1: an arrangement to meet or be present at a specified time and place
2: a job or period of employment especially as a performer
3: the act of engaging, the state of being engaged
4: emotional involvement or
6: the state of being in gear
7: a hostile encounter between military forces
The word “engagement” seems to find its way into many discussions regarding the confrontation of a threat and the exchange of gunfire. It sounds so much more professional than “holy crap this dude bashed in my door and started blastin’ and I started blastin’ and the lead was flyin’ and . . . and . . .”. Well, you get the idea. Yet, many times it sounds “soft” to me and rather disengaged. A firefight, in a confined space, is anything but “soft” or disengaged. It is a fight for your very survival, your very existence – it is so much more intense that an “engagement”. So let’s talk a bit about what happens when your defensive perimeter fails and you are facing an armed threat intent on taking your property and one that has no problem taking your life in the bargain as well.
We have chatted about Exterior and Interior perimeters. Now, let’s talk about “engaging” a threat in those two combat areas.
Once you begin a firefight there are a couple of basics to keep in mind. THOSE ARE REAL BULLETS THAT ARE FLYING. Everyone sent your way is with the express intent of putting you in a Ziploc. Keep your frickin’ head in the game!
Cover is your friend: Unless you are just caught flat footed, get your butt behind real cover - thick trees, an engine block, a concrete wall, a ditch. Your kid’s slide, the flower box, the hedge – while keeping you out of sight of your threat – will allow the bullets they are throwing your way easy access to YOUR center mass. Find Cover – and use it!
You own every round: Every bullet that leaves your muzzle has YOUR name on it. If it passes by the threat and enters your neighbor’s home and kills their newborn – you have a real problem.
Be clear on your purpose: Your purpose is to “stop the threat” – when they have packed it in and are running from your property – DO NOT “finish the job” by putting a round in their back. Your job is done and shooting a fleeing intruder will not end well with you.
Your Vulnerability Increases: When you are engaging a threat outside your home, you are much more vulnerable to attack from multiple directions. You are much better off to protect a defensive position within your home where you can control the line of attack much more closely than you can in the middle of your back yard.
When do I engage outside my home? Just a general statement – these are MY THOUGHTS. They represent my approach to a threat within my exterior perimeter. They are not God’s word set in stone. I would engage a threat outside my home if I am attacked as I step outside or if someone in my family is attacked outside my home. I would NOT attack an intruder outside my home as they approached my home. I would turn on lights, call the police, move to our safe spot in the house and NOT engage them unless or until they had actually penetrated my home and entered my Interior Perimeter.
The threat is determined enough that they have weighted the risks and decided to actually enter your home to take what they want and perhaps harm you as well. Still, there is some commonality between an Exterior and an Interior engagement.
Cover is still your friend: One more time – THOSE ARE REAL FRICKIN’ BULLETS THAT ARE FLYING. THEY CAN KILL YOU!! Keep your head in the game. Know where cover is in your home and understand that the sofa, recliner, fridge, stove, plasterboard wall are simply impediments to the bullet flying your way – they will do little to actually stop it from killing you. However, a brick wall, large bedroom dresser, solid steel door, water bed, filled freezer will go a lot farther in stopping a bullet from ripping a hole through your chest.
You still own every round: Regardless of Exterior or Interior engagement – YOU STILL OWN EVERY BULLET. Given your family situation (kids still home, friends staying over, just you, just you and a spouse/partner/girlfriend/boyfriend) you MUST KNOW WHERE EVERYONE IS before you send a round downrange!
Pick a spot and build your defenses: Ideally, you will have some warning – sound of breaking glass or a door being kicked in. If it is at all possible, move to your “spot” with the rest of the residents of the house, call the police and prepare to defend the entry point into the room. There is little value in “saving” your TV by leaving your “spot” to protect your stuff. Stuff can be replace – you? Not so much. I would leave to get a family member – but that’s about it.
Get the Cops on the phone: Do this EARLY. Leave the line OPEN. Describe in detail the actions you are taking, where you are in the house, that you are armed and what you are armed with. If you hear an intruder announce in a LOUD VOICE that you are armed, that you have phoned the police and that you will shoot them if they step through the door! DO NOT LET THE POLICE TELL YOU HOW TO DEFEND YOUR LIFE!!!! If you feel that you are in mortal danger – shoot! Do not wait to bet permission. You are on-site, the 911 operator is not.
Rule 4: Don’t kill a son or daughter coming home late.
Commit to Live: Your mindset is more important than the weapon in your hand. When faced with an attacker you have two choices – live or die. CHOOSE TO LIVE – CHOOSE TO FIGHT!!! With every weapon at your disposal – your handgun/carbine/shotgun. A kitchen knife. A ball bat. A hockey stick. A lamp. I don’t give a damn what the weapon is – just that you use it with all your strength to stop your attacker. You could have a SAW and yet know you were doomed – and chance would be good that you’d die. YOU must choose to fight. YOU must choose to live – no one can do that for you and no trainer can “train it into you”.
Whether inside our outside, an “engagement” with a determined threat is an existential event. You will either live through it or you will die. There is every chance someone is going to have a very bad night.
I’ve said this plenty, but I will repeat it yet again . . .
You have all the time in the world NOW to train, prepare, plan . . . .
. . . . do it! Make damn sure is isn’t YOU that have the bad night . . . .