Shooters should account for recoil when shopping for a laser. When testing them, get out the duty ammo and fire a few rounds with the laser on. If it stays on when needed and does not turn on when unintended, it passes. If the device requires changing the grip to control it or creates a training conflict, choose a different laser.
Once sighted in, dismount and remount the laser. Confirm the zero. Any laser that cannot hold a precision zero when remounted and recoil tested should be dismissed.
The average shooter, even at close combat ranges, will get a bouncing dot or flower on the target. Without practice, the laser user will be surprised by the exaggerated motion of the laser on the target in full recoil.
This exaggerated motion is good. Officers learn that using a steadying position, like a barricade where the muzzle does not exceed cover, trims the laser's sway. Lasers make a shooter honest about limitations.
Consider the officer seeking cover from a firing felon. As training takes over, the officer uses sound barricade techniques to reduce exposure and maximize accuracy. With a mounted laser, an officer may be able to cant the gun a little, exposing less and shooting more.
This concept also can be applied when using a body bunker with a viewing port. In this case, laser use is almost mandatory.
When holding a body bunker, bear in mind that one must train to fire in this unsupported, bent elbow position. Bent around the body bunker, the handgun might be much closer to the face. This produces a different sight picture than two-handed sighting with extended arms. The laser improves the hit probability.
Shooters must expand their concentration on peripheral awareness when using lasers. A laser is naturally a binocular sighting device. Although it allows the theoretical peripheral vision to be extended, the distraction of a laser is irresistible. When one team member traces the landscape, it is natural for everyone's eyes to follow the dot. A laser dot is always in motion when attached, even constructively, to a human being. While the human eye is limited in its ability to focus and resolve images far from the center of vision, it alerts to motion. Motion disrupts concentration.
With undivided attention, officer teams must train to avoid "sympathetic lasering." This occurs when several officers see a single laser settle on a prospective target. In a split second, every dot gravitates to the target. If there are multiple threats, this is a real problem. This is compounded if the lasered target is not the real threat.
If agency officers train with lasers, this problem can become an advantage. Officers accustomed to scanning while laser flowers are painted in the landscape can quickly confirm who is pointing at what. If more than two officers paint a target, others should be scanning for additional targets - laser off. Just as officers who work together regularly learn to read each other, they quickly transition to team lasering.
The other part of training with lasers is being able to transition from using them to other sighting systems. There should always be a contingency for failed batteries and foggy weather.
Officers can create a target identification problem with sympathetic lasering. Conversely, they can resolve target identification problems. For the military, lasers have abbreviated critical communications. For example, pointing out engagement sectors, "Gunner, you have from here to here. Any questions?"
Law enforcement lasers also can improve target identification and communication. For example, during an incident where a felon has fled to an apartment complex, the shift sergeant can use the radio and a detached laser. He can point out sectors for which each officer is responsible, followed by doorways and directions for evacuation of residents. Third, he can draw a plan of action on the building by pointing out doorways. This strategy accomplishes three things:
- Dispatch heard and recorded the plan.
- Officers had a concrete picture and understood their responsibilities.
- No one left position for information.