Local 6 Exclusive: Inside Air Marshal training

Marksmen known as most accurate shots of all federal agencies

Author: Erik von Ancken, Anchor/Reporter, evonancken@clickorlando.com
Published On: May 17 2013 11:15:00 PM EDT   Updated On: May 18 2013 12:02:52 AM EDT
Air Marshal Training
MIAMI -

If you're going to try to take down a terrorist on an airplane, there's no better way to prepare for that, than to train -- on a plane.

And that's what United States Air Marshals do in a plain-looking office building, just a few hours from Orlando, in south Florida.

Shooting on a plane is not like in the movies. The federal air marshals cannot miss.

And they don't because missing means hitting children or other innocent passengers, or it means putting a hole in side of the plane.

"We train so much and so hard. We try to throw in every scenario possible, just so when that comes, we're ready," said one marshal who spoke with Local 6.

The Department of Homeland Security said the accuracy scores of these airplane police are better than the FBI, Secret Service or any other agency.

You can see how good they are when you see the walls of their mockup airliner.

The bullets they use are filled with paint and once they finish shooting, there are no large blotches outside the targets, just a few splatters that scatter from direct hits.

"As a police officer on the street, you can fall back and take cover," the agent said. "When you're in the tube, it's you and the bad guy. You've got to engage."

In any situation they are all armed, but you'd never know it, and you'd never know they're on your flight. That means regular clothing, and cover stories if they end up sitting next to a chatty, curious commuter.

They train to blend in until their training kicks in when a crisis forces them out of their seat and into action, and puts the spotlight squarely on them.

"There's a lot of training that goes into it, a lot of time spent in the simulator and at the range to ensure that we're the best at what we do, and I can guarantee there's no one better," said the agent.

Something else Local 6 learned about air marshals is they don't just patrol the skies. They're on trains, in stadiums, even at landmarks or any place that a lot of people gather.

The department of homeland security has realized they can use their specialized skills for all sorts of situations and not just protecting people on planes.