Low Light Indoor Match


I had the opportunity to attend a low light shooting match at a local indoor range yesterday evening. My goal for the evening was to observe closely so I didn’t shoot it. The format consisted of clearing three rooms and a hallway constructed of plastic sheets. It was done three times with targets moved around each time. The shooters had a look at the layout lighted the first time but subsequent stages were not.

Non-threat targets (Don’t Shoots) were designated with hands painted on them.

These non-threat targets were interspersed among the threat targets.

Some of the shooters had weapon mounted lights but many did not.

A few observations:

  • Some attendees, although regular shooters, had never shot while using a flashlight.
  • Most of the shooters had some familiarity with flashlight technique but mostly on a theoretical basis.
  • The cadence of shooting, in terms of splits, transitions, and moving from position to position, really slows down when using a flashlight in low light.
  • The difference in light intensity when going from almost no light,

to illuminating with a high intensity light

can be momentarily disconcerting, even to the person holding the light.

Matches like these represent the practical application of theoretical techniques. They are a valuable exercise for everyone who participates.

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5 responses

  1. We did these type of low/no light matches on a regular basis (monthly then quarterly) for about 3 to 4 years b4 COVID shut down our weekly indoor matches. One of the main things I noticed was that the high-intensity lights when pointed directly at the targets tended to really illuminate the gun smoke and would all but “fog out” the targets after the first shot, but if pointed at the floor below the targets it wasn’t as bad. Also, some of the fireballs coming off the ends of some handguns could be extremely disorienting. Low flash powders are valuable in these conditions.

  2. Stephen Embrey

    I am one of those regular shooters that had not shot in the dark before and found the experience valuable. I took two primary lessons away from shooting the stages.

    The first was that my Trijicon RM07 red dot washed out on the first stage as soon as I turned on my weapon mounted Surefire X300. Surprise!! Having co-witnessed Trijicon night sights also installed on my G34 enabled me to continue shooting and clean the stage. Turning the dot brightness up two levels was sufficient to utilize the dot in the subsequent stage. Of course, this causes the red dot to be brighter than I am used to in normal light conditions, but not obtrusively so.

    As an aside, I also have a Trijicon RM02 self-adjusting red dot on a VP9 that I shoot with sometimes. Interestingly, in a recent class I attended, the instructor criticized that particular red dot sight since there is no manual control over the brightness. I tested the RM02 in a light-less room today, and the auto-adjust feature was sufficient to keep the dot visible when I turned on the weapon light, but only just so—the equivalent of turning the RM07 up one level, perhaps.

    The second lesson I learned that you mentioned is the intensity of the light change and the potential for splash-back onto the shooter. 1K lumens is a very bright light at close range, even when bounced. I am now more aware of the need to be judicious in the employment of bright light and that I need to seek additional training in its deployment. I hope others who have not shot in low light scenarios will seek the experience; it is illuminating!

    1. Thanks for your observations.

  3. I know you like to drill in on safety stuff, so here’s an article about ADs and weaponlights:
    Fun quote:
    “I’ve seen officers use a flashlight-mounted gun to help a person search their wallet for a driver’s license. I’ve literally seen that on a traffic stop.”

  4. Thank you to Claude and Surefire for providing s Surefire Sidekick as a prize for the shooter with the fewest points down (most accurate) for the match. The winner was the only lady shooter there that night. She used a red dot and a hand held flashlight. By utilizing a technique that varied from FBI to neck hold she found it minimized smoke obscuring the target, an issue she experienced using the Harries technique.


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