Student Review: Night Optical Device Firing 19 Sep: Corporate Guy

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Corporate Guy (CG) from Carolina

AAR – Night Optical Device Firing – 19 September, 2014

I recently attended the 19 September, 2014 Night Optical Device Firing (NODF) class.   I was also fortunate enough to attend the inaugural 20 June, 2014 NODF class.  At the risk of being repetitive I will repeat some of what I included in my initial AAR on this subject from June 2014.

As noted previously, I consider myself young at 52, but self-aware.  I know I am not 22 any more.   In the interest of leveling the playing field a bit, I made the determination last year that I wanted to take advantage of the available technology.   I invested in good quality equipment.  That said, my exposure to NOD equipment prior to these two classes was largely limited to occasionally using it to wander around my pasture and local woodlands.  I had never fired a weapon while employing NOD nor tried to establish zero with this equipment.  I was smart enough to know I needed help but not smart enough to know how badly I needed help.  If this resonates for you, I encourage you to read on.

In the alternative, if you are thinking you can pull this equipment of the shelf and use it effectively without help, I urge you to read on!  There is real danger in not knowing what you don’t know!

As noted previously, the inaugural event turned out very well and I left very happy with that experience.  Without getting to deep in the weeds:

  • I received some expert help getting my equipment set up correctly by instructors who had actually used it before in the real world.
  • I walked away with a better understanding of how to actually operate the PVS-14 and DBAL
  • I was exposed to the challenges of attempting to zero this equipment.  FYI its dam near impossible to go prone   with a helmet and night vision on and try and use a rifle
  • I spent some solid familiarization time under night vision complete with a field exercise

As a matter of perspective, all of this this was perfect.  It’s why I went.  In addition there were lots of little ah ha moments!   For example, I learned that (and will not forget) technology designed to amplify light does not work as well as you might think on a moonless rainy night with heavy cloud cover.

I went into the first class with tunnel like vision focused on learning the details, the mechanics related to operating the gear.  And the thing is I did learn.  When I showed up to retake NODF I knew how to set the gear up and how it functioned.  I am not saying 4 hours of instruction during the first class made me an expert.  I am saying it laid a foundation I could build off of (not unlike CR in the context of CTT).  I was ready to take the next step.


From a personal perspective, taking NODF a second time was a good investment.  In my NODF class #1 the instructor to student ration was 2 to 4.  In my NODF class #2 the ratio was 3 to 2.  It does not get any better than that folks.  I was able confirm that I had learned some things in my first go at NODF and build on them.  For me confirmation translates into confidence.  For example:

  • I confirmed I could set up and use the equipment independently
  • I confirmed I could zero an AR /PVS-14/ DBAL.  I paid attention during class #1 and went home and tried it   myself – Aaron confirmed I had done it right when we checked it on the range
  • I confirmed I could hit what I was aiming at using the PVS-14 and DBAL

The list above is not intended to be comprehensive.  My only point is that I believe I made demonstrable incremental progress (even if on a range).

Not surprisingly, at MVT you will move off the square range and into a more tactical environment.  This transition offers tangible benefits.  For example:

  • Speaking from experience, nobody works up much of a sweat walking around the pasture under night vision.  You will work up a sweat during this class and learn some things in the process.  Who knew you could fog up night vision hiking up hill towards an objective?  There is an eyecup for Pete’s sake!  So where exactly does the fog come from?  Eye sweat?  I have no clue, but now I know you can fog the equipment up and more importantly I know how to resolve the issue.
  •  I got a chance to stand on ground I had just assaulted looking downhill into the darkness.  A perfect opportunity to reflect on what a potential sub peer enemy would have been able to see (muzzle flash aside) during the attack.  Nothing.

Its pretty clear to me that there are some things that you can’t learn from a users manual.  Experience matters.  If you purchased this type of gear for reasons similar to mine, please recognize, that you are not going to just pull this stuff off of a shelf and use it effectively.

I get that every body learns differently and you may absorb everything you need to know in a single class.  However, I suspect that for most people, confidence and competency in the field are going to require more effort than turning up for a four-hour class.  At the risk of being melodramatic, lets face it, we aren’t talking about recreational youth soccer (football for Max).  This is not a game where everybody gets a trophy at the end of the season.

I still feel like I just scratched the surface and I will likely return.  Do yourself a favor.  Make the time.

CG from Carolina

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