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Old August 28, 2017, 11:02 PM   #1
Rangerrich99
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Training with flashlights, WMLs, etc.

I've been reading with some interest the thread concerning WMLs (Weapon Mounted Lights) with strobe features, when it occured to me to ask this question, so I decided to create a new thread, rather than side track the existing thread.

"How many of us actually train or have gotten training to use either WMLs or flashlights in defensive situations?"


I myself haven't had any professional training, I've only created a couple scenarios and tried to shoot a 'stage' essentially one-handed with my support hand occupied by a flashlight.

Without getting into the nitty gritty, I've observed that at least for myself, my shooting is less accurate (larger groups) and my overall times go up. Also, I only do that sort of thing every few months, and maybe a couple sets at most. In other words, I'm mostly just farting around for a half a dozen magazines or so.

I was wondering how many others do any sort of training with a light, and if so what kind and how involved are you getting? Do you prefer WMLs or flashlights, and why?
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Old August 29, 2017, 12:21 AM   #2
Frank Ettin
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In several of the classes I've taken at Gunsite we've done night shooting in both the indoor and outdoor shoot-houses/simulators. We've always used handheld rather than weapon-mounted lights.

There aren't a lot of "secrets-of-the-ninja": (1) learn and practice the various way of using a flashlight and still use the off hand for support and recoil management; (2) use a lanyard on the flashlight so it can be released when your hand is needed for other purpose, like reloading; (3) turn the light on and off at appropriate times.

Once you learn the techniques it's a matter of practice to develop proficiency. Professional instruction can be a big help.

If your accuracy and speed are deteriorating too much shooting one handed, you need more work on shooting one handed.
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Old August 29, 2017, 05:28 AM   #3
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I just took a class on this last week! It was quite good. As good as it can be in a range, standing in stalls anyway. The first half was low-light shooting, in different lighting conditions (backlit, front lit, side lit, etc.). The second half focused on holding a flashlight and acquiring the target. We were taught to hold the light in the support hand, and to press the backs of the hands together for stability. This adds stability to the shooting, but also means you don't actually aim the gun and light at the same time until you've decided that something is a threat.

I could see that this method *could* lead someone to react a second too late. But "leading with the light" (such as a weapon-mounted light) could lead someone to react a second too early and shoot something they shouldn't. I'd err on the side of restraint, I think.

So yeah, the training was pretty good! I can also practice this at home in the dark with a flashlight and my laser trainer.
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Old August 29, 2017, 07:41 PM   #4
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I would not use "running a stage" to filter my actual self defense considerations. Having impressive "times" might not make a hill of beans if your tactics in real life are not appropriate for your situation. I support the use of WML's only in very limited circumstances. Generally speaking, I am against their use if you have to rely on only one light.
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Old August 29, 2017, 08:48 PM   #5
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Many years ago, there was a fad (new, old, then new again) for the idea of mounting a flashlight on the weapon. Then some folks with experience in bad places pointed out that if there is a nasty guy in the area, he just might decide to shoot at what he could easily see, the light. Which, if the BG is a good shot (no rules limit skill levels to the pure of heart) he will blow away the light and the man behind it. That is why I was taught to hold the light in the off (left in my case) hand, forward and well away from the body. That way, if the BG assumes I am right handed and the light is in that hand and holds to the (BG's) right of the light, he hits only air. I know my education, such as it was, could not be as good as "modern" techniques, but a bullet that misses me by a couple of feet still seems better than one in the middle of my head. But then I don't understand, or so I have been told.

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P.S. In gun games, the good guy always wins; would that it were true in real life (or death).

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Old August 29, 2017, 09:52 PM   #6
JC57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James K View Post
...That is why I was taught to hold the light in the off (left in my case) hand, forward and well away from the body. That way, if the BG assumes I am right handed and the light is in that hand and holds to the (BG's) right of the light, he hits only air. ...
That is how I was trained as well. 1980 was the era. 4 D-cell Kel-lights were the off-hand illumination device of choice, paired with a .38 revolver.

You didn't carry it that way just when you had a drawn weapon. Any time checking out a dark area or building, just in case your first indication of the presence of a criminal was when they shot at you the first time. I worked midnight shift most of my career so I spent plenty of time with a flashlight.
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Old August 30, 2017, 09:38 AM   #7
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Quote:
rangerrich99 wrote:
"How many of us actually train or have gotten training to use either WMLs or flashlights in defensive situations?"
I have not.

Quote:
James K wrote:
That is why I was taught to hold the light in the off (left in my case) hand, forward and well away from the body.
That is the way my son was taught to do it when he took his law enforcement training.

Recently, when the police were searching for someone that ran away from a traffic stop and tried hiding out in the brush along the creek that cuts through my backyard, we could see the flashlights and how they were being used. My son, who was home at the time, provided a sort of "play by play" explaining what they were doing at each stage of the search. So, it seems that what JC57 was taught nearly 40 years ago is still being taught and still being practiced by police.
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Old August 30, 2017, 01:06 PM   #8
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I took a low light pistol course put on by Sparrow Defense back in 2015. I wrote about it here: link

I definitely want to have a handheld flashlight but there is also a place for a weapon mounted light.
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Old August 30, 2017, 02:59 PM   #9
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A long time ago, I learned the dos and don'ts of WML at Blackwater when it was still Blackwater... and have used them to extremely good effect in more VBSS missions than I care to remember. Don't listen to the naysayers. WML are more useful than not...and they are here to stay.
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Old August 30, 2017, 05:17 PM   #10
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I think it's a good idea to have a WML on a long gun as it would be difficult to use a hand held light with a firearm that requires both hands.

It would be interesting to participate in force on force training in low light, especially if it included people who were "no shoot" actors. I wouldn't want to be shot by a bad guy but I'd also not want to shoot a family member or other innocent.
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Old August 31, 2017, 10:35 AM   #11
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I think there's also a gulf of difference between fighting in the dark and threat management in the dark.
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Old August 31, 2017, 03:09 PM   #12
Ton
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I've had extensive training using both handhelds and WMLs throughout my career as a police officer. WMLs aren't required in my agency, but I'd say about 90% of uniformed officers have them attached to their primary duty weapon.

The primary piece of advice I would offer to the CCW carrier or home defender with regards to light is to use it momentarily when a threat needs to be assessed then shut it off.

Many have pointed out the tactical disadvantages of WMLs or using a light period. They are all true. A light turns you into a beacon, even if you hold it as far away from you as your arm can reach. That being said, light is required to see, and seeing is required to make a decision about whether or not deadly force is necessary.
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Old August 31, 2017, 03:44 PM   #13
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A long time ago, I learned the dos and don'ts of WML at Blackwater when it was still Blackwater... and have used them to extremely good effect in more VBSS missions than I care to remember. Don't listen to the naysayers. WML are more useful than not...and they are here to stay.
I agree, and I believe that most who have trained with them and use them for work would also agree. They are a tool that has a specific and rather narrow tactical application, however, within that narrow scope they can be invaluable.
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Old August 31, 2017, 05:54 PM   #14
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So what is the "modern" technique? I have been told that the new lights are so bright they blind everyone (but not, presumably, the carrier) so it is only necessary to "cuff 'im, Pete". Or that the brilliant beam renders the BG helpless, so he falls on the floor and twitches. Maybe that is true if he happens to be looking straight at the light, but if he is off to the side, he can still use the light as a target but not be blinded enough to be disabled.

Barring the use of military-type night vision equipment, I still think sticking a light up in front of your face and inviting someone to shoot at it is not a good idea.

Jim
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Old August 31, 2017, 06:05 PM   #15
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The biggest problem with light, especially white light is that it affects the vision of the person holding it almost as much as the one he is hunting. Our eyes lose the ability to see in the dark even with short exposure to white light. You can prove this to yourself very easily with a piece of paper with some writing on it and a flashlight in a dark room.
Sit in the dark room for a half hour and then look at the paper. What can you make out? If the room is completely dark you might not even be able to see the paper but my home is rarely that dark. Then turn the flashlight on the paper and right back off. Suddenly you can't see the paper any more. All you see is a dark spot.
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Old August 31, 2017, 08:53 PM   #16
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In a self or home defense scenario, if you have enough light to determine whether the potential target is a threat or not, don't use the light. If you don't have enough ambient light, use a flashlight or turn on your house lights. If you turn the light on and the paper is a shoot target, keep the light on it and shoot it. If it's a no shoot target, don't shoot it. You'll be a lot better off keeping your target illuminated while you shoot it than trading shots or stabs in the dark. If you have to reload, turn your light off and reload, then turn your light back on your target and shoot as needed.

In a self defense or home defense scenario, we aren't hiding in a foxhole or bunker waiting for Charlie to sneak up on us while we ready a grenade because we don't want a muzzle flash to give away our position. We must identify whether we are facing a threat or a child making an unexpected visit. Maybe the neighbor's autistic kid is confused and has walked into our garage or yard at night.
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Old August 31, 2017, 09:28 PM   #17
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"So what is the "modern" technique? I have been told that the new lights are so bright they blind everyone (but not, presumably, the carrier) so it is only necessary to "cuff 'im, Pete". Or that the brilliant beam renders the BG helpless, so he falls on the floor and twitches. Maybe that is true if he happens to be looking straight at the light, but if he is off to the side, he can still use the light as a target but not be blinded enough to be disabled."

Be on the receiving side and you will be a believer, modern lights are blinding. And when used in CQB with modern techniques there is little risk. Now out running around outside, lights are a risk. That is why NVDs are preferred until you get inside, inside white light is preferred unless there is a tactical reason for staying on NVDs.

You ask what is the modern techniques, well the big change is you never leave the light on. You light, move, and shoot. You don't shoot with the light on either.

But hey what do the guys who came up with their techniques know? Many of them have been at war for almost two decades.
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Old September 1, 2017, 09:30 PM   #18
James K
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"If you turn the light on and the paper is a shoot target..."

Nice for playing games but, alas, real people don't come with "shoot" or "no shoot" signs on them.

One of my instructors had the idea that if, say, you were checking out a warehouse at night, the best thing to do was simply to turn on the lights, while moving away from the switch bank. Sure you will be blind for a moment, but so will anyone else. And you are expecting the lights to come on, the BG isn't.

Jim
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Old September 2, 2017, 05:35 AM   #19
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James K wrote,
Quote:
I have been told that the new lights are so bright they blind everyone (but not, presumably, the carrier) so it is only necessary to "cuff 'im, Pete". Or that the brilliant beam renders the BG helpless, so he falls on the floor and twitches.
You should read what the late, great Pat Rogers has to say about that in his Swat Magazine arrticle "Let There Be Lights. Really Bright Lights".

James K wrote,
Quote:
One of my instructors had the idea that if, say, you were checking out a warehouse at night, the best thing to do was simply to turn on the lights, while moving away from the switch bank.
Some times, that's just not possible.
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Old September 2, 2017, 08:47 AM   #20
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Nice for playing games but, alas, real people don't come with "shoot" or "no shoot" signs on them.
I think I'll be better off determining whether someone is a threat or not if I can see them clearly. If I do determine someone is a threat or potential threat, I'm gonna keep the light on them. It's more important that I be able to see them clearly than for me to remain hidden in the dark.


Quote:
One of my instructors had the idea that if, say, you were checking out a warehouse at night, the best thing to do was simply to turn on the lights, while moving away from the switch bank. Sure you will be blind for a moment, but so will anyone else. And you are expecting the lights to come on, the BG isn't.
That's fine and might work in a house depending on how the switches are laid out. If you could illuminate the room where the possible threat is located while keeping yourself hidden, that would be best, but it's not always possible. I can't control every light around me but I can control a flashlight that I carry.

If I turn a light on in my room and open the door to where the potential threat might be, I've backlit myself while the potential threat stays hidden in the dark. A flashlight is a much better solution than backlighting myself. If the dogs are barking at something in the backyard it's more likely to be an armadillo or possum than an intruder or coyote but I'll need a flashlight to know. An intruder in the backyard isn't necessarily a threat but I'll need a flashlight to know. If I'm walking to my truck in the dark parking lot and see something or someone moving, I'll need a flashlight to determine if there is a threat or not.




Quote:
You should read what the late, great Pat Rogers has to say about that in his Swat Magazine arrticle "Let There Be Lights. Really Bright Lights".
Thanks for the tip to the article. I'm reading it now link
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Old September 2, 2017, 09:12 AM   #21
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The best thing to do when checking a warehouse at night is to not to it alone. There's nothing in there that is worth the extreme risk you will be taking whether the lights are on or off.
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Old September 2, 2017, 09:18 AM   #22
Don Fischer
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I have though it unwise to have a light on the gun and in most case's even a strong flash light. There's some new light's that will mess with your eyes if you look into them. If you have the light on the gun and it doesn't mess with the eye sight, seem's to me that makes a pretty good target! If you have a hand held and point in front of you, seem's to me the same problem. But if you hold the light an arms length away from your body, you effectively take away the obvious target. Just my though.
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Old September 2, 2017, 10:40 AM   #23
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Why would I need to check out a warehouse? The only three buildings I need to check out are my home, the garage, and my shop. The home is the only one with three doors and any windows and that's where I sleep. If I'm awake I know if someone is coming before they can get in and if I'm asleep they will wake me up getting in. There is always someone in the house. I'm not a good target.
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Old September 2, 2017, 11:36 AM   #24
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I have though it unwise to have a light on the gun and in most case's even a strong flash light. There's some new light's that will mess with your eyes if you look into them. If you have the light on the gun and it doesn't mess with the eye sight, seem's to me that makes a pretty good target! If you have a hand held and point in front of you, seem's to me the same problem. But if you hold the light an arms length away from your body, you effectively take away the obvious target. Just my though.
You're going to want a light strong enough to positively identify what someone has in their hands and determine if it's a weapon. That's going to be a critical factor in determining if and when you should shoot.

With many modern flashlights it isn't going to matter if you hold it at arms length or not. The reflected light is going to illuminate you enough for a bad guy to see anyway. This is especially true indoors where light is reflected off the floor, walls, and ceiling. Why handicap yourself in a high stress situation by forcing yourself to shoot one handed? Or, perhaps you won't have to shoot. Maybe you're holding an intruder at gunpoint and now you have to juggle your flashlight and cell phone while you call 911.

A WML is not for every situation which is why I advocate two lights. Use the hand held light for general use for when the situation hasn't reached the level of deadly force yet. If and when I draw I will transition from hand held to WML if possible.

For most concealed carry weapons a WML isn't practical because it adds weight and bulk. It's more practical to have a concealable weapon and a small light.

Ultimately it's about increasing your odds in whatever situation you find yourself in. Inside the home the advantages of a WML are undeniable. On the street you may have to make do with another technique. Train with both.
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Old September 9, 2017, 11:55 AM   #25
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Here is an interesting video showing the use of three different lights by a police officer in a deadly encounter: link The officer uses his vehicle's headlamps, a weapon mounted light and a handheld light.
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