Sunday, May 9, 2021

Low Light: Using a Laser on Your Carry Pistol

A Low Light Competitor

During the Sensible Self Defense Low Light Match in April 2021, I experimented the Lima Laser module (with a green laser) that I have on my everyday carry (EDC) SIG P320. There was a full moon so there was sufficient moonlight to identify all of the targets without a hand held light. For the experiment, I wanted to see if I could use the laser system in low light as effectively as I could the red dot sight during daylight.

The match format was four stages, run twice with a total round count of 82 rounds assuming no misses. We ran all of the stages once during daylight, then ran the stages once again after the sun set. Two stages were home defense scenarios based on actual events that required movement and shooting from cover and two were standards stages, one focusing on running the gun skills and one focusing on reloading.

The experiment showed that yes, the laser system in low light was as effective as the red dot sight during daylight. The total time difference between my pistol daylight runs using the red dot and my low light runs with the laser was 0.29 seconds for the entire match. For this match at least, I ran the pistol with the laser as well during low light as I did during daylight.

Although I used the SIG P320 Lima system, I believe any laser sighting system with a grip switch would have worked equally well (see picture below).

SIG P320 Compact with Lima Laser Module

In a recent class I attended, master instructor Tom Givens of Range Master somewhat downplayed the need to practice under low light conditions stating that you are rarely in total darkness. That may be true for those who live in crowded urban areas or apartment complexes and is certainly true for most commercial parking lots. However, even though I live in San Antonio, Texas, in my neighborhood you can easily find yourself effectively in the dark when outside if there is no full moon. As a result, I find value in practicing under low light conditions. 

The SIG Lima Laser module provides another tool to help you effectively use your pistol to defend yourself and other innocents. A P320 with the red dot, iron sights, and the Lima module provides you with three independent sighting systems. Add a hand-held flashlight and you have the tools to address any lighting conditions you may reasonably encounter in a defensive situation.

Depending upon which study you believe, somewhere between 60 and 85 percent of all police officer-involved shootings occur during the hours of darkness. Although no such data exists concerning private citizen-involved shootings with criminals, since a lot of criminal activity occurs in low light conditions we can assume that there is a likely correlation.

The Sensible Self Defense Low Light Match provides shooters the opportunity to test their low light skills in a variety of scenarios. We will continue these matches later in the fall of 2021 once daylight savings time ends. If you find yourself in San Antonio, we welcome all safe and responsible shooters and would enjoy having you participate.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

A Low Light Match With Home Defense Guns

Shotgun in a Home Invasion Scenario
The April 2021
Sensible Self Defense Low Light Match provided an opportunity for all participants to practice their low light skills. Although we had a modest turnout, everyone had a great time and learned a few things as well. This match’s theme was home defense and I encouraged shooters to use their everyday carry or home defense firearms.

This match permitted shotguns, pistols, and pistol caliber carbines (PCC). We had six shotgun shooters, eight shooting pistols, and two shooting PCCs. The match format was four stages, run two times with a total round count of 82 rounds assuming no misses. Two stages were home defense scenarios based on actual events that required movement and shooting from cover and two were standards stages, one focusing on running the gun skills and one focusing on reloading.

All shooters shot the match during daylight, then everyone shot the match once again in low light after the sun set with both scores added to produce the final score for each shooter. The fastest overall time went to the PCC with a score of 62.69, then the pistol with a score of 85.53, and then the shotgun with a score of 93.30. There was a bright, full moon so there was some ambient light for the match's low light portion.

Three of the six participants who were shooting shotguns had some sort of serious issue with their shotgun on at least one stage. All stated that they used their shotgun as their primary home defense firearm and those who had issues admitted that they rarely practiced with it. The match once again drove home the realization of just how powerful the shotgun is in trained hands and just how easy it is to fumble the manual of arms without consistent practice—particularly under low light conditions.

The shotgun’s primary weakness is the number of rounds the weapon holds. Realistically from a home defense perspective, although admittedly possible, it is unlikely  that home invaders will stand and slug it out with a shotgun-armed home owner. Five or six buckshot rounds will probably solve a home invasion problem rendering a speed reload unlikely. If faced with multiple home invaders who do chose to slug it out, the competent defender should load via the “shoot one – load one” technique using proper cover and movement as necessary if there is a lull in the proceedings.

Of course, in competition we are on the timer. This adds pressure to use specialized competition shotguns, specialized ammunition carriers, or other devices that may not be present on the gun (nor practical) if you must use the shotgun to repel boarders entering your home. For me, the “not present” issue is of concern. I want to train and compete with the same equipment I will have in a fight. Therefore, in shotgun matches I keep the gun in the same configuration as I have it in my home. Although I cannot load as quickly as another competitor who is using specialized equipment, I am practicing with my go to gun.

Even so, I was satisfied with my match performance, placing second with the shotgun and winning one of the stages with the fastest time. The stage in question was a standards stage that required no movement nor reloading. It simply measured your ability to run the gun. 

Steve won the shotgun division with a time of 93.30.  Steve was consistent with his daylight versus low light shotgun stage runs with a time difference of 1.98 seconds. The time difference between my shotgun daylight runs and my shotgun low light runs was 2.99 seconds. Click here for the video.

I find value in practicing under low light conditions. The Sensible Self Defense Low Light Match provides shooters the opportunity to test their low light skills in a variety of scenarios.

If you enjoy reading these please subscribe. The link is on the upper right side of the page. All that will happen is that you will receive an e-mail when I post an article. Your information will never be distributed.

Come out and shoot with us on the second Sunday of every month at Cedar Ridge Range in San Antonio, Texas.

For more information go to: www.sensibleselfdefense.com

 



Tuesday, February 16, 2021

A Senseless Death

On the evening of February 28, 2020, Alan Womack Jr. went to the King of Prussia LA Fitness for a game of pick-up basketball. During the game, Womack accused a player on the opposite team of a traveling violation. Womack was so upset that he threatened to shoot the man in the head according to witnesses. 

The opposing player decided to leave; however, Womack followed him into the LA Fitness parking lot where he confronted the opposing player, drew a Taurus pistol, and racked a round into the chamber. The other man drew his own legally carried pistol and shot Womack in the chest.

After weeks of investigating the incident, reviewing surveillance video, and interviewing people who witnessed the argument, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele declined to file criminal charges.

Pennsylvania is a “duty to retreat” state under certain circumstances. However, Pennsylvania law does not impose a duty to retreat, even in circumstances where this would normally be the case when:

The defender is not engaged in a criminal activity, is not in illegal possession of a firearm, and is attacked in any place where:

    -- the defender has a right to be when he was attacked;

    -- the defender believes it is immediately necessary to protect himself against death or serious bodily injury; and

    -- the person against whom the defender uses force displays or otherwise uses a firearm or replica of a firearm or any other weapon readily or apparently capable of lethal use.

It is certainly probable that the Montgomery County District Attorney applied this reasoning when he declined to press criminal charges.

You might wonder how something as trivial as a traveling violation during a pick-up basketball game resulted in the death of a 29-year-old young man. As Rory Miller explains, the Monkey brain is concerned with social survival and status. It literally cannot distinguish between humiliation and death.* 

The Monkey brain theory explains some of the outlandish behaviors we often seeparticularly in young males. When the Monkey brain is in control, reason and logic goes out the window. I suspect that one or more Monkey brains were at work in this incident. 

We all have a Monkey brain and it is important to recognize when it is trying to take control.  It is equally important to recognize when someone else's Monkey is stepping up.  Often we can de-escalate these types of situations if we recognize what's happening early enough.

* https://conflictresearchgroupintl.com/the-second-model-lizard-monkey-and-the-human-brain-rory-miller/

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Stand and Deliver Worked -- This Time

The First Shot--Notice the Bad Guy is Aiming at the Officer
Putting your hand on your pistol if there is any indication of an impending deadly threat can significantly cut your response time. I first addressed this subject in an article responding to the change in Texas law permitting open carry—this is an update to that article.* 

In the original article I mentioned research from Vickers and Lewinski who discovered that more experienced police officers placed their hand on their pistol and often drew their pistol earlier in a confrontation and thereby gained precious time in responding to a threat—often shooting before the threat could fire at them. **

In the video below, a police officer in Uruguay does exactly that. As he is sitting eating ice cream, he notices two men approaching and obviously triggers on them for some reason--he immediately obtains a firing grip on his concealed pistol. As one of the perpetrators begins to draw a pistol, an instant later the police officer starts to stand and begins drawing his pistol as well.

The armed perpetrator initially holds his pistol at his side; however, suddenly realizing his erstwhile victim is drawing a pistol the perpetrator brings his own pistol into a firing position aiming at the police officer. Unfortunately for the perp, the officer completes his draw and fires .04 seconds later, before the perp could pull his own trigger. The total time from the police officer initiating his draw to his first shot was 0.73 seconds. As an aside, the officer either missed with the first shot or the bullet went through the perp. You can see the bullet strike the wall behind the perp in the lower left corner of the screen.

 

The Vickers and Lewinski research prompted me to collect data to determine how much of a time advantage you can gain through placing your hand on the pistol versus starting with your hands in some other location (e.g. hands at sides). My goal was to determine how long it took a competitor (granted, not necessarily the average private citizen licensed to carry) to draw and fire single shot from different starting positions.

We have now timed the draws of 362 individuals over a period of several years during our local IDPA and Sensible Self Defense Short Range matches. We have measured 2458 specific instances of drawing the pistol and firing a shot from concealment, 1627 draws with the pistol not concealed, and 1349 instances when the competitor started with their hand on the holstered pistol. We only included instances where the competitor's shot stuck inside the -1 or 0 of the standard IDPA target or the Shootsteel target in the data set.

The skill level of the competitors has varied from new shooters participating in their first practical match, Novices, Marksmen, Sharpshooters, Experts, and two Masters--unfortunately we have few Master class shooters in our local matches.

We have discovered that for all experience levels, placing your hand on a concealed or openly carried pistol early in a dangerous situation can provide a 0.75 to 1.75 second time advantage (depending on the individual skill level) if you must draw compared to starting with the hands in some other position. This is not trivial—3/4th of a second to 1-3/4 seconds faster can be a lifetime in a deadly confrontation as we saw in the video.

If the police officer had started his draw from a neutral position without his hand on the pistol, it is highly probable that the perpetrator would have fired first—four one-hundredths of a second is 2.5 times faster than the average human eye can blink.

Trying to draw a pistol in a “Stand and Deliver” response to a criminal’s drawn pistol is a great way to get shot if the criminal is committed and paying attention. In an experiment we conducted in 2016 we found that even when the good guy had the initiative, in 98 out of 100 trials the bad guy fired first. We had one tie where both the good and the bad guy fired simultaneously and one instance where the good guy fired first.

Does Stand and Deliver work?  Sometimes. If you time your response or if the get inside the bad guy's decision cycle, a Stand and Deliver response can work as we saw in this incident.

If you enjoy reading these please subscribe. The link is on the upper right side of the page. All that will happen is that you will receive an e-mail when I post an article. Your information will never be distributed.

Come out and shoot with us on the second Sunday of every month at Cedar Ridge Range in San Antonio, Texas.

For more information go to: www.sensibleselfdefense.com

* Is placing your hand on a holstered pistol a violation of the law as long as the pistol remains in the holster? I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice; laws vary by state—check your local laws as appropriate.

**You can find this article on the Force Science website at:
https://www.forcescience.org/2009/10/major-new-study-how-your-eyes-can-cast-your-fate-in-a-gunfight-part-1/