Tactical Training - The Use Of Light
I understand many people are afraid of the dark but in hostile situations their over-enthusiastic use of flashlights could get them and anyone close to them killed. The use of tactical flashlights has been greatly glamorized by the movies and on social media. From an entertainment perspective if your play cops were not using flashlights on the TV and Movie sets people would not be able see what heroics they were up to, viewers would be looking at dark screens. The use of light in tactical situations is another topic where fantasy has overtaken reality in the extreme.
There is a big market in tactical flashlights, and the companies making them want everyone to buy one, thus making them a must-have item and the sexy marketing videos. In reality they are just another add on accessory that can make your pistol, shotgun or carbine look cool.
Flashlights have an application in hostile situations, but you should remember that any light will give away your position and draw fire. Specialist hostage rescue units need flashlights to assist them in identifying the difference between victims and terrorist. These are specialist trained military or law enforcement units who would employ their tactical skills in conjunction with other tactics and techniques. Now, how often do you hear of hostages being rescued? Not often, right? So, if these hostage rescue teams very rarely use their skills and tactical flashlights on operations how often do you think you will be using your tactical flashlight to save the world?
For the armed citizen and close protection operative flashlights on firearms have no reliance apart from looking cool in photos for your social media posts. A flashlight on a pistol for a start can screw with the balance of the gun. As, I said in the last paragraph, light draws fire. Think from the opposition’s perspective, a basic procedure is if someone shines a flashlight at you is to shoot at the light. No need for shooting range formalities, simply point and shoot instinctively at the light. Simple right? Now, if you are the one pointing the flashlight where are your opponents bullets going to be going? Well, if the flashlight is on your firearm and your firearm is in front of you then the bullets will be heading straight at you.
The concept that if a criminal is caught in the beam of a flashlight they will be disoriented and surrender is BS. Such people surrender because they want to surrender, anyone with any training, if armed will be putting rounds towards the light. Think about now if you are searching a building at night with a flashlight, from how far away would your opponent be able to see your position? You will only be able to see what is in the beam of the light, they will be able to see you from miles away… Light should be used sparingly and tactically.
We tell our students to get used to training in the dark and using your senses of hearing and smell in addition to sight. At night there is more chance you will hear someone before you see them! When moving in a dark environment, do so slowly and cautiously and try to make minimum noise. Try finding your way around your house or business in the dark. Before you start moving around give your eyes a few minutes to adjust to the dark.
If you must use a flashlight, keep it at arm’s length and keep it on for no longer than necessary. Then move quickly or get behind cover. If you want to check a room or a corridor, one option is to roll the flashlight across the doorway, corridor, or into the room. Light can be used as a distraction and help to cover your movement. Shine it in the general direction of your opponent and move. This will mess up his night vision, and if you leave the light pointing in his direction, it will be difficult for him to see what is happening behind the light.
One option for searching buildings is to shine vehicle lights onto the building from the outside as this will draw the attention of anyone in the building away from you and also provide some light within the building for you. Remember, whenever any type of light is used then you have immediately lost the element of surprise and are exposed to your opponents.
If possible, use remote lights, this can be application for your home or business. For example, place powerful spotlights that illuminate corridors to safe rooms, stairways, or doorways. If your home is broken into at night, you could move your family to your safe room and take up a position in cover behind the lights. If you hear or identify movement to your front, you turn on the spotlights and this will surprise, blind, and illuminate anyone in the corridor. This will also help you to confirm that the people in your house are criminals or terrorists and give you good targets to shoot at. A simpler version of this is to keep a night light on outside of your bedroom door, then anyone who enters the doorway will present a good silhouette for you to shoot at.
Flashlights are handy to have and do have tactical applications. When I buy flashlights, they are usually cheap lED lights that tend to have sufficient power to light up most rooms etc. And if I need a decent flashlight for traveling with, I tend to pick up the type of lights you can find in most hardware stores for $10 to $20. I always ensure that they use regular batteries as in a lot of places getting hold of specialist lithium batteries that are used in many tactical flashlights is impossible.
So, think about the main times that you are going to realistically need to use light tactically and if used would it compromise you and draw fire from a potential opponent. It’s far better to be silent, stealthy and unseen than to be a tactical Christmas tree for all to shoot at!
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