by Tiger McKee
For survival, especially self-defense involving aggressive attackers, flashlights are mandatory. For everyday survival flashlights are handy. A common byproduct of natural disasters such as ice storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes is the loss of power. When you can't flip a switch multiple sources of alternative lighting make life a lot easier. For situations involving violent attackers light is a necessity, especially considering that most violent encounters occur in low-light environments.
For home defense it makes sense to have a light attached to your weapon. Mating two tools into one package makes responding to a threat simpler; defending against an attacker in your home will stressful enough without adding to the process. Today there are a variety of pistols manufactured with rails to attach lights. With the light mounted on your pistol you are ready to locate, identify, and if necessary engage a threat.
Carrying a light on your pistol, especially concealed, is a little easier than it used to be. At one time there were only a limited number of holster options available. Most of those were bulky outside the waistband holsters that are difficult to hide. Today a variety of manufacturers produce holsters for pistols with lights, and there are even inside the waistband holsters available.
As with all fighting skills and related equipment training and practice is necessary. It's not as simple as snapping a light onto the weapon and calling yourself ready. Manipulating a pistol in the dark is completely different from a lighted environment. Using the flashlight properly is an ability that requires a good education on low-light principles. You also need to insure that attaching the light to the pistol doesn't affect reliability of both light and pistol.
Just because you have a weapon mounted light doesn't mean you don't need to know how to use hand-held lights. While the LED lights of today are much more reliable than the older incandescent models they can still go bad. When your light goes out you better have a spare. Carrying a hand-held allows you to perform tasks that don't require you to draw your pistol. A hand-held provides a little more versatility, allowing you to keep the weapon indexed or pointing in one direction and the light in another.
There are more people than ever seeking out training for self-defense, which is a good thing. The problem that we see is very few students ever progress into low-light training, which is a bad thing. Documentation shows over seventy percent of violent confrontations occur in low-light environments, and keep in mind low-light environments exist twenty-four hours a day. There are always areas in buildings and structures that have shadows or are not lighted. This is compounded when you step into them from sunny, bright daylight. It's daytime, but the power goes off. You need to clear a closet in your house, but it's probably a bad idea to step inside it to turn the light on.
Once you get up to speed on your daylight fighting skills it's time to move over to the dark side. Unless you're prepared to face conflict in the dark you ain't really ready. Flashlights, and the skills to use them, are mandatory. Don't get caught off guard.
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of "The Book of Two Guns," writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk's DVD, "Fighting With The 1911" - http://shootrite.org/dvd/dvd.html Website: www.shootrite.org