SINGAPORE: Sirens blaring, Special Operations Command (SOC) officers rode in on motorcycles, firing at their targets with live ammunition.
The scenario: Multiple simulated "gunmen" in a room during a hostage situation.
Shots rang out - so loud and piercing that even we, as journalists standing some distance away with earplugs safely on, jumped in shock.
Within a minute, it was over, the "threats" neutralised by the SOC's rapid deployment troops and armed strike team.
It was part of a behind-the-scenes look on Monday (Nov 27) at the Home Team Tactical Centre's drive-in range at Mandai Quarry Road, where Singapore's elite men in blue train to handle a gamut of threats, from counter-terror scenarios to hostage situations.
In another scenario, officers demonstrated how they breached a door and neutralised the threats behind it.
Outside the building, officers from the Special Tactics And Rescue (STAR) unit, which handles hostage rescue operations and high-risk scenarios, showed how they rappelled from a mock helicopter.
Regrouping on the ground, the officers also showcased their ability to breach a building, using explosives to create an entry point.
We were also taken through the mechanical method of entry (MMOE) houses - a facility that helps hone the ability of Singapore Police Force officers in general, not just those belonging to the SOC.
Perhaps the highlight, for me, was the opportunity to step into the shoes of SOC officers responding to incidents and try out their weapons, including the HK USP (Universal Self-loading Pistol) compact and the FN SCAR (Fabrique Nationale Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle).
The operational gear - including one's weapon, helmet and ballistic resistance vest - easily weighed more than 20kg in all, and its sheer weight and bulk gave us a sense of how it was like not only to run with the load, but also hit targets after that.