VSS Featured in “The Organic Prepper”

My first trip to a virtual simulation shooting facility

Virtual simulation training is now available for civilians

My firearms instructor is incredibly innovative.  (If you are anywhere near Sacramento, you can find her here.) When she discovered a virtual simulation facility within an hour of us, she invited me along to try it out. We headed to Virtual Safe Shot in Fair Oaks, California.

Unsurprisingly, the training for civilians is quite different. A strong emphasis of this training is on shoot/don’t shoot scenarios. Not all situations require that your firearm be discharged and because the instructors mix up the situations, you don’t know whether to expect a kid to pop around the corner of your basement stairs or a wild-eyed drug addict. And really, isn’t that how it is in real life?

Some scenarios that were addressed in the training I took read like a person’s worst nightmare:

  • A convenience store robbery
  • A mass shooter at a school
  • A carjacking
  • A home invasion
  • Surprising a burglar in your home
  • A knife-wielding ex who is intent on killing your neighbor

Anyone can imagine being caught up in one of these scenes because they’re taken directly from the headlines. Even though you know the situation isn’t real and that your life is not in danger, you get a surge of adrenaline – you know something is going down, but you don’t know what to expect. Everything that happens, happens fast.

The guns at the facility are real Glock 17s that have been modified to shoot only harmless lasers. The recoil is CO2 driven so you get the feel of shooting a gun with real ammo – this means that you must quickly reacquire your target if a second shot is needed. Beginners work with stationary targets and replica pistols, while advanced shooters practice simulations in which they must draw their weapons, move, verbally interact, take cover, and shoot from a covered position. The accuracy of this technology is 4 pixels – that means if you show a hit on the screen, it would have been a hit in real life.

The instructors at this facility are retired police officers, which means that they brought something very different to the table: understanding how an investigation will work. Any time you discharge your firearm, even to defend your life or someone else’s, you have to be able to defend your action legally.

In this anti-gun day and age, the liberal media is all too ready to crucify a person using a firearm, even if they are using that firearm to defend themselves or others. The instructors discussed each scenario with us after it was finished. They explained what we would likely be asked when the police arrived on the scene and also, what might make officers believe that a self-defense shooting was actually a homicide. (Hint: You were in fear for your life and you want a lawyer. Then, shut up until your attorney arrives.)

Here’s what I learned.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I’m pretty accurate under pressure. (Of course, there’s always room for improvement but for my first time firing at a moving target, I did well hitting what I aimed at.)

Unfortunately, I was a little bit trigger happy, something I don’t like to admit. Early on, there were a couple of scenarios in which I would have been better off to wait before firing. And in one very unfortunate situation, I accidentally hit a bystander as well as the criminal.

But this was a good learning experience. By the end of my session, my shoot/don’t shoot discretion had greatly improved. I became far more aware of bystanders instead of hyper-focusing on the threat.  I would hazard a guess that unless a person has a military or law enforcement background, then like me, they haven’t had much experience making these types of judgment calls.

The most important part of this training is the replay. First, you see a readout of how many shots you fired, how many of them were non-lethal hits, how many were lethal, and how many hit someone they shouldn’t have. Even when you know this is only a simulation, it’s very sobering when you see that you shot someone that should not have been shot. Virtual reality gives you a cold hard smack of actual reality and it isn’t pleasant because you immediately realize that in a true emergency, the same thing could have easily happened.

Then, the instructor discusses the scenario. You learn what you did wrong and what you did right. They give you tips on improving your strategy and/or accuracy if needed. You discuss how this shooting would look from a legal standpoint, and if necessary, you get the chance to repeat the scenario and do it better. This breakdown of the scenario is an invaluable tool, because in VR, you get a do-over. Not so in real life.

I left feeling a little conflicted. I was more confident because of my accuracy, but more aware of the pitfalls of firing a weapon. Those pitfalls should be obvious – we discuss them in CCW classes, read about them online, and watch them on the news. But until you see that the shot you fired missed the bad guy and lethally hit the person behind him, it doesn’t make quite the same impression.

If you carry a firearm, you need some advanced training.

I strongly recommend this type of training. I replaced one of my range sessions each month with virtual simulation training. I believe that if the day ever comes when I must draw my gun to use it, I’ll be far better prepared than I was before I discovered Virtual Safe Shot and the informative, encouraging instructors there. You can play scenarios over in your mind as much as you want, but this is as close to the real thing as you can get. And trust me – you, too, will probably discover that you aren’t as ready as you think you are.

As well, I regularly take my teenage daughter. She is comfortable using a firearm at the range, but if she was home alone and needed to protect herself, I believe that this type of training would help her to make the best possible decisions in a terrifying situation.

This is not a substitute for shooting your real firearm, but it’s an incredible complimentary type of training. This is the level of tactical training that professionals get, and if you can find it in your area, you’ll be far better prepared to use your firearm – or not – should the situation warrant that you do so.

The instructors at this facility are retired police officers, which means that they brought something very different to the table: understanding how an investigation will work. Any time you discharge your firearm, even to defend your life or someone else’s, you have to be able to defend your action legally.

In this anti-gun day and age, the liberal media is all too ready to crucify a person using a firearm, even if they are using that firearm to defend themselves or others. The instructors discussed each scenario with us after it was finished. They explained what we would likely be asked when the police arrived on the scene and also, what might make officers believe that a self-defense shooting was actually a homicide. (Hint: You were in fear for your life and you want a lawyer. Then, shut up until your attorney arrives.)

Here’s what I learned.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I’m pretty accurate under pressure. (Of course, there’s always room for improvement but for my first time firing at a moving target, I did well hitting what I aimed at.)

Unfortunately, I was a little bit trigger happy, something I don’t like to admit. Early on, there were a couple of scenarios in which I would have been better off to wait before firing. And in one very unfortunate situation, I accidentally hit a bystander as well as the criminal.

But this was a good learning experience. By the end of my session, my shoot/don’t shoot discretion had greatly improved. I became far more aware of bystanders instead of hyper-focusing on the threat.  I would hazard a guess that unless a person has a military or law enforcement background, then like me, they haven’t had much experience making these types of judgment calls.

The most important part of this training is the replay. First, you see a readout of how many shots you fired, how many of them were non-lethal hits, how many were lethal, and how many hit someone they shouldn’t have. Even when you know this is only a simulation, it’s very sobering when you see that you shot someone that should not have been shot. Virtual reality gives you a cold hard smack of actual reality and it isn’t pleasant because you immediately realize that in a true emergency, the same thing could have easily happened.

Then, the instructor discusses the scenario. You learn what you did wrong and what you did right. They give you tips on improving your strategy and/or accuracy if needed. You discuss how this shooting would look from a legal standpoint, and if necessary, you get the chance to repeat the scenario and do it better. This breakdown of the scenario is an invaluable tool, because in VR, you get a do-over. Not so in real life.

I left feeling a little conflicted. I was more confident because of my accuracy, but more aware of the pitfalls of firing a weapon. Those pitfalls should be obvious – we discuss them in CCW classes, read about them online, and watch them on the news. But until you see that the shot you fired missed the bad guy and lethally hit the person behind him, it doesn’t make quite the same impression.

If you carry a firearm, you need some advanced training.

I strongly recommend this type of training. I replaced one of my range sessions each month with virtual simulation training. I believe that if the day ever comes when I must draw my gun to use it, I’ll be far better prepared than I was before I discovered Virtual Safe Shot and the informative, encouraging instructors there. You can play scenarios over in your mind as much as you want, but this is as close to the real thing as you can get. And trust me – you, too, will probably discover that you aren’t as ready as you think you are.

As well, I regularly take my teenage daughter. She is comfortable using a firearm at the range, but if she was home alone and needed to protect herself, I believe that this type of training would help her to make the best possible decisions in a terrifying situation.

This is not a substitute for shooting your real firearm, but it’s an incredible complimentary type of training. This is the level of tactical training that professionals get, and if you can find it in your area, you’ll be far better prepared to use your firearm – or not – should the situation warrant that you do so.

Reprinted with permission from The Organic Prepper.