Part of prepping is also about protecting your family and all that you have accomplished. You simply cannot stockpile much needed supplies only to have them taken by force before, during or after a crisis strikes.
Naturally, you would turn to firearms for protection. Do you have the skills and the mental fortitude however needed to protect your family and possessions by using force, in some cases deadly force.
Do your hands, fingers and eyes automatically know what to do without hesitation when handling a firearm? Can you operate in low light and high stress situations and still maintain target acquisition.
Do you know where all non-combatants are at all times, even if you are suddenly awakened at 4am? Do you know the range from your front door to the end of the driveway, have you memorized all areas outside your front door that can be used for cover and for concealment?
If you have answered no to any of the questions then you have not trained enough.
You can take advantage of a quality firing range to gain familiarity with your weapons and bring along everyone else in the group or home that would be expected to fire the weapons. You always have to work as a team and if you become incapacitated during a firefight, you need someone there that can carry on the fight. All persons in the home that are old enough must be trained to operate any firearm that is in the home.
Use snap caps when doing firearm drills at home. You should never practice with live ammunition unless you are on an approved firing range set up for combat drills and only after you have practiced sufficiently with your weapon. Some firing ranges allow tactical training drills where you can actively engage moving targets and allow you to practice handling various combat scenarios.
Snap caps are not blanks but are shaped just like live ammunition and they allow you to dry fire without damaging the firing pin and they are good for practicing combat reloading. Load up your shotgun saddle or belt loops with snap caps so you can begin practicing loading your weapons. You must get to the point where you can load using your hands only and not your eyes. The last person standing after the smoke clears is often times the one who could load the quickest.
Keep in mind the closer the ammunition is to your hands the faster you can reload
In years past the military and certain law enforcement units trained shooters to fire dry and then reload under cover but today however, they teach shooters to reload on the fly, fire one, and load one in many cases.
Many call it a combat reload and it takes hours of practice to become proficient. There are not any shortcuts, but there are certain techniques and speed loaders for revolvers for example but remember there is not any substitute for hours of training.
Simply dragging a weapon home, taking it out of the case, and showing it off to friends and family is not training. Too many people get lulled into a sense of security simply because they have a firearm somewhere in the home.
If the weapon is not in your hands, “in your well-trained hands” when it is needed then you have failed. There are no do over’s, there are no directors standing by to reshoot the scene you only get one chance in most cases during a firefight to get it right. Failure is not an option.
Keep in mind not only are you defending your family and possessions you are defending yourself. Practice seeking cover and concealment and do not confuse the two. Cover is protection from rounds whereas concealment means a shooter does not know where you are but this does not mean you have protection from direct or indirect fire. Practice allows you to maintain the target visually while your hands do what is needed. Practice firing and reloading from cover.
Practice and then practice some more. Keep in mind however, during practice the targets do not shoot back. This is where your mental fortitude is important. It is one thing to fire at stationary targets or even at live animals in the forest but when the targets fire back the game changes and how you react is what determines who is left standing when the smoke clears. One thing is certain, if you have not trained enough when the time comes, you may not be the one left standing.
Know your field of fire. You are responsible for every round that exits the muzzle. If you have a high-powered rifle and you are, firing at fleeing intruders your rounds could easily strike anyone walking or driving in the area and rounds can penetrate the walls of other homes, or penetrate the walls of your own home and cause injury and death. Additionally you may not be able to claim self-defense because your life was not in immediate danger if you fire at a fleeing subject, so know where your muzzle is pointed at all, times when the trigger is pulled.
People not trained properly in the use of a firearm can cause death and injury in a firefight to family members and neighbors while still not being able to get a round into the intruder that has kicked in the front door.
Field of fire must be established before you are forced to use your firearm to defend your home. Know what the distance is to all fixed objects outside your home. How far it is to the mailbox from your front door and is you weapon zeroed for that distance. How far is it to the barn or shed and so on?
If engaging inside your home range is not an issue but round penetration is if there are others in your home or if you have shared walls with other families and even neighbors across the street. Choose your firearms carefully for home defense and know your field of fire and always remember you will likely be engaged in close quarters combat.
High-powered rifles may be ideal for combat outside the home but do not always make ideal close combat weapons. Shotguns, called room organizers, by some units in the military are ideal weapons for close combat as are handguns.
Shotguns can be maneuvered relatively easily around corners and the rounds can be chosen to reduce wall or door penetration to prevent injuries to others in the home or area. Handguns in various calibers make ideal home defense weapons. You should consider having a shotgun and a handgun as backup. Shotguns fired dry are merely clubs but if you have a handgun holstered on your belt, you can transition if the need arises.
However, if you have an automatic shotgun you must be careful about using “light loads” or non-lethal ammunition to reduce recoil or to reduce penetration. Automatic shotguns cycle using the energy from the cartridge propellant and reducing the energy in the loads can cause “short strokes”.
Pump actions can fire any round regardless of propellant load because the cycling is done by the shooter using the pump action. Jams can be cleared easier with a pump action and a little dirt and grime is not likely to cause a jam whereas short strokes that cause jams are more frequent with automatics.
There is no right or wrong weapon and essentially any weapon or firearm you have when the door is kicked is a good one. Whatever one you choose though must become your close friend and you need to know every detail about your new friend and the only way to become acquainted is by practicing with your friend, a friend that may very well save your life one day.