Real ammo used in live-fire training for Texas gun owners
One million Texans now have a license to carry a gun. In 2016 that number is expected to jump by another 200,000 people. Some of the new gun owners have little experience firing a weapon and have never been faced with a violent confrontation. To make everyone safer a new program is being tested in Austin that could make a life or death difference for gun owners and innocent bystanders.
A loaded gun, a large target and not many yards between them.
"It's fun," said Jason Carrier. The bar owner is firing a gun for the first time. But even without any experience, he's having no trouble racking up enough points to score a license to carry.
"We're pretty close right now. You can pick it up quickly," said Carrier.
The shooting proficiency test uses a static paper target. There's no threat. No one's coming at you. It's so easy Carrier scored 246 out of a possible 250 points.
It's why Atlas Defense master instructor Tracy Carroll is setting a very different scene for a Live-Fire survival scenario. "You're home, it's late in the evening", said Carroll. "You hear a crash in one of the back bedrooms."
Retired Colonel Tommy Gilmore enters the box with his heart pounding. The student is walking into a home invasion with his worst fear right in front of him. The scenario is real-life, real-time and they're using real ammo. The retired colonel is one of the first civilians in Texas to go thru the pilot program. It's exposing him to the life or death decisions he could be forced to make on the street.
"Light years different," said Colonel Gilmore. "Your vision opens up. You start knowing what to look for. You find you're not as hyped up. You're not as stressed out."
Scott Calvin, CEO and co-founder of Atlas Defense, says they use a 6 ft. x 8 ft. sheet of specially-treated Mylar to create the confrontation. "It is a big sheet of Mylar that's been heat treated and it's about 10 percent more reflective than a mirror," said Calvin. "When you're looking into it looks like someone is standing right in front of you."
An aerial view lays it out. When Colonel Gilmore walks into the box he's separated from the home invader by a security wall. They're side-by-side, but the highly reflective Mylar screen makes it look like they're face-to-face. "If someone's coming at you in a threatening manner with a weapon or a knife or anything like that, that's what you're going to see and then that's how you're going to interact," said Calvin.
It's the positioning that makes it safe to use live ammo. "The bullets are just going right through the target," said Calvin. "This is the next step in force-on-force training."
Student Janel Carlisle never imagined she's be able to use her loaded gun in training that mirrors her fear of being attacked in a parking lot. It gives added weight to her every move. "It's completely different to have live ammo in this situation," said Carlisle. "The bad guy is coming at me with his knife or his gun and I need to be able to have muscle memory and training to know what to do."
Ultimately the pilot program hopes to save lives by making gun owners reflect on what they'd do before they're forced to do it. "It is a simple concept, but it is so powerful," said Calvin. "You want to train for reality."