Tactical Tip Of The Week
Grand Master Louis M. Chiodo
Welcome back to those who have been reading the “Tactical Tip Of The Week”. For those who are new to these postings, you can find the previous postings in my website, www.gunfightersltd.com or in my Face Book page, Gunfighters Ltd. Combat Shooting Methods Inc. I sincerely hope you can benefit from the information in these postings.
In this article I want to expand upon the last article I wrote about the use of flashlights. So, it would be a good idea to review it or read it for the first time before reading this posting.
One of the primary uses for flashlights in a self-defense application is for searching for an adversary/intruder in dark environments. I have already covered the affects of light on our night vision when we turn on our flashlights and look into the lighted area we are scanning. We also discussed how every time you turn your flashlight on you mark your position or, at the minimum, let the intruder(s) know you are nearby.
Let’s examine the use of the flashlight in an environment that we are all in at one time or another – our home when the lights are out or minimum lighting is available. Recall from the last article that we can set our lighting up to provide us with great advantage by destroying the intruder(s) night vision by the way we set up lighting in our house. But let’s look at using the flashlight for searching in our house when using a flashlight with a minimum amount of ambient lighting available.
I must first address the issue of “searching” in your house for an intruder(s). In previous articles I discussed the concept of a “strong point defense”. This is when we determine the most suitable place to set up a position that covers the avenue of approach to where you and your family are located. You can prepare that location and determine the best place to pre-position additional gear and ensure that all family members are accounted for and with you. In essence, we want to make sure that anyone else in the house is an intruder.
If you are able to occupy your “strong point defense” position, then there isn’t a need to search. The most important and cherished people you have are safe with you. There is nothing else that matters regarding property in your house. Your 911 call is being answered by dispatch but depending where you are, the response times may vary considerably. At this pont, the best use of a flashlight is to simply not use it. Don’t mark your position by turning it on. If you have used lighting in your house correctly, you will have adequate lighting to engage the intruder without any additional lighting.
Note: When you get the opportunity, test out the lighting in your house and determine the best lighting conditions you can create to assist you in having enough lighting to see and identify an intruder from your strong point location without turning on a flashlight.
I have seen “searching techniques” taught in many venues, by numerous trainers and anyone with a computer can tap into dozens of videos produced by many trainers. Some institutions teach clearing as part of their BASIC program. One I attended many years ago built a portion of training around clearing procedures. The course itself was an introductory course that was designed to teach the basics of their system. Where the hell does building and structure clearing procedures fit into the third day of a basic training course? This is the “feel good” training that is often presented to get people thinking that they are getting skill in a particular topic but in reality, they are being lead down a path that could be very costly for them and their families.
Searching when you are alone is a very dangerous endeavor. NOBODY has 360-degree situational awareness. Having participated in dozens of real high-risk searches at night, I an assure you that you cannot see everything in a 360 degree circle around you and that is why you must at a minimum search with another partner. Don’t let ego get in the way of reality. If you turn on your flashlight and mark your position or let the intruder(s) know you are there, they will most likely set up a “hasty ambush” on YOU!! At this point they know you are there and you have no idea where the intruder(s) may be. They have a distinct tactical advantage.
I am a FIRM believer in validating EVERYTHING included in the “doctrine” I follow and teach. The best way to sort these issues out is to actually try to do what you believe to be the best course of action in as real an environment that you can create to validate what you intend to do. Without this process, you are hoping that it will workout the way you envision it. So here is a simple drill to that you can set up to see how searching will actually work for you.
******SAFETY NOTE: Secure ALL firearms away from the area(s) you intend to use. No ammunition, or firearms on your person. This rule is for anyone who participates in this drill. Double and triple check everyone. You DO NOT need a firearm to do this drill. You will only need your flashlight.
Searching Drill: Begin in the bedroom where you would normally occupy. This drill is designed to take you from the initial position you would be in when you begin your response to an intruder.
You can use a family member(s) (preferably an adult) to act as a role player(s) to simulate an intruder(s). They can position themselves anywhere they want in the house away from the bedroom.
The next step in the drill is for you to do one of the choices you have – search for the intruder or set up a “strong point defense” and let the intruder come to your pre-positioned location.
Start by attempting to search for the intruder first. Again, only have your flashlight with you and your objective is to locate the intruder. The “role player’s” job is to attempt to avoid detection and evaluate the person searching from the following perspective:
- Were you able to detect the person searching for you. This can be done via you hearing them searching for you (noise kills) or from the person searching “marking “their general location when they used their flashlight.
- If the role player detects the person searching, the role player should set up a “hasty ambush” by stopping their movement and position themselves(s) in a location that offers concealment and use this position to ambush the person searching.
- When the role player(s) can observe the location of the person searching, simply yell “BANG” as loudly as possible and that’s when the drill ends.
Note: You can use more than one “role player” since there are many home invasions that have more than one intruder present.
The second way to run the drill is to set up a strong point defense by moving to the pre-established location where you can cover the avenue of approach that an intruder(s) would have to use to get to you and your family. From this position, cover the avenue of approach and when the role player(s) enter it, the drill can be ended by you simply yelling ”Bang” loudly. Let’s discuss the above drills to ensure that there is an understanding of why these drills are so important.
Here are some key points to consider:
- No plan can be completely relied upon until you “test” it. The environment must be as close to real as possible if you are going to plan to defend your home. Test out the plan you have developed and see if it works. If you encounter any problems with the plan, at least you have time to reorganize or make necessary adjustments to make it work better. The last thing you want to have happen is find out that it doesn’t work when you are in contact with a live intruder(s).
- Many people have attended training classes that include clearing procedures. Trust me, moving through a “kill house” or simulator where there are only paper targets and you anticipate that there are “bad guys” to engage is much different from doing it for real when you anticipate contract with a real person. Paper targets don’t shoot back.
- You need direct feedback from someone (role player) who can tell you that you gave your location away when you used your flashlight. The “Role player” can tell you if your noise discipline was poor and they heard you coming.
- You need to feel the surprise and what it does to you physically and mentally when you are confronted by the intruder(s) as you are searching.
- You have to see for yourself if searching is worth the risk or if it is better to set up a strong point defense and take advantage of the intruder(s) not knowing what they are about to walk into.
So, a final thought is that it is not enough to learn how to coordinate a flashlight with a handgun or long gun. We must physically and mentally work through the application of our training in a realistic environment. We must train frequently enough to really understand the strong and weak points of the methods and their application. We do not want surprises when in a real environment against an intruder(s) that want to harm you or your family.
Preparation is a gateway to success. Just going to the range is not enough. I want to emphasize again that these drills DO NOT require using a firearm while training. Safety is paramount. There are ways to make these drills more realistic by adding airsoft or simunitions into the drills but this brings an entirely new set of requirements for safety and equipment. The drills outlined above will get you well on your way to fine-tuning your plans.
Train hard and be safe.
Louis M. Chiodo