Sentinel Concepts Low Light Handgun and Carbine AAR
Instructor: Steve Fisher
By: Joshua Lepselter
***[Note: the attached pictures show the light setup on the rifle and the splashback experienced from the light being so far behind the front sight]***
“If there is a 50% chance of rain, you’d carry an umbrella. Tonight there will be a 100% chance of dark.”
I have lived by that motto for the past few years. I can’t remember where I heard it from or if I came up with it myself. It is a mindset that there will be dark, every night for many hours. The problem is that the majority of commercial firearms training classes are in broad daylight. Gunfights do happen in daylight but they also happen in low light and no light. Why is it then do training courses revolve around daylight when nighttime is arguably more important and more dangerous? In my opinion, if you can fight at night, you can fight in daylight better so why not train more often at night? A reason could be that the night is spooky and that it is more practical to get students to come to a daylight course. Whatever the reason, I call bullshit on focusing most of our limited training time in daylight. I wish that most classes were at night. The night exposes the weaknesses and flaws in your tactics and your gear.
Now on to the course. I actually had an encounter with low light, traveling to the course. Having two blow outs on the interstate at 10 pm and having to wait 3 hours for a tow truck and all night in the rental car parking lot makes a man wish that he had low light training. The only low light training that I have had was force on force based. In those 10 or so hours effectively stranded with my vehicle, I felt some talisman like effect by having my carry handgun with me as well as a rifle with 10 loaded mags. I knew that I was not prepared at all to fight at night should the rare occasion arise but having that talisman gave me reassurance, effectively pumping me up for a situation that I may not be able to handle. Fortunately I was headed to a low light class to learn the tactics and skills to fight in low light.
The Alliance PD Range is a very nice and well maintained range. I was quite impressed by the various ranges, shoot house and facilities. Time, effort and dedication went into and continues to go into the facility. The pistol class started off with the standard intro, discussing containers and zones and the importance of each one. Then we moved to the several applications for which we have a white light. Inside of the critical zone (0-5 and 0-10 yards), we found out in live fire that a light truly is not as important as the gun because you are so close to the target. A very important concept that I learned this weekend is emotional control. You may be dealt a shit sandwich but you must maintain your emotions so that you control the situation. You can control the situation all you want with your 1000 lumen light but if your emotions get the better of you, you have lost control; a critical component, especially at night.
The two techniques taught were the Harries and neck index. Having done neck index more than Harries, I found myself gravitating towards it but by the end of class, I found myself using both equally depending upon the situation. There were subtle nuances that Fisher explained and demonstrated that made the techniques that much more effective. I was very pleased to have an entire class dedicated to one handed shooting since I do not run a wml. A few hours in my front sight popped off my slide and I was forced to train the remaining 5 or so hours with only a rear sight. I found that if I did my part by correctly manipulating the trigger (which was not always the case), I was still able to get serviceable accuracy out to 25 yards (functional zone).
My draw in day light utilizes both hands to clear my cover garment. In low light because I am also drawing my light, I was naturally slower than the other shooters which I didn’t mind. Towards the end of class I used a thumb hook to clear my cover garment to draw my handgun and light simultaneously. I think that both draws have their merit and are situational dependent, mainly because at night I usually walk around with my light in my hand.
Clearing malfunctions in low light I found to be no different than in day light because I do not visually assess what the malfunction is. I either tap rack or unload reload. The only major issues occurred during the clusterfuck malfunction drill that involved a trainwreck (never ask Fisher about trainwrecks). Call me strange but I enjoyed the hell out of that drill.
Onto the rifle class. Many of the same use of light principles from handgun carried over to rifle. Keeping the light just behind the muzzle and tight to the gun (less offset) assist in positioning the light optimally. Performing transitions from rifle to pistol was interesting since I needed to draw my light with my handgun like the day before. The night adds these kinds of steps that are seldom talked about but are very crucial. Over the 2 days of class, I found that I shoot better in low light because I do not have the glare of the sun in my eyes, at least out to 25 yards. At night, I am the sun. Out to 50 yards (Perimeter zone), I appreciate having sunlight, especially since I was getting splashback from my front sight (on my AK naturally) which reduced my ability to see the target. 320 lumens at 25-50 yards is not enough. 600 is barely enough.
The biggest takeaway that I took from the 2 days of class was that you can shoot a rifle with a handheld light. That blew my mind how intuitive it is after being shown how to do it. Having constant on on my light made things much better during class. It allows you to manipulate the light without having to depress the tailcap the entire time. When I need my light on, I need it to stay on, especially if my hand is injured and I am unable to keep a tailcap depressed for any length of time or if my hand is not in a position to keep the tailcap depressed.
Both low light handgun and carbine are normally 2 day classes but these were 1 day each and therefore at an accelerated rate. I found this pace to be excellent. There was no ballistic masturbation. It was “here is the drill, here is the technique you should use, and figure out a solution.” Fisher allows you to be a free thinker and work through the problems at hand without an overbearing presence. If you fuck up, he will correct you. If you solve the problem, he may offer some constructive criticism that you would be wise to accept but not everything works for everyone. You must determine what works best for you in the end.
These 2 days of low light training were extremely effective at delivering the material in a clear, concise manner that had zero filler. I wish it was a week of low light training. Who wouldn’t want to shoot until 1am? #AllTheLumens