Operator: “Oh, you need to put this belt on, too.”

Me: “What’s the deal with the belt?”

Operator: “It hits you with 5000 volts of electricity when you get shot, so try not to get shot.”

And goes the conversation with the simulation operator at Threat Dynamics. Threat Dynamics is a “immersive small arms training” facility in Tualatin, Oregon where you’re outfitted with a Glock 17 or an AR15 which have been retrofitted to run off of compresses air and “shoot” a beam that the screens around you register as a shot. You are surrounded by 300 degrees of screen where different scenarios play out in which you have to interact with, all run by the nearby simulation operator who is basically trying to get you killed. Oh and you’re wearing the “Return Fire Belt” around your waist that lights you up with 5000 volts of electricity when you are shot by one of the thugs onscreen that you didn’t see or failed to neutralize.

A couple of friends and I met at the facility to see what this place was all about and after checking in we were led upstairs to “Threat Ally” which was just a very large single screen where we took turns shooting at a variety of onscreen targets to get the guns calibrated and get you used to how the system worked. After we were comfortable with gear the operator ran us through a handful of scenarios where we found ourselves in the think of an active shooter incident, or a break in by burglars, or a situation that had escalated into a hostage scenario, etc. where you had to interact with the people on the screen and try not to get fired up by the “Return Fire Belt”, which I did when I failed to notice a second intruder hiding as I focused on the first intruder.

Next we went all in and moved to “Threat Arena,” the full 300 degree screen simulator where unlike “Threat Ally,” you have information pouring in from all directions. I know it seems somewhat trivial to think of it as no big deal, but you’re standing in the middle of the arena with sound and movement all around you, knowing that it’s going to hurt if you get shot, it induces a massive amount of stress which is really the point. You can’t help but to get aggressive with the onscreen people while they ratchet up the pressure. I found myself actually yelling at the people onscreen which do react to you via the simulation operator. I was a little embarrassed when I dropped the F-bomb at a tire iron wielding thug when I surprised them in a parking lot, but you really can’t help it, they system is very realistic and you’re brain doesn’t really know the difference.

The system does an excellent job of inducing stress and found myself completely immersed, adrenaline pumping, and a racing heart. Most of us shoot on a square range and are used to targets being in a certain area, none of which are shooting back, so to be completely surrounded with action, trying to maintain situational awareness, and trying to maintain the basic fundamentals of marksmanship is a completely new experience. I’m sure we have all wondered how we’d perform if we found ourselves in the middle of a situation like the ones Threat Dynamics is displaying on screen, and now I have a idea of just how fast things move in a dynamic situation and just how fast they can go wrong. I know of no other way to experience that understanding without actually being in one of those situations, so as a training tool, this system is unparalleled. I’m definitely looking forward to my next visit.

Visit To Threat Dynamics
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