While books have been written on the subject of home defense tactics and planning with a shotgun, in this blog we’ll concentrate on the very basics.If you forget everything else in a time of true emergency, remember the following tips. (Note: in a personal defense situation, it is always best to avoid confrontation and escape arms way if at all possible)
- Keep your shotgun in a safe, easily accessible and habitual location in your home. When it’s dark, you’re half-asleep and charged by adrenaline, you don’t want to be searching around for your shotgun and your shells. So always store your shotgun in a specific place based on your situation and what makes the most sense for you.
- Keep your home defense shotgun in the same condition of readiness (i.e., fully loaded, partially loaded, loaded-but-locked, fully unloaded, etc.) so that you know exactly what actions are needed for the shotgun to be quickly deployed.
- Strongly consider attaching a flashlight on your shotgun and learning how to use it. In most home-defense situations, darkness is your enemy and the criminal’s friends. Use your shotgun’s light to navigate safely through your house and to identify a perpetrator before firing blindly into darkness. A flashlight can also frighten an attacker off and even temporarily blind him, giving you an advantage.
- Practice safe muzzle control at all times. Safe muzzle control means keeping the shotgun pointed in a safe direction--away from your loved ones--even when going up and down stairs and inspecting dark rooms. It also means learning not get too close to corners or door frames when seeking cover. By “crowding the wall” when using cover, your shotgun’s barrel may poke out around a corner that can invite a perpetrator to grab it, and then wrestle the shotgun from you. So stay a couple feet back from corners and door frames when using them as cover.
- Learn to shoot and reload on the move. Oftentimes in actual home defense encounters where the perpetrator is also armed, staying in one place for too long can result in disaster as a perpetrator can zero in on your location. So learn to shoot--and reload--while moving to other areas of cover. This is best practiced on a range using obstacles to mimic the inside of a home.
- Learn to load and clear jams so that it becomes second nature. Consider buying some dummy rounds and practice manipulating your shotgun as you watch TV in your easy chair.
- Develop an emergency plan for your family. Everyone in the household should know and practice your family’s emergency plan in advance. This way, everyone understands their role, they know about potential safe places and what they should do if there is a home invasion.
- Install a sling on your shotgun. A shotgun is heavy and requires two hands to carry and use. However, during an emergency you’ll often need a hand to use a cell phone, grab a dog or help a family member. In these instances, a sling can free your hands while keeping your shotgun securely in your possession. So install a simple two-point sling and practice using it.