Originally Published in IADLEST Magazine

Think about when you first became a law enforcement officer—whether it was a few years ago or decades. Either way, few officers had Red Dot Optics/Sights (RDS) mounted on their duty sidearms. But as time has gone on, technology has advanced and evolved to bring modern officers a tool that produces increased accuracy in the field. As such, pistol mounted RDS are becoming increasingly popular and departments everywhere are discussing the accessory.

A simple Google search will display dozens of departments nationwide who have made the switch to RDS, and often, their means of purchase. Since RDS isn’t exactly a cheap accessory—accuracy is critical, so understandably quality materials and precision cost more—some departments have to get creative with finding funds, whether it be through a fundraiser, donation or grant. This goes to show the dedication departments have to improving their officer’s abilities in the field.

So why do departments care so much about RDS? Simply stated, RDS allows officers to focus on the threat while overlaying the dot on its intended point of impact. It is easier, quicker and more accurate, making it a valuable tool to decrease liability in officer involved shootings. But as with any new technology, before jumping in, departments must fully understand both the transition from iron sights to RDS, as well as the pros and cons of this accessory.

To begin, the pistol mounted RDS was originated and popularized by Aimpoint®, which offers several models and versions, depending on the specific need. Differences can include MOA dot size, night vision settings, weight, submersible abilities, length and more—providing departments with the best accessories to fit their officer’s jobs. However, with all of these abilities comes a learning curve. The learning curve will be especially steep for veteran officers who have spent their careers relying on iron sights. It becomes a matter of learning to rely and familiarize oneself with a new sighting system. This, in addition to cost of new equipment and training, are the biggest cons to RDS.

That said, the pros to RDS are substantial. Some of the most notable are:

  • A pronounced jump in accuracy and passing scores for new recruits
  • Ability to aim with both eyes open, increasing situational awareness while reducing cross-dominance eye issues
  • Aid in shooter diagnostics, particularly isolation of the trigger

While the RDS is revolutionary, it does not replace the already-established fundamentals all officers know and were trained on. Stance, grip, trigger control and follow-through do not change, so officers simply need training on using the accessory. This reduces the learning curve to just learning the accessory, not having to change or relearn anything previously taught by instructors or the academy.

To aid in easing the learning curve, while also increasing one’s familiarity and expertise with the accessory, VirTra created a 4-hour nationally-certified course on the pistol mounted RDS. Titled “Red Dot Optic Training & Sustainment,” this course was created in collaboration with Victory First® utilizing the Acro P-2 by Aimpoint®. Instructors receive all materials needed to teach the course, such as pre-tests, surveys, rosters, instructor’s manual and, best of all, 21 training drills that are compatible with VirTra simulators to test the officer’s knowledge and RDS skill.

After all, classroom teaching can only get an officer so far. Extensive range training—whether it be on a physical range or virtual—allows for increased practice and familiarity that easily transitions to the field. VirTra’s virtual range is especially beneficial, as instructors can easily provide range training with the RDS right there in the classroom. Gone are the days of expensive marksmanship training, or that done with iron sights.

Since Pistol mounted RDS is a relatively new technology, your department may not utilize it, or at least not completely. But as your department transitions and modernizes, to ensure your officers are properly trained on this accessory, remember to train with nationally-certified materials. “Red Dot Optic Training & Sustainment” can help your department, no matter the size, unique difficulties or learning curve. Now is the time to embrace new technology, implement it and stay two steps ahead.

One thing can always be counted on: there is nothing constant but change. One change that has come to many law enforcement agencies is the switch between iron sights and red dot sight (RDS) optics for pistols. There can be a learning curve like there is with acquiring any new skill – but VirTra provides solutions to help overcome the nuances.

If you have a VirTra simulator, you can access the “Red Dot Optics Training and Sustainment” course. This NCP-certified curriculum has 21 accompanying training drills. It was created in conjunction with Victory First® utilizing Aimpoint® red dot optics. The goal is to allow officers to learn skills in the simulator, then practice on the range with minimal transfer time.

One of the ways officers have gotten to practice both in a VirTra simulator and on the range is through the recent Action Target Law Enforcement Training Camp (LETC). VirTra’s Subject Matter Expert Mike Clark taught the Red Dot course to several members of law enforcement. Those who completed the course received a certificate as well as new knowledge to bring back to their agencies.

 

The Effects of a Smooth Transition

An agency that is about to switch out their iron sights for RDS is Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Sgt. Micah Evans took Mike Clark’s Red Dot course in preparation for the change. Sgt. Evans and his colleagues currently utilize the simulator at Utah Attorney General’s Office.

“The simulator drills help get the officers dialed into using the optic,” said Sgt. Evans, referring to how training in the simulator helped his performance on the range. “The transition to live fire using the same drills really helped get the officers familiar with the optic.” While no training can imitate real-life ballistics with 100% accuracy, VirTra gets close with accuracy up to 2,500 meters within .02 milliradians.

 

Hands-On vs. Classroom Training

It is common to hear people say they are visual learners. Many say that they learn better by doing rather than listening to a lecture. Practicing the motor skills is far more engaging than reading about it in a textbook or listening to a presentation. It also helps acquire the skills as well as learning the difference between RDS and iron sights.

The Red Dot Optics course at LETC allowed attendees the experience of having an indoor classroom with pre-tests, indoor simulator sessions, then going to the live fire range to apply the knowledge learned.

When asked if the style of training completed in the LETC Red Dot Optics course was something he would continue to practice, Sgt. Evans stated that it is a style he attempts to do with officers whenever they train. “I am a strong believer in situational based training over flat range and class room,” said Sgt. Evans. “Using the combination that this program offers is exactly the type combined training I strive to provide to my officers.”

 

Action Target LETC Red Dot Range Training

 

Certified Coursework

As mentioned above, the course is NCP-certified – but what does that mean for you? VirTra ensures its V-VICTA® courses (such as Red Dot Optics Training and Sustainment) are certified by IADLEST to ensure quality of content. NCP certification is recognized by POST in 36 states, allowing officers who complete the courses to receive continuing education credit.

This type of coursework allows learning to be done beyond just listening to an instructor verbally explain a topic. Students practice and are tested using the VirTra simulator while learning topics based on case law and real after-action reports. Courses being pre-certified saves time for instructors. Normally approvals would be needed, coursework would need reviewing…and it would have to be written! Just one hour of curriculum saves an instructor 65 hours of research, preparation, writing, reviewing, and approving.

Red Dot Optic Training and Sustainment is much more than just a lecture or repetitive range drill. It contains 21 drills to test the student on what they have learned – plus accurate debrief sessions that follow. It only takes a second to pull in the target so you can see the point of aim over point of impact and repeat!

 

VirTra highly recommends situational-based training as it prepares trainees and officers for the real world better than any lecture could. If your agency is switching to red dot optics and interested in practicing the skills in a simulator, contact a product specialist.

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.

It is easy to focus on de-escalation, mental illness, or active threat training—after all, each of these topics are often front-and-center in the news and are encouraged by communities everywhere. But what about other training that rounds out both your training regimen and your officers’ skillsets? 

VirTra worked with Victory First®—a training and consulting company—to create the nationally-certified course “Red Dot Optic Training and Sustainment.” This was done utilizing Aimpoint® red dot optics. This course is designed to equip officers with the skills to successfully transition from traditional iron sights to a pistol-mounted red dot optic, a valuable tool for officers everywhere. 

Utilizing Red Dot Optic Training

The way VirTra designed this course, instructors can use these materials to either teach officers with little/no experience, or as a sustainment for officers already familiar with the skill. The Red Dot Optic Training curriculum comes with a pre-test, post-test, lecture materials and range drills, allowing instructors to implement and customize training based on their department’s needs.  

For example, officers new to the skill will need the whole package; tests, lecture materials and drills to learn and perfect the skill. However, officers already familiar with these materials may only need to engage in daily drills to keep skills sharp. 

Further customization comes from the drills themselves. This course comes with 21 detailed drills, including: how many yards out the target is, time limits, which targets are used, how many rounds and repetitions the trainee must engage in, and further instructions for the shooter. As such, instructors can use these drills on their VirTra training simulators, or recreate the drills with live fire on the range.  

Course Certification 

As mentioned above, VirTra’s Red Dot Optic Training is nationally-certified. This curriculum received its National Certification Program award through IADLEST, thus providing departments with 4 hours of certified training. The certification process requires thorough reviews and a rigorous independent review process, so departments know they are receiving quality training materials. 

To start implementing this curriculum into your department, and take your training to the next level, contact a VirTra training specialist 

VirTra has recently launched certified curriculum with 21 training drills in conjunction with Victory First® utilizing Aimpoint® red dot optics. This coursework – “Red Dot Optic Training and Sustainment” – is part of the V-VICTA® line of curriculum provided to clients. It is being officially announced and demonstrated at SHOT Show 2022.

Aimpoint is recognized as the originator of red dot sight technology and has provided military, law enforcement and commercial clients with a more accurate shooting experience. Because of the wide usage of red dot sights and how increasing numbers of law enforcement agencies are using them, VirTra wanted to work with Aimpoint to help officers practice adjusting to the use of red dot sights.

Victory First not only trains law enforcement but provides accessories and gear for officers as well as responsible firearm owners. As a retired police officer and U.S. Marine veteran, Owner Matt Jacques has used his vast knowledge to assist VirTra in writing and reviewing the curriculum and its associated training drills.

“I was truly humbled to have VirTra contact me to build out the RDS syllabus and course materials for their simulators” said Matt Jacques, owner of Victory First. “Spending time with their staff and the people who bring all of the coursework and drills to the level of realism the VirTra systems provides was an honor. The VirTra simulators offer a huge advantage for agencies to be able to provide education, supplement and maintain proficiency with their issued gear. This program will provide education on RDS handgun selection, fielding, initial training as well as sustainment training at a time when more Law Enforcement agencies adopt RDS optics on duty handguns.”

With 21 detailed training drills, the goal of the course is to allow officers to practice drawing, aiming and more with red dot sights. Law enforcement members will also be able to review the pros and cons of using a red dot sight before moving onto drills where they can test their skills. Even learning how to deal with sight failures due to damage or expired battery is something that trainees can do.

The upcoming Red Dot Optic Training and Sustainment curriculum is provided for free to all VirTra customers that are on an annual service agreement. It will consist of 4 hours of curriculum and has passed rigorous review from IADLEST to receive NCP certification. It can also be seen this week until the 21st at VirTra’s SHOT Show booth – Booth #30009.

To learn more about the new curriculum and how it can be integrated into your department’s training, contact a specialist.