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Woman using a laptop in the kitchen with burglar standing at the windowPreparing and training are important. Extremely important. But we tend to do them in an isolated environment – separating the two activities from real-life situations. For example, I have purchased and trained in using weapons for self-defense. Most of my training, however, has been at the shooting range shooting from a standing position at an unmoving target. That’s not likely to be how it will happen in real life, should I ever have the need to protect myself. To remedy that, I’ve taken some “action shooting” training. That brings me closer to real life, offering the opportunity to shoot while moving and shoot from behind cover. Still, it doesn’t bring it into my own life.

That’s where “scenario thinking” comes in. Scenario thinking prepares you to defend yourself in situations you are likely to face. In this article, I’m dealing with defending yourself at home.

If you have weapons for the purpose of protecting your life and the lives of those you love, invest in training. Not just once, but regularly. To ignore this important step is foolish. At best, it means you’ve simply wasted your money on your weapons. At worst, it puts you in a position of trusting something that you honestly can’t use effectively. After you’ve gotten some practical training, take the next step and imagine yourself using the weapons. Then run through practice drills.

It all starts by running through scenarios in your mind –

  • Where are you most likely to be at various times throughout the day if a home invasion happens?
  • What is the first thing you’ll do?
  • What is the next thing you’ll do?
  • What happens after that?
  • Where should your self defense equipment (guns or other items) be located? How should they be prepped?
  • What escape routes do you have?
  • What safe places do you have?
  • Where are your telephones for calling 911?

Here is some of my scenario thinking. If a home invasion happens, I will most likely be in one of three places in my house:

  • If I’m in the basement working, I will grab the gun I have secured near my desk and make sure the safety is off and a round is chambered. Then I’ll look for cover. I have several options identified and will choose based on the noises I am hearing upstairs. Then I will call 911. After that, my actions will be determined by what happens next. This whole scenario is relatively easy to practice and is the best option for me.
  • If I’m in my TV chair on the first floor, I’m in the most vulnerable place, so that’s where I need to be most carefully prepared. I will probably have my laptop on my lap and the intruder will most likely enter through the front door –  which puts him between me and a good escape route. It’s hard to practice throwing your laptop on the floor and grabbing a weapon. I need to break the instincts to freeze and to treat my laptop with care. I’ll grab a weapon, and then depending on where the intruder has entered, attempt to run to safety upstairs or downstairs. If that’s not possible, maybe I can get to the sliding glass door in the kitchen. Otherwise, I’ll be forced to protect myself from the living room. I have a phone next to my chair, but I may not be able to call 911 until the bad guy is down. (Yes, if you have a gun for self defense, you must reconcile yourself to being able to take the bad guy down.)
  • If I’m upstairs, my actions would be similar to the actions I take in the basement. If not in my bedroom, I would run to that room. Then I would grab a gun and make sure it’s ready to fire. Because our bedroom door doesn’t lock, I have several pieces of relatively lightweight furniture that I can quickly knock over in front of the door. No, they’re not going to stop anyone from entering, but they are going to slow them down and give me more time to prepare. I’m going to call 911. I’m going to address the bad guy using my command voice (from way back in my military days), telling him that I have a gun and I will shoot him. I will tell him I’ve called 911 and he should leave immediately. My actions after that are determined by what happens next, but I’m on the phone with 911 (stay on the line with them – they record all of their calls) and in as safe a place as I can be.

Thinking through these situations has helped me define the actions I will take and the order in which I’ll take them. I’ve evaluated and practiced my options before a break-in occurs so that if one does, I’m not in a place where I have to make decisions on the spot under great stress. I’m simply working through the checklist I have in my head.

The process has helped me realize that my first instincts weren’t my best options. It has also helped me realize areas of vulnerability. As a result, I’ve repositioned some furniture in my bedroom. It’s helped me identify my equipment needs and where the equipment should be placed. For example, if a break-in occurs while I’m in my chair in the living room, I have little room for retreat. One option is to purchase a glass breaker and place it near our sliding glass door in the kitchen. I may be able to get there safely but not have time to unlock and open the door. The glass breaker solves that and it makes noise that may alert a neighbor.

As an aside, if you are trained, let me encourage you to carry your weapon on your body all the time in your home. Does that make you paranoid? No, it makes you capable of defending yourself wherever you happen to be should an intruder intrude –which is pretty much what intruders do). This concept took me by surprise when I first read about it on Kathy Jackson’s excellent website, www.CorneredCat.com. Her blog about carrying at home is outstanding. You can read it here. (By the way, this is an excellent site, especially for women. Spend some time there.)

There are other scenarios around your home to consider. What actions should you take when you hear or see a suspicious person outside your home? Most people are tempted to go check it out. Experts caution against this. Prepare to defend yourself should the person become an intruder, call 911 to have the police check it out, but don’t go “hunting” outside. You don’t know what you’re walking into. Call the police.

One last thing – in case you think I’m going overboard on having weapons of self defense near me when I’m in my own home, check out these FBI statistics from Patriot Crime Defense’s website:

  • Every 12 seconds a home is invaded
  • There are 6,646 break-ins every day
  • There are over 3.5 million burglaries per year
  • 13% of homes are burglarized per year
  • 19.2% of rental properties are burglarized per year
  • 85% of all break-ins are through the door
  • 67% of all burglaries involved forcible entry
  • 38% of all assaults occur during a home invasion
  • 60% of all rapes occur during a home invasion
  • 70% of burglaries involve residential properties

The statistics in your area may be better or worse than these, but walk around your neighborhood counting houses. When you get to 100, realize that about 15 of them will be burglarized this year. I consider that hitting too close to home to not be prepared.

The bottom line – “scenario thinking” is as important as other training you’ll receive. Spend some time thinking through how you’ll react should someone enter your home uninvited.

5 Responses to The Importance of Scenario Thinking – Defending Yourself at Home Edition

  • Bridget says:

    Probably the most important scenario to rehearse is that if you point your gun at the intruder, you must be mentally ready to shoot them if they are a threat to your life. Just waving the gun around and saying, “Now don’t come any closer,” may not be effective.

    • You’re absolutely right. If you don’t have the will to use your gun, and by “use it” I mean shoot in such a way as to fully stop the threat, you shouldn’t fool yourself into thinking that you have a gun for self-defense. I’ve heard people say they just want to scare the bad guys off with their gun. I can’t begin to tell you (and I don’t think I have to tell you), that that’s a very bad idea. Anyone who is criminal enough to threaten your life will surely see through your lack of resolve to use your gun. Your gun then becomes their gun and they do have the resolve to use it. I think exploring this issue in more depth will be a good topic for a future blog.

      Note to readers: This comment came from my cousin Bridget who writes an excellent blog about her life on a ranch in New Mexico. While her blog, The Nickel and Dime Ranch isn’t a prepper blog per se, it has a lot of overlap with prepper topics: self-reliance, sustainability, gardening, greenhouses, raising animals for food, quilt making, you name it. Her husband Tom has written articles for some gun magazines, most recently having a cover story for the November 2013 issue of Shotgun Sports. Check out The Nickel and Dime Ranch. Highly recommended.

    • At age 11, (on my birthday), My Father took me out to a “DUMP AREA”, and, handed me a .22 cal., bolt action Remington…BUT! He didn’t let go of the rifle after he handed it to me, but instead, looked me (VERY SERIOUSLY — WWII seriously), in the eye, and stated matter of factually: “NEVER POINT THIS AT ANYTHING YOU DO NOT INTEND TO KILL”! THAT settled the matter for me, right then and there…THEN, he took me to the local ROTC Gun Training Depot, and had the (as I learned later) [WWII], “GUNNY” train me & teach me, and put me through the “routine”…and he brought me to an “EXPERT” level of “fire-arms handling”, (which I’ve NEVER wavered from since).

      #1] ALL guns / rifles / firearms are loaded

      #2] CLEAR ALL weapons before handling

      #3] NEVER, EVER, FOR ANY REASON…point a fire-arm at ANYthing you do NOT intend to kill!

      #4] Keep your “ARM” with you at ALL times when in a “lethal” circumstance…ON “SAFETY”

      #5] KEEP your FIRE ARMS clean at ALL times…and lastly, but NOT ….fail to….

      #6] PRACTICE CORRECTLY (“practice does NOT make perfect! PERFECT PRACTICE makes perfect!”), and OFTEN…{SEALs fire 1000 rounds a day…get the hint? {yes! You’re NOT one…but do your best!}

        • I was adopted…and VERY fortunate to have two VERY wonderful parents…both went through WWII, (he in the Atlantic on a {to become famous} destroyer, and she in college…{actually, she dealt with the depression — he didn’t because he was at sea, in the Navy}. Unfortunately, there’s not too many folks left that got such fine upbringing as my generation…but Phil, you’re doing a good job of “standing in the gap”, keep it up! We NEED all the help we can get!

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