Guest Post: Simunition
Another post from our friend and fabulous guest blooger, Maggie. I’ve done a bit of simunition training myself and it’s a ton of fun. My favorite part: all the pretty colors! As Maggie reports, this type of training will be available soon to the public. Definitely give it a go if you find a range near you. – nf
Ever wonder how you would react when faced with a threatening situation? What if you could actually shoot the bad guy in a real live fire scenario firing non-lethal but realistic ammunition out of your own Glock or Sig? Picture the kind of force on force training used by police officers and the military to simulate a real time crisis situation and now imagine it’s you, suited up and facing off with a gnarly-faced bad guy. We can always practice how we would respond in theory, but what if you could actually practice retrieving your pistol and shooting at the intruder as he was running up the stairs in your home, towards your family? That is what will soon be available, for the first time, with civilian Simunition training.
I was fortunate recently to attend a demonstration of the Simunition program. I arrived early and found myself sitting in a class of fifty men, many present and retired police officers, where we learned what “simunition” is, what types of protective gear are used in the training exercises and how the conversion kits and specially formulated “ammunition” work with most major types of firearms.
The first question to be answered was what exactly is Simunition? It provides realistic training situations to individuals and teams to improve tactical skills and conditioned response to fear. Used since the 1980s to help law enforcement officers, military personnel and emergency response teams, the same life saving training products are going to be within the reach of civilians.
For protective gear, all observers and participants in training wear safety glasses like one would at the range, however hearing protection is not needed. The FX non lethal ammunition, creates realistic gunfire noise, but does not damage the ears or cause any ringing due to the low sound decibels emitted. All active participants wear a hood with a neck guard and a groin protector as standard attire, a vest and gloves are optional. Being shot feels a bit like a bee sting, enough to make you remember it, but not enough to cause any serious injury.
The actual Simunition firearm system utilizes the frame of most popular firearms onto which a special slide is attached (for a semi-auto). They presently have around 70 different conversion kits for semi automatic handguns and rifles — more are in the works as well. The conversion kit, for example, for the Glock, consists of a replacement slide which is blue in color so as not to confuse it with the real thing. The sights mimic standard factory Glock sights but can be manipulated to match what you would use on your own personal firearm, making the simulation as real as possible. Everything on the gun will work the same way as with normal operation, however the magazine will only load the FX ammo and you cannot chamber a real round in the barrel. The barrel is actually of a two piece construction, specially crafted to fire only the simulation ammunition.
Although this demonstration took place indoors in a classroom, a range environment is best because the training is meant to recreate real combat or confrontations which will bring with it all the stress and adrenaline that one would encounter with a real gunfight. Simuntion is not a game, and it is for this reason that they only approve training for qualified ranges. In our case a range “safe” environment was carefully created in the classroom. A safe direction was established towards the front and blocked off by tables. All participants were required to leave the room and be searched for weapons several times before returning. Once “clean”, participants were able to either watch or participate in the exercises.
First up was firing at paper and three dimensional targets both while standing still and on the move. This exercise demonstrated the way the conversion kits and the ammunition worked. When hit, small red star shaped blotches appeared on the clothing of the “human” targets. The “rounds” are made from a plastic material and filled with a thick soap detergent that is specially formulated to be thick enough to leave the marks. (You can read more about the FX ammunition at www.simunition.com.) If you get hit and have the colored blotches on your clothing you can simply throw it in the washing machine to clean it. I got a chance to fire the Glock 19, which I own. I stood in the safe area with my back to the observers and fired two shots to each of the three dimensional targets. Since this was a demo class the targets were less than ten feet away — so it wasn’t a training exercise as much as it was just to try out the product. It truly feels and performs exactly like the Glock but with less recoil. In my opinion, it felt similar to using my Advantage Arms .22 conversion kit.
Next up, several students left the room to be suited up in protective gear, then came back, one at a time, with their concealed guns and were confronted by an attacker with a knife. Each participant had various levels of firearms training and it was interesting to see how each person reacted to the attack — for example, at what point during the confrontation did they actually reach for their weapon and how close the attacker was to them when they actually fired. In a Simunition training class, the whole scenario was video-taped and replayed for the student, so response time and technique was analyzed. It was interesting to see that all three participants waited too long before they fired at the attackers and although they each had a full magazine available to them, they only pulled the trigger a few times. This would probably not be enough to eliminate the threat, and certainly not enough in those few precious seconds to ascertain whether or not the attacker was still advancing. It is well documented that people who are shot will continue to advance on their victims, either not registering they are injured, or so pumped up on adrenaline or more likely, drugs, they don’t care.
Realistic firearms training is hard to come by for most of us everyday people. But there are many who have CCW permits and/or guns sitting in a safe at home that we hope we don’t ever have to use for home defense. Imagine if we could really have an idea of how a confrontation would play out. How great would it be to “wake” up in your bed, reach into the night stand for your personal safe containing your self defense pistol and then act out exactly what you (and your husband and anyone else in the house) would do when confronted by the bad guys. You could acquire the skills and conquer some of the inevitable fear.
The first training of this kind will soon be available at a new state of the art range being created by Gun for Hire, the firearms school in NJ that hosted this demo event. It is definitely worth checking out. (www.gunforhire.com) Target practice serves its purpose in firearms training, but when it’s the difference between life and death we all want to make sure we have what it takes to come out on top.
Thanks, Maggie. This is fantastic information. We look forward to hearing more about Simunition products soon!