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Firearm simulator demo draws crowd (with video)

justine wettschreck/Daily Globe Staff and administrators at Minnesota West were given the opportunity to try a firearm simulator being demonstrated at the college Thursday. To see a video, visit / 2

WORTHINGTON -- With the addition of a clinical skills program to the Minnesota West Community and Technical College Law Enforcement Program, coordinator Mark Holden has some shopping to do.

On Thursday, faculty and administrators of Minnesota West met with Jesse Wimmer of IES Interactive Training to take a look at a firearms simulator demonstration and try it out. More than one person joked and laughed their way through a round of target shooting a crime scene and getting a feel for a training Glock or rifle.

The training system consists of cameras, speakers, a computer and a projector, and uses real-life scenarios and target-shooting exercises to hone a potential law enforcement officer's firearm skills. "You can use the skill-building exercises to get them comfortable with the weapons, developing confidence along the way," Wimmer said.

The scenarios also help students learn to make quick decisions about use of force and public interaction.

As in real life, they are required to talk their way through the situation, identifying themselves as peace officers and speaking with the suspect.

During the demonstration, one scenario involved an angry motorcyclist who had just been pulled over.

The student can make decisions about what kind of weapon they should use to handle the encounter -- from pepper spray to a taser to lethal weapons such as handguns or a rifle.

Other situations involved suspects with bombs, a school shooter with a hostage and bad guys on a subway.

After a student would go through a scenario, they would then talk to the instructor, explaining why they reacted the way they did.

Though there isn't always a cut and dried right answer, the instructor is the one who decides if the student made the right or wrong decision.

During the exercise, the student is video recorded so his or her reactions can be discussed afterward during a debriefing.

According to Wimmer, an advantage to a training system of this kind is that the scenarios are conducted in a sterile environment, where there is no danger to the student.

There are more than 500 scenarios that come with the simulator, and more are filmed each year, Wimmer said, and sent to the buyers at no charge.

An interesting feature of the training system is the night simulations.

Using a flashlight with a filter that interacts with the program, the student can practice different flashlight holds while the instructor controls the amount of light on the scene.

The flashlight shows up on the screen just as it would in real life, lighting up only portions of the vicinity.

Wimmer said a majority of their sales are to law enforcement agencies, but in the past two years, more and more colleges are adding justice programs to their curriculum and looking for firearm simulators.

The price of the training system ranges from $15,000 to $42,000, depending on what kind of system a customer wants and how many "weapons" come with it.

Holden is hoping to attend a demonstration for at least one other simulator before making any kind of decision.

Daily Globe Reporter Justine Wettschreck can be reached at