Home Defense Strategies — To Stay Put Or Clear It?

Our home is our castle.  Our sanctuary and haven. We hate the very thought that it could ever be invaded or violated. In this article, I will attempt to boil things down to two basic home defense schools of thought as to how to protect ourselves in the event we are home and someone decides to violate that sanctity.

The first strategy is to stay put. The second is to clear our house by ourselves.

Staying Put

Perhaps you’re asleep and you hear a sound that you believe is someone breaking into your home. Scared, you access your firearm of choice and lock your bedroom door(s). The next logical step is to call the police and tell them what is happening.

Armed intruder.
Sometimes it’s better to wait for the gunman to come to you rather than go hunting him. (Photo: Getty Images)

With your loaded firearm(s), you wait for the cavalry to arrive. In the interim, if the goblin who is invading (if, in fact, that is happening) attempts to get into your room, you can take necessary action.

Home Defense. Covering the front door of the house with a Glock 19X.
A good home defense strategy is waiting for the aggressors to come to you. If you can wait until they come through a choke point, you have the tactical advantage.

This strategy has some gray areas.

What if you’re not entirely sure someone is really breaking into your house? My advice is to call the police anyway. Better to be safe than sorry. And let’s face it, that’s what the police get paid for—much of their shift is likely to be investigating alarms and such. Many of those are false alarms. So what? That’s the nature of the job. There is no need for you to be embarrassed about it.

Police at a house at night.
The police get paid to check houses and, if necessary, apprehend bad guys. You don’t. It’s often smarter to let them check things out. (Photo: Baltimore Sun)

How far away are the police?

The next point you may need to consider is, how far away are the police? If you live in a city, they are likely not terribly far away, so the response time should (presumably) not be too long.

Some smaller towns (like mine) have no police department, instead relying either on a neighboring police department, or state police for coverage. The wait times in these instances can be longer.

Or, as in the case when I lived way out in the country, state police response times were typically over two hours away. In those instances, you may, out of necessity, need to be your own police force.

Home defense - Jim Davis with a PARA FAL.
In certain rural areas, police response time can be in excess of two hours. You may have to handle things on your own until they can come.

A lot of people take it for granted that the police are just a few minutes away, but that may not always be the case. The old saying holds true: “When seconds count, the police are just minutes away.” To which I’ll add…or hours.

Home Defense Supplies and Tools

Let’s say you are hunkered down in your bedroom and awaiting help. A few items might be good to have while you wait.

  • An effective firearm. Whether it’s a pistol, rifle, shotgun, or whatever. Hopefully, you’ve acquired some training in how to use it.
  • Spare ammo is always a good thing to have.
  • A phone. Keeping in contact with the 911 folks will be helpful. If worse comes to worst, they’ll be on the line recording things in the unfortunate event that you have to use force. Documentation is always a plus.
Home defense tools: AR-15, Glock 19X, cell phone on bed.
Having a few items in your safe room will help. Defensive firearms, a cell phone, spare ammo, and a light are a good start. Here is an AR-15 and a Glock 19X with Fenix weapon light, along with a cell phone.

What are the advantages of staying put during a home invasion?

Remaining in your fortified position can be a very smart thing to do. Any attackers will have to come through a door. We call doors “Fatal Funnels” for a reason—anyone coming through them is funneled into that small opening and is an easy target. Militarily, it’s widely accepted that a smaller force has the advantage as defenders, and it will normally call for a force three times the size of the defenders to root them out.

Home defense - Jim Davis defending the fatal funnel at bedroom door.
Doorways are referred to as Fatal Funnels for a reason. Make the bad guy come to you and exploit your tactical advantage.
Home invader
A home invader rolls into a house, apparently armed for bear. (Photo: WYFF)
A woman practices home defense with a shotgun.
In a home defense situation, letting the bad guys come to you as you set up an ambush is not a bad idea. She’s hunkered down, waiting. (Photo: HomeDefShotguns)

Say you’re down behind your bed or a solid piece of furniture. You have at least some semblance of cover. All you have to do is wait for them to come to you. If they never do, you win. If they come in…they lose.

Clearing Your House

Room Clearing is not like in the movies; it is serious business, and if you’ve done it for real, you realize that. The thing is, the vast majority of people have not done it for real and will make some profound mistakes that can get them killed.

Home defense learing a hallway in a house with Glock 19X and weapon light.
Clearing rooms by yourself is a tactical nightmare. Here we see doors to the front and both sides.

Normally, house clearing is done in teams, and that’s for a reason. There are so many angles that need to be covered if you’re going to do it correctly. One person cannot cover all those angles sufficiently. At the end of my upstairs hallway, there are four doors, all in different directions. How can I possibly cover each door by myself? The answer is that I cannot. That’s why teams are used.

Taking the fight to the enemy in your house can become precarious. Yes, you have the advantage of knowing the home field, and that is certainly a good factor. With that said, how many invaders are there? You have no idea. Where are they? You have no idea. These are some very important questions that are unanswered.

Why?

Why in the world, then, would you clear your house by yourself? There is at least one valid reason. And that is if a family member is sleeping in another area of the house and cannot be immediately brought into your safe room. Perhaps they’re sleeping downstairs, upstairs, or just away from your area. Sometimes living arrangements are just like that.

In such an instance (and in my house at present, this is the case), I’d go through parts of my house to get that family member to safety. Granted, I also have some training in how to do it. But regardless, I’m still putting myself at a disadvantage because of reasons that I’ve already listed above.

Other Home Defense Conditions

Suppose you arrive home and suspect that someone was or is inside your home. Again, probably the smartest thing to do is to call the police and let them handle it. They do it for a living, and if they have to use Deadly Force against an intruder, they will possibly make out better in court than the homeowner will.

A broken in door.
You arrive home and discover that your door has been damaged. Might someone be inside your home? (Photo: Stock)

Clearing the Outside

One evening, my car alarm went off around 11:00 at night. I went outside to investigate and ended up clearing around the outside of my entire house. Why didn’t I wait for the police? Because I wanted to ensure that my house was safe and I figured it would take a little while for the police to arrive. Incidentally, I learned the next day that my neighbor’s car was, in fact, stolen that same night (they’d left the keys in their car).

Armed intruder illuminated by a weapon light outside.
An armed intruder outside of a home at night.

As I cleared around my house, I figured any culprits were probably long gone (apparently I was wrong, given my neighbor’s results). However, that did not stop me from clearing my property as though I fully expected contact. And as mentioned, I was trained to do such things, so I had confidence that I was better than any bad guys I’d run up against. Was I foolish? Maybe a little.

armed gunman.
If you go outside your home looking for intruders, beware—you may just find them.

If I truly believed that someone was outside, I’d call the police. At the very least, I’d want other good guys on the scene with guns.

Extremes

During my career in the prison system, I made some very bad people incredibly upset by extending their stay in our establishment. They belonged to nefarious organizations, some of which you may have heard about in the news. Promises were made that they would find me on the outside and do things that were unwholesome to me. Because of that, I am prepared in the event a vanload of armed goblins rolls up to my house. I’ve made certain that I can engage them and prevail. Understandably, the vast majority of people do not have to deal with such scenarios (which is a good thing).

Another possibility is that you’re in an area of your house where you’re not expecting an attack. Perhaps you’re watching television with your family in the living room. Suddenly the door is kicked in and you’re faced with aggressors. Are you ready? I normally have a gun on unless I’m sleeping in bed, so I’d be able to engage the miscreants.

An intruder kicks in a door.
Home invasions seem to be on the rise. With the prevalence of home security cameras, we are seeing more of this on film. (Photo: Off The Grid News)

It used to be that most burglars wanted to avoid confronting homeowners at all costs, for the most part. They wanted to be in and out without anyone realizing they were there. These days, however, violent home invasions seem to be a strong trend. And don’t think it’s only an urban problem because it’s happening everywhere, even in rural communities.

Video of two gunmen breaking into a house.
Some home invaders are coming heavily armed now. Photo: CBS News.
Home invaders running down a street.
Not all home invasions occur at night. These people were posing as candy salesmen in broad daylight. (Photo: ABC News)

Some people I know keep a firearm hidden in rooms that they frequently use for just such a scenario. Personally, I’d rather have the gun on my person, so I just wear it as a normal part of my attire. That way, I’m always ready. If my front door is kicked open by armed men, they will receive a high concentration of well-aimed gunfire for their troubles.

Preventing Break-Ins

A few basic, general steps can be taken to minimize break-ins and invasions. Among them are to trim bushes back and don’t give miscreants a place to hide near your house. Keep things well lit; motion sensor lights are good because criminals hate the light (they’re like cockroaches).

A burglar cases a house at night.
Taking steps ahead of time could make your home less attractive as a target. (Photo: Off The Grid News)

Dogs are normally wonderful early-warning devices. I can tell you that my dogs will bark up a storm if a moth flies past our window outside.

Cameras can also be a good measure for warding people off. If they know they’re on film, many of them are reticent to break in.

Of course, an alarm system will go a long way as well. Try to have one that doesn’t depend on outside electricity. If the electric wires to your house are cut, your system is disabled.

In Closing

Needless to say, I haven’t covered every possibility here in this article; rather, I tried to hit some of the main points. Each person will have to tailor their own plans to their needs. And if I’ve done nothing aside than making the reader come up with some sort of a home defense plan, then I consider this article to be a success.

A boy defends his home
Tactical training is important. Here we see a well-motivated youth engaging in such training. He is to be commended for his home defense exuberance! (Photo: LADbible)

I’ll leave you with this acronym from my favorite SEAL, Dick Marcinko (the Rule Of Seven P’s): Proper Previous Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance. I don’t want you to perform Piss-Poorly in your home defense! So, in this case…be a Dick!

Jim Davis served in the PA Dept. of Corrections for 16 ½ years as a corrections officer in the State Correctional Institute at Graterford and later at SCI Phoenix. He served on the Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), several of those years as a sniper, and also the Fire Emergency Response Team (FERT). For 25 years, he was a professional instructor, teaching topics including Defensive Tactics, Riot Control and Tactical Operations, Immediate Responder, and cognitive programs as an adjunct instructor at the DOC Training Academy. He was then promoted to the title of corrections counselor, where he ran a caseload and facilitated cognitive therapy classes to inmates. His total service time was close to 29 years. He was involved in many violent encounters on duty, including incidents of fatalities.

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