The other day I came home from a harrowing venture out into the deepest, darkest pit any homeowner can find himself or herself in; my local home improvement store. Having survived the experience heavier in the truck bed yet lighter in the wallet, I decided to take some time and mull my plans for the supplies over while cutting the yard. I stepped up to my little container on the piano I keep my “pocket items” in and started to empty my pants pockets in preparation for changing over to shorts. Once done, I headed to the bedroom to change and let the warden (sorry dear) know what I was up to. I made my way back to the piano and picked up a few of the items normally on my person and headed out.
About halfway through the yard I snagged something and the mower died immediately. With what I’m sure was a very sour expression I set everything to safe, pulled the deck as high as it would go and climbed off. Checking the top of the deck did not expose the issue, so I pulled my flashlight from my pocket and looked up under the deck where the blades do their work. Those who know me will likely be able to predict what I found to be the cause of the problem, for it was a short length of green 550 Para cord wrapped snugly around one of the blades. I’m sure one or both of my little boys had pulled it off their fort (where we have cammie netting tied up) and decided to see if I’d be able to spot the green cord in the green grass going wide open on my poor little mower.
The problem resolved itself with a few quick cuts, and so far there don’t appear to be any other issues. What kind of stuck out to me, besides the need for polishing up on my observation skills, was how handy it was to have that light source right in my pocket when I needed it, and how I happened to need light right in the middle of the day.
Apply that circumstance to a life or death situation. We often discuss how vulnerable we are in parking lots, especially at night when we weren’t able to park right under a light when the lot was packed. My dad’s not a big advocate of night sights, having once mentioned “If you can’t see your sights, there’s no way you can see your target, and there’s no way you should be shooting.” He was right. If you cannot see your target, you don’t know for certain if you’ll be doing any real good or not, nor do you know what harm you may be causing.
I happen to be a fan of night sights if for no other reason than it’s usually putting solid, chunky metal sights where that plastic crap used to reside on my upper slide. If you have plastic sights on your firearm, swap them out for some good sturdy metal ones to support one-handed manipulations and prevention of drop-related damage. I have also been the grateful recipient of low light/no light firearms training and can tell you that a well-trained individual can positively identify a threat at night when properly prepared, and that same individual can put accurate rounds on target while using a light source in what was a pitch black environment a half second ago.
You can even back it up a step or two. What if you’ve got your nice bright light and are able to identify potential threats before actually getting into the bad situation? What if you know how to use proper light techniques and can maneuver without constantly confirming your position and can move faster than your assailant? Distance equals safety, which is what we’re after. And lets not forget the general utilitarian function it provides. I can guarantee that if you carry a light you’ll use it far more often than you will your pistol.
I have a couple lights that mount to rails on carbines and handguns, but I always have an independent light as well. I don’t want to point that gun at something I’m not willing to shoot, and that tells me that I shouldn’t be searching and trying to ID a target while covering it with my muzzle. Having an independent light lets me hold it away from my body to deceive, it allows me to keep my firearm in the correct positions while extending my support hand to search with the light and it lets me confirm what’s going on without exposing my weapon at all.
I’m not going to mention names or put a plug in for a certain brand, but just like in most other things you get what you pay for to a certain degree. You can certainly, as with most other things, go way over the top, but that $1.99 LED light at the cash register should be rethought too. From what I’ve seen and speaking very generally, if you spend over fifty bucks or so you should be safe, and if you spend over a hundred and take care of it you’ll be set for a good many years. I have a quality light and still managed to break off the pocket clip, but I was able to fashion a new one out of a wire coat hanger and some electrical tape. I started keeping mine on me to help prevent little hands from walking off with it and burning out all my batteries. Now the farthest it gets from me is my pack across the room, which also happens to have a few fresh batteries.
Please, spend some time on research for your own needs and wants. If you’ve already got some basic training under your belt, step it up and track down some instruction on the does and don’ts of gunning with a light. Think about it, pray about it, and He’ll illuminate your way. JB