How to get cheap NV experience (Part 1: First Day Stuff)
Time and money. You never have enough of both it seems. Ideally, to gain the best experience with night vision you would attend training courses held by qualified instructors. Due to financial or time constraints, that’s just not possible for many.
But honestly some should build their skill sets a little more before attending an expensive 2 day class. This is not a swipe at newbies. This is about getting the most quality instruction time for your money. The last night vision course Goblin went to had nearly of 25% of attendees show up with very poor zero’s on their IR Laser devices. The instructor had to spend nearly 2 hours getting everyone to confirm zero’s and walking some attendees through the process.
Let’s talk the basics. These are things that instantly give away when a person has only spent time with his nods focused on shooting. Below is a list of common issues and simple ways to work on them. The first two you can do in your own house just spending 10-15 minutes here and there. The last one is going require you to leave the house. It’s not as bad as you think and can be a ton of fun for cheap, especially if you bring the boys along.
Counterweights and helmet fit:
This one seems obvious, yet it’s so common to see. You watch someone move fast from point A to point B and half way the person is reaching up to hold their nods still in front of their eyes. Or they reach point B and have to adjust their helmet before bringing their weapon up to aim.
There are literally dozens of YouTube videos on how to set up your helmet, so we aren’t going to cover that. What needs to be brought up is testing what setup you currently have. It’s pretty simple actually. Toss on your helmet and go some place dark in your house or even just use day caps in your living room.
Now lightly jog in place for 20 seconds. Still good? Exaggerate your jogging then or try some jumping jacks. How bad did things shift? Can you adjust tension to keep it from moving so much? Is the front diving down to your nose? It might be something as simple as adjusting tension on your chin strap, but often it’s a lack of an effective counterweight on the back of your helmet to help balance things out. Again there are TONS of informative vids out there, so just do some googling. Do you need to be able to perform Burpees in nods? For most people, no. But, you should be able to at least sprint short distances without your nods shifting down to your nose.
Manipulation of objects up close:
Like Leg Days, this gets skipped way too often. You need to get very, very comfortable changing the focus on your night vision to do delicate tasks. There are aftermarket products to help with that as well and even homebrew DIY solutions with Butler Creek caps. Google is your friend.
The sky is the limit on what can be used for practice without leaving the house. Need to do the dishes in the sink? How about folding laundry? Read the directions on a microwaveable dinner and make dinner? Got an IR light on your helmet? Find a truly dark room/closet. Now is the time to play with facing it straight forward vs straight up umbrella/canopy style. You might find the latter is better for some tasks and worse for others.
Moving fast on uneven terrain:
This one is going to take you getting out of the house, but it’s worth it. You don’t want to be the guy that face plants while running to cover because you missed the 6” rise in the dirt.
Natural eyesight lets you shift focus back and forth easily between the ground immediately in front of you and stuff in the distance. With night vision, you’re not that lucky. Typically your focus is set further off in the distance and stuff close to you gets progressively more questionable. Learning how to move quickly at night takes time to make it second nature, but it’s not rocket surgery.
Basically, you need to lift your feet a little more than you normally would and be scanning the terrain for obstacles as close as the NV focus will let you. The second part especially gets hard when you see something off in the distance that gets your attention. A younger me might have walked into a 2 foot cactus while stalking a huge hog. So how to get this experience if you don’t have access to rural property?
State Parks and National Parks often have wonderful trails for hiking. They are typically well marked, have good maps at the Ranger Station, and are fairly inexpensive to stay in for a night. Many have spots you can car camp in easily. If you can, get there early in the day so you can scout some trails out. This trip isn’t about navigating in the dark, that will come later. Make sure you pack a white light, water, and your cell phone just in case you really mess up and get turned around on the trails. Use some common sense. Find out about the local wildlife before you go off trekking in Grizzly Gulch or Mountain Lion Trail at night by yourself.
So pick a weekend and go. Car camp to make it easy or make it a challenge and see if you can set up a tent a night with nods. Take a friend along if he’s got nods. Just remember this weekend is about basics. #StumbleBetter