Sunday, March 19, 2017

Low Light Practice

Down 3 Points
Research indicates that criminals often choose the darkness or low light conditions to pursue their nefarious profession. A significant number of shootings involving police officers happen at night as well. Criminals view darkness as an asset and use it as an advantage against those whom they would victimize. These realities mean that if you are forced to defend yourself odds are it will be under low light conditions; however, few people pursue low light training even where the opportunity exists.

We’ve finished the Low Light Classes and practices for the year. Although shooting accurately with a flashlight is much more challenging than simply using a normal two-handed stance, our shooter’s improvement over the past several years is impressive. Accurate shot placement is becoming the norm rather than the exception. 

This session we fired the modified Texas LTC qualification course. We stayed within Texas LTC time limits; however, we used an anatomically correct picture target and scored based upon the hit’s probable effectiveness (i.e. central nervous and critical circulatory system hits counted higher that lung hits). In some cases, this meant that a shooter who didn’t have a perfect group actually earned an acceptable score. Shooters started all strings of fire with flashlight in hand, drawing from the holster with the exception of the 2 second strings. 

The second qualification was the Texas Department of Public Safety qualification course. This course of fire is much more involved and challenging than the LTC qualification with some movement, reloads, and distances out to 25 yards. (see video)

We’ve learned that practice shooting and manipulating the pistol with the light in hand and recovering the light dangling from the lanyard (reloading) is crucial. Happily, this can be done in daylight on the range and in our dry fire practice. Although shooters initially tend to discount the Rogers/Cigar/Syringe (call it what you wish) technique, they often find that it is necessary to use it while shooting around the side of cover to prevent unacceptable reflection.  

You must practice low light techniques to have any hope of
using them under stress. As we’ve discovered, students simply don’t master the low light techniques from class--you cannot practice it once and get it down pat. Using a light in conjunction with a handgun is difficult and it requires practice. Thankfully you can practice the techniques with live fire during daylight if your range won’t allow night shooting. 

So how do you practice engaging multiple and shooting on the move with these techniques? If your local range has IDPA matches, shoot the course of fire using your flashlight if the match director will permit it. Your score won’t win the match; however, you will learn how to shoot and manipulate your pistol under some stress. Practicing how to search a structure (like your house when nobody is home) in the dark is important as well. Do this with AN UNLOADED PISTOL (check it 3 times!). This helps you identify how the various angles and corners in your house make one technique a better option than the other. 

There are several reasons to use a flashlight: to observe and detect, to illuminate and navigate, to eliminate anonymity, and to identify and engage threats. Used properly, a flashlight lets you see danger before it can affect you and it can encourage the danger waiting in the dark to go elsewhere. 

Click here to learn more about low light shooting techniques 

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