HVT 3-D targets incorporate training principals derived from neuroscience, enabling well-trained shooters to eliminate the threat faster and with fewer rounds.
The Science Behind The Targets
In 2014, A team of neuroscientists from M-I-T found that the human brain can process entire images that the eye sees for as little as 13 milliseconds. This break through was the first evidence the brain can process images far faster than the 100 milliseconds suggested by previous studies. The study proved, as humans we can process an image in just 13 thousandths of a second. Following this logic it is reasonable to assume a decision can be made about where to shoot in relatively the same amount of time.
What this means, is that in as little as 13 thousandths of a second a shooter can understand/ process an image. For example, the image is of a man pointing a rifle at you and wearing a Rhodesian rig with double stacked AK mags. That is the first step in what is referred to as Image Processing Training™ (IPT™). The second step of IPT™ entails seeing where to place rounds on the threat. On the target above we can see the head and pelvic girdle are exposed, a round fired center mass will not penetrate the Rhodesian; in this scenario that mistake is likely to cost you your life.
Theoretically, processing the image and making a decision about where to place rounds on the threat should occur in approximately 26 thousandths of second. Cognitive abilities such as these can only be developed with a target system, such as the one from HVT.
IPT™ entails processing an image and seeing where to shoot.
Interestingly, processing images is what we begin doing naturally when we're faced with life threatening situations. We may experience adrenaline dumps and tunnel vision, mentally we begin taking snap shots of the situation. This is why it's commonly reported, "it seemed as if time was slowing down."
During life threatening situations we often begin rapidly processing images like individual frames of a video. Possibly, processing images even faster than MIT scientists determined, because they lacked the variable adrenaline in their study.
Real World Experience Applied
There is an old training adage that say's, "you can't miss fast enough.” During an attack at the US Embassy annex in Kabul, 2014, an OGA operator encountered a terrorist wearing US Army fatigues at a distance of about 25 yards. He aimed in on the head of the potential threat and paused for target ID. In that moment the terrorist rapidly produced an AK47 from his side and placed two rounds on his ballistic plates. Stunned, the operator absorbed the two rounds, maintained sight picture, pressed trigger and canoed the head of the terrorist. He later reported that he continued engaging as the body dropped to the ground, however all subsequent rounds went over the top of the falling body. That's how fast the body dropped.
Later, we learned the terrorists responsible for the complex attack were instructors for the terrorist organization known as, the Haqqani Network. Obviously, that particular Haqqani Network instructor was a victim of his own bad training, he shot center mass (first). Let this be a lesson to us all, if he’d been trained in IPT™ he would have won the gun fight, because he would gone for a head shot.
What the terrorist failed to do was process the image of (call sign) Minor, who was wearing a ballistic plate carrier. This example is particularly powerful because it demonstrates an extremely high degree of proficiency with his AK47. At a distance of 25 yards, he brought the weapon to bare and fired two rounds before the OGA operator could respond. It’s reasonable to assume the Haqqani Network soldier repeated the movement of bringing his AK47 to bare subconsciously, as rehearsed, probably hundreds of times and without conscious thought. This example also powerfully demonstrates we are truly products of our training.
There are two shot placement locations that guarantee the threat will be eliminated, the heart and the cerebellum. Both locations are roughly the size of a fist. Due to angles and body position we should train ourselves to think 3-D, the shooter should think about how the round will pass through the body to (hopefully) penetrate one of the two fist sized locations that guarantee elimination of the threat. Real world situations are all about angles, this reality is why our targets are portrayed at up to 5 different angles, 360º around the clock.
Hunters think in 3-D, in fact, ethical hunters won't even take a shot if they don't think they can effectively place rounds on target. So, why are gun fighters training to shoot center mass (first)? The answer is because they mistakenly think there isn't time to think, just shoot.
A System of Targets
The target above was made at the request of DEVGROUP and reflects a Near Peer threat. The picture on the left is of Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian General and commander of the QUDS Force, an IRGC division primarily responsible for clandestine military warfare. The target was made depicting the solider (pictured) to the left of Soleimani.
Training that emphasizes cognitive shooting and 3-D thinking can not be accomplished without the use of a 3-D target. After careful deliberation about how to accomplish a 3-D training aide it was decided that shot-accountability is the primary driving factor, therefore plastic, foam and other target material options were eliminated as possibilities. For reasons of shot accountability, cost and versatility, it was decided the targets must be cardboard, or paper.
As professionals we should seek relevant targets that depict the weapons and gear of the threat we are training to eliminate. An off-duty cop posing for a picture to be used as a target, while wielding a 38 snubnose revolver is hardly indicative of the threats encountered today. Therefore, HVT target characters are depicted with rifles and optics, body armor and gear so we may train for a worst case scenario. Additionally, all targets from HVT depict the hands so target ID process can also be trained and ingrained.
Problem: Exorbitant number of rounds fired to eliminate a threat. Historically, during military and law enforcement engagements it is common for the threat to be engaged upwards of 15 times. We must ask ourselves, what training processes are responsible for an exorbitant number of rounds being fired to eliminate the threat, when one properly placed round is sufficient?
Problem: Body Armor becomes more prevalent every day. Therefore, everyday a shooter trains themselves to shoot center mass (first) is another day a round fired is less likely (statistically) to eliminate the threat. This may in fact, result in loosing and death.
Problematic Training Principals Identified:
1. Shoot Center Mass (first). This training principal demands the shooter shoot center mass (first). For more than 40 years military and law enforcement have been training under what is now an outdated training paradigm, which demands the shooter "shoot center mass", first. The cognitive process involved is simple, identify center mass, then continue pressing the trigger until the threat is eliminated; This is akin to not thinking (much). The fact is, with the right training aides we are capable of training ourselves to a higher standard. If the first round fired penetrates the cerebellum of the brain, it is accompanied by a no-twitch response and the body/ threat immediately falls the to the ground. One well placed round gets the job done.
2. There isn't time to think, just get rounds on target. This training adage was disproved in 2014, when neuroscientists at MIT determined we can assess a potential threat in just 13 thousandths of a second. Outdated data from 20+ years ago measured human image processing time at 1/4 of a second, in combination with reaction times, which were also inaccurate. Under the measured response times which have now been disproved, it made sense to shoot center mass.
However, new information and data makes the "shoot center mass" adage obsolete, because in just 13 thousandths of a second we have the ability to understand what we're looking at see where to effectively place rounds on the threat. With the right training aides we can abandon the outdated training adage and advance with science towards becoming more effective fighters.
3. Humans are not capable of performing fine motor skills under stress, process images, or making decisions. That is quite simply, a false statement. The fact is neuroscience has shown us how we learn and repeat what we've learned under stress. We have the ability to perform complex movements, competition shooting events and numerous other sports clearly show this. Humans are capable of performing truly amazing athletic feats, with the right training.
Rectifying The Identified Problems
1. 3D targets train shooters to place rounds effectively on a human body, not between the lines. Real threats, people and situations exist in a 3 dimensional environment.
A distinction should be made between target shooters, competition shooters and those who intend to train to eliminate real threats. Often, threats present themselves at various angles, are wearing gear, or PPE that would prevent an effective engagement.
3D targets are the next most logical step forward in tactical training, facilitating an advanced cognitive response. 3D targets also increase realism, thereby improving training. I doubt anyone would disagree, the more realistic training becomes, the better it is.
2. Shot accountability during training. 3D targets made of foam, or pressed plastic allow virtually no shot accountability. Instructors and shooters who take their training seriously must have shot accountability. If the shooter and the trainer don't know where rounds are impacting on the target, making adjustments and becoming better becomes virtually impossible. Paper, or cardboard targets allow for shot accountability.
3. [Fact] Repetitively shooting center mass during training creates a process that is repeated during moments of high stress, with little or no conscious thought.
Through repetition neural pathways are created, initially the pathway may be thought of as a bumpy road. Through repetition, the pathway is made smooth, brain signals flow more quickly and reliably down the neural pathway.
For example, properly drawing a handgun from the holster is comprised of many small steps. During an immediately life threatening moment the initial conscious thought may be, “I need my gun.” During the execution of drawing from the holster all the individual steps involved in the process are subconsciously performed, while in the forefront of the mind is the threat you are responding to. Extreme sports have shown us complex cognitive abilities and movements may be learned and repeated when the training facilitates the desired outcome.
Racially Neutral Targets
What race are you shooting? May it be said, that your company, or agency are training themselves to eliminate a particular race? Is there someone who might be offended?
The skin tone on HVT target characters has been changed to grey, because there is no (human) race with grey skin.
In summary, it may be said, the more realistic our training is, the better it is. The HVT 3-D target system increases realism and training value. Better training begins with better training aides.