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As part of my job, I got to take a field trip to our local state police academy last week. After a tour of the facilities and information about the program recruits go through and a session learning about the canine training unit (very impressive!), they let us use their shooting simulator.

The system is called MILO and essentially you’re watching an interactive movie while holding a gun that transmits data back to the computer (and does not transmit bullets to the screen; I inspected the chamber first). After a few warm-up demonstrations involving hitting targets, I got to try a few missions.

First was a traffic stop on two surly white guys in fatigues out in the middle of the woods. The driver had a warrant out and so I took him to the back of the car, all the while covering him with my pistol. The back right of his jacket was hiked up and he had a vertical line in the bottom right…I instinctively said out loud that he had a gun back there. However, I never got to find out: while I was looking closely, his passenger got out, called me [a bad name] and shot me before I realized what was going on.

On the second, I was the point man checking out a report of a man with a bat terrorizing the building. When I rounded the last corner, I saw him standing with his back to me, leaning over a woman with his bat raised. Again, I took too long to realize what was going on and he’d smashed her head in before I started firing. Fortunately for my self-esteem, though, my co-workers did similarly on their own missions, with only one of them shooting the bad guy before he killed a victim.

In both cases, the computer recorded my shots as either missing or just grazing the guy. This was a pretty big wake-up call. I’ve read up on what to do, spent time thinking about what to do, and practice shooting on a regular basis. However, in a real-time simulation, I’m not quick off the mark and I’m inaccurate with a laser gun. These are things that can be fixed, but not overnight.

Maybe it’d be worthwhile to get a Wii, especially if they have some similar kind of trainer. The sergeant in charge told us that their record on the target shooting had been set just a few days earlier by a seventeen-year-old recruit, beating the previous best score by about 25%. When asked, he talked about playing Wii and having a system for taking out targets in the fastest order. Obviously there’s no recoil with the Wii and not much pressure, but it may still help to do a better job of assessing threats.

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