AAR – Talon Defense Low Light Handgun
Instructor: Chase Jenkins
Location/Date: Double Tap Training Grounds, Calera Alabama. January 20th, 2018
Handgun – Glock 19 gen 4, Frank Proctor Y-Notch sights, S3F stainless fluted barrel, Overwatch Precision TAC trigger
Weapon light – Streamlight TLR 1-HL, Surefire batteries
Holster – M3 Tactical Kydex Fedlr Torch AIWB with MOD Wing
Magazine Carrier – VEIL Solutions IWB
Magazines – Magpul Glock Pmags
Handheld Light – Streamlight HL-X with Thyrm Switchback 2.0, Surefire batteries
Battery Storage – Thyrm Cell Vault XL, Thyrm Cell Vault Standard
Medical – Gen 7 CAT TQ
Clothing – Arc’teryx Delta LT, Black Diamond Dawn Patrol LT, Kuhl Revolvr Pants, SOE gear EDC belt (hate me, I didn’t know any better at the time), Mountain Hardwear Micro Dome, Salomon Eskape GTX shoes
Assorted Gear – Thyrm Clens, Chemlights, Princeton Tec Remix headlamp, pens, legal pad
Ammo – Freedom Munitions 115gr reman
Snacks – Water, granola bars, apples, carrots, peanuts
Personal Experience: I am a 24-year-old armed civilian who has been carrying a handgun and seeking training for about three years. For the past two years, I have been more deliberate with practice on my own time. Before this class, I had attended two other formal courses. I took Handgun 1 from Solo Defense, and more recently took MDFI “YSINTG” co-hosted with Solo Defense. I went into this course with zero applicable low-light experience outside of readings and videos from Sage Dynamics and CTT Solutions. This is my first AAR, so I’m learning what to take not of and how to collect my thoughts.
Preparation Drills: I tried my best to isolate my weaknesses prior to attending the class. One handed shooting is definitely a weakness for me. I worked 5 round strings of fire on 3×5 cards with primary/support hand only starting at 3 yards and working out to 10. I also worked through several rounds of Dot Torture to isolate weaknesses. With the limited knowledge I had, I also practiced shooting 10” steel out to 25 yards using both neck index and a modified two-handed grip with my HL-X and Thyrm Switchback.
Class Demographics: This was a fairly small class of only 9 shooters. Out of the group, I felt like I had the least formal training. About half of the group were LE or Military, and the rest were experienced civilians.
Training Day – Noon: I tried to go into this class with an open mind. I was prepared to have my gear choices questioned, techniques challenged, and abilities tested. After signing up for the class, I got the gut feeling that I was probably a little bit underqualified. Either way, I needed the knowledge. I had been buying equipment based on recommendations in P&S but had zero real-world knowledge to meter my decisions by.
Double Tap Training grounds was only about a quarter mile from the highway. The facility had a lot of open space and it was super easy to get gear from my car to the staging area. Chase started off the day with a safety brief that was unlike others I had heard in the past. I didn’t write this down verbatim, so feel free to correct me, but he really applied the firearm safety rules in a real-world context. We talked about forming good habits, neural pathways, and the effects of “shit in, shit out” with our training and safety practices. Chase taught safety through the lens of training safe individuals rather than safe environments — basically creating thinkers first, shooters second. He also hit on training to gunfight, not to qualify, and the importance of aggressiveness in a gunfight.
We started the shooting day off talking about getting good reps in every time we touched the gun — getting a full draw stroke and presentation in every time we loaded the gun for a drill. The first round of warmup drills got everyone on a good baseline with their fundamentals and gave Chase a chance to discuss sights & triggers, and the importance of controlling grip and trigger press, and getting the gun into the fight quickly. We worked on strong hand only shots on steel out to about 35 yards. I started struggling at about 20 yards, and Chase talked me through working through trigger press, sight alignment, and grip simultaneously. I was able to make it out from there with good hits. The biggest takeaway for me during these drills was the link he taught between our minds and our shooting, and the importance of mental focus in breaking clean shots.
Mid-Afternoon: After the first block of drills, Chase began to work the handheld light into the course. We discussed several handheld techniques and when to apply them. We focused on Harries, reverse Harries, wanding (FBI), and face/temple/neck index. I had gone into the course thinking that my Thyrm Switchback technique was going to be the new hotness, but I quickly found out that a modified icepick grip suited my skills and abilities better. For all of these techniques, Chase taught a trick he learned from Mike Pannone: holding our pinky fingers under the bezel of our light to orient the beam in a straight line. We ran through these positions dry and then began to test each of them with live fire. After we got the hang of each one, Chase called out a technique and we shot accordingly.
One huge wake-up call for me was a failure to extract caused by my thumb riding the slide during one-handed firing. In my head, I thought I knew how to clear this malfunction seamlessly, but something about having a light in my hand made me fail hard. I stripped the mag but was having difficulty racking the slide with the light in my hand. At the time was too dense to rack it off my belt or stow the light elsewhere and work it normally. I got the gun back running and finished the drill, but it took way too long. Chase came over and made two points to us, both of which were some of my biggest takeaways from the class and things that helped me during the night portion of the class. First, he gave me a quick tip to turn the light off and stow it under my armpit while I worked any complex malfunctions. The HL-X is pretty beefy and is easy to keep safely stowed. The second takeaway was prioritizing certain tasks during a gunfight. Chase discussed the importance of getting the gun back in the fight above all else. The light always comes second. He also talked about being aggressive on the gun, bossing it around and doing everything you can to work back into the fight.
After a quick break, we discussed when it was appropriate to use certain handheld techniques, and under what conditions. We discussed moving the light from the center line of the body into different positions, but always under the pretense that the gun drives out first. Up close encounters lend themselves to neck/face/temple indexing for the light. More distant encounters need the stability of a modified two-hand grip. We went out and shot another string of drills, put up paper torso targets for the darkness portion, and then broke for dinner.
Night: After dinner, we got back together and Chase gave us a rundown on what the dark portion of the class was going to look like. We started out by throwing everybody’s lights out on a table and going through them. Chase discussed hot spots, spill, and how to use the hotspot to your advantage in a confrontation and as a deterrent. We dove into switchology a little bit, discussing the downfalls of lights with multiple modes, dual output, gas pedal switches, strobe, clicking tailcaps and the like. Chase hit on his preference for the surefire momentary on/off only tailcaps and why, and went into a little more depth on where clicking tailcaps fall short. I went into the class stoked about my newly acquired Streamlight HL-X and TLR 1-HL, and I still think both of these lights are a great value with high output. But, some of Chase’s points about clicking tailcaps came back to haunt me later in the course. Chase also discussed when and how to activate a WML, and how they work in conjunction with a handheld to retain control of a confrontation. He taught us that situations change when the lights go out — using the example of a simunitions scenario in which he intentionally dropped his sim gun as his opponent transitioned from handheld to WML. My takeaway was that lights are for gathering data, and anytime we have them off, stuff changes.
From there, we began to warm back up with very simple drills employing the handheld light. Chase called out specific light techniques for us to use while shooting vitals on body sized targets at 5ish yards. He then began to incorporate left, right, and reverse movement into the drills along with numbers that corresponded with each movement on the target. 1 was reverse Harries and left movement, 2 was harries and right movement, 3 was neck index and rear movement, and 4 was wanding (FBI) and stationary shooting. This drill continued to evolve as Chase employed 90 and then 180 degree turns. These drills became challenging, especially working from concealment, as I worked through these techniques along with reloads and malfunction clearance (Chase can be mean with that malfunction stick). I ran into an issue with my light and reloads where I would accidentally click the tailcap, leaving my 1000 lumen bean flopping everywhere while I reloaded. Also, trying to be fancy with my Thyrm ring while clearing a malfunction led me to drop my light during one iteration of the drills. After that, I stuck to the armpit tuck light method that Chase had taught earlier. The learning points from earlier in the class about tasks and priorities, along with being aggressive and quick on the gun were helpful during this portion of the class.
We ended the night with a drill working with partners through a course of fire with three doorways. Within each doorway were four IPSC targets, green, blue, red, and black. Some had guns painted on, some did not. The drill required partners to start at opposite ends of the range, running towards each other, crossing, turning around and running back. At random, Chase yelled a color. We had to clear the nearest doorway to us at the time, only shooting if the color yelled corresponded with a target that had a gun. Each team ran this drill twice. My biggest blunder on this one was not understanding which color Chase had yelled on my second run, which caused me not to shoot at all. That blunder was a failure for the drill, but a learning point for me. There was a lot going on, and I was so focused on my muzzle orientation, running, and light manipulation that I missed that critical detail. None of the peripheral stuff matters if you can’t get rounds on the bad guy.
Class Debrief: My biggest learning of the class was how little I know and understand about running a gun in the dark. Beyond that, the importance of keeping the gun in the fight while using the light. Learning to prioritize tasks and assess the situation was something I’d never been able to try in low light. I also learned a lot of the mechanics of shooting with a handheld light, and what tweaks and such worked well for me. Other guys in the class had similar lessons learned. All in all, Chase put on a good class that opened up my perspective.
After Class: After the debrief we got our training certificates and took a few pictures while everybody packed up. Chase was teaching low-light carbine the next day, and a lot of the guys were staying the next day to shoot both courses. Some guys broke to go to the bunkhouse and the rest rolled out to a hotel. I decided to make the coffee-fueled drive back to Atlanta.
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