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Skills and Drills: Lights Out

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This installment of Skills & Drills will give you a base line for testing out different handheld light techniques on the range as well as in your dry-fire routine. While a weapon-mounted light is typically preferable in low-light situations (Should You Carry a Weapon Mounted Light?), many of us never leave home without a good handheld flashlight. Next time you’re at the range, try out a few different techniques while using our “Lights Out” drill to see which one outshines the rest. CONCEALMENT Issue 2 features an article by Mike Seeklander demonstrating several different techniques. That said, we recommended that you seek out a low-light training course taught by a reputable instructor to further your low-light skills.

This drill is great when paired with a poorly lit indoor range, though it’s still valuable with a well-lit range since you can work on the mechanics. It might also be a good idea to give your well-meaning-yet-annoying RSO a heads up you’re using a flashlight. This should be fine on even the strictest indoor ranges.

If this is your first time shooting one-handed while using a handheld light, you’ll probably see why WMLs are such a performance multiplier in most instances. Working a light in one hand and shooting a pistol with the other is difficult — just wait until we get into reloads.

This isn’t a timed drill; instead, it focuses on mechanics. The course of fire does involve multiple shot strings, but don’t “double tap” the target on this drill; stick to nice, slow controlled pairs. Focus on accuracy with both your shot placement and flashlight.  


All you need is a handheld flashlight, pistol, 50 rounds of ammunition, eyes and ears, and our conveniently downloadable target (available here.).

Lights out skills and drills target.

Click here for a downloadable PDF of the target.


For each stage, begin with your flashlight in one hand and your pistol in the other at a compressed high ready. Each stage begins by presenting your handgun and light, followed by illuminating and engaging a designated circle with the required rounds. Perform reloads when necessary. If you’re unfamiliar with reloading while holding a light in your support hand, performing administrative reloads from the bench are fine. Remember, this is about the basics.

3 yards (10 rounds)

Engage circle #1 with one round. Repeat this 10 times for a total of 10 rounds.

5 yards (10 rounds):

Engage circle #2 with two rounds. Repeat this five times for a total of 10 rounds.

7 yards (30 rounds):

Engage circle #3 with one round. Repeat this five times for a total of five rounds.

Engage circle #3 with two rounds. Repeat this five times for a total of 10 rounds.

Engage circle #3 with five rounds. Repeat this three times for a total of 15 rounds.


This drill is a good way to figure out which of the dozens of different handheld light techniques work best for you, your skill level, and your equipment. Your preferred technique may also change depending on your light and handgun choice, or in the specific situation you find yourself in — having a few different tricks up your sleeve is always handy. 

You can increase the difficulty of this drill by adding in holster draws and par time limitations to each stage. Good luck, train safe, and remember to post up your results on social media and let us know how you liked the drill. 

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For years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. Now we've compiled over 50 of our most popular targets into this one digital PDF download. From handgun drills to AR-15 practice, these 50+ targets have you covered. Print off as many as you like (ammo not included).

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