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SGT-MILLER 10-18-2009 02:43 AM

Initial Handling of Weapon While Half Asleep
This is something that everyone here should pay attention to. Almost every single one of you on this forum has a firearm of some type that they use for home defense. These firearms are kept in whatever state of readiness is deemed appropriate by the owners. The one thing that should be really thought about and practiced is the risks involved with the intial handling of the firearm in a half-awake/startled state. This is a dangerous moment, and has the potential to be a fatal moment.

When startled, there is always a short amount of time the brain will need in order to "catch up" to the situation going on. It does not matter who the person is, this is just a fact of how our brains work. We go from a dormant "green" condition, to a startled "red" condition in a split second. We also experience a huge dump of adrenaline into our systems which will cause further loss of fine motor control and a temporary loss of situational awareness.

When you put a loaded firearm into the equation, you have the potential for disaster. The worst thing you can do is fumble around and attempt to perform multiple tasks at once while your brain is struggling to process what's happening around you.

The most effective way to combat this problem involves one phrase:

Muscle Memory

The more you practice a set amount of movements, the more you will automatically perform those sets of movements without much thought. This is a keystone of any of the martial arts. If you practice what your sets of movements will be in retrieving your firearm in the middle of the night, you will raise you success/survivability rate for yourself and those around you greatly.

Some key thoughts to take into consideration:

1. Keep the firearm stowed in a place that does not require fancy movements/alot of fine motor skills to access (i.e. fancy level 3 holsters/in multiple safes/etc....).

2. Practice those movements as often as possible. Make it part of your routine. SAFETY NOTE!!!!! When practicing these movements, ENSURE your firearm is empty. Double check and triple check to ensure your firearm is unloaded before you practice drawing/employing your firearm.

3. Keep the firearm in the same place every night. Do not deviate from this location unless it is absolutely neccessary.

4. Encourage your spouse to practice also. If you become disabled for whatever reason, he/she will need to effectively employ your firearm.

5. Keep it simple. The simpler, the better.

6. Stay safe!!!! Don't concentrate on speed. Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.

CHLChris 10-18-2009 03:30 AM

This is great, SGT. I find myself only practicing drawing from a holster. I would bet that a large enough percentage of SD uses are from this waking state that it would be very important to practice the moves necessary.


-Do I roll out of bed immediately?
-Do I grab the phone first?
-Do I yell to wake up my wife?
-Do I take the time to get my glasses on?

These are very important questions to ask, not just, "Can I reach it from bed?"

Thanks for the wake-up call. :-)

TelstaR 10-27-2009 06:42 PM

This is why I have a revolver for home protection.

NGIB 10-27-2009 06:47 PM

Good info Sgt. My dedicated nightstand gun is a S&W 686+ 3 inch .357 with night sights. (Yes, JD will be along shortly to screw with me - the gun came with them). It resides on top of my nightstand next to the alarm clock and it's been this way forever. The soft glow of the night sights is the last thing I see each night before I drift off to sleep - and it's very comforting...

WDB 10-28-2009 04:50 AM

Practice night drills, have your spouse set an alarm clock to go off on a day and time you don't know. It should be the loud Beep Beep and a sound you should know but different than your daily used alarm clock noise. When it goes off treat it like your home alarm going off or a bump in the night. Once a month, good practice and will refine your ability to react from full rest to active in minimum time. I know the USMC still trains full sleep to on the trigger. At home it is less of an issue but worth practice.

Lindenwood 10-28-2009 03:48 PM

WBD, that's actually a pretty good idea!

brolin_1911a1 10-28-2009 05:54 PM

I faced a similar issue nearly thirty years ago as an OTL driver. It was not uncommon for truck drivers to be found beaten to death in their sleeper bunks in rest areas or truck stops so I carried a Security-six revolver tucked between the mattress and sleeper wall. After a few times awakening from an exhausted sleep to dreams of being attacked, I realized that I needed to be sure that I actually was awake before grabbing that gun. So I kept it tucked at an awkward angle such that I had to be fully awake to actually grab and draw it. Shooting through the neighbor's walls because you dreamt you were being invaded is not a good thing.

Lindenwood 10-28-2009 06:40 PM

I actually worry a lot about that. I keep my '92 chambered and decocked (DA trigger) so I dont have to worry about messing with the safety to shoot while groggy. But I'd hate to reach over in the middle of the night and accidentally squeeze the trigger and shoot a hole into my bathroom or something. I've thought about mounting a holster to my night stand that blocks the trigger, so that I can't accidentally squeeze the trigger as I am fumbling to get ahold of the grip.

WDB 11-03-2009 04:35 AM


Originally Posted by Lindenwood (Post 179223)
WBD, that's actually a pretty good idea!

I didn't mean to surprise you but I do have good ideas from time to time:)

jeremiahjw 11-03-2009 09:22 PM

I'd never thought of "practicing" before, and certainly plan on it now. This is something that my dad actually ran into about 25 years ago. He was living in an apartment, and one night two men broke into his place. He grabbed (in his state of just waking up) his single shot shotgun, vs his double/triple (I forget) shotgun.

The intruders asked if this was so-and-so place, my dad said yes, and shot at them (missing). He then regreted getting the single shot shotgun. LOL

One of the men raised his pistol to fire at my dad, and squeezed off a shot. MIRACULOUSLY the gun DID NOT fire, just clicked, and the men ran off.

My dad then called 911 (or 0, I think it was different back then). The operator he talked to wasn't any help at all. She said that my dad was "scaring here". The police eventually got out there...30 minutes later.

Anyway, just something to back up what was said here.

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