View Full Version : The Combat Mindset: Lessons learned From a Recent Sort of Real Home Defense Situation

August 15, 2011, 10:50 AM
We hear a lot about the combat mindset, and about what will go through your head in a real self defense situation. I recently had an experience in my home at night that drove this point home to me in a BIG way.

Last night, I was lying awake after my wife had fallen asleep. It was almost 11 PM, and there was a lightening storm going on. It wasn't anything big, just a colorful light show in the sky. Anyway, I'm lying there, and I hear a noise in the main part of the house. It's not anything I really get concerned about, I hear them about 3-4 times a month. I always check them out, as I figure better safe than sorry. I reach in the nightstand and get my pistol and flashlight.

I walk out of the bedroom, and I don't have the flashlight on because there is enough ambient light in the house to see by, and if someone is there, I don't want to give them a heads up. I stop just outside the door of the bedroom and scan everything that I can see. All of a sudden, my blood runs cold. The front door is wide open. At that moment, A million thoughts flood my head. I am in condition red, big time. THEY ARE INSIDE THE HOUSE!!! I start thinking of all the training I've taken for pistol combat, and all the books I've read. Center of mass, front sight, breath control, trigger squeeze, double tap, controlled pair, failure to stop drills, clearing a malfunction, tactical reloading, you name it, it popped into my head in about 3 seconds. I also began to think about the legal can of worms that can be opened with even the justifiable use of force. I pushed THAT thought out of my head, because in my state, BG in the house=justifiable use of force.

Like I said, this took about 3-4 seconds and then I hear the floor creak, right on the other side of the door (the door opens toward my bedroom, so when it's open, I can't see the entryway). Whoever is in my house is on the other side of the door. At this point, I have a half inclination to start putting rounds through the door, but I immediately dismiss that as a bad idea. When the door is open, not only can I not see the entryway, but it opens toward a center load bearing wall that has a closet and the pantry in it. In order to get to the other side of the door, I'd have to walk all the way around this center section, through the kitchen, through the dining room, and the living room. I'm pretty sure the intruder doesn't know I'm there, and I'd like to keep it that way so I can surprise them. I don't want to try something like saying, "I have a gun, lie on the floor" because I'm afraid that if they're armed, THEY'LL start putting rounds through the door.

So, with my options dwindling, I decide upon what I think will be the best course of action. In the same instant, I rear back and kick the door closed on the BG (it's a heavy door). At the same time, I jump around the door, click on my flashlight, and yell "MOVE AND I'LL SHOOT!!!"

At that moment, I'm confronted by the sight of my eight year old son, whom I've just sent crashing through the screen door, lying on the porch in the rain crying. Apparently, he got up to watch the lightening. My wife comes running out of the bedroom, holding her Lady Smith like a damned Charlie's Angel, yelling "WHAT"S GOING ON?!?!?!"

I know it was probably just the sudden release of tension, but at that moment, I start laughing hysterically. I mean eyes tearing up, I have to take a knee because I can't breathe laughing. My wife is ready to kill SOMETHING, I'm probably doing irreparable harm to my son's self esteem my laughing at him on the porch hurt, and I just can't stop.

My son wasn't hurt seriously, just a knot on his head, and we stayed up and had a LONG talk about opening the door at night without permission. Right now, I'm seriously thinking about getting convex mirrors to mount around the house so I can see around corners.

What amazes me is the multitude of things I hadn't thought of before hand. What if there was more than one BG? How many blind corners are there in my house? Why don't I wake my wife up before I go check things out?

All in all, I think I lost a year off my life from the ordeal, but it goes to show that preparation, especially mental, is key to self defense.

Did I do anything wrong? Any ideas how I could have done better?

Hiker 1
August 15, 2011, 11:13 AM
Man, that was a close one. You might consider an alarm system. Then if your son was to go outside, he'd have to disengage it.

August 15, 2011, 11:25 AM
Got children in the house? 99.9% of the time they will be responsible for noises in the night. Esp when teenagers start leaving/coming home late. Don't shoot thru any doors or walls.

August 15, 2011, 11:47 AM
Wow that was quite an event.

An alarm that announces which door has been opened, while annoying at times, is helpful.

Video surveillance cameras may also have helped prevent a potential tragedy.

August 15, 2011, 12:49 PM
Alarm systems are a good tool and can give you a heads up when something is going on. New systems can have some pretty advanced options such as remote access and video surveillance. At the end of the day the best tool you have is the one between your ears. It sounds like you used yours pretty good, but might need to start including the entire family in your planning.

August 15, 2011, 03:15 PM
Buy a dog. A child should have a dog, and maybe, so should you.

August 15, 2011, 03:20 PM
I'm confronted by the sight of my eight year old son, whom I've just sent crashing through the screen door, lying on the porch in the rain crying. Apparently, he got up to watch the lightening.

That sure could have ended up in a bad way if you had shot thru that door.

Motion sensor lites, a dog and the boys understanding he doesnt open doors at nite.

This post sent a cold chill right down my spine. My son just turned 9

August 15, 2011, 03:38 PM
Video surveillance cameras may also have helped prevent a potential tragedy.

Proper tactics prevented a potential tragedy. Cameras would have saved the boy a knot on his head and damage to the screen door.

August 15, 2011, 03:40 PM
We actually have a dog, and she's the worlds most useless and dumb chocolate lab. She won't even bark at Jehova's Witnesses.

August 15, 2011, 03:47 PM
Rule 1: if you hear a strange noise that merits investigating, wake the wife up first before doing anything else.

August 15, 2011, 03:50 PM
The VERY first thing I do, on those rare occasions that I feel the need to grab my gun and check out the house is 1) verify my wife's location; 2) verify my child's location; and 3) verify the dog's location (should be on the floor next to my bed).

Nothing else should be moving around in my house.

August 15, 2011, 03:58 PM
I already knew where my wife and dog were, and my son's room is on the other end of the house. I'd have had to clear the entire house to check on him.

August 15, 2011, 04:00 PM
she's the worlds most useless and dumb chocolate lab

Just got a beagle that's the same way. Depending on how the intruder acts, she might just roll over for a belly scratch.:confused:

Very glad everything worked out as it did, minus a few bumps and a new screen door.

Cameras might be a bit obsessive, but strategically placed mirrors ( of the decorative variety, not the ceiling mounted shoplifter catchers, gotta think resale:)) might not be a bad idea.

August 15, 2011, 04:04 PM
Before investigating, if possible, check in on your kids and try to move them to your bedroom or other safe room. We have an alarm system, armed on "instant" setting every night -- alarm sounds immediately if a door or window is opened. Happened a few weeks ago, and I retrieved my flashlight and firearm and went to check it out. A garage door was left slightly ajar and blew open in the wind. Get and alarm . A very good first line of defense and early warning system.

August 15, 2011, 04:13 PM
Shew! That also gave me chills down my spine. That's a good lesson to keep in mind. Another point for me to keep in mind, the kids are out of the nest and have keys to the house. It's not beyond them to drop by unannounced at any time. Is it rule #2 - #3, always be sure of your target and beyond? Glad it worked out o.k.

August 15, 2011, 05:01 PM
Armed home defense doesn't exist in a vacuum. An armed response must be tailored around the normal occupants. Each stage of the family cycle brings a different response, from inquisitive toddlers to teenagers bringing their occasionally low-life friends home.
Sure glad you trained yourself not to shoot at noise.

August 15, 2011, 05:09 PM
i 2nd the home alarm. Mine cost me something like 400, and the monitoring is another 15 a month....between the doors and the motion detectors i know when anybody moves anywhere in the house, if its armed the alarm goes off but i can get up in the middle of the night and walk anywhere on the main floor and not set it off.

August 15, 2011, 05:12 PM
Cameras are wonderful. I have a 16 channel dvr with 16 cameras, 14 of which are night vision capable. I can watch my home from any internet access including my cell phone. In fact I'm watching as we speak from my work computer. At night I simply hit the source button on my 32 inch tv from the master bedroom and can see every entry into my home instantly from the outside.

It has afforded me a peace of mind far exceeding the 2600 dollar price tag. That price included the dvr, a memory upgrade to 1tb, all the wires, power sources, 16 cameras, and the splitter for getting signal to two tv's.

So now I have a multi layered home security setup. DVR, Burglar Bars, Monitored Alarm System, Rotweiler (indoors), and Armed HomeownerS. Neighbors beware because they aren't coming my way LOL.

P.S. My cameras have recorded a rock attack on my neighbors home, a kid stealing my campaign signs, an attempted burglary on my pickup truck, and a man dropping off a beheaded rooster (complete with head) at the stop sign on the corner. The latter was believed to be a religious ritual according to LE.

August 16, 2011, 06:33 AM
A little follow up:

Yesterday at school, my son's teacher, who is a very kind older lady we count among our friends, noticed the knot on his head and asked how he got it. My son, being the painfully honest knucklehead that he is, replied "Dad kicked me through the screen door.":eek:

Luckily, she called my wife instead of the police, and gave us a chance to explain what had happened!

August 16, 2011, 06:51 AM
WOW, that was a great story and a damn spooky one too.
I haven't much experience except real world stuff, having intruders in my home twice and I didn't shoot them either. I even caught a man breaking into the neighbor ladies car, no lead therapy required.
However in my eyes you did well, except maybe as you suggest waking up the wife.
I keep mentally coming back to the man who shot and killed his girlfriend when she stayed over the first night because she was thirsty and he heard the noise.
Remain in mental control, use non-lethal methods first, but remain mentally ready with restraint. You should be commended.

August 16, 2011, 06:57 AM
I don't know if it is possible to do, but if it IS possible, I would make sure your son's bedroom is not all the way across the house for a multitude of reasons, this being one of them. I can get to my boys immediately if i need to, and they can get to me immediately if they need to. No house clearing involved. We also have an American Bulldog and a new half grown Staffordshire Terrier. Both have good ears.

August 16, 2011, 07:46 AM
I had a similar experience, awaken in the midsts of a deep sleep, daughter and friend came running into the bedroom in a panic saying someone was trying to get in the house. At the time I had a Bersa Thunder .380 as my HD/CCW gun and funny, the first thing that went through my mind was, I need a bigger gun with more bullets.
The noise they thought was a door knob being jiggled was the motor for the ice maker stuck on, moving the ice cubes around, it really did sound like someone was jiggling a door knob.

I did sell that little Bersa and have since slept soundly with a fully loaded Glock 21 on my night stand.

Scary, but the best training you can get to expose your weaknesses and areas requiring improvement.

BTW, what handgun did you grab and what was it loaded with?

August 16, 2011, 08:01 AM
I grabbed a Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm loaded with 18 (17+1) rounds of Speer Gold Dot 124 grain JHP +P.

I've only recently (less than three years) been using that platform, but I've fallen in love with it. I used to carry a Springfield XD .45, but shooting 300 rounds of .45 ACP every week got too expensive. I needed something it didn't cost so much to feed, and I got a good deal on the M&P, and I've never shot better with any other pistol I've ever owned. It's the most naturally presenting and pointing pistol I've found. When I draw, it seems to leap into my hand. I'd give up my dog before I gave up my M&P.

Lee Lapin
August 16, 2011, 08:31 AM
Expanding on an adage of Confederate General Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson in regard to taking counsel of one's fears, General George Patton is reputed to have said, “The time to take counsel of your fears is before you make an important battle decision. That's the time to listen to every fear you can imagine! When you have collected all the facts and fears and made your decision, turn off all your fears and go ahead!”

Acting on FEAR and not knowledge is one of the things that gets armed citizens in trouble a good bit of the time. It's your home, your environment, if there is any place on the face of the earth where there should not be any need to feel FEAR, your home is that place.

What you need to do is figure out some good ways to replace FEAR with knowledge. You need to find some better ways to "collect facts" before you go charging off to do battle with an unseen and unknown foe.

First thing is establishing one new habit for you and/or your wife- each night EVERY night before going to bed, CHECK THE DOORS (and any windows that might have been opened during the day) to make sure they are closed and locked. Don't close your eyes until you KNOW the doors are all closed and locked. And re-emphasize the lesson to Dear Son - DO NOT open exterior doors, ever, without you or your wife knowing he's doing it, and who's on the other side.

I would suggest you consider taking the NRA's Personal Protection In The Home class, if it's available near you. Take your wife to the class too. See http://www.nrainstructors.org/searchcourse.aspx for a locator tool. Failing that, get a copy of the textbook at http://materials.nrahq.org/go/product.aspx?productid=ES%2026828 , and/or the DVD of the classroom portion of the course at http://materials.nrahq.org/go/product.aspx?productid=ES%2026840 .

Formulate a better plan for dealing with odd noises -or worse- in your home. The class above will help a lot in that regard. Details are up to you but now you at least have a basis to build on.

Get a dog that is NOT worthless as a watchdog. Doesn't have to be a $15,000 Schutzen-trained Malinois, but you need a dog that will at least warn you if something odd is going on near or inside your home.

Some kind of alarm system is mandatory. Doesn't have to be a professionally installed hardwired monitored system, a $100 no-fee X-10 DIY jobbie can work for you IF you'll use it. http://www.x10.com/promotions/ds7000_19piece_hmp.html?feat6 is one source, shop around. I'd avoid motion detectors and just use magnetic reed switches on doors or windows, they're more reliable IMHO.

There's more but this is a start... hope it helps,


August 16, 2011, 09:30 AM
When my daughters were young I made sure that I had to get and cover some distance before handling a firearm.

Additionally, I had the little neon nite light put in darl corners to illuminate not depending a ambient sources.

LIkely the son got scared with the lightning and decide to sneak-in to a secure place {Mon/Dad]

August 16, 2011, 09:48 AM
Our daughter used to get up and wander. We put a bell on her door.

Kind of medieval, but effective.

August 16, 2011, 10:05 AM
and my son's room is on the other end of the house.

That's a difficult situation. My daughter's room is right next to ours (and it's going to stay that way until she's 25:D) - very easy to check. But, wouldn't your first thought tend to be that your son was making the noise? I would be a lot more reserved clearing my house if I had a split-plan like that with someone living on the other end of the house.

August 16, 2011, 10:14 AM
This is one reason I never could understand the house feature of having the "master suite" on the opposite end of the house from the kids' rooms. Sure you want privacy at times but I'd rather be close to my kids in case they get sick or an instance like this. In my house, 3 steps from the bed put all my dependants behind me leaving anyone else within a clear firing area. My bedroom also dominated the normal approach to the primary door by overlooking the deck and driveway both of which were lighted by a dusk to dawn light.
Change the angles of the doors so the blind spots are eliminated and put a bell on the door and/or boy.

August 16, 2011, 10:41 AM
I think the split-plan house, or houses with master suites on the 1st floor and kids rooms on the 2nd floor are the worst things ever designed. If you want to know what your kids are up to and make an effort to be a part of their lives, part of that is not being detached from, but living together with your children.

On another note, if someone were to break into my house, they would be sliding, and opening multiple doors before they could get to the bedrooms where we sleep, unless they break through the outside doors going directly to our beedroom. I, or the dog, would here them long before they could ever reach the back bedrooms. It's easy to isolate where the night "noise" is coming from, and thus pretty easy to clear.

August 16, 2011, 11:49 AM
Lots of good suggestions listed already.

Your wife needs to be part of the solution ... you need to wake her up and work together as a team; you need a plan that you've already discussed. In my opinion (and I'm trying not to "Tuesday morning quarterback"), the first focus would be to quickly get to the kids room and secure him. I wouldn't even clear the house in the normal fashion ... just safely and quickly get to your kid's room. Was a cell phone in your pocket? Once you've got the kid, call the cops and wait.

Anyway, these are scary situations and I'm glad it turned out ok. Use it as a learning opportunity and move forward. Thanks for sharing.

August 16, 2011, 12:31 PM
A lot of people come on very sternly with "well FIRST check on the kid" so I feel I must reiterate that THE ENTIRE HOUSE is between my room and his room. My home is a single level open floor plan with the bedrooms and bathrooms off of the main section. Getting to him prior to clearing the house is not an option unless I want to blindly trip over the BG.

August 16, 2011, 12:38 PM
A lot of your problem would have been solved by the maxim to positively identify the suspect before opening fire. If you feel that places you in potential danger, well, that's simply the way it has to work to avoid unwanted shootings. Luckily, you played it right.

August 16, 2011, 12:54 PM
+1 on waking up the wife. If nothing else, she can call 911 if there really is someone in the house. Even if he defeats you, she's awake and alert (hopefully).

No kids here, but I used to have multiple cats. Strategically placed night lights will help illuminate the darker parts of the house. Stick one in a bathroom and it'll help light a hallway. One in a dark living room will give you plenty of light to see shadows or silhouettes. On sliding glass doors, put a thin strip of reflective tape on the glass (to show it's closed). A quick flick of the light will tell you if the door is closed, even if the screen is closed. My lesson was learned after thoroughly cleaning the glass door one day and that night hearing an odd noise and not being able to see if the door was open or not from the hallway. :o

Look for remote lighting switches. There are various sorts. A friend has a 2-story place and part of the upper hallway can look down to the living room. A button is pressed and two lights come on downstairs, giving him a commanding view.

From what I can tell, you did most things right. Not waking the wife and finding the door open should have told you to retreat and wake her for help.

Do practice what you both will do in such an event. Can you even traverse the house to protect your son? If not, can you reach around a corner and flip on a light that doesn't give you away completely? What have you told your son to do if he hears gunfire at O-dark-thirty in the morning?

August 16, 2011, 04:22 PM
Luckily, she called my wife instead of the police, and gave us a chance to explain what had happened!

Man that would have sucked worse than you may imagine, could maybe a domestic violence charge and we all know what that means.

Be safe, be careful, hug that boy a lot :)

August 17, 2011, 08:29 PM
Heck of a hariy tale, Brasscatcher
Glad to hear everything turned out alright. I'm sure you'll laugh at that story in the future.

Take the comments of the "monday morning quarterbacks" with a grain of salt. We all know better after the sun comes up. You learned form the situation, and by sharing the story you have helped all of us learn form it too.

Thanks for the post.:cool:

August 17, 2011, 10:52 PM
Well, I guess I can suggest cats for one home defense solution, ever wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom or get a drink and the cat walks between your feet nearly sending you head over heels?
If they'd do the same thing to an intruder in your house sneaking around trying to be quiet, I think it'd work pretty good.

August 18, 2011, 12:14 AM
Training most any dog, even a lab to be on alert at night is not a hard thing to do. May take some time but well worth it.

A friend of mine(old neighbor) has three black labs and I guarantee you won't get in that house at night without them waking someone up. They are NOT trained killers by a long shot and may not even bite someone if they got into the house, but he's taught them to bark if they hear something during the night. I know, I was his training guinea pig making noise outside at 10pm for a couple weeks till they caught on.:mad:

August 18, 2011, 12:23 AM
I've actually heard that parrots make great alarm animals in a house. Same with geese outside. Nothing gets by them without a racket that would wake the dead.

August 18, 2011, 12:29 AM
Also, I've installed magnetic door chime alarms on all windows and doors. Whole set cost me $86. No monitoring, but where I live, it wouldn't do any good. If I called 911, it would take the sheriff's office 45 minutes to get here. Usually, if anything goes down out here, the SO calls me or my neighbor to check it out anyway (we're both reserves).

August 18, 2011, 01:04 AM
Also know guinea's make excellent alarms and make so much noise when alarmed you'll want to shoot them to shut them up.

There are three entrance doors in this house. On the inside of all the storm doors we have these small decorative metal looking nik-nak things my wife picked up at a home interior store. I've taken very small bells and hung on them. If the outside door is moved in the slightest, you hear it. So do my dogs and they automatically go to that door barking.

We have up/down slider windows in which I've made windows braces to keep windows from being slid open.

An alarm system as well as motion lights stategically placed.

I like the motion lights cause hopefully they will go off before someone gets to the house scaring them away.

Far as kids went, we had four so I tried to secure the house best I could so if a BG showed up, he would make noises from the outside of the house trying to get in rather than me having to go through what you did.

Train that dog to these noise's and he'll alert you before someone can enter your house, not after. You'd probably be surprised at what he/she can learn if you're patient with her.

Also, I read you're a reserve deputy sheriff. Talk with a few of the sheriff depts. K-9 dog handlers and get a few pointers as to how to train your lab if you don't know. One of the K-9 trainers for Cols., Ohio PD has been very instrumental in the training my shephard and you would have to kill him to get in this house at night.

Almost forgot...Baby Minders, if you don't know what they are your wife will know. They work well as you can put the mike at the far side of your house/garage and the reciever on your nightstand and you can here any comotion in your house/garage from your bedroom. I keep a mike in my garage thats probably 60ft from the house and I can hear anything that moves in there from the bedroom.

Hope some of this helps.

August 18, 2011, 11:54 AM
Even a cocker spaniel, like my wife's, that isn't even slightly scary makes enough racket to wake the dead and starts barking at things 200 yards away. I mean, you can't change the layout of your house, so you either train the one you have or get a super territorial dog. Best alarm system ever. Bigger dogs have the added physical deterrant factor. You think anyone is purposely breaking in when he can hear a german shepard on the other side of the door, telling him "Die, MF" in dog language? Not likely.

Might want to also install a sturdy door and locks on your son's bedroom door too; effectively creating two safe rooms as part of your safety plan - yours and his. obviously you'll want the keys, but he could be a lot safer with the ability to lock himself in if woken up by your code word shouted through the house.

August 18, 2011, 01:53 PM
From experience - Parrots are not great alarm animals unless the intruder is trying to take them from their cages (to clip wings or toenails).

I'm sure the young man launched thru the screen door will be a lot more careful in the future and might even remember it when he's a teen sneaking home after curfew.....

Baby minders could be useful but don't forget - using one means you're bugging yourself. Many of them are not encrypted and you're transmitting for everyone with a scanner to hear.

August 18, 2011, 07:04 PM
I prefer systems which don't eat or poop. This includes electric consumption. During a power outage nothing works.

What choices are there, that aren't consumers.

August 18, 2011, 08:32 PM
Well, Gus, I guess there's bells, tin cans on a string, trip wires, and all sorts of mechanical devices.

August 18, 2011, 08:38 PM
You are probably correct in a homeless tent city look. I was thinking of pressure mats, and trip wires. But motion sensors (battery operated) or as you had mentioned motion lights, with the associated intruder warnings in the house would be a better use of my energy.

August 18, 2011, 09:03 PM
I feel that a childs room should be as close as possible to the Parents and that there should be strict rules about bedtime. If someone were to get into my house, I want to be able to immediately retrieve my child and defend everyone in one spot. Roaming around a dark house in search of a badguy is just not a good idea in my book.

August 18, 2011, 09:31 PM
Solar lights,although usually not bright can be utilized also.

We have then around the pool and down the walk-way to the pool.

They're bright enough to let me see if someones out there.

BG's don't like light of any kind.

August 18, 2011, 09:35 PM
YUP shortwave they especially do not like the flash of a 45 ACP!!

August 18, 2011, 09:58 PM
Sure your right Gus.

But thats constitutes consumption:p:D

August 19, 2011, 07:38 PM
For low cost outdoor security...

Shortwave is right. Those solar walkway lights aren't bright, but placed on the far side of the walkway (or yard) will let you see someone walking in front of them.

There are a couple of brands of "driveway" alarms. These wireless devices use a a photo-beam circuit (some are I/R) across your driveway to ring the bell inside the house. If you're in suburbia, arrange one to cover your front porch (say, mounted behind front columns). In the back yard, some have enough output to cover the width of the house. Mount it waist high and clear of plants so anyone approaching from the rear breaks the beam.

Exterior windows:
If you have tall shrubs around windows for some privacy, trim the bottoms to prevent the shrubs from hiding someone easily. Trim up almost to the window sill to reveal their legs.

If you have flowerbeds or grass, remove about 18-20" of soil from the area below the window and fill with chunks of granite rock or pea gravel up to 2 feet on either side of the window. This means a "crunchy" surface for someone who is approaching or at the window.

Sash windows (up/down sliders) can be pinned closed with a pin lock. The spring-loaded pin on the lock engages pre-drilled holes in the sash frame. You can lock the window open in several positions. Place the lock high up on the moving window frame as possible to prevent reaching in to release it.

The best way to protect your kids (and home) is to arrange it so your kids have a something better than a teddy bear to cuddle.
He can reach the back fence in 2.1 seconds. Can you?

August 19, 2011, 10:01 PM
^^^^...and that pup looks as though he/she has the protective instincts required to do the job. :D