The Problem with Low Light

The problem with low light techniques is they are largely based around shooting and not searching. There is a big difference between the two requiring different approaches.

Two handed shooting techniques

Yes, there are two handed techniques, where the hands hold both pistol and light for use in low light environments. It doesn’t make them good search technique. Before you can justify using a two handed shooting technique to search; you have to justify having a gun in hand first. What conditions were present that warranted drawing the pistol and or light together? Many folks expect range conditions to mimic real world settings. Some will come close, but very few.

Fear of the dark

Many techniques taught using two hands are half measures at best when it comes to searching. The problem begins with poor skills when it comes to searching in the first place. Most fail to put a significant amount of time and resources into searching, just searching in low light conditions. While it is not rocket science, there is still a great deal to be learned and one of the biggest is being comfortable working in the dark. Most of the time we are training in ideal or pristine conditions. It is hard to gain the proficiency and comfort necessary to work well at night. As a result when we do work our low light technique it is a small investment. It is beneficial to invest in a technique that works well as a search technique then can make a good transition into a shooting technique.

Weapon mounted lights

Some will opine they don’t need a handheld technique because they have a weapon mounted light. Complete falsehood! Before you can use the weapon mounted light you have to be justified in deploying lethal force as mentioned earlier. Granted you may not employ lethal force, but drawing your pistol should not be taken for granted. Especially drawing your pistol to search for an unknown. It is far better to have a handheld light as your primary search tool. You will deploy your light a ridiculously higher number of times than your pistol. You will use it for not just tactical necessities, but everyday needs.

Search techniques and using your light

I prefer to use a search technique that allows me to employ the full capability of the projected light. To angle the beam and use it to literally splash light in the hard to reach areas. My light does not have to be anchored to my torso, it can be directed to any location to exploit a tactical advantage. If you locate an unknown and identify it to be a foe deploying lethal force should be a seamless transition. Using a technique that stabilizes the light while allowing you to engage with effective fire is key. The best method I have found has been to transition to the “High Index”. A position near my jawline to illuminate both the target area as well as my sight system. While you will may be called to employ lethal force using your strong hand only, you were able to make that choice because of a superior search technique.

Searching in low light conditions needs to have freedom to be effective. Many times it is not who is the best shot, but who saw who first that determines the outcome.

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