Fundamentals of Fighting in Low-Light Environments

This is a discussion on Fundamentals of Fighting in Low-Light Environments within the Defensive Carry & Tactical Training forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Working With in the Dark In my humble opinion, the basic concept for fighting at night is that "darkness is your friend." If you are ...

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Thread: Fundamentals of Fighting in Low-Light Environments

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    Senior Member Array Sweatnbullets's Avatar
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    Fundamentals of Fighting in Low-Light Environments

    Working With in the Dark

    In my humble opinion, the basic concept for fighting at night is that "darkness is your friend." If you are in the dark, stay in the dark. If you are in the light, light up the dark. Night vision would be of the utmost importance in this concept. As we age, our night vision may be negatively affected by the aging process. It is very important that you know your night vision limitations and that you tailor your tactics to your specific circumstance. Older eyes may also affect your ability to use night sights, keep this in mind and know your limitations.

    The eyes are made up or numerous sensitive nerves called cones and rods. The cones are at the center of the retina and are best used for direct vision during lighted situations. They detect color, detail, and far away objects. The rods encircle the cones are best for peripheral vision, movement and low light situations. In low-light it is best to not use direct vision, but to use your peripheral vision in a slow sweeping manner to pick up shape, silhouette, and movement. Look just "off of center" to get the most out of your night vision.

    Obtaining your maximum night vision takes nearly thirty minutes, but it can be lost in the blink of an eye. After approximately 5 to10 minutes, the cones become adjusted to the dim light and the eyes become 100 times more sensitive to the light than they were before. Nearly 30 minutes is needed for the rods to become adjusted to darkness, but when they do adjust they are about 100,000 times more sensitive to light than they were in lighted areas. After the adaptation process is complete, much more can be seen, especially if the eyes are used correctly. If you have achieved your maximum night vision, protect it as much as possible. One trick to preserve night vision (if you have no choice but to go into the light that will negatively affect your night vision,) is to close your dominant shooting eye and protect your night vision in one of your eyes. The temporary blinding affect of having your night vision suddenly taken from you can cause illusions, after images, vertigo, dizziness, and loss of balance. This is something that needs to be known to understand how important protecting your night vision is. In a fast pace, chaotic, self defense situation, dealing with any of these negative factors could be the difference between victory and defeat. But on the other hand, this is a double edge sword and can be used to your advantage against you adversary.

    In most urban environments there will be ambient light sources, some brighter than others. As you are working these irregular brightness levels, keep in mind the preservation of your night vision and the use of darkness and shadows in this regard and as a form of concealment. Your movement should be dictated (in part) by theses simple concepts. The three rules of camouflage are very important here. The understanding that they are double edged swords that work both ways is absolutely vital. The three rules are Shine, Shape, and Silhouette. These rules must be understood from the aspect of both the predator and the prey. Tactics such as "keeping low" and using the horizon or ambient light sources to back light the adversary’s silhouette are crucial. You also need to remember that the adversary "in the know" will be trying to do the same thing to you. You should try to use this tactical advantage to benefit yourself, while at the same time mitigate the chances of it being used to your detriment. This may require you to look/search lower than you would during lighted situations. You may want to start your looking/searching at about knee level first before you raise your search level. While it is important to look/search at all levels during lighted situations, keep in mind that a lower search levels are even more important during low light situations. Other tactics such as the use of your hearing can be a real asset, while working in the dark, do not under estimate the tactic of just stopping and listening.

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    Thumbs up Great Thread Topic

    Thanks for posting Roger.

    One addition that I would like to make is how important it is for the Serious Defensive Individual to practice negotiating their own home or business in complete and total darkness.

    It's a HUGE "added plus" to have the true "Home Advantage" of knowing exactly where everything you "live with" is located ~ (furniture, lamps, tables, closets, doorways etc.)

    A stranger/intruder will always be at an extreme disadvantage in unknown surroundings.

    This gives the Home Owner or the Apartment Dweller the decided advantage of being able to freely and quietly move about their premises in order to ideally place themselves for an optimum tactical advantage.

    Kids should pick up their toys and put them away before bed & things like shoes and other assorted miscellaneous household junque should be kept off the floors.

    If you are easily able to travel through your personal living quarters "sans light" then you gain measurable added control of the night & (as Roger has already stated above) DARKNESS becomes your friend and possible savior.
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    Interesting read Roger. Thank you.

    I found my annual IDPA night shoot as ever, a great challenge and reminder as to how things are different. Subdued lighting situations are something all CCW folks should experience, in some form.
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    Just to add. Most people look for a human height /shape. Look low, and watch for even part of em, instead of the whole.
    If a light is used, strobing then moving will help confuse em as to where exactly you are.
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    Lew
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    Has any one trained trying to hit a target that has a tac light? I mean if the bad guy is in your home and blinds you, what do you do then? I have some elcheapo's that I plan on seeing how I do on the range with it shining at me. I think it will be pretty hard to hit the target accurately. Just a thought.
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    Senior Member Array Sweatnbullets's Avatar
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    One addition that I would like to make is how important it is for the Serious Defensive Individual to practice negotiating their own home or business in complete and total darkness.
    Absolutely correct!

    This article/course handout may have beem compiled from some very advanced sources, but it written for both professionals and CCW/home owners. These fundamentals apply in the streets and at home. Please do not let the fact that my usual target audience, are usually pretty advanced individuals. Do not let this dissuade you all, from the fact that this is some very easy and basic stuff.

    This gives the Home Owner or the Apartment Dweller the decided advantage of being able to freely and quietly move about their premises in order to ideally place themselves for an optimum tactical advantage.
    BINGO! This is why this is "Part One" of my four part article. I feel that it is a very neglected skillset due to all of the technology that is available. I admit that I am more of a "software" guy (training of the mind) than I am a "harware" guy (equipment dependent.) The mind is the real weapon, everything else is just a tool. I will get into the use of flashlights in later installments of my article.

    Look low, and watch for even part of em, instead of the whole.
    Outstanding Rocky! With your permission, I would like to add that to my article/course handout. This is still a work in progess and I would appreciate any contributions.

    I found my annual IDPA night shoot as ever, a great challenge and reminder as to how things are different. Subdued lighting situations are something all CCW folks should experience, in some form.
    You guys are on top of it. This leads us right into "Part Two." I know that this may be a bit advanced for the average CCWer. But if you just follow along with what P95 said above, you will get the gist of the concept.

    Shooting in low-light/ambient light

    As in anything that we do in regards to self defense, there is a continuum/progression/matrix of fighting at night. IMHO this continuum is even more prevalent and important in the dark. In my basic philosophy of "react as you need to react, see what you need to see, and move as you need to move," the continuum is very clear. In the dark it is even more pronounced due to the loss of visual input. The lessening of visual input negatively affects all three parts of that basic philosophy. In the reaction phase, you absolutely need the visual input to understand the situation. Awareness and threat identification are both compromised in the dark. The reaction to these two things, in turn is also compromised. On the necessary visual input, this is pretty self explanatory. Ever aspect of this concept is affected in low-light due to your ability to not see as well. On the necessary movement, I have found that all of the movement is toned down due to the "safety considerations." Since you are not able to see the terrain/footing as well, there is the huge desire to not go down. The balance shifts slightly towards insuring the hit and slightly away from "not getting hit." I do not see this as a problem because once again we are talking about a double edge sword that both combatants are dealing with.

    On pure marksmanship in low-light, the necessary visual input is affected all along the sight continuum due to the loss of light. Your limitations on each sighting technique may be affected by the loss of visual input due to darkness. Since absolute knowledge of your limitations is in direct relationship to your confidence, knowing your limitations at each lighting level is extremely important. Confidence is important due to the fact that there will be even less visual verification that your hits are good. Your ability to see the hits or call your shots will be severely hampered. Therefore you must have absolute knowledge of your limitations. Although, you can use the muzzle flash for hit verification, this is not really a sighting aid...it is an aid for verification or calling your shots. If your muzzle flash is centered on the targeted area, and the silhouette of the gun is centered inside of the muzzle flash (very much like metal and meat) you are getting the hits. This verification could be key, especially it the adversary is wearing body armor. If you have absolute knowledge of good hits and there is not the desired affect, you can transition to the head quicker for the fight ending shot.

    In my teachings, situations dictate tactics and tactics dictate techniques. I teach my students the exact same necessary visual input techniques at night as I do during the day. It is up to the student which tools they prefer for each specific situation. But I believe that in low-light situations that you should always get as much visual input as you can, for the situation you are faced with. Obviously, this may not be the best solution during the day. In low-light there is a definite need to examine the balance between speed (of the drawstroke, movement, and trigger) and accuracy. This balance may not be the same as the day due to less visual input due to darkness.
    Last edited by Sweatnbullets; October 13th, 2006 at 10:59 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lew View Post
    Has any one trained trying to hit a target that has a tac light? I mean if the bad guy is in your home and blinds you, what do you do then? I have some elcheapo's that I plan on seeing how I do on the range with it shining at me. I think it will be pretty hard to hit the target accurately. Just a thought.
    Lew, this all depends on how the light is used against you. In the third part of my article, I will be covering some things that might help answer some of these questions.

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    Sweatnbullets, no problem.
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    Senior Member Array Sweatnbullets's Avatar
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    The Floating Light

    I prefer to only use a flashlight only when I absolutely need to use the light. But there are times when it is absolutely necessary, so these tools should be in your skill set. Some of you may have recognized that I am into fluid transitions between skill sets that are dependent upon the situation. I do not see these transitions as being overly complicated or complex. To me, they fit into the KISS principle, but more importantly, they cover all of my bases. Keeping it simple is important, but I see being well rounded and versatile as being just as important. My basic concept for the flashlight is the versatility of what I call the floating light. I really do not have a default flashlight technique. My technique is all situationally dependent. The positions that I use flows from one to another seamlessly, giving me the best tool to use on each job. The positions that are incorporated into my system are the FBI, modified FBI, neck index, centerline index (SNarc), and the Modified Harries (Gabe.) They all have there place and I transition through them as situations arise. I tend to keep my handgun in a one handed compressed ready. This gives me a good retention position, one that I can fire from immediately, and a position that I can shoot accurately through out my extension.

    I like the FBI and its modified positions for searching in large areas, due to the fact that a light source is a bullet magnet. These techniques keep the light source away from the body. If someone is to shoot at the light the chances of a solid hit are reduced dramatically. I really like this for searching, while incorporating "wanding and strobing." Wanding is a search technique that incorporates the old "light on/light off/move" principle with splashes of random, arching, light strokes. The random strokes give enough light to see an area to maneuver through or to identify a threat. The strokes also make it harder for an adversary to determine your position or your direction if they do not have a visual on you already. Wanding works best in large areas. I strive to never have my light on for more than two seconds. Along with that, I strive to move constantly during the "light on" portion. I try to make sure that I have used the light in a manner that lets me see what I need to see, before the light goes back off.

    Strobing is random, quick, bursts of light that are manipulated in both direction and angle. Strobing is best used when you are approaching a corner or a doorway that must be taken. The concept of strobing is to use the bursts in a random pattern that makes it impossible for the adversary to know where you are or where you are going. If done correctly you can "take" the corner or make entry into the door in a manner that is much more unpredictable by your adversary. If you use the old light on/light off/move without wanding and strobing, you are telegraphing your position and your movement.

    The neck index is an outstanding position. It works great with the third eye principle. As you maneuver and turret your body, your flashlight and your gun are pointed the exact same direction as your eyes. The flashlight is also in a very good position to be used as contact weapon. The horizontal elbow also works well with SNarc and Gabe’s CQB techniques; it gives some good protection to the head and facilitates good striking potential. There are good retention properties and a lot of very good options out of this position. Where this technique really shines is its use with dynamic movement. The body mechanics of the position just seems far superior to all of the other options. Of course there is the balance between making the hit and not being hit. The neck index brings the flashlight closer to your centerline and right next to your head. This could be problematic if the adversary is shooting at the light. But on the other hand the position facilitates excellent dynamic movement and accuracy. I am leaning to the fact that the dynamic movement and the accuracy outweigh the lights possible problematic position. This really gets into the fight continuum and the balance or speed and accuracy that I have mentioned prior to this.

    The centerline index brings the flashlight out of the neck index and positions the flashlight on the centerline right next to the gun in the compressed ready. The exact position of the flashlight is fluid on the centerline; it can be used to the right or to the left of the gun depending on the angle of vision/lighting that is needed. This position also gives you a better field of vision than the neck index. It also brings the flashlight elbow in closer to the body, cutting down on the chances of "leading" with the elbow. As seen in SNarc's PSP this is also a very good position for taking corners and doors in conjunction with the vertical elbow.

    The Modified Harries as Gabe teaches is my preferred two handed precision shooting position of this fluid system. But shots can be fire from any of the positions dependent on the situation. By simply shooting from retention, throughout your extension, or at full extension of the firing side arm, you can stay in whatever flashlight position that you choose and go at it one handed.

    Be versatile, flow from one response to another, have all of your bases covered, and have the best tool for the job at your disposal.

    WTS, does it make sense to be bi-lateral in your flashlight system? I believe so. Here is the flashlight transition that I use. Extend the pinky of your gun hand. Place the flashlight, bezel up, in between the pinky and the ring finger. Curl the pinky around the flashlight. Acquire the back strap of your handgun with your support side hand and transition over. Reacquire your flashlight grip.
    Last edited by Sweatnbullets; October 15th, 2006 at 10:12 PM.

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    Key word Roger to me is ''versatile'', something I always have to work on and never feel sufficiently proficient at.

    Thx for some extra thought food - much further pondering to do and planning for next practice session, plus indoor routines as usual. Wish I was young again
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    Speaking to the first post , low light movement . I was trained and i also trained " move low , move slow , use all your senses " Ambiant light will tend to come from above ( streetlights , light coming thro windows , ect. lower yourself so you have a better chance of seeing movement Silhouetted,and less chance of sillouetting yourself . Move slowly by barely lifting your feet taking small slow steps so that any unseen objects will likely be bumped with a foot , not tripped over . Use all your senses , listen and smell , you may well hear the subject move , breathe ect.. or smell aftershave , persperation , hair prodocts ect.. that dont belong in the enviroment ( assuming its your home or business ) . Just food for thought to kick around , Nice thread btw , a skillset well worth some thought for any ccw .
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    Quote Originally Posted by QKShooter View Post
    Thanks for posting Roger.

    One addition that I would like to make is how important it is for the Serious Defensive Individual to practice negotiating their own home or business in complete and total darkness.

    All great info presented here. I just wanted to add that not only do you need to become familiar with the physical layout of your home... you also need to become intimately familiar with its different sounds.

    My home is 30+ years old and has many creeks and squeaks. For instance there is a spot in my kitchen that creeks quite loud when stepped on. If I were hunting for a BG in my home and heard this sound or maybe the creek from a familiar door, I would know right where he was in my house and could act accordingly.

    Just my 2 cents
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    Thanks...

    for an interesting read...good info!

    Stay dark...stay safe!

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    Senior Member Array Sweatnbullets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lew View Post
    Has any one trained trying to hit a target that has a tac light? I mean if the bad guy is in your home and blinds you, what do you do then? I have some elcheapo's that I plan on seeing how I do on the range with it shining at me. I think it will be pretty hard to hit the target accurately. Just a thought.
    Lew, I hope that the "Floating light" potion of the article shows you you what I mean by "it depends on how the light is used against you." Remeber this is a double edge sword that works both ways.

    If the light blinds you, all you can do is shoot at the light. If the light is held away from the adversaries body you will not get the hits. If the light is on the centerline of the adverasry, the more likely the hits are going to be there for you.

    Low light FOF training is the best way to go. I will be addressing some of this in "part four" of the article.

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    Ditto retsupt99 Thanks Roger.
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