Night Shooting

May 24th, 2015No Comments

Glock & LightWow, it is hard to believe that it’s been almost three years since my last post!  Working overseas will do that to you.  Thanks to my schedule, FMI was virtually inactive, but now I am back, rested, and ready to train!  That means training myself, not just teaching classes.  One of the skills that I’ve neglected the last three years is night and low light shooting, so when I was invited to a night class last month I jumped at the opportunity.

Night shooting is an important tool in our self defense arsenal, unfortunately it is also a very perishable skill so we have to make sure that we include night and low light shooting in our training programs.  Why is this so important?  In part due to Murphy’s Law.  If something can go wrong it will go wrong, and most likely in the worst possible time and manner.  Criminals don’t respect the time of day and they seek every possible advantage.  Surprise and night attacks are clearly huge advantages.  Additionally, as law abiding citizens we are responsible for every round we shoot.  Target identification is critical and stray shots may cost an innocent bystander his life.  Finally, everything is just plain harder in the dark.  Simple things like reloading and even walking are much more complicated when the lights go out.  The only solution is to train and train often.

Night training should focus on a few critical skills.  First and foremost is target identification.  A Google search will return far too many cases of a homeowner that fired at a suspected intruder only to find that it was a family member sneaking into the house late at night.  The result is often fatal.  We must identify our target BEFORE we pull the trigger!  This means we need some kind of light.  There are dozens of good, pocket sized lights on the market.  If you don’t have one then get one.  I recommend at least 100 lumens.  Dimmer lights may not be bright enough to clearly illuminate your surroundings and target, and it takes more time for our brains to process information in low light levels.  Also, a 100 lumen light will still disorient a person to a degree from across a room, so the bright light may buy you some precious time.  There is such a thing as a light that is too bright and a 300 lumen light may reflect so much from the walls and surroundings that you also become disoriented or blinded.  How much light is too much depends on your situation so buy a couple of lights and test them for yourself.  As far as handling the light, there are several different techniques.  If you aren’t familiar with all of them then just go over to YouTube and watch a few videos.  Practice each of the techniques and train with the one that works best for you.  Personally, I prefer holding the light as shown in the picture above.  The next thing to work on is marksmanship.  Light and shadows play havoc with the sight picture.  Depending on your light and how you are holding it, you may not have a clear view of the sights.  The only solution is to practice, practice, and practice.  Once you get the basics down then start practicing other weapons manipulation skills like reloading and malfunction clearing.  Even if you have mastered these in the daytime, once you turn out the lights and try to do them while holding a flashlight in one hand it becomes a whole different story.  Finally, spend some time with basic movement techniques–moving forwards, backwards, and laterally; using your feet to find obstacles; clearing corners.  All of these things are more difficult and just different in the dark.

The most important thing to do when you start training at night is to slow down.  Our instinct is to move at the same speed as we do while shooting during the day, but this is a mistake.  Night shooting is not the same as day shooting, so slow down and add speed and complexity as your skills improve.

For many of us, it is a challenge just finding a range that operates at night.  Don’t hesitate to talk to your range operators to see if they already have regular night shoots or if they will consider adding one every month.  As always, start your range session with the basics.  Focus on light handling, target identification, weapon manipulation, and marksmanship.  Once you become comfortable then consider adding multiple targets and movement drills.  One great drill is to have multiple “shoot/don’t shoot” targets, and as you move through the course of fire you must identify each target and take the appropriate action.

Actually shooting at night is definitely important, however you can hone many of your night skills through dry practice at home.  Just unload your weapon, load up the dummy ammo, and turn off the lights.  An added advantage of dry practice at home is that you become more familiar with your terrain in the event that you do have to defend yourself against a home invasion.

That’s it.  If you haven’t worked on your low light shooting techniques for a while then now is a great time to start.  Be sure to check out our night shooting class and leave your thoughts and comments below.  Shoot safe and I’ll see you on the firing line.

Learn About FMI’s Night Shooting Class

© 2015, mjshozda. All rights reserved.

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