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Home Defense: Prepare and Practice

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Protecting a home from unwanted visitors is a serious concern no matter where you live, and it requires appropriate training. Unfortunately, there is a lack of home-defense-specific training. But that doesn’t mean you should become lax when you prepare your home and take precautions.

Don’t Assume

A threat to your home doesn’t always fit a cookie-cutter mold and is often not as dramatic as television and movies portray. A home invasion can happen at any hour. It is not necessarily only a nighttime affair. Criminals are more likely to gain access by stealth. They may pose as door-to-door salespeople, evangelists or census takers. The most adept have gathered intelligence on your daily routines, watching who lives in your home and your comings and goings.

It is important to prepare and train for all possibilities. Try to think up realistic scenarios — those easily addressed as well as larger problems. For example, not far from my home, a dangerous man invaded a home, surprising the occupants and their neighbor. He killed all three with an edged weapon. This event is evidence that a handgun should be kept within reach at all times.

Burglars often choose what they believe are soft targets. It is important to know your own threat profile. The number of people living in a home and economic standing are factors assailants usually consider.

Secure Your Home

The first step in reducing your target risk is to fortify your home. Keep your doors and windows locked. Maintain the appearance of your home and add exterior lighting to deter unwanted visitors. You may also want to consider a home-security system. There are several reasonable options on the market today.

If a security system is not in your plans, maybe a furry friend is. Dogs can be used to alert homeowners to unwanted activities in many instances. However, it’s important to remember that dogs are more likely to signal a problem, not be a solution. Don’t count on any animal attacking a threat. An animal aggressive enough to bite a burglar is probably too dangerous to have around.

home defense gear

Pretty ordinary gear can save your life. A plan is what matters.

While we all like to hope we are secure in our own homes, having a gun — any gun — nearby is still a good idea. And access to that firearm is an important consideration. Though it is dangerously common, having several guns hidden around the house is a bad plan. Burglars do not gingerly poke around; they tear homes apart. It will not take them long to find your firearm(s) when they’re upturning furniture or slinging drawer contents around. Keep guns locked away when you are not in control of them but a home-defense firearm safely accessible.

Prepare a Plan

Creating a home-defense plan is relatively simple and involves only a few easy steps:

  1. Maintain as secure a home as possible.
  2. Have a readily accessible firearm at hand you have practiced with. It is recommended to have your home-defense gun be the same as your everyday carry piece.
  3. Evade the threat. Running toward trouble is a knee-jerk reaction. Don’t move unless household members are in danger. Make sure younger members of the house know the plan as well. It is children’s natural instinct to run toward parents’ bedrooms in an emergency. This is a good tactic.
  4. Call 911.
  5. Engage only in life-threatening situations when lethal force is necessary. Though concerns of overpenetration vanish when you hit the intended target, fire accurately — not in a flurry of undirected fire.

Practice

Once you have developed a plan, practice until it has become routine. It is important your immediate reaction becomes your practiced one. I know of more than one instance when those in the home ran toward the threat without a defense.

To practice, lie in bed. Pretend you have been alarmed and prepare to confront the intruder. Take a deep breath, then engage in tactical movement. Mix it up. Stay in the bedroom in one drill, then move down the hall, to the living room, address the back door and the front door. Practice moving to other bedrooms.

Through all these drills, the firearm should not be extended in front of you. This makes it easier to grasp and turn against you. Keep the handgun at belt level and your finger off the trigger. There is little point in moving successfully and then having an accident and crippling yourself.

Practice your home-defense plan in the dark

Few homes are completely dark with the lights out. The warm glow of the XS front sight is comforting and aids in hit probability.

Be sure to practice in the dark. In an emergency, do not immediately turn on the lights. Though it will momentarily blind your attacker, the effect will be the same on you. You should know the layout of your house and be able to move smoothly and deliberately. This way, you will avoid giving your attacker a target.

Safety must come first. It is a viable course to train inside the home with a fake gun. At the least, use a triple-checked unloaded firearm, perhaps adding a chamber lock. On the firing range during live fire, be certain to practice movement and firing accurately at close range. Make each shot count. The last thing you need is to fire in panic in the home. Those shots must be accounted for.

Plan, Prepare, Practice

Homeowners and renters alike are more of a threat to invaders if they have a plan. Think things through and keep practice flexible and frequent. With preparation, there is no reason to be a victim.

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