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Tactical Tuesday Training Report 9/21/2010 – My First Low-Light Shoot


This week at the Sim-Trainer Tactical Training Tuesday League (T3), we did a low-light shoot.  Not having yet been though Sim-Trainer’s hand gun training course which deals with this particular kind of shooting, I did not anticipate a stellar performance.  In analyzing my post-shoot performance, I clearly set the bar too high….  🙁

In preparation for having to do a low-light shoot at some point during the T3 league, I did purchase a “tactical flashlight” a couple of weeks ago – the eGear XT-130 on a friend’s recommendation.

The idea with these tactical flashlights is that they serve several purposes.  The first, most obvious is to help you see so you can shoot the bad guy, and not shoot the good guy.  Secondly, they be used to temporarily blind and bewilder an attacker – these things are darn bright.

As you can see in the photo above, you operate them with one hand.  There are several techniques for holding a flashlight (Ruger Tactical Tips did an entire video segment on this topic) with a gun.  One of Sim-Trainer’s NRA Certified Instructors (Mark Avery) went through a couple with me prior to my run.  The most popular method involves holding the flashlight in your weak hand with your arm horizontal to the ground, which supports your gun hand.  When I tried this method, I had difficulty seeing the sights on my XD(m) since I don’t yet have night sights on the gun (they’re back ordered right now).  So the method I used involved holding the flashlight in my weak hand next to my head, with the gun held outstretched in the other.  This allow some light from the flashlight (focused on target) to cast on my gun, making the sights easier to see.   In a true encounter, this would not be my method of choice – if the bad guy decides to shoot at the light, he’s shooting directly at my head.  But since I don’t yet have night sights on my gun, I went with it.  With this bit of training behind me, I was ready to start my first low-light run.

Right off the bat, I screwed up.  I carefully came around the 1st barricade, ready to shoot my first target, I pulled the trigger…..and click.  No bang.  I look at the gun and see that the magazine isn’t properly seated in the gun.  Jeff Pedro (owner of Sim-Trainer who was my range officer for this course) began laying into me hard (which I well deserved) as I cleared the gun and re-seated the  magazine, and again began the run.  Twice during the exercise I had to re-load – which caused me to panic as I realized I had the gun in one hand, and the flashlight in the other, leaving no free hand to use for a mag change.  I must have looked like a monkey trying to solve an algebra problem.  How Mark and Jeff can keep from doubling over with laughter during these displays is beyond me.  Had I been able to keep my wits about me, I would have put the flashlight in my teeth, freeing up my left hand, which would have made all the difference.  Also, I was under the impression we should never drop our magazines on the floor at Sim-Trainer as we’ve always done magazine changes with retention in previous exercises.  As I was fumbling around with the magazines during the second change, Mark and Jeff were yelling “Drop your mag!  Drop your mag!”  Live and learn.  Had I been in an actual encounter, my attacker would have had time to shoot me several times, reload, take in a college football game, then shoot me several more times before I was able to reload.

Here’s the score sheet as it stood after my run:

While the score doesn’t look terribly worse than those who went before me, the score didn’t tell the whole story.  It was an awful, ugly series of runs.  My buddy John Rigano ended up getting 5 points better than I did overall.  Here’s what the targets looked liked that we were shooting at.

Some of the targets popped up, while others were stationary in the “rooms”  (simulated with sheets and foam walls) we had to clear – my only saving grace was that I didn’t shoot any “good guys” – and for once, neither did my buddy John…  🙂

I certainly learned a lot of valuable lessons this week, as well as the prior 3 weeks since starting the T3 League.  This was the final night of the current T3 League’s 8 week competition series.  Next week will be a “fun shoot” and then we’ll take a couple of weeks off before starting a new series.

I can’t wait until I start my Sim-Trainer Handgun Trainng 1-5 in a couple of weeks.   Maybe after that I’ll half-way know what I’m doing on Tuesday nights.  🙂


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  1. Just so people are aware, in T3 League and some advanced classes, if you make a mistake, we will indeed start “verbal encouragement” to get the problem fixed and finish the course of fire. Okay, we start yelling in your ear. Why? BECAUSE WE CAN!! No, not really. Our objective is to force you to perform under stress. We can’t find anyone willing to go downrange and shoot back at you, so we take the opportunity when you’re already under some stress, like when you didn’t get your gun loaded properly, and maximize it for the greatest training value. If your gun ran out of ammo when it wasn’t supposed to, that’s a perfect time for us to mess with your head. Because people make mistakes pretty regularly (it’s training, after all – making mistakes with out dying is part of the process), we get a lot of practice increasing people’s stress levels. Guess we’re gettin’ pretty good at it, eh John? 🙂

    By the way, the best method for dealing with your flashlight during a reload is to tuck it under your strong arm. Putting it in your mouth is not advised for several reasons, sanitation principle among them. There are other methods as well, and we’ll cover them during Advanced Handgun Level 4 – Low Light.

    We’ve all been there. Yes, we all do a lot of laughing – great stress reliever. In addition to being serious training and practice for one of the worst days in your life, it’s supposed to be fun!

  2. Hey Mark!

    The mental game is definitely key during these exercises. I let my stupid mistakes get the best of me, which deteriorated my focus on just “slicing the pie” (technique for shooting behind a barricade and/or clearing a room) and hitting targets.

    I guess I’ll have to practice that flashlight under the arm technique. 🙂


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