Yesterday we ran Part 1 of Generalities of White Light Employment. This is – you guessed it! – part 2. Read it. Be educated, entertained, edified and amazed.
Yesterday I talked about AIN (After-Image Navigation) as a navigation tool in no- and low-light situations. I also mentioned kinesthetic awareness and why it’s important to an Olympic gymnast (hoping you’d grasp that it’s equally important to you, which isn’t to say you should be engaging in a gunfight in the dark from atop a balance beam or even a 1×6 stretched over an alley).
Even if you’re in your own house, where ostensibly you know where your wife/girlfriend/husband/twink/gimp has placed all of the furniture, AIN coupled with kinesthetic awareness is beneficial. Why? You may very well know the locations of the major stuff but what you may not know is that your four year old daughter left her Fisher-Price Dora the Explorer Tunes Guitar on the steps when she went to bed. Its one thing for someone to get the drop on you and it’s something else completely to be taken down due to a child’s toy.
Legos = caltrops, no matter how familiar you are with the house.
Remember; once you’ve visually inspected and noted obstructions (or lack thereof) resist the urge to hit your light again. That comforting candle in the dark is always there waiting for you to dick up if overused. There are three really good ways to die in a house: Doorways, hallways, and stairways. Windows aren’t always helpful either. When traversing through these death traps, any extraneous illumination will only serve to confirm your movement through a confined kill zone.
Once someone makes it into the cone of your light it becomes jiffy judgment time. We talk a lot about, ‘target identification’ but what exactly does that entail? Obviously circumstances, location, overall mission, and rules of engagement come into play but I’ll outline some general rules.
In a fraction of a second you have to process the following:
-Hands (what’s in them?)
-Body (especially the torso)
-Disposition (Surprised? Hostile? Scared?)
-Immediate area (is there a weapon readily accessible?)
If you’ve made the decision to shoot, take a quick sidestep and then take the shot. It is at this moment when red dot sights and night sights really show one of their vast advantages over conventional scopes or irons. In the brief time that you’ve illuminated the threat, remember that they also have a chance to react (usually shooting towards said light). Also, the threat you’ve identified may not be the only one in the room/area. The same movement after activation you perform for searching and navigation also applies to shooting. Just like with AIN, some will be better than others initially.
If the target is small or obscured (either by cover, structural layout, or by a hostage) we enter the realm of the limited or low probability threat. In this situation we would still flash the target to identify and make a determination following by movement. However, a second flash is made to confirm sight picture just prior to squeezing off that good hit. It should be obvious at this point that knowing your sight offset is paramount in this situation.
After a shoot, of course there is a search and assess but it is made simultaneously with a continued room/area search (IE: Don’t just turn your light on and stare at the body all slack jawed like a shower shoe).
If the target is not a threat or deadly force is not justified, this is where unit TTP’s and your specific individual role come into play–be it vocal compliance, hands-on, muzzle thumping (my favorite!), or whatever is dictated.
There are many night-specific operation drills that are useful. One drill I prefer to improve post-flash target tracking and shooting is the following:
Nighttime Tracking & Shooting (NTS) Drill
The way you set it up is with a target (preferably steel) and a barricade (just about any size will do—the wider the barricade the more challenging the drill). Target distance from barricade will depend on the size of the steel and the difficulty level desired. A ½ size IPSC torso steel at 7m is a good place to start.
The shooter illuminates the general target area on one side of the barricade, then moves to the other side and shoots the target without the benefit of the WML. The reactive steel gives instantaneous feedback as to whether a hit was achieved or not. It helps to keep your head orientated towards the threat during movement. If a hit is not achieved one can take that quick sight confirmation flash (just like with that limited probability threat) if desired. Other variations aside from increasing offset and distance include adding a par time, doing the drill in conjunction with a partner, or adding more targets. This is just one way to help improve kinesthetic awareness. Any drill that one would normally use during the daytime can be modified and adapted for nighttime use. NPOA (Natural Point of Aim) exercises are especially useful in this regard.
Each of the WML uses briefly outlined can all be practiced individually before folding all of them together. Unfortunately, not every range is set up for night fire. Fortunately, all of these techniques, aside from the actual shooting, can be practiced with a WML-equipped blue or airsoft gun.
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