5 Active Shooter Training Scenarios

Staying ready to meet the threat of an active shooter should be one of the primary goals of your tactical unit. With that in mind, let's cover five training scenarios to sharpen your saw.

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Photo: POLICE filePhoto: POLICE file

Editor's Note: This blog is the first part of a two-part blog covering SWAT active-shooter training.

Staying ready to meet the threat of an active shooter should be one of the primary goals of your tactical unit. With that in mind, let's cover five training scenarios to sharpen your saw.

In each of the following scenarios, you'll want to cleanse and search all participants. Don't use real weapons unless they've been converted to fire Simunition rounds and no live ammo. Before running the scenario, check your facility for hazards.

You'll also want to emphasize teamwork with effective communication.

After any initial engagement or encounter with "hostiles," adhere to the plus-one rule—always look for additional threats and weapons. We aren't done after the first bad guy goes down.

The team members, in some scenarios, will need to articulate why they took action or held back. In some scenarios, the rationale for use of force will be self evident.

Role players are a valuable asset and should be used if at all possible. If they aren't available, make due with what you have. All scenarios should be set up as a win for the students. They should evolve from direct and simpler to the more complex.

Scenario #1, Immediate Confrontation: The contact team is briefed by a controller. The suspect is active. A shot was fired within the past 30 seconds. There are two dead and three wounded. No room clearing is necessary unless the controller gives that instruction. After being given direction, the team moves toward the last known location of the shooter. On their way down the hallway, the shooter emerges from a room. The team engages and puts down the shooter.

This one is simple, direct, and quick. The goal is to work as a team, covering danger areas as they move. Put down the threat and drive on, if necessary.

Scenario #2, Rear-guard Action: The team is directed toward the last known location of the shooter. The controller directs the team to clear rooms. After the clearing element begins to clear a room, the shooter will emerge from a room the team had bypassed (at the controller's direction) and engage the rear guard.

The goal of this scenario is to ensure force security. This scenario also reiterates the importance of the rear guard and the team concept. The team must regroup before approaching the downed shooter and continuing on.[PAGEBREAK]

Scenario #3, Suicidal Shooter: The controller briefs the team on a report of an upset student (or other individual) in the school/business with a gun. It's unknown if shots have been fired or if anyone has been injured or killed. Role players really help in this one. The team advances and encounters students that tell them the gunman is a friend of theirs and there is no need for the police. "Just go, we'll take care of him." The students at first won't leave the area and the shooter slowly emerges from a room farther down the hall. He has the Sims weapon (unloaded with even FX ammo) to his head. He tells the team whatever he's upset about—grades, girlfriend, etc. He states that he has no reason to live. On the cue of the controller, the role players do as instructed by the team. The team either conducts an ad hoc negotiation with the gunman or, if he failed to put down the weapon, employs deadly force.

If they shoot, they should be able to articulate why—examples include reaction is slower than action or the shooter failed to comply and was a deadly threat. If they don't shoot, they should have one voice on the team talking to the suspect and then work as a team when he complied with instructions (on cue from controller). All the while, the team is paying attention to danger areas. Plus one. This one works well after the first two shoot scenarios as the student are amped up and have to slow down and assess. Either outcome is correct, but they must articulate the course of action. I've done this one several hundred times and it works out to about a 50/50 split.

Scenario #4, Back Shooter: The team is briefed that an active shooter is on the loose and killing victims. They advance and see numerous role players fleeing out of a room and away from them down a hallway, screaming, "He's going to kill us." The shooter comes out of the same room, immediately on their tail. The gun is at his side, never pointed at the role players or police. He matches the description given at the briefing. He keeps advancing after the students.

The goal of this one is for the team to make a quick assessment and put down the shooter before he gets around a corner (loss of visual) or shoots the victims. We don't train to shoot suspects in the back. The debrief can begin with a question from the controller. "You just shot a suspect in the back. Can you articulate why?" Then have them build their probable cause from the briefing on to the conclusion.

Scenario #5, Room Clearing: Contact with the shooter has been lost. The controller instructs the team to begin clearing rooms (stack and hook or criss-cross). They clear a number of rooms, find the shooter, and engage.

The goal of this one is to put down the shooter without rushing into the room (plus one). Victims in the room require a quicker response, but not a reckless entry. The shooter can also transition into barricade mode, and the team must reevaluate the situation. Bring him out with clear concise instructions spoken by one team member. In either version, the team always watches danger areas for another threat.

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Lieutenant (Ret.)
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