Gunfight Science: Five Simple Steps To Survive A Home Invasion

To learn more about I.C.E. Training, click this link:

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Recently, I had an opportunity to attend the introduction event for the new Springfield Armory Saint in Las Vegas, and the company went to great lengths to set up a lot of interesting training and shooting opportunities for us with its new 5.56 AR. One of the exercises at the event was an abbreviated hands-on training seminar with Rob Pincus of I.C.E. Training.

Rob Pincus' reality-based training programs put students in simulations that test their decision-making skills under duress.

Rob Pincus’ reality-based training programs put students in simulations that test their decision-making skills under duress.

Founded by Pincus, I.C.E. (which stands for “integrity, consistency and efficiency”) Training offers self-defense coaching focused on reality-based training. In particular, we were given a course on armed home defense tactics, while using Saint rifles set up with Force on Force training munitions.

Prior to going live inside the customizable shoothouse, Pincus instructed the group on the basics of his particular brand of training. He explained that while traditional range training can be very effective, it can also instill habits that are more geared toward winning a match than surviving a gunfight. He said that the stresses induced by force-on-force training can be better suited (and also effectively complement range training) at giving you the skills you need to survive a life-and-death encounter.

He broke down the basics of his training into the following five-step guide:

  • Evade
  • Barricade
  • Arm
  • Communicate
  • Respond

Pincus went to great pains to drive home the point that these steps are merely guidelines, and that the fluid nature of a conflict may force you to jump ahead to one that is needed in your situation. He also pointed out that his training drives home the point that the real question is not “can” you shoot, but rather “should” you shoot.

To support this, he gave the group several hypothetical cases where we were asked what we would do. It became clear that Pincus’ approach was to ensure that you do everything reasonably possible to avoid a conflict if possible and survive, and engage a threat directly when other avenues had been exhausted. But, he also gave examples of when responding quickly would be a feasible approach (and said that your situation could easily dictate that response). The key was that he wanted to make sure that you applied a plan to what you were doing, and followed it in the most logical way.

Pincus ran the students through a simulation where they used a Springfield Saint rifle with Force-on-Force training munitions loaded.

Pincus ran the students through a simulation where they used a Springfield Saint with Force-on-Force training munitions loaded.

To drive this home, and also the effects that stress can have on your decision making, Pincus ran all the attendees through the shoothouse in a situation where we had a threat banging on the door and we had to decide how to respond. On my first run, I did not follow my plan: I evaded by moving to the bedroom where my rifle was, but I left the door open (not barricaded), and then I switched off the safety of the rifle before I had a direct line of sight on the threat. I did communicate (“called” the police) and was ready to respond, but did not do all the steps I should have in that particular situation.

In the after-action review, Pincus asked me what I did and what I thought I should have done differently. I told him that I knew what I should have done (i.e., barricade the door, keep on “safe” until I saw a direct threat per his teaching, etc.), I just did not do these things when faced with the stress of the situation. And this was the “stress” of something I knew was fake. What if it had been real? He explained that was the point of his training: Learn it here in the shoothouse instead of in my home facing an actual threat. My next time through a second course, I followed step-by-step what I should have done. Needless to say, I can see the benefits of Pincus’ approach to training. It was an eye-opening experience for me.

To learn more about I.C.E. Training, click this link:

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{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Perdido January 20, 2017, 10:46 pm

    Jeeze. People. Train realistically, take Jim’s advice.
    And get a dog, two better. Not yappers. Substantial animals and spend a minute a day showing them what you expect of them:
    The dogs are there to make the BGs reconsider and if not they can add an enormous amount of beneficial confusion and buy time.
    Remember the dogs are there to buy time, don’t be protecting them.
    Spoken from experience.

  • Mort Leith November 5, 2016, 12:50 pm

    This guy obviously is a liberal and/or lives in a libT ard-NA Z1 State…

    Has he even HEARD of the Castle Doctrine law ? ?

  • Jeff November 5, 2016, 4:26 am

    Love the METAL great energy
    If you’re going to comment on the fine music get your genre correct this is not death metal you sound like uninformed Hillary

  • jack November 4, 2016, 8:20 pm

    Geeze I wish GA would get rid of that hideous intro to EVERY freakin’ video. Death metal? Really? No wonder people think we’re a bunch of cave dwellers. It really does suck.

    Why do none of these self defense experts pay attention to early warning? How many different kinds of motion sensors are out there that would telegraph the presence of potential threats before they became lethal? Lots! Harbor Fright’s got ’em cheap enough. It’s just plain stupid not to have a few. I have them concealed near each door and far enough out to allow me time to get to a weapon when I’m not expecting good company or family. There’s lots of people shooting their mouths off about domain awareness but nobody’s talking about about early warning. I ain’t gonna’ wait for somebody to bust the door down. I wanna’ know as far in advance as possible if there’s a potential threat.

    • Mort Leith November 5, 2016, 12:51 pm

      In GA our first two steps are a long way from EVADE or BARRICADE…
      Step #1 is grab the closest gun/shotgun you have in the room you’re currently in……

  • Bruce November 4, 2016, 4:34 pm

    I prefer either a handgun or shotgun for home defense purposes…far less likely to kill my neighbor by shooting through a wall.
    But otherwise, great advise.

    • KCSHOOTER November 5, 2016, 2:24 pm

      Incorrect. AR-15’s shooting 55gr .223 rounds are far less likely to penetrate walls that either shotgun or handgun rounds. This is proven science.

  • Holly Abraham November 4, 2016, 3:00 pm

    My hats off to Jim Holmes. Great solid advice. Thanks. I’m a newer CCW holder and mother to 4, husband works 3rd shift and we’re not in the best area. I constantly play scenarios over and over in my head about what I would do should an intruder try to enter my home. But I do want and need a real scenario training. Where would I go to find training?

  • jim November 4, 2016, 9:11 am

    Keep your gun locked in a safe? With the ammo separate? Not even remotely a possibility. Without relating stories of all the bad people and bad things that have happened in my life, suffice to say I am ALWAYS armed. (I even had a pistol within arms reach of the shower door while bathing.)

    • Mort Leith November 5, 2016, 12:53 pm

      I have a gun in every room,, most doors will give you two kicks at best before the deadbolt wood gives way.
      And a gun unloaded or in a safe is not a gun,, but a useless paperweight

  • charles November 4, 2016, 7:29 am

    best comment yet !

  • Jim Holmes November 4, 2016, 5:23 am

    Wasn’t there, so I can’t comment on the training. But I’ve got some additions to the potential

    Bd guy has already pumped himself up to “do this” – his approach will be simple.

    You are safe and warm in your bed or on the couch, watching Star Wars – with your action figures arrayed in your lap while your six year old asks you endless questions. Your wife is comatose, yesterday’s Valentine’s Day chocolates strewn about like corpses in a hurricane.

    Every single plan you’ve gamed will go straight out of your mind when that door starts to get breached.

    You will absolutely forget to take the safety off, or will waste precious mental time dealing with the issue.
    Barricading is nice, but those 3 seconds it takes to push a chair is 3 seconds you could have spent getting armed.
    The disposition of your family will probably negate your perfect plan, since you’re being “responsible and law abiding” you will have whatever firearm you use for protection locked up, in some states you will have to store your ammo separately.
    You are the one with the training therefore you must be the one to arm yourself. Got three kids? Teach them to run the the iron bathtub on comm. You’re precious spouse will PROBABLY start asking you questions and distracting your plan. All the family has to train the plan, and they have to do it with zeal and abandon. You must be free to combat the threat without dealing with them.
    911 and the dispatchers that answer the phones have been trained to a script. Do not engage with them UNLESS your entire family is safely barricaded with you. You do not have the time for their script. Your spouses job is to deal with the children – the very last thing you do will be to CONSIDER calling 911. You are the only one there that can deal with the threat, 911 is cleanup. If you are the one that pointed or shot a gun in defense of your family’s life, DO NOT BE THE ONE TO CALL 911. Adrenaline will turn you into a blathering idiot – you will say things that could be harmful to your future – I guarantee it. Let another family member do it, or a neighbor.
    As for shooting, you will react as you have trained – if you’ve haven’t trained you will react poorly every time. If you don’t drill regularly, you will react poorly. Taking a class once a year is not enough. Regular drills are required.

    The bd guy coming in your door has the advantage, he always will – a deadbolt is a joke – to gain the time you need to regain your advantage make your door VERY HARD to breach. Install your screen door in opposition to your entry door, makes it harder to kick properly. A 2×4 across the bottom of the door gives it a great deal of toughness. You need time – even a few seconds is valuable.

    By far the biggest challenge you will face will come after the incident. Every word recorded on a 911 tape will come into play – yet another really good reason to put a 911 call as the very last thing you do. Everything you say to a cop will come into play, avoid any and all interactions with them. Ask for an ambulance and realize the pain in your chest might be a heart attack, never ever answer any questions. Right next to your gun should be several business cards from your attorney, a real one. The moment the cops show up you are a suspect, you will have no idea what they perceive to have happened.

    Avoid any training classes that are unwilling to adapt their curriculum to your specific situation, a good trainer will create a training scenario that addresses this and create a much more realistic training session.

    Train, then train again – ask questions of others, if it seems like a good idea – then ask a real expert (not the guy at the gun counter) if it’s a good addition. But for God’s sake, train! Then cease to talk about anything you’ve done to prepare, too many break-ins are by people you know.

    • AJMBLAZER November 4, 2016, 8:25 am

      Agree with Bill. This seems like a bunch of steps that are more for legal CYA than actually protecting you and yours.Someone\’s beating down my door…the threat is real and the safety is off. Professional soldiers forget to knock the safety off when the shtuff starts. Keep the booger hook off the bang switch until the killin\’ needs to start.Get the family safe and out of the line of fire and eliminate the threat through violence or intimidation.

    • joe November 4, 2016, 10:27 am

      Great comment. You probably should have written this article.

    • David Berry November 4, 2016, 11:02 am

      Now that’s the real world right there. Great comment, exactly what I would have said and would do.

    • Mike C November 4, 2016, 11:53 am

      Wow the video and article sucked – I actually initially thought it was a spoof or comedy -but no- this place is serious?? Then I read Jim’s comments, which are actually useful and realistic. That “ICE” place in the video is just somewhere for uninformed folks to go waste their time and money, and then still become a victim (sadly and unfortunately!).
      @Jim when is your “common survival sense for the people” training school opening up? lol

    • bison193 November 4, 2016, 1:19 pm

      I think the editor needs to replace the original video and comments with Jim Holmes real scenario applications.

    • Holly Abraham November 4, 2016, 3:01 pm

      My hats off to Jim Holmes. Great solid advice. Thanks. I’m a newer CCW holder and mother to 4, husband works 3rd shift and we’re not in the best area. I constantly play scenarios over and over in my head about what I would do should an intruder try to enter my home. But I do want and need a real scenario training. Where would I go to find training?

    • KBSacto November 4, 2016, 3:14 pm

      I’m in agreement here. Living in CA makes Mr. Holmes opinion the training to follow. Mr. Pincus has “a” program and though none is better than nothing, Mr. Pincus has legal liabilities to keep in mind. In reality, following Mr. Pincus’s EBACR may save you from going to jail if you defend yourself with the bad guy leaving in a bag, however you the time lost may result in a horrific experience well beyond the encounter. A friend of mine told me of his neighbor in east Roseville, CA (nice area) experienced a home invasion. He, his wife, and 9 year old daughter were watching tv around 7pm when the first bang hit the front door. The second bang followed, and within 5 seconds, the bad guys had the family at gun point. They demanded money, guns, and jewelry; and the cops said they were lucky that is all they took. His neighbor said the only way he could have defended himself was to be carrying while on the couch. Mr. Holmes should write a blog.

    • David "Bo" B. June 11, 2017, 1:30 pm

      Concur, Jim … good G-2. One needs to train to simplicity, as gross motor skills will be in high gear; while fine motor skills (and forebrain) will be in the tank. Anyone who thinks they can “‘splain” things to the police are displaying woeful hubris and ignorance. There is a reason that FBI policy for their agents after an OIS requires the following: (1) no statement until at least 48 hours post-incident; (2) counsel present (and it needs to be a “switched-on” attorney, not run-of-the-mill criminal lawyer); and, (3) psychologist and chaplain (with privilege) standing by. I have been teaching this at the graduate level for over 20 years and I would still not make a statement post-shooting without advice and presence of counsel.

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