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10/15/2021 7:52:46 PM
Posted: 3/14/2021 11:36:52 PM EDT
SDS DARKNESS 1, Night Vision Operator Fundamentals
March 13, 2021
Garretsville, Ohio
Southington Hunt Club

Strategic Dark Solutions chose an ideal location to host their inaugural SDS Darkness 1 course. Southington Hunt Club had the facilities needed to ensure students could focus on the information presented, conduct exercises safely, and conclude the night with some incredible equipment presentations, that would not have been possible at other venues.

SDS Darkness 1 began with an in-depth classroom presentation. Attendees included Police, SWAT, K9, Military, and professional students. Introductions to the Strategic Dark training cadre were made brief and direct, before moving full gas into the subject matter. The presentation broke down the technology and associated terminology with night vision devices allowing students of all experience levels to obtain an even foundation to move forward. Tube technology, housings, laser devices, and associated support gear were discussed in depth ensuring that students with agency issued equipment, self-procured devices, and rentals all had an understanding of the function, and potential limitations of the equipment they would be using. This course is a great start for individuals who may have limited prior experience with night vision, or who may be looking to take their first steps into the dark. The classroom portion culminated with a safety brief regarding firearms handling, emergency evacuation of an injured person, and other contingencies.

Once on the range, the class stepped onto the firing line to use what daylight remained to check zeros of both rifle and pistol optics. The preferred laser zero was a converging zero.  This was conceptually explained in the classroom, then put into practical application on the range. Daytime rifle drills included a series of standards that would be conducted after dark under night vision. While this is not a course about firearms manipulations or how to shoot, these daytime drills gave the instructors the opportunity to observe shooters and ensure they had the skills necessary to safely conduct all live fire exercises under night vision.

Once darkness fell, students donned their NODs to begin working through the course curriculum. This is truly not a shooting course, but a course on how to move, observe, and function under night vision. The drills presented allowed students to become familiar with the abilities and limitations of their night vision equipment while progressively becoming more challenging as the night progressed. The course ended with a brief night hike loosely modeled after a military foot patrol. This final exercise gave students the opportunity to explore their field of view, depth perception, and other factors of night vision, not only when shooting but when moving through terrain. The hike led to the Southington Hunt Club’s precision rifle range where a series of clip-on NVG devices, illuminators, and lasers were available for comparison. These pieces of equipment were provided by Strategic Dark staff, students, and industry professionals in attendance. The collection of equipment ranged from civilian lasers, such as the DBAL, Atpial-c, and Mawl, to high power illuminators, such as the IZLID. Students ended their course with the opportunity to shoot steel on the precision range at known distances in order to collect data on the abilities of their laser aiming and illumination devices.

Strategic Dark Solutions is a company comprised of end users in harms way with a diverse background in the Law Enforcement, Military, and Special Operations communities. Students of all backgrounds and applications would find value in the curriculum presented. Parallels to the law enforcement, military, and civilian shooting communities were discussed in various circumstances enabling attendees to take with them the information relevant to their needs to continue forward into the dark.

Photos by Heart & Fist
Link Posted: 3/14/2021 11:45:18 PM EDT
Good write up. Sounded like a well versed class with a wide variety of experiences and expertise. Can't ask for much more than that. Thanks for sharing
Link Posted: 3/15/2021 8:51:06 AM EDT
Love Garrettsville at night. Good pics.
Link Posted: 3/15/2021 9:44:38 AM EDT
Great write up.  I was in that class Saturday and had a great time.  This was the first time I got to really run the gun under night vision.  I didn’t really understand what a game changer this was until I did it.  I definitely gained some knowledge. Hats off to the guys at Strategic Dark.  I’ve shot with Mike a few times over the last year.  All around great guy.
Link Posted: 3/15/2021 9:46:18 AM EDT
Great write up. Thanks for sharing.
Link Posted: 3/15/2021 9:49:21 AM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Love Garrettsville at night. Good pics.
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Thought of you when I pulled out a SiOnyx to take a couple clips of the guys shooting. Figured I’d compare zero moon usage against some of the demo footage from other events where they had lights plants and everything hehe... yeah it was completely useless, no surprise
Link Posted: 3/15/2021 10:22:18 AM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History

Thought of you when I pulled out a SiOnyx to take a couple clips of the guys shooting. Figured I’d compare zero moon usage against some of the demo footage from other events where they had lights plants and everything hehe... yeah it was completely useless, no surprise
View Quote

You still have the OG Aurora? You were at the other shoot, South, in November - but the Pros did great at G-ville under no moon/clouds. We're discussing that now, in the dedicated thread. I'm still amazed at that DSLR you use though - awesome images.
Link Posted: 3/15/2021 9:57:14 PM EDT
An additional note on this class, drills had purpose. I believe the prospective round count was around 350 of rifle but I maybe shot 200. I feel like every round I sent down range had intention and in the current shortages that’s something I really appreciate.
Link Posted: 3/15/2021 11:19:51 PM EDT
Great summary from @GSDAK47 - I had a fantastic time attending as a student. Been way too long since I left the cameras in the photo van and got to shoot a full course. Looking forward to seeing the Strategic Dark guys continue to develop their course offerings, especially with some of the specialties that their backgrounds offer. They were up front about being TNVC dealers, but didn't talk down about any of the different brands of units. The blurry-face dude that led the tech brief at the beginning was 100% on the money with everything he discussed. Found myself just nodding in agreement for all of it. Not too heavy on the slides, but had a few to guide the discussion with great photo examples from a number of the NV types on IG and YT that do great comparisons.

With fairly tight time restrictions due to noise restrictions after 11pm, the pair of instructors made good use of both daylight and dark time, keeping the fairly large student firing line occupied and active. All targets, stands and barricades were prepped for us before arrival and the instructors stayed overnight on site to pick up our brass for us (although in this ammo economy you could probably see that as selfish too ).

Was a bummer to see the fancy LA-5s that a number of the LE students brought along were passed along from the DOD and in really rough shape. I think one even had a hole punched through the illuminator to disable it. Not sure who thinks it's useful to pass them down to departments, but I know I wouldn't be happy if folks thought it was OK to make their primary night aiming system so unreliable. I know they'll be looking for other options now, even though it can be tough to get grant funding for weapon-related devices like that.

As usual, the MAWL-C1+ did fantastic and opened some eyes to how impressive it is compared to the other civilian offerings. It was a zero moon night in rural Ohio, so pretty much all of the laser devices did just fine lighting things up, but when the MAWLs lit up (think there were 3 on the 18-man line) they really lit up.

I pulled out the thermal for a few minutes and snagged a few stills from the onboard video recording -

And here's a little clip from my old Aurora Sport - pretty much useless when light levels are this low until the IR gets activated. Was definitely the sort of conditions where the differences in various NV tubes started to show up too -

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