How do you practice low-light techniques if you don’t have access to a range that allows you to shoot after dark or your indoor range doesn’t let you turn off the lights? Fortunately you don’t need to be in the dark to practice some of the most common low-light techniques, such as handheld flashlight techniques. They can be practiced during the daytime.
As a retired 20+ year veteran of U.S. Special Operations, Don Edwards speaks with authority on the subject of low-light shooting, as he participated in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Presently Don is the Director of LE/Mil Sales and Training at Tactical Night Vision Company. He is also the owner/operator of Greenline Tactical LLC, which offers tactical and defensive training to citizens, law enforcement officers, and Conventional and Special Operations military units around the country.
Whatever handheld flashlight technique you want to use, you can use it during daylight handgun training and practice and see if it works for you and if you can actually hit the target. The mechanics of how you hold the handheld light and the handgun are the same in daylight and low light. You can also practice magazine changes while holding a flashlight in your support hand.
One of Don’s preferred handheld flashlight techniques is to hold the pistol in the high compressed ready position and use the support hand to hold the flashlight and shine it wherever he wants. This is more flexible and arguably safer than waving around a handgun with a weapon-mounted light on it. When he is ready to shoot, he locks in the flashlight at his jawline and drives the gun out one-handed.
Taking this one step further, you can just practice one-handed shooting without a flashlight in the other hand. And you can do it in any lighting conditions. You may want to become proficient at one-handed shooting and then start practicing with a flashlight in the support hand and become accustomed to identifying targets with the flashlight before engaging with the handgun.
The other side of this is that as part of your home defense tactics, you can practice searching techniques with the handheld light without a gun in your hand, or with an unloaded gun, a blue gun, a squirt gun, or a finger gun.
If you are not able to conduct live-fire shooting in low or no light, practice one-handed shooting at a range during the day and practice searching in the dark with a handheld light but without a loaded firearm. Combine these two pieces and you’ve got a good substitute for low-light live-fire practice.