Home Alone?: Four solo room clearing concepts you must know

If you’ve ever wondered the best way to clear your home after a home invasion, look no further.  Here are four need to know tactical principles that can help you survive and win.

1. Scanning vs. Searching

It’s important to know the difference between scanning and searching.  Shooter clears room for threats.Scanning is keeping your head on a swivel, so to speak. Your weapon stays in, say, the low ready position, or a safety circle or sul position, while you’re head moves.

In room clearing scenarios, scanning is a must, especially when you are alone because you don’t have anyone to cover your “six” o’clock (i.e. directly behind you). You don’t want to get surprised by a second or third home invader so it’s of the utmost importance that you keep looking all around and not get tunnel vision by focusing your gaze too much at one point.  The more movement your head and eyes make, the more you can take in.

Searching, on the other hand, is keeping your eyes, muzzle and target all together. Wherever your gun points, your eyes should follow. In close-quarters combat, speed is vitally important and looking right while your gun is pointed left, for instance, wastes time in CQB. In other words, reacting to a threat when scanning is much slower than when searching; but since you’re all alone, the situation and terrain may call for both scanning and searching.

2. What are you looking for?

Watch for color, contrast, movement.  Look for shadows, shapes, and sounds. Listen. Be aware of mirrors and other reflective surfaces.  Use them to your advantage. Woman looks outside for burglar.

If you find somebody, watch the hands. What people hold in their hands is what kills. Keep the muzzle of your shotgun, AR or handgun a few inches down, low enough to see the hands. Clear from low to high and from near to far.

Remember if you can see them, they can see you too. Just as you’re looking for them, bad guys in your house might be looking and listening for you! Monitor your own noise and light. Noise and light discipline is important. If you have to walk down the stairs, beware of that creaky step. If you have a flashlight or a laser sighting device, don’t telegraph yourself. Don’t give your position away.

3. Don’t get in a rush

As you search and/or scan, look and listen. Time is on your side. There’s no reason to rush, especially if you’ve already called 9-1-1. In other words, get a gun and hold your position. Get back far enough into a room where you can quickly assess the threat when he enters and where you have some good cover/concealment, allowing a tactical advantage.

Not only is this a good option tactically, but it’s good legally, since in most states you still have a duty to retreat. Besides, you don’t want to have to get into a confrontation. The idea is to survive, so one positive option is don’t go looking for trouble. Stay in your room, if that’s where you are. Wait. Don’t fight. Holler out, “I have a gun and I’ve called the police!” even if the latter may not be completely true.

4. Distance is your friend

Beware of distance to the threat. Don’t give up space, but back off far enough where your intruders “gangsta aim” won’t work. Get behind a corner of a wall, but keep your eyes on the threat.  If you bring your gun close enough to someone, a struggle may ensue that could result in a negligent discharge (ND) or, they might disarm you, so stay back. If you’re not justified to shoot, give verbal commands. Ideally, put them in the prone with their hands out to the side. If they have a gun though, remember that action is faster than reaction and the threat has just turned deadly.

Shooter is too close to attacker.

In short, call the police ASAP.  Hold your ground, but retreat if you must (Castle Doctrine vs. “duty to retreat” vs. sound tactics); keep a fair distance from the threat, be patient, watch the hands, and keep scanning and searching until help arrives.

Until next time, continue to hone your skills and keep adding to your tactical toolbox.

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