A lot of people want to be just like the characters they see in the action-adventure movies. They like to imagine

themselves highly trained Special-Ninja-SEAL-Commando-Killer-Elite-Secret-Delta-Squirrel-Recon-Qualified “Operators” who can move through a building filled with trained killers, and take them all out, one-by-one. The reality of doing building searches is a lot different than what you see you favorite actor do in the movies.

As an officer who worked a lot of graveyard shifts (where building alarms would be triggered on a regular basis), and during my time as a SWAT team member, I got to do more than my share of clearing buildings to ensure they were safe and secure. I quickly learned that no matter how well you “pied” the corner, or “Chris-Crossed” or “button-hooked” entering through the door, at best, your odds of winning an encounter with a bad guy hiding inside, were maybe 50-50 at best.

Of course, no one cares about the reality, everyone wants to be “one of the cool guys.” I often have students asking if they can learn building search techniques – do they really need that training, no, but it sure looks neat! Specifically, they want to learn how to do it just like they do it in the movies and on cop shows on TV. Ok, I get it. It looks cool, and has a high “C.D.I.” factor (that’s Chicks Dig It!). So, for those of you who want to participate in the training, from your own house, based on my extensive experience and years of study across and involving a large variety of places, I’ve designed a very highly specialized training program – just for you. 

Are you ready? I mean REALLY ready? Ok, pay close attention, because I won’t be there to help you if things don’t go so well, oh, and don’t even start to try and blame me for spills, minor accidents, blood on the carpet, or if someone get’s a chipped tooth, anyway, here we go:

  • First, get several friends who are also interested in doing this practical training. It’s not only better with others, it is essential to have enough people so there can be teams of good and bad guys. 
  • Pick a location – the best would be a house that is between 1600 and 2000 square feet in size (although larger will work as well). A bonus is if it has a second story or extra bonus if it has a basement, or a big garage.
  • Pick a time – Fall or winter, the time of the year when it get’s dark earlier in the day is ideal. You should plan for at least two hours of activity. 
  • Everyone needs to be assigned and finish some homework BEFORE the event. Locate and send out links to some basic articles on “building searches.” Terms like “Pieing a Corner” and “Cross-Over” or “Button-Hook Room Entry” should get you some articles with nice pictures and diagrams. Everyone involved will then have some basic knowledge on the most common techniques.
  • Get a bunch of cheap LED flashlights at Harbor Freight – get a few more than you will need, just in case one or more breaks or just stops working, and get some decent replacement batteries.
  • Go to Wal-Mart, Lowes, or Home Depot and buy the empty, generic-plastic-32-ounce/one-quart-squirt-bottles with the squeezy-squirt-handles (the ones you take home and fill with liquid cleaners), get one for each participant, and maybe an extra one or two – they always seem to have one wonky one that doesn’t work well and it drips instead of squirts. These will be filled about one third to one-half way with plain tap water.
  • As everyone arrives, you establish basic ground rules: Don’t break anything, don’t knock anyone over, no physical stuff, no punching someone in the neck – you’d be surprised how pumped up you can get, and how emotions will also get tense. Make it something like Hide & Seek – two “bad guys” get three minutes to hide, then the good guys can blow a whistle, and the good guys get to start the search process. Whoever gets squirted – is “out.”
  • Now, since we want to make this realistic, once everyone has a flashlight and a water-squirty-bottle, make sure all the lights are turned out in the house. Then sit back, and enjoy the fun!

NOTE: this experience is intended to simulate searching for a real bad guy, in a real life situation. As a result lying-sneaky-cheating-no-good-unfair-distracting-tag-team-behavior, is encouraged among the bad guys. Just like in a real situation, it’s not about playing fair, it is about “WINNING!” Plus the look on someone’s face when you squirt them on the side of the face, and they had no idea that you were hiding there behind the chair, I mean, what could possibly be better?

Once either all the good or all the bad guys are all out of the round, stop, go back, and switch roles – good guys to bad, bad to good, etc., just keep more good guys than bad guys – to be fair. Those who got squirted will now be extra motivated to find or sneak attack the other team. Once everyone has been both a hider and a seeker, you can change the rules, OR, you can slow it down a bit, and walk though several scenarios, one person hides behind the couch, and another tries to find a way to approach without getting squirted. The others stand nearby and watch, and offer suggestions to each – so everyone learns what might work, and what definitely will not be successful

Then, what everyone has had some fun, but before it gets out of hand and someone gets stabbed with a fork – toss some steaks on the grill (if the flames flare up, a water filled squirt bottle can be used to subdue the flares, since you have a few), open some adult beverages, and do a de-briefing of what happened, and what was learned. 

I honestly don’t know if you can have a better event, but even if you can, this will definitely be talked about by those who attend for a very long time. I also suspect that those who participate will discover that searching a house or apartment for a bad guy who is hiding, is a lot more dangerous than to just stay secured in the bedroom, call the police, and let them deal with searching the house.