When All Other Lights Go Out – Low Light Training with USCCA

When All Other Lights Go Out - Low Light Training with USCCA
When All Other Lights Go Out – Low Light Training with USCCA

U.S.A.-(Ammoland.com)- If you are carrying a concealed firearm the most important investment you can make is not gear, it's training. You can not buy skills and muscle memory. The benefit of professional training applies to all disciplines of shooting, whether it be competition shooting, hunting, or more advanced topics, like low light shooting in self-defense scenarios.

Finding a range that will allow you to train in low light scenarios is not that easy. More than likely you will need to seek out an instructor.

If you have not heard of the USCCA, they keep you out of jail if you need to defend yourself. Not only will their insurance cover you in the courtroom, but they also provide quality concealed carry training taught by professionals.

Quick on the insurance, because I am no salesman. With that, the unforeseen will always happen, and it is with USCCA that you will be safe rather than sorry later.

With your coverage, if something were to occur, there is a hotline to call 24 hours a day. Whether its a home invasion at 2 a.m. or an attempted armed robbery in broad daylight. Any lawful claim can immediately begin the process of attaining legal counsel without the obvious burden of paying for that fee alone.

USCCA will cover civil cases and criminal defense in legal self-defense situations. This means coverage is not limited to the use of firearms. USCCA coverage includes the use of any legal weapon.

As always you must follow state and federal law!

Back on track to the most important thing you can invest. Training.

I was very fortunate this past spring and had the chance to visit USCCA and take part in their low light training course. This was an invaluable day of firearms training that covered fundamental application of low light gear, a.k.a. lights.

So let's start here, without seeing your sight picture or your target, how can you make safe shots? The answer is you cannot. Even with all the training in the world, if its too dark you might have no idea what you are aiming the muzzle toward. We, as law-abiding gun owners, are responsible for every shot we take.

So you better know where those bullets are going!

In the case of concealed carry handguns, there are two options for illuminating the situation. First is the classic handheld light, the second is a weapon mounted light. While you might be clamoring to add the newest laser/light combo to your carry gun there are a few tactics you should consider when using that gear. The same also applies for handheld lights, so without further delay, let's start there.

Handheld lights may not seem like the most sexy tacticool operator gear. But they are still more than a valid choice. The obvious downfall to holding a light is that it will occupy one of your hands. This will change your draw stroke, reloads and means less control on the gun during recoil. You will have to manage all those tasks with a light in your off hand.

One downfall to the handheld light, switching the firearm to your offhand will require some shuffling of your light and gun.
One downfall to the handheld light, switching the firearm to your offhand will require some shuffling of your light and gun.

Now it's not all bad news, holding a light in the offhand presents a few benefits not found in mounted lights. First is that you can use the light to search without muzzling a friendly target. You also can position the light in different angles to achieve a better view of a room without exposing your body.

Using a handheld light, like the Streamlight Pro-Tac, also offers the user a lot of versatility in how they hold the light with the pistol. Harries, Ayoob, Chapman, F.B.I., on and on. At the event we used Harries method, which I found very easy to manage while using the UTM training pistols and during the live fire part.

Although I find carrying an offhand light comfortable and easy to manage, it does not mean that everything I have to say about mounted lights is negative. Actually, it would be the opposite, especially for Streamlight's new TLR 8.

StreamLight TLR 8 Gun Light/Laser Combo
StreamLight TLR 8 Gun Light/Laser Combo

As stated above with a mounted light, where ever the light goes, so will the bullets, so watch that muzzle! There is some situational awareness that needs to go into what you are considering for your gear. A weapon mounted light on a gun in your home runs the risk of you flagging a loved one.

The big benefit of mounted lights is getting two hands on the gun. Controlling any gun is easier with two hands rather than one, and the slight added weight of the light toward the muzzle helps reduce flip. Things like switching the pistol between dominant and non-dominant hands is much easier with a gun light.

This is where a mounted light starts to outshine the handheld competitors. All this adds up to more control and more accurate shots. Especially if you are using a laser/light combo like Streamlight's TLR 8.

Of all the light setups we used during the low light training with USCCA my favorite option was the mounted TLR8. The TLR 8 is a small gun light, perfect for compact firearms like the Glock 19. With this small package, you get a 500 lumen light and an aiming laser.

What does 500 lumens look like? That.
What does 500 lumens look like? That.
During live fire with the TLR 8 I was not even using the sights, just the laser. As you can see it is highly visible and was zeroed well!
During the live fire with the TLR 8, I was not even using the sights, just the laser. As you can see it is highly visible and was zeroed well!

The combination of the laser and light makes target acquisition and accuracy a breeze, even in the darkest conditions. The laser also allows you to lift your head off the sights. You can maintain better peripheral vision while still having an accurate aiming point.

Using my left hand to shoot and activate the Streamlight TLR 8 was much easier than using the handheld light.
Using my left hand to shoot and activate the Streamlight TLR 8 was much easier than using the handheld light.

With the Streamlight TLR 8, there are 3 modes: light, laser, or combo. The activation buttons are on both sides of the TLR 8 and are within reach of my fingers. You can also turn the lens cap to shut off power to the light/laser during daylight hours to preserve battery.

If there was one light I would choose, I wouldn't. Rather I would opt to carry a handheld light in my offhand pocket and keep the TLR 8 mounted to my EDC gun. The reality is always two is one and one is none.

No matter what gear you choose, your biggest investment should be in training.

About Duncan Johnson:Duncan Johnson

Duncan is a firm believer in the Second Amendment and that “shall not be infringed”, means exactly that.  A life-long firearms enthusiast and a graduate of George Mason University, now competing regularly in 3 gun competitions, Duncan is always looking to improve his shooting skills. Duncan is a regular contributor to AmmoLand and assists in the everyday gun-news publishing as an assistant editor.

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As an instructor who has trained many in low light shooting. Weapon mounted lights are a god send to all the other techniques used with hand held lights. Believe me I have used, and trained/taught them for many years before good lights and rail mounts were available. I can say that hits on target increased by a huge amount when my dept. went to weapon mounted lights. If your are involved in a low light shooting you well be glad you had one or surely wish you did. Are there negative things to consider yes but the benefits far out… Read more »


A low light/night shooting course is one of the best investments you’ll ever make. The ones I’ve been through start with about an hour or so of classroom, teaching you how the rods and cones in your eyes react to light, what your eyes see vs what your brain may tell you it thinks it sees. Then you go out, at dusk, and shoot until midnight, from inside vehicles, outside vehicles, moving, barricades etc. What most people don’t understand, until they actually encounter it, is that upon firing the first shot, at night, your night vision is destroyed for about… Read more »