Someone who purchased Indoor Range Practice Sessions noticed a discrepancy in Session 11 (shooting with a flashlight).
I’ve updated the downloadable eBook for future purchases, but I want existing customers to have the update also. Accordingly, I created a downloadable file with Session 11 only.
As most of my readers know, using a flashlight to avoid tragedies is one of my hot buttons. It’s important enough information that I am going to make the updated Session 11 only available as a free download to all my blog followers, as well as previous purchasers.
The link to the updated Session 11 is here: Session 11 – Shooting with a flashlight
A father mistook his 14-year-old son for an intruder Tuesday and shot him in the neck, killing him, according to Cincinnati police.
People think I’m exaggerating when I say this sort of thing happens on a very regular basis. Well, I’m not. An awful lot of people regularly babble about ‘the worst possible case.’ This incident represents ‘the worst possible case,’ not some ridiculous fantasy about “providing covering fire one handed with your shotgun in your home while dragging wounded friendlies to safety.” Ugh!
Learn to Challenge before shooting and practice doing it regularly, to wit: every time you go to the range. Two words, “Who’s there?”, probably would have prevented this tragedy. People have no problem running their mouths at every possible opportunity except when it’s most important.
Have a flashlight to identify a suspect and learn to use it in conjunction with your pistol. Just turning on the flashlight in the general direction of the suspect will probably get a response from the suspect and the overwhelming probability is that the response WON’T be ‘the light draws fire.’
Does anyone think that this father will ever have a peaceful day or decent night’s sleep for the rest of his life? The saddest thing to me is that the solution to this problem isn’t rocket science, it’s actually easy if you think about it ahead of time for just one minute.
There are 11 possible categories of Serious Mistakes. Purchase my CD so you know them all and how they happen and don’t make them yourself. It’s the price of a box of ammo, for God’s sake. I’m sick of writing about this sort of thing.
Several Negative Outcomes were brought to my attention this week. One was yet another incident of someone shooting their spouse, thinking it was a burglar. She died as a result of one shot to the chest.
The husband told police it was an accident. He told officers he woke up around 4:15 Saturday morning and heard noises in his house … He told investigators he grabbed his gun and when he saw a light on and someone standing in the distance, he took a shot. He said the person he ended up hitting once in the chest was his wife.
This sad situation bolsters my contention that when we pick up a pistol at home, we have to pick up a flashlight at the same time. That’s why I made flashlight shooting an integral part of The Tactical Professor’s Pistol Practice Program. To get some repetitions in and reinforce the habit for myself, I went to the range this week and shot the entire NRA Defensive Pistol I marksmanship program using a flashlight.
As a curiosity, I also used a timer instead of going by the PAR times in the program. The pistol I used was a Beretta Jaguar in .22 Long Rifle. Many in the industry poo-poo the .22 as a defensive tool but .22s have worked for me. An aspect of .22s I like in the practice context is that shooting several hundred rounds in one session isn’t punishing, either physically or financially. I shot it at my gun club but the way Defensive Pistol I is structured, it can be shot at just about any indoor range. That’s an aspect of the program I really like.
What I did was to have my pistol, my flashlight, and the timer on a stool in front of me. The target was downrange at the specified seven yards.
When the timer went off, I would pick up my pistol and flashlight simultaneously, assume the cheek position, and then shoot the specified string of fire. For the phases requiring loading the pistol on the clock, I picked up the pistol and magazine, loaded it, and then picked up the flashlight. After each string, I recorded my times. The NRA provides a scoresheet but it is set up for Pass/fail scoring, so I made my own scoring matrix.
I checked the target after each string to make sure that I had the required 100 percent hits. At the end of each phase; Pro-Marksman, Marksman, etc., I marked the target with blue dots to cover my hits.
For most of the program, I used the cheek technique.
The Expert phase requires shooting around both sides of the cover. When shooting around the left side, I continued to use the cheek technique. When shooting around the right side, I used the Harries technique.
The Distinguished Expert phase doesn’t specify shooting around both sides of the cover. However, it does requires eight runs instead of four, so I shot four around the right side and four around the left side.
I was able to maintain the 100 percent standard and got a good idea of my times to accomplish each Phase.
Deputies found a 32-year-old man who said that he and his wife were sleeping when they heard a noise in the kitchen.
The husband took his handgun and walked in the kitchen area, where he shot the victim.
After the shooting the husband recognized the victim as his younger teenage brother.
Yet another tragic example of why I stress target identification so much. These situations are absolutely preventable. As I’ve said before, if you live with anyone else, my analysis is that there is a 97 percent probability that the ‘bump in the night’ is a member of your own household. With those kinds of numbers, gunowners cannot take the risk of shooting someone at home without establishing a positive ID.
This kind of situation is a further example of why I say we have to be very cautious of what we take of from our training, and even more so, what we read. Much of the good training available is conducted by former law enforcement or military personnel. Just as much as any of us, they are subject to unconscious biases resulting from their experiences and training. Since most reading now is done on the Internet, you have to assume everything you read is wrong because most of it IS wrong.
Responding with a firearm to a noise at night in the home absolutely requires that you visually verify your target before shooting. You probably will need a flashlight for that. And stealth is not your friend, it is your enemy. Therein lies a major divergence from the law enforcement officer or soldier, to whom stealth is an ally. The notions that ‘the light draws fire’ or that criminals will wait in ambush for you if they hear you coming are nonsensical. Those are bad paradigms for us to insert in our thinking. If your background is such that having assassins waiting in ambush for you in your own home is a concern, you need to work on some serious hardening of access points to your home.
If you keep a gun at home, put a flashlight next to your gun; no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
Next time you go to the range, take the flashlight with you. Instead of just blasting 50 holes in a silhouette, shoot two shots at the silhouette 25 times. Sequence is very important in how you do this.
- Have your gun in your shooting hand and your flashlight in your support hand. The gun is not pointing at the target and the light is off.
- Before each two shot string, say out loud “Who’s there?”
- Wait to listen for an answer. If you go to the range with someone, have them stand behind you and sometimes respond with “it’s me, Daddy” or something similar.
- If they say that, immediately put your gun down on the bench and abort that sequence.
- Then illuminate the target without pointing the gun at it.
- Finally, bring the gun up and fire the two shots.
One of the things you will find when using this sequence is that the worthwhile two handed shooting techniques don’t work well for it. Harries is both clumsy and dangerous to assume when you already have the light on the target and are keeping it illuminated while presenting the pistol. The Rogers/Surefire technique takes some time and manipulation skill to assume. What you will discover is that only the Cheek Technique or the FBI Technique work well in this context.
That means you have to learn to:
- Speak while holding your gun.
- Abort the shooting sequence if there is not a threat.
- Do a dissimilar task with the other hand, i.e., orient the flashlight and work the switch, while keeping your gun off target and your finger off the trigger.
- Shoot with one hand only while continuing to perform the dissimilar task.
- Manipulate the safety or decocker of your weapon with one hand while holding something in the other.
For the final 5 repetitions (10 rounds), put up a clean silhouette target and shoot the LAPD Retired Officer Course (10 rounds at seven yards). Measure how well you do. You’re going to find it’s a lot harder than you think.
That sequence is obviously rather involved; practice it before you have to do it for real or you’ll forget to do it or get it wrong. Forgetting to do it is what leads to tragedies.
- At night, have a flashlight next to your gun.
- Pick them both up at the same time and identify the person before making the shoot decision
- Flashlight usage implies the need for one handed shooting
- Competing probabilities are in favor of it being a family member
- Thinking the light is a ‘lead magnet’ is a problem
I emphasized very strongly about the need for keeping a flashlight next to your ‘nightstand gun’ during my Negative Outcomes presentation at the Rangemaster 2015 Tactical Conference. Although I practice dryfire with a flashlight regularly, it occurred to me that I don’t have a structured regimen for doing so. Tonight, I thought I would work on that a bit.
At first, I started doing my 12 shot drill on my dryfire range with the flashlight. I used the left column to practice with the Harries technique as my ‘outside’ technique. For a general search and ‘inside’ technique, I used the right side column. I just did it this way due to habit because that’s similar to the way I shoot the drill livefire.
By ‘outside,’ I mean the flashlight is outside both my body and the pistol. ‘Inside’ means the flashlight is inside of the gun and toward my body. It’s necessary to have both an inside and outside technique so that you can use the light on either side of a piece of cover or concealment. For a right hander, the outside technique is used when using the light around the right side of cover and the inside technique is used around the left side. Left handers reverse that.
It occurred to me that I could use the same setup I use for the Air Marshal Tactical Pistol Course. I’ve modified that target setup slightly so I get more traverse on the multiple target strings. My setup also allows me to use both inside and outside techniques because of the arrangement of my apartment.
I started the Harries practice with the light pointing toward the target but the pistol down at low ready. Even when we’re identifying a target, we don’t want to muzzle them until the shoot decision is made. Then I practiced bringing the pistol up on target while keeping the light pointed at the target. At first, I did this in the hallway, just to get my mechanical movement correct.
For the cheek practice, once again, I started with the light pointing toward the target but the pistol down at low ready. Since I use the cheek technique as a general search technique, this means I’m going to be shooting one handed, if the shoot decision is made. I like the cheek technique as a general search technique because it allows me to use the light as an impact tool, if necessary. Because there is a possibility during a general search, I would be in a hallway when shooting started, I incorporated turning off the light after the shot and taking a sidestep. But, there’s not much maneuver room in a hallway, so don’t think this is some magic potion that prevents getting shot.
Once I was satisfied I had the mechanicals down pat, I moved to positions of cover, both left side and right side. I practiced on both sides, making sure I didn’t splash the light off the wall and into my face.
Note that in the photographs I took, I was using a flash or the regular lighting for clarity. When practicing, the place was completely dark. Also note that the camera wasn’t positioned exactly where the target was, so I look more exposed than I actually was.
I’m glad I developed this as a more formal program. I’ll be doing it at least once a week from now on as part of my 1000 days of dryfire.
None of us can imagine the feelings that must occur in the case of a mistaken identity shooting of a family member. We don’t like to talk about this sort of thing in the gun community but it happens on a regular basis. Don’t let it happen to you, on either end.
I’ve written about this before and probably will again. It’s an avoidable tragedy.
Firearms Safety Rule #4 – ‘Know your target and what is beyond it.’
Oklahoma City police say a husband accidentally shot and killed his wife thinking she was a home invader early Wednesday morning. There’s no other way to describe this other than a tragedy. It should be noted that their child was in the house, as well. The story is that the child did not witness the incident; I certainly hope that is true.
Sadly, this is not the only incident of this nature in my database. It’s essential that we know what we are shooting at; absolutely essential. There are two possible reasons for this kind of tragic occurrence; 1) lack of forethought and preparation and 2) training scars. I don’t know which one was at fault here but given the small number of people who take any kind of training, my guess is that it’s the former.
Lack of forethought and preparation means when this type of incident occurs, the shooter hadn’t given any thought to the possibility that someone else was home or that a family member might be moving around the house at night. People do get out of bed at night to have a snack, go to the bathroom, or just because they can’t sleep. Anyone who has other people living in their home needs to consider that as a very real possibility. The shooter might not have had a flashlight next to their firearm, either. It’s amazing how many people don’t have any flashlight at all in their home.
The training scar aspect was made apparent to me by a friend recently. He trains and practices quite a bit. When I mentioned about using a flashlight to identify someone at night, he said something that really disturbed me. “I don’t like to do that because whenever we do it in Force on Force exercises, the light draws enemy fire.” That may be a viable concern in military operations. But in the context of Armed Private Citizens and Law Enforcement Officers, we have an absolute obligation to know who we are shooting. My reply to him was “Show me the incidents where that has happened to an Armed Private Citizen because I can show you several incidents where using a flashlight would have prevented the wrong person from getting shot.”
From the practice standpoint, it means that you have to know how to work a flashlight and a pistol simultaneously. It also means you have to learn to verbalize and challenge an unknown person before shooting. In almost every incident of this type, a simple challenge such as “Who’s there?” would have prevented a tragedy. You don’t have to be in the Bureau to recognize a response like “It’s me, Daddy” as a clue.
Get a flashlight. Decent ones are available for less than 10 dollars. Keep it next to your pistol at night. Don’t pick one up without the other, period. Incorporate a challenge into your range practice, along with learning to operate the flashlight and pistol simultaneously. The life you save might be someone very important to you.