TODAY   |  February 17, 2013

Agent for a day: Lester Holt heads to the FBI Academy

Driving through the woods, storming a building and breaking down doors were only some of the activities Lester Holt took part in when he stopped by the FBI Academy, which teaches the skills the FBI is best known for. TODAY’s Lester Holt reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> it covers a lot of crime. there is a lot to learn at the fbi academy in quantico, virginia. i recently found out.

>> fbi , pull your vehicle to the side of the road .

>> it seems more serious crime in a week than most small towns see in years. the town is make-believe but the scenarios these future fbi agents are confronting are not.

>> put your hands up, get your hands up. put your hands up.

>> now, you didn't interrupt them while they were in the middle of this.

>> we don't interrupt them because once we do that, they kind of lose their rhythm and then they will do something else and then they will look back and say, how was that?

>> reporter: the fbi academy sits in the middle of marine-based quantico, virginia, over five months, trainees learn everything from taking down an unruly suspect to the fine point of the law.

>> it's been a tough experience. a lot of dedication and hard work. it has kicked my butt a few times.

>> we were asked not to show the faces of current trainees.

>> much of the training feels like drinking from a fire hose . you have to be a master of a lot of skills.

>> that's correct, sir.

>> more than just skills the fbi is best known for, bank robberies and kidnapping, like the recent hostage rescue in alabama but ever sophisticated financial and terror conspiracies.

>> we have a prioritized list of skills we are looking for, for example, agents that speak specific foreign languages and have intelligence experience.

>> while a lot of the work has gone high-tech, as i learned from a day at the academy, sometimes the old-fashioned approach gets the job done. breaking down doors, fighting your way out of a tight spot .

>> focus on the daylight and push right through the vehicle.

>> and driving out of even tighter spots.

>> go, go, go!

>> that was awesome. critical skills to bureau agents deployed around the world. there is no law enforcement training facility quite like it.

>> this is going to be your heads-up display, sir, if you want to put that on.

>> here, a virtual reality simulation can transform you into an "avatar" and put you right in the middle of a room to room search for a gunman. to our camera, this is a big empty space but through my heads-up display, it is a maze of offices.

>> fbi , show me your hands.

>> let your guard down here.

>> and you die.

>> that was me.

>> the only wounds suffered are to your ego.

>> your first move should be right here, to the wall. so what we would say to a trainee is overpenetrating.

>> the long arm of the law sometimes reaches into some difficult places. remember the remote montana hideout where the fbi took down the unibomber. an off-road driving course is taught here too. with a steep learning curve .

>> we are going to hold it straight. i'll let you be the judge.

>> the fbi graduates over 400 trainees a year with an average age of 30. they are typically older and more experienced than their predecessors.

>> many are coming on board with advanced degrees. we bring on a lot of military veterans that have just come out of the war zone .

>> amanda came from a background in marketing. you get put in some very unique situations but you call on those skills you had in your past career, your ability to make quick decisions and deal with different people.

>> graduates will go straight from here to field offices around the country where they begin a two-year probation and where every decision is as real as it gets with no do-overs.

>> so after a day of training, i'm qualified to do basically nothing.

>> you broke down the door pretty well.

>> that was the second try.

>> and the driving?

>> i could do that all day. manhattan traffic. who hasn't been tested?

>> thanks for that. it was a really neat opportunity. just