Oregon Firearms Academy Low Light / Night Fire Class

by GunGuy

I had the opportunity to take a Low Light / Night Fire Class at the Oregon Firearms Academy this past November. The instructors in the class were utmost professionals, knowledgeable and easy to talk to. For those of you who are planning on taking this class in the future keep in mind that Oregon in late November is cold. The staff at OFA were kind enough to have a fire going outside and a covered heated area to keep away the frost. The temps hovered in the 20’s and once the sun went down the temps dropped into the teens and the cold took a toll on all of us.

We started the class at 11 am with about 45 minutes of class room instruction going over safety, differences in hand held and weapon mounted flashlights, techniques and then moved out to the range. Once on the range we went over how to use the flashlights in conjunction with our firearms and strong hand shooting with and with out barriers in place. The daylight live fire prepared us for the low light and night fire portion and we worked out any kinks before the night fire commenced.

During the class we covered shooting in low light, partially lit like a parking lot, complete darkness, strobe lights if there were cops or emergency vehicles around and they popped a couple of smoke grenades at the end to show you how it would be in a fire or disaster situation. There was a strong emphasis on holding the flashlight with the support hand, firing two shots with your strong hand and then moving in one direction after turning the light off. The most important thing was to move after you use the flashlight, even if it was accidental, because the bad guys would shoot at the light.

At one point after it got dark the OFA staff had us do a side by side of all of the hand held flash lights and my $25 Led Lenser V2 flashlight was just a little less bright than everybody’s more expensive lights. I like the idea of running flashlights that run on readily available AAA’s and not on CR123a’s. The downside of AA and AAA flashlights is that if you put alkaline batteries in them they might leak. So you have to check the batteries on a semi regular basis. Alternatively my weapon mounted Streamlight TLR-1 used CR123a’s and was brighter than the hand held so the choice is yours. The instructors commented on having a weapon mounted light and a handheld if you are military and or a law enforcement officer. If you are a civilian two hand held flashlights would be your best bet because if you drop one, you have an extra. This point was reinforced as I dropped mine at one point during the class and I couldn’t see anything in the dark. Luckily the guy next to me had an extra and hooked me up.

Here is a quick run down of what I took away from the class.

  • Fighting is a cave man thing. Too much technology can be a hindrance.

  • Keep your equipment simple. Complicating things under stress will mess you up.

  • OFA staff recommended weapon mounted lights in the 200-1000 lumens range for rifle and in the 200-300 lumens range for handgun.

  • Use the light in short bursts. After you use your light on purpose or accident you have to move.

  • A light is for illumination. Don’t illuminate with the gun. Have a hand carry as well.

  • Lights can also be a liability. The tell everyone around you where you are.

  • When using a flashlight and you use a lanyard have it around your hand but not around your wrist. Having it around your wrist allows someone to pull you off balance if they grab the light.

  • A Tiger ring for the flashlight allows more freedom of movement for your hands but it isn’t for everyone.

  • Night sights are not a necessity. You can use spillage from your light to light up your pistol sights.

  • Tritium half life is 12 years and Tritium night sights will give off adequate light for 5-7 years depending on your eyesight.

  • Lasers are a mixed bag, some rely on it too much. They focus on the target and not on their sights.

  • Using strobe flashlights makes it difficult to see peoples hands and disorients the other person and yourself. Supposedly strobe lights are good against dogs.

  • The bright led flashlights beams dissipated in fog, rain and smog where the incandescent lights cut through a little better.

  • A concern for weapon mounted lights is if they get stuck and don’t turn off the bad guys will shoot at the light.

  • In a house the higher lumens will reflect off picture frames, mirrors, white wall. Low lux flooding beams can be more useful in this situation than high lux because they do not splash back as much.

  • Have a red or green filtered light  to look at things up close, such as your targets, so you don’t lose your night vision. If you use the white light it will take 20-45 minutes to regain full night vision.

  • Don’t take shortcuts with your arms, you can shoot yourself, the middle of your chest is home base. Don’t cheat and have your hand behind the back of the gun.

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