"Low & Reduced Light Handgun Training"
By: Tom Perroni
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When people here the term “Low Light shooting” What they most often think of is shooting in the dark. And most people don’t have the ability to train in low light or reduced light or dark conditions. So this is a skill that is not practiced in my opinion as much as it should be. However this is a skill that can be practiced along with your daily “Dry Fire Training” or with a “Blue Gun” and a Flashlight you can practice clearing your own home.
In the FBI’s (UCR) uniform Crime Report it tells us that 80% of all Law Enforcement shooting happen in low or reduced light. So as a Concealed Carry permit holder, do you carry a flashlight? Even if it is not dark outside could you be in an area of low or reduced light? EXAMPLES: Parking Garage, Stairwell, Hallway, Alleyway, closets, tunnels, etc. This report transfers to “citizen” CHP shootings as well. Perpetrators of street crimes are more active after sundown. So if you do carry a flashlight do you know how to use it?
“The fear of the dark works both ways; you will be better prepared if you train in low and reduced light.”
The first step is having the tools. You need a flashlight, but which one? Surefire, Mag Light, Min Mag, Asp Tactical Led, etc. Before you decide you need to know this:
What is the purpose of the Tactical Flashlight?
1. As an aid in low light navigation and movement.
2. Locate and identify and assess threats and innocents.
3. As a non lethal tool for controlling suspects and subjects.
The biggest question I get asked about flashlights is:
What is the difference between candlepower and lumens?
Lumens is what is used to specify the total amount of light coming from any light producing device, and candlepower refers to the highest value of the light intensity to be found anywhere in the lights "beam".
Lumens tell you how "powerful" the light-producing device is, be it a light bulb of any type, a flashlight, or a car headlight. Candlepower tells you how tightly focused the beam is, assuming the light source has a lens or reflector to focus the light into a beam.
Lumens can be measured quite accurately, using an instrument called an integrating sphere, and identical lights would all have similar lumen values. It is an important quantity to know when comparing different lighting products, as it tells you how much light each one produces.
Candlepower can also be measured accurately, using a light intensity meter to measure luminous intensity, and then by applying the appropriate formula, which takes into account how far, the meter is from the light source. The problem is that he value measured depends on where in the beam you take the measurement (the highest value found is what is normally used), and on how well the beam is focused. It is not unusual for candlepower values to vary greatly from unit to unit on otherwise identical lights due to small differences in focusing or reflector tolerances.
Ken Good from Strategos, Intl. www.strategosinternational.com put it this way:
Lumens verse Candlepower
“Lumen - Measurement of a quantity of light as perceived by the human eye. As a light source's color temperature increases, less light is required to achieve comparable brightness and visual acuity. The international unit to describe the quantity of light (also called luminous flux). – That’s why SureFire uses this as a standard benchmark for all of our illumination tools.
Candle Power (Candelas) Used by lighting designers to calculate the foot-candles illuminating a surface (C.P./distance in feet squared) or Lux illuminating a surface (C.P./distance in meters squared) Foot-candles -Measurement of light output in candela per square foot. It derives from the early English unit of foot-candle defined as the illuminance on a surface placed one foot from the standard candle. 100 foot-candles is generally considered enough light to perform most tasks. Lux - Measurement of light output in candelas per square meter. One lumen per square. 10 lux is generally considered enough light to perform most tasks.
These terms are useful to assist in determining the "signature" of the illumination tool you are speaking about. No one term will fully describe the overall usefulness or quality of the emission. For instance, you can have a light with a tremendous candlepower rating at one point in the pattern, but the rest of the pattern in not useful. I.E. dark spots, splotchy, and/or weak.”
The standard in the industry and the light used at Perroni’s Tactical Training Academy is the Surefire G2. For about $30.00 you have a solid flashlight with about 65 lumens. And for an additional $25.00 you can step up to 125 lumens using the P61 bulb from Surefire.
The next question I get asked is what about night sights? Or what kind do you use. In my opinion night sight are good in reduced light situations because they give you a visual reference of the front and rear sight and this can be helpful I teach my students not to shoot until they have identified the target. For this in a reduced light situation you need a flashlight, otherwise you are just shooting off into the dark. My (2) key night sigh points:
1. Excellent tool to locate the main aiming point of your handgun.
2. The sight is not the total answer to the problem; you must see and identify the threat first.
Remember: Night Sights assist you in aiming! However they do not assist you in:
The flashlight is also useful for searching for subjects, as well as blinding them with light to shut down the OODA loop. As well as we said earlier target identification.
However there are (3) things one must learn before the refinement of techniques and tactics they are;
1. Reduce Telegraphing.
2. Be acutely aware of being in or creating a Backlit condition for you or your team.
3. Avoid blinding yourself or others.
Also realize that if you are in a gunfight in low or reduced light and you are using a flashlight that if the Bad Guy is armed and committed, they will fire directly into the source of light.
At that point you must distort your opponents perception of what is actually happening and where you are actual located. This is done by using the following:
2. Angel of the Beam
3. Rhythm and duration
The reason this is so important is that you need to conceal your movement from your attacker. You need to train so that you can deploy both your flashlight and your handgun simultaneously and accurately. The shooter must be proficient with moving and shooting before they move on to moving and shooting in low light. Also remember running with a handgun or handgun and flashlight is bad.
I also stress one handed shooting and training with one hand and yes also working with the weak hand (Support Hand) as well. Because after all when you are shooting with a flashlight in your hand you are shooting one handed.
So with all that information let’s talk about Hand Gun Shooting Techniques in Low or Reduced Light. What follows are some examples of shooting Techniques that can be employed with a flashlight. However remember the Tactical Golden Rule what I am sharing with you is “A” way to do the technique not “THE” way to do the technique. Review what follows with an open mind try each technique on the range but keep the one or ones that work best for you.
Rogers Technique: Light is held between the fingers and activated by pressing against palm of hand see picture below.
Harries Technique: Similar to Weaver stance, except the back of the support hand is pressed firmly against the back of the shooting hand. This enables the support hand to operate the flashlight while providing isometric stability to the shooting hand. See picture below.
Ayoob Technique: Simply thrust both the light and the gun out to approximate an isosceles position, with both thumbs touching. Ayoob teaches that if you place both thumbs together in horizontal alignment out to about seven yards the light will shine in the assailant's eyes while the handgun is indexed on his chest. See picture below.
FBI Technique: In the FBI technique, the flashlight is held away but much higher than the modified technique from the body with the non-weapon hand. The technique is simple but takes support away from the firing hand. See picture below.
Weapon Mounted Lights: I am not a huge fan of weapon mounted lights the advantages are Support hand can be free. It’s always there on the gun. The Disadvantage in my opinion are Searches, if you have a suspect at gunpoint how can you search for more suspects without taking the gun off the suspect?
There is an old saying 2 is1 and 1 is none so for you SWAT cops that have to mount the light on your handgun keep a handheld as a back-up.
In summary I would like to reiterate a few key points: (They are as follows) Many flashlight techniques have been developed throughout the years. The ability to accurately engage targets in low-light conditions will always depend on the individual’s skill to shoot their weapon with one hand. An operator should learn a variety of flashlight techniques, and train on these techniques regularly. However, the foundation of low-light training will always be learning the skill required to shoot their weapon with one hand.
I have attempted to provide you nothing more than a skeleton of knowledge of how Flashlights & Night Sights work and a few Handgun Shooting Techniques. I urge you to do a few things:
1. Practice Shooting with one hand (both strong &support hand)
2. Practice shooting with your flashlight.
3. Draw, Move, Shoot, Communicate!
4. Shoot to stop the threat…or don’t stop shooting until there is no threat.
5. Get a quality flashlight carry it at all times.
We have a saying at my training school: "Conflict is inevitable; Combat is an option. Always stay in condition yellow and when all else fails align the front sight and press the trigger and the button on your flashlight!”
Stay Safe & Shoot Straight!