AAR from Dave Z. at mdshooters.com (Low Light Clinic)
I had the unexpected opportunity to train with Green Ops again sooner than I expected when a spot opened up in their low light pistol clinic course at the NRA range. It was the night before my birthday, so I decided it was my birthday treat to me. Yay!
As you would expect, the low light pistol clinic is an advanced course. I will preface this entire AAR with some honesty: I was on the jagged edge of having enough training, and as a result, I was probably the weakest shooter there. This was because I had not practiced one-handed shooting enough, and one-handed shooting is a serious requirement for this course. Being weak on that means trying to have to make that happen while you're simultaneously trying to make it happen with a light. This isn't to say I couldn't basically hit what I was aiming at, but it manifested in a lot of "just-outside-the-box" misses.
There were ten students and five instructors, including Mike Green and his usual crew. When running drills, it was 1:1. This doesn't count the two RSOs, either.
The first hour and fifteen minutes of the class is in a classroom. After the usual "safety and emergency protocol" talk, we discussed how your eyes work in the dark (spoiler: not well). Following this, we learned and used four techniques throughout the course:
1. Harries two-handed (the classical police technique)
2. Syringe two-handed
3. FBI one-handed
4. Neck index one-handed
(5. Side-by-side two-handed for bezel flashlights. No one had brought one, so we skipped it for the course beyond a cursory discussion.)
There was also some discussion of the various lights on the market. No surprises here - use something that's Surefire or Streamlight and you'll be alright, use something else and you may be disappointed in tougher situations. They are fans of on/off/momentary buttons and not momentary-on-only, in case anyone was wondering. For the purposes of the course, momentary-only works well enough.
In low-light, gear is important. I ran:
1. G17 with Trijicons and TLR-2
2. Fobus G17 light-bearing holster
3. Two LED-upgraded momentary-only Pentagonlight PX2s on belt hangers (theoretically a thousand lumens, but probably somewhat less).
4. Blade-Tech double mag carrier
5. ... all on a Blade-Tech comp belt.
I am still undecided about whether I wouldn't have been better off with running the G17 sans TLR in my usual Bladetech Revo holster. I had not practiced hard with the Fobus (which required a modified draw) or with my G17 with a TLR, and this made me slow and less-accurate. On the other hand, as we'll discuss later, weaponlights make certain things MUCH easier. If I had had more warning, I would have gotten a better holster and practiced with my G17/TLR more... but I had a bare week of warning, so I went to war with what I had / could get on Amazon Prime.
I will say that none of my equipment failed, and that is more than some people could say.
Anyways, outside of the classroom, we ran a live-fire qual drill (again, honesty: I failed. All the hits were on paper, not all in the A-zone). This theoretically meant we wouldn't be running timed drills, but they wound up doing them later anyways, so yay? All students were Green Ops alums, so we were known quantities, I suppose. All distances in the class were about 7 yards, so none of these were very long shots... but 7 yards is pretty far in the dark.
After the qual drill, we dry-fired through all the techniques with the room lights on. This is some tough stuff, because not only are you learning to do two things with two hands, you don't get the benefit of light splash when the room lights are on... so if you're not directly on target with your light, it looks like you didn't do anything. And, just to be clear, you were drawing from your holster this entire time, so if you weren't solid on holster draws, that was going to hurt you.
Once everyone was good enough that they were not going to muzzle their hand/arm by accident - and this is real easy to do when using a two-handed flashlight technique - the lights were turned off, and SHIT GOT REAL.
We ran through the drills again - with live fire - this time with only a single mechanic's light being the entire illumination on the range (and it was halfway-down the course, so it wasn't much). This was when you figured out what was working and what wasn't.
Good example of this: the usual syringe grip wasn't working for me because I just couldn't get enough hand flesh pressure, even when I used a borrowed one with one of those support rings. The main instructor (Brett) showed a modified version where you push it using your firing hand knuckle. This worked MUCH better for me and some others, even though I had to use splash to illuminate the target.
This is a good time to note that, while night sights aren't mandatory, they make it a lot easier to use certain techniques when you're using splash. Mike Green thought they were useful albeit over-rated, but I felt like they were helpful. YMMV. (I also rather suspect I would have shot WAY better if I were using an RMR-equipped gun, but that is only theory.)
We also did some reload and malfunction drills. I am much better at reloads and malfunction drills than I have any right to be, but doing them in low light is definitely a twist.
At this point, it was time for weaponlights and barriers. Weaponlights are AMAZING if you don't mind muzzling everything. Green Ops is understandably down on that idea, as it's horribly unsafe for anything besides home defense, so it has somewhat limited applicability to my purposes. Suffice it to say, you can go MUCH faster on drills when you are running a weaponlight, and I was not the only student to notice this. I've never shot from a barrier before, but I had read the basic principles and it wasn't that bad. Weaponlight wasn't bad here, either, since you minimized your chances of backsplash.
The culmination of the course was in a timed shoot/no-shoot drill. It was a total change from the previous mechanics-oriented parts of the course, because you had to do the mechanics AND exercise some judgement AND make the shot (albeit on a large silohuette target). And, yeah, you couldn't cheat with a weaponlight because you didn't want to muzzle innocent paper people! I am pleased to say that despite ****ing up everywhere else in the course, I was one of the only students who managed to do that drill 1) in time and 2) only shoot paper people who needed to be shot. I think the instructors were as surprised as me!
Even with all that description and thoughts, I'm still unpacking what I learned from that course, and where to go from here. Practice, practice, practice is the obvious thing, but pushing my gear hard really revealed interesting things about it and me.
I would absolutely recommend the course, but would suggest you be more ready for it than I was if you want to do well. Defensive Pistol I-type training, lots of practice one-handed shooting, gear you are intimately familiar with, etc. I'll be taking this again next year if I can, and I'm hoping to put on a much better showing!