View Full Version : FATS Firing Simulator

January 9, 2006, 08:01 AM
On Saturday I got an awesome opportunity to go try out the new FATS squad firing simulator at the local Marine Reserve Center. Remember Duck Hunt on the nintendo? It's just a super scaled-up version of that. Available to us was one M249 SAW, two M16A3's, and two M203's. Five members would choose their weapon and begin a custom scenario. The weapons were real, but had devices that used compressed air to blow back the bolt after a trigger squeeze. This simulator is amazingly accurate and requires realistic marksmanship skills. Unfortunately while one group was playing one of the M-16 guys bumped the receiver unit and we never could get it to zero after that. All in all its pretty cool.

January 9, 2006, 10:17 AM
FATS is pretty good stuff. I went to the operators class to learn how it works since the TASC required you be trained on it. Spent about a week using it...

The neat thing it had then was that it allowed you to hook up a whole squad
and blaze away.

need one for the house..lol

Hard Ball
January 9, 2006, 11:29 AM
It sounds like a very good system.

January 9, 2006, 01:04 PM
We have a FATS at the Scottsdale Gun Club. I had an opportunity to use it free during my CCW training. Pretty cool. There is also a Tactical Shoot House which I haven't tried.

Capt. Charlie
January 9, 2006, 01:05 PM
It's a great system, although it's set up a little different for LE. There, only one person at a time participates.

Our area depts. go in together and bring it to the area for a month, once a year. It's set up at the community college. I love it when they invite news reporters in to try it ;) .

The critique afterward is awesome. You get to see, in slow motion, everything your muzzle tracked, and the placement and effectiveness of every shot. It's amazing how, almost always, your first shot goes for the BG's weapon, since that's what your eyes are immediately drawn to. You also find that you automatically went to point shooting and sights went out the window (no time for a sight picture).

They throw a little adrenalin flow in when FATS shoots back! Yeah, they're only Nerf pellets, but the darned things sting like hell, and it's a little un-nerving to watch the muzzle tracking you the whole time :eek: :D .

January 9, 2006, 05:34 PM
A local police academy has a FATS set up. Sometimes, while on the graveyard shift, we go up and use it. It's pretty cool. Lot's of "Shoot- Don't Shoot" scenarios. On their set up they have, up to three guys can "play" at one time. They have a couple of glocks and a pump shotgun.

The British Soldier
January 9, 2006, 06:19 PM
We Brits use FATS as part of 'Judgemental Training', which forms a big part of deploying on operations for counter terrorist or peace support missions, where we are not in a warfighting role. There are now a variety of weapons that can be plugged into it and operated by CO2 compressed gas.

The great feature is that you can record your own scenarios using a digital camcorder and play them for troops to react to; this is particularly useful in urban operations where one has a matter of a few seconds to engage - if that.

One advantage of the DIY option, is that during briefings before the engagement you can give the guys an intelligence picture and mention suspect vehicles, etc; then debrief them afterward on what happened and what information they retained. It really does place them in stressful situations where they must make intelligent decisions whether to engage or holdfire - really testing their understanding of the rules of engagement.

Interestingly, some of the more inexperienced soldiers often claim to have fired three or four rounds during the contact; yet when you rewind the recording of them, it is clear that they did not make ready and cock their rifle! [our ROE almost always has the chamber empty on patrol]

It is a great training tool, but you can also have a lot of fun with it.

January 9, 2006, 07:13 PM
My agency (and all the other major agencies in ND) shoots FATS once a year. It's good judgement training, but it's major drawback is that it only allows for very limited movement by the shooter.

Ask anyone who has BTDT, we'll tell you that tactical situations on the street are very fluid. You'll move, give ground, take ground, seek cover, and sometimes run like hell. Rarely do you stand straight up flat footed and gun it out like you're on Main Street in Dodge City, unless you have no other option.

For realistic training, nothing I've seen beats going up against live role players with Simmunition weapons. When you get hit with a 9MM Sim round, (or two, or three...) there's NO DOUBT!!!

I lead and train a High Risk Entry Team, and went through SWAT Operator's Basic again last year (at 48 yoa, gawd!...) to brush up & steal new techniques. A full week of training with Sim Glocks & M4's. Talk about intense training. By the end of each day, we could wring the sweat out of our BDU's.

Along these lines and less expensive are the Air Soft weapons. Those little rubber BB's sure sting when they hit...

January 10, 2006, 02:32 PM
Is FATS a generic term for any Fire Arms Training System, or is it specific to a particular brand/system? I have seen a few systems at various LE or Security trade shows, but don't remember if they were called FATS or not.

I attended a "live fire judgement training" course at the Smith & Wesson Academy last year, where students use their own weapons with live ammo (see www.caps-inc.com for details). Each scenario had multiple variations so that one never knew what was going to happen. While there was no "tracking" of where the weapon was pointed prior to firing, the holes in the screen left no doubt as to where the rounds went. In addition to the shoot-no shoot scenarios, the second day had live actors interacting with the shooter. We could see them on screen, and they were positioned so that they could see and interact with the shooter (while safely behind them of course). It was a great experience and one I am looking forward to repeating.

The British Soldier
January 10, 2006, 04:03 PM
For realistic training, nothing I've seen beats going up against live role players with Simmunition weapons. When you get hit with a 9MM Sim round, (or two, or three...) there's NO DOUBT!!!

100% agree with that; there is nothing to compare with man on man training.

Interestingly, I was invited to have a go at a UK Police Force's state of the art FATS set up; it had wraparound screens so that you had to use your peripheral vision and the scenarios were all set up by the Police Firearms Training Team from their experiences. You have a couple of pieces of cover within a 3 metre square movement box - which was really well laid out.

I was run through the 'crack house raid' with a hostage at the end; I'm afraid to say that I did take it seriously and I am pleased to say that the occupants of the crack house were 'deceased' and the hostage lived to tell the tale.

My individual debrief afterward informed me, according to the Firearms 'Shrink' that I would not be suitable for armed duty with the Police! As you can imagine I was somewhat takenaback my this and I informed the Shooting Psychologist that I was a highly trained armed forces professional! His reply was classic and I'll never forget it:

"That's the problem - I could tell that you were enjoying it when you shot that crack dealer between the eyes!"

I had missed the 'in your face' camera - the cops all told me that they are severely critiqued if they show any sort of expression during practise; there's no chance of having a 'quick fun shoot out!'

Shame...it was a great system!

January 10, 2006, 04:19 PM
SIMMS is great, there's nothing like realizing you flinch like a little girl when you think you're about to take one in the face, even though you're wearing a mask. I remember being covered in welts more than once. :p

The Tactical House scenario on the FATS simulator is cool because like Capt Charlie stated you get feedback on everything you did. It's a bit humbling, even for those that 'know' what they're doing. Someone said that you don't really get realistic movement, which is true. You just gotta realize the tool is there to show you specific things, not simulate a true engagement.
The sims we used never had handguns..would have been impractical anyways, what with the air compressor and hoses.

Another good simulation scenario is the tire-house. Big mock-up of a building using tires for walls...put some thread ID and reflex shooting in there and it all makes for a jolly good time! :cool:

Gene Johnson
January 11, 2006, 02:26 AM
At distances significantly greater than point-blank-range how does the FATS system deal with exterior ballistics, wind and other ambient conditions?

January 11, 2006, 07:32 AM
any training that repeats over and over the proper use of a firearm
is excellent. survival depends on knowing what to do without thinking.
instinct is built up by repeat actions. you just feel and know because
you have done it 2000 times.
when the time comes and the bad guy goes for the gun its automatic
because you have done it before.and then you go home to your family
and hug everyone there because you know what its all about.
i used the fats machine about 12 to 15 yrs ago. i have been retired
from a police dept. for 10 yrs. seems like they really improved them.

5 kimbers 1 les baer stinger

January 11, 2006, 08:40 AM
Gene Johnson - CAPS is used for sniper training. I think they said it was at 100 yards. The biggest factor was not just the wind, but time delay between decision to fire, point of aim, and point of impact on targets.

The British Soldier
January 11, 2006, 09:09 AM
In the British Army one can shoot a 'virtual' range marksmanship test using FATS; they can add in windage factors and the range flags on the screen react to the wind speed setting that the operator inputs. It is a great warm up system, but nothing beats doing the real thing.

Optical Serenity
January 11, 2006, 10:05 AM
I love FATS, and I wish more departments were using it more often. So close to reality you sit down drenched in sweat...

January 12, 2006, 11:24 AM
FATS is indeed very cool. My experience with it stems from a demo unit at the AUSA (Association US Army) show in DC back in the 90's. They had 4 M-16's set up and 1 M60. Its pretty funny as the 'belt' for the 60 was just a 9" or so section of blanks that you laid in the ammo feed, as if it were the beginning of a new belt. The computer would keep track of the rounds fired so when 250 (or whatever) came up, you would have to repeat loading process again.

The scenario back then was a group of soldiers and light vehicles progressing slowly from right to left. Only complaint I had was that I was a novice to the 16 back then and wasnt familiar with forward assist for reloading. But thats more on me than on the unit - it was a lot of fun and would be great if more places had them.