How many Americans rely on a firearm for self-defense purposes?
Well, according to the Pew Research Center, 48% of gun owners say the primary purpose of their gun ownership is for defensive purposes.
It’s fair to say that most consider home defense a big reason to own a gun.
The most effective tool for home defense is a trained honey badger, and the second most effective tool is a firearm.
It’s just science.
Having a gun (or honey badger) is only part of the process.
In reality, home defense is a nuanced subject. So, today we will talk about the role a plan plays in home defense, especially if you have a family to protect.
We’re going to cover things like why you need a plan and how to build one of your very own.
So, keep reading…
Table of Contents
Why You Need a Home Defense Plan
Let’s answer the first question you might have. Why do I need a plan when I have a gun (or attack badger)?
Sorry to say, having a gun isn’t a plan in and of itself.
If your only plan is to shoot the baddies, then frankly, you haven’t planned this thing out.
Let me ask you some follow-up questions.
Where is your family during this home invasion? Is your spouse shooting too? Who is calling 911? How do you get to your gun and to the point where you can engage? What do you do when the events are over? What do you do if you or a family member is hurt?
And that’s just a few off the top of my head.
A family defense plan accounts for these scenarios and situations, allowing you to approach home defense with your most valuable weapon — the six or so inches between your ears.
Equipping yourself with a home defense plan will help ensure the safety of you and your family.
A plan ensures you know what to do next — critical when only seconds count to make decisions.
Planning helps you make those decisions beforehand, so you don’t rely on your adrenaline-jacked brain to make up a plan on the fly.
Military, police, firefighters, pilots, construction foreman, MMA fighters…they all utilize plans to be more successful.
Why wouldn’t you want to help increase your ability to succeed?
What To Consider When Building a Home Defense Plan
Proper planning prevents piss-poor performance.
Having a general home defense plan helps, but wielding a proper plan helps a good bit more.
So, what’s involved in a proper plan? Well, a proper plan must account for a wide variety of factors.
And here is where we got to the disclaimer…
I can’t make your plan for you. I wish it was that easy, but it’s now because I couldn’t possibly know all the factors that would influence it.
Home defense plans are unique and must incorporate your home’s occupants, including significant others, as well as children, roommates, and even older family members who live with you.
I know that doesn’t sound super helpful. But what I can do is provide a skeletal structure for you to add the meat to later.
By that, I mean you must account for your home’s occupants’ strengths and weaknesses — age and ability matter.
You’ll also need to factor in your home’s layout — entrances, exits, bedrooms, and the like play a crucial role.
Also, understand that your home defense plan should change and adapt as your life changes and adapts.
Having kids changes the plan, getting married changes the plan, taking in a roommate changes the plan, a new house changes the plan…so keep your plan up to date.
With that out of the way, let’s build our home defense skeleton…
5 Essential Parts of a Home Defense Plan
1. Choose Your Gear
A proper response to a home invasion likely involves your gun and phone.
Depending on your at-home situation, you might have to grab and respond with both. So, your plan should account for their location and how to access them.
Choose your firearm wisely. Wielding a pump shotgun is tough to do when trying to call 911.
With a second adult in the home, that person can call 911 and also wield a weapon. If that’s the case, ensure that the second person can access a second gun.
Next, I recommend a light mounted to your weapon and a red dot if possible.
If the home invasion occurs at night, you’ll be able to properly identify your threat with a white light. Not to mention, bright white light can also stun an attacker.
I dare anyone to take a blast from a Cloud Defensive OWL and not be disoriented for a second or two.
A red dot simplifies aiming and makes it very simple and easy when jacked on adrenaline. It also works in the dark and in bright conditions.
2. Creating Tasks & Completing Them
Every able-bodied person needs a task or job they can accomplish in the home defense plan.
Who does what when stuff goes down?
These can be simple as “go here” or “do this task.” Alternatively, they can be as difficult as engaging potential threats.
Small children and elderly folks may create a task, whereas able body adults can complete tasks. So, focus tasks based on priority and ability.
Safety is always the number one priority. Therefore, getting between attackers and loved ones with a firearm should be the first task assigned.
But who is the primary defender?
In my plan, that’s me. I have the most experience with firearms and combat, so I get a long gun to engage threats, if necessary.
The primary defender keeps their attention to the entryway the threat is approaching or the threat itself.
Once your primary defender has been chosen, you need to form a plan for calling the police.
In my plan, it’s my wife.
She’s armed with her Sig Sauer P320, but she’s also calling the police on her cell phone.
For unmarried defenders, the designated caller could be a roommate, another family member, or an older child.
If you’re riding solo, this might mean you pull double duty defending the home and alerting the police.
For homes with children or disabled adults, group individuals together in a single room with a capable adult or teenager.
As my wife calls the police, she’s also grabbing kids and bringing them to one location.
Even younger children can be assigned tasks – so long as you establish a signal, so younger children know this is serious.
In our home, we’ve established a code word that means be quiet and listen. When that code word is said, everyone shuts up and does exactly what they are told.
3. Designate a Rally Point
Where is everyone going when the fecal matter hits the air stirrer?
Everyone needs to know where to go, and I mean everyone.
In a home defense scenario, the faster you get everyone to one room, the safer you’ll be.
Make sure your safe room is predesignated, and everyone knows which room to go to.
In my home, we have two saferooms — A and B.
Multiple safe rooms take into account where people gather at specific times of day and where the entry and exits are in our home.
When choosing a safe room, look for one that allows for an escape, even if it’s a window. I also prefer a room with some furniture opposite the door for the family to hide behind.
And if the time comes, the secondary person ushers others to the safe room while the primary defender covers the direction of the threat. Once others in your home are safe, the primary defender joins the safe room.
Once inside, the primary defender covers the door, and the secondary adult or teenager continues to update the 911 dispatcher on the situation.
What if you’re a single parent with multiple children?
If so, time to put on the business voice and get those kids moving.
I would suggest gathering in the room of the youngest simply because they are least likely to understand and most likely to throw an inopportune tantrum.
Remember, home defense isn’t about clearing rooms.
Once my family and I are in our safe room, I’m pointing the gun at the door and waiting until I hear sirens and police to lower it.
If you’ve kicked my external door in, you can have whatever you want in the house, take it.
What’s important to me is the people in that room with me, not my flat-screen TV and PS4.
4. Establish Communications
I mentioned a code word earlier, but the importance can’t be understated.
Having a code word that can be whispered or even shouted lets everyone in the house know it’s time to move. It gets attention, lets people know the situation, and makes people move.
Home invasion scenarios move quickly, and when they do, you might not have the time to communicate in detail what’s happening.
A rapid scenario requires its own plan that hinges on concise, clear communication.
Additionally, a code word also allows you to approach a potentially armed family member safely.
Adrenaline will be high in a home invasion. The last thing you want is friendly-fire in the heat of the moment.
But remember, keep the code words simple and easy for everyone to remember.
5. Have a Medical Plan
Lord forbid someone gets hurt, but it’s a possibility you have to consider.
You’ll want to have medical gear on hand in each safe room to ensure you can treat a potential traumatic injury.
A tourniquet, hemostatic gauze, chest seals, bandages, and beyond should make up an at-home trauma kit.
On top of that, you’ll need the skills and training to use it. Seek out CPR and first aid classes, Stop the Bleed courses, and medical training when possible.
If you need some help locating some solid options, check out our round-up of the Best First Aid Classes: Beginner to Intermediate.
I’d encourage every adult in the home to learn how to use medical gear — even older kids and teenagers. Knowing how to render first aid is a valuable skill outside of violent encounters.
Practice Makes Perfect
Finally, a plan means nothing if you don’t practice it.
Why is practice so important?
For one, it helps locate inadequacies in the plain or potential factors you failed to account for.
Secondly, practicing the plan helps ensure its success.
You can talk about it until you’re blue in the face, but until you execute it, you’ll never be truly prepared.
If you’re a parent, the trick to practice is executing the plan without turning it into an anxiety-inducing nightmare.
For example, if I told my oldest son that we were practicing for bad guys breaking in, he would never stop worrying or asking about it. Don’t drown your kids in fear.
The key is to make it a part of a variety of plans that you practice all on the same day.
In my home, we have a fire plan, a 911 plan, a hurt parent plan, etc. (Some of our other writers and editors also even have a Family Emergency Plan for disasters — create one of your own here.)
Practicing them all in a day for short periods kind of takes the fear of an intruder plan.
Also, we don’t call it the intruder plan – it’s the Uh-Oh Plan.
When my wife or I say a specific word, the kids know they need to get to the safe room ASAP and follow instructions given by the adults.
That said, kids aren’t stupid. So, we’ve told them that a real-life Uh-Oh Plan would have us carrying firearms and that they shouldn’t be scared if they see them. The guns are there for “just in case.”
We also answer questions openly and honestly without fear-based answers. When my kids ask about bad guys breaking in, I answer honestly that we use the Uh-Oh Plan.
I also assure them we have strong doors and good locks, and it’s very unlikely to ever happen. (If you need tips on strengthening your home, check out the 12 Easy Ways to Secure Your Home Against Bad Guys.)
Also, very important to note that there is no yelling or impatience when someone messes up during practice. We also don’t drill them like counter-terrorist forces prepping for a raid. They’re kids, so keep that in mind.
For fun, we might even time it. We have kids obsessed with speed runs and high scores, making it a fun family activity.
Though your home defense plan will always reflect your specific family and home, there are a few key factors for success.
Having gear that fits the plan, assigning tasks, designating rally point(s), establishing communications, having a medical plan (and gear), and practicing should all be pieces in your plan.
If you can do the above and make it fit the skeletal framework, you’ll be better off. But remember, the plan doesn’t have to be perfect because things change on the fly.
At the end of the day, create a plan, practice the plan, but be ready to adapt as the situation calls.
Do you have a home defense plan? If so, let us know below! Any tips? Share those too! Looking to figure what’s the best gun for home defense? Check out what we think is the Best Home Defense Gun.