Guest Post By Sam Coffman
Dennis jumped on his mountain bike and pedaled as fast as possible through the brush and onto the short trail that would take him directly to the back door of his house in the growing evening darkness. Either his radio or batteries apparently had just chosen this inopportune moment to give out. Traversing the trail quickly on the bike was something he could do even in complete darkness however, as he had traveled it at least twice daily even before the collapse. Less than two minutes earlier he had spotted a truckload of armed men using his binoculars. Dennis knew they were raiders . They had running lights on and he doubted they had night vision equipment. The truck was turning into the entrance of his small, otherwise empty neighborhood and starting up the first hill.
Since the collapse and ensuing pandemic, everyone else in his neighborhood had left, died or been killed. Dennis, his brother’s family and two other small families from the neighborhood were now the sole residents, and even they were making plans to leave within the next week. Things were just becoming way too dangerous now that word had apparently gotten out that there might be a house in this neighborhood worth looting, women worth raping and food, ammo and medicine to the raiders who took it.
Dennis and the other three families had consolidated into the largest house in the neighborhood that had an easy area to clear, was located at one of the highest elevation points of the neighborhood and had a crawl space underneath that they were able to dig out and expand. They had done their best to make it appear as though the house was not lived in, but it was impossible – especially when there were children involved – for there to be complete noise and light discipline all of the time. They were going to be ready to bug out as a group in just a few more days, but based on this truckload of raiders, they were going to have at least one fight between the immediate present and that departure date.
He wheeled up to the house, giving the code word for a full alert to Josh about 500 meters away from the house. Josh was in the closest LP/OP to the trail he rode up on. “Prairie Fire, ETA 2 minutes” He said loudly enough for Josh to hear. For the moment, until they arrived at their final bugout location, they were down to three working FRS radios due to shortages on batteries and limited recharge possibilities. His own radio crackled as he heard Josh pass the word on to the nearside LP/OP that also served as the command center. Dennis noted that apparently his own radio at least received transmissions or maybe the battery was just no longer holding much of a charge.
Dennis dumped the mountain bike into what looked like a pile of trash in the back yard and quickly ran around front, stopping at the house to yell only loudly enough for everyone inside, the same code phrase for “attack imminent,” then ran to the front to help check on tripwires and defensive positions. He could hear the sound of the truck now as it turned onto their street less than 6 blocks away. From his combat and military experience, he knew that no unit or team was ever fully ready for battle no matter how much they trained, but he hoped they had trained enough as a group of family and friends over the previous several months to at least get through this onslaught without any injuries or deaths…
Defending your home in a SHTF situationThere are two very important concepts to realize when you are faced with the prospect of defending your home – whether it is in a post-SHTF scenario or someone breaking in: 1) A typical residential home is not a defensible structure unless it is either built that way or has been heavily modified and 2) Once the fight has reached the inside of your home, you have lost a good deal of advantage that you will have if you can keep them outside. Because of this, there are a number of important priorities to consider in a SHTF situation when defending your own home, and this article will be divided into two parts. The first part will discuss defending your home while the attackers are outside of it while the second part will discuss the defense of your home once your attackers have entered the same structure that you are defending. It is important to be able to deal with this kind of a tactical situation during low-light conditions. As an additional primer on some of the most important low-light tactics you can incorporate into your training and preparation, I highly recommend the “Own the Night” DVD produced by the Womach brothers, that is available online.
To defend your home correctly, you must take away cover (or lure them to false cover) from your attackers and turn them into targets. This can be done a variety of ways: You can clear all possible cover within a certain radius around your home (100 meters or more would be ideal). It may be that you already have this kind of yard, and are at the top of a hill looking down on all terrain 360 degrees around you, but chances are good that this is not your situation. I personally would have a hard time living in a home where I had no trees, rocks, logs and other such potential cover in my yard.
So in the case that you have natural cover (and a pretty yard), you need to consider two major things. How can you easily (with less than 10 minutes of warning) create a barrier for high-speed vehicle approach straight up to your house? And how can you direct foot traffic from that point, to areas that you want foot traffic to go to? In other words, what can you do to force attackers into the positions that you want them to be in? Barriers such as fences, logs, rock walls, ditches, ponds, pools, heavy brush, etc., can all be used to keep people from getting to cover easily (or at all), expose them even more during their journey to cover (such as having to climb up and over a wall that profiles them). This is the type of “fortress-scaping” that you can undertake now if you have already decided that your home will be a bug-in location (which it generally should be) in all but the worst situations.
Attractive walls, paths and heavy brush (for example greenbrier and other thorny plants that are very difficult to negotiate through with any speed) are very easy ways to direct foot traffic to the locations you want it in. At the same time, give yourself vantage points over all potential cover, as well as placing or at least having locations for future strategic light structures (yes, they can be shot out, but if they can be operated remotely, offer a good spotlight situation when you are ready to shoot the target once lit and have at least several seconds to do so while also ruining their night vision temporarily), motion detectors, trip wires (flares, noise makers, booby traps, etc.).
So what kind of cover do you need for yourself from inside your home? In part 2 of this article I will talk about ways to fortify (and defend) your home – both in ways that are not apparent to the casual observer and will give you the advantage during an armed break-in, as well as full fortification in a SHTF scenario – but for the SHTF scenario you can much more easily convert a crawl space, basement or other type of ground-level shelter under your house (e.g. pier and beam construction) that will allow you to create very effective defensive positions. Think “foxhole” fighting positions whenever possible, as this makes you a much more difficult target giving you a huge defensive advantage over any approaching attackers if you have cleared your fields of fire.
Fighting At Night
If you are not prepared to fight at night or in low-light environments, you are not prepared to fight at all. There are many considerations in regard to preparing and training for low-light conditions that include the most basic and primitive (flares, tritium/night sights, tracer rounds) up to the solutions that require power in order to work (IR lighting and night vision devices, flashlights, spotlights). IR and night vision is great, but make sure that you have the ability to sustain your power sources for the long run if you are truly interested in prepping wisely. In a complete collapse, batteries and sustainability of power will start to be at a premium in the first few weeks if not days. Target identification when fighting at night is one of the first and most important issues to deal with. Friendly fire is a very real probability in any night engagement involving teamwork. Another issue is keeping track of your equipment, loading magazines, dealing with being hit (both from the standpoint of first aid as well as loading and firing with an injured limb), dealing with equipment malfunctions, remembering where you keep gear, ammo, first aid, tools, etc. , team communication and signals and more. These are all things that can be practiced in the dark in your own home or back yard at night without having to use ammo. In fact, I highly recommend you get the basics of movement, gear and weapon management and weapon handling to a place that you feel very comfortable with before you even load a single round in your weapon and start practicing live fire. As a part of this type of preparation, there are some great resources out there to read, watch and learn from.
Part 2: Inside your Home
In part two of this article, I will cover two primary topics: 1) Field-expedient methods of reinforcing your home in order to make it more defensible and 2) Tactics inside your home if attackers make it that far.
SHTF Home Defense: Part 2 – Defending the HomeDennis and Jake looked at each other from across what used to be a living room. “If they saw us come into this house, I’m guessing we have about 10 minutes tops before they come through one
of these doors,” Dennis said. A little over a week into their bugout, they had left the rest of their group and families in a much safer location outside of this small town, and had come in as a team of two to scout out supplies, and bring back what they could. Despite their best attempts, someone had seen them come into town and had fired a shot, missing both of them by several feet, but forcing them into the best cover they could find: A small, ranch style home at the end of a small cul-de-sac. They both wanted to get out of town, but their exits were blocked by a small gang that looked to have taken up residence in this town. Their best bet was to hole up in an abandoned home and wait for nightfall.
None of the houses on the block were inhabited – and for that matter none of the houses in the town had appeared to be occupied, which made Dennis wonder where this gang actually resided.
They hopped the fence first as though they were heading into the yard behind this house. Once they saw the back yard was fairly secluded from vegetation, they circled around and came in the back door of the house as quietly as possible. A quick security check revealed the house was void of everything except furniture. An 4 attached, half-finished garage contained some building supplies and tools that apparently had not been scavenged by anyone yet.
Dennis and Jake set to work while both keeping a watchful eye and ear on the street in front and the back yard…
Inside the Home
In part 1 of this series we covered some of the important points in defending the perimeter around a house. In part 2 we will discuss a couple of very important points relating to home defense from inside of your home – both while attackers are outside as well as once they have gained entry into your home. One of those concepts is very similar to the perimeter around the home (which we talked about in part 1):
Namely directing the flow of traffic in a manner that creates targets out of our attackers without allowing them the chance to shoot at us first. Secondly – and as an overlapping part of this first concept – we want to fortify our house on the inside in ways that allow us to identify and shoot attackers before they make it into the house (ideally) or force them to slow down and take certain routes in if they do get that far.
Both of these concepts require the use of barriers such as furniture and construction materials (cinder blocks, plywood and other lumber, sand or cement bags, etc.). Additionally – if there is time – the common entry points such as doors and windows – can be fortified. Starting with the most common entry point for any house – the door – let’s look at how we can fortify this.
The door is held onto the frame with hinges, a deadbolt and a doorknob. However, what’s holding the frame onto the house? Most doorframes are 1” wood (1 x 4) and have very little strength. The key to proper reinforcement of a door is to use steel (angle iron or mending plates) support that attaches the door frame to the studs that frame the doorway. Additionally, longer screws and a longer deadbolt (not necessary, but helps) sink the frame and the deadbolt itself into the framing of the house. In a post collapse situation where it is not necessary to keep the door looking pretty, 2 x 4’s can be screwed or nailed across the door (if you want to keep it permanently closed), or slid through an angle-iron bracket attached on either side of the door, like a barn.
If there’s time, windows need to be boarded up using plywood, cinder blocks and/or sandbags. If you’re short on materials, decide which parts of the house are indefensible and pull back into the most structurally sound portion of the house. However, don’t leave yourself blind. Whether you have to knock holes in the wall or remove doors, make sure you are able to cover as many angles as possible of any room in the house based on how you set up barriers. Home-made, bullet-resistant windows can be made relatively cheaply using glass sandwiched between polycarbonate or acrylic sheets, glued together with liquid nails.
Fake barriers will also afford you the ability to force people behind “cover” that you can easily shoot through. Even though the attackers are in your home, you can still set yourself up for success by having good cover in a defensible location that narrows your attackers through forcing choke points (requiring them to move in single file) and fake cover. For example, you heavily barricade all but one door entry or window entry that you are most sure the attacker(s) will try first. Upon entry, perhaps a light couch in front of the door that slows them down but offers them no real cover and makes it look as though you didn’t want them to enter through this door.
Now let’s say there is a breakfast bar that overlooks all entries into the front of the house. You fortify this with sand or concrete bags (be aware that shooting into concrete bags will create a lot of dust that will interfere with visibility and be caustic to breathe), steel or even lumber if that’s all you have, but give yourself the ability to fire 5 through several different “murder holes” (to borrow from the medieval defense concept) in your breakfast bar barrier.
If you have more than one person defending a room, make the door into a choke point (narrowing it if possible using scrap lumber and furniture) and create wide angles for each person to have to cover when they enter. In other words, force your attackers to walk directly, one at a time, into a room where they are immediately flanked widely. Don’t wait until the first attacker is down before turning your attention to the next one. Have one defender always focusing on the next attacker coming through the door so that they do not have a chance to create their own fields of fire and return fire as a team. Force fire superiority on the attackers from the very start when they have entered the room, and do not allow them to regroup or gain momentum.
Some of the supplies I would recommend having on hand to make your own home more defensible in a bug-in situation would be: Lumber (1/2”or 5/8” plywood, 2 x 4’s, 4 x 4’s, 2 x 6’s), 1”, 2” & 3” nails and/or sheetrock (or deck if you can afford it) screws, power drill (with sustainable source of power), crowbars, gas masks (assume an attacking force would try to gas you out if possible using propane or insecticide, etc.), duct tape, plastic sheeting, sandbags, sand, ready-mix concrete and/or mortar, angle-iron (pre-drilled holes), mending plates, sledge hammer, heavy axe, fire extinguishers.
There is a lot more to be discussed on this topic, but remember that thinking through the concepts I’ve outlined in this article and asking yourself how you would break into your own home are good starting points. It costs nothing but time to practice low-light reaction drills and think through as many possible scenarios as you can in your planning for a defensible bug-in situation.