Practicing with Night Vision

Discussion in 'Night Vision/Thermal' started by wigwamitus, Nov 1, 2014.

  1. wigwamitus

    wigwamitus LSB Active Member

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    Tips from Night Vision Kindergarden ... Part One ...

    In February 2013, I started going out at night. I had just gotten a used PS-22 and I wanted to learn to move and see and shoot at night on our new 120 acre ranch in Wabaunsee County Kansas. I had determined that it order to be successful moving and seeing and shooting at night, the most important thing I could do, was spend a lot of time outside at night, moving and seeing and shooting. For some reason, I grabbed a nice straight cottonwood stick out of our creek bed that is about 5 foot long, that was one of the smarter things I did with night practice early on. I also had a pair of gen1 "yuko" goggles" that was one of the dummer things I did early on. And I had a 2000 Lumen light with a red filter.

    So for my first night, I headed out with the stick, the flashlight and the goggles. I promotly ran into a tree. After about an eighth of a mile, I took off the goggles and realized I could see better without them. I only used them again 2 more times and those times were much later. So I was walking with the walking stick and the red light and my mark I eye balls (MKIEB). After 2-3 nights, I realized I didn't need the light to walk in the open pasture. The MKIEB and the stick were enough. Even on dark nights, with no moon, I can walk in the open pasture, because there is enough ambient light to be able to make out tree lines and major terrain features and the stick prevents me from tripping and falling and with practice I'm able to go about 80-90% as fast as in the day time. I got to the point, pretty quickly, where I only turned the light on if I needed it. Which became never, if just moving in the pasture.

    The creeks and woods was a different story. Moving in the creeks and woods around here is not easy even in the day. There are lots of branches and lots of fallen branches on the ground and lots of rocks too, especially in the creek beds. I started out in the winter, so the vegetation was not as thick as in the summer and there were no ticks. I would learn about them later :). I held the stick out in front of me and about a 45 degree angle. That helped me locate branches and not bump into them with my head. I started wearing clear safety glasses as insurance that I wouldn't get poked in the eyes. But it was slow going and I could not tell direction very well. The red light did not help. One time I went in a big circle and knew I needed something different. I then got a 3 lumen Red, Green, Blue, White light and that did the trick. With the 3L green light in the woods, I could move at day light speed. I also got two compasses to help me maintain direction. I later learned other ways to tell direction.

    In these early days of night walks, the stick was the most important piece of equipment. And if I start to fall, the stick can prevent it. In fact, I do not think I've ever fallen when I was carrying the stick at night. I cannot say the same about the day time. I cannot count the number of times I've fallen in the day time. But I practice falling on purpose and so far, I've never hurt myself, even though I've taken a few bad falls, but most of my falls are not bad and the falling practice helps with those as does going up and down hill sides properly. And I do fall a lot in the day time, mostly when going up and down slopes but also when moving too quickly in rough pasture. When carrying rifles and pistols I need to think about how to move up and down slopes to avoid falling on the guns if I will fall but that is part of what I think about. That is one reason I carry my pistol on my right side, so it will be on the same side as my rifle. Then I move in such a way as to fall away from that side if I must fall.

    I brought the PS-22 out with me as a handheld monocular sometimes. In those days I had a cheap 3-9x "Aim Sports" scope, which was pretty worthless on my rifle (in those days I had one Sig716 7.62 rifle) but was useful with the PS-22 mounted directly on the front objective of the scope. I could move , stop and look. And in the right conditions this would help me see things I could not see otherwise. But it did not help much with navigation either in the pasture or in the woods. It was great for star gazing and I started looking at the stars more and more.

    The first time I looked up and saw this big fuzzy swath across the sky I noodled for a while and then decided that must be the Milky Way. I'd never seen the Milky Way before, but what else could all that be? After getting back to the house and googling I determined sure enough, that was the Milky Way. Then I needed to find Andromeda as I had seen Andromeda when I was a a kid. I'd say I got lucky and found it pretty quickly. It wasn't until later that I found out the trick of using Cassiopeia to find Andromeda although in present times, I can usually look up straight at Andromeda without having to use Cass as a cruch. So if stars are visible, I don't need compasses and I don't need compasses in the open pasture either, but in the woods a compass helps keeping to moving most quickly in the direction you are trying to go. You have to deviate a lot in the woods around trees and gulleys and the compass still has its place. Somtimes even from the woods, you can see the stars and moon well enough, but on cloudly nights you cannot. In the late summer fall, early winter I use Cass/Andromeda and in the late winter through early summer I use Orion. And of course when the moon is visible I can use the moon to help maintain direction. I've just scratched the surface of learning the stars, but at least I've started. Oh, the big dipper is up there, but for some reason I don't use it as much, I should I think on balance it is more visible than either Cass or Orion.

    The moon, when high enough in the sky and otherwise visible, is like a giant flash light over my head. I don't think it matters much how much moon there is, a sliver works, if it is high enough in the sky. I have moon rise and moon phases charts posted on my wall beside my desk, so I am always cognizant of what might be out there. Of course the weather intervenes a lot. But when the moon is there, no NV needed for moving on foot or in buggy for open pasture. It is almost day time. No stick, no lights, just MKIEB. Not true for the woods, still need help there. But the moon can be used from the woods for navigation, at least from the woods around me.

    I read that as we get older we dramatically loose the ability to see at night. Well it would be great to be young again as I think I can see great at now even now and I am an olde man! The youngsters must be almost blinded at night they can see so well!

    For the buggy, if there was no moon, I bungied a 30L RGBW light on the front and mostly ran it on Blue. Red was not bright enough on dark nights and green was overkill. I suspect this light would have been invisible at the distance where the buggy could first be heard. But I've driven close (25yds) to deer and coyotes (50yds) and Turkeys (5yds) with the buggy at night so it doesn't scare them way as much as I would've expected.
     
  2. wigwamitus

    wigwamitus LSB Active Member

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    As far as shooting, I went out on night walks about 3-5 times per week and I tried to shoot at night at least once per week, sometimes twice. I would set up the targets in the day time. In those days I fired with either the PS-22 or a tac light or nothing. I fired at distances from 60yds, 100yds, 150yds, 200yds and 325yds. I had two rifles, the 7.62 and a moosberg 715T .22LR and I fired both under all the same conditions and distances. I fired mostly prone bipod, but sometimes standing with a tripod. Out to 200yds the 2000L tac light was about as useful as the PS-22. At 325 and some moon the PS-22 was fine. Judging the wind is tougher at night because there are less visual cues. Also you cannot see the "splash" of your dirt if you miss. I was using poster board with tape on it and taping the poster board to galvanized tin. The poster board was 21 inch by 28 inch so even at 325yds I had a decent amount of "paper" to hit. With a wind variance of 5 mph every 5-10s using the .22lr at 325 was a crap shoot. But under less variable wind conditions the .22lr did fine. I fired a lot of 7.62 subsonic which removes the wind issue but has about the same elevation profile as the .22lr ammo. The subs helped me keep my shooting "quiet". I was generally able to shoot as well at night as I was shooting in the day and averaged under 2 MOA, which was acceptable to me.

    I did get a "real Scope" during this period - a Luepold 3.5-10x TMR Ill Ret sfp and I used it on both the 7.62 and .22lr and I still consider it to be my "go to " scope due to the experience I gained with it during this period.

    At this end of this period, April 2014, I got access to a one time chunk of money, cashing in my life savings to finish building out our ranch and I used 10% of that as my "gun budget to acquire some more equipment. That pushed me into another world.

    I'm glad I spent 15 months moving and seeing and shooting at night with mostly MKIEB and sticks and rarely lights and relatively inadequate shooting gear as well, this helped me reduce the learning curve dramatically for the new equipment and gives me the confidence that I can mover and see and shoot at night without the fancy stuff if needed. I still think the most important aspect of operating at night is the comfort of the person being out at night. I love being out at night moving and seeing and shooting. I find it very stress reducing and great exercise and I would do it just for those benefits. As my wife says, some people play golf, I go out and walk and see and shoot at night. She actually goes with me sometimes, for the walking and seeing, she likes to look at the stars and the deer, but she isn't in to the shooting part, but that is fine. The walks are great. The best way to learn to operate at night is to spend lots of time out at night operating, do whatever it is you want to do at night. Reading about it in a book, if there was such, would not help one bit, getting out there is the only way.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017
  3. FrankT

    FrankT Destin FL LSB TURKEY BUZZARD PRESERVATION SOCIETY LoneStarBoars Supporter

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    excellent write-up
     
  4. Hard_ware

    Hard_ware Here piggy piggy! Deep Deep S. TX.

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    Nice write up.

    and I agree ,the more hours using the equipment in the dark the less the dark matters.
    I only go out at night. I can see fine and shoot with the thermal 5x same as day.
    The critters are at the disadvantage, many yotes have been given a pass as they help keep some of the critters that eat the crops in check. So unless the farmer or rancher complains about the yotes , coons, rabbits I just watch them. It makes the time walking around more enjoyable seeing critters.
    A small led light with a flex goose neck aimed at your feet helps moving around, and is not seen from 5-10yds away.
    Harbor freight sells a set for under $10, I put it in my back pocket and run the goose neck thru my belt loops with it sticking out above my zipper. I made a small 3" shroud out of some shrink tubing to only let the light shine at my feet to see what I am stepping on. Works very well when needed, open areas I don't use it unless it is muddy and I need to see the mud puddles.
     
  5. theblakester

    theblakester Got a black belt in keeping it real. LSB TURKEY BUZZARD PRESERVATION SOCIETY SUS VENATOR CLUB LoneStarBoars Supporter

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    I use my tall shooting sticks at night to help navigate. Also helps to run off snakes a few feet in front of you (like a blind man with a walking stick). The sticks also have prevented me from meeting literally face to face with large spiders that made a web between two trees.
     
  6. wigwamitus

    wigwamitus LSB Active Member

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    Totally agree about use case for stick vs spiders ... I just haven't gotten around to the narrative about warm season woods navigation, but in the woods the stick is the spider sweeper! So, what shooting stick do you use? I don't have a shooting stick, I just have a couple of straight 4-5 foot cottonwood branches I've pulled out of my creeks. When I only have stick and MKIEB and 3L RBGW light I don't turn on, I walk exactly like blind man in the pasture stick going back and forth in front and making contact with the ground. This helps find the holes ... I have to wear a glove on the hand holding the stick to mitigate "shock" to that hand.

    I think I've heard two snakes near me at night, but I haven't seen any at night, yet.

    ==

    Moving, seeing and shooting and night ... Kindergarden Part II

    ==
    I'm trying to quickly catch readers up to the present ... I'm not going to move almost 2 years of content from old forums to a re-incarnation of one of them ... or over here ... but I'll try to hit the highlights and then get back on track with current activities. This post will focus on the gear and my efforts to retool all my 5 active rifles to support night shooting.

    ==

    In May 2014, I acquired a number of new items:

    2xPVS-14 (one L-3 and one Pinnacle)
    1xCOLR (i^2 clipon supporting up to 12x magnification)(has Pinnacle tube)
    1xApollo (Thermal clipon with 42mm lens)

    Those items were then mated up with my pre-existing inventory of relevant items:

    2xHelmets (one Ops Core Ballistic, one Team Wendy Bump)
    2xir-lasers (Laser Max)
    1xb450 ir-illumunator (came with PS-22)
    1x850W ir-illuminator (came with COLR)
    1xT20 ir-illuminator
    1xPS-22 (gen3a tube)

    rifles:
    Savage .338LM, 26 inch barrel, custom 20 inch rail on top for NODs
    Ruger .308WIN, 18 inch barrel, custom 20 inch rail on top for NODs
    Sig 7.62 NATO, 16 inch barrel
    BCM 5.56 Upper, 14.5 inch barrel, UT Arms Lower
    PTA .22lr upper, SA lower, 16 inch barrel

    Pistol:
    Para Ord m1911 clone, 4.25 barrel, CT ir-laser in grips

    Optics:
    L&S 8.5-25x TMR ill ret sfp
    L&S 6.5-20x TMR ffp
    L&S 3-18x H58 ffp
    L&S 3.5-10x TMR sfp

    I also have a SMLE .303B I use for dry firing only and 2 shotguns I use rarely for clays.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017
  7. wigwamitus

    wigwamitus LSB Active Member

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    This is a fawn that approaches to within 25yds. I had inadvertantly gotten between the fawn and its mother. Eventually, I make enough noise that the fawn runs away ... then I go away to allow mother to rejoin fawn.



    ==
    This is my house about a month ago on a good thermal performance night ...



    ==

    And here is another deer in the alfalfa patch ...



    ==
    Ok, enough history, next post will be regarding current activities ...
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017
  8. Delta4-3

    Delta4-3 LSB Member Vendor

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    I'm glad your taking the time to redo this thread!
     
  9. FrankT

    FrankT Destin FL LSB TURKEY BUZZARD PRESERVATION SOCIETY LoneStarBoars Supporter

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    LOL...Don't cha' love it...Hey Admin, make this into 2 threads...please.
     
  10. Hard_ware

    Hard_ware Here piggy piggy! Deep Deep S. TX.

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    When shooting free standing, try aiming over target and dropping down on the point you want to hit.
    If that does not work try the opposite aim under and try raising until you are on the point you want to hit.
    Holding the rifle steady on the same spot is the hardest way for me, unless using some shooting sticks.
     
  11. wigwamitus

    wigwamitus LSB Active Member

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    right ... I think I wasn't clear in my description ... here what I am trying to do:

    Stand with feet side by side facing target, knees bent, leaning forward. I start with barrel pointed below target in "high ready" position.

    ... for the ir-laser, I shoulder the rifle, but look over the top of the eotech to see the dot of the laser with 1 or both of the 14s. Then I move the dot up from below and onto the target and judging the right moment, send the "fire" signal to the finger

    ... for the thermal, I shoulder the rifle, but look through the eotech with unaided right eye (right 14 flipped to side) through the thermal mounted in front and move the reticle up from below onto the target and send the "fire" signal to the finger.
     
  12. Hard_ware

    Hard_ware Here piggy piggy! Deep Deep S. TX.

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    When raising the rifle on target as you are doing, try to go a hair above and start to drop , this should give you more time on target as you are crossing it upwards motion, then stopping and starting downward motion the point of changing motion will give more time on target. Pulling the trigger when the upward motion stops but before the slight downward motion starts should give repeatable results to be able to fine tune.
     
  13. wigwamitus

    wigwamitus LSB Active Member

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    I like the detail :)

    So, actually, what I've been doing, which has required some adjustment as I've observed the results, is to fire "high" on purpose. Depending on the distance, maybe 1 MOA high ... and that seems to get the best results with the 5.56, the .45acp and the 7.62 in standing unsupported type position FOR ME.

    I will try what you suggest.

    As I think I am practicing to hunt creatures that will mostly be moving, I have NOT been stopping the motion when I pull the trigger. If I am leading, I assume I must continue to move, so that is what I have been doing. I got this idea from the way I shoot clays with a shotgun. I lead and continue to move until after the follow through has happened.
     
  14. Hard_ware

    Hard_ware Here piggy piggy! Deep Deep S. TX.

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    Thats how I do it also keep barrel moving, then for some reason after squeezing the trigger the critters just top moving :D
     
  15. wigwamitus

    wigwamitus LSB Active Member

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    gotcha ... well stay tuned ... we will see if that phenomena happens for me also in Dec when I head to TX for a hog hunting exercise. We are not allowed to hunt with NV in Kansas, so I have to practice on non-living targets, metal, wood, paper and such.
     
  16. wigwamitus

    wigwamitus LSB Active Member

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    2014-11-05
    2130-0030
    40F
    8 mph SW

    Goal: Full kit walk.

    Environment: 90% moon, saw Orion for the first time this season, moon was high overhead and couldn't actually make andromeda. Cool with respect to what I'm used to, so wore balaklava and was plenty warm.

    Equipment: 5.56 rifle, ir-laser, thermal with dvr, eotech, sling, mag with 25rds. .45 acp with 7rd mag in serpa holster. LRF and 3x magnifier for 14 in belt pouches. Pinnacle on left eye with ballistic helmet with 850w ir illuminator on left side and 3Lumen RBGW admin light on right left of show. Knee pads. Pack with 12lb weight to simulate gear. One quart canteen. Gloves. L-3 returned to "unit depot" for rework on setting the infinity stop.

    Activity: This was a walk, no buggy, no shooting, but trying to get gear and weight up to where it will be for hunting. About 35 pounds total. This is about a 2.5 mile course, up and down two hills, but mostly around the edges of our pastures. I did not see any mammals other than cows to the South at 600-800yds and cows to the North at 800-1000yds. The cows to the West have already departed, the jungle to the East had no cows.
    I dry fired with the ir-laser at several trees, the laser was visible with no problems. Using the LRF I lased several embankments between 172-202yds. To see the LRF ir-laser dot at 200yds or more, I used the 3x magnifier slip on to the pinnacle. It was cold enough, and my acclimation was low enough, that about half way through I loosened the chin strap and pulled up the balaklava over my nose. The helmet was still tight enough that there was no movement of the helmet while walking, even with the chin strap undone. Of course, there is only one 14 on the helmet now and all the counterweight (2 seven round .45 mags and 10 batteries) is still on for both 14s. The thermal ran out of juice at about the 2/3rds points and I switched over to standby on the dvr, thus bringing the thermal back up. I drank about half the water during a sitting break at about the 1/3 point. I wore the knees pad (Army surpluse from a store in Junction City) but did not notice them.
    Results: A pretty boring walk, that is good. Afterwards, this morning no soreness or illness, that is also good. Next I need to replace the 12lb weight in the pack with more ammo, water, proteni bars, the FA kit and chekc my list to see what else needs to go in there. I only wore a light jacket over the teeshirt, so I might wear a third layer next time.
     
  17. FrankT

    FrankT Destin FL LSB TURKEY BUZZARD PRESERVATION SOCIETY LoneStarBoars Supporter

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    Good practice, too bad no night hunting there.
     
  18. Hard_ware

    Hard_ware Here piggy piggy! Deep Deep S. TX.

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    Critters wont stand a chance.
    Working with the equipment in the dark, the tasks get faster and no surprises should occur when hunting.
    Usual tasks I do is swapping out magazines (supersonic rounds for subsonic rounds) without making noise, mounting thermal scope to rifle by feel, changing batts on thermal by feel. I don't worry about the battery on the pvs14 cuz I put a new battery in way before it gets low. Using the 3x lens on/off by feel. Walking with the monopod I started using. Bought it for painting but it screws into my vertical grip on the ar15. I leave it on when walking it's about 28" collapsed and up to 60" extended. Makes for a hands free monopod for under 20.00 from Hdepot
    [​IMG]
     
  19. wigwamitus

    wigwamitus LSB Active Member

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  20. Hard_ware

    Hard_ware Here piggy piggy! Deep Deep S. TX.

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    The one I use is around 28 inches closed, and 60 inches extended. The 4ft to 9ft will be too big when it is collapsed to leave on the rifle when the rifle is hanging on the sling. When I am walking around the ar hangs on a single point sling. I guess it depends if you use as a walking stick that one will be better for you. The vertical grip is one from academy sports cheap one with a thread in plug costs under $ 15
    http://m.academy.com/shop/Product_10151_10051_25386_-1__true?N=20001+10001&Ntt=vertical+grip&Ntk=All
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2014

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