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Defense / Security / Safety Skills / Knowledge

Nighttime Handgun Self-Defense: 4 Problems and Solutions

You know what I’ve never done? I’ve never attempted to shoot a firearm in the dark or even very low-light conditions. I’ve always taken my guns to a range during the daytime, though, I have shot elsewhere (such as on a friend’s land) some time ago, again, during the day.

The other night, however, I was lying awake in bed in the pitch-black darkness of our bedroom–because my wife prefers I stub my toe when I get up in the middle of the night, lol–wondering if I could even attempt to stop an intruder with lethal force at that moment given that (1) I keep my firearms locked away in various safes and (2) I can’t see a single thing right now! Odds are very low, indeed.

Problem #1: Unable to Identify Friend or Foe

No doubt what really scares me the most is that I would accidentally mistake my own family for an intruder and shoot the wrong person, yikes! A flashlight should remedy this concern.

Of course, I do keep a flashlight stashed by the bed in case I needed one if the power goes out but, truth be told, if I really thought someone was in the house who didn’t belong there then I doubt I would even remember or attempt to grab my flashlight in that moment choosing, instead, to race for my handgun safe. This thought made me realize I should at least have a handheld flashlight in my handgun safe which I’m going to do right now. Ok, that’s done. Maybe one day I’ll choose to add a weapon-mounted light.

Problem #2: Not Becoming a Target Yourself

I also thought about how much of a target you must present in the dark when using a flashlight at night. Although there are different ways to hold a flashlight while also holding a firearm, the “FBI method” seems to be preferred in order to keep your center of mass from being easily targeted by someone shooting back at you:

One thing he mentioned which might not have been clear is that you shouldn’t keep the flashlight on continuously but, rather, use short bursts to illuminate (and potentially disorient) would-be attackers. I truly doubt I would remember to do that; not without practice, anyway.

Problem #3: Shooting One-Handed is Awkward

Another problem mentioned in the previous video is having to shoot one-handed which, unlike how the movies depict, isn’t quite as easy as it appears to be, at least, not without some practice. Personally, I’ve almost always used two hands to shoot because ranges are pretty strict about safety (as am I) which means using two hands. Plus, I’m not sure how accurate I would be, even at relatively close range, using only one hand to aim while under stress. The following video offers some advice with a focus on what to do if your support hand is injured:

While the previous video doesn’t discuss it, I don’t believe I have EVER tried to shoot a firearm with my off-hand, have you? I wonder how pathetic (and possibly even dangerous) I would be if I even tried?

Here’s a more thorough video about shooting with a single hand offering three goods tips to be aware of as well as what you might forget to do should you have to switch hands:

Problem #4: Sights Not Right for You or Your Situation

My guess is you already know there are several different nighttime sight options–tritium, red dot, fiber optic–but they’re not created equal, each one having pros and cons. If you’ve got the time, here’s a rather lengthy, albeit interesting, discussion regarding their differences (you might be surprised at which setup he considers best):

Conclusion

As with anything this important it’s crucial to practice, even if it’s merely walking around your house at night pretending like it’s a real scenario (with a cleared firearm, of course). Then, when you’re comfortable, see if you can find a safe and legal place to actually practice shooting with your self-defense handgun of choice in low light conditions… maybe now’s a good time to make nice with someone who has some land and loves to shoot? I’d say it is. 🙂

By Damian Brindle

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