Have you ever been shooting and had a disco break out?

Flashlights ready! Next week I’m headed down to the Triple Crown at The Range in Oxford, NC. It consists of 3 sanctioned IDPA matches one of which is at night… yup 8 stages in complete darkness!!

This of course got me to thinking (and frankly a wee bit concerned about my relative inexperience with shooting in the dark… and well spiders, since it’ll be dark and its fall and I won’t be able to see them coming and does anyone know if the sound of gunshots scares spiders? Can spiders hear?).

I digress…

Now my experience with low light shooting is limited at best and initially I struggled to find a flashlight that fit right in my small hands. I ended up with a Streamlight Protac1AA.

What I love about it:

  • It’s tiny… only 4 inches long with a barrel diameter of only 0.65”
  • Simple to use with 3 settings
    • High
    • Low
    • Strobe – (Why do I need this feature? More on strobe later!)  See comments from one of Ron’s recent posts!
    • Ideal for a Surefire grip (which I prefer as it still allows me to use my support hand on the gun)
    • Takes 1 AA battery – convenient!
    • It has an “unbreakable” pocket clip that allows me to easily attach it to my 5.11s for an easy draw.

I have but one issue (well, it’s my issue… not the flashlight!): STROBE!

While shooting the IDPA Indoor Nationals in February 2012 (my very first major IDPA match – remember I haven’t been at this very long!) I had a small strobing issue on one of the low light stages.  Truth be told, there were a lot of issues on that particular stage including:

  • Reloading when I didn’t need to (can you say flustered?)
  • Dropping a loaded mag on the ground
  • I’m sure I heard “COVER!” multiple time over the sound of gunshot
  • And my personal favorite… putting my flashlight on strobe while I shot. Yup… I did. The visual effects were quite impressive as I essentially turned the stage into a night club and my bullets appeared to move in slow motion. The only thing missing was club music! Thankfully the Safety Officers had a sense of humor and laughed along with me as they handed out the procedurals!

The Streamlight Protac1AA seems to have worked out pretty well for me as it fits my small hands quite nicely. (My only hope is that someone on my squad will have the foresight to bring some rockin’ beats just in case I turn any stages into a dance party!)

I would love to hear the following:

  • What flashlights other small handled shooters have found to be comfortable in competition?
  • What is your preferred flashlight grip?
  • Any flashlight/low light-no light follies? (Come on… if you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re not having that much fun!)


  1. says

    I am totally 100% sold on CTC’s Lightguard; having a flashlight on the gun that’s still small enough to carry IWB is just the bomb.

    Sure, it doesn’t have the battery life or brightness of a 2-CR123-cell light, but it’s still plenty bright enough to light targets out to my reasonable pistol-shooting range.

    At the CTC Midnight 3-Gun match, it worked a whole lot better than the headlamp I was using with the shotgun. (See, we had to start the stage with no lights illuminated…)

    “”Shooter ready?”
    “Stand byyyy!”
    *reach up and fumble light on*
    *shoulder shotgun*
    *reach up and adjust headlamp so that it actually illuminates the shotgun bead rather than any jetliners overhead*

  2. Dave L. says

    I usually shoot 3-gun (outlaw rules mostly), so we don’t run into the issue of needing a concealable holster…that said, there are plenty of holster makers who make holsters that accomodate rail mounted lights, even the 2x C123 lights (I think the Streamlight TLR-1 and -1s were the most common lights at last weekend’s Walking Dead night match.) I know DSG makes them for Glocks and M&Ps

    That’s assuming you’re using a common gun.

    But weapon mounted lights are much, much better than hand helds.

    • says

      I usually shoot 3-gun (outlaw rules mostly), so we don’t run into the issue of needing a concealable holster…

      But this is also my carry gun.

      • says

        Glad to hear Tam… I only shoot IDPA with my carry guns… in the same configuration I carry them… I’m not worried about beating the guy or gal in an IDPA match… I’m worried about bettering myself and beating the bad guy…

        Dann in Ohio

  3. says

    I’m even newer to shooting than you are. And yes I’ve been making some humorous mistakes too:
    http://girlgoesbang.com/learn-from-my-mistakes-i-painted-my-gun-shut-really/. I agree that a sense of humor is essential in this journey.

    Thanks for posting this review. I have yet to buy a light, though I have taken a class that showed me the two most common ways to use a light not mounted on the gun. I have very small hands too so I’ll have to check this one out.

    • Tara Lyon says

      Just read your post Sadie and that is hilarious! I will be cautious now in the future as I never imagined the possibility of painting my gun shut! I’m so happy to see you also recognize the need for a sense of humor! It’s all about being safe and having a good time!

  4. bo says

    That must of been a hysterical thing to see. I am too an SO and if that had happened on my stage I would of probably of needed a moment to compose myself due to the laughter. We live and we learn. It is very important to read the instructions with your flashlight especially one that has a multi-function capabilities. Before you travel to North Carolina you should work with your light in the dark for several “dry runs” to ensure the music does not begin to play once the buzzer goes off down there. Hopefully the SO running your squad will have a sense of humor if it does. Just wondering if Sadie is going to shoot with you as she mentions Frank Glover on her blog noted above. Although great idea for a stage, hmm……… to be continued.

    • Tara Lyon says

      Live and learn is right Bo! (If only I still had the instructions to my flashlight!) But, I will heed your advise and take advantage of the extra hour (thanks daylight savings!) and practice right now!

    • says

      I won’t be shooting the Triple Crown – finances are tight with the purchase of my new 1911. However, I volunteered to work the event and will be there for all three matches. I look forward to meeting several folks from this blog.

  5. Ben C says

    Just need some tunes in the background to make it a party!

    Since I moved from 1911s to higher capacity 9mm pistols for carry, I have tried to make sure the gun I chose had a rail and room for a light available. The lightguard has me saving my pennies to put them on my 1911s too.

    My daily non-work carry is an M&P 9 with a TLR-1 (no strobe version!!) in a Raven holster. It carries well with a good belt. My easiest and safest light use has been with the dedicated light attached to the gun and a spare light in my pocket for non-gun light needs.

    Can you run a light on a gun in IDPA during “official” daytime matches?


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