There's something of a disconnect that an officer can feel when he or she works through a scenario on some use-of-force simulators. A bad guy is attacking the officer with a weapon, the officer draws his or her weapon and fires, and then the simulator makes a gun sound and a laser beam hits the bad guy. For officers raised on PlayStation and Xbox, the training session must seem like a video game.
Some companies have tried to solve this problem by building recoil effects into their simulated weapons; others have immersed users in 3D environments with surround sound. American Defense Systems Inc. (ADSI) has taken a different tack.
ADSI, which specializes in the production of transparent and opaque armor for the U.S. military and the engineering of shooting ranges, has teamed up with an undisclosed German company to create one of the world's most sophisticated and versatile live fire simulators, the T2 Training System.
Officers training on the T2 can use their duty weapons and live rounds or their duty weapons and a laser insert. "On our range you can have a rookie officer with a laser insert in his weapon next to an instructor with a live weapon," says Samuel Katz, vice president of tactical systems and special projects for ADSI. "Both the laser and the live fire will interact with the technology."
T2 is basically a three-part system: a computer with projector, a patented diverging spool of weather-resistant and tear-resistant paper fronting a bullet trap, and an infrared sensor. The projector shines the computer-driven scenario onto the paper, and the infrared sensor records both laser and bullet strikes. When the paper is perforated by a live round, another piece of paper backs it to create a light seal so that the infrared sensors will continue working. Katz says the paper is so tear resistant that users have blasted it repeatedly with 12-gauge buck shot without it ripping from the shot perforations. When the paper is used up, the customer just orders more.
The T2 can be installed on an existing range or it can be built into a new range construction project. Ranges can vary in size and layout from shipping containers that can be mobilized on the back of a truck to full-size range facilities and shoot houses. ADSI uses a variety of different materials to stop bullets and prevent ricochets, including baffled steel bullet traps, sand, and its own proprietary armor. "Because we have the technology to keep bullets and blast fragments out, we also have the technology to keep them in," says Katz.
Katz adds that the T2 range system can be designed to stop rounds ranging in size and power from standard handgun ammo to .50 BMG. "The paper and bullet trap system are much more economical and safer than rubber blocks," he says, referring to live fire sims that project their scenarios on bullet-resistant rubber blocks. "When you're shooting into rubber blocks, the possibility of a ricochet is much greater than when you're shooting at paper backed up by a bullet trap." Katz goes on to explain that the ADSI bullet trap system shatters the bullet and deposits the lead fragments in a collector system.
Although it comes with 200 ready-to-go scenarios, most users will want to make their own training videos as well. ADSI says making scenarios for the T2 system is easy if you have a very basic understanding of Microsoft Windows and off-the-shelf digital video equipment. "When a situation like Virginia Tech or Mumbai happens, a training officer can create a scenario immediately," Katz says.
But the real advantage to the T2 system is that it eliminates much of the video game aspect of sim training, says Dave Adams, a retired New York City detective. "To be able to have the ability to shoot at a live video like this with your own gun using live ammunition and have the screen react like this, [makes T2] an invaluable tool as far as training," he says.