Chances are, sometimes in life you’re going to have to defend your home from attack. Even without taking a disaster and post-disaster shortages into account, one out of every five homes is subject to a home invasion or burglary. When you start stacking that percentage up over the years, chances are that your home will be hit sometime within every five years. That’s too often for comfort and too often to ignore.
But even as bad as those statistics are, they are nothing compared to the likelihood of a home invasion or outright attack in the aftermath of a disaster. We’ve all seen it happen, over and over again. Disaster strikes and all the slime of the Earth turn out to take advantage of it, looting and vandalizing property as if it was a game.
This became such a serious problem after Hurricane Katrina that it moved city officials to declare martial law and confiscate firearms. While I totally deplore their decision, disarming law-abiding citizens, it does show the desperation that officials felt in trying to keep their city safe. Sadly, they made a bad decision.
It doesn’t take long for people to reach a point of desperation after a major disaster. With the average family only stocking three days worth of food in their homes, on the fourth day they are starting to get hungry. By the fifth, many will do just about anything to get their hands on a meal. Stealing from you or even taking you out to get what you have may not be all that unrealistic an idea to many, especially if they think that they can do it without getting caught.
With that in mind, every prepper needs to be ready to defend home and family. If you think that it is nobler to give what you have to someone else who is hungry, just remember that you might be giving away the life of a family member. Unless you know for sure that things will return to normal before your supplies run out, you need to hang on to every morsel of food you have. Otherwise, it might be you that ends up begging for food, and there will be fewer people to beg from.
Defending your home consists of three basic things:
- Passive defenses
- Weapons for home defense
Passive defenses refer to those things you do to make it harder for people to break into your home. While passive defense alone can’t keep people out; they will give you time to react, so that you can defend your home. You are the defender of your home, not a lock and key.
Weapons for home defense
So let’s talk about weapons and training for a minute. I’ll guarantee you that you can find plenty of articles around, which talk about all sorts of “alternative weapons.” Let me cut to the chase on that. Alternative weapons are only worth using if you have no other choice. Criminals today use firearms and in the wake of a disaster, you can be sure that anyone who wants to steal your stockpile of food is going to have a gun in their hand as well. Going up against them, with anything less than a gun is either an act of foolishness or desperation.
We could spend a long time talking about the pros and cons of different firearms; but when it comes down to it, you have to find something that you’re comfortable with. That will be different from person to person. So let me just mention the three categories briefly:
- Pistols – More than anything, pistols are defensive weapons, designed for use in close quarters. That seems to make them ideal for home defense. However, it is harder to shoot a pistol accurately, than it is to shoot a rifle accurately. So deciding on a pistol means accepting the need for a longer training cycle.
- Shotguns – Shotguns are considered by many to be the ultimate home defense weapon. To be clear on this, they are referring to tactical shotguns, not the kind you use for bird hunting. The main differences are that a tactical shotgun has a shorter barrel and a larger magazine. However, the idea that you don’t need to shoot accurately with a shotgun because the shot will disperse is false. In the confines of a home, you won’t be shooting far enough for the pellets to disperse.
- Rifles – Rifles give you the most firepower and the most accuracy. However, maneuvering a rifle indoors is difficult, due to its length. Tactical rifles, like the many versions of the AR-15, are shorter, making them better for indoor use. However, any rifle is going to be shooting a cartridge that is powerful enough that you may very well shoot right through the person and hit whoever or whatever is behind them.
As you can see from these brief descriptions, there is no such thing as a perfect firearm for home defense. Each has its pros and cons. If you are an inexperienced shooter, I would recommend a tactical shotgun, as it will give you the greatest chance of defending yourself. Loaded with birdshot, rather than 00 Buckshot (what most people recommend), you are less likely to shoot through walls and hit anyone beyond.
For an experienced shooter, pistols, especially semi-automatic pistols are a better option, especially if you load the pistol with frangible rounds. These are specially designed bullets that break apart on contact, reducing the likelihood of going through the target or through a wall and hitting a family member on the other side. Supposedly, frangible rounds will not go through two layers of drywall, but will still cause a serious wound.
Training for home defense
What’s more important than the weapon you ultimately choose, is the training that you give yourself in using that weapon. No gun is good enough to make up for a poor shooter, but a good shooter can still do well with a poor quality gun. Ultimately, you want to be good enough that you can do well with whatever gun you grab.
There are three separate types of training you need to undergo, in order to be proficient enough to protect your home and family. They are:
- Target shooting
- Dry-fire drills
- Tactical training
Training all starts with basic target shooting; getting as many holes as you can in the bulls-eye of the target. Don’t bother trying to shoot at long range, a very high percentage of a self-defense shooting is within five yards. So start with that and become proficient at that range. By proficient, I mean working on getting the smallest possible group. If you can make five shots into one ragged hole, you’re getting good.
There’s a reason you want to work on accuracy. That is, when things turn real, your accuracy will go out the window. Adrenalin will be coursing through your veins, triggered by the situation and preparing you for fight or flight. But that adrenalin also messes up the fine motor skills, which is going to hurt your trigger control.
On the average, you can expect to shoot with only 20% of your normal accuracy. That means that if you can normally shoot a 1” group, you’ll be shooting a 5” group. That’s still really good. If you normally shoot a 4” group, it will turn into a 20” group, which means that there’s a fair chance that half of your shots will miss the target altogether. But if you normally shoot an 8” group, you’ll be shooting all over the place, in a 32” group and probably miss the bad guy with almost all of your shots. If he is moving, as he most likely will be, it will be even worse.
The second part of training are dry-fire drills. There are two basic categories of dry-fire drills and you need to work on both. The first category is drawing and shooting. Most shooting ranges won’t allow you to shoot this way. The risk of shooting into the concrete floor and causing a ricochet is too high. But in a real-life shooting situation, you’ll need to draw and fire.
As you are practicing this, concentrate on your trigger control. Contrary to popular belief, it is poor trigger control, more than poor sight picture, that causes people to miss. Many people jerk the trigger, causing their shots to go down and to the left (or to the right if they are left-handed). You can’t afford this in a self-defense scenario and shooting quickly will increase the likelihood of jerking the trigger.
In addition to working on drawing and controlling the trigger, you also want to work on what are known as “gun drills.” This broad category includes everything that you can do with a gun, in a tactical situation, other than shooting. The two most important things to work on are changing magazines (reloading) and clearing jams. But you also want to work on how you can utilize your gun if you are wounded. How do you draw the gun with your off hand? How to you reload the gun one-handed? How do you shoot from an awkward position?
Tactical training is designed to simulate the real deal. You are given a scenario that is intended to look like a real situation, such as a home break-in, someone robbing a store or a gang trying to rob you in your car, and you are expected to react.
This sort of shooting is much different than shooting at a target. You will have multiple targets to shoot at, and they won’t all be lined up neatly for you. Lighting may be poor. Some targets may be in motion or you may be required to move to engage them. There may be obstacles in the way and there may even be simulated innocent bystanders that you have to avoid injuring.
Many shooting ranges offer tactical shooting events one night a week. This is run in the form of a competition, with one shooter at a time, shooting against the clock. You’d be amazed how much stress it puts you under when that clock is ticking off the seconds. The need to put all the targets down quickly will really mess with your accuracy.
But that’s good; it simulates the real thing, much more than any other training you can undertake. For that reason, it’s worth taking the time and eating crow to go to these events. Just don’t expect to do well the first time you go (or even the first 20 times) as you’ll find out that it’s much harder than you expect.