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Serious Illumination Tools
Copyright 2014
All Rights Reserved
Toll Free: 866.901.4437
About the Author:
Ken J. Good has been actively involved
with Law Enforcement and Military
training for the past 30 years.
Mr. Good is a published author and is regularly a guest instructor at a variety of
well-known industry schools, seminars, and training venues.
Mr. Good started his professional at arms experience by graduating as the honor graduate of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL
Training (BUD/S) class #105, Dec, 7th, 1979.
He served the remainder of his active-duty with SEAL Team One. There he was a Scout/Sniper instructor, small unit tactics
instructor and worked extensively with small arms as an ordnance department representative and platoon armorer.
After his active-duty, Mr. Good later directed a Physical Security program for the Pacific Fleet for nearly a decade that included a
variety of programs including an emergent reality-based training program, challenging small arms courses and other security and
anti-terrorist related curriculums. Civilian Law Enforcement personnel started gravitating toward this training at this location and
the connectivity with Law Enforcement began.
Mr. Good received numerous awards and letters of commendation for his work at Fleet Training Center, San Diego. From there, Mr.
Good co-founded a small, highly progressive training company in the mid-1980s called, Combative Concepts Inc.
He then became the founding director of a well-known Low-Light Training Institution.
During his tenure there, Mr. Good directed the activities of a highly qualified staff that
pushed forward and codified low-light strategies as they related to high-risk entry
work and general patrol operations. The staff was closely involved with product
development and served to form a living bridge between the engineering staff and
operational realities.
Progessive Combat Solutions LLC was started to push the envelope outward in an
never-ending quest to bring relevant low-light concepts and practical training to
those who go in harms way.
Mr. Good has also stood up Night Reaper Systems LLC to design, manufacture and
distribute leading-edge illumination tools.
Tactical Training:
Illumination Tools: www.nightreaper.com
In Appreciation
“I would like to sincerely thank the following people for the content, concepts and support
provided to make this curriculum possible.”
Ken J. Good
President and Founder Progressive Combat Solutions LLC
Francine Lunati-Good - My Beloved Wife
Francine has endured my long hours and days away from home and my persistent (often stated as stubborn and arrogant) personality, so that
we could pursue to the Nth degree what does and does not work in the low-light environment.
Michael James Good - My Son
Michael does not always get to see his father as much as he would like to as many sons and daughters of those in this profession also
experience. To my little warrior, may I have his youthful exuberance all my life.
Fellow Partners, Instructors, and Friends
“No man is an island”. Without the constant support, scrutiny, and suggestions of those around me this curriculum would not have become a
reality. Special thanks to Mark Warren, Rod Schaeffer, Steve Decker, and Ty Moeder, long time devoted instructor/trainers and active duty
police officers for their assistance in this project. Appreciation goes out to Mitch Brim for his research into case law relating to this
Law Enforcement and Military Professionals around the Globe
Heart-felt thanks to all those that have participated in the training and real world operations over the years (staff and student alike). These
experiences have provided the basis from which these concepts have been formulated, reviewed and improved upon. I would also like to
particularly thank members of the New York Police Department’s Emergency Services Unit (ESU), who helped us in time of need in ways they
probably cannot fully appreciate. Pete, Frank, Richie -Thanks Guys!
Col. John Boyd, USAF
Although Col. Boyd is no longer with us, his understanding of mind and space brought forth the powerful OODA model (Boyd's Cycle). First
exposure to this cycle freed my mind from many chains. Proper understanding of his concepts leads to true personal and unit operational
readiness in a wide array of combative situations.
Dave Maynard - Naval Special Warfare / Co-founder of Combative Concepts Inc.
Mr. Maynard was a pioneer in Force-on-Force training methodologies and low-light operations. His teaching style, understanding of human
nature and gregarious personality have significantly influenced the presentation of this doctrine.
Brian Puckett, Writer
Mr. Puckett's efforts were instrumental in compiling technical and historical data for the Flashlight Techniques section of this curriculum.
Robert Dawson, frmr Huntington Beach Police Officer, FAA Investigator, Trainer
Mr. Dawson's expertise in a wide variety of shooting disciplines, commitment to excellence and outstanding teaching ability has served as a
benchmark for achievement in my life.
Mother and my Brother Larry
Praises to my family members who spent hours finding so many of my mistakes in this publication.
Officer Nick Kokot
Thanks to Nick for spending time with me on the phone correcting, formatting and getting this project into original print format.
Jeff Rose, BlackHawk Products Group Media - Photographer
Jeff took an extraordinary amount of time to get us the shots we needed to help bring the point across.
The Origins of this Doctrine
ll doctrine currently used by Progessive Combat Solutions is not "ours"…It does not belong to anybody…It is simply a reflection of
what is in the environment, revealed through many years of intense training and actual operations.
Our approach is based on concepts and strategies developed by greater warriors who have trod the earth before our time. It will change over
time, hopefully in a positive manner, as we interact with those in harm’s way and find more efficient ways of training and operating.
The format in which we reveal that reality is simply our style…one style of many acceptable styles.
This style began to emerge in the mid 1980s with a decommissioned U.S. Navy ship based in San Diego, CA that had no power. Two Navy
SEALs, David Maynard and Ken J. Good, along with other DOD staff members were charged with preparing fleet sailors to defend their ship
against a variety of potential threats. The training platform included below the main deck operations, therefore you literally could not see the
hand in front of your face.
In others words....IT WAS DARK!!! It made for some incredibly interesting and revealing engagements that initiated a doctrinal development
trajectory that continues on through today.
During that time all that was really taught in the mainstream was flashlight/handgun techniques in isolation of the actual tasking required to
locate, identify, and potentially engage hostile threats.
There were no defined doctrinal principles or strategies specifically addressing the reduced light environment.
The critical when, where, why, and for how long were not yet codified. Techniques that were taught were generally square-range driven and
not fully tested and exposed to the crucible of quality Force-on-Force training.
Additionally, what was out there, generally focused on individual skills only. Partner and element work was noticeably absent.
As the program matured, Law Enforcement SWAT teams started coming to the ship to train and were immediately challenged by the difficulty
of the environment and ferocity of the training as opposition forces were quite capable and familiar with the terrain.
Desiring more, Dave Maynard and Ken Good formed Combative Concepts Inc. that started formalizing, categorizing and organizing drills and
training regiments that included heavy doses of low-light environment training.
Officers who were exposed to this type of training were inevitably involved in real-world encounters. The exciting news was that these front
line officers started providing extremely positive feedback in terms of the connectivity of the training to their actual confrontations. The
program kept growing and refining.
From there, Ken Good became the founding Director of the SureFire Institute. In that capacity low-light doctrine was advanced even further.
Instructors were selected based on their operational experience and willingness to break new ground and challenge pre-suppositions. This
group also participated in the product development end of the equation, helping ensure that products matched true operational requirements.
From there, the core instructors from that institution formed other training companies. Mr. Ken Good ultimately formed Progressive Comabt
Solutions LLC as well and Night Reaper Systems LLC.
The direct line of these teaching staffs has interacted with Federal, State, County, and City Law Enforcement agencies both here and abroad
to forge what we have today.
Progressive Combat Solutions and Night Reaper Systems has continued this legacy of process improvement and it is our hope that we can
impart some of what we have learned and experienced to you in order to put the odds in your favor so you can prevail in this challenging
he mission is to facilitate relevant, dynamic, and progressive reduced illumination engagement training. This is not a
book, per se, but a guide to be used in conjunction with practical training administered by qualified instructors.
The doctrine set forth in this curriculum is based on sound principles and techniques gleaned from years of operational and
training experiences. Our full-time and adjunct staff has interacted with teams and individuals from around the globe and has
the unique opportunity to analyze a myriad of strategies, tactics, principles and techniques. We consider ourselves perpetual
students and endeavor to remain that way.
“The Strategies of Low-Light Engagements” curriclum was designed to practically and realistically introduce participants to
some of the mission critical skills needed in low-light environments. Following this course of instruction you will have been
familiarized with a reasonable sub-set of the issues associated with low-light engagements.
We are looking for improvement, not perfection. One should constantly strive for advancement in order to increase
professionalism in the often dangerous occupation of law enforcement.
In order to consistently prevail under the duress of close quarter confrontations, serious students must see and apply new
concepts, as well as refine older ones and then inculcate them into the sub-conscious mind through rigorous and dedicated
The success of this particular training session is largely dependent upon how you approach this training.
Your mind-set will determine just how beneficial this time will be. The drills, scenarios, and critiques should teach you, but
you need to be listening. Be willing to eliminate unsound practices, mental biases, and egotistical excuses. Enjoy the journey
and, prevail in the fight.
“Think thou that these magnificent, victorious
"What can be done with fewer assumptions is done in vain
arbitrary stroke of fortune?
should use no more explanatory concepts than are
Legionnaires became what they are through some
Nay! They do not sit around congratulating themselves
in the wake of every victory.
Nay! They spend every moment refining and improving
their craft. Without apology, they pursue excellence.
Each one knows and understands that he alone stands
between the Empire and oblivion.
Watch them! Indeed, they appear to have been born
with weapons in their hands!"
Unknown Roman Observer
“For the great aim of education, is not knowledge
but action."
Herbert Spencer
with more. That is, in explaining any phenomenon, we
absolutely necessary."
Ockham's Razor
William of Ockham was an English monk, philosopher and
theologian who provided the scientific method with its key
principle 700 years ago.
"Learning which does not advance each day will daily
Chinese Proverb
Education is the abilty to meet life's situations.”
G. Hibben, former president of Princeton University
Operating in Low-Light
Law Enforcement professionals are constantly
Tools, Tactics and Training should be viewed as a
enhance their operational capability.
use of the tools chosen and carried. For example, pick
scanning the horizon for new tools and tactics to
Through proper training and strategy we strive to
increase in efficiency. Simplicity and efficiency
reduce exposure during tactical operations. Lowlight conditions are the conditions in which most
contiguous whole. Training must reflect the tactical
an officer who spends his entire time in a martial arts
dojo learning how to ground grapple in a judo uniform.
After a period of time, the officer may believe that he
is fully prepared for a fight that ends up on the ground.
Unfortunately this hypothetical officer has never
until now, little codified and tested doctrine has
Suddenly a real world engagement occurs and
shootings and serious confrontations occur. Yet,
been put forth to deal with
this reality.
trained with all of his operational tools in place.
priorities change to weapons deployment and weapon
We are attempting to bridge this gap through
Wearing body armor, operational clothing,
feedback from Military and Law Enforcement
eliminating familiar options. Terrain
relentless analysis, critical thought, and constant
personnel based on their operational experiences.
Our emphasis is placed on the
and a duty-rig can restrict movements,
considerations become extremely important. Multiple
opponents are a problem and so on.
"Human Operating System” and man’s interaction
Any tools, and more specifically illumination gear, their
the optimal use of the illumination tools designed
effect on non-compliant individuals, all have a
in combat. We also address
to be used in that combat.
placement on the body, their accessibility and their
significant impact on strategy, tactics and training.
It is logical that well-designed tools
Excessive use of force, too many men in the
tactics to become more effective.
demonstrate the need for better understanding of the
can allow new tactics to be employed or current
In order to take maximum advantage of these
improved tools and tactics, the appropriate
environment or complicated solutions to problems
natural law or the need to improve one’s confidence in
the application of technique or skill.
training must be received to achieve consistent
and repeatable results under stressful conditions.
"Death makes no conquest of this conqueror, for now he lives in fame though not in life."
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Critical Data
Law Enforcement Officers Killed or Assaulted Summary
The following data is representative of U.S. trends in Law Enforcement and will fluctuate over time and geographic location.
Officer Profile:
Profile: 93% Male,
10 years of service - Mid career
37 years old, 5'10”, 200 lbs
Suspect Profile:
95% Male, 40% White
40% Black, 20% Other
Primary Factors:
· Poor tactics
· Overconfidence
· Complacency
· “Rushing in” without a plan
35.0% - 6pm to Midnight
25.5% - Midnight to 6am
(Therefore 60% of the deaths occurred
during the hours of darkness - In some
locations this percentage jumps to 80%)
16.6% - 6am to Noon
Weapons Used:
94% - Killed with a Firearm
67% - Handguns
27% - Long guns
6% - Edged weapons, bombs & other
50.5% - 5 feet or less
71% - 10 feet or less
83% - 20 feet or less
Shot Placement:
48% were killed with head shots
(roughly 1/3 of this total were
shot in the back of the head)
Average Engagement Time:
2.5 Seconds
Frequency of Night Training:
Approx: 4.6 month interval
22.9% - Noon to 6pm
39% - Lighting conditions were cited as a
contributing factor
Goals / Objectives
Many training programs or sessions are primarily technically based and never
address the core principles of the matter in question.
Increase your Probabilities of Prevailing in Low-Light Conditions
No tactic, technique or piece of equipment can absolutely guarantee your safety in this
profession. What one can do through proper training is eliminate the gross or negligent errors
that will definitely cause officers to suffer injuries and/or death.
Eliminating the obvious, larger mistakes becomes the first order of business. From there, one
moves closer to refinement obtained through intelligent, repetitive exposure to all the elements
that define the environment.
Test Decision Making Under Duress
It is relatively easy to select and make optimal decisions when allowed time and distance from
any given situation.
It is an altogether different matter when exposed to the influences of stress activated by fear of
death, serious bodily harm or pain.
In Law Enforcement, many critical decisions are made while “under the influence of stress”.
Therefore, it makes perfect sense to mold your training methodologies to include regular “doses”
of stress so that one can adapt to the pressures and continue to maintain high levels of function.
Understand Basic Lighting Principles
Many officers can easily state a lighting technique, but have much more difficulty in articulating
and correctly applying a lighting principle.
Recognize the Paradigm of using Illumination Tools as a Force Multiplier
Force options from Command Presence, all the way to Deadly Force, can be enhanced as the
result of the proper use of light. When subjects have no opportunity to psychologically prepare for
pain, options involving pain are generally more effective.
"The only use of an obstacle is to be overcome.
All that an obstacle does with brave men is, not to frighten them, but to challenge them."
Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924), U.S. President
Goals / Objectives
Identify Typical Lighting Conditions
a fundamental truth, law, doctrine, or
Learn to see the gradients and disparity in various lighting conditions.
are based
Proper Movement
motivational force, upon which all others
the method or procedure or way
of using basic skills
a person, thing, or group having a certain
influence, power, control or ability to
Positive or Negative movement? Videotape analysis will reveal the nature
and effectiveness of one's movement while under duress.
EGO Control: Learning to diagnose errors and accept the fact that we have
plenty to learn are the first steps to performance improvement.
Clear understanding of the nature of conflict using the OODA Cycle as a
model will develop an awareness level that will help you consistently
defeat threats.
Proper Tool Selection and Application
Equipment is changing and improving with ever-wider selection
Truly understanding why you need a particular category of equipment will
help you select the optimal tool for the requirements of your particular
Why Should I use Illumination Tools?
Studies of Law Enforcement shootings clearly indicate that a high percentage of all
these shootings take place during nighttime hours. In fact, more than two out of three
fatal officer shootings occur during the hours of darkness or in locations where the
light is diminished.
Outside, you may have only the light of the stars or moon, or a street lamp a block
away. When the light dims the problems can begin.
These problems generally include:
Navigation - Threat Location
Threat Identification - Threat Engagement
“Bright light is injurious to those who see nothing.”
Aurelius Clemens Prudentius (c. 348-405), Roman poet
“Let There Be Light” - Gen. 1:2
The following data is taken from Adverse Light Orientation and Firing
Presented at the Fourteenth ASLET International Training Seminar
Orlando, FL - February 12-16, 2001
Instructor: Senior Special Agent Marshall E. Schmitt
Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Retired
The ability to see under adverse lighting conditions varies between
individuals. Age plays a big factor. The ability to see under reduced
Vision tests are conducted under moderate to high photopic (bright
daylight) conditions. Central vision, which is 20/20 in photopic conditions,
drops to less than the criteria for legal blindness immediately upon leaving
the illumination and entering starlit conditions. Starlit illumination is
defined as “night sky with less than half moon and no direct artificial
lighting”. Starlit is referred to as scotopic by vision experts.
illumination, to see past oncoming glare, and to adapt from light to dark
Visual disadvantage is greatest immediately after leaving a well-
ability to see include: smoking, alcohol, drugs and medications.
minutes of scotopic illumination, vision is reduced from 20/20 to 20/800.
quickly, all peak during the teenage years. Other factors affecting our
The retina is the back lining of the eye where the image we see is
converted from light into nerve impulses, which are transmitted to the
brain. Rhodopsin is a light sensitive chemical, deep purple in color, in the
retina. When struck by light it is most immediately bleached (opsin) and
emits a minor electrical charge or nerve impulse which is transmitted to
the brain. Vitamin A is the main substance responsible for unbleaching the
opsin back to rhodopsin.
The visual purple (and to a lesser extent lodopsin) is constantly being
bleached and unbleached. Vision remains a steady flow except when
exposed to an extremely bright source of light; even briefly, a part of the
retina will become over bleached. This may require several seconds or
even minutes before vitamin A can restore visual purple. During this time,
a purplish ball or blind spot is seen where the retina was overexposed.
illuminated area and entering scotopic conditions. During the first two
This is 4 times the impairment required to constitute blindness under
photopic conditions. Eyesight of 20/800 is less than 5% of the visual
efficiency present in daylight illumination.
Under scotopic conditions, central vision improves over time. After 12
minutes of dark adaptation, 20/300 or 15% visual efficiency is obtained.
After 30 minutes of dark scotopic adaptation, the best obtainable vision is
This level is definitely impaired, and is only slightly better than legally blind.
A moonlit night sky or its equivalent is termed mesopic illumination. Initial
central vision in mesopic illumination is 20/400 or 10% of the visual
efficiency present in photopic conditions which is the equivalent of twice
the handicap necessary to constitute legal blindness.
Two different receptors called rods and cones make up the retina. There
In addition to darkness obscuring vision, it decreases
more light to function and are responsible for color vision and for fine
of the cone nerve cells) of the retina. While light that falls on the fovea is
are approximately 125 million rods and 7 million cones. Cones require
details that we see. Rods, on the other hand, don't perceive color, nor do
they give fine detail. They do function better in dim illumination and
detect motion and are sensitive to contrast. Night vision is better after a
slow progression into darkness.
The central part of the retina contains almost 100% cones while the
as the image falls anywhere other than in the fovea (highest concentration
capable of generating 20/20 vision, under photopic conditions, only a mere
5 degrees from the center, it has a neurological limit of 20/70.
The further from the fovea, the worse it gets. Peripheral vision twenty
degrees away from the fovea results in 20/200 visual acuity.
periphery is almost 100% rods. Thus, in daylight we are able to detect
The visual system is neurologically wired for a small area of clear vision
in dim light the rods take over and we loose the ability to see fine detail
integrates many complex processes, which fill in ambiguity created by poor
color and see fine detail because we are using mainly cones. Conversely,
and color. Rhodopsin responds poorly to red; therefore, red is the first
color we loose the ability to identify.
Yellow-green, on the other hand, is one of the last. The pupil regulates the
amount of light that reaches the retina. It adjusts rapidly and
automatically to changing light conditions. It requires only a fraction of a
second for the initial change and obtains maximum size change in about a
Although human vision is capable of very keen visual acuity, standard
20/20 vision is only achievable under relatively high levels of illumination.
As illumination diminishes, or the subject is viewed a small degree off
from center, vision decreases dramatically.
surrounded by concentric circles of increasing blurred vision. The brain
peripheral visual acuity. The same processes come into effect as dim
illumination results in ambiguous image formation. The brain calls upon
memory, selective suppression and enhancement in forming visual
perception. Ultimately, it is the brain and not the eyes, which gives the
visual perception. Visual perceptions that officers receive are influenced
heavily by their training and survival instincts combined with specific
factors of the immediate situation. It is important to remember that what
we see is determined by the existing light combined with the perceived
expectations of the brain. In a study by Geller and Scoot, of officerinvolved shootings nationwide, 25% involved unarmed suspects.
Why use Light?
If you have taken a debilitating fall
in a hostile environment, it could spell disaster.
“He that is strucken blind cannot forget, the precious treasure of his eyesight lost.”
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Definition: To walk or make one's way on or through.
In low-light environments, the first priority is to stay upright and balanced, avoiding trip hazards that can
seriously injure or kill. Your second priority is to select the optimum route through danger areas while
moving ever closer to the target area, as you search for ellusive, mobile threats.
As you are navigating/hunting, you are attempting to minimize noise created from surfaces below your
feet as well as noise generated from objects and materials you may brush up against.
In order to stay upright, travel the best route and minimize noise, you may need to use an illumination
tool. Light levels for these purposes should not be excessive. They can and should be extremely low.
Imagine yourself in a darkened warehouse with a partner and you have moved up twenty feet ahead of
your partner. He loses contact with you and decides to find you by flaming on with the full-power of a
duty flashlight. As he is randomly searching, the light beam passes over your back and head just as you
are crossing a hallway. At this point you are silhouetted and a prime target for any committed, armed
threat in the area....Not the place you want to be. You also do not want to be the officer that illuminates
your partner or your own position negligently.
Locate and Identify
Why use Light?
Take the time to Identify Absolutely
Who is Who and What is What!
Under duress, a fast moving silhouette
in the dark can easily draw your fire.
This silhouette may be a partner or
an innocent person.
“Knowledge is more than equivalent to force.”
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
Low-Light Orientation
You should not engage what you don't know
In the dark, you often receive only
Target identification is absolutely paramount in any
staccato-like fashion.
Forces troops relied heavily on white light to
snap shots of information coming in
Being in a reduced light environment breeds
“target fixation”.
The effects of target fixation include a
serious debilitation of your visual sense resulting
in the loss of overall situational awareness.
You cannot fight what you cannot see, nor can
your opponent
conflict. As previously mentioned, U.S. Special
identify forces while operating in Afghanistan.
Their night vision devices (NVDs) alone did not
provide clear enough resolution to sufficiently
determine who was who. Friendly and enemy
forces looked, dressed, traveled and armed
themselves like each other.
These same troops were also tasked with
searching large networks of caves.
Many fights and certainly the modern
Battle-hardened enemy troops, booby-traps and
principle in action. A key to defeating opponents
hazards were in the forefront. Liberal use of white
battlefield have demonstrated this
is finding them while
simultaneously cloaking, disguising and
confusing your location.
This is often a difficult balancing act.
Applying proper lighting principles
discussed later will assist you in this tasking.
DO NOT shoot at muzzle flash or silhouettes only
Unless you are absolutely certain that this is a
friendly-fire issues along with other environmental
light proved most beneficial.
Bottom line: The pressure of time,
the activation of your powerful sympathetic
nervous system and the compelling desire to
prevail can easily lead to a misidentification of an
This is not a mistake any of us would like to make.
suspect bent on injuring/killing you or other
innocents, don't shoot.
Why? In a fluid Law Enforcement lethal force
encounter, friendly forces may now occupy a
location that moments earlier had a shooting
threat. The threat may have simply moved or
was subdued by your partner or other team
Why use Light?
Where should the “hot spot” of the beam be placed?
Most officers are taught to watch a suspect's hands and this is certainly sound doctrine.
Therefore many place the “hot spot” of the beam directly in the chest or on the suspect’s hands. This is not
always the optimal position for the light. When appropriate, consider aiming the light beam directly into the
suspect’s eyes.
A brilliant light in the eyes significantly alters a suspect’s ability to access your
movements or mount a successful counter attack while simultaneously allowing you to
still see the hands.
Directing the “hot spot” into the threat’s eyes reduces the threat’s total amount of useful
visual information. The threat may avert his or her eyes, raise the hands to block the
light, close the eyes or choose to stare at a brilliant white light. In any case, this becomes an advantage to you
as long as all other threats and angles are accounted for. You have temporarily blinded the threat.
In these moments of time, understand and
exploit timing and windows of opportunity,
closing the gap and acting accordingly. This can
be likened to the use of your patrol vehicle spot
lights during a nighttime vehicle stop. Creating a
“white wall of light” will allow you to establish
the timing, the rhythm, the distance, and the
angles of the engagement.
This “Blinding Front Light” is also necessary to
reduce the harmful effects of backlighting
created by traffic.
This concept also holds true when using your handheld and weapon-mounted illumination systems.
During arrest and control, directing a bright light into the suspect’s eyes just prior to hands-on contact will
temporarily remove the suspect’s visual horizon and tend to disorient and unbalance. Bright light enhances the
employment of less-lethal options. Threats have no reference or solid time frame from which to prepare a
“Win the light fight first and you will probably win the gunfight.”
Ken J. Good
Use Light to Control and Direct the Suspect’s Movements
and Restrict the Suspect’s Visual Data
Communication Tool
Why use Light?
“He’s over there!!!”
This statement clearly indicates a possible threat, but
offers no immediate beneficial
information to your partner or team members as to specific
location, in terms of distance, elevation and direction.
Learning to use your handheld light as a
pointer to bring all necessary friendly forces to bear on a
threat, immediately clarifies situations without the
disruptive and confusing cross talk that easily manifests
itself in reduced light environments.
It turns out that even in the middle of a multiple officer search, one can
direct other officers to the threat location by clearly articulating the following:
Lights Out! On my Light!
Give a Location using the “Clock System”
Sounds simple, but it is not easy to do under duress. When you learn to use
light properly as a communication tool, team efficiency and survivability will
dramatically increase.
The following statement might be better with a single partner,
in a known location:
“On my light, YOUR 11 o’clock, 10 meters,
behind the silver truck, he’s lying down”
The following statement might be better in a team situation or
when you do not know exactly where your partner is:
“On my blinking light, on MY 7 o’clock, 10 meters,
behind the silver truck, he’s lying down”
“The time has come, the Walrus said, To talk of many things.”
Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)
Communication is a Powerful Weapon to Wield in the Environment
A few things must occur to have good tactical communication:
· The sender must formulate a clear, concise, and accurate message
· The message must be sent in an intelligible manner
· The recipient of the message must be actually capable of receiving it
· The recipient must understand the message as originally compiled
· The recipient must provide a feedback message confirming receipt
· The original sender receives the feedback
There are plenty of reasons why an officer should not
scream (a fear-based response to stimulus).
Screaming violates a basic principle of endeavoring to
remain relatively calm while involved in a deadly force
First, and foremost, you lose breath control, breath
being the regulator and governor of the entire human
operating system.
The Importance of maintaining Breath Control Cannot be Overstated.
Screaming makes it extremely difficult and slow to move through the communication cycle and enter the OODA
Cycle. Screaming is a manifestation of fear; fear is the enemy.
Stealth is an important concept, but lack of clear, open communication could have negative
consequences in quite a few situations. It is a balancing act that you must be ever mindful of.
Improper Application of Illumination
Having the tools, understanding low-light tactics, and having
practical knowledge of the techniques is fantastic and can never
be viewed as a disadvantage in and of itself.
The right equipment is necessary and I do not want to undermine
its importance. But the harsh reality is that many operators lean
too hard on equipment and untested head knowledge to
accomplish their mission.
Again, remember Hick's Law, the more possibilities you can choose
from, the slower you will be in
making the correct decision.
Applying what you know at the right time and the right place is
where the rubber meets the road.
There are some basic mistakes that will place you and/or your
partner/teammates in harm’s way.
We must eliminate those larger gross errors before refinement of
technique and tactics really come into play.
“Know what you are doing, then master it.”
Ed McGivern - Pistol Shooter Extraordinaire
The first steps to drastically improving your percentages are:
1. Reduce Telegraphing
2. Be acutely aware of being in or creating a Backlit Condition for yourself and/or others around you
3. Avoid Self-blinding yourself or others
Improper Application of Illumination
“War is a matter of Deception.”
Sun Tzu - Art of War
"Victory is achieved in the way of conflict by ascertaining the rhythm of each opponent, by attacking with a
rhythm not anticipated by the opponent, and by the use of knowledge of the rhythm of the abstract."
Myamoto Musashi - Japanese Swordsman
Deception in Your Positioning and Movements
Once there is sufficient reason to project light, the obvious downside is that hostile threats will be alerted to this
emission and if armed and committed, they will fire directly into the source of light. Therefore it is your
responsibility to distort your opponent's perception of what is actually happening. We call it “visual distortion”.
This is accomplished by manipulating the following variables:
Displacements - Vertical, Horizontal, and Distance
Angle of the Beam
Rhythm and Duration
Sniper analogy: - “Three on a Match”
It has been said, the third person on a match was the most likely to get hit by a sniper bullet on the battlefield.
Why is this so? The sniper who is looking over the terrain is viewing a vast area. First strike and subsequent puff
of the cigarette gets the sniper's attention and allows him to turret his weapon into the general location. Second
puff by the second man allows for further angle discrimination through the optic, safety off, finger poised on the
Now that the “rhythm” and distances have been established, it only takes an incremental adjustment by the sniper
and his weapon to lock on the third person attempting to light his cigarette, and bang it's over.
The same holds true for your lighting tools. Illumination from any point in the environment is like the first strike of
the match. The second pulse sets the pattern, and if you pulse again using the same interval of time and space,
expect incoming fire precisely in the area you are located.
Do not pulse or move in an easily defined rhythm unless you are trying to attract specific
attention to yourself.
When searching, attempt to “paint” a picture to your opponent that is essentially an optical illusion. Constantly
and randomly change the location (vertically and horizontally) of your flashlight when you do not know where the
threat lies. Changing the angle of the beam along the floor, on the ceiling, down hallways and up stairs, will help
mask your exact distance from any given location.
With practice, an officer can successfully deceive threats into believing that they are in one position when in fact
they are occupying a completely different space.
One of the core principles of fighting is the ability to disguise or hide your movements and true intentions from
your opponents.
Improper Application of Illumination
An armed gunman lying in wait
might be tracking you perfectly as he
makes out the clear outline of a human silhouette.
“Alas! how easily things go wrong!”
George Macdonald (1824-1905)
Big Mistake!!!
Remaining in a backlit situation or creating one for other friendly forces is one of
the most common mistakes associated with operating in diminished light
You name the group or the background from which they came,
backlighting can devour the best of the best.
Once in this condition opponents have exceptional capabilities to locate and
defeat you. Therefore it is imperative that you adjust the light levels or move
completely out of the situation as swiftly as possible.
Constant, vigilant awareness of this potential killer is the starting point.
Backlighting can occur by failing to close a door behind you and continuing to allow
any number of ambient light sources to flood in behind you. It can be created from
the headlights of passing vehicles, perimeter security lighting, motion activated
lights, accidentally activating your flashlight (sometimes in its carrier) or by
generally employing your handheld or weapon mounted lights incorrectly.
Why do operators unwittingly find themselves in this situation so often? The
difficulty lies in detecting it.
1. As a predator, your eyes are set in the front of your skull. Predators typically
are not that concerned with what is happening behind them as they are doing the
2. You have a strong tendency to believe that everything is fine in terms of stealth
when you see nothing but low-light conditions in front of you. When you see a dark
foreground while you are engaged in a search, you have a deep instinctual desire to
stay dark and hidden from view.
In fact you may not be hidden at all.
Instead of picking your way through the “dark”, you may need to be distributing
“Blinding Front Light” to reduce the powerful and negative consequences of
Improper Application of Illumination
Today’s Illumination Tools Emit more Light with Greater
Intensity Levels than Previous Designs
The ease with which an officer can temporarily degrade his/her night vision or that of a
partner/teammeber(s) is increased as illumination tools emit with greater and greater intensity.
Light colored walls, mirrors and other reflective surfaces present challenges. Certain flashlight
techniques create this “self-blinding” effect if utilized at the wrong time during movement.
“None so blind as those that will not see.”
Matthew Henry (1662-1714)
Unlocking the
Principles of Lighting
Key Concept: Continuity of Principle Application
Interlocking blocks of Principle that apply across
the spectrum of operating in Low-Light Environments.
“Important principles may, and must, be inflexible.”
Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865), U.S. President. Last public address, Apr. 11, 1865
Techniques need to be Built on the
Solid Foundation of Principle Understanding
a fundamental truth, law, doctrine, or
motivational force, upon which all others
are based
the method or procedure or way
of using basic skills
This curriculum will expose you to more than one
technique in terms of how to bio-mechanically
deplur illumination tools. But this is simply not
As stated earlier, many officers can easily state a
lighting technique, but have much more difficulty
in articulating and correctly applying a lighting
Consider the practice of martial arts.
Many modern and classical systems have codified the
body of knowledge contained in their art by creating a
list of techniques. In many cases these systems also
have many forms of “kata” or what I would call “dance”.
These are useful for passing on many elements that
define the art itself.
But there is a danger in being able to
articulate, and perform the techniques and katas only.
You have fooled yourself (and nobody else) that
somehow you now know when, where, and in what
circumstance this or that technique should be
Having a techniques and kata only
perspective will end up restraining you
from further development if left unchecked.
You can find yourself in the situation where technique
You must evaluate your principles at the core
turns out that understanding the principle of a matter
level in order to reduce and eliminate internal
mental conflict and friction.
You need both technique and principle
understanding to be most effective.
You should ask yourself the following questions:
Do the principles I have adopted
work at all ranges of combat?
Have they been tested?
Are they repeatable and useful?
is all you see. Your horizon has been self-limited. It
is far more useful and higher on the importance scale.
If you do not understand the fundamental principles of
lighting in a combative situation, you will be guessing
as to when, where, or for how long to use any given
On the other hand, if you only know one
technique, you will also not be able to
leverage the principles on your own behalf. Imagine
only being allowed to have one type of punch to throw
and being thrust into the ring with a formidable
opponent. Your future would not be promising!
Principle #1
“Read” the Light
The Prime Directive
To successfully negotiate terrain with a view to exploit all known strategies
and tactics FIRST and FOREMOST, “Read” the Lighting Conditions.
Establish a clear and accurate perception of your surrounding environment.
It does not make any sense to rush into any low-light situation without
weighing out routing and pacing options. It’s akin to climbing a difficult
mountain by haphazardly glancing at the terrain and starting to run upward.
You may or may not survive the event! Getting ahead of yourself in this regard
invites an unpredictable and potentially catastrophic result.
Darkness in-and-of itself breeds mental/physical tension.
If you are “rushing”, you can easily mistake any sudden movement as
threatening and you end up over-reacting. The closer that movement is to you,
the more likely you will engage whether it’s required of not.
Therefore, learn to exhibit and express an internal calm, a cultivated
patience when operating in the dark. Proper routing sets this up.
The more you study, consider and apply the implications of
Observation/Perception, the more you will realize that observation is THE starting
gate that must be exited cleanly as confrontations materialize.
Before you or your partner/team decide to use stealth, employ slow or fast
movements, emit with white light or infrared, stay completely dark, deploy this
or that tool/weapon, understand your actual lighting condition.
Learning to differentiate the nuances of these conditions separates the professional
from the amateur. Actively seeking to exploit one condition over another should take
“In every affair consider what precedes and what follows, and then undertake it.”
Epictetus (A.D. c. 50-c. 138) That Everything is to be undertaken with Circumspection.
Generally Speaking, as the Light Level Diminishes,
a Greater Variance of Lighting Subtlety will Appear
All lighting conditions can be placed in the following basic
categories: (There are infinite gradients and variations,but
these are the reference points)
High Noon, well lit area, high level of detail,
depth perception excellent, target ID excellent.
Early morning or late evening, enough light
to distinguish shapes, texture and color of
objects with noticeable shadow areas,
target ID impaired.
Full Moon, Stars, minimal ambient, weak
artificial sources such as distant street light,
emission of light from another room, shapes
only, distance judgment and target ID is
severely impaired.
Not normally encountered, but typically exists
in underground structures, sealed warehouses,
target ID non-existent without illumination.
Unequal Lighting Conditions
Backlighting, blinding front light,
inadequate illumination from flashlight.
Equal with my Opponent(s)
This is often overlooked. All participants in the
engagement find themselves in the same
lighting condition. Regardless of the lighting
condition you find yourself in, attempt to get to
a better one than your opponent. Create or alter
your conditions as feasible.
Principle #2
Operate from the Lowest Level of Light
As water seeks its own level, move and operate
from the lowest level of light whenever possible.
After you “Read the Light” and have made an assessment of the varied conditions, generally you
should place yourself or partner/team into the lowest level of light and operate or further assess
from that point in space.
“All Dark Holes have Guns!”
This saying migrated to us from years of operating below deck of a darkened ship in a rigorous
“Force-on-Force” program designed to address terrorist threats facing the United States Navy.
One of the instructors in this program, Dave Maynard, coined this phrase as a way to succinctly
describe what your mind should be thinking as you evaluate the darkened, three-dimensional space.
This pithy saying was often a reminder of the pain experienced when neglecting or passing by dark
areas during low-light force-on-force drilling. It is a mistake to assume these areas are free of
threats just because you cannot see into them. Use your illumination tool to confirm/deny what is
actuall happening in these spaces. These dark holes exist during daylight hours; so do not leave your
flashlight in your vehicle when called to search an area.
Before you move into the lowest level of light, you need to flush out any potential threats that may
have already taken up residence!
It is completely natural and intuitive for predators to operate from the “cover of darkness”, so move
and act accordingly.
“Let your plans be dark and as impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”
Sun Tzu - The Art of War
Look to Constantly “Paint” your Opponents in a “Bad Light”
On the other hand, once you occupy the darkest space, potential threats will now have to come and take
it back from you. This means one of two things. One, they wander unwittingly from a backlit condition
into your space, or two, they will reluctantly use some type of illumination tool to evaluate the space.
Either way, this will give you the indicators that you need to take your next action.
The study of battle throughout history clearly shows, that forces that are similarly armed win or lose
based on their commander’s understanding of the terrain, lighting conditions and weather. It is the
correct leveraging of these additional tools that spelled the difference between victory or defeat.
Your terrain may not be a classic battlefield, but the light levels in the same room can be different
enough to have a significant impact on any given engagement.
Open doors, energized televisions, lights, and vehicle traffic can all paint a lighting picture.
Principle #3
“See” from the Opposite Perspective
You cannot fully appreciate your situation until you have
the ability to view yourself as any potential threat sees you.
“If you will observe, it doesn’t take A man of giant mould to make A giant shadow on the wall.”
John Townsend Trowbridge (1827)
For a minute, imagine yourself as a military sniper on the battlefield...
One of your most dangerous adversaries in this status is your counterpart, an enemy sniper.
Why is this so?
While performing Law Enforcement duties in a
perform at the same or higher level than your
luxury of time. Yet, you still must learn to “see”
First of all, this threat has weaponry that can
deployment capability. But more importantly, this
enemy sniper views or sees the world as you do.
low-light environment, you often do not have this
yourself as a threat (counter sniper) would.
His training may be similar or even better. His
You need to know what you look like from the
He knows you are looking for an excellent “final-
You need to know when you are clearly seen,
that perspective. He knows what would be
invisible. You need to know when to move quickly
commitment is high.
firing position” and is interpreting the terrain from
optimal, marginal, and unacceptable.
He is attempting to think like and act like you are.
He is waiting for a mistake to appear so he can
exploit the opportunity. You do not get a second
In many ways he is acting like a criminalprofiler,
totally immersing himself into your thoughts,
strategies, techniques,and game plan.
The sniper game can be slow and methodical, a
drawn out chess game
with high stakes.
threat’s point of view.
silhouetted, partially obscured, or completely
or not move at all.
This “vision” will determine route selection,
timing, and communication methods.
The ability to see yourself as any potential
opponent sees you will allow you to make
intelligent and confident decisions that will lead
to decisive actions culminating in the
neutralization of threats.
Principle #4
Light and Move
The essence of this principle is to Light from one position,
turn your Light OFF, then Move intelligently to another position,
ready to engage and move again if required.
This concept can be best described as trying to create the view of fireflies in motion. The
outside observer never really knows where or when the next flash will appear.
The true number of "fireflies" is unknown. This tends to keep a threat(s) disoriented and
makes it difficult for them to properly evaluate the situation or develop a solid, easy to
implement firing solution.
Adversaries frequently engage and continually maintain a visual lock on the location that your
light was last energized. Take advantage of this phenomenon. You can easily flank a subject
once you have gained a practical understanding of this idea.
The use of rapid, randomly fluctuating pulses of light while searching is a close cousin to
"Light and Move". The use of strobing light is another extension of this concept and should
be explored.
When the "Light and Move" principle is used during a search (interior or exterior), especially
with multiple officers, it creates a chaotic and difficult to read picture to any threats caught
on the wrong end of this technique.
Using light correctly in this manner during a gun fight is an decisive advantage. You are
making yourself a more difficult target while simultaneously making the opponent an easier
“Not by strength, but by guile.”
British Special Boat Service (SBS)
“Light and Move” and “Power with Light” are Opposite Sides of the Coin
The Art and Science of Light Application
How much light should I use?
How long should I keep it on for any given situation?
These questions encapsulate the art and science of proper application of light.
The answers are crucial to success and often incite controversy among trainers
and tacticians.
It turns out that there is not a black and white answer (no pun intended!). It is the
proverbial shade of grey. Initially, every operator should first apply the first 3 principles:
- read the light
- operate from the lowest level of light
- see from the opposite perspective
Then one can “intuitively” decide what should be done in terms of active emission.
Always leaving the light OFF or always leaving the light ON are the extreme ends of the
spectrum of possibilities. It is difficult to find a reduced light environment where light
OFF or light ON always holds true 100% of the time.
Principle #5
Power with Light
“Death waits in the dark.”
U.S. Army Task Force 160 “Night Stalkers”
“Power with Light” - Altering the Threat’s Perspective Radically
From: Clearly viewing the world without
interruption and without error.
To: Seeing nothing but brilliant white light(s) and no clear
comprehension of force deployment.
It means placing the “hot spot”, the most intense part of the
light beam directly into the suspect’s eyes. -
You are flooding the correct space with photons. When
supporting this principle, you are creating a temporary “white
wall of light” that allows you a greater variety of deployment
Sounds easy enough to do, but under the duress of conflict the untrained will neglect to take advantage of
this option. The “hot spot” will inevitably be placed on the lower part of the chest and waist, because officers have been
correctly taught to observe and focus on the threat’s hands.
The downside, is that oftentimes the threat can still see you, your partners, as
well as your next action. He is weighing out potential options instead of
capitulating. It turns out, that with a bit of training and a good light, you will
quickly understand the benefits of placing the light directly into the threat’s eyes.
The good news: If you have the appropriate lighting tool, you will still have a clear
view of those all-important hands within the remaining corona of the light beam.
Powering with Light is a fantastic way to close the distance gap, virtually unseen,
when involved in a “hands-on” arrest and control encounter.
Using this principle can be highly effective even during daylight hours if you have a
professional grade lighting tool.
Remember: “All Dark Holes have Guns!”
Again, this saying came about in an effort to impress upon students protecting
their ships from a variety of threats, that every single dark hole (a myriad of them
on a Naval ship) must be dealt with exactly as if it had a threat with a weapon
ready to fire. When you see a dark hole, ferret out any potential threats by eliminating the dark hole and the concealment
it offers by “Powering with Light”.
Once you have locked down a threat’s location and other potential threat areas are identified and accounted for, then you
should move toward the “Power with Light” end of the spectrum. You are now forcing threats to stay put. You are
eliminating their options.
When you have large numbers of officers in confined spaces, generally tend toward “Power with Light” punctuated or
broken up with the strobing effect of “Light and Move”. When you have not isolated your threats, you should probably
operate closer to the “Light and Move” side of the equation. It is a balancing act only you can decide how to choreograph.
Principle #6
Disorient Threats by Oscillation and/or Strobing Light
One of the most stressful and disorienting things you can do to a human being is
subject him to Flashing Lights.
Strobe Lights
A certain percentage of the population can experience extreme reactions to strobing light; be prepared for
severe disorientation and even seizures in some individuals.
Some Background:
Contrary to popular belief, only a small percentage of people with epilepsy are especially sensitive to
flickering light patterns, such as sunlight, strobe lights or computer screen flicker. This condition is known
as photosensitive epilepsy. A flickering fluorescent light, the flicker of sunlight while driving past standing
trees or on water and other reflective surfaces, certain video games, or flashing strobe lights can trigger
seizures in photosensitive people.
SOURCE: Epilepsy Foundation, 4351 Garden City Drive, Landover, MD 20785-7223
Given 2.5 million Americans have some form of epilepsy
- 5% of epileptics are subject to the phenomena of Photosensitive epilepsy (125,000)
- Most of these 125K fall into the age range of 8-20 years,,most of these are female
- The phenomenon is strobe rate specific, color frequency specific, as well as field of view specific
and other factors play into it.
- Most LED Flashlights with a this mode are strobing at a rate below the optimal range of 15-20 for this
phenomena, although other sources indicate lower rates can trigger this response - this further reduces the
probability of an event. The probability of it happening is much higher from the same subject watching T.V. or
playing video games. Natural light sources are just as likely to trigger seizures in a photosensitive individual
as artificial ones. For example, sunlight shining off water or through the leaves of trees, or rapidly flickering
as a person travels past railings, can trigger seizures. To date, The author is not aware of any such
occurance as the result of using a strobing LED flashlight in an areest and control situation.
“...dazzled by the pomp of human uncertainty; I wonder if people can stand such uncertainty, this shining flash of death.”
Simone Schwarz-Bart (b. 1938), Guadeloupean author
The Effects of Rapid Oscillating/Strobing Light on Subjects
Close Range Applications - Especially useful during a hands-on takedown
Experiment with rapidly moving the light across the eyes when approaching a suspect for a takedown during arrest and
control. Note, we are not referring to on-off-on-off, we are referring to white light that comes from a loosely held flashlight
that was vigorously shaken. The hot spot of the light should travel horizontally across the subject’s pupils. From the
recipients point of reference, it will appear to be an electronic strobe. When the light is used in this manner, it is extremely
disorienting and can bring rapid compliance. Remember this
is a close range application and is not effective past room distance ranges.
Close Range or at Longer Distances
With the advent of strobe-mode handheld flashlights, officers can now have a true electronic strobe capability in a small,
handheld or weapons-mounted package.
This powerful capability represents a whole new range of options for the officer operating against dark-adapted threats. The ability and
advantage of disorienting opponents at greater distances will become self-evident with training.
Experiment with creating a light show of pulsing, moving, constantly changing angles of emissions when approaching danger areas. This
type of application makes your exact distance, height and approach speed extremely difficult for the opponent to read.
At close range, simply put, when subjects are dark-adapted, the effect is overwhelming. More often than not, eyes close immediately, heads
turn, hands come up, and balance is disrupted. We affectionately call it a "Kodak Moment".
Your eyes store images for 1/25 of a second. They also have a complex, built in light level adjustment system (light-dark & dark-light
adaptation) that essentially functions in an analog manner. Both have different reaction times and it varies from person to person.
Rhodopsin (visual purple) is the substance in the rods responsible for light sensitivity. When subjected to a strobing light, your eye/brain
image generation capability is seriously degraded. You will have an extremely difficult time formulating an accurate picture of reality.
Entertainment folks and those who create haunted houses have been using this phenomenon for years to alter your perception of what is
actually happening.
Sports trainers use strobe lights to help certain athletes gain proficiency by allowing them to see only a limited amount of information, yet
force them to act in spite of the diminished sensory input.
Strobing light will alter the subjects' spatial orientation and depth perception. Strobing light can cause loss of peripheral vision and create
auditory exclusion. The overall effect can be anywhere from mildly irritating to very dramatic. It is much like any less-lethal option. You're
attempting to keep things down to a lower level of force but there are no guarantees.
During building searches, officers deploying this strobing tool properly, in an intermittent, constant angle and duration change manner, give
themselves numerous advantages not possible previously. Note the effect of the strobe light from the officer’s point of view is minimal, in
the sense that he can still see the entire picture quite well and engage threats if required. The idea that the officer, with strobe in hand,
will be confused and disoriented is unfounded, based on practical experience.
This type of deceptive movement is part of the larger strategy of "Light and Move" when attempting to locate threats. "Light and Move" can
be compared to jabbing in a boxing match. You are not committing too much until you have successfully ranged/located your opponent.
Once this has been accomplished, you can transition to the next phase of your low-light strategy which is "Power with Light". After you
have locked down observation angles, limited your opponents movement and retaliatory options, you can now safely emit from one or more
locations with constant, hopefully overwhelming, levels of light.
Principle #7
Align Three Things
Eyes, Weapon, and Light
When searching for threats, endeavor to align your
weapon with your vision and then ensure that the
“hot spot” of your illumination tool is where you
want it to be. It is time to hunt, not the time to
cower, recoil or shy away.
Regardless of the flashlight technique you choose
to use, endeavor to maintain the
alignment of your eyes, weapon (sights) and your
light as much as the situation allows.
You should not be staring at your sights while
searching but they should be “in battery”, hinged
just below the final sight lane, ready to be
reattached to your vision if you determine that you
need to engage with your weapon.
Smaller movements are more efficient.
Years of Force-on-Force training have shown that
this is not as easy as it sounds when an individual
is placed under the duress of simulated combat.
MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, one or more of these
critical “weapon system” components is completely
out of alignment during movement or during the
actual engagement.
“It is better to live one day as a lion than a hundred years as a sheep.”
Italian proverb
Victory goes to the One who Dominates by Minimizing his Own Gaps
and Exploiting his Opponent’s Openings, Hesitations and Mistakes
An unofficial estimate of first-time participants in Force-onForce Training is that alignment is occurring approximately
10% of the time, a number much lower than you might
initially expect. The key here is to learn to flip this
percentage around. Maintain alignment 90% of the time and
you will be much more efficient in your movements and your
ability to deal with emergent threats will be greatly
Under the “cover of darkness”, videotape analysis reveals
weapons dangling and pointing in non-specific and often
unsafe directions.
Heads peek around corners minus weapon and/or light.
Flashlight and weapon appear but no vision to make an
assessment of what is really happening. It turns out there
are more ways to move wrong than right.
In any type of conflict, the superior combatant has trained
himself to eliminate gaps in time and space whenever and
wherever possible.
When the opponent leaves a gap, the advanced combatant
will immediately close and finish. This holds most true in
close quarter, reduced illumination gunfights. Electrons
travel at the speed of light, and bullets, for all practical
purposes arrive almost instantaneously.
Therefore, you cannot leave large “windows of opportunity” by
wandering around in the environment without all your tools
poised and positioned to move immediately.
A proficient low-light operator will keep eyes, weapon, and
light aligned most of the time, unless specifically directing
the light or weaponin alternate directions for a specific
“There is no second place in a gunfight.”
- Bill Jordan US Border Patrol
Principle #8
Carry More than One Light
In the military there is a well-known saying,
“Two is one, one is none”.
This familiar adage applies to any man-made tool
that one is depending on for life.
“Stit happens.....”
Mr. Murphy
Consider: If your Partner Forgot their Flashlight, would You Give up Yours?
The definition of extreme skiing:
“If you fall.....you die!”
In a low-light conflict if your illumination tool
malfunctions, if it gets damaged, or if it becomes
unretrievable, your life may be over.
Redundancy is built into modern fighter jets,
commercial airliners, and a myriad of other safety
devices. All but the most insane rock climbers use
more than one piece of “pro” (protection) to arrest
their potential fall during ascent up radically pitched
As you penetrate the structure, and decide to
move downstairs, you find yourself in a reduced
light situation. Since you have a backup light, you
willingly pitch that flashlight to your partner and
move on.
Flashlights, regardless of the manufacturer, will
fail. Batteries will fail and drain. Flashlights can
get hit with projectiles; they can be dropped in the
middle of a search and become irretrievable and/or
rock faces.
Hopefully, by the time you finish this block of
Consider the following:
good illumination tool as it applies to the dangers
You and another officer are called out
to search a commercial office building
during the day. You have arrived separately.
training you will see the importance and value of a
found in the Law Enforcement profession.
Choose your equipment wisely.
You remember to bring your flashlights
(primary and backup). Your partner does not think
additional illumination is necessary as it is a bright,
clear day.
Boyd’s / OODA Cycle (Loops)
All Confrontations are a Competition for Time and Space.
They Play Out in Understandable Sequences
Experienced Fighters can Predict the Opponent’s intentions
and capitalize on thier next probable Movements.
Boyd’s / OODA Cycle (Loops)
Learn, Contemplate, and Apply this Cycle!
"Time rushes by and yet time is frozen. Funny how we get so exact about time at the end of life and at its beginning.
She died at 6:08 or 3:46, we say, or the baby was born at 4:02. But in between we slosh through huge swatches of time weeks, months, years, decades even."
Helen Prejean (b. 1940), U.S. nun and activist
OODA Cycle - Applied in Low-Light
pending a high percentage of your resources to see your opponent clearly FIRST is an investment in the
future that should pay off handsomely. In low-light conditions the total amount of data that you can
take in is limited due to the fact that your overall visual field is significantly reduced by lack of reflected
light. Much of your world essentially disappears before your eyes. The world appears and reappears in
small swatches of terrain created by your illumination tool(s).
The good news is that oftentimes your opponent finds himself in the exact same predicament. It now becomes
a situation of who can operate more efficiently and who is more familiar with this particular environment.
Remember when you emit light, you are giving your general location away to unseen opponents. Learning to
minimize and “encrypt” this signature is a lifesaving skill that must be mastered. This concept was addressed
in the proper lighting principles section of this curriculum and will be further addressed in the practical
exercises that will follow.
The goal at this point in the OODA Cycle is for you to see what you need to see AND AT THE SAME TIME create a
false and deceptive picture to any threats that may be hiding in the area.
Once the threats are located and other threat areas are accounted for, you can transition from merely locating,
to a more aggressive attempt to short-circuit the opponent's observation capability. Attacking the observation
sensor itself, the eyes, does this. An intense beam of light, directed into the opponent's pupils, can be
compared to tripping a good runner at the starting line of a 100-yard dash. Just when they need good
information (such as when the runner needs traction and leverage), you trip up the sensor and temporarily
overwhelm it.
During this “unbalancing”, the opportunity for resolution will appear.
Remember, the human eye is 100,000 times more sensitive to light when dark-adapted. It can be quite painful
to look at a concentrated beam of light. This is why you will find threats rapidly averting their eyes, rotating
their head, raising their hands to block the beam. Lower levels of force in an Arrest and Control situation can be
applied when you direct light into the subject’s pupils with a good illumination tool.
Attempt to find your opponent first
(During this location process, create a false picture
or illusion with your illumination tools)
Once threats are located, attempt to unbalance by “10-ringing” threats with large quantities
of light; this stops threats from processing useful data freely
OODA Cycle - Applied in Low-Light
any things influence your orientation during the dynamics of conflict. The information that you receive just prior to
going into a situation is a powerful agent, so if time allows, scrub and question this data as much as possible.
Misinformation or misinterpretation of the data can set off a chain reaction of events that can be lethal for you, your
partners/teammates as well as the citizens you are trying to serve.
Your training regime also influences your orientation. If you have not regularly used your illumination tools in conjunction with
your weapon, your less-lethal options, and in concert with partners, you will find yourself task overloaded in the environment
and therefore disoriented under the pressure of lethal force engagements.
Once you find a threat at the end of your illumination tool, your next job is two-fold in scope.
Number one: Put this potential threat into proper perspective. Identification, especially at night, is an extremely important
issue. Special Forces operations in Afghanistan (War on Terror 2001) relied heavily on white light illumination because the use
of night vision devices was not sufficient for clear identification of friend or foe. All indigenous forces were difficult to
distinguish because their look, dress and modes of transportation were similar. SF units maintained stealth as much as
possible, but at some point they had to light 'em up and quickly determine who was who. On a side note, the systems they
employed caused horses to violently react, dislodging their riders!
Number two: Use the light to disorient your opponents. They need good information, deny it to them. Before stealth
technology, fighter pilots flew with specially designed aircraft that created multiple images on the opponent's radar screen,
making it extremely difficult to determine which image was the most important.
Do the same thing, disorient your opponent's radar with random, rapid movements and flashes, or on the other end of the
spectrum send an energy pulse into their radar to overwhelm the system entirely.
Keep in mind, most Law Enforcement encounters are not shooting situations. You will most likely end up talking or employing
less-lethal options that will culminate in getting hands-on for a take-down to a restraint.
Using white light to disorient your suspect just prior to this portion of the encounter will increase the yield and effectiveness
of your tools and techniques.
Identify the layout and hazards in the area
If a human target appears, identify as a shoot or no-shoot
Disorient by attacking the opponent’s “radar system”
(random fluctuations or overwhelm it with energy)
OODA Cycle - Applied in Low-Light
or simplicity’s sake, decisions in any given situation essentially come through two basic pathways:
Conscious mind or Sub-conscious mind.
Each pathway leads to unique processing centers that deal with incoming data (images, sound, touch, smells,
overall perception) in distinct ways. The outgoing data streams (decision that leads to action) also have
unique exit pathways.
Both potential incoming and outgoing pathways and processing centers need to be clear of obstructions, wide
and free flowing. This of course is the core reason to train, and train specific to the mission requirements.
Pathways and processing centers are task specific. Just because you can fly an F22 fighter jet in combat,
does not automatically mean you will do well in close quarter confrontations with small arms or vice versa.
These transitions simply cannot be mentally ascended to. The processing center needs to draw upon, weigh
out, discriminate and evaluate from genuine experience.
There is a “mental switch” that sends the incoming data and orientation in one direction or the other. The
processing speed of this “mental switch” is influenced by several components. They are time, distance and
level of credibility for any given threat or attack.
Distance really can be considered a sub-component of time, because generally speaking the more distance you
have from any given situation, the more time you have to arrive at the optimal decision.
In any given situation, the more time you have and the lower the threat level, the more data will get diverted to
the conscious side of the mind for decision-making.
The conscious mind is sequential and compartmentalized in its approach to problem solving. The conscious
mind can handle a limited amount of variables, and is easily overwhelmed.
The opposite is true for an attack that comes from close range and is perceived to be extremely lethal. Virtually
all the incoming data, orientation and decision-making processes are diverted to the sub-conscious mind for
The sub-conscious mind thinks in parallel and draws from all storage quadrants simultaneously. The sub-
conscious mind is designed to handle a myriad of familiar factors in compressed time frames. Once a solution
is apparent (with no conscious effort or friction), an action sequence is generated and translated to the body
for a mobilized response.
Incoming Data is immediately parsed into one of two pathways
The conscious processing center is sequential, deliberate and variables limited
The sub-conscious is parallel, a distributed network, and time-efficient
OODA Cycle - Applied in Low-Light
his phase of the cycle is where the internal will is expressed through the physical manifestation of speech,
body movements and tool manipulation. In low-light conditions, this means using your illumination system in
conjunction with your firearm to effectively deal with any encountered threat(s).
It is important to understand that this is the last portion of a relatively long, unseen journey.
Many, many operators place such an extreme emphasis on this portion of combat that they neglect the weightier or
more significant portions of the OODA Cycle, which I believe are at least 80% - 90% of the actual battle.
This is not to minimize the importance of seeking out and diligently practicing all viable actions for any given
circumstance. A large matrix of potential actions exists and must be respected. The matrix will have to be sorted,
evaluated and X number of solutions selected. This will be a matter of knowledge, attitude, time allotted and
resources allocated.
Constantly practicing any particular action out of context [finding an opponent (Observation)], placing them in
perspective (Orientation), struggling and laboring to select the best choice among many (Decision)] is action that
may or may not be there when you need it most. Simply evaluate the dismal percentages of shots on target in
gunfights that take place generally closer than 20 feet.
In many cases, it is not because the officer does not have the motor skills or understanding to align the sights and
squeeze a lever (Action), it is because this required action was never done in the context of real close quarter
Range firing, video simulators, and mental contemplation of expected future events do not bring true familiarity of
action simply because they are not preceded by the intense requirements of a lethal force confrontation. They are
poor substitutes.
Officers that never have the opportunity to initiate fire based on a combat sequence of events are short-changed in
their training. Actions that are triggered by verbal commands, a turning target, a beeper, etc., are not genuine
precursors to an actual fight.
The bottom line is, a similar type of stress in training must be present in order to expect X action to be
successfully deployed in combat.
All proposed courses of action will need to be tested under the crucible of SNS pressure to discern and correctly
evaluate the repeatability of any given action.
All action should be preceded by 3 phases: Observation, Orientation, Decision
A reasonable amount of training should be in context of specific mission requirements
Introduce the correct type of stress in training to produce proper actions when required
The Mind of War – John Boyd and American Security - By Grant T. Hammond
“Several key points must be emphasized. Fire at all levels by artillery, mortars, and machine guns was exploited to hold the adversary’s attention
and pin him down. Such fire, together with gas and smoke (as well as fog and mist), was designed to capture the adversary’s attention, force
heads down, and dramatically obscure view, thereby cloaking the infiltrators’ movements. The dispersed and irregular character of moving
swarms permitted the infiltrators to blend against the irregular and changing terrain features as they pushed forward. Taken together, these
factors (captured attention, obscured view, and indistinct character of the advance) denied the adversary the opportunity to gain an accurate
picture of what was happening, or in this sense, “taking place”. The infiltration teams suddenly appeared to loom out of nowhere to blow through,
around, and behind the disoriented defenders.”
“The essence of these tactics was to cloud or distort the signature of the attacking forces. They sought to improve mobility and avoid enemy
fire while focusing the effort on penetrating, shattering, enveloping, and mopping up disconnected and isolated troops, and debris of the
adversary’s forces.” - Page 134, para 1-2
“The idea is to smash the blitz by turning its own techniques against itself. The inconspicuous, stealthy use of fast tempo, fluidity of action, and
cohesion of the counterblitz combat teams is the key. They form, redirect, then halt the enemy’s advance. This places the adversary on the
defensive, not the offensive, halts his advance, and at least locally destroys the adversary’s capacity to resist. In this military ju jitsu, one uses
the adversary’s own momentum and offensive intent to one’s defensive advantage. One employs his own techniques of fast pace, infiltration,
penetration, and flanking movements to defeat him.” - Page 149, para 2
“The key is rapid OODA loop cycles
to permit one to respond quickly
to the unfolding
tactical circumstances.”
Blitz-Guerrilla Themes
“…The second lesson is to shape the adversary’s perceptions and the pace of his reactions to events. One exploits ambiguity and deception so
the adversary doesn’t really know what is going on and utilizes superior mobility and sudden violence to control the pace of events.” - Page 147
para 2
“The implication of the overall message, as Boyd called it, is this:
The ability to operate at a faster tempo or rhythm than an adversary enables one to fold the adversary back inside himself so that he can neither
appreciate nor keep up with what is going on. He will become disoriented and confused which suggests that unless such menacing pressure is
relieved, the adversary will experience various combinations of uncertainty, doubt, confusion, self-deception, indecision, fear, panic,
discouragement, despair, etc., which will further
- Disorient or twist his mental images and impressions of what is happening; thereby
- Disrupt his mental and physical maneuvers for dealing with such a menace, thereby
- Overload his mental and physical capacity to adapt or endure; thereby
- Collapse his ability to carry on.
By combining insights and experiences, by looking at other disciplines and activities and connecting them, one can create new strategies for
coping with the world and one’s adversaries. Doing so allows one to develop repertories of competition, ways to contend with multiple
adversaries in different contexts. In doing so, one develops a fingerspitzengefuhl (“finger-tip feel”) for folding adversaries back inside
themselves, morally, mentally, and physically, so that they can neither appreciate nor cope with what is happening. Thus, the artful manipulation
of isolation and interaction is the key to successful strategy.” - Page 160, para 2-4
Mind Set for Training
First and foremost, one must accept the fact that in order to expect success under duress, one must
train. Train regularly, train intelligently, and train with a view to learn new aspects of a process with
which you may already consider yourself familiar.
“The way is in Training”
Miyamoto Musashi - Renowned Japanese swordsman
“The great corrupter of public man is the ego.... Looking at the mirror distracts
one's attention from the problem.”
Dean Acheson
The ego turns out to be the gatekeeper of the mind. Let's face it; many would not be attracted to this
line of work or have been successful if it were not for a strong, healthy, properly functioning ego. After
all, we are not in the floral industry. But, we must be ever vigilant to temper it with regular doses of
humility and reality checks.
All things being equal, personal ego is the single most important facet of the human condition that the
individual must learn to tame in order to keep climbing the proverbial mountain of tactical knowledge and
prowess successfully.
Mind Set for Combat
Through proper training we are fortifying the mind against deadly failures in combative situations. The
mind must not be overly cluttered with tasks that could have been relegated to the more powerful and
efficient sub-conscious mind.
The mind, in a combative situation, must be free to appreciate the actual situation and act accordingly.
The mind should not be encumbered by lingering doubts and fears that could have been purged through
rigorous and targeted training.
An often-overlooked component of proper mind-set in combat is a mind that is no longer primarily
concerned with self. If your personal survival is your number one priority, then I most humbly suggest
that you select a different profession that will not expose you to any additional risks.
A mind that is committed to the well-being of partners, teammates and those that make up the
community you serve will generate solutions and create outcomes that a mind focused solely on self
simply cannot.
“Arrogance invites ruin; humility receives benefits.”
Chinese proverb
Mind Set
Hunter verses Victim Mentality
Our body language is the key indicator.
Fear based reactions in a lethal force engagement are totally
instinctual. Instincts are not the highest level of response.
“All unnatural movement comes from fear.”
- Mikhail Ryabko - Russian Spetznaz
Place your opponent Under Duress
“I make the opponent worry about what is going to happen to
Target Fixation is concentrating/looking at one point in
him, not the other way around.” - Ken J. Good
space to the exclusion of all others is a deadly killer in close
quarter combat simply because you no longer have the ability
to make proper decisions which lead to actions that will
determine success or failure. Target Fixation creates a loss
of situational awareness.
Situational Awareness is the ability to collect, collate, and
store data in a fluid, dynamic and stressful environment,
then retrieve that data and accurately predict future events
based on that data in a compressed time frame.
Situational Awareness refers to the degree of accuracy by
which one’s perception of his current environment mirrors
Tunnel Vision is seeing the world through a small tube. The
important peripheral vision is excluded during the critical
observation phase of hostile engagements. When in this
modality, operators often exclude important auditory clues
and information as well as have difficulty articulating basic
concepts to others in the environment (friendly forces and
“Fear is the ever persistent demon, that needs to be
constantly vanquished, not the visible opponent in front of
Low-Light Often seen as a Disadvantage
you.” - Ken J. Good
Reduced light levels can bring increased stress levels since
we gather most of our information through our eyes.
Turn this around in your mind. Your opponent may also have
limited information from which to develop a plan of action.
Through training, you are more comfortable in this situation
than he or she may be.
The concealment darkness offers is a significant tool in your
tactical tool bag when leveraged correctly.
Suspects whose eyes have become dark adapted are also
more susceptible to the effects of an intense light source
directed into their pupils.
Mind Set
First of all expect it, do not try to eliminate it.
Random variations based on principle based processes are part of
the natural order.
Control is a fleeting illusion in many cases.
You must learn to appreciate the fluidity and dynamics of conflict,
and make the appropriate decisions based on those, “in the moment”
Breath Control
When you trace it all back (Overall situation - Hostile
environments filled with threats - Friendly forces - Equipment),
eventually things boil down to who YOU are and how you respond.
You need to maintain the ability to adapt and make sound decisions.
If you find yourself screaming at threats(posturing stemming from
fear), you have no breath control.
If you are huffing and puffing, before the engagement even unfolds, you
have no breath control. If you have never thought about your breath,
you have no breath control. Lack of breath control results in you having
no mind-control. No mind-control results in you having no body or
Operator or Gear?
A fundamental question of Orientation.
equipment control. This sends you into a potentiallyvicious death
It is tempting to believe that “to have this tool or that tool” will make
me a better operator.
Consider Hick’s Law. The more decisions you can make, the slower
you will be in arriving at a correct decision. Reaction time increases
approximately 150 milliseconds when the response option increases
from one to two.
It is imperative that you train the core human operating system to
function correctly, THEN add the tools incrementally.
The more tools, the better you will need to be!
Flexible, Fluid, Flowing, and Unpredictable
The smash through the middle, over aggressive mind-set does not
represent the most efficient application of higher level principles.
Projectiles are inanimate objects in supersonic flight
that have no concern or no deep appreciation for your
physicality and “toughness”.
Therefore, adopt a fluid, constantly adapting approach to conflict as
you will never know what you may face next.
“We don't train to reinforce all of our instincts,
we train to overcome many of them.” - Ken J. Good
Hardware - Basic Considerations
n many self-defense, crime interdiction, or combat conditions
occurring in low-light conditions, any flashlight may prove better
than no flashlight. Furthermore, a less-than-ideal flashlight may
be used in many of the techniques described on the following pages.
However, because of the potential deadly situations in which
flashlight/gun techniques are employed, it is imperative to use
quality flashlights with the proper features and capabilities.
Many departments have specific guidelines on the use of larger
metal flashlights. Recommend having a least (1) smaller flashlight
on your person at all times even if you are carrying a larger flashlight
on duty. In many daytime situations you simply may choose not to
take the larger unit with you, but may end up needing supplemental
illumination anyway.
This applies to all flashlight components: body, reflector, bulb, and switch. If dropping or banging the light puts it out of order,
it is not suitable for LEO or combat use.
Water Resistant
The light may be carried and/or used in the rain. It must not be susceptible to either water infiltration or corrosion from dampness.
The light will be used to clearly identify and classify threats and/or to temporarily incapacitate an assailant.
“Traditional” 2/3-D cell flashlights using incandescent bulbs, are inadequate sources of light.
We suggest a minimum of 250 lumens for an adequate light source.
Momentary On/Off Switch
Frequently, proper use of flashlights in LEO or combat situations requires activating them for a brief moment, sometimes literally
a fraction of a second. Ideally this activation should be possible with just the thumb or a single finger.
(1) A flashlight with only a “twist” on/off mechanism is unacceptably slow to operate.
(2) A flashlight with a slide-on/off switch (most of which are not waterproof) is undesirable,
since a positive and rapid on/off cycle is possible only with a thumb.
(3) A flashlight whose momentary switch is integral with its regular on/off switch is undesirable,
since accidental activation of the regular switch at the wrong moment could prove disastrous.
Note: It is possible to mitigate this factor by placing the activating fingertip or thumb tip at the perimeter
of the on/off button, making it difficult (even virtually impossible) to fully depress the button and lock it on.
(4) A separate momentary switch, operable with one finger or one thumb while holding
the flashlight in its normal grip, is by far the best.
(5) Preferably weapons mountable for multi-purpose application and equipment compatibility.
A Word about Modes/Channels
Many manufacturer’s now include multiple modes in their product line. The user-interface must be carefully considered.
Having too many modes and/or having to cycle through a series of button pushes to get the next desired mode can result in
confusion and mismanagement of time. Strobe Mode in terms of actual cyclic rate should also be considered.
Do your research as to what rates cause what effect to your own perception as well as the perception of those being directly
subjected to the strobing light.
Flashlight Techniques
Reality Dictates the Requirement to be Proficient with Flashlights
By a substantial percentage, most officer-involved shootings occur during the hours from sunset to sunrise,
when ambient light is either greatly reduced from normal daytime levels (even when artificial lighting is
available) or is virtually nonexistent.
Such low-light shootings undoubtedly comprise the majority of non-law enforcement (“citizen”) shootings.
The obvious reason for this fact: Perpetrators of street crime are more active after sundown.
Because most shootings occur in low-light conditions, it is not merely desirable for all officers to become
proficient at shooting with the aid of flashlights, it is a critical part of their overall skill set and should not be
relegated to a one-time, check the box training approach.
Being skilled and comfortable at simultaneously operating a firearm and a flashlight
enables one to:
focus on safely performing the job at hand, rather than becoming distracted
maintain the proper mindset - confident, controlling,
by equipment issues and/or dangerous tactical errors
dominating any actual or potential threat
“Know and use all the capabilities in your airplane.
If you don't, sooner or later, some guy who does use them all will kick your ass.”
Dave 'Preacher' Pace - Fighter Pilot
The Simultaneous Use of Handheld Flashlights and Firearms
Development of Flashlights and Flashlight/Gun Techniques
The first flashlight/gun techniques were designed around “regular” flashlights whose design had
remained basically unchanged for half a century. Such lights had thin metal or plastic bodies, held a
couple of C or D cells, and used a comparatively weak bulb.
Flashlights for Law Enforcement and outdoor use were gradually improved, becomingmore rugged,
reliable and technologically sophisticated. Long, heavy flashlights became standard Law Enforcement
tools because, in addition to being comparatively powerful, they could also be used as a weapon or
restraint device.
Their common use by LEO's encouraged the development of flashlight/gun techniques.
Flashlight design continued to evolve. Bulb/battery technology and ergonomic considerations resulted
in more powerful beams from “regular” sized lights. Over time, the beams became more powerful from
ever smaller flashlights.
These small handheld lights, whose bodies are an inch or less in diameter (called small flashlights in
this section) are now universally accepted by Law Enforcement officers, specialized military units, and
outdoorsmen. Although many flashlight/gun techniques that were developed for large flashlights
worked equally well with the new small flashlights, some did not, resulting in modifications of the
original techniques or the -creation of new techniques.
“No standard gun/flashlight technique provides a firm, two-hand hold on the weapon.
Instead of attempting to dodge this fact through complex, unnatural or unsuitable
approximations of a two-hand hold - making the cure worse than the disease,
the better course is to accept the one-handedness of the weapon hold.
Do not make it a liability, make the best of it.”
“What is the first business of one who studies philosophy? To part with self-conceit.
For it is impossible for anyone to begin to learn what he thinks that he already knows.”
Epictetus (A.D. c. 50 - c. 138)
Terminology Used in This Section
Low-light conditions can include diminished interior lighting (such as in a darkened building or tunnel), or any outdoor
location in heavy shadow (such as in a narrow alley or under a pier) or the complete lack of direct sunlight occurring
after sundown.
Flashlight/gun technique includes all techniques for simultaneously using an illumination tool
(handheld or weapon-mounted) and a firearm (handgun or long gun).
Flashlight includes any handheld, battery-powered illumination device.
Sword grip refers to holding the flashlight as one would a sword handle, with the lens end of the flashlight on the thumb
side of the hand, as though the flashlight beam were replacing the sword blade.
Ice-pick grip refers to holding the flashlight as one would an ice pick, with the lens end of the flashlight on the side of
the hand opposite the thumb, as though the flashlight beam were replacing the ice pick's pointed shaft.
Hands-together technique refers to any flashlight/gun technique in which the flashlight hand or wrist touches the gun
hand or wrist, and an attempt is made to keep them together via pressure or by interlocking wrists or fingers. This is in
contrast to hands-apart techniques (FBI and Neck-Index) in which no attempt is made to keep the hands together.
Sympathetic contraction is the term we will use to describe two related physiological phenomena that often occur
under stress or startle conditions. First, is the contraction of all digits on one hand even though the intention was to
contract selected digits.
Second, is the tendency of both hands (and/or their fingers) to perform similar actions even though he intention was to
perform the action with one hand (or the fingers of one hand). This second phenomenon, technically called interlimb
interaction, is more apt to occur under startle or stress conditions, and by having hands in close proximity to one
Hand confusion refers to the physiological phenomenon in which the wrong hand is activated in a situation where each
hand was “assigned” a separate task (such as left hand operates flashlight switch, right hand operates handgun
trigger). This phenomenon is also more apt to occur under startle or stress conditions, and by having hands in close
proximity to one another.
Beam/grip displacement refers to two things that can occur when an officer employing a
hands-together flashlight/gun technique fires his weapon, which then recoils. First, the aim of the flashlight beam can
be jostled and even significantly redirected off-target by gun recoil.
Second, the position of the gun and flashlight hands can be altered by the recoil, requiring complete re-application of the
flashlight/gun technique. All hands-together techniques suffer to some degree from beam/grip displacement. The
extent of the displacement will vary according to the size and the strength of the user's hands, size of flashlight, caliber
of handgun, skill in applying technique, and the particular flashlight/gun technique used.
Basic Flashlight/Gun Techniques
The proper techniques of moving room to room, clearing rooms, use of cover, confusing, disabling, and
dominating opponents with light, avoiding self-illumination, etc., are outside the scope of this particular
section. They are best understood and retained through hands-on, live instruction.
Nevertheless, the basic methods of actually holding the gun and flashlight for concerted use can easily be
grasped through the following descriptions, aided by photographs. We have included most of the primary
recognized techniques. Their strong and weak points are noted in the curriculum.
Some techniques were initially developed or introduced for use with large flashlights and other
methods were developed with smaller flashlights in mind.
A well-trained shooter should be at least familiar with all of these techniques. Depending on
thecircumstances, each one can have its place. The best way to grasp the positive and negative attributes
of each technique is to try it at night or in dark conditions with both large and small flashlights, while
shooting live ammunition.
Keep in mind that while a “static test” of the technique (above) is certainly useful, the true value and
applicability of each technique cannot be completely understood and evaluated until it is used under
conditions closely approximating an actual search, house clearing, SWAT, or combat conditions. Under such
conditions, the effects of stress, fatigue, corners, obstacles, and flashlight features will all have significant
impact on what you actually select and employ.
Note: Many techniques that are suitable for a particular cornering relationship are not suitable when
approaching the corner from the opposite side/direction. Large parts of the body are unnecessarily exposed
and posture is compromised.
A Warning About Hands-Together Flashlight/Gun Techniques
When a flashlight is activated in a low-light situation there is an almost irresistible urge -- made stronger
under stressful conditions -- to move the brightest part of the beam so that it shines on the perceived point
of danger or into a potential assailant's face. But in all hands-together techniques, because the user's
hands are locked or pressed together, redirecting the beam also redirects the barrel of the gun. At a few
yards distance even a moderate adjustment of the flashlight beam can turn a perfect center-mass aim into
a complete miss. Taking one's eyes off the assailant to re-align the gun is dangerous, and may well move
the flashlight's central bright spot off the target again, starting the process over.
Thus, it is imperative to be aware of this phenomenon and train accordingly. Consider two possible ways to
simplify this in training:
1) When directing your locked-together flashlight and gun hands toward a potential target, or when
sweeping them during a search, remember that the gun hand is the master hand. It’s the driver, and the
flashlight hand is “along for the ride”, so to speak. (
2) Adopt the mentality that, when the flashlight is activated, what you see is what you get. That is, be
prepared to shoot with whatever part of the beam happens to be on the target. Don’t get in the habit of
trying to achieve a perfect “spotlight” view of the target every time you switch on the light. Instead, pay
attention to where the gun is aiming. In a situation where a split-second could mean the difference between
life and death, gun alignment matters most.
Ayoob Technique
Techniques will be Presented in Alphabetical Order
The flashlight is grasped in a sword grip, thumb or any finger on the side-mounted on/off (or momentary) switch. The thumb of the flashlight
hand is pressed against the thumb of the weapon hand, creating isometric tension that steadies the weapon. The hands may be held near
the body or the arms may be extended.
A variation on this technique calls for the thumb of the flashlight hand to be pressed inward just below, but still in contact with, the weapon
hand's thumb, thus somewhat lowering the angle of the flashlight beam.
Another variation calls for pressing the fingers of the flashlight hand against the fingers of the weapon hand,
which significantly reduces the amount of wrist rotation required.
Named after Massad Ayoob, Law Enforcement officer, prolific writer, and martial arts/shooting instructor.
Practicing this technique will emphasize the fact that it is best suited for a quick - even unprepared - response to a nearby threat. It is less
suited for search mode, for prolonged operations such as room-clearing, or for shooting at assailants beyond a distance of a few feet.
· Can be assumed from “normal” (sword) grip on flashlight with quick gross motor movements.
· At very close range (no more than about three yards) the flashlight beam is automatically
directed into assailant's eyes.
· Flashlight can be held fairly close to body, reducing chance of loss due to assailant or
accidental contact with objects.
· Works only with side-switch flashlights.
· User may suffer beam/grip displacement during discharge of weapon.
· Fatiguing if performed steadily for more than a few moments, especially with large flashlights.
· Proximity of hands increases chance of sympathetic contraction and hand confusion.
· Weapon tends to bang into flashlight during execution.
· Attempted alignment of flashlight beam with target can alter alignment of weapon with target (& vice versa).
· Light is located center of mass. If unseen threat(s) engage the light, your body is directly in the line of return fire.
Chapman Technique
The flashlight is held in a sword grip, but only with thumb and forefinger. Thumb or one finger operates the on/off (or momentary) switch. The
other three fingers of the flashlight hand wrap around the gripping fingers of the weapon hand, in an approximation of a regular two-hand handgun
grip, and arms provide stabilizing isometric tension.
Named for Ray Chapman, founder of the Chapman Academy and world-class shooter. This technique was
perhaps the second formally taught and recognized technique. It is also credited to Bill Rogers, and is sometimes identified as the
Chapman/Rogers technique.
· Works with small or large flashlights.
· Keeps flashlight beam automatically aligned with weapon barrel.
· Enables steadier, two-hand support of weapon prior to shooting.
· Works only with side-switch flashlights.
· Difficult to perform for those with small hands or with a heavy flashlight.
· User may suffer beam/grip displacement during discharge of weapon.
· Fatiguing if performed steadily for more than a few moments, especially with large flashlights.
· Proximity of hands increases chance of sympathetic contraction and hand confusion.
· Weapon can bang into flashlight during hasty execution.
· Difficult to use with injured hand or arm.
· Attempted alignment of flashlight beam with target can alter alignment of weapon with target (& vice versa).
· Light is located center of mass. If unseen threat(s) engage the light, your body is directly in the line of return fire.
FBI Technique
The flashlight is held in a sword or an ice pick grip, with arm extended well away from the body (and extended upward if desired), with lens of
flashlight held slightly in front of body to avoid illuminating the user. Weapon is held in any position desired, out of contact with flashlight hand
or arm.
This is probably the oldest formally taught flashlight/gun technique. This technique was originally emphasized as a way to prevent the user’s
flashlight from “marking” his exact position when activated. By moving the light away from the user’s body, an assailant who simply shot at the
light source would be less likely to automatically hit the user.
Some disparage this technique as outmoded. Advocates of specific hands-together techniques generally express this view.
All techniques listed in this curriculum have their own positive attributes as well as obvious deficiencies.
The fact is, a relaxed, movement oriented, unstructured version of the FBI technique, employed with proper cover, is extremely useful in roomclearing tactics and in dynamic firefight situations.
· Works with small or large flashlights.
· No beam/grip displacement upon discharge of weapon.
· Separation of hands reduces chance of sympathetic contraction and hand confusion.
· Enables searching with flashlight independent of aiming weapon.
· Peripheral light can illuminate front and rear sights of weapon if desired.
· Allows minimal exposure of user's body during room clearing or firing around obstacles.
· Original purpose of masking precise location of shooter still valid, though limited by
ambient conditions such as reflective walls.
· Transitions well to the “Neck-Index” Technique.
· If a smaller flashlight is being used, this technique can be used with light weight shoulder-fired
weapons and transitions well to shoulder-fired weapon technique.
· Supports the principle of “Light and Move” and can be extremely deceptive if utilized properly.
· Easy to use Bilaterally.
· User must shoot one-handed.
· Can be difficult to maintain alignment.
· Fatiguing if performed steadily for more than a few moments, especially with large flashlights.
· Difficult to use with injured hand or arm.
· Precise, instant alignment of flashlight beam with target requires practice.
Hargreaves “Lite-Touch” Technique
The flashlight is held in the palm of the support hand.
Method of deployment:
1. Draw pistol and flashlight together.
2. Punch pistol forward in a straight line at the target, weak hand pointing flashlight,
as you would a fencing foil.
3. The two hands come together, just like a two hand punch draw, but the weak hand is under the pistol,
on/off button pressed against the knuckles of the gun hand.
Named after Mike Hargreaves, former British Army, bouncer at Cavern Club, Liverpool U.K., (‘60 -’64),
full-time firearms instructor for 20 years and long time board member of IALEFI.
Mr. Hargreaves introduced this technique in early 2002.
· Simple, effective, easy to learn, and is a gross motor skill.
· Keeps flashlight beam automatically aligned with weapon barrel.
· Enables steadier, two-hand support of weapon prior to shooting.
· This technique can also be used with lighter weight assault rifles & sub-guns not equipped with a light.
· The shooter can support the rifle and depress the tailcap switch against the magazine well.
· Does not work with side-switch flashlights.
· Difficult to use with injured hand or arm.
· Light is located center of mass. If unseen threat(s) engage the light, your body is directly in the line of retirm fire.
Harries Technique
The flashlight is held in an ice-pick grip (lens on side opposite the thumb). Thumb or any finger operates on/off
(or momentary) switch. Wrists nest together and backs of hands are firmly pressed together to create
stabilizing isometric tension. For large flashlights, body of flashlight may be rested on weapon hand's forearm.
This technique is named after Michael Harries, a pioneer of modern practical combat shooting. Developed in the early
1970s for use with large flashlights, this technique is widely used and is well-suited to small and larger flashlights.
· Works with small or large flashlights.
· Enables steadier, two-hand support of weapon prior to shooting.
· Flashlight body (larger flashlights) can sometimes be rested on weapon hand's forearm, enabling extended use.
· Variations of this technique can be used with shoulder-fired weapons.
Cross-support technique - Think Harries Flashlight Technique with a long gun, but with the weapon
resting on your forearm holding the flashlight held to the side or tucked back toward your weapon
support forearm.
· User may suffer beam/grip displacement during discharge of weapon.
· Keeping flashlight beam aligned with weapon barrel leads to fatigue due to the tension
created by keeping the backs of hands together. Note the lower hand has a tendency
to rotate downward when the handgun is in a “guard” or “low ready” position.
· Proximity of hands increases chance of sympathetic contraction and hand confusion.
· During hasty execution, weapon muzzle can cross flashlight hand or arm.
· Can lead to “Self-Blinding” - for example, right-handed shooter attempting to navigate a corner with a
wall on the right side. The hot spot of the beam will “drag” behind the weapon. If the light is activated,
the reflected light will be directed back to the shooter. This not only substantially reduces the
shooter’s vision but also silhouettes the shooter and other team member(s) to all threat(s) in the area.
· Light is located center of mass. If unseen threat(s) engage the light, your body is directly in the line of retrun fire.
Keller Technique
The flashlight is held in a sword grip, with the thumb on the on/off (or momentary) switch. Arms are extended
outward, with arm of weapon hand below arm of flashlight hand. Wrists nest together and back of weapon
hand presses firmly against back of flashlight hand to create stabilizing tension.
Note: This technique must be practiced to create muscle memory in order to avoid having the slide of the
handgun slam into the wrist or forearm during discharge, especially when the arms aren't fully extended.
Named for Georgia State Police trooper Van Keller, this technique has been described as a variation of the
Harries technique. However, it is quite distinct.
· Keeps flashlight beam fairly well aligned with gun barrel.
· Enables steadier, two-hand support of weapon prior to shooting.
· Works only with side-switch flashlights.
· User may suffer beam/grip displacement during discharge of weapon.
· Fatiguing if performed steadily over time, especially with large flashlights.
· Proximity of hands increases chance of sympathetic contraction and hand confusion.
· Difficult to use with injured hand or arm.
· Precise, rapid alignment of flashlight beam with target requires practice.
· Attempted alignment of flashlight beam with target can alter alignment of weapon with target (& vice versa).
· Light is located center of mass. If unseen threat(s) engage the light, your body is directly in the line of return fire.
Neck-Index Technique
The flashlight is held in an ice-pick grip. Thumb or any finger placed on the on/off (or momentary) switch.
For large flashlights, the flashlight body is rested on the shoulder, indexed against the base of the neck.
For small flashlights, the body of the flashlight (or the fist holding it) is held indexed against the jaw/neck
juncture just below the ear, so that it moves in conjunction with user's head yet blocks little peripheral vision.
Weapon is held in any position desired, out of contact with flashlight hand or arm.
The first published description of this technique appeared in a June 1994 Handguns Magazine article by Brian Puckett, and therefore it is
sometimes called the “Puckett Technique”. However, Ken Good and Dave Maynard of Combative Concepts Inc. taught the small flashlight version
of this technique about two years prior to the '94 article. Puckett and Good now use the term "neck-index technique".
While it was common for police officers to hold large flashlights in a similar manner during casual use or during extended searches, this
technique (1) utilized the ergonomic, tactical, and even psychological benefits provided by this common, comfortable grip, and (2) broke from the
long trend of hands-together flashlight/gun techniques.
The goal of hands-together techniques is to steady the shooting hand and/or keep the flashlight beam constantly aligned with the gun barrel.
Good and Maynard's dynamic combat techniques did not require this, and Puckett questioned the overall desirability of it. To quote from the
latter's original article:
· Clear illumination of sights and the target simultaneously.
· Natural transition from FBI technique.
· Works with small or large flashlights.
· For large flashlights, weight is borne almost entirely by the user's body, enabling extended use.
· No beam/grip displacement upon discharge of weapon.
· Separation of hands reduces chance of sympathetic contraction and hand confusion.
· Enables searching with flashlight independent of aiming weapon.
· Flashlight is held in “cocked” position for defensive purposes if required.
· Usable with injured hand or arm, as it virtually duplicates natural “flipper” position of wounded limb.
· Supports an aligned body position for movement in any direction.
· For ambidextrous operators - excellent for lateral movement.
· Can be easily transitioned to light forward, weapon back for weapon retention in close quarters.
· Supports “Power with Light” Principle.
· Easy to use Bilaterally.
· User must shoot one-handed.
· Can create excess “splash” of light off rear of weapon if not familiar with technique.
· Light is located near the head - All threat(s) need to be accounted for.
· Use of this technique with larger flashlights can easily lead to a strike to an incoming threat’s
head/face if deployed in a less-lethal situation. The flashlight is naturally poised to strike.
Transitioning the Neck-Index
Flashlight Transfer
Right to Left Hand
The Bilateral Transfer
As described by Ernest G. Langdon, 2-time IDPA national
Flashlight Transfer
Left to Right Hand
champion, shooting instructor. This technique is the
same from either side.
Start by rotating the index finger around the flashlight so
that the flashlight is held by the remaining three fingers.
The web of the hand between the index finger and the
thumb should now be exposed.
Note: The trigger finger is straight before
the technique is started.
The grip on the pistol is relaxed slightly to expose the
back-strap area of the pistol. Note that the thumb is still
around the grip maintaining control of the pistol.
The flashlight hand now is inserted in the exposed back-
strap area. Using the web of the hand and pinching with
the thumb, control of the pistol is taken by the flashlight
Now that control of the pistol has been transferred to the
other hand, the grip that was on the pistol can be
released and that hand moved to a position just below,
and in front of, the flashlight.
Now the three fingers that are holding the
flashlight are relaxed allowing the other
hand to take control of the light.
The transfer is now complete.
This technique will be commited to the
sub-conscious, once mastered.
Rotating the Flashlight &
Finger Position as seen
from the opposite side
Over-Under Technique
The flashlight is held in a sword grip with thumb or a finger on the side-mounted on/off (or momentary) switch.
Weapon hand is pressed down firmly on top of flashlight hand or flashlight body, creating isometric tension to steady the weapon.
Also called the “Stack” or “New York” technique. Little information was found on the origin of this technique,
though the name obviously suggests it might have originated with the New York City Police Department.
· Works with small or large flashlights.
· Keeps flashlight beam well aligned with gun barrel.
· Enables steadier, two-hand support of weapon prior to shooting.
· Fairly usable with injured hand or arm.
· Works only with side-switch flashlights.
· User may suffer beam/grip displacement during discharge of weapon.
· Proximity of hands increases chance of sympathetic contraction and hand confusion.
· Attempted alignment of flashlight beam with target can alter alignment of weapon with target (& vice versa).
· Light is located center of mass. If unseen threat(s) engage the light, your body is directly in the line of return fire.
Rogers/SureFire Technique
A small flashlight is held between forefinger and middle finger in a “syringe” grip, that is, with these fingers gripping the body of the flashlight
(and in front of the integral rubber ring, if the flashlight has one). The lens of the light faces outward, and the protruding momentary switch
rests against the middle or lower part of the thumb. The flashlight is activated by squeezing it between fingers and thumb.
The weapon hand is brought together with the flashlight hand, as though performing a normal two-hand hold, and the lower fingers of the
flashlight hand are wrapped around the gripping fingers of the weapon hand. Isometric tension is applied with the arms to steady the weapon.
Note: Some people find that wrapping just the bottom two fingers (ring and little) of the flashlight hand around the
gun-gripping fingers improves alignment of flashlight beam with gun barrel. However, quickly assuming this particular grip requires more practice.
Named for former FBI agent William Rogers. Andy Stanford writes that Rogers developed the technique around the original Laser Products 6P
flashlight, which had neither a gripping ring nor a protruding momentary switch.
· Keeps flashlight beam well aligned with gun barrel.
· Enables steadier, two-hand support of weapon prior to shooting.
· Little beam/grip displacement if properly executed.
· Efficient draw when carried with the SureFire proprietary holsters and other flashlight
holsters designed to carry the flashlight lens down.
· Works well only with small flashlights with end-mounted momentary switches.
· Proximity of hands increases chance of sympathetic contraction and hand confusion.
· Difficult to use with injured hand or arm.
· Attempted alignment of flashlight beam with target can alter alignment of weapon with target (& vice versa).
· Light is located center of mass. If unseen threat(s) engage the light, your body is directly in the line of return fire.
· Unintentional release of the magazine during recoil due to close proximity of the fingers/flashlight.
Shoulder-Fired Weapon Technique
The flashlight is held in a sword or ice pick grip, with arm extended well away from the body (and extended upward if desired), with lens of
flashlight held slightly in front of body to avoid illuminating the user (mirroring the FBI Technique).
This technique revolves around using a handheld flashlight in conjunction with a lightweight shoulder-fired weapon equipped with a weaponmounted light (for example an M4, MP5, P90 or shorter semi-auto shotguns). With extended practice, larger weapons can be utilized. The
handheld flashlight is employed as a search tool. Once the target of interest is located, the flashlight can be rolled under the forearm of the
shoulder-fired weapon. It is then held in place with the last two fingers of
the support hand, lens now facing the shooter.
The weapon-mounted light can now be activated at will with the remaining fingers. In the worst case, simply drop the handheld and use the
activation pad located on the weapon-mounted light.
Developed as a result of years of Force-on-Force training in low-light environments at the Fleet Training Center in San Diego, CA and with
Combative Concepts Inc., a private company founded by former Navy SEALs Dave Maynard and Ken J. Good. Constantly dealing with a large
number of adversaries in unknown locations lead to the more deceptive practice of searching with a handheld flashlight well above the head,
even with a shoulder-fired weapon with a dedicated weapon-mounted light attached.
Threats can and will shoot at the light giving away their location. Additionally, “holding” a hallway or stairway with just the weapon-mounted light
creates too static a picture for threats to interpret and allows them to develop a simple firing solution. Use of a handheld flashlight while in the
“holding” pattern, allows the operator to rapidly change the light picture without rapidly moving the weapon.
Two other techniques that are being advocated, (that have been developed from this initial concept with the idea being your long gun either does
not have a weapon-mounted light or it is no longer functioning), are as follows:
1. Cross-support technique - Think Harries Flashlight Technique with a long gun, but with the weapon
resting on your forearm holding the flashlight held to the side or tucked back toward your weapon support forearm.
2. Hargreaves Lite-Touch - The shooter can support the rifle and depress the tailcap switch against the magazine well.
· Allows for extremely deceptive light picture downrange.
· Threat(s) tend to shoot overhead in longer distance situations as well as close quarters.
· Shooter can hold hallways at corners in a low kneeling position, but illuminate from the
threat’s point of view at chest/head high.
· Light can be used as a communication tool to direct team member(s) to threat locations
without taking weapon off primary field of fire.
· Light can be rapidly moved while searching open areas without “flagging” team member(s) with your weapon.
· Can still activate weapon-mounted light by “rolling” the flashlight into position.
· Not a basic technique - requires extensive practice to deploy operationally.
· User must be able to shoot a lightweight shoulder-fired weapon one-handed while seaerching for threats.
USMC Technique
The flashlight is held in a sword grip with thumb or finger on the side-mounted on/off (or momentary) switch. The rim of the flashlight
lens is pressed forward against the tips of the weapon hand's gripping fingers (even locking them in place if the rim is deep enough)
creating a stabilizing tension.
Development of this technique is attributed to U.S. Marine Corps' embassy guards.
· Can be surprisingly comfortable and stable, even with large flashlights.
· Keeps flashlight beam well aligned with gun barrel.
· Enables steadier, two-hand support of weapon prior to shooting.
· Works only with side-switch flashlights with fairly large lenses.
· User may suffer beam/grip displacement during discharge of weapon.
· Proximity of hands increases chance of sympathetic contraction and hand confusion.
· Attempted alignment of flashlight beam with target can alter alignment of weapon with target (& vice versa).
· Light is located center of mass. If unseen threat(s) engage the light, your body is directly in the line of return fire.
One of the most critical, misunderstood aspects of close quarter combat is the ability to negotiate corners
while presenting a firearm.
What are the proper cornering techniques?
Is there a difference with a handgun or shoulder-fired weapon?
What are the principles that form the foundation for proper technique?
What is the mindset required to be successful?
Let's work our way into this.
The primary tool in your toolbox is your mindset. This is the cornerstone that must be laid
carefully or the building will fall under the slightest duress. No matter how good your
technique, no matter how deep your understanding of the theory, the rubber meets the
road in the steadfastness of your mind.
Whenever I pick up a firearm in any operational capacity, I immediately go into what my
friends call “shark mode”. Shark mode is an excellent description of where you should be
mentally. The shark is one of nature's fiercest and most efficient predators - you too must
be The Pure Hunter to consistently defeat opponents. You must be willing to take the fight
to the opponent if required.
You must have immediate, uninterrupted access to a mental switch that brings this mode
forward. When in this mental space, you are not concerned about what is going to happen
to you, you are forcing your opponents to be concerned about what is going to happen to
them. The late Col. Rex Applegate titled his groundbreaking 1943 book on close quarters
combat, “Kill Or Be Killed”. He knew the essence of the correct mindset.
The second part of a proper mindset is to maintain a mental balance the entire time you
are cornering. You should remain completely balanced in the sense that no matter what
you see, you will only do what you must - no more, no less. You are attempting to maintain
the center of the fight at all times.
Your weapon and your body are an extension of your mind - you take ground or give ground
only because you choose to. When the mind is rattled, the delivery system loses
You must be dynamically and acutely aware of force vectors, horizontal, and vertical
displacement options, your speed-on-ground, distance from objects and the material
composition of the things that are between you and any potential adversary. Simply
stated - attempt to be totally and absolutely situationally aware.
Competent cornering embodies the ability to mentally “see” what is on the other side
before you get there.
You quickly eliminate your opponent’s free movement options and
bring him into an area that you can control. You are unrelenting,
not overly aggressive.
You are mentally pushing your opponent into an ever-tighter death spiral from which there
will be no recovery.
A friend's martial arts teacher told him, “Not faster than bullet, faster than mind.” Perfect.
You are determined, but completely flexible - flexible in the sense that you have no pre-determined route, distance, rhythm or timing. You are
always willing to do the unconventional.
A set, easily predictable routine on the corner will be your personal fast track
to the morgue.
Mentally, you must begin to see your entire environment as nothing but a
chained series of short, medium and long-range corners. These corners
appear in the horizontal and vertical planes. A stairway is a vertical corner.
The front, back, top and bottom of your vehicle are all corners.
A common mental mistake is not addressing corners soon enough. Operators
have a tendency to mentally sag until they are at the threshold of the corner.
If a threat appears during this transitory approach phase, they are caught
I practice cornering every day of my life. As I move through
my environment, I play a game. As I turn corners, move down hallways,
ascend or descend stairways, I attempt to see anybody in the environment
before they see me.
If I don't, I “lost” that “battle”.
After 20 years of playing my little game, I generally win.
Number One: Begin Cornering as Soon as Practical
What I mean by this is, as soon as you perceive a direction change or any
additional angles forming out in front of you, you must begin addressing them
as soon as possible (from the farthest possible distance).
One of the most common and natural mistakes is addressing the corner too
late. It is a timing and sequence issue that I have seen done incorrectly
thousands of times. An individual or team element essentially saunters up to
the corner and then attempts to close down the angles. Oftentimes this is
much too late.
Once “on top” of the corner you are in “too deep” to quickly respond to
dynamic threats. You will feel cramped and boxed in at this point. You need
to visually address as much of the new area as possible from the furthest
distance away possible.
When dealing with any new found corner, don't be afraid to move forward and
back, up and down, left and right frequently to see from a wide variety of
angles, at distance. The more you see BEFORE you get there, the less
unknown space you will have to deal with when you do close the gap. Time
spent at distance is well invested. Threats often reveal themselves early
because they can sense something is coming and feel obligated to do
something about it. When you are at distance you have more choices, than
when you get close and it becomes now or never. Think about it, the reason
you have a firearm in the first place is so that it can reach out and touch if
necessary. Don't neglect the crucial time during the transition from point A
to the corner.
Work diligently to address these longer angles
To illustrate, picture an Indy car racing into a corner at over 250 mph. If the driver addresses the situation too late he is ejected out the back of
the corner, often with catastrophic results. Why? Because the line chosen and the velocity selected impacts the balance of the vehicle, which
in turn dictates the inevitable outcome. A professional driver is dealing with that corner from a great distance. Moment by moment he is
teetering between greatness and disaster.
Number Two: Understand Proper Distancing
Maintain plenty of distance from the corner whenever possible. I try to stay at least an arms length away from corners whenever possible. You
will be surprised how much space you really have if you don't collapse in all the time. This type of relationship manifests itself inside a house,
around a vehicle, essentially anything that is between you and your opponent(s).
I often hear folks dragging body parts and equipment along the wrong side of the wall as they tentatively shuffle step toward a corner. I call this
“walking on a mine field”. It is an outward physical manifestation of their insecurity. Somehow they believe if they hug their walls and corners,
nobody is going to see them or hurt them. It turns out the opposite is true. In this position you are fighting from some of the worst angles for
countering a threat.
We joke about the magnetic or gravitational effect of all objects during the duress of a projectile-based fight. Somebody out there has his or her
hand on the all-powerful switch that energizes all these objects during a gunfight.
We are desperately looking for this virtual switching complex, but as of yet cannot determine its location. As soon as bullets are flying, all
combatants that do not have a deep-seated understanding of the negative power of this effect are pulled in and immobilized on the object or wall
that is located directly in front of them.
When you have smashed yourself into a corner, wall or object, it becomes exceedingly difficult to deal with any weapon malfunctions, transitions
or reloads. What you need to understand is, that once you have been pulled into this proverbial black hole, it is extremely difficult to get back
Once here, you can no longer see or properly respond to the ever-changing dynamics located around you. Don't forget John Boyd's OODA Cycle,
you must observe and orient to move fluidly during the sequences found in conflict. You are bio-mechanically inhibited and you did it to yourself.
When you are too close, you have also allowed your opponent to move within the forward battle space unseen and undeterred. You simply cannot
engage him effectively. You have also eliminated many of your all important options at this point, including horizontal displacement. Once
parallel parked on the wall, you have eliminated movement in that direction as a potential temporary escape path.
If a threat suddenly appears, as they often do, you are left with staying put, or further exposing yourself by drifting further away from the wall.
This is not the time to give your opponent a large surface area to shoot at! By maintaining proper positioning away from your corners, you will
keep windows of time and space open to travel in. You don't have much of either, so don't just hand it to your opponent without a fight.
Once you are committed to a specific corner it is time to continue “the dance” of closing down the space. Remember this area is not just a 2dimensional space in terms of X & Y (breadth and width); it has a vertical component Z (height).
Your movements should reflect this reality.
Cornering with a firearm implies a human threat(s). These human beings are attempting to “read” your movements It makes sense to randomly
vary your approach, since a predictable routine is easily countered. Learn to vertically displace your body at will without conscious thought. Ease
and biomechanical fluidity is the goal.
Proper vertical displacement takes some dedication to training. You must have flexibility to incorporate the vertical displacement tool into your
tool bag. I have seen men and women well into their sixties function with incredible efficiency because they made the mental commitment to do
so. If you are deficient in this area, you simply do not have the maximum arsenal to bear in terms of the human operating system. No piece of
hardware will close the gap.
Start in a stance that addresses the corner, the tips of your toes just back of the imaginary line that travels along the floor to the edge of the
corner. The only thing that should be visible to any potential adversary is a small portion of your outboard arm, your outboard eye and the
weapon hinged just slightly below the sight plane. You are anticipating contact, but you need to see, so do not cover critical areas of the
forward space with your arms and weapon until you have to initiate.
Displace vertically by replacing your outboard foot with the outboard knee, letting gravity naturally pull you down. Exhale on the way down
through the entire movement. This process is not as easy as it sounds. Most people use some type of pushing, internal pulling, or contracting
to go down. Your back should be straight, head up; the top of your outboard foot should be contacting the ground. This foot position offers
excellent stability and prevents a partner from
breaking your ankle.
To move to what we term low-kneeling, allow
gravity to do its magic again. In one seamless
movement slide the outboard foot underneath
your hip girdle while simultaneously sliding the
lead foot as far forward as possible. Drop your
upper body into the space created between your
feet. You will find that you can float the weapon
just millimeters over the ground.
To get back up to kneeling, reverse the previous
sequence. To re-establish a standing position,
an additional concept needs to be brought forth.
Instead of pushing off the back foot, slide your
hips forward and draw yourself up with the lead
leg. You do not lift your upper body by pulling
with your back muscles; you align your hips
underneath and rise. There is no weight/pressure
placed on the back foot! Inhale through the
entire movement upward.
This is a critical differentiator from your
instinctual mechanic. I teach this movement by
having students imagine that a set of strings
from the ceiling are pulling them straight up
from the top of their shoulders and forehead. It
takes practice to master; don't give up easily.
This methodology will ultimately keep
you amazingly balanced, once inculcated.
It is much more efficient in terms of time and
effort. You will have much more control of your
body and weapon during more of the total time
you are in the environment. If you wear body
armor, helmet and other kit, it really pays
All throughout the position changes, you must
not break the imaginary glass plane that forms
from the ground to the sky with your lower body
parts that anchor.
This plane should always be shattered with the weapon and eye first by articulating at the
waist. Once the new space is appreciated, the lower body follows to re-establish total body
balance. You have gained new territory.
I personally stay away from classic prone (a viable position) as much as possible. Although I
can get there fast, it glues me to the ground too long if I need to vacate space. I can get
extremely close to the ground with this low-kneeling position and maintain maneuverability in
the space.Where this movement fits in tactically is your decision. The application of this
technique is diverse once you are aware of its potential. Here's a hypothetical example of how
to employ vertical displacement.
Picture yourself attempting to see around a corner. As you maneuver around the corner you
make contact with a potential threat. Rather than violently retreating backward in an off-
balanced manner, instead you smoothly move in the horizontal direction slightly away from the
opponent's vision. He falsely concludes that he can track you through the wall and begins to
engage. What he does not know is that you have also learned to drop immediately to the floor
into the low-kneeling (Modified Prone), bypassing kneeling altogether. You have mastered the
technique so that gravity has done all the work and it happens as fast as a rock drops from
your hand.
Your opponent has brought whatever weapon to bear and is firing. The weak link in his armor is the fact that his lower field of view is now
obscured. His own arms and weapon, the muzzle flash and recoiling weapon are limiting his view of your actual location. Since you have learned
to break the plane with your eye and weapon only, you now have unobstructed access to the opponent from the floor, up through his arms, into
his legs, hips, chest and head.
And so goes the saying, “Better you than me!”
The final components I am going to deal with are actually breaking the threshold of
the corner and entering to finish with a view to dominate the new space.
Everything you have done prior to this moment; observation, anticipation, analyzing
space, a varied and random distance routine can be considered jabbing. Jabs in
boxing setup the right hand for the knockout. With a jab you are setting the tone for
your most powerful strike. You don't want to over commit or take it up the teeth from
the “git go” in the ring as you may find yourself flat on your back!
You are light on your feet and ready to hit and move, and move again.
You would be wise to give your opponent the maximum amount of respect.
When I conduct training, I normally ask my students, “How good is that opponent who
is somewhere downrange?” Correct answer: “He is as good or better than you are!”
The classic military blunder is to underestimate your adversary. You must understand
that he could put you down in a heartbeat if you create a gap for him to exploit.
In this business we see so much chest pounding, huffing and puffing about this or
that concerning gunfighting. When I see or hear that, I understand that those
engaging in such talk have number one, never been in a gunfight or number two, don't
understand the true dynamics of a gunfight.
Now that we respect our adversary, let's attempt to finish him. There is an extremely
strong and dangerous tendency to maintain or prolong what I call a “50/50 gunfight”
once you are engaged. This is a dangerous practice to say the least.
The only way I have ever seen to eliminate this tendency is to get involved with a training program
that has good force-on-force simulation in its advanced courses.
Step back for a moment and ask yourself a few questions:
When you turn the corner, what do you see?
You may now see an armed threat attempting to corner from the opposite direction.
What are you actually seeing?
You see a man with a gun, trying to do exactly what you are doing.
How good is he?
We've already answered that question. You are engaging your mirror image.
Would you bet your life on a flip of a coin?
I would venture to guess...going out on a limb here...NO!
What are the possibilities here?
Note, that only 2 of the possibilities are
optimal for you, the rest are deadly or not
optimal. Yet, the fact remains; there are
times you must corner. Armed professionals
face this dilemma every day of the week!
I fire and neutralize the threat; I own him and the space
I fire and force my threat to move and retreat; I own the new space
We both fire and we both neutralize each other; neither combatants are a factor
We both fire and we both move and retreat; neither combatants own the space
The threat fires and neutralizes me; he owns me and the space
The threat fires and forces me to move and retreat; he owns the new space
This brings us back to the importance of training and developing a “look-down - shoot-down” capability. This is the moment in time where all your
internal commitments and drivers, prior training, technical proficiency and tactical positioning converge to decide the outcome. Fire your rounds
and vacate the space. I typically fire a triple volley and leave.
Whether the threat immediately goes down or not, re-observe from a different angle and distance. If you missed your opportunity, do not stay in
and “set up camp” to slug it out although you will want to if you still see him. Your mind will be screaming, “Just a little more time, just a few
more rounds!”
It needs to be right here, right now, shots on target, then change your location. Bullets do not care if you can bench-press 350 lbs or you are as
fierce as a lion. Most likely the material that is between you and your threat does not do a good job of stopping bullets. The facts are most
rounds fired in a gunfight do not hit the target and most people who are shot are not killed with the first round.
Do not admire your handiwork! Look for his friend(s).
We have a saying:
“Unless the head is separated from the body by more than 4 feet, that person is still a potential threat.”
If a gunfight does erupt on the corner, you must be committed to win, but
savvy enough to have some patience to win. It is the JuJitsu of gunfighting.
But, when the time is right and the window of opportunity opens, you must
be there with all your mental tools and the correct physical movements to
overwhelm the opponent.
Let your opponent over commit
Let him take the same line too many times
Let him be overly aggressive and too fast in action
Once you have the opponent against the ropes, you must maintain constant, unrelenting pressure until that opponent is fully defeated.
Manipulating all available elements in proper combination and sequence allows an operator to consistently defeat opponents when the
requirement for cornering arises.
“Quick Peeks”
Tight Corners or “T” Intersections
Phase 1
Start High or with a mind-set of getting in, snapping a photo and getting
out. You are also planning to hit any potential threats directly in the
face/pupils with the hot spot of your flashlight beam. Keep in mind what
it feels and looks like when someone uses flash photography directly in
your eyes. For a few moments, your vision is seriously degraded. This
- See from the Opposite Perspective
- Align Three Things
- Hunter or Victim?
essentially means loss of situational awareness.
P1a. Break the plane with an eye, weapon, and light.
Enter deep enough to make the effort worthwhile.
P1b. Get in and get out.
Some common mistakes that could easily lead
to you being compromised include:
- Turning your illumination tool on too early.
- Illuminating the wall directly in front of you.
- Dragging the beam on the ground first.
- Self Blinding
- Telegraphing
- Slowly leading with your flashlight.
Phase 2
P2-2a. Immediately change levels and break the plane again if the corner has gone unchallenged. If
this was a “T” intersection, peek one way low, move back, peek the other way high.
Any threat that has seen you and/or your light is now under the
impression that you are standing, ready to try again at that level.
Do something different.
- Flexible, Fluid, Flowing & Unpredictable
Of course it can be done in reverse, high then low.
I prefer to show high, then let gravity naturally carry me down to the ground whenever possible.
If the threat appeared chest high during the initial peek and brings a weapon to bear, I know he will
be trying to hold that chest-high force vector. He was hit in the face with a bright light and will
attempt to bracket that area if he is committed to shoot. I have left that space and occupied a
space he cannot see as his arms, weapon, and muzzle flash are concealing my actual position
which is low and on the floor. If I choose to engage from there, I fire and move again to vacate the
In most Law Enforcement situations, once an armed threat has been located in a deep corner,
vacate the immediate space, contain and turn it into a barricaded suspect situation. I will follow
that comment up with - in today's Active-Shooter environment/situations - this may no longer be
the case.
Phase 1 Start High - In & Out
Phase 2 Drop Low - In & Engage
Phase 1 Start Low - In & Out
Phase 2 Rise - In & Engage
The “Slide-by”
Once you have determined or seen all that you can/want to see from any given corner, sometimes it is
most beneficial to move across an opening quickly and efficiently.
During this transition, you can choose one of two options:
1. Directly see into the space or down the
hallway as you pass.
2. Simply move past the space unnoticed with
the concealment offered by the darkness.
- Align Three Things
A successful Slide-by is predicated on the proper understanding of and the technical proficiency in
cornering. Additionally, you must have technical skills to tread the floor properly in a “shooting
platform”. A smooth shooting platform is balanced, fluid and is significantly enhanced by the ability to
shoot bilaterally without conscious thought.
Phase 1
Finish cornering from this location.
Phase 2
Now smoothly and quietly move away from your corner and the opening.
This positioning allows you to accelerate PRIOR to presenting yourself in the
uncleared opening.
P2a. At this position in space, you should be at maximum velocity,
presenting the weapon and illumination tool into the un-cleared space.
- Light and Move
- Power with Light
At this time you can emit with light, attempting to “Power with Light”
at eye/chest level to temporarily disrupt and disorient the vision of any standing threat. The hot spot
should be rapidly moving to cover the maximum surface area downrange. You will be surprised how
much you can see with practice. Take the “photograph” in your mind,
let it process and develop while still moving. You can also elect to simply move across the space in the
P2b. Move ALL THE WAY to this point. Why? Anyone who sees the slide-by may attempt to track you
through the wall. Remember, most materials in most structures do not offer cover, only concealment.
An unwanted deceleration in the opening occurs if you try to stop too early.
Phase 3
P3. Once in position, start cornering from the opposite side of the opening.
Partner Work - A variation on this theme
#1 moves across ensuring that the partner’s light is extinguished prior to the movement.
#1 then illuminates the space as he crosses the opening and moves
down the hallway.
If a threat is identified, #1 either verbally communicates this or says
nothing because the threat in the space is tracking #1 with gunfire. If
- Hunter or Victim?
- Flexible, Fluid, Flowing & Unpredictable
the threat is firing, element #2 IMMEDIATELY slides to the initial corner
in a modified-prone or kneeling position to take-on the now firing threat.
This threat is typically facing away from this corner and has a weapon and arms up angling for #1.
#2 should have a clear pathway to the threat to neutralize, if required.
If #2 is engaged by the threat, back away, call out “he's on me” and #1 should now appear and engage
from the opposite corner, again from the modified-prone, as the last thing any threat saw from that side
was a moving, chest-high target. You can use slide-bys to get two High/Low stacks, creating powerful
cross-angles on any given opening. Now you have 4 weapons, 4 lights and 4 sets of eyes.
Area of Movement
Area of Movement
Area of
Area of
Hard Corners
Partner Work - Threat’s Point of View
“Paint the Corner - Clear the Corner”
Oftentimes through the proper use of cornering, quick-peeking, and slide-bys, a clear picture of the affected space
can be obtained. Additionally, you can often deceive and disorient your opponent through rigorous and random
“strobing” patterns that flash throughout the darkened space he is occupying.
The suspect may even catch one of the flashes in his eyes and retreat to a deeper section of the space. He may
attempt to barricade himself behind an obstacle, thereby further shutting off his ability to see what is actually
Remember we are trying to get inside of the opponent's OODA Loop and this may present a perfect opportunity to do
so. He can no longer see and you know what the room layout is and where the subject is now located.
The first diagram illustrates a possible way to setup a look into the corners and/or an entry. This can be done as a
solo if absolutely necessary, but a pair is certainly a more powerful and versatile element.
Phase 1
Start with your handheld flashlight, low on the outside of the space. This is one of the few times I would
recommend using the handheld light without an eye and weapon attached. Hopefully, the missing
weapon and eye are located with your partner who will be occupying the low position in a moment.
Phase 2
P2-2c. Break the plane and rapidly "paint" the entire deep corner, from the bottom of the floor if possible
to at least chest high. This is designed to illicit a response from any possible threat(s) in that corner.
You are attempting to catch their mind and body so they chase the light. Again, behind this light, you
should have another officer observing from another angle, light off, poised for action.
Phase 3
P3-3a. As soon as the light has reached its apex, the secondary officer
drops in (preferably in the modified-prone) and addresses the "painted
corner" from a lower position, angling upward. The initial light can be left
ON or OFF at the officer’s discretion.
- Flexible, Fluid, Flowing & Unpredictable
- Power with Light
- Light and Move
- Disorient with Strobing Light
The secondary officer's light is activated, the threat is classified and the appropriate action undertaken.
If there is an active threat, oftentimes the threat's own arms and weapon will obscure the secondary
officer's immediate position until it is too late for the threat to effectively adjust. This procedure takes
some coordination and mutual understanding on the part of both officers.
If the secondary officer is not available, an individual can extinguish the light at the #2c position,
execute an immediate drop to the floor and re-evaluate the corner from the #3a position. This takes
practice and should not be undertaken without sufficient training.
There are quite a few variations on this technique/concept built on the basic precepts that can be
employed by experienced team members that have worked together over time.
Draw the Threat’s
Attention to this Point
Light ON Here
Phase 1 & 2 - Initial Drawing of Attention
Light ON here
Phase 3 - Secondary Light Emission - Low
“No-Light Entries”
This is not a basic entry technique nevertheless it is worth bringing to your attention.
So-called “No-Light” entries were discovered after years of force-on-force training in diminished light environments.
The diagram on the opposite page starts with officers on either side of the opening, but the principles articulated below
can easily be adapted to stacks, and other starting formations.
Phase 1
As a pair, sometime prior to actually entering the space while it is dark, both officers should have “painted” a clear path
on the floor to ensure good footing. You should practice this skill until you can quickly flash a space, enter it and touch
something in particular, while still dark, merely by “reading” the “map/photo” you created at the corner.
Once you have painted, gotten a clear picture as a pair, it’s time to make entry. One of the two officers communicates,
“On Me, Cross - Lights Out” or “On Me, Buttonhook - Lights Out”.
On me should signify to the second officer that as soon as the first officer is moving, he should be folding into the room
immediately afterward.
The second officer can “know” when this is going to occur by listening and in many cases by just reaching out and
touching the first officer to feel for movement. The second officer simply feels which way the partner goes. Maybe you
thought he was going to cross in front, but in fact, buttonhooks away. You should adjust accordingly.
Phase 2
Enter the space, lights out. Move only through the previously painted path, only as deep
as you know is safe.
- Flexible, Fluid, Flowing & Unpredictable
- Light and Move
Note the pair is not running the walls. Stay away from the walls as suspects clearly tend to try and hug walls and direct
bullets toward the door along the walls. Running the walls places both officers in harm’s way from either uncleared
You are smoothly moving under the concealment of darkness.
The lead officer on entry should illuminate first. Oftentimes, this is enough light to see the entire space.
Lights and weapons should be directed in the remaining unseen spaces, in this case the two deep corners.
You will find more often than not, if you have an armed suspect, he will be pointing a weapon at the door, where he
believes you still are.
If you need to engage, engage and move again.
If I see a weapon here, horizontal coupled with vertical displacements work extremely well.
Phase 3
If your space is clear, move, rotate to re-clear space and/or assist your partner who may be engaged.
“Painted” Paths
Phase 1 - Establish Path
Phase 2 - Moving on Path
Threat Located & Engaged
Phase 3 - Adjustments
“Closing the Gap” - Utilizing High Intensity Lights
In today's environment of first responders, active-shooters, and high-risk entries, threats can attempt to
shield themselves from harm’s way by placing an innocent bystander between themselves and law
enforcement officers. Let's look at what is really going on and understand the folly of this position from
the threat's point of view.
1. The threat has limited mobility.
2. The threat has made himself heavier.
3. The threat does not have excellent control of this extra weight.
4. The threat has limited visibility when attempting to “hide” behind the innocent.
5. If the threat is pointing a weapon at the innocent victim, this is no immediate threat to you.
6. If the threat is pointing the weapon at you, the victim has a temporary reprieve.
7. The threat is conducting what I term a high-speed interview with you.
He is asking you to stop your activities and awaiting a response. This engages his
mentalresources that he might otherwise use to move, shoot and gain other tactical
8. The threat is mentally conflicted in the sense that if he shoots the hostage,
he has eliminated his primary source of shielding.
9. If the threat attempts to engage you, it will be initially at distance.
On the other hand:
1. You have mobility.
2. You are light in comparison to the threat.
3. You should have excellent control of your balance.
4. More often than not, you can see clearly.
5. Your weapon will be placed in one place, the threat area.
6. One officer should talk, the other dedicate his resources to solving the problem.
7. There are more of you than him.
8. You are not conflicted, your purpose and the outcome should be clear.
9. When you initially engage the threat with a firearm, it will be at an extremely close range.
The following procedure is surprisingly simple but difficult to defeat.
Phase 1
One officer places an intense beam of light in the threat’s eyes (strobing light is highly effective). This cannot be
over-emphasized; the light MUST be in the threat’s eyes. At the same time, that same officer CALMLY asks how he
can assist, or asks is there anything he can do to change the situation.
Phase 2
Immediately following this query, the second officer CALMLY and quietly slides in to the “weak
side” area, working behind and preferably under the cone of light. The “strong side”, is the area
that the suspect can easily bring a weapon to bear.
By slightly vertically displacing while entering the weak side area, the second officer has also
placed the head of the victim between himself and the threat, further visually blocking the
threat’s view. Slide up close and deliver a shot(s) to the head. Immediately control the hostage.
- Power with Light
- Disorient with Strobing Light
- Light and Move
- See from the Opposite Perspective
- Hunter or Victim?
If the threat turns to engage the second officer as he enters, he exposes himself to officer number one.
Officer #2 accelerates and stays low to draw the threat further into the line of fire of officer #1. The suspect’s own
arm will also obscure his vision if he tried to engage the entering officer. Keep in mind the threat cannot rotate as
fast as the moving officer, as he has no direct control of his hostage.
Officer #1 can also close the gap at this time if distance is an issue. Essentially you are attacking the threat’s
ability to Observe and/or Orient. Since he cannot gather good data, he cannot complete his tasking.
Use this same concept when closing the gap to facilitate a takedown, pin, and handcuff procedure on a combative
Weak Side
Strong Side
Phase 1 - Setup - Talk / Light in Eyes
Move Smooth
& Deliberate
Phase 2 - Talk / Light / Entry / Finish
Training Drivers
lain and simple: There is no substitute for rigorous, practical, hands-on training. The concepts, strategies,
skills, principles and techniques presented in this course are not assimilated by sitting in your chair.
Training increases personal proficiency and efficiency. This results in a reduction of exposure windows and
maximizes the continuity of pressure perceived by the opponent. Properly applied pressure will cause the less
balanced adversary to overextend, recoil or fail to act properly. They will falter somewhere in the OODA Cycle; we
want to be there to exploit the mistake. Bottom line: You are training to see and act upon the situation faster
than your opponents.
A reasonable percentage of training should be conducted "in context". The more elements of the actual
situation/attack that are present, the more you can be assured of future success in these environments.
Training should "zoom" in and out from macro to micro. You should zoom in by breaking every activity down to
its smallest possible unit, a frame by frame approach.
Become a student of time and motion. Analyze all activities with a view to eliminating undesirable movements,
while purging unwanted mental and emotional burdens. Then zoom back out in your mind and training to get a
God's eye view. This can be easily facilitated by constant, intelligent use of videotape reviews to look objectively
at yourself "out of the moment". The harsh lens of the camera does not know anything but to record and reveal.
Oftentimes by freeze framing a particular moment in time and simply asking yourself, "What is wrong with this
picture", startling revelations will materialize.
True self-awareness can be achieved by objective self-analysis. Self-analysis by yourself is not as profitable as
allowing yourself to be exposed to the scrutiny and criticisms of trusted training partners. They see strengths
and weaknesses without the filters of self-pride, personal bias and ego. The objective of proper and constant
self-analysis is not for selfish, self-gratification, but the contrary. The objective is to actually achieve a high
level of competency and skill to meet the prime directive of defending those whom we love, are sworn to protect
and have been given charge over. This is actually a continual process of laying down one's personal desire to live
and survive in all circumstances.
The difference between an individual whose prime directive is self-defense and an individual whose prime
directive is to protect the group or the non-warrior class is enormous and volumes
can be written on this alone.
“The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to
excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”
Vincent T. Lombardi
Your Future may be Determined by Your Training Right Now!
Invest your Time and Effort Wisely...
"As human beings, instincts are not always the highest level of response to dangerous stimuli. Despite
the constant decree of many, we don't always train to reinforce our instincts; we often train to control
and overcome these powerful core inclinations.
It is not "natural" to step into the dark abyss of potential death; it is done through sheer force of will and
spirit. Nor is it "natural" to step into harm’s way jeopardizing your own safety even to the point of losing
your life. Yet many have done exactly that to serve a greater cause. They have inspired us to abandon
the easy road.
Step outside of yourself and realize that it is not the obvious visible opponents you need to be most
concerned about. It is our deeper inner fears, our pride and our selfishness that should be confronted
and subdued. These things are the unseen, ever present demons that need to be vanquished again and
again to become a true professional at arms.
When you boil it all down, fear in many ways is a lack of faith.
You must learn to trust those that have gone before you even if you cannot see ahead.
Training is the process by which individual self-doubt, apprehension, confusion is replaced with
knowledge, understanding and confidence. In order to press on to greater heights, you must have faith in
what is available in an ordered universe: Cause/Effect, Action/Reaction, Gravity, Energy Transfer, etc.
You observe this order and learn to harness it when pressed to the point of severe injury or death.
Your training should be seasoned with a true commitment to your profession, to your partner, to your
teammates and to those you have chosen to serve. They all need someone who will rise to the task
when summoned.
A call to search our true motivations is in order.
Without a total commitment, any technique, tactic, operation or set of equipment is not properly
supported and is ultimately compromised to one degree or another.
Train as if your life and the life of others depended on it….because it does.”
- Ken J. Good
Why Force on Force?
Force-on-Force (FoF) training is an awesome opportunity for you to practically test and question “Authority”.
Over the years, many, many individuals and teams would respond to the obvious inconsistencies,
ineffectiveness, and inefficiencies in their strategies, adopted methodologies and equipment with something
along the line of:
“I was taught by So-and-So, and he stated X, Y, Z, therefore I object to what now must be changed...”
“The Department said...”
“Statistically Speaking...”
“Well...you can do that...”
FoF training should not just be used to reinforce what you already know. It should be a time of serious
introspection about what actually occurred from a fact-based perspective.
FoF drilling should allow you learn to integrate the separate components of function;
Mental Conditioning/Mind-Set, Physical Conditioning & Task Specific Biomechanical Skills,
Selected Equipment, and finally Tactical Prowess/Decision-Making in the Dynamic.
"One of the biggest reasons for failure in the field of battle is not knowing what to do next . . .
this is the result of not having been trained thoroughly in what to expect on the battlefield."
General Orlando Ward, 1954
Integration of:
Activation of the
Sympathetic Nervous System
As human beings we naturally
seek pleasure, and avoid pain
Activation of SNS during combat is also frequently referred to as the
"Fight or Flight Syndrome"
in which a variety of mental and physical reactions manifest themselves.
Well-developed Force-on-Force training creates a reasonable facsimile of
combat. Reactions are tested, stress is produced; specifically stress induced
by fear of pain.
Without this fear and reception of pain, you no longer have training that is
“pinging” on this vital human defense mechanism. Participants need to
understand and appreciate this at the fundamental level.
“No Pain - No Gain”, in the sense that you are obtaining the optimal benefits
and conditioning from this type of training session.
Good FoF Training Validates -or Invalidates:
- Tactics and Types of Training
- Departmental Policy
- Equipment Selection
- Practical Understanding of the Use of Force
Improper FoF Training can Injure in 1 of 3 ways:
(Siminuitions F/X Supervisors Course)
- Physically
- Mentally
- Legally
Constant activation of the Sympathetic Nervous System is key to developing the orientation or “inoculation” to overreaction from a
similar type of stimulus.
With good Force-on-Force training you are receiving the proper visual and auditory cues (body language, verbiage, movement of
friendly forces, environmental factors) to start an engagement (entering the OODA Cycle).
The Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS)
is activated by FEAR OF:
Death - Serious Bodily Harm - Pain
“Nothing makes a man more aware of his capabilities and of his limitations than those moments when he must push aside all the familiar defenses of ego and
vanity, and accept reality by staring, with the fear that is normal to a man in combat, into the face of Death.”
Major Robert S. Johnson, USAF
Test and Evaluate Principles and Techniques
There have always been technicians, pure strategists, natural talents, and brute
Practice as if you will be in a gunfight at anytime. You can tip the percentages
combination of all the aforementioned capabilities.
just ain't good enough. So, those boasting from the mountain top loudly, will fall
force fighters. There are a small few that have a powerful and deadly
I have been fortunate to be in an extremely unique situation for over 20 years.
significantly in your favor, but you cannot get to 100%. Anything short of 100%
back into the valley with the rest of us sooner or later.
I have been directly involved in small arms and small unit tactics in the U.S.
In any study of human movement or physical activity, early participants in any
Director of SureFire LLC’s tactical training division. In these capacities, I have
must focus on individual components of the sequences associated with any
Military (NAVSPECWAR), Federal Civil Service, personal businesses and the former
had several Master Class IPSC shooters, several well-known professional
competitive shooters, factory sponsored competitive shooters, snipers, 3-gun
champions, LE officers (with multiple gunfights under their belt) and military
combat veterans, participate in interactive force-on-force simulations under my
watch. I have seen a wide array of techniques and practices, to say the least, all
attempted under the umbrella of stress created by the facsimile of combat.
I have also seen 12-year old kids, inexperienced shooters, average looking guys
and gals shoot the "lights out" of these legitimate professionals during these
given activity must by necessity focus on technique. In order to progress, they
given new activity/technique. We must be able to do something precisely and
correctly at slow speeds, before ever hoping to achieve good, effective
movement at speed.
One cannot be free to fight or remain anywhere near a calm state of mind if there
are no reliable techniques to call upon when the timing is right. But once
techniques are actually inculcated into the human operating system, the slower
conscious mind is no longer required to sequentially plod forward.
interactive drills and scenarios. The most powerful message I have received on
You are now on auto-pilot so-to-speak. The sub-conscious mind, which is much
anybody. The paradox to this is that I am fully committed to improving my
appropriate solution. You become much more formidable.
my journey is I do not want to be in a gunfight with anybody, and I do mean
performance and knowledge at the profession of arms.
There is so much emphasis on technique because good simulation (sparring) is
hard to facilitate. Shooting technique in isolation, in my not so humble opinion, is
the ability to be a consistent lever puller while the weapon and/or you are in
motion. It is a martial arts kata. I have never seen an actual fight look like kata
Being in the right place at the right time with the right mind-set based on proper
more powerful in terms of multi-tasking, quickly searches and finds the
The only way to reliably insure that solution X is the right one is to have
previously gone through the various possibilities. It is a process of eliminating or
confirming that solution X is the best one.
No lingering doubts remain in the back of your mind. This is clearly not just a
technical process but a deeply analytical and intuitive one based on a real
understanding of what is actually happening in the moment.
observation, orientation and efficient decision making processes is the majority
If there is no previous reference point, then the mind searches and searches for
technique. I have seen that far-away look in many, many people who just got
that many suffer from in the heat of combat, despite demonstrated technical
of the fight. Then and only then is it time to stand up and deliver with excellent
crunched in aninteractive fight wondering why “Joe Average” just shot them
multiple times.
a solution that is found in a vast array of possibilities creating the disorientation
proficiency in a calmer world. Self-doubt breeds inaction and or inappropriate
action. Inaction brings forth injury or death.
Seeing the weapon and firing a weapon while on a target is one set of timings,
If all situations were simply shoot on sight, the problem would be greatly
that is elusive, hiding, attacking, armed & shooting back, reacting to your
decision-making will not get you “there” from here. “There” being as far down the
rhythms and dimensionality. Seeing a weapon and firing a weapon on a target
movements, is an all-together different matter. An environment with multiple
adversaries becomes even more interesting.
Someone much greater than I stated, “Speed is not the true way of
strategy”. Moving in harmony, fully appreciating what is actually
happening is MUCH MORE important than any particular shooting stance or
technique people so desperately advocate.
As Bruce Lee said in his movie Enter the Dragon -
“Boards don't hit back!” (I am sorry, I love that line!)
Does technique matter? Of course it does. If you do not have technical
proficiency to carry out your will (in this case placing rounds on your intended
target in a reasonable time frame), then you lack confidence. Lack of confidence
draws away valuable mental resources needed to prevail in the fight. When
opportunity does knock, you’d better capitalize…you may not get a second
simplified. Since this is usually not the case, any training absent dynamic
track as possible as quickly as possible. You never really arrive.
Experience comes in one of two basic ways; surviving and learning from real
world experience or from carefully crafted training that closely resembles the
type of encounters one expects to face. This is why the U.S. Air Force spends
enormous sums of money on the development and deployment of high fidelity
flight simulators. With these systems, the pilots can face and experiment with
the timings, rhythms and angles of potential adversaries in a way that the mind
can substitute for reality. It becomes an experience that is valid in the future.
The same can be said for FOF now that we can effectively deploy this type of
training methodology. Using this methodology correctly, you will gain
“experience”. FOF gives the experience and experimentation time you need to be
fully convinced in your own mind that this or that is the way to go. I can virtually
guarantee it will change what you emphasize during your live-fire range sessions.
Degradation of Human Sight
“On average, acuity peaks at about age 15, and declines steadily thereafter, reaching about 1/3 peak value at
age 80. The most critical condition is at night. In general, acuity and other visual functions decline as the
level of illumination decreases. However, the effects are more marked in the elderly...It has been known for
some time that the minimum level of illumination to which the eye can adapt, as well as the time to adapt
from one level to another, increases with age...older subjects were able to read highway signs at only about
two-thirds the distance of the younger subjects at night.....Older persons tend do less well than younger
persons on visual tasks at low levels of illumination.”
SAE Technical Paper Series 870600
Visibility Problems in Nighttime Driving
By Paul L. Olson
University of Michigan - Transportation Research Institute
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
Proverbs 29:18
Age can bring several negative changes to the structure of your eye. Among them, yellowing, loss of elasticity,
reduction of maximum opening of the iris, loss of responsiveness and loss of adaptation range. These real
changes demand that the overall light levels be increased to see clearly what you used see at a younger age.
Take all this into consideration in order to distinguish objects, detect threats and make good decisions.
Rods and Cones
Rods, on the other hand, are specialized for perceiving in
dim light. They can only perceive in black and white and
shades of gray. Rods tend to be attached in larger
groups to each neuron in the optic nerve, thus these
neurons take in more information from one area. Because
of this, rods are more specialized for sight in dim light
but tend to show images with blurred edges. Rods are
located around the hexagonal groups of cones.
Rods convey the ability to see at night, under conditions
Every sense in the human body relies on receptor cells
to receive information. The information is received and
then sent to the brain for decoding. For vision, the
receptor cells are classified into two categories.
These are rods and cones. These names derive from the
shape of the cells. Rods and cones are both located in
the retina (which is the back of the eye). Rods and
cones have different purposes which will be discussed
of very dim illumination. Animals with high densities of
rods tend to be nocturnal, whereas those with mainly
cones tend to be diurnal.
In 1905, Einstein proposed that light propagated only in
discrete irreducible packets or quanta. Rods are so
sensitive that they actually detect single quanta of light,
much as do the most sensitive of physical instruments.
In 1942, Selig Hecht argued that human rods must be
The amount of a certain type of receptor cell is
flashes so dim that only 1 in 100 rods were likely to
dependent upon location. In the area called the fovea,
there is a high concentration of cones, whereas rods are
capable of detecting individual light quanta because light
absorb a quantum.
most densely located about 20-30 degrees away from
A century after the original discovery of the photoelectric
axons that make up the optic nerve, and this is how
minute electrical voltages in rods induced by absorption
the fovea. Both rods and cones are then attached to
their signals are sent to the brain.
effect it has become possible to record directly the
of individual light quanta.
Cones are most important for perceiving color and
Rod sensitivity appears to be bought at a price, however,
acuity, which means that a human can see objects with
stimulation than cones. This is one reason why sporting
sharpness in objects. They lead to one having great
much more detail. This is because few cones are
attached to each neuron in the optic nerve. The main
problem with this is that in dim light, cones do not help
one perceive very well.
There are three main types of cones. Each one is
specialized for perceiving different wavelengths of light,
thus they are rightfully named red cones, blue cones and
green cones. Cones tend to be grouped together in
hexagonal patterns.
since rods are much slower to respond to light
events, such as baseball, becomeprogressively more
difficult as daylight fails. Both electrical recordings and
human observations suggest that signals from rods may
arrive as much as 1/10 second later than those from
cones under lighting conditions where both can be
simultaneously activated (MacLeod, 1972).
Rods and Cones
Because rods and cones have different
spectral sensitivities and different absolute
sensitivities to light, the visual response is
not the same over the retina.
Cones -
The human visual system isn't equally sensitive to
all wavelengths.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a single
relative spectral sensitivity (RSS) curve for the
human visual system for all people!
However, there is an internationally agreed upon
curve (or rather, curves).
Since the human visual system comprises 2 types of
photoreceptors (cones and rods), which operate
under different lighting conditions, there are usually
2 RSS curves; one describes photopic conditions
(when light is plentiful) and one describes scotopic
At night (scotopic) vision is determined by rods
- we don't see colour and acuity is low.
In effect we have 2 separate retinas.
Night retina
rods - no colour
low acuity (fovea blind)
10-3 cdm-2 (mesopic)
Day retina
cones - complete colour
high acuity
photopic (mesopic)
The change from scotopic to photopic is called the
Purkinje shift but because these systems cannot
operate simultaneously, there is an adaptation delay
in moving from light to dark (slow) or vice versa
conditions (when light is scarce).
As one moves from photopic to scotopic
- rods - rhodopsin cones - erythrolabe (red) -
conditions or vice versa, there is also a third curve,
called the mesopic condition, which sometimes is
chlorolable (green) - cyanolabe (blue)
drawn, though this is not accurately known.
When light is absorbed, pigment breaks down, energy
road lights at night). In daytime (photopic) nearly all
Mesopic vision applies quite commonly (i.e. under
photopigments in the rods are “bleached”. Vision is
is released, and the nerve impulse is interpreted as
predominantly a function of cones. We see colour
and acuity is high (because of foveal vision).
Cones adapt more rapidly than rods. Cones regain complete
Partial adaptation
sensitivity in 10 to 12 minutes.
Adaptation of one eye has some effect on the other
Rods regain complete sensitivity in 30 to 60 minutes.
closing one eye. This leads to decreased
One can look into a flashlight in the daytime without being
dazzled. This is because the retina adapts to changes in
prevailing lighting conditions, not so at night.
Dark adaptation
eye, such as walking out into bright sunlight and
sensitivity of the retina in the other eye.
In the dark, closing one eye decreases
dazzle from car headlights and the closed eye
retains a greater level of dark adaptation.
Moving from light into dark, slow adaptation occurs.
There is a time lag in the photochemical
May be temporarily blind but gradually recover some vision.
available for viewing is important.
25 minutes - 80% adaptation
60 minutes - 100% adaptation
Light adaptation - moving from dark to light. This occurs
processes of the retina, therefore the time
When objects are briefly viewed we need bright
light for identification. When lots of time is
available even small details can be seen.
faster in two phases.
“a” adaptation
0.05s - sensitivity of whole retina
is decreased to one-half original
“b” adaptation
slower adaptation leads to
increased sensitivity (recovery)
such as walking out into bright
When there is bright light in any part of the visual field, the
overall sensitivity of the retina is decreased.
Therefore it is not a good idea to put a VDU screen against a
bright background like a window.
The eye's ability to focus peaks at about age 10.
It begins to decline while you’re in your mid to late 20's.
The eye's field of view, or effective breadth of vision,
begins to narrow in the late 30's.
Every 13 years the amount of light a person
requires to see an object in low-light conditions doubles.
This means at 45 you need 4 times as much light to see as well
as you did at 19. As you get older, the disparity increases.
Relationship between the luminance of
an object and the luminance of the
background. These luminances can be affected by
location of light sources and room reflectances
(glare problems).
The larger an object, the easier it is to see. But, it
is actually the size of the image on the retina, not
Not really a factor by itself, but related to both
contrast and luminance factors.
If the eye cannot focus the image on the retina,
there is blur. Blur can also be a consequence of:
Uncorrected refractive errors - eyes can't focus image
Myopia (short-sightedness) - far objects focus in front of
the size of the object, per se, that is important.
Therefore, we bring smaller objects closer to the
Hyperopia (long-sightedness) - far objects focus behind retina
eye to see details.
There is a time lag in the photochemicalprocesses
of the retina, therefore the time available for
viewing is important.
When objects are briefly viewed we need bright
light, when lots of time is available even small
details can be seen.
Proportion of incident light reflected
into the eye. Illuminance levels affect the
luminance of the task.
Astigmatism - points don't focus at any part of image plane,
resulting in multiple foci
Presbyopia - near objects focus behind retina
(long-sightedness/old age) caused by decreasing
accommodation ability
Aging - in addition to decreased transmission:
· decreased ability to focus on close objects
· decreased ability to adapt to dark and light
· decreased sensitivity of retina, especially at
low luminances
· increased scattering of light within eye
· narrowing of the spectral (color) range of
sensitivity due to yellowing of the lens
Physiology of the Eye
Sight is an amazing process made possible by many parts of the eye
working together. Light enters the eye and is bent or refracted by the
cornea through the pupil (the opening in the iris). This light passes
through the lens (located behind the pupil). This completes refraction by
fine tuning the focused light onto the retina.
The retina changes the light (energy) into electric impulses that are
carried through the optic nerve to the vision center (occipital cortex) of
the brain where the image is interpreted.
A summary of the eye's structures and their functions follows:
The cornea is the “window” of the eye (like a watch crystal). It is the
clear part of the eye, through which the colored part of the eye is seen. It is the main source of refraction. The cornea is made up
of five layers of strong clear tissue.
The first layer (epithelium) is made up of rapidly-replaced cells that allow for fast healing (24 to 48 hrs) of surface injuries. The
last four layers add rigidity, provide a barrier against infection, and keep the cornea clear.
The outer “white part” of an eye is the sclera. This tough structure is the outer wall of the eye that gives protection to the
delicate inner structures.
This structure, between the sclera and the retina, is made up of blood vessels that provide nourishment to the eye.
This colored part of the eye has very fine muscles to control the size of the pupil. The iris is the colored portion of the eye. It is
similar to the aperture of a camera. The iris regulates the amount of light entering the eye.
The pupil is the black-appearing spot in the center of the iris. Its size changes since its function is to control the amount of light
reaching the retina. In the dark, it expands allowing more light to enter. It contracts in bright light to keep out excess light.
This controls 1/3 of the refraction of light that enters the eye (the cornea, the other 2/3). Located just behind the pupil it allows
for changing of focus from distance to near objects by altering its shape. This changing focus is called accommodation. As a
person ages the lens hardens and accommodation becomes more difficult.
Physiology of the Eye
These “threads” attach the lens to the ciliary muscle and help the lens to change its curvature
during accommodation.
Ciliary Body
This contains two main structures. The first is a muscle that contracts and expands to control the curvature of the lens
during accommodation. The second is a gland that secretes aqueous humor.
Aqueous Humor
This fluid is produced by the ciliary body and circulates in the front part of the eye.
It provides nourishment to the front parts of the eye and maintains the eye pressure.
This membrane lines the inside wall of the eye. It contains photoreceptors (rods and cones)that change light into sight by
converting light into electrical impulses. These electrical messages are sent from the retina to the brain and interpreted as
This tiny part of the retina is the central focusing spot. It is responsible for seeing details (such as reading) and also for color
Optic Nerve
This nerve is the pathway that the light rays take from the retina to the processing center of the brain. It actually is made of
about a million tiny nerves bundled together.
Optic Disc
This area is not sensitive to light and it is often referred to as the “blind spot”. It is where the retina meets the optic nerve.
Vitreous Gel
This clear gel fills the central core of the eye. It helps to maintain a spherical shape to the eye.
Useful Definitions
Hick's Law (performance phenomena)
Decision time is proportional to the log of the number of alternatives:
(1) H = log2(n + 1)
(2) H = S pi(1/pi + 1)
H = the information-theoretic entropy of a decision.
n = the number of equally probable alternatives.
pi = the probability of alternative i for n alternatives of unequal probability.
The time it takes to make a decision is roughly proportional to H, the entropy of the decision
(the log of the number of alternatives), i.e. T = k H, where k ~ 150 msec.
This can be used to make a time estimate for how long people will take to make a decision in using
a user interface, such as choosing a menu item, choosing a tool, or selecting an item on a navigation bar. Cognitive modeling
approaches such as GOMS apply this to making predictions of human performance.
Situational Awareness: The ability to collect, collate, and store data in a fluid, dynamic and stressful environment, then
retrieve that data and accurately predict future events based on that data in a compressed time frame.
Situational Awareness requires the human operator to quickly detect, integrate and interpret data
gathered from the environment. In many real-world conditions, Situational Awareness is hampered by two factors. First, the
data may be spread throughout the visual field. Secondly, the data is frequently noisy. Operators can then be limited by
attention, memory and ability to combine data seen in the same or
different formats.
Factors that reduce Situational Awareness
· Insufficient Communication
· Fatigue / Stress
· Task Overload
· Task Underload
· Group Mindset
· “Press on Regardless” Philosophy
· Degraded Operating Conditions
The Following definitinos originally obtained from: http://www.soluxtli.com
Light Source Color Temperature in Degrees Kelvin (K)
- Clear blue sky (without direct sun)
------ 12,000 K
- Sunlight (middle of the day)
------ 4,700-5,700 K
- Overcast sky
- Metal Halide
- Halogen
- House Lamp
- Candle Flame
------ 6,500-8,000 K
------ 4,500 K
------ 3,000 K
------ 2,500 K
------ 1,500 K
Color Rendering Index (CRI) - A measure of how well a light source
renders color as compared to daylight. Can only be used to compare
light sources with the same color temperatures. A CRI of 100 would
indicate the light renders the same as daylight at the same color
temperature. A CRI in the upper 90s is considered the best
assurance that the light source will render all colors properly.
Though it has its limitations, the CRI is the only internationally recognized color rendering measurement. Colorists developed this
system which is made up of eight values based on selected colors that are calculated and averaged to determine the composite
score. One potential problem with CRI is that the light being tested might render most of the colors from the set of eight very well
and render a few poorly. The spotty color performance of the bulb is then hidden because of the averaging over all the colors.
Technically, the reference light source to calculate a CRI is based on a blackbody for color temperatures under 5000 K, while
temperatures above that are compared to daylight.
ColorView LightBooth - Device on the market for observing metamerism. ColorView technology provides a filtered tungsten halogen
standardized light source with the unique feature of being quickly and easily recalibrated and provides a continuous range of color
temperatures from 2856K to 6500K.
Daylight - The term describing the combination of direct sunlight and skylight.
Considered the best light for optimal color rendering.
Dielectric Coatings - Microscopic layers of clear materials which alter the transmission and reflection of light through clear glass.
Electromagnetic Spectrum - Refers to the orderly arrangement of radiant energy by wavelength or frequency. This spectrum of
energy of electric and magnetic waves has an enormous range that include cosmic rays, x-rays, illumination, radar, television and
power transmission waves. In the visible light spectrum, the eye is sensitive to radiant energy between 380 nanometers
(violet) and 780 nanometers (red).
Foot-candles - Measurement of light output in candela per square foot. It derives from the early English unit of foot-candle defined
as the illuminance on a surface placed one foot from the standard candle. 100 foot-candles is generally considered enough light
to perform most tasks.
Glare - The visual discomfort caused by excessive brightness; can be direct or indirect (reflected).
The Following definitinos originally obtained from: http://www.soluxtli.com
Mean Spherical Candlepower - MSCP (or CP candlepower for short) is the total light output of a lamp in all directions.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------Lumens = MSCP x 4. 1 MSCP=12.57 Lumens
Foot Candles - Total light output of a lamp when the light is compressed by a lens or reflector.
Foot candles is a “directional specific” light measurement.
Filament Temperature - The operating temperature of the filament measured in degrees kelvin.
Wattage - The amount of electrical power of a lamp. Volts x Amps = Watts
Beamspread - Refers to the divergence angle of the light exiting the lamp. The smaller the number, the tighter and
brighter the beam. Understanding the beamspread helps to select the right bulb to get the amount of coverage you need.
For more information, see illuminance and inverse square law.
Bulb - Bulb refers to the manufactured unit that produces light. The term lamp is often used in the lighting industry to
refer to the whole unit, while the term bulb refers specifically to the portion that gives the unit its shape.
Candle Power (Candelas) - Used by lighting designers to calculate the foot-candles illuminating a surface (CP/distance in
feet squared) or Lux illuminating a surface (CP/distance in meters squared).
Correlated Color Temperature (CCT) - A measure of the apparent color of a light source. You will see different light
sources described by color temperature as measured in degrees Kelvin. Lower color temperatures have “warmer” colors
and higher color temperatures have “cooler” colors.
The color temperature of daylight can change throughout the day. Not to be confused with color rendering as they are not
associated with each other. 2800K-3200K considered “warm” 4100K-4900K considered “white” and 5000+ “cool”.
Comes from heating a blackbody (think of a piece of coal) up to a certain temperature, as the coal gets hotter and hotter
it changes from orange (i.e. 2300K) to yellow (3000K) to white (4700K) to blue (5000K)
Color Temperature - The concept of color temperature is a fairly simple one. Think of a nail that is being heated up. As
the temperature of the nail increases, the first color of light that the nail emits when heated is a deep red. As more
energy is added to the nail, the color of light goes from red, to orange, to yellow, then to white and finally to a bluish color.
Correlating the temperature of the nail with the color of light observed gives a way of assigning a number to the color of
light observed.
Note: color temperature does NOT depend on the intensity of light, just the color of the light. Correlated color
temperature is when you are visually comparing the color of light from a light source that is not a blackbody (without a
smooth SPD) to the visual color of a blackbody. A blackbody is the theoretical construct (described above as a nail) that
emits light ideally.
Illuminance - The concentration of light falling on a surface. Defined as the luminous flux that is incident from all directions
onto a square meter or Ev = incident luminous flux/surface area receiving it. It is usually measured in lux.
Infrared Radiation (IR) - “Infra” meaning frequencies below those of red light. Essentially, any radiant energy. These are longer
wavelengths than the visible spectrum. The energy is sensed as heat. Associated with sunburns and heat. Lower energy,
long wavelength energy situated at the red end of the visible light spectrum.
Inverse Square Law - Formula stating that illuminance varies inversely with the square of the distance from a point light
source. E = 1/r2 Where E is illuminance and r is the distance. It means that when you double the distance from a point
source of light (like our bulbs) the intensity falls off by a factor of four. If you triple the distance, the intensity falls by a
factor of nine. You square the distance. This is helpful in understanding how much the intensity drops off as you mount a
light source further away from the object you want to illuminate.
Light Output (intensity) - Also thought of as brightness. This is measured in candelas also called candlepower units. The
farther away the light source is from what you are lighting the less intense the light output. Also the higher the wattage of
bulb the greater the light output.
Lumen - Measurement of a quantity of light as perceived by the human eye. As a light source's color temperature increases,
less light is required to achieve comparable brightness and visual acuity. This is the international unit to describe the
quantity of light (also called luminous flux).
Lux - Measurement of light output in candelas per square meter. One lumen per square.
10 lux is generally considered enough light to perform most tasks.
Metamerism - The effect created when objects having different spectral distributions look alike under one light source but
appear different when viewed with a dissimilar light source.
Spectral Power Distribution (SPD) - The relative power emitted by a light source as a function of wavelength, usually shown in
graphical format. SPD graphs provide an easy visual profile of the color characteristics of a light source. Lights that have
relatively even representation across the color spectrum such as daylight and SoLux have the best color-rendering
capabilities. Lights with marked uneveness and spikes will not provide good color rendering. See the SPD of each SoLux bulb.
Tungsten Halogen - Term used to describe an incandescent lamp or bulb that offers a substantially increased life compared to
a standard incandescent.. Also described as quartz-tungsten-halogen. Source in which an electrical current passes through a
filament and uses an inert gas to recycle fragments of burnt off tungsten back to filament.
Ultraviolet Radiation (UV) - “Ultra” meaning frequencies above those of violet light.
These are associated with suntans and fading of pigments and dyes. The 3500K and 4100K, the most common choices for
art have ultra low UV values. High energy short wavelengths before the blue end of the visible light spectrum.
Voltage - Electric potential expressed in volts or power/current. Most American households have electric outlets that have a
voltage of 110 or 120 volts. When using low voltage fixtures and bulbs (usually 12 volts) the current has to go through a
transformer to reduce the voltage.
Watt - The unit of power or how fast energy is expended over time or power.
One watt is equal to one joule/second of time. A joule = 1 kilogram x meters2 / seconds2 .
Perspective of the OODA Cycle - By Ken J. Good
I first became familiar with John Boyd in the early 1990's through a small booklet put out by General Grey, then
Commandant of the USMC - FMFM-1 Warfighting.
As I read, I noted a small footnote pointing to a cycle articulated by an Air Force pilot of all things.
I immediately thought that was a bit out of the ordinary.
An Air Force pilot forming any of the frameworks for a USMC publication?!
As I first beheld the OODA Cycle, I remember nearly leaping out of my chair.
"This is IT!", I screamed in my mind. I distinctly remember spending the next hour or so recalling hundreds of
"mock" gunfights that had taken place on our training platform. We regularly had 36
students protecting their ship against us, the OPFOR (the terrorists). During these rigorous force-on-force
sessions that lasted 3-days, it was not uncommon for us to go through 15,000 rounds of projectiles. Untold
numbers of "fights" had occurred during the years.
Every single one of them conformed to this simple, powerful model.
I then recalled martial arts tournaments, street confrontations, and real world operational experiences during my
time with Naval Special Warfare at SEAL Team One…..
Boyd had synthesized the entire construct of battle and confrontation into a model that epitomized the beauty of
I often use the analogy of a diamond to describe the cycle. You think you know its depth of magnificence until
you turn the diamond a bit in a different light…
I hope you come to appreciate the cycle and it's absolute relevance to the Use of Force.
The OODA Cycle can be an extremely useful tool to help you analyze your personal performance in your demanding
The OODA Cycle can also assist you in explaining to others (think jury) what took place in a relatively brief
moment of time. All the events and decisions that lead to actions can be arranged in a clear, concise, sequential
manner so that the laymen can understand what you go through during the wide varieties of confrontations you
Preface - by Sid Heal, Los Angeles Sheriff's Department - Used by Permission
Because all tactical operations are dynamic, they are also time sensitive. Decisions and actions that are delayed are often rendered ineffective
because of the constantly changing circumstances. When an adversary is involved, the operation is not only time sensitive, but also time
competitive. Time or opportunity neglected by one adversary can be exploited by the other. Recognizing the importance of this characteristic,
Napoleon said, “It may be that in the future I may lose a battle, but I shall never lose a minute.”
A useful tool for understanding the importance of this concept is the OODA Loop. The OODA Loop, often called Boyd's Cycle,
is a creation of Col. John Boyd, USAF (Ret.). Col. Boyd was a student of tactical operations and observed a similarity in many battles and
campaigns. He noted that in many of the engagements, one side presented the other with a series of unexpected and threatening situations with
which they had not been able to keep pace. The slower side was eventually defeated. What Col. Boyd observed was the fact that conflicts are time
According to Boyd's theory, conflict can be seen as a series of time-competitive, Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action (OODA) cycles. Each party
to a conflict begins by observing themselves, the physical surroundings and the adversary. Next they orient themselves. Orientation refers to
making a mental image or snapshot of the situation. Orientation is necessary because of the fluid, chaotic nature of conflicts makes it impossible
to process information as fast as we can observe it. This requires a freeze-frame concept and provides a perspective or orientation. Once we have
an orientation, we need to make a decision. The decision takes into account all the factors present at the time of the orientation. Last comes the
implementation of the decision. This requires action. One tactical adage states that, “Decisions without actions are pointless. Actions without
decisions are reckless.” Then, because we hope that our actions will have changed the situation, the cycle begins anew. The cycle continues to
repeat itself throughout a tactical operation.
The adversary who can consistently go through Boyd's Cycle faster than the other gains a tremendous advantage. By the time the slower adversary
reacts, the faster one is doing something different and the action becomes ineffective. With each cycle, the slower party's action is ineffective by a
larger and larger margin. The aggregate resolution of these episodes will eventually determine the outcome of the conflict. For example, as long as
the actions of the authorities continue to prove successful, a suspect will remain in a reactive posture, while the commander maintains the freedom
to act. No matter that the suspect desperately strives to accomplish, every action becomes less useful than the preceding one. As a result, the
suspect falls farther and farther behind.
This demonstrates that the initiative follows the faster adversary.
Got a Second? - Boyd's Cycle - OODA Cycle - Written by Ken J. Good
Today's environment of accelerating scientific discoveries and technological change bring ever-improving hardware to the end user. In this
climate it is easy to overlook and even abandon the core foundation of any weapon system, the interplay and perceptions of the human mind
in a combative situation.
A man who understood this better than most was Col. John Boyd, USAF (Ret.). Col. Boyd was tasked with determining why American pilots
in apparently inferior aircraft were consistently outmatching their Korean counterparts. Air to air combat takes place in a 360-degree
sphere and represents the pinnacle of the man and machine relationship coupled with the man-on-man dynamic warriors dream about.
Boyd was an extremely accomplished pilot who had a standing bet with all students under his tutelage:
$40 - 40 seconds. The student would be allowed to start in a position of advantage and if Col. Boyd could not maneuver his same type
aircraft into a position of advantage within 40 seconds, the student could collect $40. I don't think any ever collected.
Col. Boyd developed and pressed forward a simple, yet deeply profound model now known as the OODA cycle or as it often called, Boyd's
Cycle. The cycle of Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act is the essence of combat and present in any human conflict.
Col. Boyd considered and defined the nature of combat in terms of time. All engagements were a competition for time, a precious
commodity not voluntarily relinquished by either party. Col. Boyd understood the importance and advantages of relentlessly forcing the
adversary to deal with a rapid series of events in order to disorient and “get inside” the opponents OODA Cycle.
Once “inside”, time for the insider moves as it should, one event flowing to the next in a predictable pattern, the outcome virtually certain.
On the other hand, the “victim” is stuck in time. He has no apparent opportunities to Observe and Orient meaningful events. Decisions and
Actions are ineffective. He is pulled down and entangled in an unrecoverable death spiral. The laws of the universe somehow seem to have
been unhinged. Time has somehow stood still as in a bad dream when one cannot run away from a terrible manifestation of the inner mind
In the battle of “mind-space” the goal is simple; get inside and stay there.
Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. O.O.D.A.
The acronym is easy to remember. The cycle itself is absolutely crucial to understand if one is regularly in harm’s way.
In order to defeat opponents consistently and effectively, you must sequentially move through the OODA Cycle, whether you are aware of it or not.
It is model that can be used to dissect compressed time frames in a logical and sequential manner. All engagements, whether they are air-to-air
dogfights or an up close and personal, hand-to-hand confrontation, conform to this simple, powerful, and insightful model.
I have noted that by studying and learning to apply this cycle, one has an effective way to segment, analyze, and improve human performance in
confrontational situations. It is a gemstone to be admired and constantly examined.
Recalibrating the Internal Clock - The first issue is our perception of time itself.
I often illustrate people's perception of the time by walking to the back of the
classroom and then back to the podium while elucidating some tactical point. While
the class is still trying to digest the point, I then ask several students, “How long did
it take me to walk to the back of the room and return to the podium?” Typically I get
a few turned faces, questioning looks and frowns. They are non-verbally asking me,
what difference does it make how long that took?
The answers I do receive will typically range from 2 seconds to 10 seconds, a
substantial variance. Some will argue that I did not give them any preparation to
ready their internal stopwatch. But this misses the point. No one in a rapidly
developing engagement is going to stop and remind you to calibrate your chronograph.
The point is, using recall alone, the same event witnessed by trained observers is
perceived to have taken place in different universes where physical reality moves at
different speeds.
The other interesting thing to note is that I will never get an answer like 3.345 seconds.
Why is this so? True, sometimes I get an answer of 3½ seconds, but that's as fine a gradient ever expressed.
Our everyday existence does not require a division of time any closer than seconds for most events, in terms of verbal articulation. But in the
world of close quarter engagements, using only full seconds to measure time is like using a sledgehammer to fine cut a diamond.
Tremendous and significant changes can happen in one second. A proficient adversary can fire three rounds out of a semi-auto shotgun while
passing by an open doorway, horizontally and vertically changing position in relation to you in under a second.
To further illustrate the calibration point in the classroom, I ask someone to stand up and I give this volunteer a “red gun”, an inoperative hard
plastic replica handgun. I tell them to put it in their waistband, and I do the same. I tell them that they are now part of a futuristic new game
show that pits one man against the other in a six-foot gunfight. The participants face each other, winner to receive one million dollars. Both are
wearing metallic braces on their wrists and ankles that are held in place by a strong magnetic field. Both will actually be using real, perfectly
functioning firearms. When the green light is observed, you will be free to access your firearm and dispatch your opponent as required.
Now I throw a twist into the scenario. I tell the student, that he was smarter and more cunning than I and he offered ½ his winnings to the
operator of the magnetic field, if he would release his magnets 1 second earlier than mine. The operator says no, because one second was too
obvious and the producers would have him executed for this breach of the rules. So the negotiations continue.
How about .9 seconds? How about .8 seconds? How about .4 seconds? How about .2 seconds?
The operator finally agrees to release my opponent's magnets .125 seconds prior to mine. At this point in the discussion, I then ask the student,
would you take this time advantage if given to you, even if you had to pay $100,000 for it? The answer is inevitably, in the affirmative! Any sane
person would take any and all time given in a gunfight, no matter how small the increment.
We zoom back out. How important is time? How important is learning to perceive time?
How important is it to re-calibrate our internal chronographs?
How does one get better and more efficient at anything?
A familiar shooting drill that many trainers use to roughly gauge a shooter's proficiency is the “El Presidente”.
The shooter starts out with their back facing to the target with a loaded and holstered handgun. At the sound of the buzzer the shooter spins to
face 3 targets, 10 yards away, equally spaced 1 yard apart. The shooter is required to fire 2 rounds into each of the targets, reload, and fire 6
more rounds, 2 in each target, attempting to hit the “A” zone of a standard IPSC target.
When you ask a new shooter to perform this drill you are not even looking for a time hack, but are more concerned about weapons handling and
overall safety during the entire process. If the shooter completes the drill safely under 15 seconds, everybody is happy.
Give that same shooter some solid instruction and a few hundred rounds of practice and he or she should be hovering around 10 seconds
How does one go from 10 seconds to low 4-second runs? What should be examined is not how fast the shooter is shooting. But one should
examine closely by what process did this shooter eliminate so much unnecessary motion and negative mental distractions in order to repeat this
performance consistently.
For the remainder of this discussion, let's assume that we are talking about split seconds of time to move through the OODA Cycle. Let's enter
into the matrix.
Observe - The Starting Blocks - The First Quarter
This has to be your highest priority, find the threat before he or she finds you. An insight on the obvious you say! There is more than meets the
proverbial eye!
Evaluating the modern battlefield, one should note that an enormous amount of effort and resources have been dedicated to “seeing” or observing
the battlefield in real time. The investment in these resources has paid off handsomely during recent conflicts. The U.S. military exploits a
tremendous satellite network, flies high altitude reconnaissance missions, deploys airborne and ground based radar systems, runs patrol
operations and gathers real-time intelligence from a variety of sources, all in an effort to gain an overwhelming advantage as hostilities unfold.
At this point in our military development, if we can see it, we can destroy it.
If you place yourself in the cockpit of a modern fighter jet, your prime directive is to find your opponent first and deploy your weaponry in a firing
envelope advantageous to you before your opponent even knows you are there, just as it was when aerial combat first unfolded.
It is no different in a close quarter battle situation using handheld or shoulder-fired weapons. You must first find the threat through your main
“radar system”, your eyes, then deploy your weaponry in a firing envelope advantageous to you before your opponent even knows you are there.
Zooming back in, let's examine some areas that can cause a degradation of our “on board radar system”.
Placement of the Weapon
Under the duress of searching for armed threats, we have noted that even very experienced
operators have a strong tendency to place the weapon in the visual cone before they have
located the position of the threat. More often than not, their finger is on the trigger, a well-
known unsafe practice. Once in this position, the weapon, arms, and hands are now blocking
out vital visual information.
This would be exactly like a fighter pilot placing a 3” by 5” note card over part of their radar
display and putting their finger on the missile release button, all the time believing they are
somehow more ready to defeat their unseen opponent(s).
Body, Head, and Eye Movements
Overall body movement, coupled with head articulation, rapid eye movements, as well as constant focal plane changes, allows for an almost
infinite number of possibilities for employment of your main sensor system, your vision. It can be too much, in terms of systematically observing
your environment.
This freedom can lead to large “gaps” for potential threats to move through, unopposed. You must understand this and deal with it through
proper training. An easy way to visualize this is to imagine watching a home video a friend filmed. You sit down and have an expectation
that you are going to receive good visual information.
As the videotape is played you soon become agitated because the camera operator was inexperienced and out of control. The recorded
images are jumping and jerking all over the television monitor. Important details of the dynamic situation are lost and undistinguishable.
Lots of good intent, energy, and activity, but unfortunately the most important aspects of the event go unseen.
This video camera example illustrates the body, head, and eyes moving without intelligence and efficiency. To make matters worse, the
individual who was operating the camera was using the zoom feature (in and out) with completely random patterns. This illustrates an
individual improperly setting the focal length of his or her eyes while searching for an unseen threat. I have noted that individuals and
teams have a strong tendency to tune their “radar” to one distance and angle and leave it there. This is especially true when the first
threat is located and identified. Tracking one target, and one target only could spell death to a fighter pilot over the battlefield.
Since our visual sensors do not obtain data like phased-array radar, we must constantly change the distance and elevation of our vision, in a
systematic manner. One must relegate this cycling of the vision to the sub-conscious mind through proper training and experience.
A famous German Fighter Ace was asked, what is your secret?
Answer: “I have an acute awareness for the back of my neck.”
He was also asked what he thought about the P-51 Mustang. He responded, “Three of the four that I shot down today did not even know I
was in the same sky with them.”
Notice he did not talk about hardware here. He drilled down to the inner man. Our eyes are set in the forward area of the skull, representing
an approximate 210 degree field of view. This leaves us with an additional obstacle to overcome, a large area unseen directly behind us.
What is the optimal sequence for establishing the best direction, angle, focal length, body speed, and timings to use the vision properly in a
tactical environment? This is the art and science of using your vision to properly observe, and where the inner man reigns supreme over the
external tools deployed in the environment.
This is an area of combat that begins to immediately separate a highly proficient shooting sportsman and a combatant on the modern,
urban battlefield or street.
Orient - Establishing Reality - The Second Quarter
Once you have obtained good visual data (ideally before your opponent has) you must orient yourself to the overall situation. You must put
things in proper perspective based on real time input, previous intelligence, and generated assumptions. You are not processing in a linear
sequential manner; you are processing in parallel. If you had the opportunity to freeze frame these moments and ask yourself, what data are
you considering at this moment, the list would grow quite long as the subconscious is probed with the conscious mind.
To help illustrate the concept, imagine a personal computer with an outdated central processing unit, a few megabytes of memory, not
enough data storage, and a black and white 10” monitor all controlled by an antiquated operating system. Now try and run a sophisticated
software package that requires significant resources. You will be immediately frustrated with the result.
When I was in the military, I had the opportunity to free-fall parachute out of a perfectly good airplane. When I immediately recalled the first
jump experience, it appeared to be a virtual slideshow. Only key images were etched into my mind. I remember checking my altimeter
numerous times, verifying the location of my rip-cord (this dates me!), seeing the beauty of an inflated canopy and finding the “T” and then
contact with the ground. The entire event was 5-7 minutes long. After 60-100 jumps the staccato slideshow morphed into a streaming
digital video. Same timeframe, but now my brain did not have to spend precious resources finding a “spot” to burn the information in since
it was no longer new information, but familiar territory. I could now casually see everyone exit the aircraft and immediately place myself in
proper perspective to all jumpers, the aircraft and the ground.
I was spending plenty of time doing relative work with other jumpers, flying my canopy and landing extremely close to the desired target. I was now
able to assimilate huge blocks of visual data effortlessly, as well as recall them with great accuracy and clarity. I was now “oriented” to this
somewhat stressful event.
The brain has an amazing capacity for data storage, recall, and decision-making, provided it has some meaningful reference points. But when we are
presented with a totally new set of circumstances, with no prior reference points, we become disoriented. For example, when is the last time your
brain had a threat with a loaded firearm swinging in your direction displayed on its internal movie screen?
Hence, the need for realistic training that creates these movies and turns them into valid reference points. High quality training paves a new and
much needed information access road to a now cached experience. The experience will be real enough to prevent disorientation when actual combat
is faced.
Consistent with the personal computer example, you are giving your brain upgrades specific to orientation. A larger cache of stored experiences on
the hard-drive, a faster CPU, memory, and data transfer rate, greater display size, resolution and color. You now have a greater probability of arriving at
a sound solution in a shorter period of time.
I have spoken with numerous law-enforcement officers and military personnel following firefights on the street and in combat who have participated in
good force-on-force training prior to the real thing. They were not disoriented, quite the opposite. They clearly articulated the details of the
engagement and followed a logical and effective sequence of events during the engagement.
Since all participants in the engagement must move through the OODA Cycle to achieve consistent and repeatable results, you must strive to
disorient your opponent. Note I did not say, out shoot, out run, out shout; the prime directive is to disorient your opponent. Once in this state, he or
she should be overcome by events as you move smoothly on to the next phases and around the clock again and again. The opponent's perception of
time becomes distorted, incoming data is dismissed, decisions are irrational, and actions become erratic and ineffective. This is an immensely
powerful and often overlooked tactical tool.
You should have no sense of hurrying or waiting. You should be in harmony with what is actually happening.
Decide - The Pipeline - The Third Quarter
Practical decision-making can easily be divided into two basic paths. The subconscious mind
which can process hundreds of variables simultaneously, in parallel and the conscious mind
which works in serial or sequentially, handling seven plus or minus two variables before
disregarding or misinterpreting incoming data.
Any process that must be accomplished in a compressed time frame should be relegated to the
powerful subconscious mind, through training.
Subconscious decisions are decisions arrived upon based on what we perceive, how we orient that perception and the time allowed to make the
decision. If the threat is close and the time frame compressed, we will automatically default to the sub-conscious pipeline. Whatever we brought to
the situation, genetics, personality, training, assumptions, or tools available, will pour out of us without conscious thought or effort.
I frequently use an example based on a real world incident in Southern California. A police officer has pulled over a motorist on the roadway to issue a
traffic citation. Starting off, the officer does everything correctly. He finishes his initial assessment and begins to approach the vehicle to make
contact with the driver.
“If you consciously try to thwart opponents, you are already late”
- Miyamoto Musashi | Japanese Philosopher/Warrior - 1645
As he makes visual and verbal contact, the driver reaches down between his legs to grab a handgun, with full intention to shoot the
officer. The officer has just entered the OODA Cycle in terms of this particular engagement. The subject has already started cycling
and in some cases is already in the Action phase. As the officer reads the body language, then moments later actually sees the
handgun coming into view (Observation), he begins to orient to the situation. It is not something he witnesses regularly.
During the orientation phase, he concludes that this is really a handgun, this threat is real and imminent and he must decide what to
do. As the threat is relatively close and the time frame is compressed, the sub-conscious immediately dominates the decision phase
and the officer is now on auto-pilot. The officer is driven backwards by the pressure of the moment and rotates 90 degrees to his right
and begins to accelerate and run to get back to his vehicle. The vehicle represents everything that is friendly and safe. It embodies
familiarity, cover, concealment, communications, and additional weapons with which to neutralize the threat.
The subject will now exploit the officer’s subconscious decision and subsequent action. The subject continues to move through the
OODA Cycle, again, arriving at the top to Observe. The subject now exits the vehicle and observes a police officer with his back turned,
essentially attempting to outrun super-sonic projectiles.
Let's get back to the police officer. Where is he in the OODA Cycle? He is in the unseen third O, as in “Oh Sh#@t”. He can no longer
obtain any good visual information in relationship to the moving, now firing suspect. Only the grace of God can help him now. How did
he find himself in this situation with little prospect of successfully overcoming the circumstances? A virtually instantaneous
subconscious decision compelled him to arrive here.
Could it have been avoided? Most certainly it could have. How?
Through well directed “Force-on-Force” training. This type of training would allow an officer to repeatedly observe this particular
situation (not for the first time while under extreme duress) in a more controlled, yet still challenging environment. This incremental
observation process starts creating a cache that ends up becoming a valid reference point from which one can efficiently orient in
similar type events that might take place in the future. All the non-verbal cues, timings, the
bio-mechanical possibilities and constraints of the combatants are now identified, sorted, stored and are ready for retrieval by the
powerful subconscious mind.
New courses of action will be discovered and can be experimented with. The subconscious now has new experiences from which to
draw upon. This creates an improved matrix of actions, increasing the probability of success in the future.
Act - What we Dream About - The Final Quarter
We have finally arrived at the phase where most spend the
majority of their time practicing, and from my perspective, the
least significant in terms of what is really required. This is where
you pull the trigger, push the button on your pepper spray, call for
back-up forces, or any number of actions. Don't get me wrong!
You must be able to act powerfully.
You must develop a smooth, accurate look-down, shoot-down
capability with your shoulder-fired and handheld weapons from a
variety of positions and circumstances.
Let's put this in perspective. If you were given just enough instruction to successfully fly an F-22 off the runway and around the sky,
and you also received good instruction on how to release a missile, by simply pushing the red button on the joystick, would you
consider yourself ready for aerial combat? (That combat taking place in a 360-degree battle space flooded with multiple threats, while
sorting critical information and dealing with the physiological and psychological factors associated with flight in combat.)
To increase your chances of survival in this complex environment, you might construct a mock joystick
at home and practice pushing the button really fast, over and over!
Operators love to show others how well they see the relationship of two pieces of metal and pull a lever.
They will run down range, carefully pull their target and hold it like a newborn. They will cherish it and show all interested and noninterested parties, including their neighbor's dog, their prowess at pulling a lever (pushing a red button). It's comical, sometimes.
If you simply learn to properly release a tiny metal missile from your handheld or shoulder-fired missile launcher, you are no more ready
for combat on the street or the battlefield than your newly found piloting skills.
It is all that leads up to the point of missile release that ultimately matters. Your observations, orientation, and decisions are what
allows a relatively minor action on your part to define the difference between success or failure, life or death. Whether you are in an F22 or controlling a firearm, once you push the button or pull the trigger you are not going to make any difference on where that missile
is going to strike. It will conform to its “programming” and the immutable laws of physics.
If you talk to the Gracie Brothers, you would find out that their best selling Brazilian JuJitsu videotapes are the submission tapes, the
last in their comprehensive series. This hunger to learn submissions (pulling the trigger) is enormous. Nobody is saying submissions
are not part of the total package and skill set, but the Gracie's will tell you, “Position before Submission”.
Prior to submitting someone a sequence is in effect. You must maintain a proper distance and balance relationship to your opponent,
close the distance with your opponent at the proper time, take your opponent to the ground, establish a dominant position over them,
then submit them (force them to give up, damage them to a point where they can no longer fight back or choke them into
If you watch the greatest submission fighter in the world, Rickson Gracie, you will notice that he does not vary his routine by much.
Rickson more often than not endend up choking out his opponents using the same dominant position and the same finishing hold.
Why was he undefeated after over 400 plus no holds barred fights?
Why can't his opponents just counter the strategy employed time after time?
I believe it is his total mastery of the time and space prior to the relatively simple position and finish. It is the game within the game.
The OODA Cycle in action.
I have had the opportunity to work with quite a few shooters that have the action phase of their personal development honed razor
sharp. Their ability to shoot a handgun, shotgun, and rifle at paper and steel is literally world class, far outpacing anyone on our
training staff (if the only measuring stick is speed and accuracy) on non-threatening targets. This is certainly not a negative, but can
lead to a false sense of security and accomplishment.
When weapons are out and everybody is carrying lethal force at the push of a button, the proverbial wheels fall off the chariot until all
phases of the OODA Cycle are understood, mastered and consistently applied.
A smooth running OODA Cycle translates to good situational
Situational awareness is the ability to collect, collate, and store
data in a fluid, dynamic environment, then accurately predict
future events based on that data.
Predicting future events in a tactical environment is a potent
asset to have in your personal arsenal.
An Opportunity
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