Todd's Review of Frontsight - Night Shoot

As part of the Frontsight Four Day Defensive Handgun class, there was an optional night shoot, preceded by a lecture on tactical lighting and how to properly hold a light and a handgun. It should be noted that the 'Millionaire Patriot' offer that I took advantage of includes a dandy SureFire G2 Nitrolon Tactical Incandescent Flashlight as part of the package. Unfortunately for some, they were out of stock of the flashlight and case when I attended, and folks who attended the night shoot were scrambling to borrow lights from their peers. Fortunately, I am not new to Surefire lights, and in addition to the Centurion in my range bag, I also had a G2 Nitrolon in the glovebox of my car to loan out.

During the lecture all manner of lights were demonstrated. The emphasis was on small tactical lights like the G2 (which carry nicely in a compact belt case), but we also saw some real monsters with tremendous brightness. There was a bit of a discussion that *too much* light (I dunno, 200 lumens inside a typical home?) can be almost as disorienting to the holder of the light as it is to have it shined at you.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, it was acknowledged that lights fail for any number of reasons (blown bulb, dead batteries, corrosion) and that a back-up of some sort is probably a good idea. The back-up need not be a full-blown tactical light with dazzling brightness. The same techniques are still valid with a lowly single AAA keychain light. Having *some* light can make an important difference in target identification. If you can't identify the target as "not one of yours", you shouldn't be taking the shot.

I had learned the Harries Technique for holding a flashlight before, though it was informal instruction (I also misheard it as "Harris"). At frontsight, there was emphasis on the 'isometric tension' between the two hands, and how when you're doing it right, it causes some pain across the backs of your shoulder blades until you build up those unusual muscles. Needless to say, that's pretty uncomfortable for standing around the range at the ready. I probably shouldn't advocate negative training, but I think the way I learned it originally, without the painful amount of isometric tension, is still valuable and something that most folks should try at the range *before* you hear a bump in the night. The degree of tension you need may also be a function of the weapon you're shooting and your ability to control it. One could make an argument for doing your initial search / target ID with relatively little tension, and only resort to full tension when maximum precision (a head shot) is called for.

Similar to the 'lunch break', the 'dinner break' before the night shoot (in early October) did not allow enough time to get to town and back, so plan some snacks or an extra box lunch on that day.

One of the skills / drills that frontsight emphasizes at all times is "chamber check, mag check". Other than drawing from a holster and presenting to the ready / pointing in on target and returning to the holster, every other time you pick up / put down a gun involves chamber check, mag check. You are verifying the gun is in exactly the state you *think* it is.

Salesman hands you a gun in a gun store? Chamber check, mag check. You might dry fire the gun a few times while pointed safely at the targets high on the back wall. Then you chamber check, mag check and hand it back to him.

Taking off your gun for the night? Chamber check, mag check, put it on / in your nightstand.

Pulling a gun out of the safe? Chamber check, mag check.

I mention it here in the 'night shoot' section as it represented a particular challenge. The standard 'chamber check' in particular is almost always a visual one. If you can't *see* to do a chamber check, what do you do? The staff at frontsight advocated using your finger to touch the round in the partially open chamber. This is pretty challenging on some guns. On my HK P7, the slide lock is very fussy and difficult to lock open when the gun is loaded. When it came time to make *sure* my gun was unloaded to leave the dark range, I resorted to inserting a "verified empty" magazine and locking the slide back. With my slide thus securely locked, I was more comfortable snaking a finger in to verify the chamber was indeed empty.

Another interesting bit of night range etiquette - during the day, when the rangemaster calls the conclusion of shooting, he expects you to safely holster your weapon, turn & face, and show him your hands. Then he can readily ascertain that everybody is "with him" and safely call a cold range for target inspection or break for a lesson. At night this doesn't work very well. The drill is to safely holster your weapon, turn & face, and then hold your tactical light in front of you. You point the light at a spot just in front of your feet, and you shield the light down to a very small circle of light with your other hand. All 'hands' accounted for, and the row of illuminated feet are the reference that everyone is "with him". We were also cautioned about returning a light to a belt holster with the lens facing up; caution must be taken not to blind the guy behind you (the rangemaster, in this case). Bad manners.

Our range featured a brief demonstration of variability in ammo. The demonstration gun was a Glock "C", or compensated model. This has ports in the barrel and slide to dissipate some muzzle energy straight up in order to control muzzle flip. The demonstration ammo had been selected from two different batches, one with a large amount of muzzle flash, and one where the flash was more subdued. You re-loaders out there have ways to control the amount of flash your ammo has, but the lesson here is that different ammo (even different batches of nominally the same ammo) can have different night shooting characteristics. The staff was recommending that if you actually expect to have a need to shoot at night for self-protection (and statistically a majority of gunfights happen in low light), you might take note of which batches of ammo you have are 'low flash' and set those aside for your night carry loads.

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