Preparing Your Family to Defend Themselves When You are Not at Home


By Mike McMaken for Self-Reliance Central. Mike is a US Army veteran with over 30 years of military, law enforcement and private security experience. He spent several years  in Iraq as a security contractor and has made trips into many of the world’s most “challenging” places.  © 2020

You are ready to protect your family and your home. You have diligently researched guns, testing several out at the range before buying the best option. You took training classes and you practice regularly.

In short . . .  you are prepared to defend yourself and your family from all threats come what may.

But what if you aren’t home when violent intruders strike? What if it happens during the day when you are at work? Statistics indicate that a significant number of home invasions occur during the day. Or how about if you are incapacitated in some way? Wounded. Trapped in another part of the house. Even just recovering from an illness or a broken leg.

What then?

Well, let’s talk about that.

Some time ago I wrote an article about buying a gun for the lady in your life. (Attention guys: Buying a handgun for the women in your life). In that article I talked about how to help the significant woman in your life select the right gun. 

Image: Author

But there is so much more to ensuring your wife and children, or your elderly relatives, are prepared to protect themselves than just buying them the right gun. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a big part of it. After all, if they don’t like their gun and feel comfortable with it, they won’t practice enough to be able to shoot it effectively. But there’s more to this equation that being able to stand on a range and punch holes in paper.

Choosing the right guns for family members

There are reams of articles out there on how to choose the right gun for various family members. While a .45ACP or a 12 Gauge might be perfect guns for men or a strong woman, but they might be far from ideal for a smaller framed woman, an elderly parent living with you, or a teenager or younger child. There are numerous documented instances of children and teenagers protecting their younger siblings in the event of a home invasion.

While we all want to use the most powerful caliber we can, and youngster or a frail elderly person, or even a small framed woman will need a firearm they can control and use effectively. Consider low recoil weapons such as AR15 rifles, .22Magnum pistols like the Kel Tec PMR30, or even reliable .22 LR rifles and pistols like the Ruger 10/22 and the wide range of .22 target pistols. These combine accuracy, reliability and decent magazine capacity with something anyone can control, no matter their age or physical limitations.

Training to use it in an emergency – Getting off the “X”

Having the right gun won’t do anyone a bit of good if they don’t know how to use it effectively. Standing in a perfect Weaver or Isosceles stance is great on the range, but in a real gunfight you have to move. The standard term for this is Getting off the X. Simply put, this means not staying in one spot long enough for the bad guy to get an accurate shot at you, while being able to put lead on target against him. In short . . .  move and shoot!

Practical training

How do you train your family to protect themselves when you aren’t around? Teach them techniques that go beyond standing on a range or in the woods and shooting at stationary targets that won’t shoot back. First, make sure they understand that they should never go looking for the bad guy unless there is no other choice to protect another family member. Most of the anecdotal stories of successful defensive action by kids and spouses involve them hunkering down somewhere and only engaging the bad guy if the bad guy comes to them. 

Next, invest in some airsoft guns and safety gear such as goggles and face shields. Trust me, a solid hit with an Airsoft on bare skin hurts. Teach them to move if they have no other choice but to engage an intruder in order to get themselves and family members to safety. Don’t be easy on them. Taking it easy on anyone in training will not prepare them for the real thing and is a complete disservice. I trained US military forces at the Fort Irwin National Training Center prior to Desert Storm, and it made me feel good when those troops were later interviewed about the difficulty of the actual combat and they said it wasn’t as tough as the training at the NTC. A military maxim is ‘Train hard, fight easy.’

Teach the basics . . .  cover, concealment, accuracy, quick reaction drills.

Having a plan

First and foremost, make sure they understand they are not a SWAT team clearing a house. Instead ensure that everyone understands that it is important to fall back to a predesignated safe area and be prepared to engage the bad guys only if they attempt to breach that safe area. If the aggressors just want to steal the X-Box and wide screen TV . . .  let them. It’s just stuff. But if they threaten harm to the family, then all bets are off.

Being prepared to do what has to be done and handling objections

This is probably the most difficult and sensitive aspect of this entire topic. How do we teach our family to be ready to protect themselves when we know that might mean they have to shoot another human being, especially our kids? This is where having, demonstrating and living true values come in. This is that step beyond learning the techniques and skills of self-defense and getting into the moral and emotional concepts of protecting the innocent and caring about your family.

Harming another human being is always the last resort. It is something we do when there is absolutely no other option than letting ourselves or our loved ones be brutalized or killed. It isn’t something we do simply because we’re angry or scared, it is a tactic of last resort and we need to help our family members understand that and be confident and assured that what they are doing is their only option under the circumstances. If we have not helped them see that, then we run the risk that they will freeze up under pressure and become one of the statistics the Liberals love to tout about someone who has their gun taken away and used against them.

In short . . .  plan, prepare, train, act. The only other alternative is tragedy.