Have you ever returned home to discover your front door open? It may have happened once or twice in a lifetime so the real question is what do you do with this discovery?
An honest mistake
In my case it was an honest mistake, the front door didn’t get closed well enough and I didn’t check it before I drove off. However, there was doubt and if there is any doubt, then there is no doubt. If you find yourself in a similar situation you generally have three choices; do nothing, call the police or enter your home. If you choose to enter your home it is better to assume there is someone inside rather than go with the honest mistake excuse and discover you were wrong. This simple mindset sets the stage for an adult version of “hide & seek”, one with serious consequences. The first thing to address is are you alone? If not, instruct your party to move to a safe area and wait for you to come and get them. Under no circumstances are they to enter the home. Also instruct them if they should hear gunfire to seek hard cover and call the police. The details from this point are better suited for another article so we will proceed with what is going on inside the house.
Things out of place
You want to clear as much of the house from outside the front door as possible. Use the windows if you can and slowly work the doorway to look for any visible signs of occupancy. Look for furniture moved, disrupted or the house a mess from being ransacked. If you see any of these, the decision to enter must be carefully considered and if the police haven’t been called by then it would probably be a good time to do so. If you see no visible sign of occupancy through the front door then moving through would be the next step. Since you know the layout of your home, think before you enter. Penetrate only deep enough to buy a foot hold and wait. If you have not drawn your firearm you might want to at this point. Take a deep breathe and listen, don’t move, just listen. Again, you are listening for any signs of occupancy. I would say to listen for several minutes. It may seem like an eternity, but the longer you listen the more likely you are to get valuable feedback. If you have a multi-story or large home, you may need to repeat this step several times in strategic locations; again another topic.
Stepping off the wall
Close the front door, don’t lock it, just shut the door. This will do two things, keep ambient external noise down and warn you of someone entering or more importantly leaving. Remember your party or family are outside, if you spook whoever might be in the house they could stumble across your party/family and bad things could develop. How you proceed is best answered by the understanding the layout of the house. If you have large living areas through the front door then stay close to the external wall you came through and use distance to scan and look for anything out of place. You will only get so much from this movement and eventually you will need to penetrate off this wall into your home and that is where things will get real.
At some point you will come to a danger area, a corner where you have some tight quarters and a dead space you cannot see. Ideally you will want to come into a fighting position that is optimized for this situation, close contact. By bringing the pistol into a tuck position and elevating your weak arm to protect your head you have the best chance of dealing with an immediate threat outside of your view. The tuck position gives you the ability to fire your weapon at close contact or contact ranges. If you don’t know this position seek qualified instruction and practice. It can be a bit disheartening the first time you go live so don’t make the time you need it the most the first. Your weak hand is up with your hands just below your sight line ideally with the elbow angle outside of 90 degrees. My good friend Tony Blauer has decades of science behind this so trust me on the technique. It will protect your head and give you standoff to protect you and fire your weapon if necessary.
This is but a morsel of the proverbial iceberg. Solo clearances are extremely dangerous no matter the skill level. However, circumstances may call you to execute and then it is all about reducing your risk.
"We must expect reverses, even defeats. They are sent to teach us wisdom and prudence, to call forth greater energies, and to prevent our falling into greater disasters." Robert E. Lee American Civil War General