Lights, Seeing is Required

At a recent class I was asked about using lights for self defense while carrying concealed. Well, my first response is are you carrying a good handheld light and then do you understand it’s importance.

The harsh reality

Let’s put aside the utility of a good handheld light for a moment. Disregard how you will reload more batteries hunting for your keys, than reloading magazines and hunting for bad guys. It is one of the must useful items to have not just for everyday carry, but life in general. You can take one almost anyplace and if you understand how to employ it as an impact weapon that gives you a huge advantage. While it is pretty hard to find yourself in a completely dark environment, it is easy to find yourself in a position where you cannot with 100% certainty identify a potential threat outside of arms reach.

It’s just a light

The moment you move past a double arm internal, is that someone coming at you or someone trying to move by you. There is a big difference. Would you be in the wrong having your handheld light in your hand for either of these events. I don’t see any compelling reason you cannot pull your handheld light out even during day time conditions when things just don’t feel right. It should be your first stage towards escalation and possible engagement, but there is still a vitally important factor to remember. You must be able to illuminate the unknown.

Identifying the unknown

The discussion in class had to deal with the lights position when in a search mode. There is no reason you cannot move the light in order to provide you the best advantage. It doesn’t always have to be in a shoot ready position, in fact it probably won’t be. During the initial moments of an unknown encounter you may find it prudent to have the light in your hand way before you can justify having a gun in your hand. When you decide to illuminate the unknown you have to do so in a manner that allows you the ability to positively identify friend from foe. If you use the light and it’s energy in a manner that fails to do so, it is not the light’s fault. It is your own fault for using poor technique.

Human, hands and handgun

Your technique should aim to illuminate the unknown with enough light to see what you need to see to make the choice to employ lethal force. You will need to start big, with what we call “human”. Then work small to the “hands” and finish up with an apology for temporarily blinding the suspect. If the situation was worse case then transitioning to your drawstroke as you seek to maintain the tactical advantage provided by the disruptive nature of your high intensity light. So, it is either; human, hands then handgun or human, hands and humility for blinding them. If you were able to identify in those initial seconds they were an immediate threat to your life then transitioning to your handgun is the next step so your one hand clearance method better be legit. The real question becomes do you keep the light trained on them or extinguished. A lot will depend on what you saw in the first few moments that convinced you to draw your handgun. Things like distance, action and whether you can move and move to a better location help determine the right course of action. The bottom line, the situation will dictate.

Having a good handheld light should be on everyone’s loadout. Then know how to use it effectively, otherwise it is nothing more than an expensive torch.

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