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Low-Light Pistol Course

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 56 Issue: 3 Dated: March 2008 Pages: 72-75
Kevin Davis
Date Published
March 2008
4 pages
This article explains the training principles and logistics of the Low-light Pistol Course conducted by the Summit County Sheriff's Office (Ohio).
The course explains the physical effects of stress related to an officer's encounter with a dangerous suspect in a low-light environment. Under stress, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is triggered, which produces visual handicaps, such as the narrowing of the visual field, and a reduction in depth perception. In understanding when SNS effects occur, officers are taught ways to counter it with tactical breathing practiced just prior to entering a low-light dangerous environment. Another handicap the course identifies in low-light encounters is visual adaptation to low light. This pertains to the deterioration in vision that occurs immediately upon entering a darkened room or building from a well-lit or sunlit environment. The course recommends that dayshift officers use high-quality sunglasses to aid in visual adaptation when moving into darkened areas. The course also discusses the features and handling techniques of lighting equipment used with a drawn pistol in a low-light environment. Low-light shooting techniques are also explained and practiced in the course. The hands-on portion of the course begins with a review and practice of a proper combat draw-stroke, followed by a proper presentation of the pistol to the target at eye level. This is practiced in coordination with holding a flashlight in the direction of the aimed pistol. Both weapon-mounted and hand-carried lights are recommended for regular equipment. The final section of the course involves live-fire practice in a low-light environment using the principles and practices taught for adjusting to and navigating in a low-light environment. Lighting conditions are progressively diminished and changed from front-lit to back-lit targets.