Tualatin company's virtual shooting range brings life-and-death scenarios close to home
At first glance it looks like the most advanced video game every conceived.
Five large movie screens wrap around you, giving a 300-degree view of a grocery store aisle.
At the counter a man is robbing the store clerk. In a flash, a gun is drawn and the clerk is dead.
What would you do?
Threat Dynamics, a Tualatin-based company off Southwest Tualatin-Sherwood Road has been asking that question since it moved to Tualatin last year. The company trains police and civilians how to handle dangerous situations in real-world scenarios.
Shooters at the virtual shooting range use modified Glock 17 semiautomatic pistols that fire air instead of bullets. The ability to use real guns in real situations gives the client an authentic chance to practice life or death situations, such as hostage situations and robberies.
'The experience is so realistic. Your hearts starts racing and your adrenaline is up,' said Threat Dynamics owner Ryan Tuttle, who served in the Oregon Army National Guard in Iraq in 2004 and 2005. 'Your brain turns off the fact that you are in a simulator because it looks real. You are holding a real gun, looking at an image of real people and talking to them.'
Tuttle first saw the technology when he was training for the Army National Guard's quick-response team, and knew that similar technology could help train law enforcement officers and others.
Similar equipment is used in police academies and military training, but there are few options for local law enforcement to use them, and no opportunities for civilians.
'You would think (law enforcement agencies) would have access to things like this, but they don't. With their budgets, they spend all their money on bullets and other things so they don't have money for anything else.'
Tuttle called using the simulators an eye-opening experience for many people.
'Everybody needs more training. The first time you shoot an unarmed person in the sim, you're like 'Holy cow. If that was real life I'd be in jail.''
The company is one of about 16 places in the country to use the 300-degree training simulators, and the only place where the simulators are commercially available for the general public.
'You can't do it anywhere else. It's only here in Tualatin. To go through a convenience store robbery, most people think they could probably handle that, but it surprises everyone how quickly things happen and how even a great marksman can miss completely.'
Threat Dynamics has worked with about 20 local law enforcement agencies across the Portland area.
The Tualatin Police Department is considering using Threat Dynamics as part of its officer training, said Lt. Greg Pickering.
'When an officer is making a decision about the use of force, (the simulator) has the ability to put an officer in that situation in a sterile environment to have them start thinking about what will I do in that situation?' said Pickering, a firearms instructor who used the simulator on Monday. 'Often we train in a 90-degree range, but we live in a 360 degree world.'
Threat Dynamics also operates a retail store, and offers gun safety classes.
'We have people come in all the time and want to shoot bad guys, and that's OK. Regardless of if you want to have fun or why you come in, you are going to learn something,' Tuttle said.
Civilians make up most of the company's business. Many are former military and police who use the equipment to keep their training up to date.
Lake Oswego resident Dan Breene brought his wife and adult daughter to the simulator Monday afternoon.
'It's fun stuff,' said Breene, who served in the Army military police in the 1970s. 'This is my second time here. I told my wife and daughter about it and they wanted to try it too.'
Breene said that the training he gets at Threat Dynamics would have been great when he was serving in the military.
'You are faced with good guys and bad guys,' he said. 'What do you do? How do you react?'
See for yourself
What: Threat Dynamics
Where: 8250 S.W. Tonka Road in Tualatin
How much: $35 to $85
Info: Call 503-692-2992 or visit threatdynamics.com