Edition 21

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We have space available in the Basic Defensive Carbine class being conducted the weekend of 21 – 22 MAY.  While the class is built around the AR platform, AK’s, SKS’, Mini-14’s, M-1 Carbines have all been used by participants in the past with great succcess.  We’ve even had a few take the class with Ruger 10-22’s!
Times, location and equipment requirements for the BDC are covered to the left.
An important feature of this class is the amount of low light training you’ll get.  Being able to hit the Threat in low light is critical and a skill we don’t spend nearly enough time developing or maintaining.
Below I’ll talk about an event first mentioned a couple of months back – Libby and I came home late one evening to find the back door of our home wide open.  Carbine, low-light and and tactical movement skills all became important when I elected to clear the house rather than call 9-1-1.  Glad I had them!
Hope you enjoy the newsletter.   As always, comments, etc. are welcome.

When My Home Was Invaded

A few issues back I mentioned that Libby and I had come home late one evening (after dark) to find the back door of the house open. Jump to the end: Nobody found; nothing missing; human error.
In this issue I’ll write about our movement techniques, light management and weapon choice. Next issue I’ll devote a lot of time to using a weapon mounted tactical light and laser.
First, house clearing is dangerous and should not be attempted if there are reasonable options. While there are things you can do to make the process safER, there is no such thing as a safe way to clear a house of Bad People. I made the decision to enter the house because…
(a) I have some training and experience in it and…
(b) there were no indicators that the house had been broken into. The door frame and lock appeared to be intact; there were no signs of anyone inside.
Had I arrived to find the door jamb in splinters and seen or heard anything that indicated someone was inside, I would have called 9-1-1 and waited outside (a course of action that has its own problems).

Mindset Issue

‘(b)’ above is dangerous territory. There is a thin line between seeing no evidence someone is inside and assuming there is no one inside. You must keep an open mind about what you may find inside. Assumptions should be conservative.

Back to the house…

Libby was armed with her PDW and, in addition to my own, I took an AR-15 from the truck with me. Why? First, an AR in 5.56mm is a more effective fight stopper than any handgun. Second, bullets from it are less likely to leave a house (or a person) and endanger a neighbor. Third, this one is equipped with a light / laser combo mounted above the bore.
We entered the house at the open back door. Because our house is a basic two-story box with lots of windows, I made the assumption that anyone inside had seen us drive up.
I chose to enter by the open back door. Why not the front? The front opens into a foyer with a large room on each side and the stairway to the second floor almost directly ahead. That layout would require me to simultaneously clear three separate and widely divergent areas as soon as I came through the front door. On the other hand, coming through the back door I would enter a small laundry room attached to only two rooms; a small bathroom to the right and an open kitchen to the left. To me, it represented a more easily secured beachhead.

How we moved

I told Libby to keep an eye on the kitchen from outside. I pushed the back door open with my left hand while holding the AR at the ready with my right, entered the laundry room and immediately side-stepped so that Libby could have a clear shot into the kitchen if someone appeared from that direction. I quickly moved to the bathroom and pushed the door open hard with my left hand and lit up the room with the weapon light. I pushed the door hard so it would swing all the way to the wall. If it stopped early or softly, that would tell me something or someone was behind it. I moved quickly because my back was to the unsecured kitchen. Seeing no one inside the bathroom, I turned the bathroom light ON and shut the door, closing it off behind me. Now I could turn back toward the kitchen and the rest of the house, secure in the knowledge that the only room behind me was clear of intruders. Libby then came in and got behind me and remained in the laundry room until I cleared the kitchen.
Before moving out I made the conscious decision to lock the door behind us. If I were fine tuning a plan, I’d probably leave a key in the inner cylinder so anyone wanting to escape could. At the time, I was focused more on keeping someone outside from coming in behind us.
That’s the process we used to clear the entire house. I would clear the room ahead while she waited, securing what had already been cleared. Soon as I cleared the next space, she would move up and secure it.
Conceptually, we were using a movement technique known to infantrymen as ‘Bounding Overwatch’ with ‘successive bounds’. In fact, the tight confines of the house would have effectively prevented Libby from being able to deliver fire past me onto a Threat while I maneuvered, so part of her job description became protecting us from Threats to the rear. Knowing she effectively had my back was comforting and allowed me to concentrate on what was to my front.

Light management

I would leave a room dark until I swept it with the weapon light because I wanted to be the one in charge of light and dark. First, I don’t need light to move around in my own house. This is my house and I know it better than any intruder. Second, the longer I can keep him in the dark, the more effective my weapon light will be against him when it finds him. Last, I don’t want to reach into the dark unknown for a light switch when there might be a Threat inside.
As I swept the room with the light, nothing physically entered the room until I had cleared a safe zone. Not my hand, not the muzzle of the AR, nothing until a buffer was established. Literally, LIGHT went in first. The technique is called ‘pieing’ or ‘slicing the pie’ and it can be done very slowly and deliberately or fast and dynamic. Or somewhere in between. The situation will determine which is best.
Once a room was cleared, I would turn on the room lights only if I could shut that room off behind me. If I couldn’t shut it off I left it dark. Reason: I didn’t want to be backlit as I approached the next dark room.
If a room was complicated (blind spots / closets / etc.) and I could shut it off, I performed a hasty clear, turned on the room lights and then shut it off to revisit later.
Once I had performed a hasty clear on the whole house, I returned and did a deliberate clear on any spaces requiring it.
The method for clearing closets and other rooms where I could reach a light switch from the outside was a little different. Once the main room had been cleared I turned the lights in that room back off, turned on the lights in the closet and quickly opened the door. Same as before, I didn’t want to be backlit.

Lessons Learned or Reinforced

1. Conduct an immediate AAR –
There were chores to do, it was late and we were tired. Still, we should have done one. No excuse.
2. Have a plan and rehearse it –
I had practiced clearing my house from the bedroom DOWN plenty of times (in fact, every time I’ve ever come downstairs at night to investigate a noise or check on a barking dog), but I had never practiced making an entry INTO our home and clearing it UP. Sure, the techniques are the same, but there is value in being able to say, especially when under stress, ‘I’ve done this before’.
Believing that the techniques are the same is theory. Knowing they are is experience.
3. More involvement in #2 for my team-mate –
As I headed to the bathroom off the laundry room, I wondered if Libby remembered to stay out of the doorway and was using the door frame for cover. That is NOT the time to be thinking about training issues. Also, I have to confess it never occurred to me to give Libby directions about what to do. She did what she did on her own and I can take no credit for it.
Would she have been safer outside? I don’t know. I didn’t think so. I acted on the assumption any Bad People inside the house had help waiting outside. I didn’t want to leave her alone. Obviously, I felt she was safer with me.
4. Upper body and grip strength are important when controlling a long gun with one hand and performing real world tasks with the other.
5. A weapon mounted light is valuable.
6. A weapon mounted laser is invaluable.
I’ll write much more on tactical light issues and the value of a weapon mounted laser in the next newsletter.
Let me know if you have questions, Contact Me.

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