To really train for armed confrontations, it is important to make the training scenarios as realistic as possible. Having targets that shoot back and take countermeasures will obviously heighten an operator’s tactical skills…but how can this be accomplished safely? Many years ago, the British Special Air Service used to do what we now call “force-on-force” training in which one operator engaged another during building clearing, ambush, or close protections drills. The SAS used .38 Special cartridges, which had wax bullets pushed into the cases, fired by a primer. Goggles were worn to protect the eyes. Even before that, members of the SAS had stalked each with airguns and used fencing masks to protect the eyes and face. In both cases, getting hit was unpleasant and drove home the lessons learned. More recently, the SAS has used a sophisticated “dueling” system where two operators in different rooms can engage each other’s projected images using live fire.
Less-Lethal Training Systems
There are a few other units that use a similar system with two rooms while others use the video FATS (FireArms Training Systems) in some form. The FATS uses a projected scenario to which the operator responds with a special weapon and hits are recorded for playback. I have used paintball guns as well but found that the guns generally do not resemble those actually used by a unit, not to mention they are quite messy. I taught a military unit bus assaults with paintball guns and had to schedule substantial time for the cleanup.
Simunitions, a system that uses conversion units or dedicated weapons to fire blue or red dye-marking rounds, works very well with most popular duty weapons, and is available as dedicated units or conversion units. However, great care must be taken that only blue guns (those dedicated) or those with Simunitions conversion units are allowed near and on the training facility. Otherwise it would be too easy to have a weapon loaded with live rounds mixed in with training weapons, and I emphasize that great care must be taken.
Simunitions also must be used with special equipment for the participants including face protection, neck protection, and groin protection. When doing Simunitions training long-sleeve shirt and trousers are recommended rather than shorts, and many wear gloves as well. Airsoft guns may also be used for scenario training and have the advantage of being very realistic in appearance and feel. They may also be used with lighter clothing and just goggles for eye protection.