Dr. Terry Wollert: pioneer of Reality Based Training!

“you know throughout my career I wanted to make sure that whatever I did and what I presented was going to help prevent somebody’s name going up on a memorial wall. That’s just kind of been my my guiding philosophy and I would pass that on to to everybody that there’s a higher purpose to what we’re doing, and we need to strive to meet that purpose”.

I love talking to the pioneers in Reality Based (stress exposure) Training! Dr. Wollert’s career in the training field started while serving in the United States Air Force. His experience includes working for a large Federal Law Enforcement Training organization providing instructional and research-related support in the training disciplines of firearms, police vehicle operations and instructor certification. Dr. Wollert was the Principal Investigator for FLETC’s Stress Research, author of several stress-related research articles, and co‐author of Stress Exposure Training: An Event‐Based Approach in the book Performance Under Stress. He holds a certification from the Force Science Institute in the analysis of use‐of‐force incidents. Together with Jeff Quail he wrote ‘ A Scientific Approach to Reality Based Training’.

I had the opportunity to engage in a comprehensive discussion with Terry covering a wide range of topics related to training, law enforcement, and personal insights from his extensive career. Terry shared his background, including his contributions to stress research at a federal law enforcement training center, drawing on his experiences in the US Air Force.

We discussed the evolution of training techniques, with a particular emphasis on scenario-based training and the critical importance of decision-making skills in law enforcement. Terry underscored the significance of realistic training scenarios that enable officers to develop the ability to make crucial decisions under high-pressure situations. Our discussion encompassed the role of feedback, the integration of scientific research into training practices, and the necessity for trainers to maintain adaptability and openness to innovative methodologies.

Terry shared valuable advice for aspiring trainers, emphasizing the continual pursuit of improvement and the overarching purpose of training in safeguarding lives and preventing harm in communities.



Terry’s background and career overview.
Evolution of training techniques in law enforcement.
Importance of scenario-based training.
Decision-making skills in high-pressure situations.
Challenges in creating realistic training scenarios.
Balancing realism with safety and legal considerations.
Continuous improvement in training programs.
Role of leadership in training.
Integration of scientific research into practice.
Importance of feedback in training.
Advice for young trainers.
Higher purpose of training to save lives.
Closing remarks and thank you.

Five Questions for the Audience
How can scenario-based training be improved in your field?
What are the biggest challenges you face in training decision-making skills?
How do you incorporate feedback into your training programs?
What strategies do you use to balance realism and safety in training scenarios?
How do you stay updated with the latest scientific research and integrate it into your training practices?

Books and resources