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.

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.

TEMPE, AZ  – March 16, 2011 – Don Andrus, VirTra Systems’ COO and President (PINKSHEETS: VTSI), today announced that VirTra has made sales of its breakthrough range product, VirTra Range(TM), to two of the company’s largest customers.


TEMPE, AZ – January 19, 2011 – Bob Ferris, VirTra Systems’ CEO  (VTSI.PK), today announced the unveiling of the world’s most realistic simulated shooting range for law enforcement – the VirTra Range LE – at the Shot Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The VirTra Range LE simulated shooting range has several advantages to traditional ranges, such as:  enhanced safety, no need for special air purification, no noise pollution, no armor plating, far less facility space required, can simulate both indoor /outdoor ranges and is completely environmentally friendly.

TEMPE, AZ – November 29, 2010 – Bob Ferris, VirTra Systems’ CEO (VTSI.PK), today announced the unveiling of the world’s most realistic simulated shooting range – the VirTra Range MIL – at the I/ITSEC military simulation tradeshow in Orlando, Florida.

The company’s ultra-realistic judgmental use of force and marksmanship firearms training systems are preferred by forces the world over for superior realism, immersion and training effectiveness. With the release of the VirTra Range MIL, the company now offers the most accurate and realistic virtual shooting range ever produced.