Strobe Techniques

At TerraLUX, we pride ourselves on our commitment to quality. Beyond providing the highest quality products, we also strive to provide the most helpful and informational training and resources. Today we focus on a defense technique proven effective by many police officers in the field and in role-playing training and research: the strobe effect.

Featured in many of our products including the new TerraLUX Tactical (TT) line of flashlights, the strobe mode is easily triggered and gives law enforcement officials a chance to temporarily confuse or disorient suspects and attackers.

As a bit of a “how-to” guide for law enforcement officials, we’ve adapted some of the tips from an article from Police & Security News, reprinted on Excerpts highlight the importance of the strobe effect for law enforcement, and how to effectively use this strategy to your advantage.

“Disorientation and blinding of suspects  
There’s a reason that strobe lights are used on dance floors, and it’s not because it makes the whole experience more rational, lucid and clear. They are used for the same reason that alcohol is served in clubs—to put your mind into a different state than normal. This one is easy to verify. Just flash a strobing light at a buddy and vice versa. Better yet, do so unexpectedly while they are trying to perform a moderately complex task—like attacking you. They will likely stop in their tracks…the first time, anyway. (Like anything except a Taser or a kick to the jewels, once you are used to something or expect it, you can usually work through it.)  They will also be blinded by the very bright white light that’s strobing—we’re all familiar with the blinding effect of 60 or more lumens in the eyes of a suspect. The strobe adds disorientation to the blinding. The tactical advantages of this are obvious. And this effect alone is enough to justify the carrying of a strobe, in my opinion.

“Peripheral vision disabling

I have experienced this effect both from the disabler’s position and the “disablee’s.” I don’t know the science behind it, but it is true, and it’s easy to verify with three people. In a dark room, you and your partner stand together as you strobe a third person across the room. As you begin to strobe, have your partner approach the third person (who’s playing a suspect) from a 30-degree or more angle. Your partner will be right on top of the suspect before they know they are there. Then try the same thing with a constant-on light of the same intensity. You won’t get the same result—it’s not too difficult for the suspect to see your partner approaching. The tactical advantages of this benefit—in terms of apprehension or even getting your partner into position to take a critical shot—are also obvious, but to take advantage of it you will have to have a partner that you work with enough to know what’s going on and what to do. This applies to some of us and not to others.

“Inability of the bad guy to get accurate fire on you
It is harder for me to get a bead on a strobing light—because it appears to be moving—than it is on a stationary bright light. And if you move or jiggle the strobing light, more so. Part of the debilitating effect on the bad guy/shooter is also the disorientation that the strobe induces (see point one above.)  I suspect that if the shooter/bad guy was in a state of fear, that both of these effects (disorientation and inability to aim) would be enhanced. However, a strobing light is still a light, and if the bad guy points his gun in the direction of your light, which even with a strobing light can be done, his bullet will still go somewhere near it—and you. The beneficial effect of the strobing light in this regard (disallowing accurate fire) would thus seem to be proportional to the distances involved and the cover used. Field experience over the next several years will tell us more here.

“Induces fear and/or indecision in the bad guy

Fear, I don’t know about. Indecision, however: yes. I suspect that the indecision is related to disorientation, but you definitely see a “What the f***?” look in suspect’s (and role-players) faces the first time you hit their eyes with a strobe. You seem to gain a second or two or even more of inaction on many suspect’s parts with the strobe, whatever the psychological mechanism.”

The strobe feature is an extremely valuable addition to any officer’s equipment. Able to buy the officer a little more time without harming the suspect, strobing allows law enforcement to gain the upper hand in almost any situation. Our new TT flashlights feature strong strobe lighting with easy one-handed activation when you’re in a pinch. Visit our product page now!

courtesy of