Archive for September, 2013


Until recently, I had no idea there were so many ways to combine a flashlight and a handgun. I was familiar with the two-handed style I now know to be called the Harries technique and like everyone else I’ve seen the FBI style on TV. But there really are a plethora of techniques to choose from. This morning, I was privileged to receive a little bit of training in several of the most common techniques from an esteemed coworker. He guided me in my attempts with the FBI, Chapman, Surefire/Rodgers, and the Harries Techniques. I quickly deduced that I do not do well at all shooting one-handed in the dark, and hardly any better with the two-handed techniques that involved wrapping fingers around both light and gun. Small hands… multiple objects… not the best combination.


(Now here is where I need to quickly interject the ubiquitous disclaimer: *Your results may vary.* I am a 5’ 7” slender woman with small hands and mediocre upper body strength. The following analysis is highly subjective to those parameters. Thank you.)


The FBI Technique


The largest tactical disadvantage of using a flashlight is the light provides an excellent bullseye for any bad guys desiring to kill you. The FBI developed the technique of holding the light out at a 45 degree angle to mitigate the danger of being struck in a vital organ. The obvious advantage of holding the light out and away from your body is that the light is likely to draw the fire of your enemies to your hand and arm and away from your head and torso. Other advantages of this method include: 1. easy to learn and use and, 2. great for scanning large areas. There are, however, several disadvantages to this technique; 1. fatigue of the arm, 2. accidental illumination of self, 3. does not provide a solid platform for the shooting hand. (I personally struggled with all three of those disadvantages.)


The Chapman Technique


During the ‘60s, Ray Chapman developed a two-handed technique for use with larger, older style flashlights (such as the Maglight) with barrel activated switches. Hands are held together with the non-shooting hand holding the flashlight between the thumb and first finger and the rest of the hand supporting the shooting hand. The stated advantages are: 1. centers the light beam and firearm upon the opponent, 2. allows for rapid threat appraisal, 3. allows for adequate control for both light and handgun. The main disadvantages are: 1. does not work with butt-cap activated flashlights and 2. does not work well for people with small hands. (Even with a relatively small Surefire combat light I struggled to grip my shooting hand. I quickly disregarded this technique as a preferred option for me.)

The Surefire/Rogers Technique


In my research, I have seen the method of holding the light like a syringe referred to as both the Surefire and the Rogers technique. Whichever name it goes by, this method has the advantage of allowing the support hand to more firmly grip the shooting than the Chapman technique. The butt-cap is activated by the palm or base of the thumb. (Using the base of the thumb worked best for me, but also tended to cause a downward angle of the light. While I did find my light beam was instinctively closer to the target than it was with the FBI method, I also found myself fumbling in an attempt to get the light beam directly on target. With much more training and practice I believe this technique may work well for me.)

The Harries Technique


Developed in the 1970’s, the Harries technique requires you to bring your support hand under the shooting hand and lock the wrists together with the backs of your hands touching. This technique works well with butt-cap and barrel activated lights. The light and firearm are aimed simultaneously enabling rapid target acquisition. The biggest advantage I found was the control this technique gives you. My accuracy was greatly improved with this method. The largest disadvantage is the possibility of sweeping your support hand as you come into position. For this reason, much training is required to use this technique.

To Sum It Up:

Overall, I was surprised to find I felt the most natural utilizing the Harries method. I was much more accurate and adept in the technique I expected to like the least. I believe many of my issues with the other methods may be solved by more training (and consistent upper body workouts), but my first foray into low-light training is certainly drawing me towards the Harries. One thing I have definitely learned from all this, I need more training. The experts make it look so easy (not to mention Hollywood), but it really is a skill that needs training, practice and time to be done right. I encourage all handgun owners to make a similar foray into the world of low-light training. A large majority of bad guy encounters happen at night, shouldn’t we be prepared for them?


Follow Up…

I received a comment on my last article that I believe bears deep consideration and possibly even soul-searching. In essence, it was pointed out that the downside to using a mounted weapon-light is that it ensures you are always pointing a loaded gun at whatever you are illuminating. While I definitely don’t want to be pointing a loaded weapon at my roommate (who may happen to surprise me by being in the wrong place at the wrong time), I also don’t want to hear a bump in the night and not be able to identify that large object coming into my room. Occasionally, bad guys will cut the power to a house, so I cannot depend on my room lights. My futile attempts this morning revealed I am not capable of holding a flashlight and working the pump-action of my home defense shotgun or even activating said light, acquiring the target, and merely holding the shotgun steady on target. (It was truly quite comical, I’m sure, to watch me grapple with two such familiar objects that had suddenly morphed into this unwieldy beast.) This experience and careful consideration of my environment are encouraging me towards a weapon-light. I realize in doing so I will place an incredible amount of dependence on my trigger-finger training and control. Finger off the trigger until target is acquired and you are ready to fire. In my situation, if I am awakened in the dark of the night, I have no expectation of clearing rooms or seeking out the threat. I expect to hunker down in a safe location and prepare and pray. Should they open that door, they have identified themselves as a threat, and the light will only confirm it.


*Again, many thanks to Richard McLarin, representative for SureFire, for sharing his knowledge of tactics and flashlights.
*Thank you, Tommy Harper for sharing your knowledge and time as well!

For Further Research


Schedule change…

Posted: September 22, 2013 in Self Defense


As a general FYI: due to a rearranged work schedule, I will now be posting new articles on Monday instead of Sunday. Thank you for your continued interest in and support of this blog.


An interesting topic has come to my attention of late: flashlights. Now, not just any ‘ol flashlight, but tactical flashlights. You may ask, what exactly is a tactical flashlight and what makes it any better than a regular flashlight? Those are excellent questions and I shall do my best to answer both. A tactical flashlight is best classified as a small, light-weight yet powerfully bright flashlight built of weapon-grade aluminum. They frequently have an activator switch (button) on the tailcap and are typically designed to be attached to a firearm. Black is the standard color.

The-SureFire-C3-Centurion-Flashlight-1Definitions are all well and good, but why should you go spend your hard-earned money on one of these woop-di-do flashlights when you already have 5 flashlights at home? What’s so important about these lights? Well, first of all, let’s look at the reasons we need flashlights:

  1. identify unknown objects or persons in a dark environment
  2. reveal potential hazards
  3. aid in locating objects stored in darkened places (cabinets, shelves, storage areas or dark corners)
  4. assistance in completing a task (reading a book, finishing up an outside task, etc…)
Target Identification…

Home-Invasion-Defensive-PositionOf these four, the first one is clearly the most relevant to tactical situations (and by tactical I mean any situation that is related to self-defense, military or police action or any deviation therein), with the second reason coming in close behind it. When you hear that bump in the night, it is critical for your conscience’s sake (and law enforcement) for you to be able to clearly identify the threat. To do that, you must be able to visually determine if the person has the capability, intention, and ability of doing said harm to you or your loved ones and this assessment must be done within a few seconds. Now, multiply that by considering that the large majority of violent encounters occur at night… Imagine yourself stumbling out of bed in the middle of the night in response to a loud noise, reaching for your firearm, seeing a human sized form in your hallway, training your firearm on the perceived threat, and shooting said form. You have completed all the steps in your home defense plan. You have defended yourself from a threat and protected your loved ones… except for one major problem: you did not identify the threat. What if that large form was your drunk neighbor who simply got the wrong house, or a family member dropping in due to unforeseen circumstances, or a coat rack your spouse had recently moved into the hallway? Or it may have been a genuine threat. At that point, the only way to know is to turn on the light and examine the damage. Keeping a flashlight either on or next to your home-defense firearm and utilizing that light during that middle-of-the-night wake-up-call will most definitely help prevent tragedies and ease your conscious in the aftermath. It will also help you articulate to law enforcement or a jury why you felt your life was endangered.


And the other 3 reasons…

Tactical flashlights are also advantageous when considering the other three reasons to use a flashlight. These lights are so small and compact you are more likely to have one on your person than a conventional light and thus they help you avoid hazards, find objects, and finish that project. Mine has also saved me from a face full of spider-web.

Why Use a Tactical Flashlight?

The tactical flashlight has many advantages over conventional flashlights in home-defense planning.

  1. 4928697093_60dc771434_zIt is compact. It is easy to keep next to you while sleeping at night and on your person during the day.
  2. It is lightweight. The weight of the flashlight does not dramatically affect the handling of the firearm. Also, as a daily carry item its minimal weight is especially beneficial.
  3. It is very bright. A conventional flashlight with two D batteries and a standard bulb puts out 15 to 20 Lumens. 200 Lumens are considered the minimum for tactical purposes and 500 Lumens are preferred. This brightness will temporarily blind your opponent giving you the advantage of time and target ID. The light may also confuse and disorient your opponent, deterring or delaying an assaultive action.
  4. The beam is tightly controlled. The beam on a conventional flashlight spills out to the sides, fills an area and frequently has dark spots. With a quality tactical flashlight, the beam is solid, concentrated and contains no dark spots. Aside from simply focusing all the light into one area, a controlled beam also prevents the person holding the light from being illuminated.
  5. surefire-beamIt easily attaches to a firearm. There are many options and accessories available for attaching a tactical flashlight to your firearm without affecting the handling or cycling. Attaching a light to the firearm is key to reduce lag time and ensures you can operate the firearm while keeping the bad guy illuminated. This is especially critical on long guns. Try to hold a flashlight and a long gun, activate the light, identify the target, hold them both on target, and get off accurate shots. Now try doing the above with that pump shotgun so many of us have as our home defense firearm… Like I said, attach a light.


    Duct tape is not a recommended option.


Or this…

Daniel Defense flashlight mount

Try this instead…

Counter Arguments…


Some may argue that holding a flashlight in front of you (or attaching a light to your gun) only provides a bullseye for the criminal. And to some degree, they are correct. By holding the light in front, any shots fired at the light are more likely to hit your vital areas. Ultimately, the best situation is for you to be in the cover of darkness while looking into a lit room. If you could rig up your house in such a way that ensures you are always in the dark and the rooms you are searching light up before you get to them, then I suppose you would not need a flashlight. However, as that is not feasible for most of us, a very bright flashlight is the best alternative to shooting in the dark. And there are techniques that may be used to draw the criminal’s line of fire from your center mass to less vital areas. I plan on exploring these techniques in my next article.

Concluding Thoughts…

Overall, a quality flashlight is valuable to have on hand in our day-to-day lives as well as in tactical and emergency situations. I find myself using my flashlight to find gun boxes stored under the display cabinet, light up the path to my apartment, and to look for spider webs. While I am certainly grateful to be spared that auspicious meeting with the spider, I know I’ll be even more grateful for my tactical light’s bright beam should I ever use it while meeting a predator of a different sort.


*Many thanks to Richard McLarin, representative for SureFire, for sharing his knowledge of tactics and flashlights.

Other Sources…


Many people feel it is NEVER OK for a child to handle a gun.

There are many people in this country that are very uncomfortable with combining children and guns. In light of recent national tragedies, the statistics on accidental shootings involving children, and the media’s propensity to overreact, it is certainly understandable for those unfamiliar with firearms to think it is crazy to encourage children to shoot. However, as demonstrated by young Katie Francis, Dylan Holsey, and Miko Andres, children are just as capable of mastering firearm safety and control as adults. Clearly, these children (and the hundreds of other young, well-trained shooters like them) are in no danger and do not pose any threat to themselves or society. In fact, I would feel safer next to them on the range than many of the adults I’ve seen shooting. So what makes the difference between these children and those that end up on the front page? Training.







In interviews, these young gun enthusiasts frequently, and quite unintentionally, offer valuable information for parents and firearms instructors. What training advice can we glean from these children?

  1. Teach gun safety first.


    If you want to encourage your child to shoot… start small. If you want to scare your child away from guns forever… start with the biggest calibre you have.

  2. Once safety is ensured, introduce firearms under close supervision.
  3. Begin with a small-calibre firearm.
  4. Prevent the firearm from having the “forbidden fruit” mystique by allowing the child to gain (closely supervised) experience with a firearm.
  5. As the child matures, gradually increase their responsibility for maintaining safety.
  6. As the child matures, gradually increase the challenge.

Increased Challenge… Increased Fun!!

These six steps appear as common themes throughout interviews and conversations with current young shooters and in the memories of many adult shooters. How you, as a parent or instructor, implement these steps is completely subjective. Given that no one knows your children or your family better than you, I will not presume to give a specific age at which such instruction “should” begin nor which methods to employ. You are the parent (or instructor) and I trust you know what’s best for your specific situation.


However, it is vitally important that you as the instructor are competent and well-trained before you attempt to teach somebody else. A poor instructor will teach poor habits. For example, during a recent interaction with a couple I noticed the wife (a beginner) repeatedly putting her finger in the trigger guard (particularly while attempting to rack a slide). I gently corrected her but she repeated the action a few minutes later. A while later, I stepped out onto the range and noticed her husband placing his finger in the trigger guard while racking the slide. There is no shame in being a beginner or making mistakes, however please do not pass those mistakes on to others. An instructor with poor safety habits will only teach poor safety habits. If you have never received professional instruction, please get some before you begin teaching others. Or, better yet, bring your children with you to the class. You will all learn valuable information. You will be able to help each other remember the key points. And you will have fun together.

With the dramatic increase in gun sales over the last few years, many families are now grappling with the concerns of firearms, safety and children. Locking the firearms in a safe, or otherwise making them inaccessible, is certainly a key component to a family’s overall gun-safety plan, but training must not be ignored. Firearms safety instruction for the whole family will give you a peace of mind that will not be achieved by locks alone.


Other Reasons to Teach Your Children:

And finally… They win scholarships and gain the confidence to stand up to a bunch of gun-banning politicians…

Child_Gun_SafetyAs most of you know, gun ownership increased dramatically this past year. Many of these new gun owners are facing a challenging array of dilemmas: to carry or not, how to carry, where to keep the gun at home, what type of ammo to use, what to tell family members, what about the children? Of all the issues new gun owners face, correctly addressing gun safety with their children is without a doubt the most important (carrying coming in a close second). Some parents take the approach of simply hiding and/or locking up the firearms. Some tell the children never to touch it. Some teach their children safe ways to use the firearms. The same parents may use all three approaches depending on the age of the children. While methods are debatable, one thing is clear. There are far too many tragic stories of children killing or being killed with their parents’ firearm to simply ignore the issue. And while you may successfully hide your firearms from your children, not everybody is as successful and your child may discover a firearm at a friend’s house.  As common as firearms are and as little accurate information children receive from society, it is vital you, the parent, teach your children gun safety.

childgun_lgMany parents seem to believe their children are too young to learn about guns. However, modern media does not share that concern. A child will easily learn dangerous firearm handling habits from movies, video games and cartoons. Left with TV for their only guide, children will automatically pick up a firearm, put their finger on the trigger and point it at somebody. Why? That is the behavior of every TV character with a gun. It is up to parents and other concerned adults to correct such perilous impressions. Many times this correction can be done through repetition of key words and practice. Similar to “Stop, Drop, and Roll,” gun safety rules may be taught to very young children. (I personally have seen parents begin gun safety instruction when their son was but three years old.) The nationally renowned NRA’s Eddie Eagle program is directed at pre-K through 3rd grade students. This program teaches children four simple rules.

If you see a gun:
Don’t Touch.
Leave the Area.
Tell an Adult.


While this method works well for the majority of children, I realize there are children that insist on learning things the hard way and will automatically reach for whatever you tell them “don’t touch.” For these children some extra steps may need to be taken to impress upon them the severity of the consequences of mishandling a firearm. A trip to an indoor range, exposing the child to noise and recoil, may be enough to convince some. I’ve heard of other parents, with the intention of demonstrating the destruction a bullet traveling at high speeds will cause, shooting watermelons or some other such object. Children raised on the farm typically learn this lesson watching an animal being put out of its misery, slaughtered for meat or killed to protect livestock. In some cases, simply allowing the child to handle the unloaded firearm under direct, constant supervision is enough to satisfy their curiosity.

learning-to-shoot-300x199In the case of the 3-year-old mentioned above, he was shown a firearm, informed of the basics of firearms, warned of the danger, strongly cautioned (nearly threatened) to never touch one unsupervised (and never to let his younger sister touch one), and promised to be taught all about it once he is older. This satisfied his curiosity and from there on he has been content to play with his Nerf gun (and has even gone so far as to carry it on his hip, inside his waistband). His parents are careful to answer any questions very matter-of-factly, without any sense of secrets or hiding. This approach, combined with adults being careful to keep all firearms inaccessible, has eliminated much of the fear associated with kids and guns. We gun-owning adults are careful but we are also confident this child would know what to do if he ever came upon a firearm unattended. I believe this honest, forthright method (and other similar methods) restores firearms to the “trusty tool” label of the past and strip off the “evil weapon” label of today. Removing the “evil” label also removes much of the curiosity from young minds. It becomes simply another tool, like a chainsaw, that they will learn to use as they get older instead of a sinister object of terror that makes grown men afraid (as the schools and media would have them believe).

nssf-dad-kidsAs a single woman, I have not yet had to traverse these murky waters myself but I have studiously observed others navigate their way to safety. That observation, coupled with common sense, says the best way to keep children safe around guns is to teach them about guns. Ignoring and pretending firearms don’t exist will only feed curiosity. Depending on always locking them up is also flawed, because we are flawed. We are humans and humans make mistakes. Teaching a child to avoid a firearm is similar to backing up the computer. You backup your files just in case your hard-drive crashes, why not train your child just in case you forget one time. I’m sure many of you have faced this issue before. Please share your stories, as well as advice and tips in the comments.