Flashlight in the Hand

By Roger Phillips, Owner of Fight Focused Concepts

Avoiding the Profile Individual/Deterring the Profile Individual/Dominating the Profile Individual

“The flashlight in the hand” philosophy is the tactic of carrying a small, powerful, tactical flashlight in your non-dominant hand whenever you are in a risky area after the sun has gone down. Whether you are walking the dog, exercising, or making a run down to the grocery store/Wal-Mart, if you are going to be in a public place after sundown, it is the tactic of always carrying your flashlight in your hand.

The main reason for you to do this is because the vast majority of the times that you may need your flashlight, in a self-defense situation, if it is not already in your hand you will most likely never get it into your hand. The number one reason for carrying a flashlight is for making the identification (ID) of the hands and the waistbands for weapons, since our visual acuity is cut in half in low light. It is the hands that kill and the waistband is where bad guys (BG) usually keep their weapons. The number two reason for carrying a flashlight is to disrupt the vision of the adversary. A bright light in the eyes not only disrupts the adversaries vision but it allows the good guy (GG) to work behind a wall of light. When the adversary can no longer see you, that causes doubt and uncertainty. This uncertainty may be all that you need to deter an attack.

A flashlight is not necessarily a fighting tool. I do not need the flashlight to make the hits. It is much more valuable as a physical deterrent (BG cannot see GG) and a visual disruptor (BG’s vision is 5% of what it was just a second before.) If you need to fight with the light on you are creating a constant focal point to attack. If you can disrupt that adversaries vision, turn the light out and move, there is no focal point to follow, there is only blinded bewilderment! Even if they recover, you can take their vision again. We have all heard “A flashlight is a bullet magnet” but this does not have to be the case if you “see what you need to see” and “blind as you need to blind” then turn the flashlight out. If you remove the constant focal point the liabilities of the bullet/knife/club magnet decrease. It is the lessons of when to use the flashlight and when not to use the flashlight that are the most valuable of the lessons. Being able to shoot with the flashlight in conjunction with the gun is mildly interesting, that is entry-level knowledge. Knowing when to blind, when to turn the flashlight off, when and where to move, and when to turn the light back on is the advanced knowledge. This knowledge is not possible without thorough testing inside of low light FOF and from both sides of the coin. You have to be both the GG and the BG to learn the lessons as they need to be learned. The reality is that all of this knowledge is useless if your flashlight is at home, in your car, or even in your pocket. If it is not in your hand when you spot the profile individual, it will probably never make it into your hand.

The term “profile individual” (PI) speak for itself. This has nothing to do with race or sex. Trouble and danger comes in all races and in both sex. Trouble and danger has a very distinct look and feel, if you have been around the block a couple of times, you know what I am talking about. If you cannot recognize trouble and danger you may just need to be removed from the gene pool. Recognizing trouble and danger starts with profiling. Forget about all of those politically correct idiots out there and let’s get down to the bottom line. If you do not profile you are a fool! There is a very low danger level from a well-groomed man in an expensive business suit or an elderly couple taking a walk in a park. But there is a higher danger level from groups of urban youths, especially in bad parts of town or where poverty is rampant. This is all just common sense here.

If you are out at night, doing whatever it is that you have to do, and you see a PI that is going to cross your path here is a very quick overview of how to handle the PI.

Profile; It always starts with profiling!We must profile who is in our general vicinity while we are out after sun down. BG use the cloak of darkness to hide themselves and to hide their intent. Without profiling everything else that follows is worthless. Making the ID on a PI is the first piece of your back story. Back story is very important stuff, nothing happens inside of a vacuum. Collecting and building good pieces of back story allows you to build the information to facilitate making the decisions that you are going to have to make. The more pieces, the better the back story, the better the back story the quicker you will be able to work through your OODA loop. If you make a PI and he has orientated to you, the next thing that you need to do is as follows.

Avoid; Make a directional change to your movement and begin looking for other players. Choose a direction that will require the PI to reorient to you. If there is no re-orientation, that is a good thing, but keep your eye out for any other players/accomplice’s along with the original PI. If the PI reorients to you, you have just succeeded in forcing the BG to show you his hand. You have created the second piece of the back story to further facilitate your decision-making process. You now know the BG is keying on you. There are not coincidences! In low light you cannot allow the BG to close ground on you. You must stop his ingress! Here are some basic concepts to help stop the BG from closing ground you. The next two thing listed may need to be put into action simultaneously, but they are set down in order of importance.

Command; With a commanding voice and in conjunction with a flashlight in the PI eye’s order them to “Back off!” In low light, with a quality flashlight the PI will see nothing but the light. You will have disappeared to him and all he will see is the source of the light and you will be cloaked behind a wall of light. If the first “Back off!” and blinding does not work, that is the third and another huge piece of the back story. Give them one last chance (the fourth piece of the back story) and get louder and more “street.” Sometimes the street only understands “street”………“BACK THE F**K OFF! While the commands and flashlights are being used you will most likely want to doing two other things simultaneously.

Move/Monitor; It is my opinion that you should mitigate the urge to stop and square up to your adversary. I feel that you should keep moving in order to disrupt the adversaries ability to begin working through his OODA loop. By continuing to move you take away the adversaries ability to take a snap shot of the battlefield which is very important to developing a plan of attack. As you command/blind/move you should again monitor the area for any other accomplices. Since you are hidden behind a wall of light to your primary adversary, you should be able to look around quickly for other players, without the primary adversary even knowing that you have taken your eyes off of him. If the PI is still reorienting to you, you probably have enough back story (fifth piece) to articulate reasonable fear. Some people feel that they need to ID the weapon, but FOF training has proven that action beats reaction. If you are unable to ID that something is very wrong, with all of the back story that has taken place, you may be deep into the very worse of positions…….denial! This is where all of your training comes to the forefront. This is where you find out if “your line in the sand” has been thought through well enough. This is where all of your “what if” mental preparation has really prepared you well enough. This is where you find out about the reliability of your gut feeling, and your ability to act on it. This is where it gets as personal as anything that you have ever dealt with.

If in your mind you can articulate that it is go time, then it is on.

If the threat or weapon has been identified that leads us to the next phase of the fight.

Access; When the line in the sand has been crossed, keep moving, access your weapon, and get to work. It is time to fight with everything you have. Accessing your weapon, from concealed carry, with a flashlight in your hand is a skill set that you must own. There are two methods that you need to know, the one hand draw stroke (circular flagged thumb) and the clearing of the garment with the flashlight hand (three digit crab claw.) Which one you use is situational and user dependent. This draw stoke from concealment is the most likely thing that you are going to blow, your “flashlight in the hand” draw stroke needs to be to the point that you have it down cold while moving. With these two draw stroke methods you have the option of keeping the flashlight in the eyes or turning if off. Either way, the adversaries vision is going to be extremely limited. If you keep the light on and draw, everything that you do is cloaked by the wall of light, but the direction and pace of your movement can be tracked through the visual connection to the light source. If you turn the light out, you cannot be tracked periodically, but the adversaries vision will eventually return. Of course you can always give him another blast of light and take it away again. Once you have accessed the weapon and driven it to the focal point it is time to take care of business.

Negate; Negate the threat with fast and accurate hits while either hiding behind the wall of light or under the cloak of blinded darkness. I cannot possibly express how important it is to have the “double edge sword” knowledge and experience of fighting from both sides of this confrontation. Without this firsthand knowledge and experience, you have no clue of the true dynamics of the fight and the power and the limitations of the “flashlight in the hand” philosophy. Experience leads to confidence, confidence leads to absolute knowledge, absolute knowledge leads to total domination. This is where you want to be, anything short of that means that you have not put in the work and you are not as ready as you think are. Fighting at night is a skill set that can only be obtained through proper preparation to prevent piss poor performance. If you have not put in the time……face that fact for the fact that it is. Reading this article is simply not going to get it done!

Once the primary adversary has been negated and determined out of the fight it is time to move on to the next progression.

Scan; BG’s tend to travel in packs. Just because you did not make any accomplices early on does not mean that there are none. You are going to need to scan 360 degrees to make sure that there are no other players that may need your attention. Scanning may best be done while moving to a place of cover or tactical advantage. Whether you scan with your flashlight or not depends on the ambient light and the presence of darkened areas. Remember the rule of thumb, “if you are in the dark, stay in the dark, if you are in the light, light up the dark.” Once you have verified that there are not other players to engage and verified that the primary has not reanimated it is time to move onto the next step of the progression.

Reload; Now that there is a lull in the fight it is time to top off your gun. If we accept the fact that “if the flashlight is not in your hand at the start of the fight, it will not make it into the hand” philosophy then it would seem wise to be able to load your gun without stowing your flashlight. The “three digit crab claw” allows for a “reload with retention” all while keeping the flashlight in your hand. If you are concerned about the effects of the adrenaline dump, you can stow the flashlight for your reload. Either way, get that gun topped off.

Evaluate; The next step is a medical evaluation of yourself. Since the fight is still not guaranteed to be over I would try to mitigate lighting yourself up or putting away the flashlight. The “three digit crab claw” can still feel the body for wet spots. Another option is to shove the flashlight in between the pinkie and ring finger of the gun hand, bezel up (consistency across categories) A quick lighting of the ground for blood droplets may be acceptable. If you find a wet spot in the groin area, you are going to have to ID the color of the fluid. If you find yourself to be ok medically, it is time to proceed to the next step.

Proceed/Police; Due to the fact that there are some places that if you do not get the heck out of there immediately , you could be fighting the whole neighborhood. It is not always as clear as “call the police and wait for them.” Sometimes you are going to have to get the heck out of there, then call the police and arrange to meet them somewhere. Unfortunately, it can be even worse than that. You may have to get out of there and never say a word to anyone. There are places in this great Country that do not allow good people to defend themselves or their loved ones from evil. In this case, since you primary mission is to get home and continue to take care of your loved ones you may just need to proceed on with your life without bringing the police in. It is a shame that there are places in America that are like this, but it is what it is! A good person needs to make it home to his/her family and not allow laws that are contrary to God’s law from keeping you of fulfilling your primary mission in life.

Much of this information has been around for a very long time. I have just put my spin on it from within the “flashlight in the hand” philosophy. If we look at these ten things that we need to do to make it through dealing with a profile individual, it may look like it is next to impossible to remember. Using a mnemonic device, to help aid this philosophy into being easier to remember, is a very good idea. Most mnemonic devices are a little cheesy, but easy to remember…..this one is no different.

PACMANSREP

Pacmans rep was, if you were smart enough and fast enough you could succeed in life and avoid all of the goblins. From the very start of the encounter……and all the way through the encounter, If you can remember this cheesy little mnemonic device, you can avoid the profile individual, deter the profile individual, and dominate the profile individual.

Come on out to Las Vegas on March 21-24, 2015 and meet me at the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club and I will show you that this is not about point shooting…..this is about what is possible because of point shooting. Come on out and pick up some of the most important skill sets, techniques, and concepts and you may ever need. Come on out and learn how to win while fighting at night.

Point Shooting and Fighting at Night (Revised)

By Roger Phillips, Owner of Fight Focused Concepts

It is a well documented fact that the vast majority of gun fights (70%-80%) happen in low light situations. Obviously, the criminal element prefers to operate under the cloak of darkness. It is also pretty well documented on how much more difficult it is to make the hits in reduced light. The documented drop in hit percentage during well-lit gun fights compared to reduced light gunfight is 20%-25%. This could be for two very distinct reasons, difficulty in getting to your sights while fighting at night, and the brain starving for the reduced visual input of the entirety of the encounter due to lack of light. Even with the advent of night sights and the usage of a flashlight, having the ability to point shoot is an absolute must own skill set for advanced level fighting at night.

It is my opinion that night sights have severe limitations. The most obvious (at least to me) is your ability to actually be able get to them during a reactive encounter. If we can agree that the ability to get to the sights is very difficult in a reactive day light encounter, then it is clear that the ability to get to them in low light is going to be even more difficult. Another obvious limitation comes down to speed. Sights take time to line up and from my experience night sights take even longer. Lining up night sights also require the gun to be at line of sight, which does not work well within the fluid reality of the retention concept. If 50% of all gun fight occur inside of 3 yards that means that well over 50% of all gun fights have a retention problem that must be dealt with. Another “line of sight” problem comes down the necessary visual input of the entirety of the encounter. This is a very important point! The necessity to be at line of sight while the brain is starving for the visual input of the entire encounter, due to darkness, can be very detrimental. Having the ability to work “below line of sight” becomes even more important during low light situations, than during the day. This is obvious due the lack of visual input that can be taken in during low light situations. To further hinder this lack of visual input by having the gun up in your face can be very counterproductive.

Another dramatic limitation of night sights is the fact that their niche is when you have enough light to ID the threat but not enough light to see your standard sights. In an outdoor environment with no artificial light, night sights are really only good during the waning light right after the sun goes down or as it is about to come up. So the reality is that night sights are only good for a small period of time or under a small percentage of lighting levels. To think that all you need is “sighted fire” skills and night sights is a huge mistake. Night sights have their place! Night sights and their usage are just another tool to own inside of your tactical war bag. There are places what you can significantly benefit from night sights, but they are not nearly as valuable as the marketing will lead you to believe. They are by no means the “be all, end all” that some companies will lead you to believe.

Do I have night sights on my “go to” self-defense handguns……..you bet I do! But they are only pieces of the puzzle in my night fighting strategies and tactics.

I have had night sights on my self-defense guns for years. I have trained with them at night extensively. I have never been very happy with my performance with the night sights. I am not sure what the problem is, whether it was me, my eye sight, or the sights, I was just never satisfied with my performance while training to fight at night, even with over 200 hours of formal “sighted” low light training. Learning and refining my point shooting skills changed all of this…. and changed it dramatically. I found that I did not have to line my night sights up, I could use them as aids for both my sighted and unsighted fire.

As a civilian and predominantly as a civilian trainer, I am a firm believer of “only use the flash light when you have to use the flashlight” school of thought. For me this is primarily for making the ID. There are some other uses of course, such as being able to see the terrain, additional threats, finding cover, lighting up the sights, and adversely affecting the adversary’s vision. But all of these have to be weighed carefully with the fact that your flash light is a target indicator which can make it (and you) a bullet magnet. This weighing of the pro’s and con’s is something that has to be considered and worked in your training and not something that you find out while you are fighting for your life. You need to know the difference between the performance and effects of your flashlight while fighting against a gun or fighting against an edged/blunt weapon attack. This knowledge and information is absolutely critical because there is a huge difference between the realities of these differing encounters.

The combination of the use of night sights and a flash light is better than either of them alone, but still does not cover all of the bases that need to be covered. The trifecta of night fighting is the combination of point shooting skill, flashlight skills, and night sight skills (in that order.) This is the only way to have all of your bases covered. This is the only way to have all of the skills/techniques to be able to have the tactics that you will need to prevail while fighting at night. Without all three of these skills, your techniques will dictate your tactics. This is never a wise idea! You must have the skills and techniques that allow you to use the very best tactic to make your strategy work for your specific situation. It is my firm belief that fighting at night without sound point shooting skill or flash light techniques or night sight skills is like fighting with one arm.

It is my opinion that point shooting really shines in five separate arenas.
1) When behind in the reactionary curve
2) Low light
3) Dynamic movement
4) Integration of H2H
5) For those with physical limitations

It is my firm opinion that without quality point shooting skills you will never take these five separate arenas to their full potential. When we look at the extreme possibility of the fight happening when behind in the reactionary curve, in low light, while needing dynamic movement, during the integration of H2H, and while dealing with physical limitations that affect a significant number of us, point shooting is an absolute must own skill set.

“It is not about point shooting, it is about what point shooting allows us to do.”

When we look at the true dynamics of night fighting it becomes very clear that point shooting must be taught to the highest levels possible. High quality point shooting skill sets are even more necessary than a good flashlight and good flashlight skills. They are even more necessary than good night sights and good nights sight skills. The three together is the trifecta for the civilian defender and fighting at night.

Come on out to Las Vegas on March 21-24, 2015 and meet me at the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club and I will show you that this is not about point shooting…..this is about what is possible because of point shooting. Come on out and pick up some of the most important skill sets, techniques, and concepts and you may ever need. Come on out and learn how to win while fighting at night.