Outside In



Two instances last year had me thinking Outside In…

One was a night-search for a murder suspect. Clearing a trailer home surrounded by dark woods, where we thought the shooter could still be out there, and where we did not – could not – own the outside. And where someone inside left all the lights on.

The other was an intense training where, not owning the outside, and clearing with white light, saw us inside repeatedly shot up with marking cartridges from outside the structure by those watching and shooting from the dark. Ouch.

Far too often – indeed almost exclusively – when we think of clearing, what do we do? We pie and enter doorways, we own angles, we clear corners – check under beds and in closets etc. and then move on to the next room where start all over again.

How often do we pie windows, specifically from inside looking out?

We’ve learned – or should have – to try to see our exposure to angles from which we can be seen – deep inside a room across the hall, or down the hall, or from above or below. How often do we take the exterior window, the angles looking in, into account?


We are, actually, fairly used to being on the outside, and trying to see our angles of exposure to someone inside trying to target us.

But rarely do we do the reverse.

Certainly if I am clearing a location with a full team, and we own the outside, the windows are not much of a concern, generally. Primarily we would be cognizant of a good guy-on-good guy engagement as we can enter a room and see a muzzle outside the window. Or from over a fence in the next yard over, as in a recent blue-on-blue shooting tragedy.

But I have done far, far, more clears where the outside was not owned. Burglary calls, alarms, suspect searches, etc. where we clear the inside of a place – maybe somebody goes to the back for a squirter (someone that squirts out the back when you enter the front) – but there is no security posted outside that can cover all the windows from the outside while we clear inside.

There just isn’t the staffing for that.

How about clearing your own home* – as a home defender skilled in personal defense?  Who owns the outside then?

That’s right, the person or people intruding, or lurking out there in the dark for whatever reason. Home invasion crews are not at all unusual. Maybe your house was mistaken for a dope house and it’s being hit by a group. Maybe even a coordinated team. Though weed is legal now in the Pacific Northwest, we still see these things fairly regularly. Maybe it’s not the wrong house. Perhaps you have a medicinal stash….or you are jeweler…or a restaurant or small business owner with a reputation for taking the proceeds home at night so you can go to the bank in the morning.

Let there be Light?

Clearing with white light  is a beacon for those inside looking at you, and those outside looking in. Skillful manipulation of light will mitigate this, but it can never fully do so. Someone waiting in the dark will be able to read your light, especially if you are careless and use too much of it, or cause splash-back from lighting up an interior wall that you are standing next to.

We know what we can see looking at these guys down the hall -what would a threat outside this window see?



I thought I was pretty decent running a light – many years of training,  low light instructor certification, lots of practical application over many hundreds of clears and searches – until I went to the aforementioned training that, to put it gently, pushed in my poop.

If, as Ken Good – the author of the Bible on low light engagements has aptly put it, “all dark holes have guns,” then the windows in the rooms we are in are dark holes, aren’t they?

Hell, at night, everything around our homes, or the places we are clearing, are dark holes.

It’s better if the guns in those dark holes are ours.


* This is a nuanced subject with me. I am not a proponent of solo clears of any locations, including the home, outside very limited and particular circumstances, and I think a lot of training in this area is more entertrainment than anything else


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