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News | Sept. 26, 2022

Defense Supply Center Columbus’ shoot house promotes police force readiness

By Stefanie Hauck DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs

During the height of the pandemic while most of the workforce was operating under maximum telework, the Defense Supply Center Columbus completed upgrades to a new live-fire police training facility.

The DSCC Shoot House provides enhanced, realistic training by simulating environments and workspaces the installation’s police force may need to enter and clear in the event of an incident.

The DSCC facility opened in late 2020, as a live ammunition small arms indoor range primarily serving military and law enforcement training needs for close contact scenarios in residential, commercial and industrial spaces. Paint pellet munitions – also known as simunitions – create the live-fire training element necessary for realistic scenarios.

Previously, there was only one other shoot house within a 200-mile radius – the Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy – serving the entire Central Ohio law enforcement community.

Defense Logistics Agency Installation Management – Columbus Deputy Site Director Mike Wood said the need for improved training facilities was first identified several years ago during routine threat assessments. Wood, who served as the installation’s chief of security and emergency services at the time, said information at the time identified an internally based active shooter as the biggest installation threat.

“Training available at the time was not preparing officers to meet this threat without hesitation,” he said.

The main limiting factor was the lack of space available for simunitions based training to gain realistic experience. Before the shoot house was installed, DSCC police used old office furniture in a building earmarked for training to simulate real world conditions, or scheduled afterhours use of unoccupied or abandoned office spaces.

This led installation leadership and the police department to look for a solution that could deliver routine and reliable training to meet the need.

Initial discussion and research revealed there was an obvious need for a local training facility not just for the DSCC police but for other local law enforcement agencies as well.

“Our partners also constantly struggle to find places to realistically train,” said DSCC Police Department Chief Marco Schmigotzki. “Giving them access to our shoot house forges relationships and ensures a coordinated response if something were to happen on DSCC.”

Schmigotzki got the idea to create a shoot house while serving as the department’s training officer. Schmigotzki felt the existing designated training area couldn’t provide the realistic training officers needed to prepare for potential threats on DSCC. Schmigotzki and Police Lt. Brodi Moeller researched and developed a concept, shaping the idea further after seeing the Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy facility. “We visited it to see if what they had was usable for us, and we decided it wasn’t the best solution,” Schmigotzki explained.

What the installation police force needed, Schmigotzki said, was a structure mobile enough to support multiple reconfigurations to keep training scenarios fresh and unpredictable. It also needed to be compact enough to be housed inside an existing warehouse building earmarked for police training.

Moeller, the department’s current training officer, located a mobile modular shoot house that offered the training goals the DSCC Police Department wanted to achieve. This ultimately brought them to the conclusion that a mobile shoot house would be the most appropriate training aid.

Then-installation site director Dan Bell and Wood worked to procure the necessary materials to build it. Wood said the initial cost of the shoot house was $75,000 with an additional $50,000 invested for enhancements.

“I can’t stress how important their support was in all of this, because without them, it wouldn’t be here,” Schmigotzki said.

The shoot house consists of modular wall panels with large metal brackets at the top which can be removed to allow for reconfiguration. A large catwalk with plexiglass walls towers above the house to allow for observation of activities within it. It has several entrances and exits and some of the wall panels have open square holes simulating windows. Doors are attached in several places for officers to open and close while in the house.

Wood explained the new mobile shoot house and observation catwalk came on pallets delivered by a flatbed truck and was installed by a vendor who sells, maintains and installs shoot houses. That vendor trained several DSCC police officers on how to reconfigure it.

“I’ll never forget when it came in, it was a production,” Wood said.

The new training facility features wide hallways, narrow hallways, outward opening doors, inward opening doors, exterior doors, windows, closets and hidden compartments.

“We wanted to mimic as many scenarios, and potential threats as we possibly could and implement those scenarios into the design of the house,” Schmigotzki said.

Due to the mobile shoot house being modular, it can be reconfigured and changed allowing a variety of emergency response training environments for officers to encounter. The catwalk is the only exception as it is bolted to the floor.

A catwalk extension and plexiglass walls were added to alleviate safety concerns and increase visibility for observers and trainers at the shoot house. Trainers can now witness more areas of the shoot house and evaluate officers’ decision-making ability and tactical responses in real time.

Schmigotzki explained there were whole rooms that couldn’t be seen before the extension was added, which didn’t provide an accurate picture of how officers were reacting to and approaching every aspect of each training scenario.

“What the shoot house does for us as a police department is invaluable,” Schmigotzki said. “If officers are training in the same space all the time, they may get too familiar and comfortable with their environment, and no longer anticipate what they may encounter. Our goal is to annually change the configuration of the shoot house to optimize our training capabilities and ensure our officers remain vigilant.”

“The new training facility adds that extra dimension that you can’t get in Building 20 or any other building on DSCC because of the use of simunitions in their real-world firearms,” Wood said. “This training program gives them one of the most realistic opportunities to experience these scenarios – which enhances their ability 100 percent to respond to a potential real-life event. What we’re hoping for in this shoot house training program are more chances for an officer to pull his trigger which will make it more likely for him to respond to an actual event with little to no hesitation when it actually happens.”

The DSCC has welcomed federal, state and local law enforcement communities from the FBI, Franklin County and neighboring cities of Whitehall, Reynoldsburg to use the new facilities since opening its doors.

Future plans include getting more police departments involved, the implementation of night scenarios and the addition of furniture in some of the rooms within the shoot house.

“The long-standing impact of our potential capability from the existence of the shoot house is immeasurable,” Wood said.

Watch a video about the shoot house