How to Handle a Loud Thud at Night

How to Handle a Loud Thud at Night
How to Handle a Loud Thud at Night
How to Handle a Loud Thud at Night
How to Handle a Loud Thud at Night

A few weeks ago, I showed people an email from a fellow who thought he had an intruder in his house. It turned out to be his dog getting its leash caught in its cage, but the fact is, this gentleman didn’t have his gun loaded and it took him a while to get ready to protect himself.

Well, until last week, it had been a few years since I’d had any similar scares in my own house. But about 12:30am last Thursday night, I heard a loud thud in my house that woke both my wife and I up. I grabbed my flashlight on my nightstand, opened my rapid access safe, went out into the hallway, and stood at the top of the stairs with my gun and light pointing down the stairs.

If I had to guess, it took me about 6 seconds to go from sleeping to being at the top of the stairs with my loaded gun. The reason I went to the top of the stairs is because the thud sounded like somebody was on their way up the stairs and I wanted to stop the “threat” before it got any closer to my wife or to my daughter’s room.

At the top of the stairs, I waited a bit but I didn’t see anything or hear anyone…

So I slowly began to clear my house, which isn’t a quick task if you’re going to do it correctly. After I’d cleared my house, my wife and I went back to bed. But because the thud was so loud and sounded like it was coming up the stairs, we’d had a nice dose of adrenaline and neither of us could fall back to sleep.

As we laid there my wife said, “I know what the thud was.” She walked to our hallway closest, which is right next to the stairs, opened it up, and our air mattress tumbled out. Earlier that week, my wife had been at a church camp with the girls in our church and had used the air mattress.

She obviously didn’t put it away right (which probably means I was the one that put it away)…

And when it fell off the top shelf, it did make a pretty loud noise. (This isn’t the type of air mattress I use when I go camping. This is the type with the built in air pump that weighs a ton and you might as well bring a real bed camping if you’re going to use it.)

Obviously, I was very thankful that nobody was in my house, but it was nice to know that everything went according to plan and my “home defense” training paid off. What I mean is, at least once a month I’ll lie in bed and pretend there’s a home intruder. I then see how quickly I can get my gun and flashlight and then I evaluate if I need to rearrange any of my gear.

And like I said, it took me about 6 seconds from a dead sleep to be at the top of the stairs with my loaded gun. I was able to do this because of practice and a good gear arrangement that works for my situation.

I know I’ve said this numerous times before, but I encourage you to practice what you plan to do in a home invasion scenario. If there’s ever a home invasion, you need to operate on “autopilot” so you don’t hesitate and you don’t wonder where your gun is or where you should go. It should all be second nature.

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Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and author of The Covert Guide to Concealed Carry. He is also the creator of the Ultimate Concealed Carry Experience, which allows you to take your concealed carry training without leaving home. For full details about this training, please visit Concealed Carry Academy. You can also follow him on Google+ and Twitter.
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Bwahahaha, “….so I went to the head of the stairs…” AND THE BAD GUY SHOT ME DEAD! You violate so many rules we, as tactical instructors, teach and practice I’m amazed you even admit to them.

Nicolas Finn

Cute… I sure want to read anything else you have to say!


Alright, first, every professional instructor will tell you NOT to ever attempt to clear a house. It’s a very specialized job and requires extensive training. I’ve been through it three times and would not do it in my own home, that’s how dangerous it is.

Second, what sane person would stand at the top of the stairs and make themselves a perfect target for someone below?

Third, I believe that Mr. Hanson, in previous posts, stated that he had an alarm system in his house. Was it armed? If not why not? If it wasn’t armed there’s a whole protocol in place that we teach if you truly believe there is an intruder in your house.

In summation, for those of us who teach on a regular basis, meaning every week, a goodly number of Mr. Hanson’s musings leave an awful lot of disturbing questions unanswered.

Roy Creiglow

I for one danged sure would not stand there with a flashlight to shoot at. It irritates me to no end to see this done in the shows on tv all the time. If I am a bad guy, I know there is someone holding the light, and generally about CM. HOLY BATMAN ROBIN!!!!


Rule number 1: Make noise. There’s nothing like the sound of a pump shotgun filling the chamber to send someone back out the way they came in.
Rule number 2: Move silently. If the sound of the shotgun doesn’t run them off, you want them guessing where you are.
Rule number 3: Protect the family, all other things can be replaced.
I disagree with Vanns40 on one thing. Assuming the homeowner is capable and practiced, there is no one better equipped to clear the house. He/She knows every nook and cranny, every squeaky floorboard and every ray of light from the porch lamp. This is not something you do immediately, but once you believe the invader has left. It is a precaution to be undertaken before going back to bed.


On all your points; take a good tactical class then come back and revisit your remarks.

Martin Hruz

More than relying on the pump of a gun; I like the idea of sounding my car alarm (keys on the nightstand), house alarm etc. I also use strobing lights around the perimeter that are fairly dissorienting and attention getting.


just as Sheila said,
I didn’t know that any one can make $5892 in four weeks on the computer. did
you look at this site w­w­w.K­E­P­2.c­o­m

Nicolas Finn

There you go: a not-so-dickish response that people can read and learn from! Way to go! And now your point is that much more understandable!

Martin Hruz

You are assuming that in this day and age of cutbacks, anyone else would be AVAILABLE to clear your house. I have been denied response more than once when either my alarm was going off or I saw and heard suspicious activity. We are living in a day when 911 willl sit on the line while you get raped, advising you ask the rapist to leave. While I understand you are trying to drum up business for your industry, beyond this I find little of value in your comments. Yeah, we should all train to the highest level we can. Understood. In the mean time I apprecciate practical tips from various POV’s more than disparaging remarks. But then… if you laid it out here, why would I pay you????


Sure, and you could read a book on being a doctor and then become one. I don’t care if you take a class or not, that’s up to you. You talk about tough economic times yet you and thousands of others will spend good money on quality firearms and then refuse to spend a dime on how to use them properly, thinking “I don’t need no stinking training”, these guys are just out here to take my money. Every instructor I know has one primary goal in mind; to give you the training to keep you alive. And yes, to also make some money. There’s nothing wrong with getting paid for teaching someone how to save their own skin. Most of us have real world experience with firearms being used in an aggressive man er and we also are trained by similar folks. That’s the why and how of the knowledge part that we’re trying to transfer to you. If you think you have all the knowledge that’s necessary them by all means go forth and continue on. You don’t need us.

Martin Hruz

I get the value of training; that to me is a given. I apprecciate your points on the need for training. You win. I have some training provided by a couple local businesses that I truly benefitted from (recomend USA Firearms Acadamy & Maccabee for anyone in the Reno area). I will continue to take courses as I can.

I do take exception to one thing said: “every professional instructor will tell you NOT to ever attempt to clear a house. It’s a very specialized job and requires extensive training.” This indicates to me anything less than “Ninja” disqualifies me from clearing my own house.

What am I to do then, on Christmas eve night, when I am at “Grandma’s” and the police refuse to come and my home alarm has given every indication from the series of sensors tripped that someone has broken in. Or, loud thud time, and I hear movement between my kids bed and my own that indicates I need to take action? Is your answer really only ‘get more training’? I personally would find more valuable tips from your POV on how to ID my target and not blow away a teenager sneaking in or out of his own bedroom or whatever, but if you feel this cannot be put in print I guess I can understand. What is the name of your company?


Of course there are exceptions and you’ve just pointed out a very valid one.


As Martin Hruz asked above, what is the name of your company?


I do not advertise on these forums, that’s not why I reply.


Being of sound mind, I shall not give any information as to my dwelling. I do have a very dedicated system that will be very sufficient. You don’t go clearing rooms without a partner, its suicide in some cases, ask a cops widow. You need to have a ” safe room “, with a plan to gather family members. If of an age that they may posses shooting skills so much the better. Have a cell phone, and call the cops, till they get there shoot to kill any intruder !


You don’t “shoot to kill”, you shoot to stop the attack. As to where I teach, I did try to post that earlier but it evidently is against the rules and I understand that. Besides, as I stated previously, I don’t post to get more students and don’t want to be accused of doing that. I simply want to give good info.


ok..I understand that you have plenty of experience here but did i just read that correctly? You said not to “shoot to kill”..???
In a situation where I am facing another individual with a firearm and that person wants to end me..I’m shooting to kill. I’m shooting to win. None of this “stop the attack” BS


You misunderstand. Legally speaking you never “shoot to kill” and unless you wish to risk involved litigation you’ll instead always say my intent was to “stop the attack, that’s all I wanted to do”. The fact that the person later died is regrettable but that was not your original intent, you just wanted him to stop. Understand?


You’re not understanding the difference. The goal is quick incapacitation. THAT is what saves your life. The death of the assailant may come as a result of that, but an assailant can also get hit with a mortal wound that kills 5 minutes later and kill you in the mean time. You killed him…but you didn’t quickly incapacitate him. So when people say you are shooting to stop, they are referring to the idea that instant incapacitation, regardless of whether death follows, is the goal.

You seem to be thinking it’s some sort of misguided shoot to wound concept. That could not be further from the truth. Nobody is recommending shooting to wound.


Thank you for the clarification. Makes perfect sense! Not sure why I originally read the comment the way I did.


as Patrick implied I’m alarmed that some people able to profit $4486 in four weeks on the internet. did you look at this site w­w­w.K­E­P­2.c­o­m

Cathy McDowell

With gun loaded and ready to fire I turn the lights on and look around ready to shoot to kill.
Thankfully we are in a single story and the hall light is 3 feet from bedroom doorway.


better safe than sorry


Darn poor idea


I love LED Christmas lights. When used year-round on the stairs they can light-up anyone coming up the stairs while I wait in total darkness at the top of the stairs (and around the corner). Better than a dozen night-lights. After Christmas they are very cheep. Low-power consumption too. Just a suggestion…

Martin Hruz

Me likey 🙂


Why was my comment deleted? Interesting.


Because nobody wants to take a class called “Tactical hunkering down behind the bed with your pistol and dynamically dialing 911!” Those who don’t know, don’t know they don’t know…..

Lon Currey

I also teach weekly and one of the points I always make is do not make yourself a target.
That’s exactly what a flashlight does.

Pete C.

I just slap myself in the head when I read articles from you like this and wonder what the CIA trains its agents. Seriously? You held your flashlight with it on while you stood at the top of the steps? You are very fortunate it was the mattress that fell, because if there were an armed intruder, you would not have been able to write this article.


Jason, here is a partial quote from your statement:
“…But about 12:30am last Thursday night, I heard a loud thud in my house that woke both my wife and I[sic] up.”

If you had been alone that night, would you have said, “…I heard a loud thud in my house that woke I up?”
If it is painfully obvious that you didn’t learn proper English Grammar in your lifetime, why would anyone think that you learned ANYTHING else properly?


Next time he can do what our vice presidents recommended, shot your double barrel shot gun out the window and scare the intruder away. Then wait for the police to come and arrest you for firing a gun in city limits, disturbing the peace and any other law they come up with to take you in.

Jim H.

Jason, How do you put up with these comment trolls? Yes, if there is an intruder in your house, you are to arm yourself and retreat to your predetermined “safe area”, etc. etc. I teach that too. But I’m not calling the police every time my dog hits his head on the coffee table. It is perfectly logical to arm yourself with a gun and light, go to the top of the stairs and assess what is actually happening. That would be a great 911 call; “I think I heard a thump. Send the SWAT team!”


Jim, agreed. You can’t call the police for everything, but its perfectly reasonable to carefully step out of your own bedroom to get in a position where you can protect your daughter’s room.

One thing that has always made me more comfortable… an aftermarket motion detector alarm system that’s not wired to an alarm company. They’re about $120 and I keep the noise unit on my nightstand. Each motion detector INSIDE my house is set to my own voice stating “hallway” or “kitchen”. Essentially, when I have heard thuds at night, I know whether or not a person has gotten in the house. If they ever do, from my practice I am confident that I will know every new room the person walks in because the detectors announce each new location.


I have camera’s installed on the house, and motion detectors that turn lights on OUTSIDE the house and one inside my bedroom to wake me up. I leave hall lights on all night, that don’t interrupt the sleeping areas. I can remotely turn off the lights turned on by the motion detectors, so if I turn them off, and they don’t come right back on, I can assume it was a bird that tripped it. My weapon is three feet from the bed. Alarm system and signs outside saying I have one. Good neighbors also with motion lights, etc.


Why did the jackass have his dog leashed inside the home? A dog could hang itself and no one would know. Some people are absolute morons.


I relate to the noise in the dark, when I moved into my just bought house it was really quiet. No neighbors within 1/4 mile. Around 2:00 am I woke with a start when I heard the noise, so I got my trusty S&W 9mm and when checking, after I found the house was empty, I then realized how dumb I felt when I realized the noise I heard was the ice maker starting to make ice in the empty container. I felt rather stupid standing ther ready to shoot the refrigerator. Now if I can only get over the noise of the house settling.
When I was moving in a young kid on a moped stopped and asked if I was just moving in and I told yes me and my two friends S&W, I never saw him again, I guess it pays to advertise.


Looks like vanns got a hardon for Jason.


I have simply found so much of what he said in the past and now to be incorrect.


that si a good plan. I have mine locked and loaded, Flashlight since I live in the city is not needed, lots of light thru the windows with the drapes closed. Still need to practice more!!


Wow, a lot of testosterone flowing. A person is fully capable of clearing their own home. Who else has the intimate knowledge of all the hiding places. You use them to your advantage. I know of very few (if any) stairwells that lead to nowhere. There is always a doorway, room or balcony at the top. So he went to the top of the stairs and listened. Chances are he would be standing in a doorway (fatal funnel) otherwise. Where do you suggest he stand to assess what is going on in his home? Remember he was just woken up from a dead sleep. It makes no good sense to go headlong into a situation if you don’t know what you’re getting into.

As for flashlights, I guess no one has thought about the legal, moral and ethical requirement of identifying your intended target. You concern yourselves with proper verbiage (shoot to kill/shoot to incapacitate), but you’re forgetting your responsibility to identify what it is you’re about to put your sights/laser on. I don’t know an instructor that has ever advocated challenging a silhouette or dark shadow without some sort of illumination device. Additionally, flashlights are not of the “C” or “D” cell variety any longer. Decent flashlights can be had for around $100 that will also incapacitate your adversary when properly used. I’ve got at least 3 with lumens over 640 with strobe features. It’s all about technique. Flash and move and paint an area, turn it off and move. Yes, turning on the lights is an option but consider this scenario. You’re standing in your kitchen with the lights off and you’re looking out the window at the street light that is on. Under that street light is a person. You can see him but he can’t see you. Change the scenario to you standing in your lit kitchen looking,out the window into the dark. The person standing just beyond the sliver of light can see you but you can’t see them. The point is, if you find yourself in the dark looking into the light, use the darkness to your advantage. However if you find yourself in the light looking into the dark, change your position because you’re at a tactical disadvantage. Turning on the lights put you into the later scenario.

All of this comes down to training. One can’t expect to be engrained with all the knowledge of how to tactical negotiate every situation they could come across. I will take one exception to Mr. Hanson’s article when he says you want to operate on “auto pilot”. I believe what he meant to say was that through practice, your body becomes accustomed to certain stressors and how to overcome them through the training you’ve received. You will not rise to the occasion, but rather sink to the level of your training.

martin faust

I hate to say it, but I always think it is better to shoot to kill. If you play nice, and just wound the bad guy, he will come back and sue your ass off. If he is dead, he can’t.