Published: Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 3:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 3:40 p.m.
SARASOTA – Two armed thugs pry open the front door during a late-night home invasion.
The homeowner is in her bedroom. She hears the break-in, calls 911, keeps her cell phone on, and arms herself with a pistol.
She cautiously makes her way to her daughter’s bedroom. She tells her child she will be OK, crouches in a corner behind a chair, points her pistol at the bedroom door and waits.
One of the thugs bursts in — a crowbar raised to strike.
The homeowner shoots him four times in the chest, a fifth round passes over his head as he falls backward.
This training scenario wasn’t played out online, or on a firearms simulator. It occurred live, with real people, shooting state-of-the-art training munitions at a new “shoot house” in Sarasota.
The “bad guys” were Tom Dusseau and Matthew Andreadis, instructors with Advanced Defensive Concepts, a Sarasota-based tactical training firm.
The homeowner was Cheryl Holt, owner of Fully Loaded Firearms and Ammo, a gun shop on South Tamiami Trail.
The mastermind behind the scenario and the training concept was Marc Pezzella, Advanced Defensive Concepts owner and a recently retired Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office lieutenant.
Pezzella’s firm, partnered with Holt’s gun shop, is now offering the general
public — families and businesses — a unique opportunity: force-on-force training, which until now had only been available to elite military units and law enforcement SWAT teams.
At this range, the targets shoot back.
“We’re not teaching people to be ninjas,” Pezzella said Tuesday. “Instead, we’re showing them what to do when the wolf comes to your door.”
“Training at the speed of life”
The doors and walls of the new shoot house are movable.
Pezzella and his trainers — who all have extensive law enforcement, military
and private military contractor experience — can create nearly any environment: a home, an office, the lobby of any building. They use a parking lot and garage for car-jacking scenarios.
“We’re training at the speed of life,” Pezzella said. “This is real, dynamic force-on-force training.”
Once a client’s home or office has been re-created, Advanced Defensive Concepts uses Ultimate Training Munitions — a patented round containing a small amount of paint in a plastic projectile, which is fired from real weapons that have been modified so they cannot chamber a live round. The weapons recoil and cycle as if they’re shooting real ammunition, except the noise is greatly reduced.
The trainers use modified Glock 19s in their classes, but clients can bring
their own ARs or M4 carbines, which can be modified with a special UTM bolt.
Students wear specially designed protective clothing and helmets with face shields to soften the sting of the UTM munitions.
“This is not a paintball game,” Pezzella said. “It’s a service designed to help people protect themselves and their families or coworkers.”
The scenarios the instructors create are based upon a client’s specific needs.
Cost is $200 for an individual for an introductory 3-4 hour course. Any additional students are charged an extra $100.
Families of up to four will pay $350.
Prices for businesses will be determined.
After spending more than two decades as a SWAT team member and
commander, Pezzella said he will always make the shoot house available to any military or law enforcement unit, especially if an entry team wants to practice before executing a high-risk warrant.
Holt, the “victim” in Pezzella’s scenario, said she was chock-full of adrenaline and her heart was racing after successfully negotiating the home-invasion scenario.
“Most people will think about what they’ll do if someone breaks into their home,” she said. “Here, you get an opportunity to practice it.”