Talon Defense - Low Light Handgun and Low Light Carbine
Aaron I recently made our way down to Calera, Alabama to spend two days training with Chase Jenkins of Talon Defense. The first class was focused on low light handgun training and the following class was focused on low light carbine with intermittent handgun use mixed in. This was my first low light class, and Aarons first since qualifying to carry a weapon light with his agency four years ago. The class started off with some time in the classroom going over safety, various lights, lighting methods etc. About half of the class was spent during daylight hours introducing us to various methods, and the remainder was spent in the dark. I did not take any pictures during the low-light portions of the class as I wanted to focus on the training, and taking pictures at night is a bit of a hassle
Chase Jenkins is a 25-year law enforcement veteran. Early in his career he began instructing during in-service training. He has served in various fields of enforcement during his career to include Public Housing detail, SWAT, Narcotics, Criminal Investigations, Field Training Officer and Supervisor and Departmental Training Officer and Supervisor.
Chase has been involved in training for the majority of his law enforcement career as well as being an adjunct instructor for the regional law enforcement academy and for the F.B.I. in the APOSTC Firearms Instructor Certification courses. Chase formed his own business, Talon Defense, in 2009 and currently runs his training business full time. Talon Defense provides firearms and tactics training to law enforcement, military and vetted civilians.
While we took two separate classes, they were held back to back at Double Tap Training grounds. The vast majority of the people that attended the handgun class stayed for the carbine class the following day.
My major takeaways from the class are that everything is harder in the dark, you can only shoot as far as you can see, once a threat is in the light, don’t let them out, focus on what’s going on more so than stealth and KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).
Everything is harder in the dark. From shooting too moving; the lack of light makes your job significantly more difficult. One key aspect that stuck out to me when it came to being proficient with your weapon in low light circumstances was the necessity of regular dry fire. Throughout the class I used a SIG P320 with Dawson fiber optic sights and a Glock 19 with Glock factory night sights. I found that due to my regular dry fire practice, I was able to quickly align my sights before my light ever came on. I physically knew where my sights were, before I ever saw them. I also confirmed my beliefs that nothing beats a good pair of night sights in a low light environment. In addition, I found that my handgun reloads were completed at a similar speed to reloads done in the light. Once again, this comes down to regular dry fire practice that helped develop my muscle memory. In contrast, I was incredibly slow when it came to reloading my carbine. The reason being, I rarely if ever practice reloading my carbine and lacked the muscle memory necessary to place the magazine exactly where it needed to go without the added benefit of the sun.
You can only shoot as far as you can see. The entirety of this class was held outdoors, so the issue of a light being “too bright” was rarely if ever an issue. Chase did encourage us to be careful with our lights. For instance, when using a barricade as cover, avoid shining your light on the barricade and instead focus on illuminating what is behind it to prevent the light splashing back. I used a 200 lumen Surefire X300 on my handgun, and found that it generally provided enough illumination to acquire and neutralize targets at handgun distances. I saw the benefits of more light with the handgun and have since upgraded my handgun lights to 500 lumen Surefire X300Us. When putting a carbine to use I found that the 200 lumen Inforce WML severely limited my carbines useful range. When engaging targets past 50 yards, especially when the fog rolled in and the dust started churning, I could hardly make out the target. For that reason, I now believe that a much brighter light on my carbine would be beneficial, especially when outdoors. I am still researching various options, but plan to upgrade my carbine light to a more powerful light. After all, one of the major reasons we utilize carbines is so that we can engage threats at distances far beyond typical handgun ranges.
Once a threat is in the light, don’t let them out. This was a concept I had never really considered before the class. However, the concept is important for a variety of reasons. The first being that it keeps your threat aware of the fact that you are watching them. The second is that it allows you to keep tabs on a threat that you thought was neutralized. The last thing I want to do is end up in a gunfight, think I have neutralized a threat and then look up from reloading my firearm to see that they have disappeared. This takeaway really reinforced the need for a handheld light in addition to a weapons light. In a situation where a threat has been taken down, one can easily keep their handgun or rifle on target, illuminating the threat while scanning their surroundings with a handheld light.
Focus on what’s going on around you, more so than stealth. Many instructors over the years have taught the importance of light discipline, I learned that the idea could often prove to be more problematic than beneficial depending on ones situation. Chase gave us the example of clearing a crack house. Now, for those who have never been in a crack house, they often look like a tornado has cruised through them with the sole purpose being to make it as hard as possible for one to navigate through the building. In a situation like this, using your light to assure you don’t end up falling through a hole in the floor or tripping over that stolen air conditioning unit will be more beneficial than the stealth one might gain by not using their light. Concepts such as the “firefly” method can certainly prove beneficial at times, but outside of a flat range the methods cons really start to show themselves. This is not an excuse to throw the idea of light discipline out the window, as in certain situations an accidental discharge or overuse of ones flashlight could prove to be detrimental.
Simple is better (K.I.S.S.) When it comes to firearms, especially when using them in low light environments simplicity is crucial. Chase taught, and I found that the best light is one that comes on when you press a button, and turns off then you release the button. I watched people struggle through various modes on their flashlight and waste time trying to turn their lights on all while they were trying to engage a target. Simple gear that gets the job done is far for valuable than many of the fancy features that allow you to send up an SOS beacon or switch your light through 12 different levels of brightness.
Aaron and I had a great time training with Chase. The class was not only a ton of fun, but also taught us a lot of valuable skills. The skills learned will surely benefit myself as an armed civilian, and Aaron as a law enforcement officer. For those who have not spent time training in a low light environment, I highly recommend you do so. Everything is harder in the dark, and practicing in the dark is a surefire way to ensure a path to victory.
For more info on Chase’s future classes and Talon Defense visit www.facebook.com/TalonDefense.org.