When we consider that fateful night an intruder mistakably (or not) makes their presence in one’s home known, the onset of adrenaline and a primal sense of protection begin to wash over the mind. Immediately, fight or flight, self-control, and decision-making rampantly clutch and suppress one another based on experience, knowledge, and training. The mind bends and tugs on what is real and what is not. Memory becomes a trickster as we attempt to translate what we hear and see, knowing all the while that the family is being invaded, and time stands still for no one.

The home invader has an intimate relationship with the home protector. Not only does the invader cast his presence through face-to-face interaction, but he also sheds unfamiliarity, unpredictability, and sometimes fear before ever these two opposing forces meet. What is perhaps unknown on the behalf of the brazen is the just commitment of the sentinel to protect what is rightfully his. This is a phenomenal strength that should be capitalized upon.

Commitment to one’s self and the charge to protect what is beloved is a line in the sand that should never be crossed by those who would threaten it. The protector should prepare, resource, and train based on where that line in the sand is, and to what extent he’s willing to go to truly safeguard.

The vote of the protector should reflect the unsung votes of the material and immaterial. That is, whether it’s safeguarding family, personal values, or valuables, we should be dedicated to owning our responsibilities within the tribe. Consider the enemy’s vote with such a commitment. Consider how much he might be willing to endure as well. Preparedness, skill, and sacrifice, if necessary, become second nature with time.

A State of Readiness

To know how to protect one’s home is to know the home itself. Review the bones of the house in relation to access points and potential exits. Once this mental map is constructed, observe your and your family’s movements throughout. Where do people (to include guests) naturally drift? People generally move in as straight-line from Point-A to Point-B as often as possible. An invader’s lines of drift will generally be dependent on one central factor: comfortability. His movement will be slow and restricted based on his knowledge of the house, illumination, and whether he believes his presence is known.

Know the flesh of the house. Know where the strong points and weak points in the house are based on cover versus concealment. In layman’s terms, which areas are going to stop bullets and which areas are purely for hiding purposes? This is important to consider, not only in the interest of self-protection but additionally in the interest of protecting those that we care about.

Know the obstacles of the house. Consider what there is throughout the house that could impede movement. Ideally, the house would be free of furniture, devoid of Legos, and stripped of right-angles to enhance visibility. We need to have confidence in home-field advantage. Are there mirrors in place that expose hidden corners? Can you visualize hiding spots? What pattern of movement can you use throughout that keeps cleared areas secure?

Understand what your rights are. Know the state and federal castle and firearm laws that are in place. Understanding and preserving your lawful rights may appear unimportant in the heat of the moment; however, your knowledge on this topic, especially when firearms are owned or discharged, can save you a lot of judicial pain. The foresight to know your rights should be a factor in gun ownership and clearing rehearsals.

To strip our livelihood of the joys that we’ve so rightly earned for the sake of protection is to say to all intruders that we’re carving out a significant piece of our lives just for them. Do not oblige them that privilege. Add to, do not take away from your personal circle. That is, beef up your livelihood to accommodate for the unforeseen but do not neglect the happiness of yourself and those you care about.

In a predator-prey scenario, each player instinctually will draw upon their greatest strengths in order to combat opposing threats: the fear of death through starvation; the fear of death through being killed. In order to capitalize on our own instincts that have faded with time, we must use as much intelligence and common sense as possible to retract that confidence from the darkness.

Brass Tacks and Muscle Memory Through Rehearsal

Being Up Versus Being Awake

There’s a fine line between being “up” and being “awake”. Being “up” means that you’re moving around but additionally, you are consciously aware that you need more time in order to be fully-functional. If anybody has attempted to arrive to work on time and has only been out of the sack for less than half an hour, they probably understand that their motor functions and thought processes are not operating at 100-percent.

The home-protector needs to have a high state of readiness. The home protector always has control over their willingness to be vigilant and forthright about strengths and weaknesses. With time and practice, little variances in sights and sounds surrounding the house raise little red flags that will rouse the home-protector faster. What is not in the protector’s control that works in his favor is the aforementioned home-field advantage. As you sit up in bed and attempt to discern between what is a real threat and what is not, the intruder is working against his own patience and experience, with any luck, breaking squelch along the way.

If you can ascertain the possibility of an intruder, begin your initial movements. Ready yourself with your firearm. It should be loaded and should have a round already chambered as a result of good practice prior to falling asleep.

Do a quick pan around the bedroom and ensure that you (and your partner if present) are alone. Gently, but firmly, wake up your partner and clearly say their name until they are asking what’s going on. Calmly and briefly make your partner aware of the possibility of an intruder and begin to set up a defensive position in one area of the bedroom.

Responsibilities and Being on the Defensive

Allotting yourself the opportunity to bring decision-making and tentative actions into check can be indispensable, especially if you have a partner that can aid and assist. Rehearsals lay a foundation of preparedness that promotes muscle memory and mental refinement. Don’t get caught running through Plan A for the first time while not even considering Plan B and C.

Clearing a house is by nature is a difficult task. It’s mentally and physically draining for those that are untrained in its execution. Doing it alone is even more difficult. Assess your criteria for clearing your home, particularly in relation to what is or is not worth the potential consequences. Here’s one assessment:

The Black and White: If there are other people in the house, take any and all risks associated with removing them and yourself from the home. Period. Take ownership of your domicile and the inherent responsibility to protect those under your charge. Any individual should expect a reasonable amount of protection while under the roof and care of another. Leave no one behind. Cowardice surely gnaws on the soul with far sharper teeth than the gnash of misfortune.

Shades of Gray: Principles, values, and material objects all deserve to be assigned their own worthiness in the interest of protecting home and hearth. The eternal question: What is it worth? If we are to live in a state of preparedness, we must draw lines in the sand and live with those choices. We should strongly consider that perhaps the material objects that propagate community and external happiness are not worth risking our own life or another’s.

Once you have established a defensive posture, call the police. This can be done alone while remaining trained on your bedroom’s point of entry but it can also be done by your partner who can calmly and clearly shape the situation for the authorities.

Movement to Clear and Tempo

What now? If there is no one remaining in the house and it is in your interest to egress to a safe location outside of the domicile, follow a predetermined route, which offers a direct line to the outdoors (i.e. a window or bedroom door), that can still be safely and quietly covered by whomever is carrying a firearm. Remember that speed is security but the element of surprise is always preferable. If the jig is up and there is no possibility that the intruder is not aware of your presence, safely quicken the pace in order to keep the gap between the intruder and yourself open at all times.

If there are additional personnel in the house, you should begin your movement to their locations. There should be a predetermined route to each location in the house that is established well before execution. As an individual, maintaining a high degree of security is crucial. Clearing your home requires an intimate familiarity with its layout, but it also requires looking around its angles in ways that are unfamiliar and deliberate.

When you do make the commitment to move and clear to a new area of the house (i.e. your daughter’s bedroom), follow a route that allows minimal opportunity for the intruder to move around you. If there are multiple routes and hiding areas (also known as dead-spaces) between you and your destination, choose a path that handrails the outside walls of the home. Orient yourself inward.

If you can discern that the intruder is closing the gap between himself and your family, accelerate your movement tempo enough that you can maintain control and still match the necessity of controlling the fight.

Dissecting or “Pie-ing” the Room

This is the bread and butter of ensuring personal safety. Dissecting a room or cutting each room like a pie with your eyes is a focused effort to, as completely as possible, know that the room is clear of all threats.

Assume a high-ready posture with your firearm so that your vision is not obstructed but you have the ability to quickly snap into an aiming position when appropriate. You should be trained on the areas of the room that present the greatest threat until these dead-spaces are cleared. More often than not, door-wells offer the most significant threat. These are considered high-speed avenues of approach by inhabitants and strangers alike because they offer the greatest unrestricted movement.

The upper body and lower body should work independently of one another while simultaneously working in tandem. Imagine your body is like a tank; the turret pivots independently of the chassis, focusing on the threat while the tracks worry about immediate obstacles. The legs and feet should ensure that the body does not come toppling down over an ottoman while the upper torso shifts to respective distant threats. Rehearsals help develop this mobile dexterity.

To “pie” a room is to traverse your eyes and clear with your firearm from one side of the room to the complete opposite side, identifying hazards and threats along the way. You should maintain your distance away from the pivot point between the new room and the room that you’re in. This might be the wall edge between a hallway and the living-room, or the pivot point may be the door between two rooms.

The objective is for you to know, in an orderly fashion, what is going on in front of you. Entering thresholds without scanning floods the senses, slows down reaction time, and exposes the protector to threats closing the distance gap.

Upon clearing all dead-spaces and obstacles in the room, the room itself is now “clear”. Press on to the next room. Continue to match your speed with the threats that you encounter. Hallways with minimal openings can accelerate closing the gap between you and the intruder. Large rooms with multiple dead-spaces will slow you down.

The End of All Things

As you enter and secure loved ones, set up a new defensive position inside of that room and wait for the authorities to arrive. Although you cleared your path to a new destination, the vacuum of security created is unstable. There are too many unknowns to justify re-clearing the house to a safe egress point. You’re better off holing up.

Routing back to an important point concerning laws and your rights. Lawyer-up. Even when you know your rights, there are those that might take advantage of them. Even after the police have arrived, document any suspicious activity that might be infringing on your rights as a firearm owner. Do not get into an argument or a standoff, lest a small disagreement turn into a graver confrontation. Do your part as a law-abiding citizen by documenting and getting in touch with the legal system in order to manage your interests.

Endure the challenge of preparing you and your family for the unexpected. According to the U.S. Department of Justice Statistics Bureau, approximately 1 in 35-40 homes will be burgled this year and about 28% of those incidences will have a household member present and 7% of all household burglaries, a household member was violently victimized.

The BLUF or bottom-line, up front: be planning and be preparing. You stand the chance of having your weaknesses exploited in a manner that puts you and the ones you love at risk.