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Fighting in houses...or fighting in your house can take on many forms depending on your mission. Having clarity of mission is essential so you know how to comport yourself in each event. I want to be very clear that this is one of the most dangerous activities that a homeowner may encounter.

Sadly, most training out there is limited to the police application, which I call "hunt the burglar". This has very little in common with much of what you may need to do if you are not in that line of work.

Basing our focus on the armed civilian CCW operator we can identify several possible mission profiles and tactical skills needed for fighting in houses.

1). Holding Ground. This is the most common home defense type scenario. Think of the classic scenario where a homeowner is awaken by a strange sound indicating a break in. They barricade themselves in the bedroom with the old double barreled shotgun, issue the classic warning, "I have a gun" and then call the police. We hear stories like this all the time.

The homeowner has no pressing need to enter the fight or go in search of the threat so he simply takes up a position of advantage, using as much cover and concealment as a bedroom will allow. He points his muzzle at the bedroom door chanelizing the avenue of approach of the bad guy and waits in ambush. When the bad guy forces his way into the bedroom, a "warning" may or may not be given depending on the tactical situation and the region.

For this very elementary event there is little need for any skills at all other than pointing the weapon and having the will to fire it at the home invader. They do however, need to have a weapon in the first place.

While many CCW folks advise this as what you always need to do, it is a very limited application. Will you do this if the rest of your family is still out there at the mercy of the home invader? Of course not.

2). Taking Ground. This is a bit more involved and far more physically and mentally demanding. This basically involves attacking the attackers. An example may be, as we mentioned earlier, the rescue of family members about to be victimized. The police parallel is a hostage rescue.

Think of the previous scenario except the homeowner is awakened by the sound of glass breaking, their child's terrified screams in a bedroom across the house are suddenly muffled and they hear a stranger's voice telling them to shut up.

This is hardly the time to hide under the bed with a shotgun is it?

This situation requires moving rapidly and stealthily directly to the threat. The mission is not to stay safe, it is to go to the fight. The mission is to close on the bad guys and shoot them to the ground with surgical close range gunfire. The urgency of the situation probably proscribes any negotiation, warnings, or attempt to deescalate the situation. The bad guys are located, closed upon, and shot down in order to save the innocents they are victimizing.

A similar situation is presented in an active shooter event where you have elected to stay and fight rather than run away. And before you discount this, there are plenty of reasons to do just that if family members or others for whom you are responsible are still in the danger area. You are not going to abandon your kids at Trolley Square or the Tacoma Mall and run for your life are you?

3). Traversing Through. Traversing involves traveling through a contested or conflict area where there may be active armed bad guys. The mission is not to engage them, but rather to escape them. But understand, getting shot in the back is no way to escape. The operator (s) and their protectees move rapidly through and out, free of the threat area, but ready to engage any threats that may appear or impede their exit.

Think of the active shooter event where there are multiple shooters but their immediate whereabouts are not certain. All you know is that the current place is not safe and that remaining there is not a good idea. You need to escape but running into one or more of them on the way out is a very real possibility.

There is no time to clear or search. You move quickly as before, giving cursory attention to danger areas with eyes and muzzles on the approach and egress, but no attempt would be made to "clear them" or search them. As soon as a danger area is passed, it is abandoned as new danger areas appear. The goal is to escape...but in a strong and controlled manner ready to convert escape into attack if necessary.

4). Search and Clear. This is an area of study that is often the basis of many "shoothouse" training events. It involves moving cautiously and deliberately through an area in direct search for an adversary that is presumably hidden or unaware of the good guy's presence. It is basically an indoor manhunt.

Most people have no idea how strenuous this is both physically and mentally, nor how dangerous it is when done alone. A typical 3000 square foot house for example might take the better part of an hour to search correctly by a team of three. And by search I mean doing it right, not simply turning the lights on and peeking into a room then declaring it clear.

All of these require a thorough understanding of the nature of architectural features commonly found in modern buildings such as corners, hallways, doors, stairs, etc., and how to negotiate them at various speeds. You would also need the ability to identify danger areas and potential threats, and the ability to mold your fighting platform to the environment at hand. As well, you need a clear understanding of what your mission is at any given moment as well as the fact that things can change quickly from one mission profile to another.

A lot of the choices you make will depend on how much information you have. This is not the time to be thinking about liability and stuff like that. If you do, you'll lose.

For these events, a shotgun would not be a first choice at all. Rather something short, light, handy and with lots and lots of ammunition would be preferred. Something like a Glock or Beretta with a 20+ capacity magazine, or even an SBR'd UZI semi auto.

Consider these situations

1). You wake up at 3:00 AM because you heard something. You are not certain enough to go back to sleep but not certain enough to call 911.

2). The noise that wakes you up is much more pronounced than in #1. Still not confirmed "human" but definitely something is not right.

3). You wake up to the sound of glass breaking and swearing. You live alone.

4). You wake up at 3:00 AM because you heard your kid scream across the house. His or her scream was followed by a male voice telling them to shut up.

5). You are at church and your kids are across the on the other side of the church at youth ministry. You hear gun shots coming from that direction, people screaming and running away from the sound.

6). You and your protectees are inside a building where bad things are happening. Your current location is untenable and you must leave but expect to encounter resistance as part of the escape.

While each event is similar, the dynamics of the fight are different and each one requires different tactics, and will probably have different assets available in terms of weapons . Think about this now and how you might handle each one of these problems. Think also about what skills you might need to make your time in the fight safer for you and more dangerous for the bad guys.
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