Scenario-based training, in valid forms, could be considered “capstone” courses in firearms and self-defense education. Using simulated training scenarios should come after one is comfortable with his or her firearm and knows the laws of self-defense. For cadets in our police academy, the capstone component of training is undergoing selected scenarios using our computerized use-of-force simulator system: the MILO system.

Simulated Learning Experiences

Prior to undergoing MILO training, our police cadets have been trained in the basics of becoming law enforcement officers. Training involves both hands-on and classroom learning. Physical skills are practiced individually until mastered. Computerized use-of-force simulations then combine the individual topics and test cadets’ knowledge. These scenarios prepare officers to be on the street. But this type of training isn’t just for law enforcement trainees or officers. Simulated self-defense scenarios can be a great benefit to all responsibly armed Americans.

Properly conducted simulation firearms training can build several key skills for real-world situations.

  1. Decision-Making Skills
    The foundation of all good simulation training is decision-making. The most important takeaway from simulation training is how to quickly evaluate a scenario and formulate a plan of action. Training scenarios can also help to develop one’s mindset on how to identify and react to potentially deadly situations.
  2. Verbal Communication
    Verbal communication is a vital component of simulations. If you are a quiet person by nature, a good instructor should be developing and encouraging your use of communication. Loud, repetitive verbal commands can sometimes drive potential attackers away without firing a shot. But you must practice when your adrenaline is flowing and prior to having to use it in real life. It is not uncommon for someone new to simulation training to freeze up during the experience. There are so many stimuli, it is easy for people to become overloaded. Undergoing simulation training of any type can build neural pathways in the brain that allow one to sort through overwhelming incoming stimuli and take effective action.
  3. Challenging Weapons Skills
    Live simulation training is NOT like “Call of Duty” or other first-person shooter games. In simulations, your weapons skills will face a real challenge. This is true even with systems that don’t feature recoiling pistols. Scenarios often feature good and bad guys, testing a user’s accuracy.

After Completing Scenario Training

After taking firearms training that includes simulated scenarios, an instructor should cover what was done well and what can be improved. Mistakes can be just as valuable, if not more, to training when debriefed properly. Making a mistake during training will not have life or death consequences. But those mistakes can help to develop the neural pathways necessary to look for similar cues in real-life situations.

Everyone would benefit from practice utilizing individual skills in combined simulated training. The training film I utilized 42 years ago has had a lasting impact despite how low-tech it was. If you can, add simulation training to your defensive shooting training. It will put all your individual tools into one toolbox and keep them ready to use.