KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. --
The 173rd Security Forces Squadron increased the training capability for the base, as well as the surrounding area, when they constructed a new “shoot house” on the base designed to simulate real situations law enforcement and first responders deal with as a part of their mission.
The 5,000 square foot facility is equipped with breach or pry doors and breach glass windows, as well as a camera monitoring system, dimmable lights, and smoke generators used to replicate anything from a fire to a hostage situation or an active shooter.
“It’s a perfect facility for us to train our tactics, how we clear buildings, how we handle, let’s say, an active shooter scenario,” said Lt. Col. Lucas Ritter, the security forces squadron commander.
What sets the facility apart from others, is that it’s designed for use with Simunitions—the closest thing to live ammunition available for training. Simunitions are live rounds, which are loaded into normal weapons and utilize a small, plastic projectile that sting a bit but are non-lethal. It’s the only structure like it within a four-hour drive from the Klamath Basin.
“They are going to have the opportunity to experience those real-life adrenaline rushes with the unknowns and the variables that it creates,” said Steve Westerberg, Oregon Dept. of Public Safety and certified law enforcement officer on what makes a shoot house like this one a unique training tool.
“We’ve had agencies ranging from our law enforcement partners in the (Klamath) Basin, to fire departments and even federal forest rangers,” said Tech. Sgt. Timothy Lombardi, one of the security forces members who helped make the project a reality.
The building entered its first day of service to the base and others with a tactical team competition attended by two teams from Beale Air Force Base, California, the 173rd SFS and Klamath Falls Police Department.
The building rang with the sounds of doors being breached with hand-held rams or haligans, the pop of Simunition rounds as well as the occasional concussive blast of a flash-bang grenade as teams stormed the building in hostage rescue situations and active-shooter interdictions.
“The cool part about it—it’s got breaching doors at pretty much every access,” said Sergeant Dave Penkava, a SWAT Team leader with Jackson County Sheriff’s Office who attended the opening day competition. “Breaching doors provide a training opportunity that you don’t often get in the real world. It has windows that can be ported, glass that can be broken, all at a reasonable expense to the user.”
Lombardi explains that visitors and community partners are responsible for the cost of the pins that secure a breaching door and panes of glass for the window breaching.
“It’s good stuff, it’s new to a lot of people,” said Staff Sgt. William Brow, 173rd Security Forces Squadron. “Here, you have the ability to do everything whereas a typical structure on-base you can’t.”
At lunch the teams took a break for a grand-opening ceremony where they presented plaques and coins to those who were instrumental in seeing construction of the $475,000 facility through to completion. Ritter thanked the 28 competitors for their participation, and with that they returned to the shoot house until well into the afternoon.