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Low Light Training: Are You Afraid of the Dark? 5.00/5 (100.00%) 1 vote

As shooters, especially those with a defensive or proactive mindset, our skill sets have to be diverse.  We drill for reloads, we train our draws, we learn to focus on our front sights and shoot reflexively through force on force, but there is an aspect to training I feel many shooters ignore.  Low light training is a crucial bit of training to obtain, and one with a different set of challenges compared to the standard drills and exercises contained in our usual regimens.

Getting Geared Up: Lights, Sights, and Others

Flashlights have come a long way, especially those oriented towards shooters.  The days of the Maglite’s reign have come to end, at least for those not involved in law enforcement, with a focus on smaller and brighter lights definitely coming into play.   So, should you opt for a weapon mounted light or a separate light?  With a long arm, I would almost certainly consider a weapon mounted light.  While maintaining form and toting a flashlight in your support hand is certainly feasible, it will be in no ways a worthwhile endeavor.  Ultimately speaking, your deciding factor to mount a weapon light is purely situational, especially for your sidearm.

Realistically speaking, most gun owners aren’t going to find themselves toting a holster to accommodate a Surefire, so a smaller flashlight and a stance incorporating said light are paramount.  If you feel the absolute need to mount a light upon your handgun, the Streamlight TLR-2s or Surefire X-300 are my top picks for a reliable light.

Source: YouTube/Guns and Gear & On Target Training, LLC

Source: YouTube/Guns and Gear & On Target Training, LLC

 

Source: YouTube/faliaphotography

Source: YouTube/faliaphotography

Carbines are a different beast, and the TLR-2s will definitely function as intended on your chosen carbine’s rail system, but you may be better suited with something a little more geared towards rifle usage.  An affordable and highly functional carbine light I personally recommend is the Inforce WML, which functions beautifully while considering your support hand placement.

Shotguns have a single option I recommend, which is a Surefire replacement foreend.  These have been a shotgunning standard for quite some time, and allow a secure grasp of the slide while allowing bright illumination.  I generally avoid suggesting barrel or magazine mounted lights, simply due a pump action rendering such a choice impractical for standard usage.

Training For The Dark:  How To Be The Boogieman

Preparing to use a firearm in the dark is a fairly daunting proposition, your cone of vision is severely limited after all.  Most shooters aren’t going to be law enforcement or military oriented, so the prospect of having to navigate an unknown environment is severely diminished.  Most shooters are familiar with training in adequate light, knowing their sight picture is clear, and being able to react when under stress.  Low light takes away many of the advantages a shooter may have in adequate light,

Low light engagements have an additional benefit for a shooter, which is the element of surprise which greatly aids in movement.  The double edged sword is presented when realizing an adversary has the same advantage, but may lack the equipment to capitalize upon it.  The same drills and techniques we’ve developed as shooters should and must be employed, while working around the use of limited illumination.  This means being able to acquire a target quickly and accurately, utilizing your environment to your advantage, and also being able to perform scans of your periphery while employing the light.  Hit percentage will be severely lacking considering the additional difficulties associated with shooting in low or no light.  Muzzle flashes will be far more pronounced, especially blinding if you are employing a firearm with a compensator or muzzle brake.

Any shooter is going to have to train far harder to implement their light into their training regimen, especially if it is a handheld light.  With a sidearm, there are a few different stances to consider when implementing a handheld light, with one being particularly notable.  The first, and arguably the most famous, is the Harries technique,   The Harries places the light in the support hand and relies heavily upon muscle tension to provide a stable shooting platform for your sidearm.  Anyone who has exercised any degree of muscle tension will understand the fatigue and stress this can place upon your body while moving.

Source: YouTube/Polenar Tactical

Source: YouTube/Polenar Tactical

Surefire offers a different take on the handgun stance required, and another name I’ve seen used for it is the Rogers technique.  The stance requires the shooter to index the light below the bore of the handgun, which doesn’t illuminate the sights but does provide a more natural stance overall for the shooter.  The difficulty however comes in finding an adequate handheld light which indexes comfortably and reliably.

Source: YouTube/Frankdude72

Source: YouTube/Frankdude72

As with any degree of training, proper instruction from qualified experts is something I’d heartily recommend, in addition to being familiar with the potential scenarios you may face.  Ideally, all shootings would occur with the good guy having an upper hand over the bad guy, but most home invasions and robberies aren’t going to take place in broad daylight.  Being able to apply learned techniques through a qualified instructor to the scenarios you may face will greatly aid in becoming the bump in the night to those who may wish you harm.

A reliable set of night sights should be a given for any particular firearm platform, especially a sidearm intended for defensive use.  Trijicon, Meprolight, and Truglo are all heavily recommend and provide differing levels of illumination which can be made to suit the shooter employing them.  Any common make or model of firearm can easily utilize night sights.

Low light training is another tool for any shooter’s arsenal and should be practiced the same with any other set of drills.  Being able to employ and effectively use your weapon in low light is a vital set of skills which can determine a fight’s outcome.  Most burglars, muggers, or other bad guys aren’t going to be versed in a skill set oriented around fighting in the dark which is something you can use to your benefit.

Train for the light, train for the dark, and prepare to use force in both.

Here’s a list of our favorite lights & sights: