Night & Low Light Shooting

12. NIGHT AND LOW LIGHT SHOOTING

It is very likely that the firearm owner will have to use a handgun during low light situations when defending life and property.  Most attacks on people take place at night whether at home or on the road.  It is essential that the handgun owner be able to use the handgun under dark or low light situations. When shooting at night you must remember that you will not be able to see the sights on the firearm.  You might be able to see the vague outline of the handgun.  So, in this instance, you will have to rely on instinctive shooting.  Instinctive shooting takes place when there is very little time to aim or to apply the fundamentals of shooting.  This is not an easy way of shooting and requires practice.

Practice night shooting in the following manner:

  • Practice your point of aim:
  • This is done through dry fire. Stand and face the target.  Draw your weapon and get quick sight alignment.  Practice this over and over.
  • You will have to do all the fundamentals correctly in order to practice this.
  • Start close to the target and progressively move further away from the target. When mastering this, start to practice with live ammunition in daylight.
  • With low light shooting use the head lights of a vehicle to replace normal streetlights and other lights one will find in real situations.

A good method of learning to shoot at night is to dry shoot in a darkened room.  By freezing in the position, you have taken after pulling the trigger and by having someone turn on the lights, you can see where the shot would have gone.

Where a torch is used, it is advisable to have both the front and rear sights painted with a white dot and bar respectively so that they can be easily seen.

You can do this yourself with model paint.

The danger of using a torch is that you could give your position away to your assailant.  The chances of this happening can be considerably reduced if you adopt the one-handed shooting stance or shoulder point position and hold the torch well away from your body with the free hand.

This can be varied by dropping into the kneeling position, still keeping the torch raised but away from the body.

At close range, where speed is necessary, you can shine the beam from the torch directly at your attacker and try to blind him.  Further back, the illumination of the sights is probably more important, the light from the torch should be directed so that you can see the sights, not the target.  The ability to aim the torch is perhaps, just as important as aiming the firearm, so plenty of practice with both is required.  You may find it better to hold the torch with the thumb placed on the inside and engage the light button with the middle finger.  Flashes of light are directed at the target, not a constant beam, and you must practice changing your position after each shot.

If range facilities are available for night shooting, take extra care, particularly when loading and making safe.  The Range Officer should check the condition of each shooter’s firearm using a torch, before and after shooting.  In the initial stages of shooting without sights, it helps if you freeze in your position after firing and have someone shine a torch on you so that you can check just where your firearm is pointing.  This is of great assistance if you have missed, as you then know what correction has to be made.

While night shooting is probably one of the most difficult aspects of defensive tactical shooting, it can be mastered with an intelligent approach and practice.

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