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Pajama carry. Shower carry. Topless carry. It’s all good. (Click here for the full NSFW reveal.) Well, not really. As comely as this lass looks with a 686 dangling from her plaid pants, ain’t nothin’ like a real holster baby. Always carry your firearm in a holster. Not only are you safer, but it’s still sexy; I reckon the model would have looked just as attractive with that Smith & Wesson revolver (or, dare I say it, something smaller) inside a Remora holster. Now, where was I? Oh yes. Practice at home. Right. Three exercises you should try at home. First a word about safety . . .

Use a blue gun. As it’s completely inert (the self-defense community needs more erts), the odds of it being loaded are exactly zero. It’s the best “weapon” for pistol packers to practice gun handling skills in the privacy of their own home.

If you wish to the Starksy & Hutch thing at home with a real gun, safety check your weapon thoroughly. Aside from the usual protocols, I recommend that a second or even third party safety check the weapon after you do. Make sure they know how to do it properly and don’t rush them.

Don’t dry fire the weapon during these exercises. If you don’t pull the bang switch, the gun can’t go bang. Even though it can’t. Don’t muzzle or “laser” anyone. If you don’t aim a gun at someone, you can’t shoot them. Even though you can (over-penetration, right through the wall).

1. Practice accessing your gun

Perform some normal domestic task—watching TV, cooking a meal, de-linting the dryer, etc. Have a volunteer go the farthest point from you in the house. After a suitable pause (i.e. domestic bliss), they should pound a table or wall three times, and start a stopwatch.

Time how long it takes to get to your gun. If the person doing the pounding thing can see you at any point in the retrieval process, they should shout BANG! You’re dead.

Home carry people.

Once you accept the truth of that experiment, time how long it takes you to get to your shotgun and/or safe room while holding your [blue or triple safety checked] handgun. Practice and time getting to your shotgun/safe room from different points in your dwelling.

2. Practice situational awareness

As German Field Marshall Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke said, “no plan survives contact with the enemy.” Don’t get to thinking it will be a straight line from your initial handgun acquisition postion to shotgun/safe room access, or from one place to another in your house (to gather friendlies, hide and/or engage invaders).

The plan: survive a home invasion. The strategy: varies according to the situation. Well, it should. As Emile Chartier said, “Nothing is as dangerous as an idea when it’s the only one you have.” More simply, “good habits” can get you killed.

So have a volunteer place randomly numbered cards along the route from one place to another (e.g. from TV to shotgun or safe(ish) room). See how many numbers you can recall, to test your run-to-the-gun situational awareness. Then add pictures or names of other places in your house; you have to go there first.

Add stress: loud music, a deadline, people yelling on you, etc. If your family doesn’t think you’re nuts (yet), do all this while shepherding family and/or friendlies to your defensive position. [Hint: use the stopwatch and make it a game.]

3. Practice situational awareness again

Our final quote comes from Lyndon Johnson: “A decision is only as good as the information it’s based on.” Very few gun training exercises involve NOT doing things. Not shooting. And not moving. Try it.

Yes, I know: moving and shooting is THE most important skill for the self-defense shooter. And hesitation kills. Speed surprise and violence of action? Absolutely. But you really should know where you’re going and what you’re doing before you start going there and doing it.

If you have an alarm and/or a dog, you should have some precious thinking time. If you don’t, that time is even more precious. Practice stopping and assessing. Do the above exercise with the new instructions in an envelope. Include a listening station where you have to wait for an audio cue (word, sound) to remember. Give yourself a minimum completion time.

All of these exercises are designed to increase Operational Familiarity (OPFAM). The trick is to train yourself to respond appropriately in the event of a home invasion. It might not work out that way, but there’s no point in not trying. Despite the picture above, it’s better to be ready for a gunfight than to look ready.

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  1. It just occurred to me that all this training is necessary only because law abiding citizens are forced to be on defense. They don’t get to have the initiative. They don’t get to choose when or how an encounter with “bad guys” will occur, so they always have to practice reacting to situations where they start out one or two steps behind their opponent. I don’t think good people should have to accept these terms. All this time and effort spent running your children through paranoid scenario driven exercises is a concession to evil. Instead of waiting around for the bad guys to pick a fight that suits them, I think it’s time we talk about going on offense. Let’s go attack them in their homes so that we can stop having to run our 8 year olds through panic drills.

    • As attractive as that idea might be on the face of things, even the LOEs get the wrong house with all the info they have available to them. If John and Jane Homeowner decide to go “hunting” on the offence, I can see anarchy in the streets something like the Rodney King riots in LA. But I do feel your pain as to how helpless we sometimes are against the forces of evil.

    • Sorry, but “going on offense” or vigilantism as it’s known is just joining the other side.

    • Who is “them”? Someone who hasn’t yet committed the crime you want to get them for? Are you a troll trying to see how many ‘gun nuts’ you can find who’ll agree to vigilantism?

      • Remember, there is nothing DEFENSIVE in trying to shoot another human being.

        Thats and OFFENSIVE thing to do.

        Dont think of it in terms of offense or defense. Think of it as doing what is required to end a situation that is threating to stop you, or a love dones, life.

      • Yeah, you got me, I’m trolling. “Them” refers to convicted felons paroled to our towns and cities who continue to cycle in and out of the system for victimizing our families and neighbors.

        • And you’re trolling to join them. You’re seeking to commit crimes yourself. The fact that the victims you’re targeting are criminals themselves doesn’t make the acts any less criminal. Count me out.

      • He’s actually seeing the woman at the grocery store. The chick in pajamas is just a photograph. She can’t tell you what loaf of bread is the best. Indeed, she probably doesn’t know.

  2. “hesitation kills”

    you know what, even though I haven’t been much of an active commenter on this site since I got here a few months ago, maybe I could throw in my 2 lincolns about this. there was a saying, “the longer you hesitate the more likely your decisions get decided for you”. now, I know my next bit may sound silly, but videogames, while not up-to-par with real life, can teach you quite a few things. for example, when playing mud-n-blood, a little top-down strategy game that pits your squad against a neverending onlslaught of unfair enemies, one time I got a warning of an artillery strike. I was arguing with myself in my brain to move my frontal troops (because arty strikes stick to the spot which they were designated on, and I was guessing that they were aiming for my forward MG position). so I can’t decide to move them or not, first shell kills an officer in the trench, and the next one wipes out the other three guys. so yeah, hesitation made me loose half of my squad and also made my other troops, now harshly outgunned, all be overrun within ten waves.

    so yes, hesitating is quite possibly one of the worst things you can do, and if you do hesitate, make sure you’re not in a bad spot to do so.

    and, another tip would be, well, the “who do I choose” syndrome, as I like to call it. play any multiplayer FPS game for long enough, and you’re bound to be suprised by two baddies at the same time. this seems to always throw me off, and I’m stuck trying to decide which one to shoot, and thus, due to hesitation, I’m dead. maybe this might make a good discussion for future posts, because while videogames may not be 100% accurate, the threat of multiple armed baddies invading your space or your place is very, very real.

    and while you may say, “its just a videogame, its not real,” consider this. the point of those such games are to stay alive and kill the bad guys, more or less. the point of a home invasion is to stay alive, which killing the bag guys may be necessary to do. although you can’t exactly use videogame perks or anything and you should never rely on Call of Duty for your firearms tactics, we can still learn something from anything, no matter how trivial.

  3. So that’s where I left my 686!

    Seriously, though, Robert raises very valid points. In addition to those, even though I have an alarm and a dog, I recommend mental scenario exercises, where I ask myself, “OK, where am I/we now, how far to my closest gun (I home carry unless I am in MY jammies (see above)), where’s my nearest fire extinguisher (as Clint Smith says “spray ’em in the face with the foam and then hit ’em with the red can!”), what’s the safest area/room to move to, etc., etc. I also have at least one Streamlight flashlight (stashed not in plain sight) in every area.

    I do always carry my cell phone, in case I need to activate the cavalry, and, realistically, to provide as many details as I can about the bad guys and the situation in case I don’t survive the encounter. I certainly want them caught if not shot.

    Am I crazy? I don’t think so. I find these and other exercises to be fun and interesting for problem solving. I’ll take every advantage I can create. And, to quote Don Henley’s song “I will not go quietly!”

  4. For me, the above is largely taken care of by my multiple layers of defense. Decorative bars on the doors and windows that require a bolt cutter for access. Alarms on all the windows and doors. Security lights and dim room lighting throughout. Our kid is still sleeping with us (she is one and some years old) so we have the benefit of a sturdy locked door where we sleep. I home carry. I everywhere carry. My gun sleeps under a pillow at the head of my bed on a rest pointed away from anyone in the room and so I can lay my hand down and grab it. ADT monitors the home.

    The dog situation is being remedied soon. I am buying the biggest, most obscure dog that my insurance allows (a Rhodesian Ridgeback) and having him professionally trained. They weigh about 85-90 pounds and were bred as silent hunters in Africa for stalking and baying lions. The dog only barks when there is trouble. So he in himself will be an alarm that barks, bites and subdues.

    It makes my stalking around the house at night practicing a whole lot more comfortable and allows me to think of other ways in ensure the safety of those I love.

    Did I mention we are putting in a safe room? I love my wife. 😉

      • You know… a lot of people say that. The thing is is that the suggestion is horseshit. We did move. We moved to a place where my wife grew up. She remembered it being all idyllic and beautiful with mountains and streams and lakes and rivers. We moved there. We stayed there for six months. In those six months we discovered that the people there were crazy. I am talking meth crazy. Small town. Quaint. Crazy. The first time I had to pull a gun on a guy was out there. For what? A cleaning bill? Crazy. No. The thing you do is stand your ground and make the place you live better for having you there. Someone who cares about the place and cares to make it better. All you suggest is urban sprawl. A silly notation and one that requires hundreds of thousands of dollars and a lot of change and hassle. Friends? Who needs ’em right? Family? F8Ck ’em, right? What a pussy, cowardly suggestion.

        Take it from someone who did puss out. Don’t. Not worth it. The grass isn’t greener.

    • Ditto: I have literally none of the above and I feel safe at night. It’s all about where you live.

      • You know… a lot of people say that. The thing is is that the suggestion is foolish. Foolish for these reasons. We did move. We moved to a place where my wife grew up. She remembered it being all idyllic and beautiful with mountains and streams and lakes and rivers. Nice people and a relaxed way of life. We stayed there for eight months. In those eight months we discovered that the people there were crazy. I am talking meth crazy. Small town. Quaint. Crazy. The first and only time I had to pull a gun on a guy was out there. Broke into my home. For what? A cleaning bill? Crazy.

        No. The thing you do is stand your ground and make the place you live better for having you there. Someone who cares about the place and cares to make it better. All you suggest is urban sprawl. A silly notation and one that requires hundreds of thousands of dollars and a lot of change and hassle. Friends? Who needs ’em right? Family? F8Ck ’em, right?

        Take it from someone who did puss out. Don’t. Not worth it. The grass isn’t greener. It isn’t about where you live. The first night we stayed in this small community a father stabbed and killed four of his children and wife. He then lit the house alight and tried to burn himself to death. Two days later an old man was beaten to death in his home by two teens for a couple of dollars. Two weeks go by and a local jock is found with his throat slit so viscously that his head was hanging by a thread. A couple days pass and a teen is raped on the same path as the murder. All this in a town of about thirty thousand and two hundred thousand in the surrounding areas. The sex offence rate in this small town was literally triple the states sex offence rate.

        These things don’t happen where I live. None of this has happened where I live since I have been here. You may feel safe the way you live but it is just an illusion that takes but one person to take away. As you say. It is all about where you live. Ask the people of Chardon. I live near there. One of the most affluent counties in the country. Money out the backend rich. One dude changed all that, didn’t he? You will argue that that is a kid in school and not your home but my point is that it only takes one nut to change how you think and why not take precautions in the one place you can actually change to your needs?

        You live how you live. I live to survive and live through the abnormalities that come once in a while as I live normally and take a few little precautions and insurance measures. I can my own food. I grow it before canning. I don’t throw away any food that cannot be pickled, dehydrated or canned. The decorative bars on my home for looks and security will soon be replaced with a thin film manufactured and used in Texas to keep glass from breaking during hurricanes and tornados. It can withstand a three pound missile strike. Overkill? Why not? It is cheap. It is easy. Application requires a steam cleaner (which I have for our floors). Tornados have been getting worse and worse in recent years here in Ohio. More importantly they have been getting stronger further North where I live. So why not use the film? Keeps your windows from becoming a part of your anatomy and helps keep the roof on your home. Awesome!

        For a lot of you people (soon to be sheep – maybe) this seems crazy. But ask yourself this. What other countries beside the U.S., Britain, Canada and other Western countries don’t grow their own crops for home use or don’t have their own arsenal for defense.

        I plan on replacing all my interior doors with the type for our bedroom. Solid hardwood with a supportive steel frame. Slows fires and intruders. My attic is soon to be sound and access proof from below. Keeps the noise out and preps too. Crazy? Why? It only take a couple hundred dollars extra to have the extra comfort and peace of mind. But to each their own. Did I mention my wife suggested we purchase a small boat on Lake Erie so that in the event that we need to leave the Cleveland area we have a five minute walk or minute drive to a highway that moves with no congestion in the case of catastrophe? Oh! It also serves as something for me and my family to fish off of and enjoy in the meantime.

  5. Tripple check? Double check? Have a friend check?


    Dont get me worng, saftey is paramount. But at the same time, If you can not assure that your firearm is unloaded, you have NO business owning one.

    Dont dry fire?

    So, where are we supposed to dry fire, Robert?

    At the range?

    If i’m going to drive across the town, or to somewhere where theres a completley safe direction (Berm, angled steel plates, etc.), i’m going to bring some ammo with me.

    The entire point of dry fire is that its free and you can do it just about anywhere…And you’re telling people NOT to do it?

    Again, if some one is so damn dumb they cant be trusted to pull a trigger on a gun they know is unloaded, what makes you think they can be trusted to pull a trigger on a gun that is loaded, and pointed at another human being?

    I can guaranteeing one hundred percent that playing card games with friends at home will not affect your ability to end a violent encounter as well as practicing sight alignment and trigger pull.

    • I think his advice to dry fire is fine. He can’t be held responsible for saying to fire now can he? Wouldn’t that be great to be pulled off to civi court because of unsafe advice he gave? Nah, some good advice. As you pointed out. Dumb people are going to do it anyway and they deserve what they get.

      • And impressionable readers who do not hear feedback from different angles will misinterpret, misconstrue, and possibly bleed because of it.

        The time it takes you to get to your gun isn’t the important part. Thirty seconds or a third of a second, getting your sights onto the target and pulling the trigger is what saves lives.

        These are all solid suggestions. But what the author is recommending is about the same as practicing sky diving with out practicing pulling the rip cord.

        • I don’t disagree with what you are saying. I am saying that I don’t think it would be wise for the author to suggest the pulling of triggers for legal reasons. The gun is never loaded when someone dies and it was never pointed in the direction of the person who was shot. It just happens. Just like that and because the guy on TTAG told me to practice this way… so it is his fault.

          That’s all I am saying. I dry fire all the time. No one home (all in bed) and at night in the dark when there is not likely to be anyone outside.

          I get it. I really do. I just don’t recommend the telling of dry fires because people are dumb.

  6. Our final quote comes from Lyndon Johnson: “A decision is only as good as the information it’s based on.”

    He should know.

  7. The major form of practice suggested by most experts is dry fire from draw. I actually can’t believe a blue gun and checking by a second or third person is advised. Agree that checking clear twice is a good idea, but if you can’t do it yourself, sell the gun. As for dry fire: Put a laser sight on the handgun. Do occasionally have someone else watch, telling you (based on the laser’s movement) which way the laser is moving as you pull the trigger and hold it. That will let you fix your grip and trigger-pull (squeeze, etc..) errors. That is what lasers are good for. On the whole “in your head” situational stuff: Isn’t it enough to carry and have skill? I think the average guy (and, I know for sure, the average SOF guy) suffers more stress, preps themselves more for an anxiety disorder, by all the “what if” thinking beyond the basics. Overdone, it definitely isn’t healthy. Electronics: motion sensors, remote video, and wireless lighting control are all so cheap now, that people should install alarms and video and shed the stress. You want time to react? Get an electronic heads-up. How can anyone practice a profession intensively while constantly thinking “what if.” They’ll end up like the forlorn guy in the “prepper” post today. A discrete concealed handgun (with training) is supposed to REDUCE your anxiety, not make it a full-blown neurosis.

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