Tag Archives: home defense

The Importance of Target Identification

Deputies found a 32-year-old man who said that he and his wife were sleeping when they heard a noise in the kitchen.

The husband took his handgun and walked in the kitchen area, where he shot the victim.

After the shooting the husband recognized the victim as his younger teenage brother.

Man shoots, kills brother thinking he was burglarizing home

Yet another tragic example of why I stress target identification so much. These situations are absolutely preventable. As I’ve said before, if you live with anyone else, my analysis is that there is a 97 percent probability that the ‘bump in the night’ is a member of your own household. With those kinds of numbers, gunowners cannot take the risk of shooting someone at home without establishing a positive ID.

This kind of situation is a further example of why I say we have to be very cautious of what we take of from our training, and even more so, what we read. Much of the good training available is conducted by former law enforcement or military personnel. Just as much as any of us, they are subject to unconscious biases resulting from their experiences and training. Since most reading now is done on the Internet, you have to assume everything you read is wrong because most of it IS wrong.

Responding with a firearm to a noise at night in the home absolutely requires that you visually verify your target before shooting. You probably will need a flashlight for that. And stealth is not your friend, it is your enemy. Therein lies a major divergence from the law enforcement officer or soldier, to whom stealth is an ally. The notions that ‘the light draws fire’ or that criminals will wait in ambush for you if they hear you coming are nonsensical. Those are bad paradigms for us to insert in our thinking. If your background is such that having assassins waiting in ambush for you in your own home is a concern, you need to work on some serious hardening of access points to your home.

If you keep a gun at home, put a flashlight next to your gun; no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

pistol and light

Next time you go to the range, take the flashlight with you. Instead of just blasting 50 holes in a silhouette, shoot two shots at the silhouette 25 times. Sequence is very important in how you do this.

  • Have your gun in your shooting hand and your flashlight in your support hand. The gun is not pointing at the target and the light is off.
  • Before each two shot string, say out loud “Who’s there?”
  • Wait to listen for an answer. If you go to the range with someone, have them stand behind you and sometimes respond with “it’s me, Daddy” or something similar.
  • If they say that, immediately put your gun down on the bench and abort that sequence.
  • Then illuminate the target without pointing the gun at it.
  • Finally, bring the gun up and fire the two shots.

One of the things you will find when using this sequence is that the worthwhile two handed shooting techniques don’t work well for it. Harries is both clumsy and dangerous to assume when you already have the light on the target and are keeping it illuminated while presenting the pistol. The Rogers/Surefire technique takes some time and manipulation skill to assume. What you will discover is that only the Cheek Technique or the FBI Technique work well in this context.

6 LL Dryfire cheek ready

That means you have to learn to:

  • Speak while holding your gun.
  • Abort the shooting sequence if there is not a threat.
  • Do a dissimilar task with the other hand, i.e., orient the flashlight and work the switch, while keeping your gun off target and your finger off the trigger.
  • Shoot with one hand only while continuing to perform the dissimilar task.
  • Manipulate the safety or decocker of your weapon with one hand while holding something in the other.

For the final 5 repetitions (10 rounds), put up a clean silhouette target and shoot the LAPD Retired Officer Course (10 rounds at seven yards). Measure how well you do. You’re going to find it’s a lot harder than you think.

That sequence is obviously rather involved; practice it before you have to do it for real or you’ll forget to do it or get it wrong. Forgetting to do it is what leads to tragedies.