Heard a bump in the night? Did the dog bark for no apparent reason? Why did that motion detector light in the back yard come on?
Twice this weekend, I had to arm myself and investigate something out of the ordinary. Lest you think I'm paranoid, I haven't had to do that in several years. Before I tell of my experiences, please think about a few things.
Have you practiced getting around your house in the dark? How about any outbuildings? That Glock looks cool with the light kit. How much practice have you had with it? If you don't have a light kit, have you done low-light flashlight drills with your pistol? What about your shotgun, baseball bat, 3 iron, or any other home defense weapon? Do your family members know what to do if you are clearing the house? When should you hunker down in a defensive posture versus actively seeking out an intruder?
Let me tell you what I did and why...
Saturday night, the dog nosed aside the curtains at a low window on the back side of the house and barked in an unusually sharp manner. I looked out and saw that the light was on inside my workshop. I picked up my Sig Sauer P220 and a flashlight, and went out at the low ready. There are several ways to hold a flashlight and a pistol. As a cop, I trained extensively holding my hands back to back, so that is what I reverted to without even thinking about it. (In the police academy, we were taught one method of holding the flashlight in the off hand as high up as we could and as far away from the body as we could - the thought was that a bad guy would think he was being approached by a giant?!?!?!?!) There is no cover between the back door and the shop, so I was very alert as I approached. I could see through a window that an interior door was open, which was very unusual. I moved to the door, using the jamb as limited cover, and entered, quickly scanning the room and removing myself from the fatal funnel of the doorway. I then repeated as I moved through the interior door into the other room. The exterior door from that room was slightly ajar. Nothing was amiss, and our back yard is surrounded by a 6 foot chain link fence with closed gates with carabiners on the latches (I have keyed alike padlocks, but they only come out when we are out of town or if there is an emergency). I'm confident that no one had been in the shop, I more than likely forgot to turn off the light and close the door when I left it earlier. But it was good practice.
Sunday night was not nearly as dramatic. The dog was going crazy barking, and my wife smelled a skunk. I went out front with my .45 and flashlight, and searched the yard and the neighboring wood lines, but to no avail. The stinker got away.
So, the long and short of it is, if you get put in the position of doing something similar, I have a few suggestions for you.
1. Know your local laws about self-defense, property defense, and having a gun or other weapon outside of your home.
2. Be familiar and confident with your weapon and a light.
3. Be familiar with your home and property in the dark or low light conditions.
4. Have a plan for you and your family, and periodically practice the plan.
5. Check your flashlight batteries and keep them fresh.