LMS Defense Practical NVG

20200228-20200229, LMS Defense "The Ranch" training facility and property.

Instructor: Josh Jackson, 20 year active Law Enforcement officer with extensive experience in rural to urban operations in patrol to SWAT capacity.

Preface: This was my third long term outing and use with NODs, specifically with a PVS14 OMNI VIII green phosphor unit. My objective of this class was to learn more about night vision capabilities along with limitations and the practical usage of night vision devices in varying terrains and environmental conditions.

Equipment: Holosun LS321R IR device, Modlite OKW 18650 WML, Steele Industries PVS14 OMNI VIII (1600-1700 FOM) via Wilcox Bridge mount on OPS-Core TBH III ballistic helment.

Day 1: Class started around 1630 with introductions of the instructor, material and objectives of the class. Small class, four civilians with limited experience as myself (ironically all within the same time frame of experience with NODS) and two active law enforcement officers. The class was pretty even in equipment; two DTNVGs users, one Dual PVS14 user, and three monocular PVS14 users. We had a company rep from NightOpsTactical to further aid in any additional and supplemental questions we may have.

Josh then went into how to set up a carbine for night vision work. Multi-Function Aiming Laser (MFAL) takes priority, white light is a must then day optic. He explained his experience and science with the Steiner family of laser devices and civilian FDA regulated classes of lasers. In the class we had two BE Meyers MAWL C1+, one ATPIAL-C, one full power DBAL A3 (LE), one DBAL D2, and my Holosun LS321R. Josh then went over the zero process and methods of establishing a zero for your laser device.

Converging vs Parallel Zeros: Converging is essentially zeroing the laser within a certain zero established by your day optic. Quite common with hunters and LE sniper teams who have set up a set distance engagement. The limitation of the zero is essentially having and being in the set zero distance for engagement then is well offset once it passes set zero distance. Parallel is having a constant offset from the bore to laser pointer, only need to account for bullet drop and cross winds.

Process of Parallel Zero: Josh introduced his method of establishing a parallel zero which is similar and quoted to the PFC Training's method but better explained and demonstrated (PFC video). We then walked to the flat range to conduct our initial parallel zeros with our MFAL visible lasers in fading sunlight.

Afterwards, we did some validation drills and exercises; from ready-ups to malfunction clearances and weapon transitions. When the sun finally went down, we were already back in the house where we then discussed helmet setups and NOD integration before going outside to learn how to adjust our NODs to our eyes. Next was a walk upon the trail in the facility where we were introduced to maintaining perceived depth perception. The next shooting exercise we conducted was to shoot through the brush line and on elevated terrain. This was where higher spec tubes really mattered to me. The higher FOM rating a tube possessed, the better it can read out the targets inside the brush. I really struggled on P-IDing (positive identifying) targets in the brush from distances from the creek bed, While everyone were able to PID at distance with their NODs and MFAL, the limitations of my NOD in conjunction with my MFAL was a real struggle to engaging at more distant and obscured targets. We indexed after everyone had a a few runs through the course of fire and debriefed in the house before calling it a night.

Day 2: Class started up again close to the evening time. From the morning to afternoon was plenty of downtime and Josh lead us to the summit where their Practical Carbine class would take place. We brought limited ammo and engaged a 3ft pepper popper out past 500 yards with plenty of crosswinds and elevation. We got back to the house and some students zeroed in different guns and had plenty of free time to work on shooting or kit until it was time to officially start day/night 2 of the class.

An hour or so before sunset, Josh brought us back to the flat range to work on light transition exercises, essentially transitioning from IR to white light. Students had to determine what they would when transitioning from IR device to day optic. The students with dual tubes often had to flip their NODs up or lean their head back to look under their NODs. While the mono tube users such as myself would just close their eye that was under NOD and shoot with their day optic. Personally ,for myself, I run my PVS14 over my dominant eye (right) since I usually prioritize passive aiming with the day optic set to NV mode. Since the exercise and practice of utilizing white light, I kept my day optic on and tilted my head to the right to utilize full focus with my left eye to shoot with my day optic. Paired with a riser, this was very fluid to get to versus tilting my head or lifting my NOD up or articulating outward. [A frame of reference of what it would look like, reference Mike Pannone shooting a carbine. All his rifles have risers and he shoots right handed with his remaining left eye].

Next, we shot Josh's Night Vision qual; everyone passed. Then we regrouped back at the house and Josh went over Photonic Barriers. Josh provided great examples of apart from just ambient lighting from streetlights and cities; simple car headlights beaming between yourself and the target or objective point, Josh used a burn pit to produce flames and smoke that will disrupt your MFAL device's range and your NOD's focus. Essentially, higher spec tubes and FOM with a high output IR device will better defeat these photonic barriers. We then lined up to shoot a steel target on the cliff side between the smoke and flames of the burn pit. Again, my IR device and NODs were insufficient in PID and tracking my MFAL onto the target to engage, I essentially was shooting around the target area because of these limitations. Meanwhile, Josh and other students had better PID and ability to engage the target through the photonic barrier created by the burn pit.

We then went on another night hike, similar to the previous night but a bit further along the property. Josh taught us how to step count, which gauges our rough distance measurement while trekking on foot. We then got into positional shooting that involved utilizing barn fixtures like fences and a ladder, depth perception and bearings played a very important role in this exercise to ensure no one shot their barricade or each other while moving to the next position of fire. We then conducted a walk-back out past 100 yards before heading back to the house on foot where we ended the night with a mobile safari shoot off a quad car. By the time of the quad car "safari" shoot, most of us had already stripped off our kit and were ready to call it a night. Smoked. Index.

Conclusion: The next morning, once everyone had packed up and had breakfast, Josh concluded the class. Closing remarks and grateful for the dedicated time away from home and resources to go out and train with him and the company. Josh recognizes and acknowledges that this class was very gear heavy and central due to the very nature of night vision, but when it comes down to the shooting aspect; it all equates to the fundamentals.

Takeaways and Met Objectives:
  • My foundations of night vision knowledge is still at the elementary/novice level. I can read most of what the product description describes and the capabilities tube manufacturers and spec but this class gave me an opportunity to really see and experience variances and limitations of tube specs.
  • NOD to MFAL integration is crucial. Multiple times when I was attempting to PID and engage targets, my IR pointer and illuminator were severely insufficient in the environment we were in. I had to rely on Josh and other students with better higher spec and FOM tubes to spot my rounds and laser.
  • Holosun LS321, the beam looked really sloppy and wavy at distance during the class with artificial light always in play (photonic barriers). The previous usages of the laser, I was able to pin point onto targets easily at 100 yards, but in a near pitch black environment that is the desert. Photonic Barriers and artificial light matters beyond than what the power output descriptions say on the box.
  • BE Meyers MAWL is the truth.
  • I also took this opportunity to validate some kit, as it goes beyond than just using it on the flat range. Going prone still exists in this world (tongue in cheek), so streamline the front placard choice.
Closing thoughts: This was my second class with LMS Defense and my first time training under Josh Jackson. Taking this class at their facility and spending time with the students and instructor outside of the instruction portion really brings more insight to the material past just the curriculum itself. Josh was there for 48+ hours for us with any questions and inquiries we may have, down time goes by real fast when you can pick anyone's brain throughout that time. Josh also showed us and previewed us some material from other classes that would be taken at the facility, such as their Practical Carbine class and Long Range class. We got to demo some SUT tactics and distance shooting around the property. In closing, I had an absolute blast and learned a ton. Very grateful for the knowledge and experience provided by Josh Jackson.