The tickle of curiosity. The gasp of discovery. Fingers running across the keyboard.

The tickle of curiosity. The gasp of discovery. Fingers running across a keyboard

Saturday, December 3, 2011

F.A.T.S. No, It's Not Another Diet, Information for Writers


GLOCK 17 semiauto pistol Image via WikipediaCharacter Designation: Some good guys, maybe a hero, definitely some bad guys…

Character descriptions:
Okay. This is a little tricky. I would love to present a hero figure to you today. I know there were some in the room. I don’t have a clue who they were. I don’t know their names. I can’t even remember if they introduced themselves. Someone was tall-ish; someone was round-ish. There may have been some others, and there may not have been. I was in F.A.T.S. training. It was a simulator to train officers in using firearms, and I had tunnel vision from the second I went through the door.

Writers: If you think a witness is going to be with it and take in bunches of information, I would suggest that this would have to be a highly trained person. I have some training, and I’ve got almost nothing in the way of useful detail.

We went into a classroom, yup - just a normal classroom with a screen and a black plywood cutout. I remember this cutout vividly, because I did a lot of hiding there behind it. Seems that, training or no, my body reflexively wanted to duck. The two people I shot next to didn’t seem to have this reflex and stood square on while they were being shot at. Hmmm. Maybe they're not watching the same movies I am.


Bullets for handloading - Sierra brand in .270...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We were given guns and cartridges. No real bullets. I’m not sure of the technology that allows the screen to analyze your every move, but it does. I was the little number 8 bubble that wavered on the screen when we did the play back. We used Glocks. Now, I shoot a Springfield 9 mm. and a Glock doesn’t feel much different except that we had extended clips. This forced me to change my grip. I broke my wrist punching through concrete at a Tae Kwon Do testing, but that’s a different story for a different day, (Link to the story) and my right wrist never regained all of its strength. I say that with modesty because my right wrist never was very strong. I prefer to kick - I have long legs, and I want to be out of the bad guys reach. Reach in the F.A.T.S. scenario is not an issue. This fight is all about the gun. And my gun was now held slightly to the left of bulls-eye, sandwiched by my hands 


English: Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport ...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
First scenario:
We were shown a scene of an airport. A guy was being patted 
down. Some people were moving through the area. A silver haired man about six feet tall came around a barrier and shot at me. Well, us. But it felt very personal. Someone was shooting at me! I dropped behind the barrier. I was the yeller for the group. “Police! Drop your weapon!” All the stupid lines from the movies came back to me. I’m shooting wildly as I’m yelling absurdities. I don’t know what. It could have been, “No you’re not getting up from the table until you eat your peas.” Really. I knew my mouth was moving. I was yelling. But in my head, I was incoherent.

My bullet took him down. I know this because on the play back the little #8 bubble turned red when I shot him in the head. Red is a fatal shot. And then, inexplicably, when his body draped over the table, I kept shooting him in the leg with a bunch of yellow (non-vital hit) indicators.

I had to take off my jacket. It was getting hot in here! Whew! The instructors came over. Okay, now I remember - the guy was much taller than me. 6’2”?   6’3”? Salt and pepper hair. Very calm voice. He adjusted my finger on the trigger to help me straighten out the shot from my floppy right wrist.

Second Scenario: 
Library at the De La Salle College of Saint Be...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We were called to a school. We wound our way through the corridors to the library where a teen-aged boy held two females at the end of a knife. Now, if I were held at the end of a knife with a short bookcase between me and the knife-wielding dude, I wouldn’t just stand there and look frightened, I’d get the heck out of there. Just sayin’. Anyway, in we go. I’m the yeller. “Police. Put your knife down and your hands in the air.” Guy looks over. He's scared. He’s young. All he wants is a way out and to save some face. He knows what he’s doing is stupid - he just can’t think his way through this. He has tunnel vision. I have my gun aimed at him. It’s a close open shot. Of course, I don’t take it. Those girls aren’t really in harms way. They just need to walk in the other direction. 

As a one time Emergency Interventionist, working with people who have homicidal and suicidal ideations, I know I could probably talk this guy down. I need to put on my counselor hat. But no. I have a gun in my hand. I have tunnel vision on top of tunnel vision, and somehow I lost that counselor hat as I was winding my way through all those darn tunnels. There I stood like and idiot screaming, “I said put the knife down!” over and over and over again, until finally I bored the guy into submission.

Scenario three:
Bristol Law School courtroom
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is anyone else getting warm in here? Off came my sweater.


In this scenario we were in a courtroom. The camera panned around the people sitting in rows on the benches. I tried to pick out whom I thought might be dangerous. Turned out to be the prisoner. He clocked the guard that was escorting him, stole his gun, and started shooting at me. AGAIN! I got some rounds off - they only hit him in the arm as he was fleeing - maybe he could have bled out from my hits, but it would have taken hours. Maybe he’d die of an infection... eventually. Good thing my partner shot him in the head as we chased him through the park. That ended things sooner rather than later.

Scenario four:
I am sweating. My heart is beating a fast tattoo. I don’t have any more clothes to shed and still preserve modesty. I look around. There is a man in a red jacket sitting on a seat behind me, chuckling as I fluff at my t-shirt. He has grey hair too. Okay. Maybe I saw a bit more than I remembered having seen. 

      “I’m hot!” I told him. “Are there many more scenarios? I’m going to end up having to strip down.” 
     “Turn up the heat,” Round Guy says to Tall Guy. Tall Guy laughs and walks towards the thermostat. That’s all I saw of them - I was back to tunnel vision.

We were called out to a domestic dispute. As we pull up and get out of the car, a man is staggering up the driveway. He goes down. His back is covered in stab wounds. I chase the woman back in the house. She is obviously up-out-of-her-freaking-mind. Yes. That is the technical term an Emergency Interventionist would use. Yes, inexplicably, I’m the yeller again. I guess they saw what a brilliant job I did back at that library. 

      So again, “POLICE! Put the knife down. Move out into the open with your hands on your head!” Does she listen to me? No! She runs back into the bedroom and shoots at me. My hand comes up. I shoot her BOOM! dead-center in the forehead as I go down behind my little protective panel of plywood. My partners fill her dead body full of yellow #s.

And we’re done.

TAKE AWAY : Tunnel vision is very dangerous. All I could see, hear, feel, touch, think was the person with the weapon IN FRONT OF ME. Everything else, everyone else faded completely away. In a writing scenario this would mean that the bad guys could easily jockey themselves into another position. Hell. They could have walked right up beside me and pistol-whipped me in the head. Yup, that tunnel vision is a bitch and needs to be remembered when writing.

As I read this over, I notice I'm cussing a lot. Yeah - the ticker tape running at the bottom of my consciousness was pure gutter mouth. I was stringing them together like a drunken sailor. Lady-like demeanor be damned. Someone was *&#%ing shooting at me!

Even in a simulation there was a physical response. Every one of your characters should be drenched in sweat. If they’re walking away fresh as a daisy, you’ve written it wrong. They need a shower and a stiff drink.



See this article in action in my novella: MINE


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2 comments:

  1. Interesting and intense. I would probably fling myself behind something and scream if someone shot AT me.

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  2. Excellent ~ Is anyone getting warm in here? That would send me into hiding! You certainly act brave in these scenarios. Do you do phone calls that way, too? LOL.
    Enjoy the mild weather! Mary Latela

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