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Old July 3, 2005, 10:22 PM   #1
steve154
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FATS training

I am looking for some information on FATS training from anyone here who may use it at their agency. Our indoor range is being shut down by OSHA and needs some serious work. It has been suggested that if the repairs are over the top that we ditch our indoor range and put a FATS system in. We qualify quarterly, two indoor ranges and two outdoor ranges per year. I can only see positives from making two of our qualifications on FATS. Except for the initial cost of the system we would win all around...ammo budget cut in half, income from training other agencies on it and the most important being the actual training value we would receive. Input would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Steve
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Old July 3, 2005, 10:31 PM   #2
DT Guy
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FATS is the ultimate role player 'shoot/don't shoot' practice. The most recent experience I have with it is two years old, so it may have improved since then.

Pluses:
Great realism, and scenarios that involve complex reactions.
Allows safe practice of team tactics without perforating fellow officers (!)
Can underscore and help eliminate some common shooting problems (like flinch)

Minuses:
Not accurate enough to count as 'real' shooting practice-trigger mechanics and sight picture in the dynamic situations are somewhat overshadowed by scenarios


Others will surely know more-my experience is limited-and hopefully they'll chime in.


Larry
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Old July 3, 2005, 11:27 PM   #3
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We have used the FATS system for about 5 years now, and it's great. Really gets the ol' adrenalin pumping. The operator can make ours shoot back, and damn, but those things sting! I learned quickly to wear a vest to sessions . While it's like a big movie, the operator can change the scenario mid-stream, so that the "actors" react to your verbal commands... or screwups. Don't take advantage of cover? The damned thing WILL shoot you . I also like the critique afterwards. I learned that when I come from the holster, I was waving the gun all over instead of a smooth line from holster to target . It was also neat to see how your weapon follows your eye, and the first thing your eye centers on is the BG's gun. 96% of the time that's where my first shot went . Now having sung it's praises, I'll say that it work's beautifully hand in hand with range practice, but it absolutely will NOT take the place of actual range time.
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Old July 4, 2005, 04:33 AM   #4
NSO_w/_SIG
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Quote:
It was also neat to see how your weapon follows your eye, and the first thing your eye centers on is the BG's gun. 96% of the time that's where my first shot went . Now having sung it's praises, I'll say that it work's beautifully hand in hand with range practice, but it absolutely will NOT take the place of actual range time.
That is my experience with it also. Good to supplement to range time but certainly not a replacement
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Old July 4, 2005, 08:18 AM   #5
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We use it as part of our basic firearm's training at the state academy. The state also has a mobile version in a tractor trailer that travels the state. I love it. For accuracy it doen't replace range time, but in some aspects it's better. It's very difficult to accurately portray shoot/don't shoot decisions with paper targets. FATS is much more realistic and dynamic that you can possibly get with live fire. Many guys are "dead-on" on the range but struggle with real world situations, target selection, decision making, etc. I think it's well worth the $, IMHO.
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Old July 4, 2005, 08:43 AM   #6
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My agency has had a FATS system for about 8 years, and as a firearms instructor I have been able to mess with it a lot. It's very cool and helps with the shoot/don't shoot scenarios as others have stated above. It also has features where you can set up a target on the screen and have a range session where all of your shots appear on the target. While that's neat and everything, I have to agree that it is absolutely no substitute for the real thing. Even with the pneumatic guns that are supposed to mimic recoil, you don't get the real recoil effect, or the blast effect. Almost universally, our problem shooters' main problem is anticipating recoil: they can dry fire correctly all day, but when they fire live ammo, they blow it. There is no way to work on this with FATS, as the pneumatic recoil is gentle. Also, on our system the magazine of the gun is captive, and while you can release it, it only comes out about an inch to simulate a reload. This cuts out reload and tactical reload drills, ball and dummy drills, and a bunch of other stuff that is really relevant.

OSHA regs usually apply to air quality and ventilation on indoor ranges. Your best bet is probably to restrict your ammo to some of that new-fangled lead free, frangible stuff. It is more expensive, but it can keep your range open.
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Old July 4, 2005, 09:41 AM   #7
steve154
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Guys,

I really appreciate the input. I see that all agree that FATS can't replace actual live fire. What do you all think about reducing down to 2 live fire ranges a year and the other two on FATS? I wish we could have both, but in the current atmosphere of budget crisis all over the place it will be impossible to swing.(The budget crisis is of course our fault because we make too much and are greedy bastages )

If you could have it only one way: 2 live fire ranges and 2 FATS ranges, or 4 live fire ranges, what would you pick?

Thanks again,

Steve
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Old July 4, 2005, 09:46 AM   #8
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I may get tarred and feathered by some of the other posters but I would go with 2 and 2. IMHO, that gives you flexibility and pretty comprehensive training. I know of many agencies that only fire once a year with no simulation training. Use the range time to work on fundamentals and shot placement and then put it to use on the FATS. This would be especially helpful during budget shortfalls.
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Old July 4, 2005, 12:12 PM   #9
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Better get another bushel of feathers ready then, 'cause that's my feeling too . All of us shooters here would like to have 365 range sessions a year, but two will do the trick if you've got a decent course of fire.
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Old July 5, 2005, 09:15 AM   #10
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You have to look at what you need from your range practice-can your people shoot (in a basic way) pretty well, and you're trying to challenge their judgment and decision making? If so, do the FATS.

If your folks are still struggling with the mechanics of delivering rounds on target, range sessions are the only way I know of to improve that.


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Old July 5, 2005, 10:26 AM   #11
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DTGuy, you're right about the range time, but we get some that refuse to "get it" even for their own sake. They spend all day till they barely qualify and then they're satisfied and ready to go home. Should something be done? Yes. Are we allowed to? No. Life Sucks at the lower regions of the totem pole. Those guys could shoot for days and still wouldn't care. At least FATS gives the rest of us a chance to stay sharp.
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Old July 5, 2005, 02:26 PM   #12
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We have a 65 man department. 80% are 80-90% shooters. 10% are 90-99% shooters. 10% struggle every time. Some of that bottom 10% have been on the job over 10 years and are just never going to get it becasue as SCCop said, they just don't care. Some of these people pull their pistol at the range and the way they handle it you would think that it was a Martian ray gun that just fell off the mother ship, or that it has cooties. I wish we could do more, but we can't.
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Old July 5, 2005, 03:31 PM   #13
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Actually, maybe you can do more. If you're not short-handed (seems we always are ), don't baby 'em on the range, and if they don't qualify, they don't carry. Our policy is desk duty or running errands until they can qualify. A month or two of running for coffee for the chief will have 'em begging to get back to the range.... and maybe they'll take it a bit more seriously from then on.
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Old July 5, 2005, 05:10 PM   #14
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While I have not had a chance to use the FATS, personal opinion would dictate rebuilding the range, and setting up IDPA courses. These don't shoot back but you get the shoot, no shoot, real life senarios. You are also drawing, presenting, and using your own weapon. Further if this is video taped for later review, it will reveal some suprising results.
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Old July 5, 2005, 08:15 PM   #15
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I was liscensed to operate a FATS simulator for the Army...

FATS is great stuff we were able to hook up a whole squad plus the automatic rifleman. the scenarios were excellent from rushing bunkers to MOUT. This was after Desert Storm..they even had what I nicknamed Whack a Mole where guys in Arab headresses would pop up from different places to take a shot at you. it was great because it reinforced scanning over the top of your sights because in some scenarios they would have another soldier rush in front of you when you were ready to shoot...make all the scenarios where bad stuff happened and teach you what not to do.....

great tool
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Old July 5, 2005, 09:21 PM   #16
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Capt,

I wish it were always that easy. Our chief instructor sent an investigator home one day. He was quickly told to go back and make sure he qualified. All too often this oftens throwing a few errant rounds into his target. Politics have NO place on the range, but such is the world.
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Old July 5, 2005, 10:02 PM   #17
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SCCop

Yeah, *sigh*, sadly, you're right. Politics shouldn't have any place on a police dept., period...... but it does, and it ain't going away any time soon
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Old July 6, 2005, 09:13 AM   #18
NSO_w/_SIG
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Not to Hijack but what I can't get over is some of the women we have can't even shoot weak hand because they can't pull the 12# trigger pull with their weak little fingers. I am sorry, I am all for diveresification, but if you can't pull 12# I think you need a new line of work.
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Old July 6, 2005, 11:17 PM   #19
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Phooey with F.A.T.S.

Get the book "Training at the Speed of Life," by Ken Murray (see: www.armiger.net/home.html ). Murray is co-inventor of Simunitions FX. Learn to develop your own reality-based training program using actual incidents. Training can be performed inexpensively using AirSoft gas blow-back pistols. No need for a dedicated shooting facility; you can use virtually any venue for training: city streets, gov't buildings (parks, schools, city hall, etc.) local business establishments, etc.

Simunition FX is a consideration too, but you don't have the same flexibility with training venues (i.e., you have to clean up the paint splatters afterwards) as AirSoft.
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Old July 8, 2005, 04:22 PM   #20
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I second the notion to get Ken Murray's book on training. He has been researching training for a long time now, and has compiled a huge amount of knowledge into one book. This should be required reading for all Reality Based Trainers.

FATS is a great tool for decision making training but does not replace actual range time.

I feel that too many trainers subscribe to the idea, that more rounds down range equates to better shooters. For most departments and most shooters, implementing a dry fire program with their live fire program will produce better shooters with less ammo expenditure.

Ideal situation would be dry fire training, live fire training, reality based training, and FATS under the direction of a trainer that understands the value of each. Ken's book will take you well on the way to understanding the dynamics of reality based training.

Disclosure: Ken is a friend of mine, but I do not receive any compensation for referring his book.
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Old July 12, 2005, 09:58 PM   #21
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I do agree with the use of FATS to a reserved degree. It does show you where you might be weak on your shoot don't shoot scenarios, but if that is what you are looking for Simunitions is the only way to go. You use your guns with slight modifications and "paint ball" type ammo. The guys in the department that have used it said it is the best training they ever had. I dont know what the expenses are for this type of training but it has got to be cheaper than a FATS system. The main precaution is making an area totally clear of any live ammo so there are no accidental deaths.
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Old July 12, 2005, 11:13 PM   #22
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Our qualification is a two part scenario: The first is where we shoot our qualification course. Secondly, after completing this we go and shoot the FATS machine. My theory on training is that the more QUALITY training that you can get is always a plus.
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Old July 14, 2005, 09:50 PM   #23
Gary L. Griffiths
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Steve,

My company provides judgmental use-of-force training using an IES Range 3000 XP-4 simulator. Think of it as a FATS on steroids. Perhaps we can provide training support to your department to enable you to obtain the benefits of this type of training, and decide whether you want to invest in a simulator.

I've e-mailed you a brochure.
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Old July 14, 2005, 10:36 PM   #24
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Gary L. Griffiths

Gary, does your company have a web site? Our dept., along with several other depts. in the area, lease FATS for a month every year. Will your company lease? If you would, I'd also like a brochure. Thanks.
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Old July 15, 2005, 12:10 AM   #25
clintpup
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Pardon the interruption, but WTH does FATS stand for, and what does it persist of? I'm curious? Thanks.
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