There is something to be said about periodically reviewing your own set of tactics, techniques and procedures. I can vividly recall a dramatic change to my own TTP’s after the Aurora Colorado mass shooting.
Why the big change? Because, only a few days earlier my son and I sat in that very same movie theater. After enough accurate information was released I put myself back in those seats to brainstorm how I would’ve handled a similar situation. I’ve had many conversations about my thoughts with close friends. The big take aways were; low light, moderate distance and high percentage shots. I try not to let a single event reset my own system, but I’m all for allowing it to influence my thought process and in this case my loadout. It just so happened around that time, I had finished a 6-month experiment working to solve a problem for my old community. This problem centered around low light and running with pistols. In the end, mini-red dot sights or MRDS were the clear winner. I hadn’t put much thought into them for everyday carry scenario. This problem was very unique. Flash forward to the theater shooting and all of a sudden I’m interested.
Technology & Equipment
Low light is always challenging. You come to depend on technology and equipment. The use of night sights have been around for decades, but they somehow were not enough to solve my teammate’s problem, hence my involvement. Using a MRDS gave them anytime view ability, especially under night vision. In a darkened theater the MRDS would be hugely valuable, but under low light conditions it only tells me where I’m aiming. Sure, I could take aim at the muzzle flashes, but positive target identification is paramount. I’ve long opposed the necessity for weapon mounted lights for everyday carry. The added weight and size are barriers to entry for many. Over a decade and weapon mounted lights have come a long way as far as size and output. Now, I can have a smaller, more powerful light better suited for concealed carry. The problem wasn’t necessarily the WML, the problem was finding a good holster, comfortable for all day, every day type wear. Even today, there are very few. Of those around, even fewer that do a good job.
Surgical Style Shooting
Depending on where you sit in a movie theater you could have a close shot, or an extended shot under low light conditions. I have long commented the greatest MRDS advantage is accuracy at distance. Distances in movie theaters can vary, but a 10, 20 or 30 yards plus impossible shots becomes possible. High percentage shots were similar to a hostage type shot. Where there was minimum target availability along with maximum risk. With people running through a smoke filled theater it would be chaotic to say the least. Should you have a clear shot, you still have to be aware of your backstop and surroundings. While not technically a hostage the field of fire would more than likely be small if not tiny. The level of precision again is something a MRDS does exceptionally well. But, when you merry up the use of a powerful white light and target focus, it makes for an impressive package. Those that work in low light enough know the narrowing of your perceivable field of view. In this case, narrowing on the target and still being able to aim precisely are a winning combination.
The Tradeoffs Are Big
Up until the beginning of the pandemic I carried a compact as my daily carry pistol. At the time, it was not equipped with a MRDS or a WML. The primary reason was simple, many of my government clients were running iron sights on their duty pistols so it didn’t make sense for me. I would add the WML during training and remove it for concealment work after hours. Flash forward and currently the proliferation of MRDS at the government level is quickly growing. A client’s new program had me revisiting the subject, but in reverse. Now, I don’t want to be the only one without a MRDS. Due to the nature of the program it also required a WML. I was back to solving the problem of size and weight. As I mentioned so many advancements have made this easier today. Even so, there is still a massive difference in size and weight that cannot be ignored. The tradeoff is the very small percentage of scenarios where this combination would dominate versus the most likely scenario where they probably wouldn’t make a large enough difference.
With hostilities increasing on the home front I thought about this mass shooting and our new program. I don’t feel “under-gunned” running my micros, but I’m limited with WML’s and available holsters that accommodate both. This problem was the reason I revisit my compact pistols. I’m still carrying the micros, that’s not changing, but I had to be honest about my movie theater debrief. Was I ready for another similar type of event? Don’t mistake my commentary for only being able to solve this type of scenario with technology. It will always be the indian and not the arrow. But, it did spark my loadout reevaluation. My loadout also depends on the perceived threat. For instances, during the pandemic we saw some crazy behavior. Did it make sense to go with a heavier loadout, absolutely. Does it make sense to default to this condition, absolutely not.
The point is we all need to periodically review our loadout and preparation. Have you put critical thinking into these topics and if so what has changed as a result.