By Sean N.
Midnight. Dog is going nuts.
I walk outside to pet her, unhook her chain and walk her back to the house. But she keeps pulling towards my workshop, growling. I turn and see a shadow against the side of the building. Absolutely nothing runs through my mind. There isn’t a question of what to do. There is not a question of what might happen if I do not act. None of that matters. There is a man in my yard, hiding near my workshop. He isn’t speaking to me. He isn’t explaining himself. And he isn’t hauling it to the back forty . . .
I release the dog. He takes off with my loyal mutt on his heels. He makes the back forty and vanishes, and I whistle for my dog to come home. I take her inside, make her sit like a good girl, and give her a rawhide treat. I call the sheriff’s office and report it, as any good citizen should. Then it sinks in. There was a man, intent upon robbing me. He was in my yard, and didn’t run, or even say a word. All those questions flood my mind. What if he had been in the shop?
There’s knives, machetes, and the odd crossbow lying around and hanging on hooks. What if he had been armed with a gun? Then, the big one hit me. What if he had chosen to go into my home instead?
The wife and kids were sleeping. I met the deputy at the door. We had a long chat about it, and he advised me to get a gun. (This being South Georgia, he was kind of annoyed at me for not having anything stronger than my trusty Red Ryder.) I asked a few questions about legality, and the realities of shooting somebody in self defense. The kind deputy summed it up pretty well.
“If he runs away, let him go. If he comes at you, do not hesitate to pull that trigger.”
He recommended a defense course, run by the local Sheriff with help from the NRA, of course. I passed on it, mostly because I grew up shooting, and had taken the NRA course a few times in my childhood and teens. My father had raised me shooting. I felt I would be ok, in spite of not having fired a gun in a decade or more. I simply went to the gun store, picked one out, passed my background check, and off I went. Right to the back forty to kill some ammo.
(A short aside here. When buying your first gun in years, GLOCK is an excellent choice. 357 SIG is not. I love the GLOCK 31, but not the ammo prices when I need to practice away ten years of rust. If getting back into shooting after years away, keep it cheap folks.)
$100 and 200 rounds later, I was hitting the silhouette out to 100 yards. This made me happy, and I went on thinking I would be ok. The rust wasn’t as bad as I thought, and I was still a decent shot. And here comes incident number two.
Midnight again. Dog is going nuts again.
Outside, gun in my hand, and clearing the yard, a bit at a time. And I realized, I have no idea how to handle it. Those classes were so long ago. I finally realize I should see what the dog is barking at. Turns out that a dog barking at a bad guy and a dog barking at a rattler sound very similar. It took me 20 minutes of pretending to be a Navy SEAL to figure this out. (Almost got bit as well. Just cause he ain’t rattlin’ doesn’t mean he ain’t a rattler.) While it turned out not to be the situation I thought it was, it did make me realize that I needed to brush up a bit.
I needed to brush up on more than just working the boomswitch. Basic firearms safety, GLOCK and 1911 armorers courses. But these two incidents, with not a shot fired, reminded me of the responsibility we all owe to society. To be safe. To know your weapon. To know your laws. To know your limitations.