The moon was setting in the west Sunday night when I stepped into my front yard hoping to catch a glimpse of the Perseid meteor shower.

My contemplation of the heavens was interrupted by the sudden screaming bleat of a goat. Something was amiss in the goat pen about 100 yards from the house.

 I ran inside and retrieved my Springfield XDM .40-caliber pistol.

It’s the only handgun I own equipped with a quick-detach, rail-mounted, high-intensity tactical flashlight.

Back outside, I began advancing toward the goat pen sweeping my light and sidearm side to side in front of me. A mountain lion had been in our yard a week earlier stalking our goats and I wanted to be ready in case of an ambush.

My tension relaxed a bit when our motion-sensor lights activated as I walked and no predators were illuminated.

I heard my wife leave the house behind me and together we made our way to the pen where one of our young female goats had gotten her head stuck in the fencing and was hollering up a storm.

Once the side arm was rendered safe we were able to free her as my detached tactical light provided outstanding illumination.

It was just another evening on the Carlson farm.

Whenever I have to “deploy” into a potential tactical situation at home, I run through post-event scenarios where I review what I did right and what might have potentially done wrong.

As I reviewed Sunday’s events in my head, an article on the proper use of flashlights in tactical situations that I recently read came to mind. The piece raised some interesting points.

One thing the article talked about concerning weapons-mounted flashlights that has always bothered me is that the lights are usually aligned with the muzzle of the firearm.

That means whatever you are shining the light on you are aiming a loaded weapon at – a potentially dangerous situation, yet one military and law-enforcement personnel drill with regularly.

Though my light and gun were never aimed at anyone Sunday night, there is always a risk in such situations of shining a person who is either a “friendly” non-combatant or is not sufficiently armed to pose a threat warranting deadly use of force.

Years ago a U.S. Air Force pilot taught me some of the things he learned in survival school, including how to hold a light with a “momentary-on” button switch in my left hand with my forearm extended cross-body in front of me and my pistol resting on my left wrist.

It’s a method of illumination that keeps light and gun direction separate when needed but has the drawback of keeping both hands occupied.

I used this method of night target search and target acquisition prior to getting a mountable light and will probably go back to it after Sunday.

In a potential night confrontation, I want to know what I’m seeing before I put a gun’s sight on it, not simultaneously (though I fully understand the need for professionals to have this ability in a situation where known hostiles are           present).

It’s also important to remember when you have a light on that a potential adversary can see you before you might see them.

That’s why I only use the light periodically for a few seconds, turn it off, move quickly, then turn it on, sweep again, repeat.

Walking around with your tactical light on all the time when searching for an intruder is like wearing a neon sign saying, “Here I am! Shoot me!”

For this reason, I’ve read some law enforcement agencies now train to hold flashlights overhead or off to one side while searching the darkness for bad guys.

Anyone with nefarious intent theoretically will shoot at the light hoping its operator is in line with it.

The “over-and-out” flashlight hold can cause a felon to fire first and reveal their position but the downside to this approach is the shooter has to be engaged by firing back one-handed.

There are many approaches and opinions concerning the use of light in combination with a firearm. Most have both merits and drawbacks.

Rest assured I’ll be doing more study on this matter in the future.


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