Monday, December 31, 2018

Thugs in the Dark: A Low Light Practice Session

Police say a husband opened fire on two home invasion suspects as they tried to hold his wife at gunpoint as she arrived home around 10:30 p.m. According to the Houston Police, it started when the man’s wife pulled into their driveway. Two armed suspects ran up and tried to rob her. They took her purse and then tried to force her into the house. However, her husband heard the commotion from inside the house, grabbed his gun, and ended up exchanging gunfire with the intruders. Fortunately, the couple weren’t hit; however, the husband shot one of the suspects in the head, the other suspect took off running.

This real-life incident is exactly like one of our decision-based scenarios that we use during our low light classes and practice sessions. I ran this during our final practice session last season and several participants found it difficult, so we did it once again for our first session this season. Situation: The participants were at home expecting their spouse or other family member accompanied by a young child to arrive soon. Headlights appear in their driveway; however, their family members do not come in the house. The participant steps outside to determine the cause for delay; but, cannot see past the headlights. The participant calls out to their family member who immediately responds with cries for help.

This year everyone did fairly well; only one participant clipped the child’s ear with a 9mm round which would have still hit the bad guy. After everyone ran the scenario, the guys reset it for me with different targets. The setup for my run is shown below.

The idea is to “slice the pie” using the wall as cover to determine what you are facing and then to engage any threats from cover. From cover position one, you can engage target one.  Then moving once again (still using the wall as cover), from cover two you can engage T2, etc, until you have solved the problem. As I saw each threat, I engaged it with a head shot. The first shot I fired was at the female and hit her pistol. I thought I hit her in the head, but I probably jerked the trigger a bit. My hit on the pistol would have potentially taken it out of action and probably would have forced her to drop it. I then settled down and did fairly well with the remaining threats one shot each to the head. Distances were from 5-10 yards.

For scenario number two, I had a picture target of a kid with a phone and headphones in his ears (a non-threat) and a police officer (also a non-threat) visible under a street lamp some distance behind the headlights. As soon as the participant cleared the wall the police officer challenged him with “Police, Don’t Move! Hand up!” Amazingly, some participants drew their pistols. Not a good idea. Others turned and ran—also not a good idea. No one did what the police officer was commanding them to do.

I added this scenario because we get too accustomed to thinking that every training scenario is solved with a pistol. I have noticed this over the years, so now I often provide potential choices in the scenario that do not involve shooting someone.

This was the case with scenario three. I told the participant to go get in his car and leave. As soon as he cleared the wall, a man with a knife was demanding his keys. Everyone immediately engaged the knife wielder with gunfire rather than retreating back into their “house” which was closer and quicker. The point of this scenario of course was to avoid the threat if possible—always a better choice if you can do so safely.

As we continue the 2018-19 Low Light season, I plan to hold a class in Jan 19 and more practice sessions in the following months. Once you take the class, you can participate in the practice sessions. I also plan to incorporate more low light decision-based scenarios. These are challenging and I had gotten out of the habit of including them because they were so difficult; however, I see their value and we will do more. I also plan to add force-on-force with airsoft for the more advanced participants to add a little more realism.

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