You’ve seen it in many cop shows. There’s this room with a huge projection screen on one end, and a police officer with gun held at ready. On the screen is a movie of a man raising his hands. The cop is sizing him up, when suddenly, from behind the dumpster, another guy jumps out, levels a gun at you, and squeezes the trigger. You hear a bang, and then a buzzer signaling you’ve been shot, you dumb rookie.
Ah, but you’re no mere rookie. You have a sixth sense about you. When that second felon leaps out your finger tightens around your Glock 17’s trigger, and you hear . . . BEEP.
Practically all indoor firing simulators today use laser technology to replicate gunshots. A camera is mounted near the shooter which records everything. After you’ve done your ‘shooting’ you’re supposed to review the video which freezes the projection at the moment you fired and shows where your ‘shot’ i.e., a red dot landed.
After an experience like that, my feeling is: I could have gone to the video arcade and gotten the same high. It does not capture the feel of firing your own gun.
Unfortunately, like a video arcade shooter, laser technology firing simulators (and gas-powered recoil simulators) are only a mockery of what you will encounter in the real world. The tension, attention to precision and just plain buzz present in firing a real gun is absent.
Now the best firing simulation would be to have guys wearing body armor running around serving as targets. You would have to shoot them with squib loads tipped with paintballs or plastic bullets.
The problem with this is obvious. It’s just too much trouble. Only federal agencies and some paramilitary groups can afford to do this. Also, firing a squib (underpowered) load just doesn’t feel the same.
Enter the Canadian Academy for Practical Shooting (CAPS). CAPS is a shooting system that allows you to use live ammunition. Its motto says it all: Your gun. Your ammo. No excuses.
How It Works
Like other shooting simulators, CAPS uses a DVD player and an LCD projector to show movies of possible armed encounters. Your first hint that this one is different is the screen. It is made of paper!
Okay, so you’re standing before the screen holding a gun with live, regulation ammunition. The perp on screen whips his gun out, but you fire first. The sound of your shot is picked up by a sensor which freezes the picture. So now you and your instructor can easily evaluate your accuracy and judgment by assessing the hole your bullet made in the screen. That’s it! No computers, no batteries, no camera calibration, no laser alignment. All you have to do is patch up the hole with white tape, and you’re ready for your next encounter.
Where Can I Use It?
CAPS is usable both indoors and outdoors, provided you have a proper backstop. When used outdoors, the CAPS people suggest erecting shields to shade the screen from daylight that would wash out the projection.
In case you’re wondering whether CAPS is only good for handguns, the system comes with over 500 patrol scenarios and 70 rifle/carbine scenarios.
CAPS is a shining example that sometimes, low-tech is the best. With today’s litigation-crazy world, you can do worse than equipping your department with the most realistic firing simulator available.
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