We recently ran a "Building Clearing" class at Shootrite. The majority of the students had never participated in this type instruction. By the end of class everyone was doing good work on doorways, corners and the other problems associated with this type training. But the most important lesson from this class is that you never, ever use these skills unless absolutely necessary. If lives don't depend on you clearing a building you don't do it.
There is no 100% safe way for an individual to clear a building. That's why the professionals do it in teams. Remember, you can only focus on one problem at a time. It's amazing the places people can hide - underneath clothes, in kitchen cabinets, inside clothes dryers and other places you would never think someone could squeeze into. Plus, every object in the environment, such as doorways, couches and bookcases create corners. Then you have horizontal corners like an island in the middle of the kitchen. Most environments contain dozens and possibly hundreds of corners. Every step you take means visually checking every corner. To completely clear a structure – checking everywhere a person could be – you're going to have to turn your back on unchecked areas. All the bad guy has to do is wait. It's impossible to safely do this by yourself.
When you do discover a possible threat things become extremely difficult. Now what are you going to do? The best response is to make them leave. It's not your job to take them into custody or hold them for the police. And the longer you're around them, the more dangerous it gets. All they have to do is wait for you to get distracted for a fraction of a second. Chances are high there is more than one threat. While dealing with one guy, the other can be sneaking into position to attack. And – this is a big one - you don't want to get into a situation where you might have to shoot someone. That will be just the beginning of your troubles. None of these are situations you want to be in.
You don't clear your house to see if there's an intruder. Hold in the bedroom and call the police, and let the professionals deal with it. Issue verbal commands and hope they comply. If they decide to attack you've got the advantage. It's requires a lot of people to successfully dislodge a "bunkered" individual. Should they decide to attack you're set up in an easily defensible position.
Why would you clear a building? Screaming from one of your children wakes you up, and at the same time you hear a man yelling at them. The family is at the mall. Shooting breaks out. It's time to escape, leading them to safety, but you don't know what you might come across as you flee. In other words, lives depend on you applying these skills.
We train and practice to develop our fighting skills. Yes, you need to know how to clear a building. (A lot of the same techniques apply when you're just walking around being "safe.") At the same time, we're prayin' we never need these skills. Defending yourself in the parking lot of "Shop-a-lot" is one type problem. Working inside a structure, clearing or searching for a threat is a completely different situation. The bad guy - or guys - just have to get lucky. You have to do everything right. When it comes to clearing a building by yourself that's hard, if not impossible to do. Don't go looking for trouble, but be ready when it comes.
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of "The Book of Two Guns" - http://shootrite.org/book/book.html writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk's DVD, "Fighting With The 1911 - http://shootrite.org/dvd/dvd.html McKee's new book, AR-15 Skills and Drills, is available off Shootrite's website: http://shootrite.org/AR15SkillsBook/AR15SkillsBook.html