NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — In 2010, defenders from the 99th Security Forces Squadron and one member from the 555th RED HORSE, took a gym scheduled for demolition and transformed it into a shoothouse, currently utilized by all military services, local law enforcement and federal law enforcement.
A shoothouse is a building dedicated for training military and law enforcement personnel to neutralize threats that occur indoors. The idea to renovate a vacant gym and use it as a shoothouse came from Master Sgt. Doug Jones, former 99th SFS non-commissioned officer of training. He was permitted use of the building while it awaited demolition. His hope was after the shoothouse was complete; it would be removed from the demo list.
Tech. Sgt. Martin Delfon, an Individual Mobilized Augmentee from the 555th RED HORSE worked with the 99th SFS to complete the project in three months. The materials used for the 1,800 square foot shoothouse were either self help or donated.
“We went to a Shot Show and they wanted hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a shoothouse,” said Kenneth Pereira, 99th SFS training instructor. “We grabbed a book and a design and took it to Delfon and said can you build this?”
Delfon and a few security forces members, who were savvy in construction, built the project costing around $10,000.
Once the shoothouse was complete, training capabilities expanded. Sixteen live video cameras were placed around corners of the building so trainees can later watch themselves respond in scenarios. Hours of recorded training footage can be time stamped and reviewed by dozens of people at once.
Another benefit to having a shoothouse is the permissible use of simulated munitions. Bad guys are given red paint bullets and police forces are given blue paint bullets. This way, everyone can tell where the bullets hit when a training exercise ends. The weapons that shoot the paint rounds are the same weapons security forces use while on duty. Parts are replaced in the M4 carbine rifle and M9 pistol to only allow simulated munitions.
“Having the weight and the feel of their actual duty weapons that they utilize is more beneficial than a plastic training gun or paintball gun,” said Pereira. “It is about as realistic as you can get without firing a live round.”
The shoothouse also has structural advantages over normal buildings that improve training. A cat walk built over the rooms allows instructors and trainees to view exercises. Entrances to rooms can be blocked off to change the layout of the building.
“You can only use a building so many times before people know the layout and nothing becomes interesting anymore,” said Pereira.
The shoothouse opens doors to training opportunities with local law and federal enforcement. News of the shoothouse spread throughout multiple law enforcement agencies and now everybody law enforcement entity in Southern Nevada is using the shoothouse at Nellis AFB.
“We help them out and they provide training for us,” said Pereira. “Las Vegas Metro Police Department has given us Multi-Assault-Counter-Terrorism-Action-Capabilities training and Emergency Vehicle Operator Course training at no cost.”
Fostering relationships between civilian and military police is important not only for law enforcement personnel, it is important for the people they serve. When everyone trains together, they can respond to emergencies together.
“The first time Metro comes on base to work with Security Forces should not be at an incident,” said Dean Hennesy, Las Vegas Metro Police Department MACTAC instructor. “Having the facility out there and having the ability to integrate with Security Forces when an incident does happen, you can’t put a price on it.”