The FBI Drill: How to Shoot in Low Light

The Drill:
A lot of us carry a flashlight as part of our everyday carry loadout, and, if you don’t, you should. We talk about training the way you fight and practicing with the gear you carry. One possible scenario that involves the use of your defensive firearm is that you are attacked at night. Why? Because bad guys often come out at night. For this reason, you should tailor your training to incorporate shooting in low light and practice shooting while holding a flashlight. The technique we favor is the FBI Technique. The flashlight is held to the side and above your head. The thought here is that if the bad guy shoots at your light because he believes that is where you are, his rounds are less likely to hit you.

The Setup:
For The FBI Drill, you will need your defensive firearm, an EDC flashlight, a target and a low-light environment. The indoor range at which we practice has specific times when they allow people to shoot in low-light conditions. Many outdoor ranges also offer the opportunity to shoot after dark. As with any live-fire drill, eye and ear protection are a must.

The Skills:
Shooting in low-light conditions will help develop your skills in a couple different ways. You’re shooting with only your strong hand while holding a flashlight. Shooting in the dark will force you to manipulate your firearm without looking at it (you won’t be able to see it in the dark). If your individual skill level allows, practice mag changes, drawing from the holster and clearing malfunctions. One caveat here: If you’re not comfortable performing an action in lit conditions, don’t try to practice it in the dark.

The Details:
Light conditions need to be low either at an indoor range with the lights off or an outdoor range after dusk. Start out facing the target from approx. 15 to 21 feet away. Firearm starting position is in the holster. Your flashlight is staged on the off-hand side of your body (the side opposite your holstered firearm) in a pocket or pouch. On the command of “Threat!” pull your flashlight out and illuminate the target. The light should be held above and to the side of your head. Your arm position is 90 degrees and should resemble an “L”-shape. When the target is lit, and the threat is identified, draw your firearm from the holster and engage the threat with multiple rounds. Simulate following the threat to the ground, then scan and asses your surroundings as dictated by your environment. Once you have determined the area is safe, reholster your firearm and return the flashlight to its starting position. The first repetition should be performed slowly with focus on each step. Your rate of speed can be increased as you become more familiar with the process.

Safety Considerations:
Be sure to follow the four universal safety rules at all times. Shooting in the dark adds an additional level of complexity to any actions you are performing. If you are a newer shooter, start out by shooting this course of fire dry fire or with a training pistol such as a SIRT. You must be completely familiar with your firearm before trying to manipulate it in the dark. If you are shooting outdoors, extra precautions must be taken to ensure there is nothing beyond the target downrange.

Closing Thoughts:
The FBI Technique is one way of shooting utilizing a flashlight. There are drawbacks to shooting with only one hand, such as accuracy at distance. However, most situations that would dictate the use of this technique are generally going to be at close range. A bad guy with a gun is likely to shoot at what he can see, and if all he can see is your flashlight, the FBI Technique is a safer option. We will be highlighting other flashlight techniques in future videos to help you decide which one will work best for you. But in the meantime, try the FBI Technique and see how it works for you. Remember, whenever you’re training, make every shot count.

Vary your training. Keep it fun. Keep it safe. And keep practicing.

Related: Low Light Skills for the Armed Citizen

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