Public can use Firearms Training System at Block Party today
by Elsie Hodnett
PELL CITY — The Pell City Police Department will allow the public to use the Firearms Training System during the Greater Pell City Chamber of Commerce 14th Annual Block Party today.

“The public can try the FATS system from 5:30-10 p.m. today at the Police Department,” said K-9 Officer Jimmy Woodard, an FBI-certified firearms instructor.

Woodard said the Police Department is using the FATS system to provide officer training.

“The FATS system subjects the officers to situations where they have to make decisions under stressful situations,” he said.

Gary Cooper, an Alabama state parole officer and FBI-certified firearms instructor, operates the FATS system for law enforcement agencies that request it.

“I operate the scenario-based law enforcement training while Officer Woodard coaches the police officers through the scenarios,” he said. “There are a wide variety of shoot-or-don’t-shoot scenarios that place officers in real-life situations and they must react accordingly. The situations cover everything from traffic stops to active shooter scenarios.”

Cooper said FATS allows him to modify the scenarios as they are happening, based on how the officer reacts.

“The scenarios can have multiple outcomes,” he said.

Cooper said practicing reacting to a spontaneous situation helps the officer act accordingly to a real-life situation.

“The fast an officer can react according in a dangerous situation, the safer it is for everyone involved,” Woodard said.

St. Clair County Assistant District Attorney Blair Haywood said this was her first time using the FATS program.

“I can see where it would be very beneficial for law enforcement officers and even for anyone who carries a firearm,” she said. “I think it is a good way to train for real-life situations and get a feel for what it would be like to encounter a dangerous situation.”

Haywood said FATS allows participants to experience these situations in a safe and controlled environment.

“By using FATS, you don’t have to put yourself or others in harms way to learn how to react when confronted with a wide variety of situations,” she said. “I would absolutely encourage anyone, especially those who legally own guns, to participate in the simulation when it’s offered tonight at the Block Party. Not only is it a great learning experience, but it’s a lot of fun.”

The FATS system is available for individuals 21 and older, with no felonies or domestic violence convictions.

For more information, call the Pell City Police Department at 205-884-3334.

Contact Elsie Hodnett at

© 2013