Master of the night

TacLight, a West Yorkshire-based supplier of torches and lamps, has made waves in the shooting industry with its own brand, Night Master. Tony Jones, the company director, tells Helena Douglas how it all came about

Taclight specialises in retailing and distributing LED lights and torches for general use and for specialist applications, selling via its website and showroom as well as through a network of retailers throughout the UK. It is also UK and Ireland distributor of the Klarus and Dereelight brands. But possibly its biggest success story is its own brand Night Master torches, which have been specifically developed for professional and hobbyist hunters and shooters.

I asked Tony Jones, company director at TacLight, how the Night Master brand, which incorporates long-range gun lights and infrared (IR) illuminators, came into being: “TacLight has been selling torches for five years. We sell many brands, including the Dereelight, which is manufactured by a small company that makes torches for everyday use. The unique aspect of these torches is that they are a bit like Lego. You can take a bit off one torch and put it on another – we really liked that aspect. We realised the modular concept would work well for the shooting sector so two years ago I developed what is now known as the Night Master in conjunction with Dereelight. We produced a sample, sent it out to various shooters to test and went from there. Following that we received some orders and started to build up production.”

The lamp and gunlight sector is a crowded market – but Taclight has relied first and foremost of the quality of the Night Master product to see its way to success. Instead of relying on filters placed in front of a white light to create coloured lights – as in conventional torches – Night Masters produce a coloured light source directly from an LED. As a result, there is virtually no reduction in the beam’s intensity, meaning users can see further with all colours. In addition the light thrown by Night Master torches is focused and precise, negating the possibility of light from a scope-mounted torch reflecting off a moderator and lighting up neighbouring fields.

Thirty-six-year-old Tony explains that the Night Master product was originally made as a gunlight, but people are now using them for spotting. “We are seeing lots of gamekeepers moving from old-style lights and lamps – and they are giving us lots of great feedback. They can now go out with just one lamp – the days of carrying a big lamp and heavy battery are fast disappearing. The Night Master torches have three light intensity modes, can take various interchangeable LEDs (white, red, green, yellow and infrared), and are powered by a single rechargeable battery – giving around two-and-a-half hours of continuous use on full power.”

The Night Master 800 consists of one main unit, with a variety of different heads available for it, as well as scope and rail mounts. In addition users can buy rechargeable batteries and infrared LEDs, which throw a beam that can be seen through a night vision device. In addition to the 800 is the Night Master 400 Envy hunting light and the Night Master 400-IR, a small but powerful infrared illuminator.

TacLight is already selling thousands of Night Master units a year, and in the field they’re proving they can take knocks. “They are all manufactured using aircraft-grade aluminium with type 3 military spec anodising,” says Tony.

The Night Master range is sold direct to end users via TacLight’s own online retail outlet and also via the trade. “A lot of traders were getting requests from customers who said they had seen a Night Master and wanted to buy one,” explains Tony. “We are now distributing to a considerable number of retail outlets around the UK. We have also had a great deal of interest from overseas and are working to increase and upscale production so we can move into those markets as well. I’ve been to China, where the units are made to our very high spec, to discuss this with our manufacturer who is very reliable with excellent quality control. We have good quality control here too – before we send any torches out we check them, clean the lenses and make sure everything is working perfectly.”

The other advantage of Night Master, Tony explains, is that each unit can be stripped down to its component parts. “Should anything go wrong it can be replaced and you don’t have to buy a new torch. So if you drop the torch and crack the lens on a rock, we can supply a new lens and the customer can fit it very easily. Anything we produce in the future will also be compatible with our existing products. The concept we are working on is a torch for life. What we want to communicate is that we won’t bring out anything that will supersede this product, but what we may do is bring out a better LED and other accessories, which can then be easily retro-fitted by the customer.”

In terms of pricing, the Night Master 800 comes in at a retail price of £119.95, thereby appealing to professional users such as pest controllers and gamekeepers, who often consider every penny they need to spend. Tony explains that this is all part of the plan: “Once gamekeepers, who are careful about the kit they buy, start to adopt a new piece of technology, then you know things are changing. They tend to use their equipment to death and won’t buy new products until they have been proven to work – so the fact that many of them are now buying Night Master is great for us. And we hear that many of those sales come about via word of mouth – keepers will tell their friends and under-keepers, and so on.”

Tony, who previously worked as an advertising copywriter, originally got into the torch market as a hobby. “The whole torch thing started when I was looking for a torch for myself for a camping trip. I did a lot of research, bought an LED torch, liked it, and thought I could use the knowledge I’ve gained to start buying and selling torches as a sideline hobby business. It’s not a hobby anymore, which is great. We are now a growing business and look forward to an extremely bright future.”

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