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Thread: SAC Tactical Lowlight Handgun Class 20-May-2020 Kila Montana

  1. #1

    SAC Tactical Lowlight Handgun Class 20-May-2020 Kila Montana

    Folks:

    The late Pat Rogers of EAG Tactical used to prepare written after action reports (“AAR”) whenever he taught classes and post them on internet forums. I think this concept is a good idea and I will, from time to time, follow Pat’s lead and submit an AAR after I teach various classes through my company, SAC Tactical (https://saconsco.com).

    I conducted a one day (8 hour) Lowlight Handgun Course on 20-May-2020 at the Freddie Mercs Gun Wercs (“FMGW”) Range in Kila Montana. This is a private range operated by FMGW, which is a local gun shop/training concern that serves western Montana. Kila is about a 15 minute drive from downtown Kalispell Montana. Thanks to FMGW for sponsoring me to teach a class at this facility (Link: https://www.fmgw.net/.

    STUDENTS: The class consisted of six vetted students. There was a retired law enforcement officer (who earned Top Gun honors) and the remaining were civilians (“Non-sworn” folks). I generally limit enrollment in my classes to ten students.

    WEATHER: Weather varied between clear and heavy rain with temperatures in the mid-50s. The weather provided an added complication to the training. Lots of folks shoot during nice weather conditions. That is fine but does not take into account what happens in real world fights. Students worked through what it is like to shoot in a driving rain. Things like drawing from concealment, reloading etc. took on an added level of difficulty. Welcome to reality. The students acquitted themselves well.

    RANGE: The range worked very well. The range is located along a mountain and is surrounded by towering pine trees which facilitated low light conditions even though Montana experiences “long” daylight at this time of the year. This really facilitated the lowlight instruction. The Training Day (“TD”) began at 3:30 PM and concluded at Midnight. The number of ranges that allow lowlight training seems to be dwindling. Take advantage of any training opportunity you run across that allows you to work in a lowlight environment.

    LIGHT INTEGRATION TECHNIQUES: Integration of handheld flashlights with typical defensive handguns was taught. A variety of techniques were demonstrated and then students were encouraged to try each technique. These flashlight techniques appear to be pretty simple, but students found it took a bit of practice to integrate them into their shooting routines. Significant individual coaching was done to assist our students. Many came away with a different mindset about a certain technique. To quote the late Pat Rogers: “Learning Has Occurred”. The interaction with my students was a delight. Thoughtful, in depth questions were asked. My students had their “thinking” caps on.

    TEMPLE/NECK INDEX: I taught the use of four (4) handheld light techniques. One of those techniques, is called the Temple/Neck Index. The Temple/Neck Index technique using the support hand is gaining in popularity with students who are exposed to it. Most students find it faster. One limitation is the skill level of the shooter in firing with one hand. One hand shooting is probably not practiced sufficiently. Those who were skilled with one hand shooting tend to find the Temple/Neck Index a useful technique.

    WEAPONS: As to hardware, all shooters ran 9mm handguns. Three shooters ran Glocks, one with a red dot optic. Two shooters ran Springfield XDs. One shooter ran a Wilson full size 1911 and switched to a S&W M&P full size in order to experiment with the weapon mounted light concept. Several malfunctions were observed with all the weapon systems used by students. It was not clear if these malfunctions were ammunition related, weapon related, or shooter induced.

    LIGHTS: There were a mix of Surefire, Streamlight and unknown brand lights. All of the lights used digital bulbs as opposed to the older incandescent bulbs. There were no failures of the lights. Likewise, there was a mix of momentary versus click on tail cap activation styles.

    DEFENSIVE AMMO FLASH SIGNATURE: Students fired their weapons with their actual defensive ammunition in lowlight conditions. I view this practice as something of a necessity, akin to patterning your defensive shotgun. Most had never actually done that. Older defensive ammunition such as the Federal 147 grain 9mm Hydra Shok exhibited a fairly large flash at night. More recently manufactured defensive ammunition, displayed a marked reduction in muzzle flash or signature. This tracks with continual upgrades by manufacturers for defensive ammo. Most of these upgrades have been driven by law enforcement contracts. We all benefit from this testing. Speer Gold Dot 147 grain Gold Dot G2, and Hornady 135 grain +p Critical Duty both exhibited low flash signatures with the Hornady variant being the least observable. The training ammunition, mostly 115 or 124 grain full metal jacket displayed greater flash than the defensive ammo.

    WEAPON MOUNTED LIGHTS: This class was aimed at teaching the use of handheld flashlights. That said, students were exposed to weapon mounted lights ("WML"). Students found that weapon mounted lights (“WML”) were the easier to use and greatly simplified the process of getting accurate hits on target. Several shooters had never fired a weapon with a dedicated light mounted to it. That said, it WMLs tend to add considerable bulk to a weapon and make real world, everyday concealment more difficult. I suspect eventually manufacturer will integrate a WML with the handgun. When that occurs and is found to be durable, then these guns will become standard fare for folks carrying concealed weapons.

    ZEROED WEAPONS: There was a precision shooting exercise. After this particular exercise, I asked if the shooters had zeroed their weapons. About 50 percent had previously verified their weapon’s zero and the other 50 percent had not. Folks running guns who have known, verified zeros were observed to perform better on precision drills.

    FLASHLIGHT ACCESSORIES: I teach the use of a flashlights with and without lanyards. I prefer lanyards for my personal use. Lanyards, if set up properly (i.e. precautions to prevent the lanyard from becoming a tether if grabbed by an assailant) tend to alleviate storage of the light when weapon manipulation has to be accomplished. What I observed was about an even split between students who favored the lanyard and those who did not. One additional accessory I was aware of but never used was a ring attached to the rear of the light that has a finger hole that acts much like a lanyard. The device I observed was marketed by a company called Thrym (Link: https://thyrm.com/product-category/switchback/). The Thrym ring worked pretty well for the shooter who is willing to spend time learning the system. One thing I observed with lights with and without lanyards and the Thrym device was an occasional failure to activate the light. Practice helps here.

    LOWLIGHT WEAPONS HANDLING: Folks who had not previously experienced lowlight training found that doing routine tasks in the dark was somewhat harder, but not impossible. The retired law enforcement officer had a history of training in low light environments and it showed. The point is that a number of fights take place in lowlight environments. Training in that environment offers big gains in a shooter’s performance.

    CONCLUSION: Thanks to my students and my host.
    Bruce Cartwright
    Owner & chief instructor-SAC Tactical
    E-mail: "info@saconsco.com"
    Website: "https://saconsco.com"

  2. #2
    Site Supporter Erick Gelhaus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    northern CA
    Nice to see a Pat-style AAR again.

    Curious on the stoppages and the issues leading to them. Fascinating.

    I threw your location at mapquest to where it was in relation to where I'll likely end up. A mere eight-hour drive.

    Thanks for taking the time to write this up & share.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Erick Gelhaus View Post
    Nice to see a Pat-style AAR again.

    Curious on the stoppages and the issues leading to them. Fascinating.

    I threw your location at mapquest to where it was in relation to where I'll likely end up. A mere eight-hour drive.

    Thanks for taking the time to write this up & share.
    Erick:

    Pat was a dear friend and mentor. I remember reading a bunch of Pat's AARs as I was getting ready to attend his classes. Those AARs saved me a bunch of money and time. I figure posting AARs of my classes does the same thing (not that I will ever be able to fill Pat's shoes) and lets me honor his memory.

    As to the malfunctions, the best I can surmise was that the cold wet weather probably combined with minimal lubrication may have caused them. I am not sure. I will keep track of the issue in future lowlight classes.

    Thank you for the kind words.

    Be safe,

    Bruce
    Bruce Cartwright
    Owner & chief instructor-SAC Tactical
    E-mail: "info@saconsco.com"
    Website: "https://saconsco.com"

  4. #4

    Student Input

    Folks:

    One of my students in the Kila Montana SAC Tactical Lowlight Handgun class held on 20-May-2020 was kind enough to send me an e-mail with several observations about the class. I feel they are of significant value and paraphrase them here for the benefit of P-F folks.

    First, the student was running a Glock 17 with a red dot optic with open emitter. This same shooter was using a handheld flashlight that put out 600 lumens of light and was equipped with a Thrym "Switchback" ring. Occasionally this student found that he could not extinguish his handheld light. He believes that the Switchback ring may have been moving on the flashlight, so he is experimenting with gluing the ring to the light. I observed other folks having occasional difficulty extinguishing their lights. One possible solution is to include the flashlight into more of our respective dryfire regimens to train through this situation. The cold, rainy weather probably contributed to this situation as well. Those who live in climates that experience all four seasons need to train in inclement weather to discover these issues and find "fixes" for them.

    Second, this shooter also experienced a "washout" of the "dot" in his optic when using his handheld flashlight. He reverted to using his backup iron sights and solved the problem. This shooter did not mention if any particular handheld light technique was responsible or if all four of the techniques taught produced the same issue. I have asked this shooter to experiment with a lower lumen output light to see if that makes any difference.

    I will post any updated information I receive. Thanks to my student for taking the time out of his busy schedule to send these observations along.

    Bruce
    Bruce Cartwright
    Owner & chief instructor-SAC Tactical
    E-mail: "info@saconsco.com"
    Website: "https://saconsco.com"

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