- Buy weapons, not just guns.
You’ve heard the expression “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. This applies to the realm of tools for defending yourself, your family, home, and neighborhood. Put simply, you need to buy weapons and not just guns. Then, you need to know how to use them.
Simply purchasing a battle carbine or several different firearms and a bunch of ammunition is not a complete approach to the solution of personal defense. It may be a good start, but there’s more to this whole thing.
One way to think of this is geographically. Battle conditions are continually determined by geography. Geography determines distance of engagement, use of cover, available resources, and so forth. If you are in a parking complex and find yourself facing an attacker with a knife, the nature of the situation and geography dictates certain things about your options for handling the problem. If you’re in a parking complex, you’re probably going to or from work in the city. This means you probably don’t have the practical option of a good carbine but instead may be able to use a handgun. A parking garage means relatively shorter distances, and the nature of that attack also suggests close engagement. Close distances shorten the amount of time you have to react. Is there cover or are there obstacles you can use to buy yourself some time? Probably, and if you can then you should.
By contrast, the problem of defending your home and neighborhood presents a different set of dilemmas but also some advantages. This is why different crises require different approaches and often different tools, even when the basic threat and basic goals are the same.
The best remedy is prevention. This applies in defense. If you can keep the problem from happening in the first place, you are much better off. Here’s an example: You are worried about your home being approached from the back through your alleyway. What can you do to limit access and alert you or your neighbors to the approach of a potential threat? This is where you need to look at the situation and the resources, while being realistic and creative. Falling a tree across the alley at the end of the block with your chainsaw  or hand cross cut saw and axe  (you have these, right?) can be an effective deterrent to vehicles and is probably a good option. It’s not going to stop most people on foot, however, and can’t be expected to solve the potential problem alone. What else could be done in this situation? If you can’t keep everything and everyone out, at least you want to know when someone approaches. You might rework a trail camera  to alert you when it detects movement, or you could go low tech and set up a hidden trip wire alert device. Have you studied on how to do this type of thing? The overall point is planning and preparation. The idea is to work smarter, not harder, as they say.
If the situation devolves to where you need to use force, lethal or otherwise, to protect you and your family, you still want to have options. If you have to engage a person inside or close to your house, what weapon is the best option for this? Will this work just as well if you have to engage at a greater distance? What is the greatest distance you are likely to have to engage? Is there a great variation in potential distance? These are some factors you need to look at when choosing your tools and weapons to defend your home as you address the problem from every angle.
- Train with everything.
What do you train with? Do you use a rifle and handgun or a shotgun? These are the most common. However, if that’s the extent of your training program, you’re limiting your options. Not only should you train with a wide variety of weapons– firearms, edged weapons, personal weapons such as used in various martial arts, and so forth– but also with items not normally considered as such. Most of these things would not be your first choice, but under certain circumstances they may become your best or only choice. These could include vehicles, a shovel, and combustible items; the list goes on. You are limited only by your desire to choose one tool over another. Are you prepared to use such items as weapons, if needed? Could you do this effectively?
Now, I’m not necessarily suggesting you practice using your car to ram things or maneuvers for hitting man-sized objects. You could though. However, it’s probably more realistic to train for some of these things using the mental rehearsal technique. This method has been shown to greatly increase a person’s success in a particular activity even when they haven’t had the opportunity to actually participate in it. You can do this at almost any time throughout the day and keep your mental activity sharp and your mind working.
- Lone Rangers die first.
One of the greatest trends in today’s survival information world is the “bug out” concept. I understand there are scenarios in which getting out of your area is your only safe option. However, I feel this concept has been over marketed to the point where it’s more the latest style in the survival realm than actually the best choice for many people most of the time.
If your crisis plan is to bug out, you should first ask yourself why. What is the pressing need to leave your home and neighborhood? Unless there is one, you might be someone who’s gone along with the “bug out” fad without giving it the consideration it deserves.
If you do have a compelling reason to bug out, make sure you have weighed all the pros and cons connected to that. Where are you bugging out to? Is it a fully stocked, prepped, and self-sustaining wilderness retreat? That’s the dream. If that’s where you are going, great! Still, the reality is, for most of us, that this will only be a dream. (If you have such a place, my next question is why you don’t already live there.) Are you bugging out to a relative’s house in the country? How far is it and what kind of traveling obstacles will you confront? What kind of transportation do you have?
Even if you do have a good place to bug out to, what will you be able to bring with you? Do you plan to return at some point, and when? Are you prepared to find supplies or property in your house gone or destroyed after you weren’t there to protect it from other hungry people or looters? What will you do when supplies at your bug out location are used up? If, for example, your plan is to leave your house in the city or suburbs and drive to the mountains with a tent, a 72-hour kit, and some extra food and water, I would suggest you reconsider. First, you would be leaving the sturdy and dependable shelter and protection of your home. You would be leaving any good people that could help you, and who you could help. (You have networked with your neighbors, right?) You would be leaving a lot of resources behind. You would be on your own with limited supplies. What if it’s winter? A tent probably won’t cut it. What do you do when your food runs out? Suffice to say, you need to make sure you are not trading one set of problems for a worse set.
Additionally, bugging out often means losing the strength of numbers. In almost any dangerous situation, your ability to handle it is exponentially greater with each dependable person you have on your side. For instance, you can’t be skilled in every possible area. As people seeking to be prepared, we try to be well versed in a variety of skills, but there is always someone who knows a skill we do not or who can perform the skill better. Unless you know everything from fixing vehicles to stitching wounds, you’ll benefit from other people and they from you.
- Rethink your training.
What would it be like to experience a terrorist attack in your city? What is it like when a flood comes? What happens in a gunfight? The question is, do you really know, or do you think you know? Are you basing your training on what you think will happen instead of what really takes place in any given scenario?
This is important. The short answer to this is that unless you have experienced it yourself, you will not understand one hundred percent what can happen. This is not to say you cannot educate yourself sufficiently to adequately handle a given situation. The pit fall comes with gleaning information and training practices that are not based upon reality. Often we see a certain method of doing something in response to a particular crisis, but is it correct?
An example is the tactical or combat world of training. There are many different ideas about how to do essentially the same things, and some are better than others. Some methods were developed for a specific situation and location; these methods were never meant to become a standard practice, yet they have become so simply because an elite group somewhere employed it for a particular situation, and it has since gained popularity beyond its intended application.
For instance, some training programs for stopping active shooter situations put an emphasis on team movement, such as maneuvering through a building with a four man team. The problem with this is, based on what we know about active shooter scenarios, the likelihood of gathering four officers to respond to an in-progress shooter is slim to none in a time frame that would even be effective. Some departments may not even have four people working at one time. Since this is the reality for many communities, it would serve much better to train individual officers to be best equipped to operate as a one man response, or maybe two if you were fortunate. This is how more lives could be saved: an immediate response by a person trained to operate in that manner. It does nothing for the officer to train as part of a four or five man team when it’s very unlikely he will actually do this. Team movement and tactics are very useful and much preferred for various applications, but it’s not an across the board solution. To present it as such is a detrimental training practice.
The lesson to take away here is that you need to train for reality. What really happens in scenario “A”? Can you and some training buddies duplicate a part of the scenario to see what actually happens? If not, can you simulate it with enough accuracy to be a valid training tool? Lastly, if neither is feasible, whom can we learn from who has experienced it?
- There is no 911.
If you live in the city, you are familiar with the police department that operates within that community. If you live out in the country, your local law enforcement is likely to be the Sheriff’s office. However, I doubt you have the opportunity to observe most of the things or types of situations law enforcement deals with day to day. This is not a bad thing; we pay these guys to handle this kind of thing so we don’t have to. That’s good, because you have better things to do, like make money, take care of your family, buy groceries, or whatever. Since there is much that most people never get to see, I think it is hard at times for people to understand some facts about law enforcement, crime, or other situations, and the balance between them.
Everything you see cops doing and a lot more you don’t makes up the “normal” call or crime volume in your community. The important thing to understand is that your local law enforcement agency is staffed and equipped to handle only this “normal” level or amount of crime. If your area experiences a major crisis event, the need for police intervention will balloon far beyond the usual. There will not be enough people and resources to meet the need. It’s an unfortunate fact of life, but the chances of the cops showing up when you call during a major crisis situation is slim to none. This is compounded by the fact that some cities and communities have a shortage in this area even at a “normal level”. Merely keeping the general peace is likely to be a tall order just by itself.
What does this mean for you? You are responsible for your own safety and those who are in your care. This is where your neighborhood network becomes invaluable. Planning and preparation will serve you well, and part of this is knowing in advance what you will likely be facing.