USMC practices shooting under duress

The USMC’s new High Intensity Tactical Training program at Twentynine Palms incorperates shooting simulators. Marine Corp Times reports (emphasis added)…

The real challenge came when they ran upstairs. There, trainers had placed a pair of individual shooting stations where the Marines, carrying red rubber rifles, fired from the prone position at images of enemy gunmen appearing on a projection screen. A phone-sized device attached to each Marine’s hip sent brief jolts whenever he landed a shot. Shots to the head produced blood splatters on the wall behind the images.

“So along with shooting under fatigue, you have to shoot under the fear of threat,” said Brad Brimhall, the combat center’s Semper Fit director. “We try to make it as realistic as possible.”

Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Nyangani shot a 97 on his second round after getting a near-perfect 99 points on his first attempt. Fatigue was definitely a factor. “I suck,” he said with a smile, as he took his rubber rifle and dashed down the stairs.

He wasn’t alone. Some of the Marines saw slight drops in their shooting scores by their third attempt. Trainers expect to see exhaustion set in initially, but they say that trend can be reversed by repeated training.

It seems to me that giving a marksman a jolt when he makes a shot is only going to train his body to anticipate the jolt before he pulls the trigger, thereby ruining accuracy. This is why it is recommended to teach new shooters how to shoot with low recoil guns, so that they do not learn to anticipate the blast, noise and pain of a high recoiling gun.

[ Many thanks to Lance for emailing me the link. ]

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Lance

    This a lot more fun way to do PT than on a football field and doing pushups and calisthenics.

    Very good way to train Marines.

  • Alex-mac

    Haha, I suggested this a couple of years ago, should have been more specific. Jolts should either be random or based time/distance from a target. In CQB speed of action is emphasized so the jolts would encourage you with pain to complete the course faster.

    And training like this should always start of with a fatigued soldier, so a aerobic warmup session to get the heart rate up should be standard. The idea being one learns to work with ones fatigue. I hope those plastic rifles are twice as heavy as their real life counterparts. (roman soldiers practiced with swords and shield twice as heavy as their real ones, to of course build endurance and strength)

  • Vhyrus

    Shouldn’t they be shocking them when they MISS?! Or would that just make too much sense? I don’t think punishing them for making the shot is exactly what we want to be reinforcing.

  • Eric S

    I would posit the notion that the shock isn’t a reinforcer but more of an attempt to increase the duress. Or possibly to facilitate some sort of habituation effect so they don’t even notice the recoil, even if it is minimal.

  • armed_partisan

    I may just be misunderstanding the description, but this just seems horribly stupid.

  • Dan-0

    Again, the Corps finds another way to suck the fun out of a training event. There’s no reason for the tazers other than to facilitate some BN gunner’s sadistic fantasies. As others stated before, the “stun” for fun reinforcement will have long term negative effects, especially on the individuals core marksmanship skills.

    Developing and maintaining a strong, professional mindset is the key to combat endurance. Through that young Marines will understand the importance of following through a mission; zapping them into submission teaches nothing.

    • Alex-mac

      Athletes train to failure and try to build their endurance, strength and speed without getting injured or over training or losing their technique.

      The same thing should be the case with a soldiers, once they have the technique down. They should then physically and mentally push themselves without compromising technique. For the average soldier, maintaining an athletes drive and discipline in training, is difficult, so it makes sense that the military helps them. The military is their personal coach in a sense.

  • Critter_FL

    The author misunderstood the original (and poorly worded link). The electrical jolt (or just vibratory haptic device) is activated when the projected enemy gunman scores a shot on the Marine undergoing training. This is a ‘shoot-back’ system, where indecisiveness and delay is ‘punished’. This helps to train the young ‘video game generation’ from doing stupid things without thinking (firing without cover), as there is no Reset Button in real lfe and you don’t respawn in 10 seconds if killed.

    I work in the military training industry and have presented conference papers on this very subject. The likely vendor is Virtra Systems using an optional component called the Threat-Fire belt. It is a high quality component, and I have been able to ‘ride the lightning’ (get shocked with it) at trade shows. I’m glad to see it in the hands of our military. BTW, the same Virtra Systems makes the virtual shooting simulators at our local Gander Mountain.

    • Matt G.

      I thought that is what it must be. The way it’s described above just sounds stupid.

      Sounds like a hell of a training tool. I wouldn’t mind a few runs myself.

  • JT

    So the upside is that it’s less expensive than simmunitions?