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  1. #1
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    Default THE TRUTH ABOUT "OWNING THE DARKNESS"

    THE TRUTH ABOUT "OWNING THE DARKNESS"

    Wednesday, November 22, 2017


    Gunfighting has always been an ongoing study. There are innovations being made constantly, both in the tactical (aka skills) and technical (aka gear) areas. It is a mistake to focus exclusively on one, and ignore the other. For example, one may have very good night combat skills, but his ability to apply will be severely limited if all he has is a 5 shot J frame with a mini maglite. On the other hand, a man with a PVS-14 and an IR laser that has no tactical skills will not fare any better. The key then is to have the technical to match the tactical. And when one considers that the tactical is more easily improved than the technical, it makes sense to start with the best kit possible, and then grow into it.

    One strong concern for many has always been the "fight at night" thing. Like all conflicts we can divide them into reactive and proactive.

    We can typify the "reactive" event as follows. You are walking to your car in a dimly lit parking lot at 11:00 PM and are suddenly and unexpectedly attacked by two thugs. We are not looking at total darkness, but rather at a situation where there may not be enough light to read the Wall Street Journal, but certainly enough to see aggressive physical action directed to you. No need for any lights, lasers, or anything else in a reactive event such as this.

    Let me rephrase this for the guys that are challenged in reading comprehension (you know who you are). In a reactive gunfight, attacked in reduced light by one or more assailants, you do not need to use any sort of illumination prior to or during the shooting. The key to victory is the ability to move quickly, and shoot with the visual elements available. Some of these elements may include lasers, mini red dot sights, point shooting, etc. The use of these visual elements do not require additional white light.

    There is also the "proactive" event. Proactive is far different in that you are not "surprised", but rather have knowledge of what is happening. Having this information, one can get ahead of it rather than being overtaken by events. In years past, trainers offered lip service to the proactive low light problem by teaching the Harries position, or the Surefire hold. A small sub-art was born around the use of the small handheld/weapon mounted flashlight as manufactured by Surefire, Streamlight, etc. Where these sub-arts lack is in the almost exclusive focus on "white light" and its use in mandatory and complete illuminated "target identification".

    the truth however is that target identification is only a small part of the problem, and actually quite simple for most of us. Think of this - your wife and two children are behind you in your bedroom. Everyone on earth that matters is behind you. How much more "target identification" do you need for that 6 foot tall figure with the thing that looks like a big knife sneaking around at the end of the hallway than is provided by the existing ambient light?

    Other aspects of the problem include operator safety, and I think that takes precedence over target identification.

    I ran an experiment in class a few years ago in an Eastern European country that shall remain nameless. We had an impromptu conflict of sorts during a low light section. One student, a sales rep for a flashlight company, was advocating the blinding and debilitating effects of a super bright candlepower strobe. That it would not only identify and distract the adversary, both desirable characteristics for the police, but make him incapable of any effective response on the source of the light. And making a big deal about total, complete, and unquestionable traget identification even if you have been fired upon. Always willing to test out a theory, I set up an experiment.

    I took a super bright light (that the sales rep donated...sort of) and inserted it into a cardboard target, lens toward the firing line. I took two military police guys in class, and had them face away from the target. They were armed with MP5 SMGs. I had them close their eyes and wait. All the lights on the range had been turned off except for the ostensibly blinding and disorienting flashlight. Their instructions were that when I yelled "fight", they were to turn and engage the source of the light as they moved off the X. As they stood by, I turned on the light in the target bright and even set it to strobing. I then got out of the way and yelled, "fight!"

    In a few seconds, both operators had moved off the X and peppered the target with about twenty rounds each. The flashlight was miraculously not hit, but the target was fairly well destroyed. The bright strobe prevented them from getting a sight picture (like all good guys use), but it did not prevent them from point shooting it a cumulative total of over forty times even if they were "blinded by the light". Moral of the story is this - The use of light may identify your threat, but it will also give away your position and safety.

    There are methods of working around this phenomena but they are certainly not based on the foolish notion of turning night into day. In a reactive fight, there will be plenty of light to see what is going on and respond.

    NOW TO DISCUSS TECHNOLOGY.

    Solution to both identify the threat positively while at the same time keeping you totally safe - in the proactive application? That is the tactical application of modern technology - night vision. To put its position in the realm of history, consider these things. What would Custer have given for several armed and armored Humvees at Little Big Horn? What would Napoleon have given for modern Air Support at Waterloo? It is that much of a game changer.

    That the technology is desirable is not an issue. Usually the only concern is cost. Custer and Napoleon would have loved such an advantage...but they would have had to pay for it. All advantages, whether flying a plane, diving to the bottom of the ocean, or driving 200 mph, will cost. And being able to positively identify a face as friend or foe across a large room, and kill it if a foe, also has its price. But in the realm of "fighting at night" it holds the position of being the ultimate solution to the problem.

    How costly is it? A complete home defender set up is no more than one would pay to set up a good sniper rifle kit (rifle, optics, and accessories). Whatever you buy has to fulfill the mission. The mission can be defined loosely into thirds. Each third is important. Those thirds are;

    1). Maintaining defender's position hidden, 2). Positive identification of the threat in darkness 3). And finally, the ability to engage and eliminate the threat successfully.

    As far as proactive work goes, whether defending the home and family from late night invaders, or searching a building as a police officer, Night Vision technology will help you truly own the darkness. Flashlights do not.
    Gabe Suarez

    Turning Lambs into Lions Since 1995

    Suarez International USA Headquarters

  2. #2
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    Ideally, the first indicator the opposition should have that things are not going to plan is muzzle flash, and the smell of brimstone.

    If you arent convinced you need to invest in good nvg yet, get yourself a cheapo monocular. Set up a force on force with buddies and do it in an almost no light situation with lots of obstacles (chairs, tables overturned, trash in the hallways). You will easily own 5 to 1 odds with good movement and tactics that are capable with NVG . Then go get some REAL high quality NVG (the cheapos arent nearly robust enough or give NEARLY the information a good set will) and really expand your envelope of capability.
    NEVER CONFUSE GETTING LUCKY WITH GOOD TACTICS (unless you are at the bar)

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    A stab to the taint beats most of the mystical bullshit, most of the time

  3. #3
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    I enjoy my PVS-14 and long ago took your instruction and added a lanyard.

    I'd love advice on how not to get sucked into that tube and forget that you are not invisible. Especially as you move in front of all those little LEDs that seam to fill our homes.

    The light experiment you describe above. When I wasted my money on a LV class, he ran the same drill with the same result.
    Last edited by gssc; 11-21-2017 at 08:37 AM.

  4. #4
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    The truth is that if you spend enough time practicing in low light/no light environments you can become very proficient at seeing and moving in those environments, you can in fact get creepy good as long as you don't suffer from night blindness. That being said it takes regular practice. Shooting in the dark is the same, but I find it has more to do with confidence in you shooting than it really does anything else. Enter NVGs, this gives you instant confidence because you can see better than unaided in the dark, it's easier and faster to move as well. This takes practice as well as you need to develop a comfort level with your marksmanship with this new system.

    For example, I've talked about it before, but we did a class in TX last year with a night fire session. We only worked at about 30m but even people that were aided with NVGs were having trouble consistently hitting man sized steels while Sua and I were able to ring them unaided. This comes with practice, experience, and confidence. Aided we would have really been able to show what a force-multiplier NVGs can be. A trained and experienced night fighter aided with NVGs against an enemy that's unaided with the same experience or more will be a no-contest fight.
    Greg "Hyena" Nichols
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabriel Suarez View Post
    How costly is it? A complete home defender set up is no more than one would pay to set up a good sniper rifle kit (rifle, optics, and accessories). Whatever you buy has to fulfill the mission.
    Any specific recommendations for such a set up. I've looked into getting into NV/thermal several times over the years and always end up with a bad case of analysis paralysis. I don't know what I don't know.
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  6. #6
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    There is a psychology component to it as well and I think it drives the Lumen market like nothing else. Perhaps a new article. In my opinion, based on what I have seen in the street, most men are afraid of the dark. This goes back to the day when we were little kids looking under the bed for Freddie Kruger. But when your point of view changes...when you no longer see yourself as prey and rather as predator, the night takes on an entirely different sense. The zebra and the antelope are terrified of the dark...but the lion and panther are not.

    I worked most of my police career at night. Most of the "hunting" I did was at night (and that is exactly what it was...if it offends some captain america too bad). I got used to the darkness and understood what it can provide you. I enjoyed searching dark buildings and my guys and I would see what we could do without ever turning on a light. And we did very well.

    A few years later as a father, I saw the darkness fear developing in my junior staffers. So one summer night...a moonless one, we walked out to the back of the property and found a place to sit. They were a little rattled but I said, "just sit...listen...be still".

    "Think like a wolf not a rabbit....what do you hear?"

    They said they heard the breeze...they heard a distant coyote...they heard insects...they heard a rustle in the bushes 20 meters away which was revealed to be a bunny.

    "What do you see?"

    They saw the outline of vegetation, they saw the stars...the light the stars gave us...outlines of each other.

    "Can the bunny rabbit or the coyote see you?"

    No...they can't was the little kid's reply.

    "So you can't see them well but they can't see you well either...so anything bad that is out here has the same difficulty seeing you?"

    The lightbulb moment happened (no pun intended).

    After that they learned to move easily in the dark and we made a family game of sneaking around against each other in the house and scaring each other. Fear of the dark is for gazzelles...for lions...darkness is their friend.


    Note: To the propellerheads that like to argue, yes...I know the big cats and predators have good night vision and see better than we do. THAT was not the lesson. If we want to play that game i would have opened the safe and issued them each a set of PVS-14s.
    Gabe Suarez

    Turning Lambs into Lions Since 1995

    Suarez International USA Headquarters

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by DogDoc View Post
    Any specific recommendations for such a set up. I've looked into getting into NV/thermal several times over the years and always end up with a bad case of analysis paralysis. I don't know what I don't know.

    Tech changes constantly, and no, I am not going to carry any of this in the store.

    NV allows you to travel and target things...meaning that you can use the NV to align weapon on target and kill it. To my knowledge thermal does not allow this, rather it simply allows you to locate a source of heat. Also, thermal can be defeated by various methods...NV cannot be without some effort.
    Gabe Suarez

    Turning Lambs into Lions Since 1995

    Suarez International USA Headquarters

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    "Think like a wolf, not a rabbit."

    Beautiful.
    Brent Yamamoto
    Suarez International Tier 1 Staff Instructor

    Ready, willing, able. Bring it.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabriel Suarez View Post
    NV allows you to travel and target things...meaning that you can use the NV to align weapon on target and kill it. To my knowledge thermal does not allow this, rather it simply allows you to locate a source of heat. Also, thermal can be defeated by various methods...NV cannot be without some effort.
    I have thermal and nv. The thermal is amazing for finding mammals. The woods are like Christmas tree lights under thermal at night. Rodents tend to hide back a few inches in bushes. Deer and large mammals really pop.

    Heat hangs around. You can see where people were sitting and look at cars and tell if the engine was recently run.

    However, I have no way of targeting them under thermal. I have to switch to my NV. I've taken to wearing the NV with a skull crusher when hunting. I then use the thermal with a lanyard on the other eye to locate animals. I then switch to the nv and laser to shoot them. That switch is quite difficult. It's akin to the bindon aiming concept around ACOGs.
    Last edited by gssc; 11-21-2017 at 10:33 AM.

  10. #10
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    Shannon Hogan is offline Suarez International Affiliate - Salt Lake City
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    I regularly take my K-9s out to hike in the dark. I use NVG's, have an IR flashlight, and have IR strobes on the dogs. We work the night just fine. My K-9s are my scouts. Key point is to do night work on a regular basis to improve sneakcraft skills and get used to the gear. All my important weapons have IR lasers and illuminators.
    fulminis instar "Like thunderbolts, fast as lightning."
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