Civilian CCW Flashlight use

Civilian CCW Flashlight use

This is a discussion on Civilian CCW Flashlight use within the Defensive Carry & Tactical Training forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; A few months ago, I attended a low light pistol course. We reviewed all the standard flashlight/handgun techniques. While certainly applicable for LEO and military ...

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Thread: Civilian CCW Flashlight use

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array 10thmtn's Avatar
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    Civilian CCW Flashlight use

    A few months ago, I attended a low light pistol course. We reviewed all the standard flashlight/handgun techniques. While certainly applicable for LEO and military use, I had to wonder if these techniques were really applicable to the average CCW civilian.

    For example, they had us draw our weapons first, and then the flashlight. This was for safety reasons (don't want a student to shoot their flashlight hand), and for tactical reasons (get the weapon oriented on the threat first). However...for a civilian on the street, I think you are much more likely to draw your light than you are your gun. Example - you are out in fading light, when a suspicious person with "something" in their hand approaches you. You're not going to draw your weapon yet - but you certainly should use your light to see if the "something" is a weapon, or just an innocuous object like a cell phone.

    In this scenario, if there is indeed a threat, you probably no longer need the flashlight to see well enough to shoot. It may make sense to just drop the light, and shoot as you normally do, using the ambient light.

    In cases where you do need the flashlight to illuminate the target, it probably makes sense to practice drawing your weapon after the light is already out - since you will probably draw the light first to verify if there is a threat at all (drawing your weapon for no good reason can result in charges of brandishing, assault, and etc...so you better be sure before you pull the gun out).

    I'm not sure if other instructors teach this, but it would seem to make sense to me...maybe bring the light back into your chest in a retention position, to avoid shooting your flashlight hand while under stress. The neck index and FBI method (where the light is held away from the body) can also be used for this. Unfortunately for me, my preferred method is the Rogers/"syringe" method.

    In any case, since the average CCW civilian is not going to be clearing a darkened structure, I wanted to generate a discussion about what the flashlight is actually used for...and how it is best used. I'm thinking it is not so much for finding the target (as it is in military and LEO use), but for clarifying what the situation actually is in dim light (weapon? cell phone? wallet?). Once this is done, the light may no longer be needed, and can possibly be dropped to facilitate a better response if there is indeed a threat.

    Thoughts? Experiences at other low light classes?
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  2. #2
    VIP Member Array jwhite75's Avatar
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    I do "dry" runs....I have tried drawing with various methods like you mentioned. I am a probation officer and am in BG homes far more than even regular LEO are so my flashlight is a very important part of my kit. Even during daytime it has proven more valuble than anything I carry most times. I carry mine in a front weakpocket or a rear weak pocket. I change it on some occasions based on my particular pants I am wearing. My agency provides no training in this particular part of our job and I feel I need to do so on my own. I often do pull my light first and have worked on manipulating it in my hand and working controls since it is my weak hand.
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    VIP Member Array zacii's Avatar
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    You make some valid points.

    When I attended Front Sight, we went through some low light drills using the flashlight. Interestingly, they didn't instruct us how to deploy our light. Rather they just taught us how to shoot, move and reload with it.

    Makes sense to go for the light first. Additionally, if your in a situation that requires a light, maybe you would already have it out. For instance, walking to the car in the dark; why not already have the light in hand?
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    VIP Member Array Guantes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zacii
    Makes sense to go for the light first. Additionally, if your in a situation that requires a light, maybe you would already have it out. For instance, walking to the car in the dark; why not already have the light in hand?
    Agree. At night I usually have my flashlight in hand in my pocket. I figure the distraction will provide sufficient time for a draw.
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    Member Array Aaron1100us's Avatar
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    This is my carry flashlight. 650 lumens and a tactical strike bezel.


  6. #6
    VIP Member Array 10thmtn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guantes View Post
    Agree. At night I usually have my flashlight in hand in my pocket. I figure the distraction will provide sufficient time for a draw.
    I would agree, except that I have kids. My hands are usually "otherwise occupied" with them and all the associated stuff that goes with 'em.

    In any case, I don't think having the light in hand is what you should count on, because you might not, for any number of reasons. You should still practice a technique that allows you to deploy the light, and then your sidearm if it is needed. The light can be discarded when you draw your sidearm if it is no longer needed, or it can be retained using one of the flashlight methods that keeps it away from your gun hand - IMHO. Of the latter, the neck index is probably the easiest to use.
    The more good folks carry guns, the fewer shots the crazies can get off.
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  7. #7
    Member Array Cruel Hand Luke's Avatar
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    You are almost never "surprised" that it is dark. If you go out after sundown guess what...it will likely be somewhat dark. So if you go into a movie theater at 8PM and it was dark when you go there and you leave at 10 PM we can assume it will still be what? Dark. So go ahead and get teh light in hand. No reason not to palm your light as you go to your car.

    Most of the time (unless we are talking about clearing a building) a flashlight is a luxury not a necessity. It is almost never pitch black outside. There are very few instances where there is not enough ambient light to still read body language and intent. And enough ambient light to shoot by. Especially when the target is approaching us trying to rob us. They don't rob you from across the parking lot. They get CLOSE to you. They have to in order to take anything from you.....so the NEED for a flashlight for a civilian to shoot (other than indoors at night with the lights off) is GREATLY overstated.

    And before the cops jump in and say that leads to mistaken identity shootings, let us remember civilians are not out trying to arrest people. They are reacting to a physical assault. It is pretty easy to tell when somone is approaching you and trying to hurt you. Not as easy to tell what the guy you just ordered to stop and show his hands is doing. So there is a bit of a difference between taking people into custody and walking to your car at night in the Wal Mart parking lot.

    In a typical civilian criminal assault reactive shooting you will either have the light in hand when it starts or not. If you do then you'll probably use it. If not you'll probably use it after the fight is over. No one fast draws a light mid fight. At least no one I have ever seen doing it against a real live opponent. Most have a hard enough time just getting off the X and getting their gun out much less trying to fish their light out too.

    Accessing the light needs to be part of the "pre fight" not try to do it while under attack. And most of the time in an urban environment there is plenty enough light to shoot without having to use the light. The light is primarily to identify or at least to help see what is in their hands. Secondary use is to deescalate. No one wants to be SEEN attacking someone. Light causes witnesses to look that way. It can also be used as a distraction device. But NEEDING one to be able to shoot in an urban or suburban environment (with lots of ambient light like street lights and business lights) is just not likely.
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  8. #8
    Distinguished Member Array TSiWRX's Avatar
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    ^ That's very, very good points, Cruel Hand Luke. I'm a part of the "pre-fight" crowd. I entertain my wife and my friends by telling them that I just like to have my light out when it's dark, "so that I can finally get some use of out them," since I'm a geeky flashlight collector - - but my own reasoning is that at worst, it helps me or those in my company from tripping and falling or stepping in dog feces, and at-best, it can possibly serve as deterrent, if I do "light someone up" with it, or may serve me in another defensive capacity.

    But this thread is full of good stuff: thanks to the OP and other participants, I've realized that my light/draw techniques practiced in low-light class doesn't reflect my typical everyday scenario.

    We were instructed to complete the pistol draw stroke prior to bringing the light up to meet the shooting hand. My "concealment draw, in-class, had me clearing garment on both sides and working the draws nearly simultaneously.

    I plan to repeat my low-light class, and I will make it a point to train in a manner that's more realistic to my everyday.

    In the meanwhile, what I took away from my first-time live-fire low-light class are:

    (1) Malfunction clearing is much harder. That rule-of-training that says that anything cognitively more complicated as a "test task" can screw up even the most basic of your motions? Yeah, that proved to be true for me. Granted, I'm a newbie, but I still practice hard at basic weapon manipulation. It wasn't even completely dark, yet, when my XDm experienced its one and only double-feed, I flubbed the drill.

    (2) I prefer to search/verify with my standalone, in my reaction hand, but I prefer to shoot with my weapon-mounted.

    (3) I learned that despite all of my readings and preparation - as well as having done some of this stuff with airsoft, that I still, at one point, managed to focus too much attention on the positioning of the light and what it's lighting up, rather than properly focusing on my sight picture. To an extent, I think that live-fire brings with it a level of stress that cannot be replicated without live rounds.

    (4) That with my preferences, I'll want to invest in a set of differently-colored front/rear (green front, amber rear) tritium night-sights, as I like the in-the-dark sight picture (despite knowing full well now, thanks to the generous loan of a fellow participant's night-sights equipped Glock, that the sights become essentially useless after the first strobe/paint of my flashlight).

    (5) That my chosen SD/HD ammo's muzzle blast/flash does not present a problem for my vision, at night.

    (6) I learned that I have much more to learn in terms of both how to manipulate the flashlight, as well as getting used to MOVING after/during the light-burst/fight.

  9. #9
    VIP Member Array Guantes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10thmtn View Post
    I would agree, except that I have kids. My hands are usually "otherwise occupied" with them and all the associated stuff that goes with 'em.

    In any case, I don't think having the light in hand is what you should count on, because you might not, for any number of reasons. You should still practice a technique that allows you to deploy the light, and then your sidearm if it is needed. The light can be discarded when you draw your sidearm if it is no longer needed, or it can be retained using one of the flashlight methods that keeps it away from your gun hand - IMHO. Of the latter, the neck index is probably the easiest to use.
    I agree that the circumstances (kids, etc) specific to ones life, will to some extent effect ones tactics.

    Having the flexibility to enable one to execute a variety of tactics in a given situation is often valuable.
    "I do what I do." Cpl 'coach' Bowden, "Southern Comfort".

  10. #10
    Member Array Cruel Hand Luke's Avatar
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    I would add a 7. to your list.

    7. Your drawstroke and presentation do all the heavy lifting in low light. Sights are largely irrelevant unless the target is farther than 7 yards. EVEN IN THE DARK.

    The odds are overwhelming that you will be shooting at someone less than 5 yards. You do not need a" picture perfect" sight picture to make hits at that distance...whether it is light or dark.

    In our low light classes after I teach them CORRECT grip and trigger control I actually have the students shoot with their eyes CLOSED. I also have them then DRAW and SHOOT with eyes closed and the groups are pretty similar to groups they shot with eyes open.

    At close range the sights are there to verify the draw and presentation was good. Not to AIM the gun. There is a difference. And once your drawand presentation is developed to the point that it repeatedly drives the gun muzzle to what you were looking at, you really can ignore the sights.

    If you can shoot well with ZERO visual input and no way to see sights (like with eyes closed) then you can shoot even better with limited visual input like with eyes open in reduced lighting. It is just a matter of developing a repeatable presentation of the pistol that drives it to point at what you are wanting it to point at.

    AAR: Suarez International Low Light Force on Force with Randy Harris is a review where the student mentions the shooting with eyes closed to prove that the ability to point the gun is more important than the ability to see the sights. Especially in the dark.
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  11. #11
    VIP Member Array Guantes's Avatar
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    Proprioceptive repeatability.
    "I do what I do." Cpl 'coach' Bowden, "Southern Comfort".

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    Distinguished Member Array TSiWRX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cruel Hand Luke View Post
    In our low light classes after I teach them CORRECT grip and trigger control I actually have the students shoot with their eyes CLOSED. I also have them then DRAW and SHOOT with eyes closed and the groups are pretty similar to groups they shot with eyes open.

    ^ Will-do (the exercise)! Thank you.

    Thinking-back on the class, indeed, I think that's very true. Particularly in the shoot-house. It definitely goes to again explain why I shot the way I did with a loaned gun (a participant had wanted me to have experience using night-sights, which I did not have on my pistols).

    Thanks again!


    ---

    Oh, and a number 8.....

    Whatever's harder in the dark is even harder in the dark, in inclement weather (we had *heavy* rain). Glare from wet surfaces, reflecting back - in particular, my LED light - was something that I had not anticipated.

  13. #13
    Member Array Cruel Hand Luke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guantes View Post
    Proprioceptive repeatability.
    Yes Guantes that is it exactly. You just used a bit more sophisticated language.
    Randy Harris
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