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Shooting In Low Light


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  • Shooting In Low Light

    Shooting in low light

    I am going to explain how to employ the useful techniques of using a flashlight with a pistol, especially useful for those flashlights that have a tactical switch.

    As many of the members already have a Surefire of two or three batteries with a tactical switch or a similar one of another brand, going from 60 to 200 lumens, I am going to explain the two most popular techniques. One is the Harries which I have already explained in the previous post in conjunction with the Borealis 1050 lumens light.

    The Harries technique

    Michael Harries invented this position and it is considered one of the first positions ever that coordinates the use of the flashlight using the two hands.
    For using with tactical switch lights (with a switch in the tail), the flashlight is grasped with the left hand around the body and the thumb will activate the switch.
    For lights with switch on the top (as the Magcharger, Stinger and Borealis) the index finger is used to press the switch down without clicking it on (if you drop your light you don’t want it to illuminate you)
    The back of the hands are pressed together and maintain an isometric tension to help control the recoil of the gun. Your wrists will be crossed and the light will be parallel or close to the muzzle of the gun.

    The Roger-Surefire

    Holster maker, ex FBI agent, and competition shooter Bill Rogers teamed up with Surefire to adapt a rubber grommet or washer to the Surefire 6 Z (now available in most combat models of Surefire and copied by others light makers).
    The position is also called the cigar position, as you grasp the body of the flashlight like a cigar, with the index and middle finger. The tail cap is resting on the fleshy part below your thumb and a little pressure back on the rubber ring will activate the light (the tail cap button resting in that part below your thumb will switch the light on).
    That position will let you grasp the hand shooting the pistol with three fingers of the left hand, and it is the only position that let you use a two-handed grip on the gun

    The Chapman technique

    Ray Chapman was the first IPSC world champion. He invented his position for use with the Kel-Lites of the 1970’s (probably the first high quality Police Flashlight) that have a sliding switch on top of the barrel. It is still a great position to use for those that don’t want to cross the wrists as in the Harries position when using a big flashlight.
    It is well suited for the Maglites or Stingers and for the modification of the Maglite like the Borealis 1050 lumens flashlight.

    You just grasp the flashlight as you usually do, with your thumb in the switch and your fingers circling the barrel and you bring it up to index your fingernails with the fingernails of the shooting hand.

    In my other post I have mentioned the old FBI technique which is to separate the flashlight high and away from you in order to confuse you opponent about your position.
    Another technique that doesn’t offer any support to the shooting hand but it can be very useful when using a pistol with lousy sights (original 1911, Luger, etc) is the one I used more than 40 years ago when I started combat shooting.
    It indexes the light on top of my head, letting the light fall on a line from the sights to the target. Even the minuscule back up .380 or the Baby Browning sights gets illuminated using this ridiculous position.

    In closing, I would like to say that in my opinion lights with less than 60 lumens are out of the new low light fighting techniques.
    For my belt light I will prefer to have a minimum of 200 lumens, using the Surefire C-3 and the P-91 lamp as my favorite.
    But if I have to clear a big room, warehouse or backyard, I prefer a light with more power. My Surefire M-6 with the 500 lumens lamp will do, but I prefer even more lumens to really blind, disorient, and roast my opponent. That is when I use the Borealis 1050 lumens light.

    These positions I have shown here will work with big lights too (except for the cigar position), the thing you will have to remember is that when you need a light in a hairy situation you need it badly and that two is better than one, so a big light in your hand to blind you opponent and another smaller light in your belt as a back up is better than only one. (two is one and one is none).

    Black Bear
    builder of the BOREALIS flashlight
    E- mail [email protected]

  • #2
    Interesting post black bear... thanks for the back information and the pictures!
    Back to the drawing board.


    • #3
      An important distinction to make when using various flashlight holds, is whether you are identifying a threat or merely searching. There was always disagreement about whether you should always index the muzzle with the flashlight; pointing the muzzle at everything and everyone that you illuminate. One handed illumination and shooting may be better suited for certain environments, but thanks for a good decsription of the common two-hand holds.
      "If all else fails, stop using all else!"


      • #4
        I have tried all of the two-handed holds, and I still prefer the old FBI technique. Personally, I can't seem to shoot any better with any of the two-handers than I can with one hand. I also have an issue with putting the light right in front of my chest, seeing as how bad guys shoot at the light.

        I recall one simunitions training event I was on, in which we were searching a dark building for two active shooters. Coming to an open walk-in closet, I crouched down so my butt was on my heels and held my little Streamlight Scorpion as high above my head as I could. This put the light at about chest-level.
        I pied the corner, and found both shooters aiming at the door, patiently waiting for somebody to round the corner. As soon as I saw them, they both opened up as fast as they could pull the trigger.

        We exchanged fire for a second or two, and they both went down. I distinctly remember them aiming at my light, which was held high above my body. Because of this, their shots went well high of my body, and I came through without being hit.

        Had it been a real shooting, the FBI technique would have saved my behind.


        • #5
          Sabre, that works well when the bad guy is close to you but I've seen plenty of officers illuminated from a distance while using the F.B.I. hold too. We make it a point to only pan our lights at irregular intervals and for short periods of time. The new Gladius light on the strobe mode works very well in not only illuminating the bad guy but disorienting them too.

          There are times when an officer needs a light monted on their weapon and clearing a building is one of them. Where would you have held your light if you'd have had to open the door? I got a M-3 light when they first came out manufacrured by Insight Technologies and special ordered a 6280 to fit my Glock 22 with the light mounted. I'll never work a shift on patrol without a light mounted to my pistol again.

          I think it's important to know and train with both because Mr. Murphy has a way of causing mechanical things to fail at the most inoportune times.


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