How much low-light, live-fire training do you do?

September 19, 2012

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Doug Wyllie, PoliceOne Editor in Chief Be Advised...
with Doug Wyllie, PoliceOne Editor in Chief

Tip: How much low-light, live-fire training do you do?

Here’s today’s tip: Whenever you get the opportunity to participate in low-light, live-fire training, make every possible effort to be there.

I’m terribly embarrassed to say that on a couple of occasions I politely declined the opportunity to do some top-quality firearms training at night.

“Can’t... I’ve got family plans that night,” I’d said.

It was true, I did. But today, I regret not taking those opportunities because the odds are, if I have to protect that abovementioned family from a deadly threat, it’s going to happen at night.

Although I have not yet come upon any scientific national statistical data to back this up, I’d bet a waist-high stack of green money that OIS incidents roughly follow a commonly used modern-day distortion of the 80/20 Rule.

Side Note: The original 80/20 Rule — a.k.a. the Pareto Principle, stating that 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of the causes — is used today in everything from business management to economics. But its bastard child — devoid of any cause-and-effect element — pops up all over the place, including today on PoliceOne.

For our purposes, the 80/20 Rule would mean that 80 percent of OIS incidents happen at night (or low-light situations such as in a darkened indoor space during the day), while the remaining 20 percent occur in daytime.

While my “gut” is that OIS incidents roughly follow the 80/20 Rule, I wanted a “gut check.” So in the past 48 hours I’ve spoken with a handful of my columnists and other friends in law enforcement and asked their response on my application of the 80/20 Rule. 

“I think that’s about right,” said one.

“I think you’re dead on,” said another.

“I want to say it’s probably higher than that,” said still another.

As you can imagine, I’ve been doing some research lately into the proportion of OIS incidents which happen during the day versus during the night. As I said, I’ve yet to find any nationwide survey on it, but have found a couple of local reports which back me up somewhat (if you have any data on this — local, state, or federal — please send me an email).

The report by San Diego County District Attorney’s Office entitled Officer-Involved Shooting Review, 1996 – 2006, (which looked at 200 OIS cases over the span of that decade) stated that “While shooting incidents occurred during all times of the day and night, most were late night or evening... Fifteen cases happened between midnight and 1 am.”

Conversely, the 2010 Annual Firearms Discharge Report from New York City Police Department states that “The distribution was fairly equal over the three platoons, or police shifts, with ten occurring in the first platoon, ten in the second, and 13 in the third.”

Then again, the 2010 report from San Francisco Police Department entitled Officer-Involved Shootings — A Five-Year Study, indicated that of the 15 OIS incidents examined, 10 occurred between 2000 hours and 0400 hours.

Regardless of whether or not the true ratio turns out to be 80/20, 60/40 or something else, I think we can all agree most police shootings occur in low-light environments. This all begs the question, how much low-light, live-fire training do you do?

We’ve all done Sims stuff at night (I hope!), and some of us have been fortunate enough to have worked in really fancy simulators where the light was adjustable to negligible levels. That work is definitely valuable, but probably doesn’t quite get to the same place as live-fire training, does it? 

It is not feasible to get police firearms training to 80 percent low-light and 20 percent daylight, I encourage you to do what you can to shrink your own ratio to better fit the fight you’re most likely to fight.

I promise to do the same, and (with apologies in advance to the Mrs.), the next time someone invites me to train at night, I’ll be there!


About the author

Doug Wyllie is Editor in Chief of PoliceOne, responsible for setting the editorial direction of the website and managing the planned editorial features by our roster of expert writers. An award-winning columnist — he is the 2014 Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" winner in the category of Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column — Doug has authored more than 800 feature articles and tactical tips on a wide range of topics and trends that affect the law enforcement community. Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers' Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA). Even in his "spare" time, he is active in his support for the law enforcement community, contributing his time and talents toward police-related charitable events as well as participating in force-on-force training, search-and-rescue training, and other scenario-based training designed to prepare cops for the fight they face every day on the street.

Read more articles by PoliceOne Editor in Chief Doug Wyllie by clicking here.

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