aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

FATS training - in which your intrepid reporter picks up a gun

The favorite course at the Writers Police Academy was FATS training. FATS - or Fire Arms Training Simulator - is used to train officers about how to handle dangerous situations. There are several parts to the system: a large screen where situations are projected life-size, a computer operator who can change what you see based on what you say to the people on the screen, and a Glock (or other weapon) modified to fire a laser instead of live rounds.

I have taken FATS once before, when I was in the FBI citizen's academy. That day I had also fired live ammunition on an outdoor gun range for the first time. In fact, it was the first time I had picked up a gun in my life, and the first weapon I fired was a sub machine gun. That's like going off the high dive the first time you go swimming. Afterward, we each got to try FATS two or three times.

This training was much better. First, after an unfortunate incident during my FBI training in which I failed to warn two bank robbery suspects to keep their hands in the air (which resulted in my partner's death), I knew to command people to keep their hands away in the air/step away from the weapon/put their weapons down. Based on what you say, the computer operator can project a different result - seamlessly.

Second, it lasted much longer - 45 minutes. I split my time with St. Martins author Erica Spindler, and she gave me a bigger chunk of time. I probably interacted with 20 scenarios. It is amazing how fast something will turn. You're only given a moment or two to make a decision about whether someone is reaching for a wallet or a gun. Decide wrong, and somebody dies. Maybe even you.

You always shoot in the center of mass. No trick shots. No trying to hit their arms or legs or the gun they're holding. Even trained cops miss something like 80% of the time.

Some of the scenarios I worked on:
- Domestic: guy sitting on the edge of the fireplace holding a rifle.
- A Columbine like situation with bodies strewn all over. One guy was still alive and pointed to the room where the shooter was hiding.
- A guy who has grappled with an armed mugger (out of your sight, but not out of your hearing) and thrown him off a parking garage. He's all ramped up and challenges you.
- Homeless woman with scissors
- Domestic: woman who has cut her boyfriend with a knife.
- Homeless woman hearing voices and slashing the air with the knife. That one was going pretty well until some stupid clueless woman walked up to her saying, "I work at a hospital and maybe I can help." When the homleless woman lunged at her with the knife, I was forced to fire. (Afterward the cop instructor asked: "Now who did you really want to shoot?")
- Domestic: two people arguing with a knife lying on the coffee table in front of them.

One scenario I didn't work on (that's author CJ Lyons and two other folks you can hear issuing orders):

I killed lots of bad guys and only one good guy. And many times I didn't fire at all.

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Tags: guns

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