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June 12, 2007
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Dave Young Specialized Training & Tactics
with Dave Young

Marking weapons for training

By Dave Young

Marking your weapons for training is an important issue and a serious task — one that should never be taken lightly. Over the past 10 years, there has been an increase in officer-related deaths from shots with a live firearm during a training scenario.


MP5 with simulation marking rounds

There are three main reasons for marking your firearms when conducting training simulations:

  1. To give the person you’re firing at a level of comfort/knowledge that the weapon is safe and will not discharge a live round.
  2. To give the person handling and operating the firearm a level of comfort/knowledge that the weapon is safe and will not discharge a live round.
  3. To give a third-party onlooker a level of comfort/knowledge that the weapon is safe and will not discharge a live round — and that it’s being used in a training scenario.

Currently, there are no industry standards covering the issue. However, many trainers across the country are finding ways to make the training area safer. One way to do this is by using non-functional weapons.

Nonfunctional weapons can be made of plastics, injection molding, metal, aluminum, or other various solid constructions. Their specifications are as close as possible to real weapons, but are available in a variety of colors such as red, blue, orange, yellow, and even black (however, black is not recommended due to the possibility of the training weapon being mistaken for a real live firearm).


Airsoft
Non-functional weapons have no moving parts and aren’t capable of discharging a live projectile, which makes them completely safe. (Note that some may have sharp or intrusive areas, which, if they’re not filed, may cut the skin during defensive tactics.)

Another option for safe training is to use functional training weapons, which have come a long way from the toy plastic weapons of the past. For one, their specifications are close to the exact weight and size of real weapons. They’re made of the same materials as non-functional training weapons, but have actual working parts such as triggers, slides and safeties.

These are available in a variety of colors — usually black or silver — with a special marking on the slide or barrel that designates it as safe for training and identifies it as a functional training weapon and not a real firearm.

While functional training weapons do have moving parts, they are not capable of discharging a live projectile. They are designated with the color yellow as safe, with the markings on the barrel, slide and handle so they can be identified as a training weapon when secured in the holster.


Air M4 with green laser xads redman gear
Nonfunctional weapons are considered partially safe because they are able to discharge a training projectile at safe velocities and impact to the body. Training and special safety equipment is recommended, but they also may have sharp or intrusive areas, which may cut the skin during defensive tactics unless filed down or removed.

Technology has made it possible to convert your existing weapons so they can fire a training or marking round. These conversion kits make it possible for the officer to change their barrel and certain features of the top slide to accommodate a special training projectile with a marking tip.

It is important for the user to be trained and certified in these conversions so that proper and safe selection can be made. I recommend designating these converted weapons with the color blue, with colored tape on the barrel, slide and handle so it can be identified as a weapon converted to discharge a marking round when secured in the holster.

They are considered moderately safe as they can discharge a training projectile at safe to high velocities due to the various calibers used and impact to the body. Training and special safety equipment is recommended. Again, they may have sharp or intrusive areas, which may cut the skin during defensive tactics unless taped, covered, or removed.


Recommended reading:
Training at the Speed of Life by Ken Murray  http://www.policeone.com/writers/columnists/KenMurray/articles/97999/

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About the author

Dave Young is the Founder and Director of ARMA, now part of the PoliceOne Training Network. He is also the Chairman of PoliceOne.com Advisory Board, and a training advisor for CorrectionsOne.com. Dave graduated from his first law enforcement academy in 1985, and now has over 25 years of combined civilian and military law enforcement and training experience. He was a sworn corrections and law enforcement officer in the state of Florida and has served as a gate sentry, patrol officer, watch commander, investigator, Special Reaction Team (SRT) member, leader and commander in the United States Marine Corps.

Dave has participated in and trained both military and law enforcement personnel in crowd management operations throughout the world. Dave is recognized as one of the nation's leading defensive tactics instructors specializing in crowd management, chemical and specialty impact munitions, protocol and selection of gear and munitions, ground defense tactics, and water - based defensive tactics.

He has hosted television shows for National Geographic TV Channel on Non Lethal Weapons and the host of Crash Test Human series.  He is a former staff noncommissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps, a member of the Police Magazine advisory board, and a technical advisory board member for Force Science Research Center. Dave is an active member of the American Society for Law Enforcement Training (ASLET), International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA).

View ARMA Training Systems Current Training Calendar 




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