I can remember as a kid when we returning from a family outing, I would dart into the house in an effort to “find” bad guys. I know, not only is that corny, but so damn wrong.

The Honest Truth

Is it important for homeowners to understand advanced assault tactics. Is there an argument to be made these and other similar tactics will be beneficial to their situation. Honestly, not really. I’m not saying it is not fun or you will not learn some cool tactics. I’m saying there is not as close a correlation to what they do and what you will have to do in these in extremis situations. Team tactics are complex and work because of a high level of skill and application of tactics. Without constant maintenance there is a degradation and team safety becomes an issue. For the average homeowner, a better approach is to consider the two most likely scenarios; you come home to intruders or intruders come into your home.

I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This

I can speak on first-hand knowledge to coming home to intruders. Half way into clearing my home by myself I realized it was a terrible idea. In the end there were no intruders, but at the time I was under a different assumption. I had the advantage of knowing the layout, the dead spaces and hard corners I would need to clear. What I took for granted was manpower in a situation like this and how it is impossible to safeguard all hazards by yourself. My purpose was to secure the house so my family waiting up the road could safely return. As I continued to probe deeper into the house I took away many things. Distance is your friend, do not go any deeper into the house than necessary. If you identify intruders, back out and call the police. Move to a safe area where the bad guys can escape, do not put you or your family between them an freedom. If there are family members home that is a whole different story.

The Worse Case

Coming home to intruders in your home along with family members present is probably the worse situation. One you need to think long and hard before taking action. Do the intruders know you are present is the first question. If you can maintain the element of surprise do so at all costs. Ideally you would want to move to a location you can strong point, put yourself between your family and danger. Even more ideal is leaving the exit to the bad guys back so they can flee when they realize it is not worth the effort. If however, they are aware of your presence it makes things a lot more complicated. Think long and hard before you act. This is where thinking through the worst case scenario beforehand will pay off. Yes, I mean if you were contemplating advanced SWAT tactics then you better have given this scenario some thought.

Strong Point

If you are home and intruders illegally enter your home you have some decisions to make. If you have some type of early warning to give you a heads up then strong pointing and calling the police is your best move. If you have family members home what next. If movement is required in an effort to place yourself between them and the bad guys here are some down and dirty tips. Retain the element of surprise as long as possible. If you manage to move steathfully to strong point your family then call the police at your first opportunity. If there is no way to get to a secure location to strong point without drawing attention then when you decide to move it’s not about tactics, it’s about covering the ground as quickly as you can and setting up a defensive positions or strong point.


The specific movement tactics will vary, but don’t bite off more than you can chew until you are ready to commit. Use the advantage of knowing your layout and plot your course. It may be simple or it could be complex. Think about your fall back positions should things not go according to plan. Maximize your distance and use cover to the best of your ability. Before you break cover, know where the bad guys are and where you’re going. When choosing the defensive firearm it is easy to think of the big guns; like a rifle or shotgun. However, in confined spaces, having to marshal family members or engage in close combat a handgun will serve you better.

While these types of situations are rare, they are horribly challenging in the moment. There is no easy answer, there is just doing your homework before test time.

4 thoughts on “House Clearing 101

  1. Scans- says:

    Perfect timing for me. Thanks. I always enter my get-away house in Houston ready for a CQB. Last trip my house was broken into and robbed. Cops say a big issue now, is squatters residing in our weekend and get-away homes. Better idea… retreat and live free, especially in cities who revere the slugs among us-

  2. Wilbur says:

    House clearing with a correctly-sized, very highly trained and well coordinated team using proper tools is absolutely the right choice; a homeowner doing it solo and coming out on top is rarely successful outside of movies and TV shows.

    Your suggestion of “very carefully and very gently convince them the best option is to make a safe exit” is the best choice if the right team is not available; unfortunately for Joe and Jane Average, the skills are lacking for even that, and the team who gets the call will be adrenaline-charged patrol officers who last performed a house clearing drill eight years ago at the academy. Also unfortunately, once on the scene, those officers – and quite a few more – will spend the next five hours treating your house as a crime scene and the reports – plural because there will be multiples, from patrol, from crime scene techs, from property crime investigators, etc. – will put all your secrets and details, from sex toys in the nightstand to gun safes and freeze-dried food in the closets, in the public record – and in coffee shop conversations – available to anyone willing to pay $3 for a copy.

    As with a lot of things, prevention is the key. It’s not perfect, but being a hard target reduces the odds considerably,and being a very hard target that is not obviously a very hard target is the way to go; I’d very much prefer to be standing on my front lawn consoling a neighbor whose house was burglarized and offering my assistance to him than across the street watching government agents whom I don’t know poking and prodding through every nook and cranny of my family’s house.

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