Realism in training – that’s been the goal of law enforcement training for years. Specifically, there’s a need to be able to create a safe environment for confrontation simulations that makes training as real as possible. Sure, the basics of shooting and tactical skills must be learned in the classroom and on the live-fire range, but the application of those basics and a phenomenon called “stress inoculation” is done against living, breathing role-players in scenario-based exercises. Training munitions or marking cartridges are law enforcement’s version of sparring – “all of the thrill,” with limited injury potential.
Paintball is still a popular sport activity in this and other countries. Each weekend participants in competition leagues or recreational players head out and play “paintball.” These .68 caliber “markers” vary in sophistication depending on the price but look little to nothing like real pistols and carbines – and they’re not supposed to. But several years ago the allure of using paintball was obvious. The markers were fairly low cost and the paintball rounds were cheap. Realism, the goal that we set out for, was lost because the guns didn’t function like real firearms and accuracy was not that great.
Shortly after my first introduction to marking cartridge technology I heard about Simunition — a Canadian company that came onto the scene manufacturing marking cartridges and conversion kits to allow their product to be used in the semi-auto pistols, subguns and shotguns. The company was able to make training cartridges that could function in the pistols of that era (1995 or thereabouts when we started). In order to be used in our then duty weapon S&W 5906 semi-auto pistol, we employed a Simunition-made conversion barrel. This barrel did two things: It prevented real 9mm fodder from being introduced into the equation and it allowed the slide to function normally. Later we would purchase dedicated Simunition Glock pistols when we made the move to that line of pistols. Using these products we have done a ton of realistic training for our patrol officers, detectives and SWAT.