I went on night maneuvers last night. It was a cloudless night in the middle of the mountains, and a stunning reminder of how many stars reveal themselves when you put on your PVS-14 night vision device.
While I have worn these a time or two before, this was the first time I had done so carrying a weapon with a laser. Wow! It is impressive. I also tried using a rifle and AR pistol that have only red dots sights, no laser, and both worked well once I got used to using a gun with a giant tube hanging off my face. One optic had an official night-vision setting and the other didn’t, but it was still easy to use when set at its lowest setting.
A Mysterious Light
After I don my NVG monocular, grab my rifle, and walk through the house, I am astounded by how bright the digital clock on the microwave is. Then I creep down the stairs into the basement, my way lit by LEDs on the cable modem, the WiFi router, and the alarm system panel. I never thought that tiny LEDs would be a potential security threat, but if a team had NVGs, they certainly could be.
I creep out the basement door. The distant lights of my closest neighbors are visible, filtering through the trees. This is surprising since these are houses you cannot see during the day. One house has a few blobs of light. The other seems to be bathed in it, which is weird since I cannot see any light with my other eye. I head around the back of my house only to see that my front yard is also bathed in light.
“Huh,” I think to myself, “There must be a big moon tonight.”
I look up. Thousands of stars and what may be the International Space Station or some other bright, man-made object, are overhead. Using NVGs requires you to turn your head rather than your eyes because they have a narrower field of view, so I stand out there for a moment, cranking my head around looking for the moon. No moon, but still a flood of light.
“Maybe the motion detector triggered one of the security lights,” I think to myself. I slink around the side of the house. That’s harder than it sounds because walking with NVGs and monocular vision takes some getting used to. The porch and driveway are lit up, but my non-NVG eye sees no light, so it is not the security floodlights.
I continue forward until I see I am casting a big long shadow. I whip around, expecting the moon to be just over the mountain. Still no moon, but the security camera behind me is blasting what appears to be a high-intensity infrared light. Duh! It suddenly clicks in my mind. That ring of LEDs that around the lens is shooting infrared light all over the front of the house and down the driveway.
I immediately realize that I am not the only person in the area with security cameras. Clearly the neighbor whose house is bathed in IR has them too.
The Value of Night Vision for Preppers
It’s one thing to read about the value of NVGs and how they are a force multiplier, but it’s another thing to go out at 11 p.m. in an isolated wilderness area with little or no artificial light and see it firsthand. I can see how these would have value for a lookout or if you hear a bump in the night.
I am now thinking about getting some IR light sticks and wondering if you can buy solar-powered IR lights or replace the bulbs in motion activated lights. Post them in the woods and if someone walks by, they go on, but are only visible to someone with NVGs. That could be useful.
I Need Better Accessories
My J-arm is wobbly, which reading a few forums tells me is a common problem. It seems funny that you spend thousands of dollars on a NVG and the plastic part that attaches to your head is the weak point. It works better on my left eye but won’t lock in as easily on my right eye and keeps falling down under its own weight. Of course, I’m right-eye dominant. Wearing the NVG on my left eye, I can shoot right handed if I use the laser to aim. If I want to use the red dot, I need to shoot left handed. I have trained this way, of course, but it is not as smooth, especially reloading.
I may invest in an upgraded J-arm model as well as a counterweight.
This is why it is important to test your training and test your preps. The time to find out your night vision has a wobble is while you can still find parts. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck using duct tape and zip ties.
I Need More Training
I also need more training, more hands-on experience so that I can move more easily and shoot better while wearing night vision. (It’s not a force multiplier if you can’t hit your target.) Nothing like sticking out your arm expecting to grab a tree and find it is not there. Hell, even negotiating steps was tricky as my foot was suddenly off from my eyes. I’ve never worn the binocular NVGs, which I assume help address this problem. I am certain driving a car, not to mention flying a helicopter, would take some getting used to.
I’ve never done mil-sim, but I can see how it would be a big help to train that way at night with NVGs. I also can’t help but wonder if anyone has ever run a nighttime three-gun match using nothing but NVGs. That would be awesome!
In the mean time, I’m going to be wearing these every tome we visit to get some practice and strengthen my neck muscles.
Night Vision for Preppers
Do I recommend night vision for preppers? Yes, at some point, and that point comes after you have built your prepper pantry, stocked your staples, equipped your first aid kit, filled the armory, and taken care of all the other standard preps. It’s important to remember that far more survival situations require food, water and shelter than require shooting, and not all of those will require night vision. But when you need night vision, there’s no easy alternative.
I’ll be happy never needing to use it for anything but running around the woods at night.