FACT: Fighting in low, altered or no light is a specialized skill and needs to be treated as such. Training for fighting on a well lit range shooting at a stationary piece of paper is great training for shooting a well lit stationary piece of paper and has little if any cross over to fighting at night. Defensive handgun use in low light is a highly probable event and yet we treat it like it is just shooting in daylight and seldom if ever train specifically for the unique challenges. Be honest when was the last time you shot your carry gun with carry ammo from your daily carry rig in low light? Have you ever trained for low light?
Problem is we need light to navigate, locate, identify and confront threats. 90% of information about our world gets processed through our eyes. About 3/4 of Police Shootings happen in low light and about the same percent of mistaken shootings happen in low light as well. We legally cant shoot at sounds, smells or feelings of
insecurity but the bad actors are not held to those rules so when you confront a threat without enough light there are 4 likely outcomes
- Not enough light to see and we hesitate and bad actor(s) shoot us first.. OUCH
- Not enough light to see and we shoot innocent person(s).. double OUCH
- Have enough light and we see threat and shoot clean and don't get hurt..Better
- We have enough light to see the threat and use high levels of light and rely on solid low light training to dominate and gain compliance and don't have to shoot due to the advantages and force multi-plyer effect of the modern high power tactical light While this topic could easily take a lifetime of study to master the big basics can be covered in the words. Equipment, training and Tactics
You are going to need at least one but preferably 2 lights. Why two, well if one fails we are in deep trouble that is why wise people in high risk activities have a back up. My own current scheme is a weapons mounted light and a small hand held light. Up until recently a weapons mounted light was bulky and not really practical for concealed carry. That changed with the new smaller weapons mounted white light my current favorite is
the Crimson Trace Light guard, but Viridian makes some compact great weapon mounted lights as well. These new crop of compact rail lights are not any bigger than a laser but instead of a red aiming light you have about 110 lums of blinding white tactical light literally available at your fingers tips. While weapons mounted lights are great you cant depend on them alone as remember firearm safety rule #2? Don't point your gun at
anything you are not willing to kill or destroy. That is where a small hand held light in your pocket really shines. I carry a Sure Fire Back-up as a primary light to locate threats and then once I produce my handgun can transition seamlessly to weapon mounted light light.
As a holster designer all 4 of my holsters now feature the ability to carry weapon mounted under barrel white, green and or red lights from both manufactures. Holster selection with even the small light can be a problem with a mounted light so you will need to take that into consideration. By the Way night sites are great but if you don't have enough light to see the sites might be hard to justify shooting.
Another equipment selection factor for low light fighting is your ammo. What is your low light muzzle flash charitaristic of your defensive ammo? If you don't know that white blinding fireball coming out the end of your gun might dazzle you at a time you would prefer something a little more mellow. Flash come from White to pale yellow so check out your carry ammo next night fire training and that takes us into the next topic...
For me training is a simple subject of just three parts. Is your training recent, realistic and relevant?
Recent is important because even the best tactical skills are extremely perishable. With ammo cost and high fuel prices many are less likely than ever to keep current but that is where at home dry firing can really help out. Dry firing done safely can truly go along way to keeping skill sets current.
To make sure you are training for your own situation ask yourself a series of questions begin with Where, with Whom and how do you operate? A single parent of a small child and a senior Citizen operate differently than a SWAT team member and need different skill sets.
Please don't try to take square range habits into a 360 degree world and expect success. You will need to have a professional safely simulate stress as well as malfunction and manipulation drill with low light and low light tools.
(to be continued in future article)