What is it with shotgun gurus and name-calling? I’ve yet to read a how-to manual on tactical shotgun techniques that didn’t call potential aggressors “creeps” “thugs” “scum” or “crack smoking criminals.” I reckon these firearms experts spent so many years defending gun ownership that they’ve become, well, defensive. Or, if you prefer, overly-aggressive. It’s not enough for home owners to see themselves as defenders of the moral high ground. They want shotgun-wielding castle protectors to view home invaders as cretinous vermin—so they can be dispatched without hesitation. Which is fair enough. To a point.
Yes, you’re the good guy. Yes, they’re the bad guys. Yes, you have the right to kill the bad guys. But a gunfight is not a moral crusade. It’s a battle against an enemy that shares you desire to survive. And then some. Home invaders are ready, willing and able to do things to you and your family that are as far outside your normal moral universe as the center of the universe is to our sun. They can disarm you. Torture, rape and kill you and your family. And then stroll into the kitchen to see what’s in the ‘frig.
I’m not saying there aren’t stupid, slow, drug-addled criminals breaking into houses. But if you underestimate your enemy, if you dismiss them as idiots, the odds are better than even that you’ll never make the same mistake again. As you’re reading this, I’m thinking you’re not willing to bet your life on your [entirely theoretical] supremacy. In the same way you should treat all shotguns as if they’re fully loaded in all circumstances, you must view all home invaders as smart, skilled, brutal, determined and ruthless enemies.
Lest we forget, the average criminal is completely comfortable with violence. They probably grew up in a violent home. No doubt they’ve survived dozens of violent confrontations with “friends,” rivals, strangers and authority figures (including the police). They’ve probably served jail time—which will turn the mildest of men into a wary, quick-thinking and efficient adversary. That’s what’s meant by the term “hardened criminal.”
Not to put too fine a point on it, Charles Darwin is not your friend. Any home invader that’s still alive to invade your home has honed their combat skills to a level vastly superior to your own. Even if you’ve played contact sports, trained in martial arts or faced your own domestic abuse “issues,” your real-world experience with real-world savagery is several magnitudes less than the average street thug. Sorry, criminal.
Thank God. Until now. Now God wants you to figure out a way to defend your home. With a shotgun. (Or anything else, but we are gathered here, dearly beloved, to use this unique and effective firearm to defend your life and the lives of those you love.) To that end, not only do you have to contemplate your enemy’s skills and ferocity, you have to learn a way to counter and defeat them.
But it’s best to start with this: approaching a shotgun home defense with humility dramatically raises your odds of survival. To wit . . .
Unlike most law-abiding citizens, home invaders know that a violent confrontation is over in seconds. You’ve experienced violence in your family, at school, during sports or in the workplace. Chances are you’re used to a slow escalation: a gradual transition from the initial threat, to verbal and physical positioning, to actual violence. “On the street” violence simply explodes, often without warning. Its survivors learn to strike first and strike hard, giving it everything they’ve got.
The Israeli self-defense method called Krav Maga recommends this “all-in” approach to it adherents. But it’s one thing to “know” the technique, and quite another to do it—even after years of training. You’re far better off with a properly aimed shotgun. But that doesn’t mean you’re good to go. Far from it.
You can practice on a shotgun range for decades without once learning how to cope with/exploit the pace and ferocity of a life-or-death battle. You enemy knows what to do to disarm and destroy you, instinctively. They know that once they “get the jump” on you, they have the “first mover” advantage. Action – reaction. Action – reaction. The action man wins by determining the timing and nature of the conflict which is, again, over in seconds.
A lot of shotgun tacticians highlight the fact that the home owner knows their own territory better than their enemy. Bah. That’s just geography.
Most home owners know their house like the back of their hand. They could literally navigate their home with their eyes closed. But they don’t see it as a potential battleground, mentally assigning spaces suitable for cover, concealment or attack. Ever tried to drive down a familiar road shrouded in fog? The fog of war is far, far worse. Yes, you can trip over your own sofa. And be shot for the mistake.
At the same time, unless you’re very lucky, your house is not the home invader’s first such attack. Home invasion is what home invaders do. They base the timing, pace and method of their attack on prior experience invading and robbing a house just like yours. In many cases, they’ve dominated someone just like you, your wife and/or your children. Each successful invasion increases their confidence in what can truly be called a viscous circle.
Psychologically, you’re on their turf. Home invaders are fully primed for life-or-death combat even before they cross your threshold. They might “creep” around a dark house or pretend to be relaxed at your front door to gain the element of surprise. But if and when they’re detected, they have two choices: fight or flight. If they ain’t running, they’re attacking.
Again, home invaders are not going to hold back. If they’re armed with a knife or gun, they will use it. If they’re not armed, they will arm themselves with whatever blunt, heavy or sharp object they can find. And they will use their weapon with adrenalin-fueled savagery. No matter what drugs may or may not be in their bloodstream (most likely alcohol), home invaders won’t stop until the threat—that’s you—is incapacitated. That’s a fancy word for injured until you can’t move or killed.
Bottom line: home invaders know what to do—and what you’re likely to do—better than you do.
If you have an effective shotgun-based battle plan against a home invader, you stand a fighting chance. Literally. Defending your home with a shotgun is all about the choices you make before a crisis arises. But there’s one choice you can’t make: who’s invading your house.
Assume that anyone invading your home is intelligent, focused, practiced, fast, vicious and determined. Assume they know your home and have formulated a plan of attack. Assume that they will not abandon their strategy unless you and your family escape; or the police, you and/or your family end their life.
Respect your enemy by developing the shotgun-based skills and strategies you need to survive. Practice them until they’re second nature. And then be prepared to improvise.
Remember: when faced with a superior opponent, your marksmanship is not as important as your attitude. They have nothing to lose. You have everything to lose. You must fight as if your life depends on it. Because it does.
[Note: this is an excerpt from How to Defend Your Home with a Shotgun. The text is subject to revision.]