The FBI Technique
Operating under the premise that bad guys might shoot at your light because they think that’s where you are, the FBI developed this technique to protect agents from incoming fire. The idea is to hold the flashlight away from your body—out to the side and up—in your non-shooting hand as you search for and engage targets.
This is a tactically sound method for searching, but once you start firing, your muzzle blast will give away your location, negating the need to hold the flashlight away from your body. Also, by extending your arm away from your body, you unbalance your shooting platform, making it more difficult to get hits.
The Neck Index Technique
I like to think of the neck index technique as a progression technique; one you use in order to transition from looking to shooting. It’s a very easy technique to master and replicates the placing of the non-shooting hand to the center of the chest during the draw stroke. All you do is pull your non-shooting hand—which holds the flashlight—up to your chin with the bright end oriented toward the threat. While doing so, draw and point your handgun toward the threat. You’re then in a perfect position to shoot or transition to either the Harries or SureFire techniques covered below. Both offer a more stable—two-hand—shooting position.
If you have hard-to-see sights on your handgun, the neck index technique will help illuminate the sights, but it also illuminates some of you. Regardless, it lets you get a lot of lumens directed at the bad guy fast, allowing you to trigger a well-aimed shot from a more stable platform than that offered by the FBI method.
The Harries Technique
This technique has been embraced by Gunsite and many other shooting schools. It’s likely the most often taught technique at law enforcement academies. That is partly because it works just as well with flashlights that have the activation button on the end or on the flashlight body, and partly because it’s easy to use.
With the Harries technique you lock your wrists or the backsides of your hands together. To employ the technique, slip your non-shooting hand—which is holding the flashlight—under your shooting arm and then lower the elbow of your non-shooting hand by rotating your non-shooting arm at the shoulder. This applies pressure against the backside of your shooting hand and makes for a relatively stable shooting platform.
If this technique has a downside, it’s in assuming the position. It takes some time and often a shooter will start positioning his or her non-shooting hand across the body before the handgun is oriented toward the threat. This results in the handgun being pointed at the non-shooting hand or arm as the gun is being presented to the target. Be aware!
The best way I’ve found to employ the Harries technique is to first assume the neck index position with the flashlight illuminating the threat. Then, after the handgun has been pointed toward the threat, slip the non-shooting hand with the flashlight under the shooting arm and lock the wrists.
The SureFire Technique
This method is the safest and fastest to assume of any I’ve tried. It’s also the most difficult technique to master. To perform the SureFire technique to perfection you’ll need a small-bodied flashlight with a button on the end of the tailpiece and, ideally, a rubber collar positioned just a few inches forward from the end of the light.
Hold the flashlight like a syringe; between the index and middle finger with the activation switch placed against the palm of your non-shooting hand. Grip the handgun like you normally would when using a two-handed grip but only the bottom two fingers of your non-shooting hand will be part of the grip. Your index finger, middle finger and thumb are used to hold and orient the light. To activate the light, squeeze it like a syringe, pushing the activation button with your palm.
The trick is learning to orient the light with the handgun, with the most common mistake being pointing the light at the ground. Like with any handgun skill it takes practice to master. Once you learn the SureFire technique, it’s fast to assume and easily obtained from either the FBI or neck index methods.