USING AIRSOFT GUNS IN TRAINING httpwwwpoliceandsecuritynews by vivi07

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									USING AIRSOFT GUNS IN TRAINING By Ralph Mroz Airsoft guns are full-size 1:1 scale replicas of real firearms. They feature a propulsion system utilizing a small amount of air to accurately fire a 6mm plastic BB at 200-450 fps with semi- and fully automatic action. Airsoft guns are essentially of three types. There are spring powered guns in which you must pull back the slide for each shot. Most practical Airsoft pistols run on a gas driven mechanism. “Green gas” is the most popular gas used. The gas is usually injected into a reservoir chamber within the gun or magazine. The latest Airsoft gas guns incorporate a “blowback” effect which causes the slide of the gun to cycle. Airsoft long guns tend to be Air Electric Guns (AEGs) in which the stock houses the battery and circuits which activate the gun’s propulsion. Electric guns are fully automatic and can push out over 800 rounds in under 60 seconds. The 6mm BB is the standard Airsoft projectile. It is made of various composite materials which differ in mass and density – the most common being ABS plastic. The weight of Airsoft BBs range in gram measurement from 0.12 gram to the heavyweight 0.5 gram BBs. The effective range of Airsoft BBs is 25 to 75 yards (for long guns.) Biodegradable BBs made of starch are also available. Airsoft Advantages The advantages of Airsoft are many, but the main five are the following: • There is little injury potential – even at close quarters. Airsoft BBs do indeed hurt, as they should, but they do not injure (except when striking the eyes). They hurt a little less than SIMUNITION®, but that’s OK since that allows the same pain level to be achieved with less padded clothing, making the whole scenario more realistic; • Airsoft guns can be inexpensive. At less than $100 for a decent pistol, a couple of hundred dollars for a long gun and, with gas inexpensive and BBs too cheap to count, Airsoft equipment is many times more affordable than alternatives; • True replica guns (amazingly lifelike) are the norm, meaning that your standard holsters and other gear can be used; • The nonmarking/nondamaging projectiles mean that you can use actual deployment environments for training – your actual office buildings, schools, cruisers, etc. You don’t need a dedicated or specialized training environment. This has never before been possible with force on force training and it is absolutely invaluable; and • Because you can use any environment to train in, you negate the necessity of travel to a special facility and the scheduling problems that creates. Airsoft equipment, therefore, actually allows spontaneous, short-term and/or roll call type training. Basically, it allows anywhere/anytime force on force training. What’s the Catch?

Some critics have pointed to the nonmarking characteristic of Airsoft projectiles as a disadvantage. (Actually, there are marking Airsoft BBs available, but they have a reputation for being unreliable.) I disagree. A law enforcement (or any deadly force) simulation should not be a bunch of teenagers playing paintball. It should be a controlled, realistic enactment of a possible situation. It is the instructor’s responsibility, as the person running the simulation, to keep it realistic and prevent it from degenerating into a game of “shoot ’em-up.” An instructor doing that job professionally will keep the number of rounds fired to a realistic number and should be keeping track of who’s been hit and where (which is not hard to do). Hundreds of rounds do not get exchanged in the situations for which most of us are training our people – it’s more like a handful. Besides, the participants do indeed know where they’ve been hit because the BBs hurt! Actually, I can think of only one disadvantage. It is not a good idea to drop Airsoft magazines, as the lips can get bent easily by so doing. This means only tactical reloads (or no reloads in my simulations, since I don’t really believe in tactical reloads). This limitation is tiny compared to 1) the necessity of reloads in most real situations (i.e., none), and 2) the severe limitations of competing simulation technologies. The Matter of Certification Until recently, there had been no certifying body for Airsoft simulation instructors. But the Massachusetts Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors and Armorers Association (MLEFI&AA) has recently released their Airsoft Simulation Instructor certification course. The MLEFI&AA Airsoft Simulation Instructor course is a one day (eight hour) course designed to insure that airsoft simulations are run safely and in a manner which achieves learning objectives. Certificates are issued by MLEFI&AA to those successfully completing the course. The course is open to all law enforcement, military and private sector persons who are firearms instructors with certification from a recognized body. In the course, safety is covered in the first block in a thoroughly comprehensive way, but also in a way which is designed to be practical to implement. While some simulation instructor courses specify impossibly high safety protocols – which are, of course, never followed fully in practice – MLEFI&AA, as an organization of working cops, decided to specify truly safe, but realistic, protocols (one is always free to exceed them, of course). The safety protocols are grouped into two areas: staying safe from the airsoft projectiles themselves and staying safe from real firearms accidentally introduced into the training area. The safety block includes a written test. The second block is devoted to an understanding of how to design and run simulations which actually impart learning. Too many simulations are simply scenarios which are loosely set up and then allowed to somehow unfold, and then students are then critiqued on their performance. In these nonobjective orientated simulations, officer/student learning is usually a random event. The MLEFI&AA course spends time on how to isolate learning objectives and on designing a simulation to impart them. Students are led through simulation designs meant to impart very simple and complex learning objectives. During the third block, each instructor/student actually runs a simulation, choosing safety officers and role players from among other instructor/students. Getting Started Just about every firearms manufacturer licenses their guns’ designs to one or more Airsoft manufacturers. There are low-end manufacturers, mid-quality ones and high-end manufacturers,

with quality differentiated by price – as in all things. (I’ve been using mid-quality KSC brand pistols and been satisfied.) Which Airsoft manufacturer(s), in which quality bracket(s), licenses a particular (real) pistol’s or rifle’s design will differ by make and model. Do a search of “Airsoft” with any Internet search engine and you’ll find hundreds of vendors. Airsoft has been a Far East thing (Airsoft is the paintball of Japan) and, until recently, most of the manufacturers and retail vendors are located there. They do a thriving Internet business here in the States, though, and many of them have excellent reputations and are solid vendors. When dealing with the Far East vendors, you’ll have to do it all over the Web and pay with something like PayPal, but that’s not hard. In addition, there are U.S. based vendors – some Web-based and some storefront-based – often selling the same equipment as the people in Hong Kong. Actually, in the last year, there has been such an increase in the popularity of Airsoft that most local police suppliers and Army surplus stores now carry the equipment at competitive prices. I bought my equipment two years ago from Hong Kong, but I plan to buy locally at retail in the future. I suggest buying a couple of pistols of the type that you (or your department) use, as well as possibly a long gun of the type you typically use to start off with. All of your other equipment will be compatible with these lifelike Airsoft guns. Specific Airsoft products, brands and vendors are beyond the scope of this article. Besides, this information changes so rapidly that anything I print here is subject to immediate change. The best way to learn about the pros and cons of competing products, and to learn which vendors are reliable and trustworthy, is to spend a few hours on the various Web discussion forums devoted to Airsoft or to link up with an Airsoft league. Airsoft weekend war game leagues are literally exploding all across this country (here, in little Massachusetts, there are already quite a few, and growing). At one of these events, you will meet many friendly people all too happy to exchange E-mail addresses and to share their experience and knowledge with you. That knowledge will be more up-to-date than any printed information since the products and vendors are changing as rapidly as the game is growing. One caveat: The war gamers spend a lot of mental energy on their long guns and the alterations which will increase their range. As law enforcement, by contrast, we are concerned with simply buying factory pistols and basic LE rifles in reliable form from reliable vendors – alterations are not advised to Airsoft guns used in LE simulation training because alterations often increase the velocity and, therefore, the danger posed by the projectiles. Safety Safety concerns with Airsoft simulations are of two types: staying safe from the airsoft projectiles themselves and staying safe from real firearms accidentally introduced into the training area. The MLEFI&AA Instructor course specifies that each role player in a simulation wear face fitting goggles around the eyes and a full face Lexon shield (in addition to neck protection). Women must wear breast protection. Role players are the people likely to have projectiles shot at them and, thus, are the likely participants to be hit with them. While weekend war game players wear only eye protection as a rule and no serious injuries have occurred to my knowledge, MLEFI&AA specifies additional face and neck protection for role players to avoid even slight injuries to these vulnerable areas. All other participants (instructors, safety officers, observers, etc.) are required to wear only face fitting goggles to protect the eyes. They may, of course, wear more protection, if they want to. Heavy or padded clothing is optional in this course for all participants, although any department or instructor is free to mandate them. Maintaining safety from real firearms or other weapons introduced into the training area is accomplished in a two step process. First, the safety officer clears the training area in a two step protocol; then the safety officer clears each and every person entering that training area with a

three step protocol. This turns out to require significant discipline in practice; it is not as easy as it sounds! Students in the MLEFI&AA course discover that is is shockingly easy to get distracted by normal events and have a safety slipup. The Future Is Here Airsoft technology has so many advantages over competing simulation technologies that it will without a doubt sweep law enforcement training. Too many officers now are demanding more than the static or nonexistent training which they have been getting. Airsoft is too easy and too inexpensive to implement to have it be ignored. The courts are now absolutely demanding realistic training. And, most important, it will save the lives of good guys! Getting started with Airsoft is easy. The price of a couple pistols and supplies can be found in even today’s stretched budgets. Experimentation with its introduction into training can be done in short time bursts anytime, anywhere. Instructor certification is easily available. What are you waiting for? For more information, contact the Massachusetts Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors and Armorers Association at or Joe Picariello, Secretary, at PO Box 253, Princeton, MA 01541, or E-mail: About the Author: Ralph Mroz is a police officer in Western Massachusetts, currently assigned to his county’s narcotics/gang task force. He is the author of the book, Defensive Shooting For Real Life Encounters (where you can discover why he does not advocate tactical reloads), and is the presenter of the video, Extreme Close Quarter Shooting, the first available resource on this subject. Both titles are available from Paladin Press. @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ Realistic training to enhance your close quarter core skills By Ralph Mroz At the Police Officer Safety Association we teach a course called Close Quarter Handgun Core Skills. It is a course focused on just what the title suggests: fundamental skills and drills for close quarter lethal force encounters. I always like to start this course by lining up the participants at seven yards, facing an IPSC or IDPA target. I ask them to perform two reasonably standard handgun drills. Drill number one is to fire a magazine into the A zone as fast as they can make the shots. Drill two is to put two into the A zone and one into the head, on command, repeating until the magazine is depleted. Then I ask the class, "What relationship to real-life street encounters did either of these two drills have?" A surprising number of the attendees have the correct answer on the tips of their tongues: "Almost nothing." That's right. They were all standing in a row, facing a designated direction. They fired on command. They were at least four times the distance that they were likely to have to fight at with a handgun for real. They were using sighted fire. They didn't move. They were placing their shots carefully. The targets weren't moving. The targets were all facing them head-on. And most important: the targets weren't shooting back.

So why is so much of our current so-called "training" so much like these two drills? Theory of Operation The answer to that question is "because this kind of training is challenging for students and safe for the instructor to teach." But that begs the critical question. That is starting from an answer, not from a question; from a conclusion, not an analysis. Before we can design an effective training curricula, we have to answer the question: "What is the problem we are trying to solve?" And the answer to that is that we are trying to keep people alive in close quarter, spontaneous violent assaults that our adversaries usually initiate. Our training drills therefore need to instill skills that contribute to that objective-not achieving some artificial "range standard." Which means, of course, that we need to use drills that mimic close quarter, spontaneous violent assaults that our adversaries initiate. That's curricula design criteria number one. The other thing that we need to understand to design an effective training regimen is what resources we have to work with, or in this case, what the capabilities of ourselves and our equipment are. Our own capabilities under severe, close-quarter stress, are well known: target focus, loss of fine motor skill, etc. Curricula design criteria number two is therefore to accommodate target focus and gross motor skills in our training. Our handgun's capabilities are also well known, but often ignored. Essentially, there are really only three ways that bullets stop someone: 1) central nervous system hits that prevent the brain from directing the body, 2) loss of blood pressure, or 3) such overwhelming pain and shock that the body shuts down. Further, all handgun bullets are extremely ineffective. None of them (even .357s and .45s) are reliable one-shot stoppers. Now, the "shot placement" school of handgunning advocates central nervous system (CNS) shots or center-mass shots to accomplish either 1) or 2) above. But brain stem or head shots are all but impossible to realize in the violent chaos of a real-life encounter, while hydraulic pressure loss occurs too slowly to be of reliable use, even with major blood vessels hit. That leaves 3) above - inflicting massive shock or pain. Accomplishing this is done with many shots placed on the adversary as fast as possible. They don't all have to be center-mass or CNS shots - just lots of hits quickly. And so this is our theory of handgun "stopping power": Put a lot of hurt onto your enemy quickly. Caliber is not very important--any significant caliber will do. Just hit 'em often and fast. So curricula design criteria number three is to train in multiple shots delivered quickly. To review, our curricula design criteria are: 1) train at close quarters, 2) employ target focus and gross motor skills, and 3) deliver multiple quick shots. Making it real What follows are descriptions of three of the basic drill sets we currently use in the Close Quarter

Handgun Core Skills course. We are always adding, and sometimes dropping, drills as we continually develop the course. Some of these drills employ airsoft technology. If you aren't training with airsoft, you need to beif you are concerned with self-defense. Airsoft is far less expensive than other projectile-firing simulated firearms technologies, and more reliable, to boot. It is widely available and easy to obtain. Little protective gear needs to be worn, and as a non-marking technology, you can train in your actual tactical environment: in your house, in your car, in your business, and so on. WARNING: About two police officers a year are currently being killed in simulated force-on-force training, because a live (real) firearm was introduced into the training area. It is imperative that you get proper training in running simulations safely. The Massachusetts Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors & Armorers Association offers the leading airsoft simulation instructor course, and POSA has just committed this course to DVD-it's available to any LEO by visiting our website, Drill #1 -- No time to draw. Situation: A deadly force attack that comes so close and so fast that you don't have time to draw your gun. Since most such attacks occur spontaneously and at very close distance, this is a typical attack. Drill 1A: Face the target, 1 yard away. On cue (such as the command "danger") drive towards the target and strike it with an effective, devastating empty hand technique. (Don't know any? Learn some. Also, you'll need sturdy target stands for this one.) While maintaining forward pressure on the target, draw your gun and fire several shots onto the target with your gun hand's fingers touching your ribs (sometimes called a "gun retention position".) Airsoft version: Two participants face each other, 1 yard away. The bad guy launches a simulated deadly force attack on the good guy, who responds as above with his/her airsoft pistol. Note: without protective equipment such as a FIST suit, the instructor will have to compensate by mandating less than full power strikes, and strikes to non-sensitive areas (e.g., the chest instead of the throat.) Drill 1B: If the bad guy in the airsoft version of this drill chooses to go for or present an (airsoft) gun as his deadly force attack, then fouling his draw or presentation first, and then striking and then drawing/shooting your own gun, is a valuable skill to learn. Drill #2 -- Shooting after falling. Situation: You are knocked to your knees or onto the ground as a deadly force assault initiates. If you think this doesn't happen much, you haven't been in many fights. Drill 2A: Face the target, 1 yard away. On command such as "falling", draw your gun as you fall to your rear knee. Keeping the gun close to your body, cant it up to the target, achieving either a "normal" angle of the gun, or a slight sideways "gangbanger" angle, and fire multiple shots on the target. Drill 2B: Face the target, 1 yard away. On command such as "falling", fall to the ground, and onto your back. (Again, don't know how to do fall safely? Learn!) Kick violently towards the target using a bicycle pedaling type motion. At some point, plant your feet on the ground, draw your gun and put multiple shots onto the target. Airsoft versions: same drills as above, but with role players using airsoft weapons. The bad guy actually pushes the good guy to the ground. Note: using mats for this exercise will cause you to want to practice it more than otherwise.

Drill #3 -- Hooded drills. Situation: You are surprised by the sudden bad turn of events as the people right next to you launch an attack. Remember-attacks occur suddenly! This drill protocol is nothing more than the use by firearms students of the common hooded drills that martial artists and reality fight trainers have used for centuries. Drill 1A: With the shooter not able to see the range, set up several target stands in realistic positions. Staple a human picture shoot/no-shoot target to each. Place a hood over the shooter and lead him/her into the middle of the targets so arranged. Standing in a direction away from any target, pull the hood off and let the shooter deal with the problem presented, making the necessary shoot/no-shoot decisions. Drill 1A-1X: Any number of variations of this drill can be done, using different human representational targets and props. Variation: Also place objects of cover or simulated cover in the training area, and let the shooter use them. Airsoft variation: same drills as above, but using airsoft weapons and real people instead of targets. In conclusion The above three drills should give you some idea of how realistic training is conducted. You can design your own drills using our curricula design criteria, which are, once again: 1) train at close quarters, 2) employ target focus and gross motor skills, and 3) deliver multiple quick shots. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------In partnership with, POSA is offering free tactical training videos on subjects like tactical shotgun usage, crisis entry, disarming a suspect, and more. Click here to view the videos. @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ The Airsoft Advantage Dynamic and realistic training with Airsoft KEVIN DAVIS Tactical Survival Contributor I completed a two day firearms instructor workshop for the state academy a couple of days ago. As part of the program I talk about different training modalities and the newest training technology. Invariably, when I talk about Airsoft and its possibilities for firearms and force on force training, I always generate a lot of interest. Over the last couple of years I have used Airsoft many times in in-service training, and can heartily endorse it. Far from the BBs of our youth and even the plastic ones my brother and I shot at each other as kids, current green gas Airsoft pistols and electric Airsoft carbines and subguns offer much to police firearms and tactical training. Pistols are available in virtually all makes and models carried by law enforcement today, and many progressive agencies nationwide

are looking into the use of Airsoft to enhance their officer safety and survival training. Types of Airsoft There are several different types of pistols and long guns available. Not suitable for serious training are the manual cocking (which require that the slide be manipulated between each shot) and the low cost battery operated electric pistols (which are inaccurate as well as cycling too slow for serious training). Green gas (ozone friendly Freon) pistols are the only ones that should be considered for police training, as well as the rechargeable electric long guns. These Airsoft arms use "hop-up" technology, which is a little bump in the barrel that produces a backspin on the BB. The backspin increases accuracy dramatically. Inside 30 feet these .20 gram BBs are exceedingly accurate. With velocities of up to 400 fps, they are not toys. Training Value So how can these "toys" be used in serious survival training? The answer lies in the low cost of the systems and BBs. Simunitions® cost between 40 and 50 cents per round, with conversion kits for pistols costing about $150.00 for drop in parts. This is the same price as standard parts for a standard Glock pistol. Unfortunately the Glock cannot be converted, thus the Simunition Glock is the same price as a real pistol. Airsoft pistols cost around $100.00, and rifles around $300.00 with the BBs costing less than $20 for a 4000 count bag. Airsoft will replace neither Simunition® nor paintball, and shouldn't. It can, however, offer trainers a heretofore unavailable option for training at a cost that allows hundreds, if not thousands, more repetitions. My experience with marking cartridges goes back to around 1992. I had read an article about Code Eagle marking cartridges in SWAT magazine and ordered a T&E sample. Code Eagle was then only available in .38 special for revolvers. As one part of the test, I let my then-training sergeant shoot me in the back from a distance of about ten feet. Yes, I found out early that marking cartridges can and do hurt. Indeed this is one of the positive aspects of this type of training, i.e. a pain penalty if a suspect is able to get rounds on target. When Simunition® was developed and came out with conversion kits for our agency's Smith and Wesson 5906 pistols, we were one of the first departments in the country to try them out. I remember calling their company trainer at the time and asking what protective gear they recommended. His response was, "it depends on how tough you are." When I asked for clarification, the instructor told me that the Norwegian Jaegers (alpine troops) conducted training in running shorts, sandals and goggles. With the projectiles moving at 400 feet per second and capable of leaving lasting marks and scars, I freely admit I'm not that tough. Simuntion™ came out with face protection, and then upgraded to full-head protection, neck guards, and padded short sleeve shirts, body protectors and shorts. Role players have to be sure to wear long sleeves and trousers. Even then, the sim rounds are like magnets to skin (more than one role player has cursed me for the raised red welts they received). Paintball offers a low cost option for force-on-force training, but pistols and rifles are not that accurate and oftentimes have to be "lobbed" in. While conducting force-on-force training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia, I participated in training using paintball rifles. Even though the training was valuable, I must confess that I "played" paintball at a couple points more intent on "painting" my adversary than realistic training (note, this was only in one event of the otherwise excellent training). Simunition® can permanently dent or damage interior walls of training locations, and paintballs can be a pain to clean up, as well as pose a fall risk if they splatter on linoleum or smooth floors. Once again, this is not to say that both sim and paintball training is not worthwhile.

Enter Airsoft After hearing about Airsoft on a firearms training forum, and purchasing a low cost green gas Airsoft pistol, I heard about a west coast civilian firearms trainer by the name of Rich Daniels, and a pistol training DVD he had produced that featured Airsoft. After making contact with Portland, Oregon-based Daniels, I learned that Rich's father is a retired Toledo police officer, and Rich is very much into sharing his wealth of knowledge about Airsoft with police officers. Rich sent me his first DVD, Defensive Handgun Drills 1-4. In the DVD, Rich uses Airsoft to replicate the live fire drills he first demonstrates. He further uses Airsoft to incorporate handgun training with empty hand striking in close quarters, combat scenarios, and force-on-force training with moving, aggressing suspects. Airsoft Protective Gear Impacts to unprotected skin can result in a small mark and sufficient sting similar to a bee sting. Goggles or protective eyewear are mandatory for anyone in the training environment. Daniels has adapted street hockey helmets for his programs with plastic meshing to protect the face and head from errant rounds (indeed Rich advises that the helmets are more to protect the trainee's heads from collision with the floor if they fall during dynamic training). All that is necessary for body protection is a jacket made from decent material such as the work clothing made by Carhart (some trainers use sweat shirts). Body protectors designed for boxing or martial arts competition could also be used. Gloves, whether of the open-finger martial arts type or standard patrol gloves, are sufficient to protect the fingers and hands of trainees. Low cost boxing or martial arts focus mitts can be used as the primary target for role players. The role player can hold the mitt off to the side or up against their body to provide a safe target area for drills that require multiple repetitions. Force-on-force training is very similar to that using Simunition® or paintball. Indeed 21st Century Airsoft (see below) has developed quality marking cartridges for Airsoft. Additionally, a "house of horrors" or similar interior Hogan's Alley-type course can be set up using mannequins, targets taped to walls, or cardboard boxes with the limits set only by your imagination. Hits can be documented by perforations in the paper or cardboard targets, or using Shoot-N-See® self-adhesive targets by Birchwood Casey. Due to the low cost and easy set-up, multiple scenarios can be run quickly for maximum training value. Clean-up is easy, using a broom or shop vac. Final Shots While at this year's ASLET convention in Albuquerque, I attended an excellent Airsoft program conducted by members of the Seattle Police Department. Seattle PD, after training with Rich Daniels, has put all their officers through an intensive and excellent Airsoft program, and although we only got to conduct only a portion of that training, it was an intense and highly worthwhile training experience. Airsoft is not meant to replace live fire by any stretch, but dynamic and realistic training can be conducted with this technology that was not possible before, without high costs. This can provide training opportunities for agencies on a budget or with limited range access. Check out the sources listed below and take a serious look at Airsoft technologies for yourself or

your agency. Regardless of how many range visits your agency allows a year, it is never enough. Airsoft can provide the opportunity to hone and maintain firearms skills, and provide the chance for repetitions that weren't possible before. Not a toy, Airsoft can give you the survival advantage. @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ Airsoft Atlanta is an airsoft online retail shop of Airsoft products, guns, and accessories in North America. Incorporated since 2000, we strive to be the best airsoft dealer in the USA! @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ United States Federation of Airsoft Standards and Training (FAST)

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