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Training with Lights, Sights, and Lasers

Low light shooting is nearly indisputable as a critical skill for anybody who uses a weapon in a duty or defensive application. On the surface, it may not seem like anything particularly radical. The fundamentals of marksmanship don’t change. But a low-light environment does add layers of complexity, both in target acquisition and weapons manipulation.

Since you cannot simply “magic” yourself a proficiency in any mechanical skill, let alone one you plan to stake your life on, it would behoove every concealed carry shooter to seek some training specific to the low-light world and its idiosyncrasies.

Wes Doss and his crew at Khyber Training have been running a training endeavor with just this purpose in mind. Way back in 2012, Khyber started something they call the LSL Tour – named for the Lights, Sights, and Lasers that act as force multipliers under less-than-ideal lighting conditions. The LSL Tour, as the name implies, is a one-day seminar that is held nationwide at various law enforcement agencies around the country.

Since many smaller agencies do not have a dedicated low light program, LSL offers the chance for officers and deputies to not only get some trigger time in the dark, but also to get an education on best practices and the importance of training like this. While this particular class is a law-enforcement-only offering, we believe the lessons learned apply to armed citizens as well.


The 2015 national average for accuracy in officer-involved shootings was a gloomy 23%. This number is not broken down in day vs. night. What IS broken down are the hit percentages for Maryland City, Maryland police department and the San Bernadino Sheriff’s Office in Southern California. According to the Force Science Institute, as quoted by Khyber Training, both of these agencies have a daytime hit rate of over 60%, but both departments also experienced a decline in accuracy of up to 50% in diminished light conditions. That’s how important it is to train this skill.

When asked about best practices for low-light skill building, Khyber’s owner and lead instructor Wes Doss said, “As for doing right, low light is as much a mechanical skill as it is an accuracy skill, those that are getting it done are working with officers on actually running the lights like they run normal presentation skills, so that it minimizes cognitive thought. I like to have them think about turning on the headlights when they drive.”


After the classroom portion of the workshop, we hit the range for some basic practicals. Because of the condensed format of the class, there is not the opportunity to spend multiple nights on the line. But the drills run in LSL are solid building blocks for execution of proper marksmanship in darkness in a variety of standard and non-standard shooting positions.

After several warm-up drills with both pistol and carbine, we moved into 90 and 180-degree turns as well as shooting from the seated position, including sideways shots from the seated position, to simulate engaging through the drivers and passenger side windows of a vehicle. Since all the students in this particular class were running weapon-mounted lights, emphasis was placed on proper manipulation of WMLs in a quick and consistent manner regardless of the shooting position. Par times were being constantly pushed with a premium on activating your light only long enough to acquire your target and make good hits.

Since our range time started late afternoon and ran into complete darkness, students were able to experience a full range of daylight, dusk, and full-darkness shooting conditions.


Our final drill was an El President shot in complete darkness. The El President has seemingly been around since caveman times. Which, arguably, makes it a great choice for a low-light shooting test. Vast swaths of the shooting community are familiar with El Prez, many of whom have shot it more than a couple of times. But, for us, shooting it in the dark gave this old drill a breath of new life.

All in all, we thought the LSL tour was a great overview of the skills required to prevail in a low-light or no-light fight, and recommend anybody who stakes their well-being on a firearm to get familiar with running it in the dark.


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