t worried about having a negligent discharge and damaging property or hurting themselves or others. There is no need for eye and ear protection so students can clearly hear tips or techniques and the recoil from our recoil kits is substantial enough to give the shooter feedback about their recoil management. Finally, of course, is the advantage of not having to brass-up at the end of the training day.

Feel free to reach out and speak with any of the VirTra SMEs for questions or advice on how to set up your free fire range if you have any questions and as always…

Stay Safe and Train Hard.


This article was written by Mike Clark, VirTra Law Enforcement Subject Matter Expert

With the cost of ammunition continuing to rise, how about a training solution that still allows officers to practice marksmanship with their duty firearms, but for a fraction of the price?

VirTra’s Indoor Shooting Range

Each VirTra simulator is equipped with V-Marksmanship®, a program that allows for training on a variety of targets and courses in the convenient location of a department’s classroom. V-Marksmanship allows instructors to use customizable environments and add an unlimited number of targets, environmental effects—wind direction and speed, weather, altitude, humidity, etc.—and other variables in a variety of distances to test and hone an officer’s skill.

To increase the training factor, targets can be programmed to move front-to-back, left-to-right, or in a box shape and all at different speeds. Training in this manner allows instructors to help officers develop firearm manipulation skills in a safe environment that otherwise could not be performed on a live fire range.

The Realism Behind V-Marksmanship

Having a simulator that looks like a firing range is only part of the equation. V-Marksmanship also boasts the most accurate ballistic calculator in the industry for the most training realism. The ballistic calculator mimics the real-world ballistics based on bullet grain, barrel length, twist rate, sight height and even environmental conditions!

Furthermore, VirTra’s V-Marksmanship ballistic calculator has been independently verified and tested for accuracy up to 2,500 meters within .02 milliradians—thus providing your department with powerfully realistic training that no other training simulator can provide.

The last key of realism is the weapon used. Officers can train using their duty firearms, once outfitted with VirTra drop-in laser recoil kits. This renders the weapon safe, allows it to communicate with the simulator and produces realistic recoil to make training feel like it is on the range.

How Departments Save Money

In addition to saving costs by not having to pay for transportation to a range (or reserve a time or the time spent traveling) departments save in ammunition cost—big time.

Currently, each round of 9mm ammo costs $0.90 for civilians. While departments receive a law enforcement and bulk discount, the price can still be steep, and continues to climb.

Training with VirTra allows officers to use their own weapons with the addition of the drop-in laser recoil kit and CO2 magazine. These magazines help supply the recoil with an approximate cost of $0.02/shot—a dramatic reduction compared to current ammunition costs. As your officers’ train in marksmanship, image how much the department saves in a minute, five or ten. Now multiply this by the number of officers needing training and see the savings pile high.

VirTra understands that budgets are tight, but training after this manner provides high-end training with reduced cost. Learn more ways simulation training can save your department thousands of dollars each year by talking to a VirTra specialist.

Training needs to be realistic. It’s as simple as that.

However, training needs to also be accomplished in both short and long periods of time, be adaptable to the department’s policies and fit in classrooms. As such, a department’s best solution is simulation training. VirTra offers multiple simulators—complete with a different number of screens and footprint—so departments can choose the best option for them.

Best of all, the training stays realistic by allowing officers to train with their service firearms. To keep training safe, secure and to work with the simulator, officers forgo blanks or FX marking cartridges and instead install a drop-in laser recoil kit into the barrel and CO2 magazine into their magazine well.

Due to the nature of VirTra’s recoil kit design, this is not a permanent modification. Meaning, after training, officers simply remove the drop-in laser recoil kit and can again utilize their firearm in the field.

Don’t just take our word for it. VirTra prides ourselves in being able to show what we preach.

Watch how easy it is to install these kits in the video below!

To learn more about the types of drop-in laser recoil kits and how these revolutionize simulation training, contact a VirTra specialist.

Train hard, train smart, train safely with VirTra.

As an instructor, how much pressure does it create, knowing that studies show certain perishable skills can reduce by 50% in two months? Or that other studies have proven that not constantly practicing and performing perishable skills can result in a 25% loss in just two weeks?

Statistics like these should concern instructors, since shooting is considered a perishable skill, and a critical one for all law enforcement to have. While the best course of action to prevent loss of a critical skill is to practice often, it becomes difficult when instructors must transport trainees to and from a range, find ammo funds and practice on a limited number of targets. Not to mention, finding the extra training time amidst the need to train other critical skills such as de-escalation and judgmental use of force.

Simulated Ranges

Thanks to modern technology, one helpful resource instructors now have is the V-Marksmanship® program—a range training program installed on every VirTra simulator. This modern technology allows realistic range training to be performed in the safe, convenient and controlled location of the classroom, saving instructors time and money while allowing these skills to be trained more often.

The convenience continues with the ability to program ranges that are difficult to duplicate in the real world. Now, officers can train in any weather condition—heavy wind, snow, dust— in a variety of environments, with any combination of targets: pepper poppers, Ivans, etc. Having this form of powerful training technology in your classroom allows for more in-depth marksmanship training than before.

In addition to more training possibilities, training via simulators also saves departments a large amount of money. For example, a standard 9mm shot costs an average of $0.51/round. Since simulators utilize CO2 magazines instead of live ammunition, the cost goes down to $0.01/shot. Imagine how much this adds up over the course of a month, or a year! A cost benefit such as this opens up more training, and less skill perishing, for both trainees and seasoned officers. Instructors can read more about the benefits of drop-in laser recoil kits and their corresponding CO2 magazines here.

Range Training

While simulated ranges boast a variety of benefits, VirTra would like to note that simulated range training should act as a supplement to live fire training and not a full replacement. While simulated range training will never completely eliminate the need for live fire, it provides ample real-life training opportunities between trips to the range.

Whether your department travels to the range once a year or once a quarter, training with V-Marksmanship ensures your officer’s shooting skills remain sharp at all times.

To learn more, download VirTra Subject Matter Expert TJ Alioto’s 2021 ILEETA presentation.

Access the presentation here.

How could your department benefit from the ability to train on a virtually unlimited variety of targets and courses? Naturally, this would be an incredible asset for any agency. Fortunately, this ability is provided via VirTra’s V-Marksmanship program, which is installed on every VirTra simulator.

Granted, there are some individuals who hold reservations about simulation training, stating that in-person marksmanship training is best. While VirTra believes range training is the best form of Marksmanship training, relying solely on this form of training limits an officer’s ability to train, as it costs the department significantly in time, money and personnel to have constant on-range training days.

Benefits of Simulated Range Training

Instead, range training should be balanced with simulation range training, which brings the range into the classroom. Here, instructors can use customizable environments and add an unlimited number of targets, environmental effects—wind direction and speed, weather, altitude, humidity, etc.—and other variables in a variety of distances to test and hone an officer’s skill.

Targets can be programmed to move front-to-back, left-to-right or in a box shape, all at different speeds. Training after this manner allows instructors to help trainees develop firearm manipulation skills in a safe environment that otherwise could not be performed on al live fire range. Furthermore, instructors need not fear about training scars or inaccuracies in the system, as independent third parties have verified VirTra’s firearms training simulators to be ballistically accurate.

How Customers Benefit

While verification is good to know, what does it mean for customers? Showing that VirTra’s V-Marksmanship program is equipped with ballistic accuracy ensures an officer’s time spent training on the simulator can increase skills—skills that are ultimately transferred to the field.

For VirTra, it also shows the fruits of our labors to produce training simulators with the highest level of realism. All of the years of engineering effort, software development and testing were combined to create a powerful product any agency can benefit from.

But most of all, third-party verification shows that your officers receive the maximum amount of training and preparedness—no matter your department’s size, budget or other constraints.

To learn more about V-Marksmanship, instructors can watch this program in action below or contact a VirTra representative to learn more.

Train hard, train realistically, train for the field.

VirTra’s V-ST PRO® firing range simulator is an excellent marksmanship tool for police departments worldwide. It’s 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:

Customizable Ranges/Variables

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.

Customizable Targets

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.

Accurate Ballistics Calculator

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.

Realistic Firing Experience

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 Kit— The drop-in laser recoil kit is just as it sounds. This kit is dropped 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 a Glock 17/22.

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.

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