For many Americans, having the ability to defend yourself, your family and your property is a legitimate concern. While America is, by and large, an overwhelmingly safe place to live, there are portions of the country with crime rates that are far higher than the national average, just as there are many Americans living in rural places that can’t count on the speedy arrival of law enforcement from the next town in the event of an emergency.

Developing a sound home defense strategy involves more than simply owning a firearm and knowing how to use it, but our approach to home defense can often be skewed by our perceptions of the world – the stories we’ve heard, the ideas we have about home invasions, and our own personal anxieties. With that in mind, here’s a short list of common home defense myths and misconceptions that could leave your home defense strategy lacking if you’re among the many Americans that fall prey to these lines of thinking.

Myth #1: Home invasions are carried out by skilled criminals with a plan.

Years ago, my home was broken into on my first night home from a deployment. My wife and I, like so many young couples that were just reunited after a stint overseas, spent the evening watching movies, talking, and — admittedly — getting pretty drunk. Finally, as the night wore on, we stumbled up the stairs to do the other thing many young couples do when reunited after a deployment, leaving our phones on the coffee table in the living room.

We lived in off-base military housing in a safe Massachusetts community that was regularly patrolled by military police. To be honest, we never really considered the idea that we could be a target for a home invasion based on that much alone.

A few hours later, a noise in our living room woke my wife and I. I asked her where she’d been keeping the gun while I was away, and she told me it was in a lock box in the living room closet — the same room the noise was coming from. Without a weapon, I opted to try intimidation and rage, bounding down the stairs making as much noise as my 230-pound frame would let me, shouting about the things I planned to do to whomever I found in my house.

By the time I got to the bottom of the stairs, the front door was wide open, and some things were clearly missing. I grabbed a phone, threw it to my wife on the stairs and told her to lock herself in the bedroom and call 911. Once armed with my pistol, I quickly cleared our small two-room townhouse before heading out the front door just in time to spot our burglar sprinting away on foot, some 200 yards away.

When you imagine a home invasion, you expect a well thought out strategy aimed at stealing your valuables or hurting you. You often don’t consider the half-cocked junkie that broke in without a plan. Like a wild animal caught digging through your trash, your behavior dictates much of how such a situation unfolds from there. That idiot, who knew who I was by reputation but believed that I was still deployed, left a trail of my stuff all the way to his house. The cops followed it, knocked on his door, and found him inside eating the pizza he’d nabbed from my coffee table.