LET: How does good training address this?
Good: I wish I could have a clear spreadsheet for everybody and say this is when and where [to use lights] but it's only determined through experience; through real-world experience and through realistic simulation training. In that regard, what I am attempting to do beyond seeing to increase my own orientation, I am endeavoring at all times to disorient anybody on the receiving end of my light. That can be consistently done once you understand the concept and some basic techniques.
LET: How about holding a flashlight center mass or in some less clearly thought-out position?
Good: There is a very strong voice out there that says there are no statistics that prove holding a light in the center of your body is a bad thing to do. And my counter is this: Nobody collects those statistics. Nobody is going around asking, "What flashlight technique did you use or why?" And it turns out there's been some cases where people have been shot shortly after the flashlight came on, and I say — absent good data collection — let's look at 20 years of force-on-force simulations. Simulations aren't perfect replications of a gunfight. Nobody is saying that. But I can point out to you hundreds upon hundreds — if not thousands — of engagements, that I've seen with all different skill levels, from very, very skilled people to a person who had a few days of training. They're out there throwing projectiles in a low-light environment, and it's an amazing number of flashlights that are shot within moments of them turning on. Or if the flashlight's not hit, 3 or 4 inches [near] it is hit, which happens to be their face or their throat or their hands. I learned very, very quickly to get that flashlight off my centerline when I don't know what's in front of me, and I don't know where my threat is. I'm not saying I don't keep it on my centerline ever, I'm just saying I generally tend toward off-the-body flashlight techniques when I am trying to assess the situation for good reason: People naturally shoot at the most prominent thing in the environment. Period.
LET: How do you get this across in training? Can you give an example?
Good: I do this in the classroom. I literally put the flashlight in my mouth and I say, "How many people would want to use a flashlight technique like this?" and of course, they laugh. Then I simulate putting a miner's light or a hiker's light on my forehead and ask, "How many people would like to maneuver through the environment like this?" And they laugh again. Then I simulate taping it on my chest and they all say "There is no way I would do that!" And I simply put a flashlight in those three positions as it relates to my handgun and they go, "Oh. Wow." What difference does 12 inches make to a bullet that's traveling 1,400 to 3,000 feet per second? It's still in the same vector. That's the issue we're facing when we illuminate. The good news is we can see. The bad news is he can see. You can do some things immediately to switch the balance of percentages and that's kind of what we explore through our training.
LET: Besides positioning of light source, what's the biggest mistake you see?
Good: The No. 1 killer in close-quarters situations is target fixation. In other words, you spend too much time looking at what's directly in front of you. This holds true in the daytime and even more so in the dark. Why is this? Because the most prominent thing in the environment is what? [It is] what your flashlight is illuminating. So you have a very, very powerful tendency to turn on your light and look forward down that cone and that becomes your world.
LET: How do you resolve this "target fixation?"