7 Principles of Low Light Operation

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    Thread: 7 Principles of Low Light Operation

    1. #1
      Senior Member TAPnRACK's Avatar
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      Jan 2013

      7 Principles of Low Light Operation

      This is a follow-up thread to Steve's flashlight thread posted earlier this week. I'll cover the 7 principles of low light operation... and the 5 applications for using flashlights. I first learned about Low Light Operation techniques and principles in the Marines and later in my LE career. I've taught these principles to LE, private security and more recently the military (PowerPoint presentations). I may have to break this up into multiple posts based on time constraints... my apologies.

      To begin, there are 2 forms of light... Ambient and Artificial. Ambient light being naturally occurring light from the sun, moon & stars while Artificial is generated from man-made sources like street lights, headlights etc. Most focus attention on Artificial, but Ambient light can assist or cause problems as well.

      Be mindful that a White light (flashlight beam) source is a target indicator and can potentially expose you to a threat. These principles can help you avoid potential danger.

      5 Applications of using light:

      - Searching
      - Navigating
      - Threat Identification (see note at end)
      - Control or Direct
      - Communication

      Read the enviorment and locate sources of light (ambient or artificial) and locate areas of darkness. Always assume darkened areas contain threats. Based on your situation and available flashlight, you may choose to use "spot" techniques or a "paint the room" style technique for additional illumination.

      Use only the amount of light necessary to accomplish your objective. Most modern flashlights have multiple brightness levels, usually 3. You don't always have to use the highest setting, it can cause glare and bounce off objects and blind or disoriented the user. Keep the light level as low as possible, it increases your ability to see without being seen.

      Understand back lighting and what sources of light can do, such as silhouetting you in a doorway, hallway or in front of windows. Never stand in doorways with a light source behind you... instead move quickly through doorway or hallway to avoid a "fatal funnel" situation. If you find yourself facing a threat while being back lit.. use principle #6 to even the playing field.

      Constantly evaluate and check your surroundings to make sure you are staying to the shadows and not creating a silhouette or shadow. See the situation and the enviorment from the threats viewpoint. Make decisions based on what the threat may see.

      5. LIGHT & MOVE:
      As discussed earlier, your light source can show where you are, where you are heading and telegraph the path along the way. Utilize light and move techniques such as the "Firefly" to quickly light an area and move on before using the light again. Remember this: When you're in the dark, stay in the dark. When you're in the light, light up the dark. Avoid the "constant on" approach when searching locating possible threats... this is very common. If your eyes are already adjusted to the dark (adaptation)... use that to your advantage.

      Use your light for more than identifying possible threats and to avoiding tripping on lamp cords... use your light on the offensive. Most lights (handheld and mounted) have a strobe feature built in. Strobe or High Beam to temporarily blind and disoriented the threat, especially if you find yourself at a disadvantage as discussed earlier (being backlit). Take away the threats ability to see while increasing your own ability to see. This can buy you precious seconds that can aid in neutralizing or stopping the threat.

      "One is none and two is one" is a tactical community saying that comes to mind when I think of this principle. Murphy's Law guarantees that if you only carry one light, it won't work when you need it most. In a HD scenario, this may seem overkill... but there is nothing wrong with using a weapon mounted light as a back-up to your handheld flashlight... or vice versa. I've dropped my share of lights on the job and thankfully had a smaller back-up handy to help aid in apprehending suspects or locating threats.

      Always positively identify perceived threats before engaging with fire. The pressure of time, low light conditions, activation of the sympathetic nervous system and the desire to survive & prevail can lead to the misidentification of an individual while under stress. Always identify possible threats and do not engage what you do not know.

      Well, hope you guys enjoy reading this thread, I could really stretch the subject out more but felt a Cliffs Notes version was better suited to spark conversation and go into more detail based on individuals needs or applications.

      Sent from my SM-N920V using Tapatalk
      denner, Steve M1911A1 and AZdave like this.

    2. #2
      Senior Member TAPnRACK's Avatar
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      Jan 2013
      I'll add a Part 2 soon, stay tuned.... thinking about going into detail of actual techniques vs theories.
      denner likes this.

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