Just how important is it for law enforcement officers to practice transitioning between lethal and less-lethal tools? VirTra’s V-300® simulator was used in a recently published, peer-reviewed study in The Police Journal titled “Lost in transition: The effects of transitioning between firearms and electronic control devices (ECDs) on perception-response times (PRTs)” involving the effects and response times while transitioning between firearms and Axon® TASERs®. The surprising results of the study show that not only do officers not get enough of this type of training, but they also need it.

The study, written by industry experts Dr. Paul Taylor, Paul Sipe and Lon Bartel, involved a group of 139 active law enforcement officers who had their response times measured between firearm to TASER and vice versa. Officers demonstrated these actions through the VirTra simulator using rotating targets on the simulated range and firearms/tools modified for use within the simulator.

The results show that transitioning between the two tools is not simply a mindless task. It takes 2.49 seconds on average for an officer to transition from TASER to firearm and 4.7 seconds to change from a firearm to TASER, proving that the two are “not equivalent tasks.”

The study made clear that the results show implications for law enforcement training. According to the authors, 70% of the study participants were not required by their agencies to perform weapon transitions and did not appear to be fully comfortable with the task, with some having to look down at the tool they are drawing from their belt.

Transitioning through use-of-force options is needed as sometimes the force option required changes depending on how the subject acts. There have been high profile instances where the wrong tool was grabbed by mistake (such as the Daunte Wright shooting) that show the dangers of not being well-trained or properly equipped.

VirTra is the only simulation company that offers a certified Weapon Transitions course. Part of the V-VICTA™ library, Weapon Transitions is a 5-hour course that has passed rigorous review by IADLEST and received NCP certification. With changing scenarios that trainees cannot predict, instructors can use VirTra’s simulators to replicate a situation where they may need to suddenly go up or down the use-of-force continuum.

To read the abstract and download the study, click here.

When a non-compliant subject is resisting law enforcement officers, but their actions do not warrant the use of deadly force, the Axon® TASER® is often able to subdue the unruly individual. Temporarily immobilizing someone may cause them to cease the actions that prompted the TASER use in the first place, but this is not always the case. Situations evolve quickly and at unpredictable rates, so police may need to switch from a TASER to a firearm in case what was once seemed minor turns into a serious threat to officer and public safety.

While the TASER and firearm are on opposite sides of the belt, in a high-stress situation and/or one when an officer may not have had effective or frequent training, the two may be confused. When confronted with a sudden stressful situation that an officer isn’t prepared for, mistakes occur, and sometimes they result in death.

TASER training is more than just learning how to aim the probes to the correct location of a person’s body – although that is a part of it. Members of law enforcement also must know how and when to transition from a TASER to firearm and vice versa, depending on what happens in an ever-changing situation. VirTra has a certified V-VICTA™ course dedicated to not only TASER use, but transitions – aptly titled “Weapon Transitions.”

Like other V-VICTA curriculum, Weapon Transitions is available to all VirTra customers under an annual service agreement. It is a 5-hour nationally-certified course that is recognized in 37 states by POST. With the use of simulated scenarios along with a training manual containing training points, testing materials and more, officers and trainees can practice weapon transitions in an environment that is safe and controlled, but also realistic enough to simulate stress.

VirTra’s TASER Products

Along with curriculum such as TASER Targeting and Weapon Transitions, VirTra supplies agencies with drop-in replacement TASER simulation cartridges that allow officers to practice with their duty TASER within a VirTra simulator. With TX2 and X26P options, plus more in the works, instructors can train officers and trainees by monitoring their performance right from their desktop due to the unique laser IDs that are assigned to each trainee weapon. During debrief, instructors can see exactly where probes hit or missed.

The V-TX2 and V-X26P follow the same set of goals as other VirTra products – ensuring realism for the most effective training experience that will allow skills to properly transfer to the field. With physical fidelity met by the combination of a lifelike design and accurate trajectory and psychological fidelity fulfilled with stress-inducing scenarios, VirTra aims to keep officers and their communities safe and able to go home at night.

If you would like to learn more about how VirTra helps law enforcement members with TASER training and weapon transitions, contact a product specialist.