Airsoft-based Training Symposium KR Training meta info goes here
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Over the past few years, interest in the use of Airsoft guns for professional training has grown. Many Airsoft models are replicas of guns commonly used by law enforcement and military personnel, because many of the recreational users of Airsoft guns participate in games that simulate law enforcement and military scenarios. Conveniently, this has had led to a wide variety of Airsoft replicas that are well suited for law enforcement and military training.

On November 26, 2004, an Airsoft Force-on-Force Training Symposium was held at the Holiday Inn in Toulouse, France. The event was sponsored by Airsoft Labs, a Toulouse-based company importing and selling Airsoft guns to recreational and professional users. The one-day event was primarily intended to educate law enforcement and military trainers about Airsoft technology and the ways Airsoft guns could be used in training activities. Attendees included representatives from the Gendarmerie's National Training Center, the French Police's National Intelligence Agency, local law enforcement, and others. Didier Morandi, head of Airsoft Labs, served as the event's organizer and master of ceremonies.

Click HERE for lots of pictures from the symposium.

The first speaker of the day was Franz Heil, from Airsoft Labs. Mr. Heil's presentation covered the technology of Airsoft guns: how gas blowback guns and electric rifles operate, as well as the costs and maintenance issues.

The second speaker was Karl Rehn from KR Training. Mr. Rehn's presentation was an overview of his Airsoft force-on-force instructor program. He explained that Airsoft guns could be used not only for simulation training but also to teach beginners. The fundamentals of marksmanship with Airsoft guns are identical to those for firearms, but range time with Airsoft guns does not require live ammo, hearing protection, or a traditional shooting range. For agencies with limited budgets and limited access to shooting ranges, use of Airsoft guns could reduce the costs of firearms training, and also reduce the risks associated with firearms training (injuries, lead exposure, noise exposure and others).

Mr. Rehn demonstrated a variety of safety equipment and provided examples showing how Airsoft guns could be used safely at extremely close ranges, so that integrated unarmed and firearms training could be conducted using Airsoft guns in place of non-firing replicas. He then presented information on how to design scenarios for force-on-force training for groups and individuals. He explained that force-on-force training for firearms training is similar to sparring for martial arts training, and that Airsoft-based force on force training was the equivalent of 'light contact' sparring, whereas using other simulation tools, such as Simunition products, were the equivalant of 'hard contact' sparring. Both have their place in training, but many trainers move their students too quickly from heavy bag training (live fire training on inanimate targets) and 'no contact' sparring (using non firing replicas) to brief, intense scenarios with hard-hitting projectiles. His opinion was that once students have a basic set of firearms skills, that the emphasis of their firearms training should be on force-on-force exercises against other students, where the basic skills are used under stress. He provided examples showing how any live fire drill could be converted to force-on-force exercises replacing static targets with roleplayers that provided realistic target movement as well as return fire.

The question of how to assess hits was raised, since Airsoft BBs are hard plastic and do not leave paint splotches on the targets. Mr. Rehn explained that he viewed the lack of marks as an advantage, since trainees should not be looking for marks on a target, but rather assessing the effects of their shooting by the target's reaction to being hit. Similarly, the lack of visible marks on the target forces the shooter to concentrate on seeing the sights and aligning the sights with the desired area on the target, rather than using the common paintball approach of focusing on the target and looking for paint marks. One way that he makes the training more realistic is to give the 'bad guy' roleplayers specific instructions regarding how many hits, and where the hits need to be, to produce a reaction. Additionally, instead of calling 'hit' as players do in paintball, roleplayers are told how to react to a hit, which includes a full range of responses including drop immediately, keep fighting but slowly weaken over 5-10 seconds, drop the weapon and surrender, stagger out of view and yell for help, stop fighting but continue holding weapon, charge the attacker and run away showing no reaction to being shot. None of these target responses require visible marks but they do require the roleplayer to follow instructions to provide the proper challenge and response for the trainee. Additionally, the lack of visible marks means that Airsoft projectiles cause less damage to the training area.

To demonstrate how Airsoft guns can be used virtually anywhere for training, several demonstrations were set up as part of the symposium. The first was a simple target range, constructed using two rolling coat racks and paper targets. Heavy cardboard was placed behind the targets to deflect the BBs to the ground after passing through the paper (photo). The target range was set up in a hotel conference room, and attendees were able to test fire the many Airsoft guns on display (photo). Next, a group scenario was run, simulating a restaurant incident where a mentally disturbed person opens fire on the manager and patrons. In this scenario, two of the diners were off-duty law enforcement officers who stopped the attack.

The final demonstration involved many of the attendees, with help from a group of local Airsoft game players who provided equipment and roleplaying support. A complex scenario was run, simulating an executive protection incident. One team served as a security detail for a VIP, who was waiting to catch a plane at a small public airport. The other team simulated a group of terrorists attempting to kidnap the VIP. This scenario used three hotel conference rooms, the dining area, a hallway, a storage room and the parking lot at the hotel. If marking projectiles had been used, the scenario could not have been conducted in the hotel without leaving paint damage.

The day concluded with a post-scenario debrief and discussion period. The attendees I spoke with all said that the symposium was a unique training experience, and many expressed interest in expanding their training to include Airsoft technology.


For more information:

Air Soft Labs
190 avenue St Exupéry
31400 Toulouse
Tél.: 05 6120 7761
Fax : 05 6154 1928

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