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.