This morning, I had an opportunity to do some work on putting my money where my mouth is. I’ve been haranguing about Negative Outcomes and wanted to come up with some actionable practice. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, as the saying goes.
Around 5 a.m., someone was loading a pickup in the parking lot outside my apartment. There was quite a bit of ‘bumping,’ which woke me up. Everything was still dark and otherwise quiet. I was satisfied that it was indeed a truck being loaded and what was being loaded wasn’t mine. While lying in bed, I realized I had been awakened by a ‘bump in the night.’ So, I decided to clear my apartment as a dry run.
First, I cleared my pistol and put an orange dummy round in the chamber. I then dryfired it once. If I hadn’t done that sequence correctly, I would have had a Negligent Discharge in my apartment. At 5 a.m., that would have been a Serious Mistake. No doubt an ND would have led to the Negative Outcome of Police Involvement when police officers showed up shortly thereafter. Putting an actual possible consequence into the equation makes it a little more realistic as a practice exercise. Being exposed to real consequences is something most gunowners don’t allow themselves to experience very often.
From this clearing task came my first observation; if one isn’t awake enough to competently perform a simple unload, load, and verify manipulation, is it wise to go through the house in the dark making life and death decisions? Probably not. One of things John Farnam taught in his classes I’ve attended is that it’s a good idea to be awake before you start handling firearms. His counsel is that having a pistol right next to your bed may not be the best idea if you are the type of person who requires a minute to wake up. Having your gun a few steps away might be a better idea. One incident in my Negative Outcomes database is of a man who shot himself in the foot when he picked up his bedside pistol before he was completely awake.
Having cleared the pistol and sterilized it, I then picked up my flashlight. Just to get out of my bedroom, I have to unlock and open the door while holding a pistol and flashlight. As I do this, it’s important that I scrupulously observe Rules 3 and 2, Finger off trigger and Don’t point the gun at [myself] while my support hand is extended in front of my body and holding a flashlight. Using the gun’s laser to check, it was clear that avoiding sweeping my hand is not as easy as might be thought. If there actually was an intruder, the worst possible case would be that he was on the other side of the door when I opened it. How to handle that is something many people don’t think about.
As I worked my way through the apartment, the night lights I have in every room were sufficient for me to see if someone was there. However, I would have needed the flashlight to make an identification. I do have some entertainment signs in my home, so I used them as substitutes for making a suspect identification.
The first thing I did upon encountering a sign was to practice the Challenge, “Who’s there?” It doesn’t have to be loud when practicing, but it’s important to get into the habit of verbalizing. If the ambient light wasn’t sufficient for me to read the sign, then it’s probably not going to be enough for me to make an identification. By lighting it up with the flashlight, I could read the sign, so I can probably make a good ID.
Maybe this seems like a somewhat involved exercise but let’s keep in mind, there are competing sets of probabilities in a home defense situation. The most likely probability is that the 3 a.m. bump you hear or shadow you see is, in fact, a member of your household.
It’s advisable to practice under conditions that resemble the ones you will encounter in YOUR real world, which is different than everyone else’s. Those who have been through shoothouse training will probably notice that the above exercise doesn’t even begin to look like making entry into the shoothouse with your carbine and shooting everything you see. There’s a reason for that, I’ll let you figure it out.