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Posted on March 11, 2019 by in Training

Home Intruder Response

Home Intruder Response

I have been there when that bump-in-the night turned out to be an actual home intruder. Fortunately, everything turned out fine, but upon later reflection I realized that I was lucky that I hadn’t gotten injured or killed. As time went on, my interest in learning how to deal with future such incidents remained, and I took multiple classes on structure clearing, spent hours in shoot houses clearing rooms and blasting targets, and eventually became SWAT-certified and spent time on a multi-precinct Special Response Team.  However, it was not until I completed Craig Douglas’ 20-hour Armed Movement in Structure Course on three separate occasions that I believed that I fully understood and could act upon the major principles of dealing with a home intruder.

First and foremost, we need to keep our homes free from unwanted persons.  A sound start would be to keep our doors locked and to deny undesirable parties access to the interior.  After that, we need to know when it is time to stay in our bedroom, when it is appropriate to check out the remainder of the house so as to not completely discount that weird noise, and when it is time to move aggressively through the house in order to protect a family member or invited guest. I would encourage the home owner to remember that once any of these actions are initiated, it is perfectly acceptable to select a different action if the circumstances change or new information is obtained.  For example, I can initiate a search in order to confirm the source of an unidentifiable sound, discover that it was an intruder, and retreat to my bedroom, or during that same search move aggressively to the room containing a family member or invited guest if I hear a sudden commotion. Each of these three actions is discussed in slightly more detail below:

  1. If I thought someone was indeed in my house, and I had no reason to leave that room because there was no other family member or guest in the house that I needed to protect, I would secure my firearm and hand-held light and stay in that room. My plan would include taking a position in a corner on the same side of the doorway that would require the intruder to physically stick his or her head in the room to see me.  This would be a good time to call 911 while remaining ready to engage at any moment. A cell phone can be set on speaker and then placed on the floor so as to maintain an open line.  
  2. If I heard an odd noise that did not qualify as an immediate need to call 911, I would clear my house from one end to the other using distance, angles, and conformation of my body to the extent possible behind cover (cover stops incoming bullets, but very little of it exists in the interior of most homes) and concealment like sheetrock walls and doors (concealment will not stop bullets, but blocks vision to others on the other side). I also take a handheld light in case I need to clear a darkened room or closets (closets are often dark holes even in the daytime), and occasionally use speed to cross threat areas to limit the time I am out in the open in significantly indefensible areas.  To be clear, under this circumstance I do not have strong reason to believe that there is an unauthorized person in the house, but prudence dictates that I confirm this. 
  3. And finally, it is time to move aggressively to another part of the house if I believe that there is an intruder in the house and I need to make my way as soon as practical to a family member or other person that requires protection.  I prefer to use a brisk “Combat Glide” by stepping heel first, toes second, and would move no faster than I can see, process, and, if necessary, act upon new information.  Would I sprint through a large area that I knew to be reasonably threat-free in order to more quickly get to potential threat area? I would say yes, but that is largely up to the home owner.  Knowing how to tactically enter a room containing a potential threat is important, and the objective would always be to see and identify the intruder before that person (or those persons) can see me.

It is important that the home owner understands that the information set out above is in no way instruction in how to deal with a home intrusion, as much is left out on to how to hold a position, how to slow-clear a home, methods of using white light to identify threats and non-threats and mask movement, how to move at speed through a home and then properly enter a room, and even how to deal with a home intruder after initial contact is made. Much of what we know about room clearing came from the military and law enforcement and was often based upon the use of team tactics. The challenges faced by individuals in similar situations are much greater. The importance of correct target identification is unbelievably critical, as well-meaning home owners have mistakenly shot and killed family members, friends, and other innocent parties over the years while acting upon the belief that there was an intruder in the house. If the home owner wants to get it as right as possible, then training is absolutely the only way to go.

Steve Moses

Steve is a long-time defensive weapons and instructor based out of Texas who has trained hundreds of men and women of all ages for more than two decades on how to better prepare to defend themselves and their loved ones. Steve has completed over 80 private-sector and law enforcement-only defensive weapons and tactics classes, and has trained civilian and law-enforcement officers in six states. Moses is a reserve deputy, former member of a multi-precinct Special Response Team, competitive shooter, and martial artist. Steve has written numerous articles for SWAT Magazine and other publications. Steve is a licensed Texas Level 4 Personal Security Officer and Instructor who was Shift Lead on a mega-church security detail for seven years, and has provided close protection for several former foreign Heads of State. He is currently an instructor at Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu/Krav Maga in Tyler, Texas and Director of Training for Palisade Training Group (