Responding to real-life threats such as a home invasion requires a key component that equips you with the cognitive skills to make faster decisions on the critical questions that inevitably arise during any potentially violent encounter or conflict – “What do I do?”, “When do I do it?”, and “How do I do it?”
That key component is practice!
Anyone who has ever been to a Broadway musical or play or who has even watched a movie at the theater understands that a successful production requires a huge element of practice and rehearsal. After all, how does the cast remember all those lines, dances, songs and steps if not for rehearsal? The simple answer is they don’t! They must rehearse until their lines, movements and actions are second nature … and that is only when they already know the scenes of the play or movie.
In a home invasion, the likelihood is that you will not know the scenes within which you must respond, only that they may be violent. That alone should tell thinking individuals that they must not only rehearse for someone crashing through their front door or their rear door or even their patio doors but also account for all the potential variables that exist within a situation which will inevitably be very dynamic. They need to take this stuff seriously enough so that they know exactly what they will do and can do it quickly!
|You won’t have time to figure out what to do when this brute comes calling.|
After all, unless you rehearse your plan, how are you going to react fast enough to escape through that rear door in the kitchen or run to barricade yourself and your family in that upstairs bedroom you fortified with the reinforced door, hinges and locks? And if you do make it out of the house during a home invasion, where do you go? Do you have a meeting place and backup plans?
For example, if you recognize that a noise in the middle of the night is definitely different than the norm, what do you do?
Once you recognize a threat, there is still the question of what to do and this boils down to deciding what skills you need for the task at hand and then how to apply them in the right order.
Let’s consider two scenarios.
In the first, you are at your favorite shooting range, you are standing behind the point or line and you have your weapon pointed downrange at the target ready to press a round off. You may even be waiting to hear a timer or some verbal command before you fire. However, your brain has already begun working to prepare your muscles to fire, aligning your body, shoulders, arms, wrists and eyes with your weapon and the front sight to obtain the impact you want on the target. You have basically removed the cognitive process of “What to do?” in this situation. You are primed and ready!
Now on the other hand, let’s say you are sitting with your spouse in the family room watching television. You are both completely engrossed in a very dramatic scene of a movie when suddenly you hear a noise at the front door.
In my experience, most people in this situation allow curiosity to take over and their first response is to move toward the front door or whatever place they believe they heard the noise.
In this case, you are startled, taken off-guard because you do not have any plan in place for this sort of thing. Or because you have not rehearsed your plan, you don’t process your choices well. In other words, you have no orientation or cognitive process that helps you determine what to do next.
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You are essentially flying blind. And in this case as you come within a couple of feet from your front door to investigate the origin of the noise, two armed home invaders come crashing in the door and start yelling commands at you while one of them pistol whips you, knocking you to the floor in a daze.
It is not enough to just have a plan; you must rehearse the plan with everyone in the household
This is not the practice range, moving toward the door was not the right decision in this case. Without a plan, you plan to fail. And a plan without rehearsal is no plan at all!
The cognitive process that allows you to make rapid good decisions stems from training and rehearsal. You must develop and hone your skill sets within the context of the situation so that you will have an orienting response at the moment a stimulus is recognized.
What do you do?
Let’s run through this last scenario again, except this time you and your family have rehearsed your plan many times live.
You hear a loud noise at the front door. Now instead of moving toward the noise, you very quickly pull your spouse off the couch, and move fast to escape out the rear of the house after carefully following the “look, listen and move” concept. And once you are clear of the area, you phone the police and alert them to the crime.
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Or, your plan may be that you and your spouse move quickly but quietly to a fortified room or area that you call personal defense zone 1. In PDZ1 you lock the door and perhaps barricade it and then each of you grabs the handguns that are staged there for this very situation. You turn over the heavy wood desk that is there, and you get behind it for cover while you now call the police.
Because you had a plan and rehearsed it, you were able to put that plan into action very rapidly when the time came.
So, you know what to do and how to do it, but does everyone on the “team” know his or her role?
When I train my people to protect a high-value target in a high-risk environment or when we run a recovery operation, everyone on the team is cross-trained. That means the Intel person has training as a combat medic and the combat medic has training in close-quarters combat. However, they all still perform and clearly understand their primary roles in an operation.
|Old cell phones are set up to call 911 even without a contract. Keep a few of them charged and hidden about your house.|
With that in mind, make sure that when you plan and rehearse, each person knows what their responsibility will be during the crisis. For example, if you and your spouse are behind cover in that fortified room, who calls the police to alert them of the situation?
For that matter, did you consider staging cell phones in various areas throughout your home? And if you are right now thinking that is not realistic because you cannot afford adding a half dozen phones to your current service contract, don’t worry, you do not have to!
You may not realize this but even your old cell phones, the ones that have been laying in a box or drawer for a very long time and that have no service contract, are still able to dial 911! So, start looking around for a bunch of old cell phones and keep them charged in various areas of your residence in case of an emergency.
Until next time, stay alert, check your six, put your back against the wall and stay safe!