The Practical Guide to Everyday Carry Gear: Defensive Light Use

by March 12, 2012 03/12/12

Editor-in-Chief’s Note: I’m excited to announce a new book from my good friend Rob Robideau of the Personal Armament Network. Rob has been a contributor here at ITS for some time and recently released The Practical Guide To Everyday Carry Gear, which includes information from an interview I did with him on emergency medical gear.

What he’s included in this article today is a conversation he had with Dave Spaulding regarding Defensive light use. I’d encourage everyone to check out The Practical Guide to Everyday Carry Gear for an incredible collection of interviews from the likes of Michael Janich, Massad Ayoob and even our friends Doc and Cruz from RSKTKR Consulting. Another great thing about this book is that 50% of all profits are donated to charities, including Knife Rights.

The following conversation I had with Dave Spaulding is a chapter excerpted from “Practical Guide To Everyday Carry Gear.”

Rob:   I want get your thoughts and your opinion on the importance of lights.

Dave:  Keith Jones told you that he was a product of his yesterdays and I like to say that I’m a product of my life experience. I worked a lot of years on patrol. I spent time in narcotics. We ran a drug task force and I spent a lot of time working nights and doing a lot of stuff like entry work and building searches. I’ve searched for my share of bad guys in the dark and did pretty well with it. I never got shot and we seemed to apprehend all the people we were looking for, but it just seems like, toward the end of my career and since I’ve retired, there seems to be a whole new wave of training in reduced light capabilities. I have been to some of these classes put on by the major manufacturers of lights and some private institutions and I guess I just don’t see where some of the tactics and techniques that are currently popular have jived with my personal experiences.

Some of the things that I’ve learned while I was strobing and darting and rolling and diving across doors and into rooms, in recent years were overly complicated compared to what I experienced in my police career.

Rob:  I don’t have any low light flashlight training and I’m sure that it’s very different, the flashlight training that a police officer receives versus what the average civilian on the street needs or wants. The average person that’s walking down the street looking to protect themselves and their family, is not going to be chasing –if you are, you’ve got serious issues– criminals through buildings, rooting people out, etc. I know we do have police officers listening/reading, but the average civilian is not going to be in need of those sort of tactics, right?

Dave:  No. You need to understand that there are a lot of armed citizens out there. Responsible armed citizens. I’m not trying to demean them in any way, but there seems to be a certain trend among armed citizens and police officers alike to try to emulate the Special Forces community and the things they see with the Navy SEALs, Green Berets, Delta Force, or even some of the combat contractors like Blackwater or Triple Canopy, yet much of the stuff that those special mission units do, doesn’t translate well to what the armed citizen or the law enforcement officer is going to do. It’s overly complex. It’s reliant on special gear. That kind of stuff is just not going to come into play if you’re trying to search your home in the middle of the night for an armed intruder, or even for a police officer that may be looking for a burglar.

Where I have differed with some of the better known reduced-light trainers and schools that are sponsored by the manufacturers is in how to use the light. I realized early on that the human eye worked a whole lot better in daylight or artificial light than it did in darkness or inconsistent light. Darkness is not the real threat. It’s inconsistent light. I’ll give you an example. You’re walking behind a building or down an alley and there’s a floodlight, a security light above the door to this business. Across from it is a dumpster and behind that dumpster is a dark shadow with dark pockets. You may be able to see a person standing over there, but you can’t see what they got in their hand because the hand is in the shadow. Think about when you’re walking across the parking lot at the shopping mall or out and about or walking through your neighborhood. It’s not that it’s dark. The problem is that the light is inconsistent.

Your eyes can adjust to darkness or they can adjust to light, but they really can’t do either one well. We all realize they do light much better, so we have white light sources, or flashlights as they’re commonly known, to help light up those dark pockets. I’m sure there’s going to be some experts or authorities out there that are going to tell me I’m all wet, but you know what? For 30 years it worked real well for me: If I had to go into someplace dark, I’d flip on the lights!

“Wait a minute, Dave, you’re giving up your advantage of being in the dark.” What advantage do I have by being in the dark? I found out pretty early in my law enforcement career that eighty-plus percent of the time, if you could hook your arm around the door-frame and wave upward, you’re probably going to hit the light switches in that particular room. When we’d be going through businesses, warehouses, or homes looking for burglars, robbers, or whatever the case may be, you could hook your arm around there, flip it up, and you would light up the rooms and your eyes could see really, really well. I wasn’t trying to rely on this little tiny flashlight beam, which wasn’t near as good as they are now.

We found that if we did have a suspect in a business or a locale of some sort, we could flip on the lights and actually chase him back where we wanted him to be, because they would seek the darkness. They felt more secure in the darkness because they were criminals. We would flip on the lights and basically we could chase them back into the room where we wanted them to be anyway so we could take them into custody. That type of thought is totally contrary to what is being taught now in many of the schools.

Rob:  People may say that you lose the advantage, but you might say that it levels the playing field. Even initially, you have the control of when that light comes on and what you’re ready for at that point.

Dave:  “Dave, you’re standing in the darkness and you have the ability to use that light in their face.” That’s all well and good if you know where they’re standing, but how are you going to put the light in their face if you don’t know where they’re standing? By flipping on the lights in the room, I’m now in the dark because the darkness is behind me instead of the light being behind me outlining me. If I flip on the lights in that room, especially if it’s a large area like a warehouse or a large office space, now I can use my eyes the way God intended them to be used: In the light! They’re not designed to be used in the dark. We’re not very good in the dark.

Rob:  It’s not even necessarily the darkness or the light, but the transitional period is where it’s the worst. I remember when I was a kid my dad used to talk about the rods and the cones.

Dave:  Absolutely, and everybody realizes it. This is not rocket science. You adjust to the darkness pretty slowly. It can take 20 to 40 minutes, depending on your age, whether you smoke, and a number of other factors, but your eyes adjust to the light pretty quick. You may blink a little bit, but you see in the light pretty fast. I would do everything I could to make it bright whenever I could. At traffic stops as cops, we have floodlights, takedown lights and the light bar to light up the area, because we just work better in the light.

You’ve got to remember that that a flashlight, when you light it up, illuminates where you are located. The bad guy realizes that that flashlight has to be attached to a person in some way. If you were a bad guy hiding in the dark and somebody comes in and they start strobing, where do you think they’re going to direct their fire if they decide to shoot at you?

Rob:  Hmmmm… I wonder?

Dave:  They say overwhelm them with the light and they’ve got these lights that do all this strobing stuff. If you’ve ever been behind some of these lights, when they strobe they can almost overwhelm you. It’s like being in a disco in the 1970s. This is another case where we’re training for our rules, the good guys rules. We won’t shoot at anything if we don’t know what it is. The bad guy is going to see us coming in there with that dynamic $300 strobing light trying to strobe the room. All they’re going to do is take their 15 round 9mm pistol and light up the area, just shooting in all kinds of directions. I don’t want to cast dispersions on these various training programs, but I think many of these things are more tacti-cool then practical in that they’re overly complicated and too reliant on gizmos.

Rob:  So in your opinion, the best tactic concerning low lights, or lighting in general, is to add as much light as possible because your eyes are going to adjust to that more quickly.

Dave:  Yeah, light it up. That’s the way your eyes work and only use the flashlight when you truly need to.

Rob:  Nowadays also, these flashlights can literally disorient and temporarily blind, even in the light.

Dave:  This is not a new thing. We even knew back in the ‘70s when we had the Kell lights and the B-lights and the flashlights that were basically the size of a tailpipe, that if you flashed the light in someone’s eyes that it would make them blink. It would make them turn their head. We also realized that it wasn’t a very long process before they could orient themselves and they could respond to it. That whole thing about putting a light in their eyes is nothing new, but remember it’s just a momentary technique. It’s something to disorient them so you can do something else. The light in their eyes in itself is not going to overwhelm them to the point where they’re going to quit.

Rob:  Say someone is out on the street at night walking with their family back from dinner. The bad guy steps out of the shadows. He’s in full light. This person has a light maybe right next to their magazines, and they have their gun. What are they going to be doing with the flashlight? They are threatened. In that situation they’re not going to be going for the flashlight first.

Dave:  If they’re walking with their family and they’re doing a late night stroll on a nice summer evening, I know in my particular case and probably in that of most of the people I know, the flashlight is probably going to be in their off hand, and not so much because they’re concerned about attack. They just want to be able to use the light for those times when they truly can’t see. If it’s dark, or if they hear a growl off to the side, they can use the light to see what’s over in the dark spot.

If that person does pop out, they can bring that light up and they can flash it in their eyes, but now they’ve only got a couple seconds. They’ve got to come up with another plan, because I don’t care how many lumens that light is, when you put it in their eye, they’re not going to drop down grabbing their eye sockets, screaming in agony. They’re going to turn their head! They’re going to blink, but then they’re going to do something. So you’ve got two, three, or five seconds to come up with some kind of a contingency plan. The light is allowing you to get ahead of their response.

You had better be prepared to take some sort of action. If nothing else, relocate yourself from where you were at the moment you put the light in their eye so that when they do come back looking for you, you’re someplace else. Now you’ve added a little bit more reaction time to it, but be prepared to confront them, strike them, shoot them, or whatever may be appropriate or reasonable based on the circumstances at hand. The flashlight in itself is a disorientation tool. It’s not really a weapon in the sense that it can incapacitate or disable.

Rob:  When you’re under duress or threatened, it is only a temporary tool, but when you have it out in advance, it can also aid your awareness and keep people away that realize you’re aware and ready for them.

Dave:  Exactly.

Rob:  I don’t claim to get in the mind of an irrational attacker, but if it were me hiding in the shadows, I would say that the person who is keeping an eye out where they’re walking and using a flashlight is not exactly the best target.

Dave:  The flashlight that’s in your hand is like the gun that’s in your hand. It’s prepared to be used. It’s ready. You are prepared to act with that implement. If it’s in your pocket or in your pouch or whatever the case may be, now you have to access it, or basically draw it, just like you would your firearm. The great thing, though, about a flashlight versus a firearm is that having a flashlight in your hand amongst society at large is not alarming. People don’t think nothing of it. “He’s got a flashlight in his hand, so what?”

Rob:  It’s socially acceptable.

Dave:  You can keep a flashlight in your hand most any time and nobody is going to get worked up about it. If they did say “Hey, what’s that in your hand?” “It’s a flashlight. I just bought this thing, I think it’s kind of neat.” Nobody would think anything of it. If you needed it, pow! You hit that tail cap, you pop them in the eyes with it, and then you change position, prepare to act, or get ahead of their response loop and do various things, but again, you have to have it in your hand. You have to have preprogrammed what you’re going to do if this happens. Then, we get all back to that whole thing about mindset again.

Somehow we always come back to mindset, don’t we?

Rob:  Yes we do, that and awareness. When we were talking with Keith, he was talking about the attackers’ triad, and one of the legs of their triad was stealth.

Dave:  Right.

Rob:  You can take that stealth away from them by using the flashlight where you might not even need to. Maybe you’re walking along at night and you just kind of flash the shadows. You have it out and you’re using it. Maybe you’re pointing it at the ground in front of you. Not flashing people in the face as you walk by, but just using it, showing that it’s there. It takes away that attacker’s stealth. He realizes that he’s not going to be able to get close without giving himself away.

Dave:  Every attacker has some kind of a plan in his head. It may not be anything very formal. It may be very informal. It may not even be very structured, but he’s got something in his head that he is going to do and anything you can do to disrupt that plan, to interrupt his thought processes, basically intercede his ability to act, is going to give you an advantage. If you can do something that he does not expect, you’re going to be better prepared to respond to a threat. It’s all about doing the unexpected.

Rob:  We’ve talked a little bit about overall general doctrine in the use of lighting. I personally think it’s best used as something that will keep attackers away, at least in the hands of civilians. We know that we want as much light as possible. That makes it easier. I’m sure a lot of people want to know your opinions or your thoughts on firearm-mounted lights?

Dave:  They are a supplement to a handheld light. I know in the law enforcement community and with some of the armed citizens there’s that desire to have the light on your gun. It is a great tool in the fact that it allows you to keep both of your hands on the pistol or revolver (there are some revolvers with rail systems on them now). It allows you to keep both of your hands on the gun to shoot. However, you’ve got to remember that any place you point that weapon-mounted light, you are also pointing the muzzle of that gun and you don’t point the muzzle at anything you’re not willing to shoot, kill, or destroy.

That being the case, the handheld light can be pointed in directions that the weapon-mounted light cannot be. So the weapon-mounted light, to me, is the same as it was when we put them on shotguns, submachine guns and now carbines. Is it is a supplement to a handheld light. You can do so much more with a handheld light. There are things you can do with the handheld light that you can’t do with the weapon-mounted light. However, the weapon-mounted light has the advantage that it allows you to place both of your hands on the gun. You can shoot with the handheld light, but I don’t care which of the various positions you’re using, you’re still shooting with one hand, because the support hand is going to be occupied by the flashlight in some fashion.

Rob:  I have found that lights mounted on guns, by the way, do cover far more area then just the area that the muzzle covers. I don’t know if I’d necessarily want to use that to search for something…

Dave:  You can splash, but you still got to point the muzzle in that direction, even with the splash of the light. If you’re going down your hallway and you catch something out of the corner of your eye with that light, what do you think you’re going to do with it?

Rob:  Jerk it over that way.

Dave:  You’re going to point it in that direction and it may be your kid with a glass of water in their hand or it may be a burglar. So the idea behind the handheld light is that you can divide and conquer.

Rob:  Is it worth having to get special holsters and having to deal with having the flashlight on the firearm just for the limited situations where it’s very useful?

Dave:  I think a weapon-mounted light on a home protection pistol is probably a great idea. For the handgun that you’ve got in the dresser drawer next to your bed, or whatever the case may be. You may be opening doors or pushing family members out of the way and need the free hand. Let’s face it, in conflict, are there going to be times that you’re going to be willing to point the muzzle of your gun out into the unknown to illuminate it? Yeah, let’s be realistic. If we look at the rules of gun safety you should never do that, but in armed conflict there may be times when you’re willing to point that pistol and that light at things that you don’t know 100% whether it’s a threat or not.

I don’t want to say never, but I think as a general rule, the handheld light gives you more options versus the weapon-mounted light. But again, I’ll be the first to tell you that the weapon-mounted light, especially on long guns, is a good supplement to a handheld light.

Rob:  When you visualize these situations, you think in advance what it might be like, what you might be doing. There are so many situations, and you almost have to make it an odds game. What is most likely to happen? What situation am I most likely to encounter? Will this be a hindrance or will it be a help? Is it worth the extra complication or not? There are a number of questions that each of you have to consider for yourself. It depends on where you live, where you’d be using that light, or a whole slew of different deciders. You have to figure out whether or not it’s going to be worth it to you. You think not a concealed gun, but you would want it on a home defense handgun, rifle, or shotgun? Something where you think it would be a great supplement to a regular handheld light?

Dave:  Sure. On a weapon where it would probably stay in place all the time. A police officer’s service pistol, a home protection gun, a SWAT handgun. Those kinds of things. It’s probably not a good idea to be taking it on and off because you don’t know when you’re going to need it. Put it on a gun where it’s probably going to stay. Like you said, war game the situations. You’re thinking ahead, which is great. What are my likelihoods for this particular weapon? What do I intend to use it for? If it’s one of those situations where the light is probably going to stay on the gun all of the time, then it’s probably a good accessory. If it’s a situation where the thing’s going to be coming off and on, then it’s probably not a good accessory. The handheld light would be better mate for that particular weapon.

Rob:  I know this doesn’t necessarily relate to flashlights, but if you have not had the opportunity, make sure you go out and shoot in a low light situation. Make sure it’s a controlled situation, but you really should at least see what it’s like. See what your sights look like in that sort of situation. Make sure that the lighting system that you have, and its intensity on different colors, is not going to wash out or make your sighting system more difficult. If it’s something that you think you will have in your home for at night, make sure that you set it up accordingly. It doesn’t have to be night or day, but make sure that it’s something that will work in that night situation with ultra-bright white or yellow lights on the target. The way you find that out is by going out and trying it.

Dave:  Right, and I would caution our readers, don’t just go to your gun club’s indoor range, flip off the lights, put a target down there, and shoot. That’s not reality. You need to go someplace where maybe you could throw a road flare over here, and you’ve got a light back behind you, and maybe a set of headlights from your car are pointed in that direction, because that’s reality. It’s not that it’s consistently light or consistently dark, it’s the inconsistency of the light that will cause you the greatest problem because you cannot adjust to both. Your eyes will see better where it’s light, and you’ll use the white light in those pockets where it’s dark. That’s where the white light comes in. That’s where it’s essential.

Rob:  So do we even want to quote the cliché statistics about how many gun fights happen at night or in low light situations?

Dave:  Three out of four.

Rob:  Unbelievable.

Dave:  Yeah. That is if you’re looking at the law enforcement statistics. Understand that these are taken from the law enforcement officers killed statistics. That means the officer lost. In those statistics, three out of four happened in low or inconsistent light, and at least 45% of the time there’s more than one suspect involved. I don’t think that it would be too much of a stretch for the armed citizen who is facing criminal attack, because let’s be honest. Criminals are plying their trade at a time when they think they can best get away with it. Darkness makes them less liable to get caught, so that’s when they’re going to be out. They’re going to feel more comfortable in the dark.

The armed citizen or the law enforcement officer has to prepare themselves so that they don’t feel uncomfortable in the dark. That takes some adjustment both in mind and in personal preparation, but it can be done. I don’t fear the dark too much. I spent a lot of my police career on night shifts so that doesn’t bother me too much anymore. By the same token, I keep my tactics, I keep my tools for reduced or inconsistent light applications pretty simple.

Rob:  What you mentioned about multiple attackers is another case for having multiple lights available.

Dave:  Yep, because you could be engaging this person and looking the light in another direction. I don’t know who first said it, but I know Clint Smith from Thunder Ranch popularized it when he said that one is none and two is one. What he’s talking about is the ability for a tool to fail you when you most need it. Having two of something, is a good idea. It’s like a police officer that has a service pistol but he has a back-up gun. Well, he may have a weapon-mounted light but he also has a handheld light. Having two of something that is considered critical equipment is probably a good idea. If one fails, and of course Murphy is alive and well and he does have a sense of humor, you’ll have something to fall back on during a critical incident.

Rob:  Even barring failure, just thinking of the fact that if you have one that is keeping someone else under control or keeping them at bay or illuminating something, and there’s someone else running around, you’re not going to want to leave the person you are holding in the dark, give them free rein, basically and go and find this other person. So that light is out of commission essentially.

Dave:  I hope I never find myself in a situation where I’m holding a person at bay with my weapon-mounted light and using my handheld light in my off hand, trying to search in a different direction.

Rob:  That’s where you should be running?

Dave:  Think about what’s being required of you to divide your attention that way. Can’t say it won’t happen, but boy, talk about a nightmare scenario. That’s probably it.

Rob:  Is there anything else we need to cover here, talking about low light and talking about flashlights?

Dave:  It’s like anything else. We’re not going to hit too much on equipment because equipment doesn’t win the fight, but having good equipment is worth it. Have a good flashlight, have one that you can rely on. I’m not too much for flashlights where the tail caps do multiple things. Momentary on or off with the press switch, twist the tail cap for constant on. Two different functions for two different things. It’s pretty simple, straight forward.

I don’t like the things where I’ve got to push in and turn one thing to get to do this, turn two positions to get it to do that. You’re not going to do that under stress. So get yourself a good light that’s simple to use. Get a lot of lumens. How many lumens do you need? I think if you’ve 70-plus lumens you’re probably good. Is 100 or 200 better? Maybe, but by the same token you’ve got to remember, if you’ve got a 200 lumen light and you go into a bedroom that’s maybe 20 by 20 and it’s got white walls, can that 200 lumens overwhelm you? You bet. Keep in mind what you’re trying to accomplish.

I tend to keep a pretty compact light that’s got 100 lumens or so. It’s an LED so if I drop it, it’s not going to pop a bulb. I’ve done that several times with the old xenon bulbs. I can remember one time I was trying to work my way up into a crawl space looking for a narcotics suspect. I can’t remember if I smacked the light on the edge of something, but I dropped it. It hit the floor below me and it popped the bulb, so now I didn’t have a light. Any element of surprise I may have had in this endeavor was gone. I like having the LEDs because they’re pretty rough and tumble. They take a lot of abuse and now they’re so bright with these Cree LEDs. I keep them pretty simple. I try to keep them bright, easy to use, easy to carry. Simple is good.

Rob:  I don’t know if this is something that everyone does, but I’m a cheapo guy and I have a hard time replacing batteries when they may not be out all the way, but I finally forced myself to. I marked on the calendar so that every two months I remember to change out all the batteries in all my red dot sights and in my weapon-mounted and defensive use flashlights, to make sure that they’re topped off and ready to go. It doesn’t have to be two months. For some people you may say, “Wow, that’s way too long.” Some people may set it for three months. Whatever it is, make sure that you’re at least checking them and making sure you have batteries that are going to work.

Dave:  Sure and especially on long guns, it’s very easy to keep a spare set of batteries on the gun, in the grip of the AR, or whatever the case may be. For the handgun, you keep a spare set of batteries where you store your handgun with a weapon-light. I have a light mounted on the wall in my truck, so I have a spare set of batteries in the truck there. I think the important thing is that you don’t just ignore it, that you monitor the life of your battery. With these lithium batteries, they’re a bit expensive but they’ve got a shelf life of like 10 years. Now we have lithium AA batteries and batteries are just better than they’ve ever been. I hear all this stuff, you don’t want to trust batteries, but that’s bunk.

Rob:  Trust, but verify.

Dave:  The pacemaker that’s in our grandfather’s chest is run off a battery. The car that we go out and get into every morning, whether it’s hot or cold, runs on a battery. You can depend on batteries. You just want to be prepared for their failure and their replacement, but to say don’t trust anything with batteries. You have to. We do it every day, all day long, all the time.

Rob:  If you have kids also, don’t let your kids play around with those flashlights either and run down the batteries.

Dave:  No, no. Give them the little cheapie flashlight that’s got Elmo or something on it. Let them run around with that. Don’t let them fool around with your serious equipment. I know they’re going to want to, but don’t let them.

Rob:  Yeah. I remember as a kid I’d always take my dad’s military gear and try to play with that. You know the old angle-head flashlights, the military ones?

Dave:  Yeah, right.

Rob:  We used to take those, change out all the colored filters, and when my dad would get ready to go out for military drills and he’d have to dig around and find those things, and figure out if they were working, where the different covers were, etc. Keep them out of the hands of your kids, as much as they’ll want to play with them.

Dave:  Sure. Just don’t bring the flashlight to their attention. Just put them away and don’t let them see you with them, and then they won’t get curious. This is lifesaving equipment. It’s not something to let them fool around with.

Rob:  You can keep your kids away from the guns. You can do the same thing with a flashlight that’s meant to be used in nearly the same capacity.

Dave:  Absolutely, and if they do by some chance see you with your flashlight, or whatever the case may be, just be prepared to give them a little cheapie inexpensive flashlight. They’re not going to know any difference. They just know that daddy had something pretty cool and they want to play with it. Well, here. Hand them one. They’ll be happy. This is from personal experience with having three kids.

Rob:  I talked to a holster maker several weeks ago and he said that somebody, a major name in our industry/sector, had a holster set made. It was a matching set for flashlight, mags, and the gun also, but he also had one made in the exact same color, exact same style, everything, for his kid. It was to hit a little toy gun so that he could have the same set-up that his daddy had.

Dave:  That sounds like a pretty good dad. He was thinking ahead, and he took care of the little guy. Yeah, that’s a pretty good solution.

Rob:  Well, I guess that’s a little off the subject, but I think that we covered most of what we wanted to. Can you think of anything else that we left out here?

Dave:  No. Really we’ve just kind of got started in it. Some of your listeners out there may disagree with me, because all of this reduced light and owning the night training is all in vogue right now. They may disagree. They may think that some of the fancier techniques are the way to go, and that’s certainly their choice. I’m talking on the basis of my experience of looking for honest-to-God real bad guys in the dark. Keep it simple. Use your eyes the way they’re intended. If you can make it light, make it light, and use the flashlight only when you have to. I think those simple rules will go a long way.

Rob:  Like you said, this is not the only way. It’s just what you’ve learned from your experiences. I read not too long ago where someone was talking about fine motor skills, or things that are more complicated and how some instructors will dismiss them because the majority of people are not going to be able to handle these things under stress. The majority of people may not be able to, but there are some people that will be able to handle it. There are people that will be able to practice and practice and practice to the point where they can handle something that’s more complicated. We aren’t saying that these more sophisticated techniques, won’t work for you, but for the majority of people they’re not the best. Find what works for you. Dave, thanks again for taking the time. I really appreciate it.

Dave Spaulding  was awarded the 2010 Law Officer Trainer of the Year Award. He is a 30+ year Law Enforcement & Federal Security Contractor veteran. Dave was a founding member of his Agency’s SWAT Team and performed hundreds of forced entries. He spent 12 years as its training officer. Dave spent five years as a full time use-of-force instructor, and another five years as the commander of a multi-jurisdictional drug task force working major narcotics cases from Seattle to Miami. He has worked in corrections, communications, patrol, evidence collection, investigations, undercover operations, training, and SWAT–and has authored more than 1,000 articles for various firearms and law enforcement periodicals. He’s also the author of the best-selling books Defensive Living and Handgun Combatives.(handguncombatives.com)

Dave is also a graduate of most of the major shooting schools including Thunder Ranch, Gunsite, Mid-South Institute of Self-Defense Shooting, Smith & Wesson Academy, SIG-Arms Academy, Heckler & Koch International Training Division, Lethal Force Institute, Beretta Training Division, CQB Services, Ltd. and Defense Training International.

Rob Robideau  runs the  Personal Armament Network  which produces the Personal Armament Podcast. The Personal Armament Network creates informative and entertaining articles and web shows for people who want to be prepared every day. He also put together the “Practical Guide To Everday Carry Gear“, a compilation of 11 interviews(150 pages) filled with practical advice from experts like Dave Spaulding, Michael Janich, and Massad Ayoob that will help you end up with the right gear the first time.


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Dexter Huxley
Dexter Huxley

Rob is a joke and this book stinks. I read it and he hasn't the slightest clue on how to interview. Skip it and save your time and money!

Tiny
Tiny

Great article. The point about the diffference between SF and civilian needs is very good. And being able to have a light in your hand when you are out and about is important - instant deployment and an impact tool if you need to buy time to access a firearm, or you can't carry one

Cervantes
Cervantes

I would like to wire my home so that I can flip on all the lights in the house from my bedroom.

Maybe not the kids rooms, unless I could install red lights to keep from waking them.

Cervantes
Cervantes

I would like to wire my home so that I can flip on all the lights in the house from my bedroom. Maybe not the kids rooms, unless I could install red lights to keep from waking them.

Joker
Joker

I find this very interesting as About 30 years ago I had a very short job selling alarm systems for a large company, just after getting out of the military. We were sent through a sales training class that included teaching the new owners of our system, that if they suspected an intruder to turn on the house lights. this was for the average home owner, not for a tactical entry. The Idea was the intruder would probably know that the home owner would be coming from the bedroom area and have that advantage. By turning on the lights you would take away the cover of darkness, temporarily blind ( less if you are the one that knows when the lights were coming on ) and surprise them, and give the home owner a chance to know if there were multiple invaders. Also if they run ( we hope ) a better chance for identification. Please remember this was homeowner training not for tactical personnel. Just thought it interesting that was what we were trained to tell customers that long ago.

Phillip
Phillip

Awesome interview! What a difference experience makes, experience that is invaluable and deserves to be shared and respected. Most of us have too much money, and weaken ourselves by depending on the latest, coolest gear and gadgets. KISS!

Eric S.
Eric S.

Great information. I flip every light switch I find when clearing a structure.

Joker
Joker

They make X-10 modules that plug into your outlets or replace wall switches that work from a base unit, key fob, or a phone app. That way you can easily turn on whatever you with minimal DIY work. you can buy the units as you go and you can think of a great many other handy ideas down the road. Last I knew you could buy the parts at Radio Shack. If not you can get it all on line. Works well for me and easy, Good luck.

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