Posted on Mar. 9, 2021 by Niki Nelson

If you have been combing through the use-of-force simulator market, you have heard “high fidelity” associated with law enforcement and military training. There is a good reason for this, as high fidelity lends to realistic and effective training.

These qualities are important in any type of training, but especially in simulation training, since trainees are expected to perform just as they would in a real-life situation. Anything less would cause training scars – events where improper training carries over to dangerous mistakes in the real world. There are two types of fidelity that simulators need to have in order to instill proper training techniques and prevent training scars: physical fidelity and psychological fidelity.

Physical Fidelity Training

To have high physical fidelity, a training session should have a realistic setting, hence the ‘physical’ aspect of the name. Besides walking into a simulation, trainees should be equipped with the same tools they use in the field: duty firearm, TASER®, OC spray and other critical tools.

Instructors can get creative in how they implement physical fidelity within their simulator. One way is by adding props, which allows trainees to practice obtaining cover and concealment just as they would in a real-world setting. By using common items found around the department, even ones as simple as boxes or chairs, trainees can learn to work around objects.

Having a multi-screen simulator also brings increased physical fidelity as the view expands from a single screen to multiple screens producing 180300 degrees – allowing officers to keep their head on a swivel and prepare for threats coming from various directions.

Psychological Fidelity Training

While having a realistic environment is important, what is arguably more crucial, is that trainees engage in the same mental processes as in the field—hence the psychology. Simulation training can provide high psychological fidelity when realistic scenarios are used, especially when combined with superior video-based graphics and high-quality sound. This transports trainees to the scene, allowing them to believe the situation is real—even just for a few training minutes.

The goal of psychological fidelity is to instill similar responses to stress and threat cues. If an officer or recruit is training in an unrealistic setting with video game-style characters, they will not show the same empathy or reactions as they would towards a realistic simulated subject – simply because it is obvious that the characters are “fake.”

The bottom line is that officers must have a lifelike training simulation to be able to take the training seriously and react under stress – just as they would in the field.

It is crucial that officers find their training environment ‘believable’ in order to get the most out of it and stay safer on the streets. To learn more about VirTra’s high fidelity use-of-force, de-escalation and firearm training simulators, speak to a VirTra specialist.

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