View Full Version : Low light shooting

Willie Lowman
January 14, 2012, 10:16 AM
After rereading the "lightswitch" thread, I started thinking about the problems of actually practicing in near darkness or total darkness outside of a shooting school. Shooting with a flashlight, weapon light, shooting with low ambient light, etc.

While it is easy to sit in the dark and practice weapon handling, reloading, etc. It isn't as easy to practice shooting in the dark. Most ranges close at dark and the indoor ones take a dim view (pun somewhat intended) of turning off the lights while the range is hot.

I live in the country and it is not very uncommon to hear an occasional "shot in the dark." Usually someone dispatching a raccoon or a coyote. To hear fifty, or one hundred shots as someone tries a little low light practice is sure to cause problems with the neighbors.

Airsoft guns might be a good training tool for shooting in low light.

What else can be done to practice one's low light marksmanship?

January 14, 2012, 10:39 AM
What else can be done to practice one's low light marksmanship?

Dry firing with laser sights.

Practice and learn to shoot with one hand, and flash light in the other, HELD AWAY FROM THE BODY.

Learned that in little muddy tunnels in SE Asia and doing hundreds of building searches in LE. Flash light in one hand, gun in the other and you need seperation.

Also I don't like those supper bright flash lights. Those suckers light up everthing including you, and the light bouncing off everything ruins your night vision.

I like the normal cheap flash lights that arn't so bright. The allow you to see what you need to see.

As I mentioned, hold the flashlight away from the body, if a bandit is there, and armed, guess what he's going to be shooting at if he desides to shoot. In that case wouldn't you rather have it at arms length instead of attached to your gun while looking over the sights.

I can't stress enough the value of one hand shooting when investigating "bumps in the night". You're more then likely going to have other things to do with the empty hand, be it carrying flashlights, mirrors, door knobs or pushing you wife back into the bedroom cause she's gonna want to help.

You mentioned rural areas, I live in such an area. I keep one of those big spot lights by the back door. If horses or chickens are throwing a fit, they are nice to have. We do have mountain lions, not to mention critters wanting to make a meal of my chickens.

If its bandits horses wont be making a lot of racket so back to my revolver with laser sights.

Back to practice, nothing beats dry firing with laser sights, they give you instant feed back.

January 14, 2012, 10:57 AM
Good stuff--but a couple of questions come to mind for me. Is the separate one hand thing really possible if you're using a long gun? And assuming you're using a pistol or revolver--then it sounds like you better be very proficient at one handed point and shoot?

January 14, 2012, 11:07 AM
then it sounds like you better be very proficient at one handed point and shoot?

That's the trick, practice with one hand, left and right but one at a time.

About the only time I use two hands on my 642 is if I'm practicing on hostage targets.

Kind of hard to stay hidden when using two hands poking around a baracade. More fun to hide behind a baracade and use a mirror in one hand to see the red dot on the target from the revolver in the other hand while your head and body are behind cover.

The thing is, if you practice with one hand, you'll still be accurate with 2 hands, but if you practice with two hands it won't help your one hand shooting that much.

Is the separate one hand thing really possible if you're using a long gun?

I don't use a long gun for SD situations, they get in the way and if you need the range the rifle gives you, its not SD.

If its at night, I wont be shooting my rifle anyway, I don't know where my horses are. I wouldnt want to face my granddaughter if I shot one of her horses.

January 17, 2012, 10:36 AM
Great advice, Kraig. My training will now include a lot more one-hand practice. Also makes me re-think my caliber choices - a 9mm might be a better option than larger calibers for one-hand control and quicker follow-ups.

January 17, 2012, 12:20 PM
Most of my pistol training now is close-in point-and-shoot; getting a hit on target is pretty darn hard with just my left hand using my 45 XD--but reasonable easy to get a hit with my LCP--though I'm not accurate enough with it to quickly and reliably hit a vital area. The target "zip" stitching multiple rounds fast is actually kinda fun (though gets expensive fast). : )

The BGs here do use assault rifles from a stand-off position of a car pulled up in front of a house. I have no idea how I could respond to this (not even sure the cops do--though they just bought 30 AR's). The way things are going here, it wouldn't surprise if the gangs eventually get their hands on full automatics and RPGs! (half a smilie here)

January 17, 2012, 12:32 PM
DeSantis offers low light simulator goggles for low light shooting in broad daylight. They are based on welders' glasses. You'll be able to make out your target but you won't get enough light to use the sights, exactly what low light shooting is all about.

Most low light shooting incidents are in subdued, ambient light, enough to make out the threat but not quite enought to obtain a sight picture. Shootings rarely occur in total blackness. Within your own home, you have control over jut how much ambient light you want available at night.

January 17, 2012, 07:34 PM
Something else for consideration, is whether or not someone is dependent on glasses. My vision is absolutely terrible without glasses, and if something should happen in the middle of the night that might require a firearm to fix, I can't be absolutely sure that I'll have the time to grab them. Because of this I regularly practice shooting without my glasses, both "target" and "combat" style shooting.

Even disregarding the "bump in the night" scenario, every fight I've ever been in has left me fighting without glasses on since they tend to be the first thing that goes missing in such an event. If I should ever need to draw to defend myself, I want some confidence in my chances even if I've lost my glasses.

For those with good natural eyesight, you could always buy some cheap glasses and start practicing with blurry drunk vision:D

January 17, 2012, 08:48 PM
Years ago, in my cop days I carried a pager (do to my extra duties as EOD and LE Sniper). It was one of the old types that "beeped" then you got a voice message.

Shortly after going on shift I got a disturbance call, guy with a knife going after his ex and her new boy friend. I catch the guy and he starts branishing the knife. As I tell him to loose the knife I get this "beep-beep-beep" and the voice message from my wife, "stop by the house when you can, you left your glassess".

The bandit says "hell you can't see to shoot me anyway" tosses the knife and beats feet. I was laughing so hard I couldn't catch him if I was fast enough. Had to find a young rookie to run him down.

But the glasses thing is a good ideal, I only wear mine for reading, but I think most people will find the laser sight is handy when you're not wearing glasses.

January 18, 2012, 07:03 AM
Several of the IDPA clubs in my area put on a night match once or twice a year. I never miss them. Reloading, moving with uncertain footing, shooting accurately - everything is much more difficult while holding a flashlight.