I thought I was ready.
As a “type A” person, I just knew I would “step up” to defend my family from harm.
I was wrong!
When I pulled up to my house, there was an unknown, ragged looking van in my driveway. As I put the truck in park, a strange, short man in very baggy jeans and a white muscle shirt came out my own front door with two of my computer monitors, one under each arm.
He immediately saw my truck, locked eyes with me for a full second that seemed like an eternity, dropped the monitors and ran back inside; slamming the door behind him.
As I dialed 911 and my mind processed the hardened look and lack of fear in the man’s eyes, my heart began racing with more fear than I have ever felt in my life for one simple reason.
I knew my family was inside that house.
After being told officers were at least 15 minutes away from our home in the country, I could not just sit there and wonder what was happening to my family inside.
Fumbling with the door handle and opening the door to the truck as adrenaline was flooding my body, I reflexively jumped in response to the sound of two gunshots from inside. And then the worst sound I have ever heard in my life, a blood curtailing “NO!” from the voice I knew belonged to my daughter.
It was nothing like the movies.
I did not suddenly have a rush of resolve or determination like I always thought would happen if this moment of truth ever came.
It was more a feeling of helplessness and desperation as I ran from the truck to the front door.
It happened much slower than I ever imagined such a scenario would play out. Not slow motion like a movie scene, but almost off beat, like my mind thought it should be happening three beats faster, but everything kept happening at a snail’s pace.
Fortunately, I have a Concealed Handgun License and my .40 caliber Glock 23 was in my truck. Insanely, I hit the first step of the front porch before realizing that I had not actually grabbed the gun out of the console. In that rush of adrenaline when exiting the truck, my brain somehow confused my thinking about the gun as the same as grabbing the gun…hard to explain, but I found myself on the porch empty handed.
After running back to the truck, my second trip up the porch steps was with the gun in hand… and loaded.
As soon as I came through the front door, the first movement I saw came from a much larger man than the one who had been on the porch just a few minutes before. For some reason, I remember his curly hair and big beard. He was standing in the middle of our living room with a shotgun and a weird grin as if to say, “you should have stayed outside.”
There was no sign of my family in this part of the house as far as I could tell in the second or two since I came through the front door.
The man said nothing and he did not make any quick moves. He just slowly started walking my way as he swung the barrel of the shotgun in my direction.
Either he did not see the gun in my hand or he thought this suburban dad would not use it.
I’ve read so many spy, mystery, and crime novels, that I have imagined a moment like this many times in my head.
But reality is nothing like fiction.
I was not angry, but I also was not calm and cool. I was not smoothly clearing the room with my best Agent Cho (from the Mentalist) movements. The truth is no better than this: I was absolutely scared to death and completely unsure about every move I made.
I aimed at the center of his body and fired twice.
The first bullet went through his hand into his right shoulder. By the time I pressed the trigger, he was aiming the shotgun at me, so his hand was right in front of his right shoulder. The second shot was immediately after the first and went through his left arm into his chest. The police report said that the first shot had spun him sideways.
At the time, I wasn’t sure where he was hit. All I knew was that he was out of the fight and my family was screaming from the back part of the house.
As I ran around the corner into the hallway, the original man from the porch was crouched down in the doorway to my boys’ room. Strangely, he was now wearing a mask, but his size and the white muscle shirt told me who he was and he had a handgun in each hand, so I fired. It may not have been wise to fire so quickly, but the adrenaline was in control.
I thought I fired twice, but the ballistics report would show five shots from me at that spot in the hallway.
The small man in the mask crumpled to the floor and for a split second I panicked with the thought they could have forced the mask on my son and placed him in the hallway with empty guns in his hands. Just as that thought made it’s way through my head, there was movement to my left where my daughter’s room was located.
And then it happened.
I just mentally shut down. It was not that different from a computer just locking up or rebooting on it’s own.
The man at the door to my daughter’s room did not have a gun pointed at me. He had one in his belt and his hand was resting on it. My gun was pointed at him and his mouth was moving and I heard his voice, but I could not understand what he was saying.
Seconds began to tick by and nothing happened. We both just stood there and no one did anything. Maybe I was frozen by the thought it could have been my son in the mask and now I was regretting firing my weapon at all. Maybe I was worried about firing and my daughter being in the background and getting hit. Maybe I was frozen with indecision about when I’m justified in using deadly force and since he was not pointing the gun at me, maybe…
“What are you waiting for!!!” A firm, military type voice behind me shook me from my paralysis. “He has a gun! He’s in your house committing crimes on your family! They’ve already fired shots!”
The voice was coming from my range instructor and it brought me back to reality.
He was actually hooked to my belt and following me through this entire process.
We were not in my actual house, but a simulation house at Front Sight Firearms Training Institute in Pahrump, NV.
Even though it was staged and I had been shooting at dummy targets, my heart was beating out of my chest. At that very moment I knew that I had been weighed in the balance and been found wanting.
I had failed my family because I was not ready and it was a horrible feeling. Indeed the most sickening feeling I’d ever experienced in my life.
Had this scenario happened in real life, it’s very likely I would have frozen in the truck or when first encountering the man with the shotgun.
On the plane ride home with my son, Trey, who had attended the class with me, I confided to him that I was ashamed by my lack of preparation and training and I was committed to change that.
Since that trip, Trey and I and the whole family have had many trips and hours and hours of training at Front Sight, as well as from other firearms and tactical experts. We are by no means experts yet, but we are quickly ramping up our skills, both mentally and physically, and we are FAR more prepared than we were on that first trip to Front Sight.
What about you?
Are you ready?
I use to walk around blissfully believing that nothing bad would happen to my family. I never really considered the possibility of us being one of the 1.3 million victims of violent crime that occur in the U.S. each year.
But the more I see it happen to others, the more I realize it could be us.
Or it could be you.
I urge you to get serious about protecting your family from harm. Proverbs says that a wise man foresees evil and “hides from it,” meaning prepares for avoiding it and does not walk blindly into danger. Avoiding danger in our society means not only staying away from dangerous back alleys, but also being prepared to deter such danger should it ever come to find you and your family at your front door.
Get enrolled in a Front Sight Course soon. Our family is offering you a ridiculously FREE opportunity to attend with us February 23rd and 24th and you can get the details here. I’ll also be teaching a crash course on the Constitution for Front Sight that weekend and you can be a part of the filming.