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Thread: AAR Hardwired Tactical Shooting (HiTS) Low Light Pistol - 2014-04-27 - Houston, TX

  1. #1

    AAR Hardwired Tactical Shooting (HiTS) Low Light Pistol - 2014-04-27 - Houston, TX

    Quote Originally Posted by Hardwired Tactical Shooting
    This course is designed as an “add-on” course for facilities that allow for low light shooting. It will allow shooters to utilize the techniques taught by HiTS to be shot in actual low light conditions. HiTS teaches both hand-held and weapon mounted light techniques used in conjunction with one another.

    This was my third course that incorporated a large amount of low-light training. I had previously taken a low-light pistol course with Kenan Flasowski (former SFOD-D, a truly underrated instructor) and a pistol course with a strong focus on low-light tactics and manipulation with Combative Weapon Solutions, along with various pistol manipulation courses with Larry Vickers and Todd Louis Green, and a pistol-oriented combatives type course with Craig Douglas. I used an H&K P30LS with the Grayguns Reduced Reset Carry Perfection Package carried in condition 1, with an X400 Ultra - Green laser mounted with the DG-11 and zeroed for 25 yards; sights were Heinie Straight Eights with the front sight painted bright orange with nail polish. I appendix carried the P30LS using a slightly modified RCS Phantom at about the 0130 position. I carried the magazines using Kytex Shooting Gear open top magazine carriers, and had Taylor Freelance Border Special +5 magazine extensions (with the aftermarket springs) on all magazines. My handheld was the Surefire E1B, slightly modified with a zip tie and two Scünci No Damage elastic hair bands to form a jury rigged lanyard. Besides the usage of an addition of a second magazine carrier, my set-up was identical to my EDC: t-shirt with relatively form-fitting jeans, The Wilderness Ti Instructor belt, SFB, folder, phone, etc.

    Darryl Bolke was the primary (and only) instructor. Class started at about 1410 in the classroom; weather was irrelevant, as it was hosted at an indoor range, allowing for the removal of light on demand. There were 13 students, with one active duty member of the military, one active LEO, and a couple of retired military/LE folks. All of the students had some prior training; I was also acquainted with well 75% of the students, either from other formal classes or else via informal shooting events.

    We started out with Darryl giving his background: his main source of experience was being a LEO in southern CA for over 19 years before being medically retired due to an on-the-job injury. After his years in LEO, he did a stint in executive protection, before eventually moving to Texas and starting up HiTS. Besides HiTS, he also currently does work for Aimpoint, along with occasional writing for Surefire. During his years as a LEO, he was directly involved in (and also observed) multiple low-light OISes. He stated that any technique can be said to be a "theory-based implementation"; however, one still needs to actually test these techniques, and Darryl has found that LE work is a great laboratory of sorts in figuring out what works and what doesn't. He also noted that, somewhat ironically, he often did things a different way than his partner in HiTS, Wayne Dobbs (who was busy this weekend and could not make it), thus forcing both of them to not be so dogmatic about things. We then went over student backgrounds, where everyone expressed a desire to learn low-light techniques that were actually relevant to the civilian world.

    This class was thrown together very quickly; I recall it being discussed around a month ago by an employee of the range (whom I consider a very good friend), and the confirmation going out only about a week ago. I was very fortunate to have found Shiloh Shooting, the venue that hosted the class, as most of the folks working there are extremely squared away; I actually had my first interaction with one of their employees at a ShivWorks class. I had also previously taken a HiTS class, and was very familiar with Darryl's background through his online persona (nyeti), especially his low-light experience, so this class was a no-brainer.

    Darryl then went what to expect from the class. To begin with, Darryl was up front that what he was teaching would not guarantee a good outcome, nor would it cover every single possible low-light scenario. Instead, what he was going to teach us was simple techniques that would work for the vast majority of civilian encountered problems (99% of problems, as he put it). He wanted the students' takeaway to be "I know how and what to practice at home/the range", rather than "I know how to do low-light shooting" straight up. He also stressed here that he thought that inert training guns were hugely helpful in training, and that we would be able to practice at home most of what he was going to teach today with just blue guns and our handhelds. In fact, he would go on to make very heavy use of the blue gun for the rest of the class.

    After that, Darryl then went over in greater detail his low-light background. He started shooting in only after getting into college, but went all in on this hobby, reading books, working at the gun store, etc. He wound up being the first officer in his department to be hired straight out of college. Originally, Darryl was supremely confident of his skills, due to what he had thought was an excellent education in the various gunfighting TTPs that he had read. After graduating from the academy, since he was a rookie, he wound up having the graveyard shift; on his very first night, he had to respond to seven different shootings (not OIS). He quickly figured out that essentially everything he had learned before was next to useless, and he had to do a hard reset on everything he had been taught. It was here that he switched to using the Harries technique... or at least attempted to, though he as actually doing it wrong at the time. In just over a year after graduating from the academy, Darryl became the lead SWAT instructor of his department, at the age of 24. Luckily, he was smart enough to realize that his own skillset was severely lacking, and went out and sought instruction from the various LAPD SWAT instructors to learn what to do. At this time, he was also able to get in touch and start training with, and eventually taught under, Michael Harries, inventor of the technique that carries his name.

    Eventually, with the invention of the world wide web, Darryl started having very spirited debates on Tactical Forums ( with another well-known and well-regarded low-light instructor, Ken Good. Ken spent many years in NSW, and had done a tremendous amount of force-on-force training in low-light scenarios. However, as Darryl noted, Ken's background and testing limited the applicability of his skills in a civilian environment, especially when considering how sustainment intensive his techniques were, and the fact that the average civilian would not be able to put in the amount of time to be able to use Ken's techniques effectively. Essentially, Ken's techniques could definitely cover the final 1% that Darryl's did not, but would require far more investment in time in order keep those skills at an effective level, an amount of time that most people would find unrealistic. Eventually, Darryl and Ken reconciled after teaching together, and both came away understanding why the other party did something a certain a way.

    Darryl then went over the various basic uses of a light. Lights are useful since humans are diurnal animals, since they provide illumination that can allow us to navigate unknown terrain, identify foreign objects, search for known objects, or even shoot a firearm, since the sights are now once again usable. Some light designs could also be used as force tools; the C and D cell Maglites as the stereotypical impact weapon examples, or the various Surefire lights that have crenelated strike bezels. As Darryl noted, humans are generally a tool killing animal, i.e., humans are far more effective at killing using a tool, such a spear or a rifle or a JDAM, than using just bare hands and feet. A curious note is that, with today's technology, the 500 or 1000 lumen lights could be viewed as force tools just from the sheer amount of light being outputted; all that light going into an opponent's eye could easily dazzle them, generally enough to reset their OODA loop, and perhaps enough to force compliance or open up an opportunity for the light wielder's escape. While it's generally accepted that a light is a target indicator, a very skilled user can use the light to deceive and misdirect and opponent à la Ken Good. Finally, Darryl explains a fundamental concept of what needs to be done during an incident, by using the acronym SEE: see, evaluate, eliminate. In a low-light situation, a light can help one in all three steps.

    The next step was to go over the basics of the different grips with a light and gun. The first is the hands forward technique, such as the Ayoob and the Chapman technique. The next was the "club" technique, which consisted of the Harries and the reverse Harries. After that, the cigar hold, which is utilized in the Rogers/Surefire technique. Darryl noted here that the Rogers technique makes shooting fairly easy, compared to some of the other techniques, due to the isometric tension generated. However, there have been issues with sympathetic reactions under stress (accidentally pulling the trigger when trying to actuate the light) along with issues of accidentally working the weak hand index finger into the trigger guard. Darryl told us that, despite Ken being the head of the Surefire Institute, he had used the Rogers technique exactly once in force-on-force training, out of roughly 40k rounds of training. Related to the Rogers/Surefire technique is the Graham technique. Another great technique for shooting, developed because of the unique constraints of the FAM policies (no WML allowed, despite the fact that WMLs are by far the best illuminated shooting solution); however, it is also a fairly horrible searching technique. As Darryl put it, the Harries is a searching technique that one can shoot from, while something like the Rogers/Surefire is a shooting technique that one could search from.

    The problem with using a technique geared shooting lies with the question of how important the first E of SEE was: evaluate. While the tactics between the military and LE are fairly similar for the "see" and "eliminate" part, the evaluate part is extremely different, due to liability issues that LE would face when on American soil, compared to what the average warfighter might encounter in an overseas war zone. For a civilian, particularly one in a state that has a strong castle doctrine, any intrusion into the home is far more similar to how a warfighter in a war zone would act: any unknown can generally be very quickly evaluated as a threat, with fairly minimal amount of time on evaluation. However, outside the home, the average CCWer would be very much like and LEO, where an unknown is far more difficult to positively identify as being a threat that lethal force could be utilized against.

    After that, Darryl then touched upon WMLs (usually Wayne's topoic to cover). WMLs are a double-edged tool in the hands of the untrained. WMLs make the shooting part extremely easy, as the hardest part on the manipulations part is simply the switchology, after which it's extremely similar to standard, day-light two-handed shooting. This also means that they are great for searching for known, deadly threats, assuming that there are no other non-threats in the area. However, the untrained will simply view the WML as being a regular handheld light, and use it for mundane tasks that should not need the introduction of a weapon; instead of learning to search with a handheld and perhaps transition to a WML upon IDing a threat, people start to simply just search with the WML. As Darryl put it, a mounted WML is a flashlight that can launch bullets, and using it as just a searching light is a huge liability and safety issue. As for equipment recommendations, he thought that the Surefire X200 was when the WML finally truly became viable for the handgun, and the X300 and X300U were both great upgrades. If the WML was not going to be used for duty, though, other units would also suffice, such as the Streamlights or even the Inforce APL; Darryl personally used an APL, paired with an H&K P2000, in what he called his "hotel room gun". He also felt that the APL switchology was probably the best one out there right now, in terms of switches. Generally, for any rocker switch WML set-up, one wants to use the weak hand thumb for activation, although if conditions force one, one can use the trigger finger. Pressure switches, such as the Surefire DG switches, were an even simpler solution, but, like WMLs in general, should be used only by those with proper training and sustainment, as if one does not have the discipline to keep the finger off the trigger, activation of the DG switch could leave to sympathetic responses that pull the trigger.

    WMLs excel in a couple of niche roles, such as K9, SWAT, or when bunkered down in a static location. Darryl has all his home defense guns outfitted with WMLs; however, he feels comfortable enough with his handheld skills that he does not carry with a WML, due to size/comfort concerns. He then noted that, in the civilian world, it's generally not okay to muzzle something that has not been PID'd. The act of muzzling someone in most jurisdictions isn't brandishing, but assault with a deadly weapon; merely having the gun drawn is already brandishing, while muzzling someone will qualify as assault. Thus, a WML can never be alone, and should always be accompanied by a hand-held.

    Darryl then quickly touched upon the laser. The laser is amazing for low-light and asymmetric shooting positions; however, it is essentially nothing more than a shooting aide, and does nothing to help one "see" or "evaluate" a target, even though it is a great boon for the "eliminate" section. Also, one should never expect the laser to intimidate a threat; it may happen, but never count on it, always assume that it will make no difference in the demeanor of the threat. It is also one more thing to have to train to use.

    A quick rundown of the differences between various classes of lights were next. The large, baton-like lights, such as the Kel-Lite, Maglite, etc., while cutting edge in their day, are only good as impact weapons these days, compared to other modern lights. They tend to be heavy, not too bright, and the older ones run off of relatively fragile incandescent bulbs. Next are the personal lights, which tend to be small, 1 cell handhelds, such as the Surefire EB1; these are generally great EDC lights, as they are small, handy, and of a reasonable brightness. However, they lack the ability to be used as actual force tools, due to their small size and middling output. Finally, there are the dedicated defense lights, which tend to be two or three cell lights, such as the Surefire P2X/P3X Fury or the E2D Defender Ultras. These are generally very bright, and if equipped with a crenelated bezel, can be passable impact weapons. In terms of incandescent vs. LED lights, incandescent tend to have a cleaner, warmer white output, which allows for one to see through smoke and windows far easier; on the down side, they tend to be much more fragile, and have poor battery life compared to LEDs. LEDs are quite rugged, generally have much better battery life than incandescents, and can run very bright, while outputting less heat than incandescents; the only real downside is that many LEDs are much cooler in color than incandescents, making them far less useful in smoky environments or through glass. There isn't really any reason to choose an incandescent light, unless one is doing a large number of vehicle stops, or is definitely expecting a large amount of smoke or fog (the latter of which can easily arise from sustained shooting). The incandescent can also be made into a makeshift IR illuminator if the correct filter is to be had.

    We then started to get ready to go to the shooting portion of the course. To reiterate what he had stated earlier, Darryl said that what was being taught was a 99% solution, not a 100% solution, but that it was much easier to master. Simple techniques are preferred for most people, since for most people, simply being in a low-light situation puts them behind the power curve. Darryl then went over his idea of "flowing the light". Essentially, utilizing the ice pick grip, the light can be used in multiple searching positions while also being used in a viable shooting technique (Harries, reverse Harries, and neck index). To drawing into Harries, starting with the light in hand, the light is suppose to be against the chest, then goes under the strong-side wrist, before punching the gun out like normal; this is to prevent muzzling one's light bearing arm. To get to a low ready without pulling one's hands apart in Harries, simply dump the muzzle toward the ground by canting the wrist down. Note that this should be used only for very obvious non-combatants, such as family members, the extremely young, or the extremely old, or if the person does not match a known, described threat; this is not a position to use when faced with a possible threat that one isn't quite ready to shoot yet, nor to simply ignore the entity.

    In general, Darryl preferred to use the light mostly in Harries; reverse Harries is used very limitedly, only when approaching a barricade from the direction of one's weak side, while neck index is generally a default position to flow to when using the light to search (so it's all over the place) and then needing to shoot. The icepick grip used for these positions can be used with essentially any light, from a Surefire EB1 to a Maglite 3 Cell D, and allows the light to be used as an impact weapon quite easily, as opposed to more specialized techniques such as the Rogers/Surefire.

    For handgun manipulations with the light in hand, if the light is small enough, generally one can just do what's needed, albeit with decreased dexterity. If the light is too large, Darryl advocates tucking the light into the armpit of the strong arm, emitter facing forward, so as to prevent dazzling anyone behind one (important in a team-based environment), while also allowing for illumination of the handgun to help with the problem-solving, or perhaps to illuminate a door while while the weak hand opens it.

    Darryl noted that the Harries technique derived its stability from the pushing of the hands against each other (left-right orientation), and that maintaining that tension was extremely tiring. Thus, the full pressure should be used only when shooting; if just searching or covering a target, relax. He also noted that the reverse Harries was overall a very weak position, with minimal additional support from the weak hand, and that he used it strictly because it was faster to get to Harries from a reverse Harries than a neck index. As for neck index, it was humorously pointed out that this was in fact a very old technique, something that LEOs were using back even in the days of Maglites, it just simply wasn't named. While the neck index allows one to see both the target and one's sights, this is at the expense of having a totally unsupported strong hand.

    The FBI technique is like the neck index, but allows one to get the light away from the body, primarily for concerns about the light being a target indicator. However, one shouldn't be too wrapped up about the light being a target indicator. While very much a real concern, Darryl also noted that simply being visible is a target indicator when in daylight, so the disparity isn't nearly as great as many people think it is. In theory, one could indeed use the light to misdirect any opponents, but that is fairly difficult in practice, and most people would be unable to put enough training and sustainment into such tactics for it to be viable.

    Darryl then told about some small tips or tricks that were easy to implement. For example, in order to light up a room, without drawing fire to one's self, one could simply set the light on the floor in the middle of the doorway, retreat, then, slowly pie to clear. If one is concerned about splashback from a very bright light light due to white walls or mirrors, simply splash the light off the ceiling, and one can illuminate the whole room that way.

    Next up was a discussion about where the muzzle of the gun should be during a real incident. For example, Darryl despised the practice in which the shooter takes the gun off a target after engaging it when doing the search and assess. In his experience, the reality is, most crooks are not looking for a fight, and if you've already burned one threat down, the rest are very unlikely to continue fighting, and will most likely be in full retreat, although exceptions obviously exist. Thus, Darryl strongly prefers to keep the gun trained on the downed threat when doing the search and assess, and still keeping a large amount of attention on the downed threat. Another issue that Darryl notes is that many competitive shooting stages have no-shoots in the stage, and while they ostensibly represent innocents, such as family or friends, almost everybody will muzzle these no-shoots while transitioning between shoot targets. This clearly violates the idea of keeping the muzzle off of anything one isn't willing to destroy; this violation becomes even more egregious if the shooter keeps their finger on the trigger, as many are wont to do. Obviously, it's possible for the situation to be extreme enough that any time lost in making sure an innocent isn't muzzled may result in the shooter's own serious injury or death; thus, Darryl advocates that any muzzling of an innocent due to exigent circumstances must be a conscious decision, and the finger must be off the trigger, instead of the decision being an unconscious decision with the finger on the trigger, as some shooters act.

    Darryl then asked us if every individual trigger press needed an articulable reason behind it, to which everyone agreed as a yes. Darryl then noted that some people are able to get split times as fast as 0.15; however, the question then remains of how fast can one make a decision? Situations are always fluid, and a clean shoot can turn into a bad one in a fraction of a second. The key here is to realize that one should never shoot faster than one can think; Darryl figures that once one can hit 0.20 splits with good shot placement, then one is probably good enough for any non-competitive firearms usage (being able to go faster than 0.30 is the minimum performance).

    Somewhat related to this is the idea that an actual gunfight with three attackers would be nothing like an El Presidente; typically, a shooter will approach the El Presidente as a single string of fire, as if all three targets were a single problem. In reality, three threats are almost always treated as three separate problems to solve. Part of this can be attributed to the fact that, under extreme stress, most people will experience experiential time dilation, which thus, in Darryl's view, makes much of the so-called stress inoculation training that is currently gaining traction in the training community to be not particularly useful for their intended purposes. While many trainers do run drills in which multiple targets are burned down in rapid succession, they are not supposed to teach shooting multiple targets so much as simply as a way to practice transitions and recoil control. The problem comes when people take these drills to be a definite performance metric and start chasing pure time rather than performance.

    We then went over the basic safety rules. Darryl noted that rules 1 and 4 are purely mindset rules. It was stated that the gun never comes out the holster when off the line, except when using the clearing barrel. Muzzle awareness is paramount in this class, due to the transition to Harries and the fact that we were in low-light. For any drills where we did not start facing down range, the muzzle should be pointed down toward the ground. Darryl is a huge proponent of the idea of a hard register, i.e., having a consistent physical point on the gun for the trigger finger to rest when not shooting. When looking through the trigger guard, the finger should not be visible at all; for polymer-framed handguns, he liked to use the phrase "feel metal", referencing feeling the metal slide on the handgun. He also stated that he will be looking for what he and Wayne had termed the "woobie"; like a security blanket for a child, many shooters will unconsciously place their finger on the trigger for a split second when about to execute a drill or undergo some kind of high stress situation (e.g., about to breach a doorway), seemingly as if to assure themselves that the trigger is still there.

    Darryl then went over some of the basic commands. "Shooter ready" denoted that everyone should have their eyes and ears on at this point, and that a shooter should verbally interject if this was not the case. "Stand by" means that a command to initiate the drill is imminent. "Fire" means to engage the target; any other command, such as "threat" or "gun", was suppose to be verbally challenged (although "knife" is contextual; at 10 yards, it would probably not be okay to simply engage, while at 3 yards, it would be). The idea behind here is that simply because someone is a threat or has a gun, doesn't not mean they need to be shot right then and there. The three ready positions were from the holster, the low ready (muzzle down, not covering the target in any way), and contact ready (muzzle should be covering the target, somewhere between the head to the toe).

    We then went down to the range, and split up into teams. For the first set of drills, we slow-fired 5 rounds, from the draw, at B8 targets at 5 yards. This was repeated once, then done once with SHO. The drill was ran in a relay with the teams.

    This was a mostly trivial drill, used to to get a gauge of everyone's accuracy. The lighting was rather poor, so my accuracy was worse than I liked, with me jerking the trigger slightly on the first SHO shot, but keeping it in the black was mostly not a problem. I had my light and laser off for this drill, and kept it off for almost all of the rest of the drills. The tritium sights were fairly useful in this particularly drill. Also, one of the students experienced a trigger check, but this was the only incident noticed for the entire class.

    Darryl noted that, when shooting one handed, using as much trigger is often quite helpful in terms of accuracy; this is also true for guns with heavier triggers.

    We then moved on to trying out the Harries technique, starting from the low ready before going into the position. Darryl wanted us to move slowly and deliberately, to make sure that we didn't muzzle ourselves; speed was of zero value at this point. After going into the Harries, Darryl would then personally evaluate our technique, and fix if needed. After everyone on the line was assessed and corrected, we would fire 5 rounds into the target at 5 yards.

    This was definitely the most eye-opening part of the entire class. I had never gotten any real feedback about my Harries technique, which I had figured was wrong anyway, and that was indeed the case. I had to get my weak hand higher up, and exerting the pressure, while locking the weak arm elbow in closer to my body to maximize the tension. The strong arm shoulder felt a strain for sure, but the whole set-up was amazingly solid compared to my original pale imitation of the technique. Being unfamiliar with the technique, I found myself loosening up over the string of fire, but it was still far more stable than any other handheld technique I had used. Darryl stated that this was a common problem for those just learning the technique, and that with practice, the Harries is very much a 1.5 hand technique. The lights were mostly off at this point, with just the lighting behind the shooting booths on.

    We then tried flowing to the reverse Harries from the Harries. We started out firing 5 rounds in the Harries (5 yards away, B8 target), pause, then one round in the Harries, then flowing to the reverse Harries.

    I had some mild light issues with keeping the hot spot on the target; this was something I had learned was damned difficult in my first low-light class. Also, the reverse Harries was exceedingly awkward, and I did not have very good control of the gun at all. I also started to realize how little 110 lumens is, when many of my fellow students on the line running 500 lumens or even 1000 lumens lights.

    We then tried the neck index. Darryl stated that it was very important to find a consistent index point; canting the gun slightly when at full extension is fine, since that's natural for many people's bodies, but don't over do it. For this drill, we started at the low ready, then came up and fired 2 shots, while utilizing the neck index. This was repeated 5 times in a row.

    I was never a huge fan of the neck index, preferring the FBI or even the modified head index, and still didn't particularly like it, mainly because of issues with the splash back on the sights. Still, I felt it was much better than the reverse Harries, and most of the other students agreed with me. I also had to reload during the drill, but showed poor light discipline, as I dropped my light without turning it off, allowing it to bounce on the lanyard and flash everyone behind me.

    Darryl noted here that an advantage for the skilled shooter in low-light is that distances often look much closer than they actually are. He also noted that the tension created by the Harries is a stable enough platform that a decent shooter can make long-distance shots without too much degradation in accuracy compared to their two-handed grips. We then turned all the lights off, plunging the range into complete darkness. The drill we ran next was to put two rounds into the target in Harries, repeat, then two rounds in the target with reverse Harries, repeat, then two rounds in the target with neck index, repeat, then one round into the target with each technique, flowing from one to the next without rest.

    Being that I was unused to transitioning between the techniques, my transition was quite slow. I also had some trigger freeze issues in reverse Harries, possibly just from the unfamiliarity of the position.

    We then broke for dinner, which was delivered straight to the range. During dinner, we had a Q&A session in the classroom. For example, Darryl felt that strobes were overhyped in lights, and that if one really wanted to strobe, one can simply manually strobe by pushing the button on and off fast enough, or even just waving the light in one's hands to cause the hot spot to swing around in the target's eyes. As for too much light, it's purely situational, and can usually be overcome with situational awareness. For example, if entering a bathroom, it's fairly obvious that there will be mirrors there, so don't shine directly into the wall there, but into the ceiling or floor.

    We then went back to the range, turned most of the lights off, and discussed a typical clearing situation: a doorway (created by props). Darryl showed us some basic flowing techniques as he pied the door. For example, if approaching the door from the left, he would be in Harries. Upon reaching the door, he'd flow to neck index while pieing across. Once he reached the other side, he'd go into reverse Harries, until pushing back far enough that he can revert back to Harries. One could also, simply throw the light on the ground, with the light facing through the doorway, and pie from behind the light. Typically, Darryl would pie a door, then flash the light inside toward the hard corner (without looking inside himself), then immediately push in, toward the hard corner if possible, but if obstacles are in the way, he'll simply push in while facing the hard corner and engaging if necessary.

    Darryl then did a quick demo on us on just how much having the light being waved in one's eyes could disorientate. He also demonstrated how hard it was to track a target in the dark with the light being turned on and off even when he was simply just walking. Also noted was that a single flash of light can light up most of the room, giving one enough information even when simply passing by a room.

    After that, Darryl demonstrated how the ice pick grip had minimal interference with his methods of firearm retention, unlike, say, the cigar grip. Darryl had three basic methods of retention. The first was the general purpose method, in which one would twist the entire torso, with the hips, backwards away from the threat, with the handgun pressed up against the lower strong side rib cage. The next is the speed rock, which is used only when pinned up against the wall; the trust of the hips creates enough room to draw when against the wall. Finally if being aggressive and advancing, one can put the gun into the same position of the GP method, but have the support arm up in a horizontal elbow shield of sorts, thus driving the elbow into the opponent; one should ideally get into this position right before impacting the target.

    After that, we then ran an evolution one by one in the pitch dark. Starting on one side of the door in Harries, we would start pieing, see a silhouette target, engage the 3 inch circle on COM with 2 shots, keep moving while flowing to the neck index and taking 2 more shots, then getting to the other side of the door way, flowing to the reverse Harries, and putting 2 shots on target. After that, we would walk across the door in neck index and put two rounds into the target while moving.

    My movement was still quite slow, due to my unfamiliarity with the whole flowing thing. The neck index crossing did illustrate how fast one could move, see, and shoot quite handily, though.

    After that, the final drill was to pick any of the three techniques (this was strictly for live-fire practice), and do doubles (sometimes with an added headshot if required) on the target if appropriate, depending on what was called, trying to hit the 3 inch circle on the target. This was practiced both from the low ready and contact ready.

    I jerked the trigger once while doing the handheld shooting part. During the contact ready, Darryl stated that I would be fine using my WML at this point, since it was part of my EDC, and that if it was that close, the tactically sound thing would be to switch to it.

    After that, about half the class left. The remainder of us was debriefed about several low-light incidents that Darryl had inside knowledge about or was present for, along with lessons learned from the incidents. After the debrief, the class ended, at around 2145.

    I found myself rather disappointed by my performance doing SHO shooting; it will be something I will have to work on. While by no means terrible, it certainly wasn't anywhere near good, either.

    As for the class itself, I think there was a missed opportunity to do some SOTM while utilizing a handheld; I felt that the static position of most drills didn't illustrate the difficulty of moving, shooting, all while trying to keep the light on target. I think it would have been very interesting for me to try and utilize a proper Harries while doing SOTM drills, so as to see just how much that stability changes things. Beyond that, I think that I got out of the class exactly what Darryl had hoped for: a set of simple, yet effective, techniques that I understand the reasoning of that I can practice at my leisure at home.

    Gear-wise, the only issue I had was a minor bending of the locking plate of my magazine extensions. This was something I was aware of (being dropped on the concrete will force this to happen), but since it was an easy fix, and preventative rather than something that actually caused a problem (the magazine still dropped free with no issue before the fix). Beyond that, the weakness of the E1B's light output was made more obvious, but I'm not sure if it's really that big an issue, considering it's primary role as an EDC light.

    Overall, 95 rounds were expended, all of which was Freedom Munitions 115 gr. RN New. No malfunctions occurred.

  2. #2
    New Member Dagga Boy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    As usual......a very impressive AAR.

    Personally, "lighting on the move" and shooting when necessary while moving is critical for really dominating a low light encounter. The problem is that in a limited time frame class and a small venue running three lines/ is tough. I have a strong feeling (if the stars align right) that we will be able to offer a fairly dynamic low light course in the future with far more movement involved. I'll probably need a couple days to really get everyone anchored on flowing the gun, I will need both Wayne and some safety officers to really ensure the safety of the students and instructors. I take student to instructor ratios very seriously, and we were at a place where I was not comfortable to really delve too hard into a live fire shooting on the move situation.
    With that said, you can do a ton with a blue gun and a light to really develop these skills and then use a live fire range to develop the actual shooting skills associated with the movement.

    Thanks again, I am always impressed with how well done your AAR's are, and it is a helpful critique for instructor improvement.
    Just a Hairy Special Snowflake supply clerk with no field experience, shooting an Asymetric carbine as a Try Hard. Snarky and easily butt hurt. Favorite animal is the Cape Buffalo....likely indicative of a personality disorder.
    "If I had a grandpa, he would look like Delbert Belton".

  3. #3
    Member Hizzie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Outstanding write up as usual Jim. I think you missed your calling as a court reporter.

    I also attended the class. My gear was simple. I used a Zulu Bravo kydex OWB and double mag pouch carried on a Volund Atlas belt 1.5", baggy tshirt and wrangler cargo pants. I shot a Glock 19 with Streamlight TLR1 attached and Warren Tactical sights (tritium front only). Ammo was WWB 115gr fmj.

    Much of the class was a refresher for me. I was taught Harries in the police academy circa 1998. Prior to this class I had not done any type of shooting class since I left LE in 2011. DB explained things very well and I was not only able to shake the rust off but I was able to sharpen that edge. I did learn a few new things and was shown a few new ways to utilize old skills. I enjoyed the class I feel that the time, money and ammo were well spent. Like Jim I now suffer from feelings of flashlight inadequacy. I need to upgrade my lights. They were serviceable but 500-100 lumens was just WOW. The spill from the bigger lights made flashlight aim less critical.

    I have no complaints about my gear. Next class I should be running a wheelgun.

  4. #4
    Member NETim's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Great AAR!
    In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man

  5. #5
    Thanks Jim. I had been talking to DB about setting this class up and everyone's schedules worked out and he was able to come down. I was surprised we were able to have 13 students with such short notice. Everyone had had some type of instruction before, some more than others. With the exception of one mouth breathing student, the rest of the class were all squared away and enjoyable. Like Jim, I personally knew or had previously met everyone before the class. I really wanted to take some sort of LL class as I was very weak in that area.

    I won't repeat anything that Jim said, as he did an amazing job.

    A few take aways for me though -

    There is a difference between shooting, and fighting. A lot of products and tactics are based around shooting, but not so much on fighting. In DB's words, a fist fight and gunfight are pretty similar. Some of his methods might seem "outdated", but they work, and they have a purpose. The Weaver stance works better with the Harries/reverse Harries than Iso. 99% of my training was based around shooting. My split times, my reloads, my FAST times. It had never occurred to me that I was setting myself up for failure. I was learning how to shoot, and manipulate a weapon very well. The problem is, cardboard targets will never attack me in my home. I think that I shoot well enough to be able to focus on other skills. TacMed, LL, Vehicles, Combatives, etc. I don't need another pistol class, or a rifle class. At least for some time. I need to focus on the holes in my skillset, and will act accordingly.

    When DB said that it's problematic to shoot faster than we can process information my mind was blown. The average human reaction time is .25 seconds. If you're pushing .15 splits, that's an issue. As DB said, you're outrunning your headlights.

    Re: SOTM - We really didn't have time. I'm glad we got to cover what we did. The good thing is, I have a key to the range and was up here yesterday practicing that exact thing. He wanted to give us the tools we needed to build our skills, which I feel he did. I have literally grown up reading DB's words. I joined the Lightfighter forum when I was 13 back in 2003 and was also on the now defunct Badlands forum. It was an honor to work with Darryl on this and I hope we can have him back in the future. Hopefully I'll have my head out of my ass and I'll be able to plan it a little better instead of flying by the seat of my pants.

    Thanks to all that came out. Thanks especially to Darryl for working with me and putting this on. It's an honor to know people like DB and Wayne. It makes me proud to know that we have men like this patrolling our streets and teaching LEOs all across the country.


  6. #6
    New Member Dagga Boy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Actually, Wayne and I are too old and broken for all that patrolling. The only thing left is to pass on what was learned in all those years to others so that they can make it to old and broken rather than young and dead.
    Just a Hairy Special Snowflake supply clerk with no field experience, shooting an Asymetric carbine as a Try Hard. Snarky and easily butt hurt. Favorite animal is the Cape Buffalo....likely indicative of a personality disorder.
    "If I had a grandpa, he would look like Delbert Belton".

  7. #7
    Member Al T.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Columbia SC
    Tagged. Excellent review!

  8. #8
    Yes great review you could use it as a template to teach a class lol.

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