In previous articles we've talked about developing a home defense strategy and hardening your home against attacks. But we haven't really dealt with establishing your perimeter. In order to finish preparing your home for any attacks you might face, it's important to have a good perimeter defense.
Perimeter defenses aren't so much about protecting yourself from burglars and break-in artists, as they are in protecting yourself from an attacking gang. Whether that gang is tearing up your neighborhood because they are angry about some social injustice or they are looking for food in the wake of a disaster, defending against a gang, even a small gang, is much different than defending against one or two criminals trying to get into your home.
The major difference is one of numbers. You can probably fight against one or two home invaders and depending on how good your training is, you might even defeat them. But trying to take on ten alone? That's a whole different story. Unless your name happens to be Rambo and you live in Hollywood, I don't think that's going to work out so well for you. I know it wouldn't for me.
But with the way our world is going, being prepared to defend your home has to include being prepared to defend against that sort of attack. Chances are increasing that you or I will be faced with that nightmare situation some day. Therefore, we need to be ready.
Of course, by preparing for that sort of attack, we also make our homes more secure against a single enemy or even two or three that might try to get in. These strategies will work against any number; unless that number happens to show up at your doorstep with tanks and armored personnel carriers. If that happens, your best defense is to remember that discretion is the better part of valor and RUN!
Establishing Your Presence
Criminal trespass laws vary from state to state. In some states, you have to clearly mark your property against trespassing, before you can charge someone of trespassing. In other states, it is considered trespassing anytime someone steps onto your property, without your permission. In still other states, a clear demarcation between your property and that of others is required. So make sure you know what your state says, before making any plans.
But there's a much more serious reason for establishing your boundaries and making them clear; that of deadly force. Basically, the laws allowing for use of deadly force state that you have to be in imminent danger of life and limb, in order to use deadly force to defend yourself. There's also something called the "reasonable man rule," which basically states that your use of deadly force has to be something that a reasonable person would do under those circumstances.
You see, the problem is that the laws about the use of deadly force are written in such a way that your actions will be judged retroactively. Decisions that you have to make in a matter of seconds will be analyzed by law enforcement officers, district attorneys and juries who can take days to think about it.
All this means is that if you are pushed into a position where you have to use deadly force, you want to be sure that others will be able to understand why you had to do so. You don't want anyone second guessing you and saying that you didn't have to shoot.
Of course, that can put you in danger. If someone down the street is shooting at you, you're at risk. But by being down the street, it is easy for people to conclude that they aren't an "imminent threat" to you. On the other hand, if your property line is clearly marked and they are on your property with weapons in their hands, it's rather hard for anyone to say that they were not an imminent threat.
What a Perimeter Can and Can't Do For You
Talking about a perimeter usually conjures up images of ten foot tall cement walls with razor-sharp concertina wire on top of them. But that's the last thing you want to do. Remember, you have to live with whatever perimeter defenses you come up with. So unless you like feeling like you're in jail, you might not want to create that ambiance.
Besides, anyone who sees that is going to wonder why you need such massive defenses. People being people, they'll come up with their own answers to that question; usually something you don't want them to come up with. But no matter what they decide, it will be a sure sign that you have something inside that wall that's valuable. That alone will cause some people to try and break in.
You see, perimeter defenses by themselves won't stop anyone. At best, they'll slow people down. But, in reality, no perimeter should ever be built with the idea of it working alone. The perimeter is merely the passive part of a fully integrated defensive system. It needs an active component to work with it.
In government installations and prisons, that active component is guards with guns. For your home, it's you and your family, along with your guns. You might not have guard towers and a roster of who is on duty, but you'll still be the ones performing that duty. Ultimately, it's you that stops them, your perimeter defenses merely help you to do that.
So if your perimeter defenses can't stop anyone, you might be wondering why even bother with them. Basically, you want to use them, because they can help to form the battle, channeling the bad guys into a position of your choosing, so that you can ambush them effectively.
In order for the perimeter to do that, you need to depend on a bit of human psychology. That is, most people, unless they are highly-trained soldiers, will take the easy way. If there are a choice of two ways that seem equally easy, they will go to the right, as most people are right-handed. That little bit of psychology actually allows you to steer enemies where you want them to go. It's worked for armies fighting wars and it will work for you.
The ambush is one of the most effective and successful military strategies ever developed. In its simplest form, it involved establishing a kill zone (sometimes called a "kill box") which the enemy has to go through. This is done mostly by selection of terrain, but it can be done by creating obstacles as well.
The attackers then arrange their forces in a way to be able to put the maximum possible amount of firepower into that kill zone in the shortest amount of time. Then, when the enemy hits a pre-determined position, in the middle of the kill box, everyone opens fire at the same time.
The combination of surprise, massed firepower and the lack of effective cover for the defenders makes ambushes extremely effective. Generally speaking, the majority of the killing happens within seconds. If the defenders manage to survive those first few critical seconds, trained troops will try to outflank the ambush. For that reason, ambushers usually hit and run, after doing the maximum damage they can.
But against untrained gangs, an ambush can be quite effective. Not only does it accomplish the most possible damage in the least amount of time, but it's very demoralizing to the people being shot at. Few will stand and return fire, but rather, will flee.
Seeing this, it's clear that using a home's perimeter defenses to establish an ambush can be quite effective. Of course, you'd want to be sure that you are actually under attack, before springing your ambush upon them. But in a situation of mass rioting or in the wake of a major disaster, any gang showing up at your door is probably not there to sell you Girl Scout Cookies.
Creating the Perimeter Itself
The most common way of creating a perimeter is to build a fence. That establishes a boundary line, and if the fence is sufficiently high, makes it hard for people to just walk in. Of course, unless it's a fairly high fence, perhaps with spikes or barbed wire along the top, most fences are fairly easy to get over, especially with a ladder.
But a huge fence attracts unwanted attention, as we've just said. So, we need a barrier that is not so obvious, but not easy to get across either. One such possibility is a hedge. A hedge of thorny plants makes a much better barrier than a fence, is difficult to get over, without getting scratched, and doesn't look like it was planted to be a barrier. If the branches of the bushes are intertwined as it is growing, it can even be more or less impossible to get through.
Another very effective barrier is a ditch, if you have a large enough piece of property to dig one. This is akin to the old idea of putting a moat around a castle, and can be just about as effective. Well done, a ditch is a formidable barrier, especially if it has thorny plants or sharp rocks in the bottom. It can even be filled with water.
But whatever you choose, don't make it impermeable. Rather, leave one entryway, which will lead anyone who comes in to your ambush. For a typical home, this could be the front walkway, leading to your door. That provides a natural, expected entryway, which nobody is going to think strange.
One requirement of this entryway is that it is visible to the defenders. If you have a guard posted in a time of emergency, they should be able to see the entryway, all the way from the street to the door. In normal times as well, you want this entryway to be visible. At my house, I can see the entryway through my office window, which is right over my desk. So nobody can come up the walkway, without me knowing it.
Keep in mind both likely avenues of approach and unlikely ones. You want to make sure that you block off any avenues of approach that you can't see. For example, if you put a hedge in, make sure it doesn't leave a gap around the side of the house, where people can enter. Take the hedge past the neighbor's fence or have it turn the corner at your backyard fence. Somehow or other, close off that opening, so that nobody can get through there.
The other common unlikely avenue of approach is over the back fence. If the attackers can get into a neighbor's yard, especially in the house behind you, then they may choose to come over that fence. Don't allow yourself to become so focused on your thoughts of where the enemy will come from, that you develop tunnel vision.
Surveillance and Alarms
Since your perimeter can't stop attackers by itself, it's necessary to have some sort of surveillance or alarms working in conjunction with it. Even the best security systems count on that. Having guards and cameras to watch for intruders. That way, if anyone is trying to breach the perimeter, those inside will know and be able to react. In some government facilities, that even means an armed response team to take direct action against those intruders.
There are two types of people who might try to breach your perimeter. The first are the benign; visitors, mailmen, the UPS driver and the neighborhood kid selling candy for a fund raiser. You want them to be able to come to your door, but you also want to know that they are coming. But it's the others that you really need to know about; the criminals who might be coming with evil intent.
Fortunately, the same systems will tell you about both groups. Then it will be up to you to investigate and determine which category they fall into. But the first thing is to know that they are there.
In the wake of an actual disaster, you might find that you need to post guards, keeping 24 hour a day surveillance going. That way, your surveillance system, alarm system and decision making process is all rolled into one. That makes it more effective, but does so at the price of efficiency. Whoever is on guard duty, is not available for other survival tasks.
Of course, if you are working with a survival team, you will have some team members who are unable to do hard physical labor. They might be ideal candidates for being guards, watching to see if anyone is approaching your perimeter.
The second means of surveillance you might want to consider is animals. Dogs are especially good as a warning system, as they are very territorial and sensitive to what is going on around them. But they aren't the only animals who are. Donkeys are excellent at warning of intruders as well. However, I'll have to say that about the best natural alarm system is guinea hens. They will raise a racket whenever anyone comes around, making them an excellent alarm system.
The third category of surveillance you can look into is electronic. Now, many people say not to trust electronic surveillance systems, simply because in the wake of any disaster, there is likely to be a blackout as well. They're right about that. But then, if you have your own electrical power generation in place, this is one of the most important things you can use it for.
If you decide to use some sort of electronic surveillance, don't just depend on cameras. I've got nothing against cameras, but they aren't an alarm. You would still need someone watching the monitors, to raise the alarm if any enemies come near.
It's better to use cameras in conjunction with some sort of a tripwire system, whether done with lasers or physical wires. It really doesn't matter what sort of tripwire you use, just as long as it is difficult to detect and reliable. Ideally, it should only sound off inside your home, so that you will know that someone has entered your property, without them knowing that you know.
The simplest tripwire is a simple piece of wire, tied ankle high and attached to a can with a few pebbles in it. That's great if you're out in the woods; but if you're at home, an electronic tripwire is more effective. You might not hear that can rattle from inside your home, whereas you can have the electronic one sound off inside where you can hear it and they can't.
Traps and Obstacles
While your perimeter will show down attackers and funnel them into your kill zone, you don't just have to depend on it alone. Depending on how much space you have available and how great your imagination is, you can create multiple layers of obstacles for any intruders to have to deal with, before they reach your front door. Each will slow them down, allowing you more time to react.
What do I mean by obstacles? Things like trash (a broken-down car) strewn in your front yard; A small pond with a removable bridge; a ditch with thorny plants growing in it, or various hedges and other plants which create a maze of a route to get to your door.
Like I said, space is your biggest concern here. Most homes don't have a big enough front yard to place many obstacles, but even one or two can slow them down some. Every second gained, is one to your advantage.
Another great way to use obstacles is to block off your windows, denying them that possible entrance. Planting shrubbery beneath your windows is very effective in this regard, especially if the shrubs have thorns. Better yet, plant those shrubs right up close to the house and let them grow up to the point where they cover the bottom portion of the window. That way, they can't even get to the windows easily.
Traps can be useful as well, albeit dangerous from a legal perspective. Technically, traps are illegal. If you use them, you are legally liable for any injury to anyone who is hurt by the trap. So, you don't want to use them if a neighbor kid might be entering your yard to get their ball. But in a time of crisis, when there is a breakdown of society, traps can be very helpful.
The main thing you want to use traps for is to help herd the attackers into your kill zone. If your front walkway is surrounded by traps, then they are pretty much stuck on the walkway. That's ideal, if that's your kill box.
So, what kinds of traps can be used that way? Simple. You can use broken glass and caltops. Broken glass is cheap and easy. Simply save glass bottles and break them off, leaving a jagged edge. If you want to make it even better, embed the bottles in cement, with the jagged edges pointed up. By the way, they do this on top of cement walls in Mexico, to keep criminals out of their property. It's quite effective.
Caltrops are a Medieval defensive weapon, used to break up cavalry charges. They are a simple device, made of metal, with four points, spaced in such a way that there is always one point sticking up, no matter how they sit. They were often thrown from a defensive position, so they had to be made so that they would work, no matter how they landed.
While there are commercial caltrops available, they are somewhat expensive, expensive to buy. However, you can make your own, quite easily, out of 20 penny nails.
To make caltrops, as shown in the photo, take two 16 of 20 penny nails and cut the heads off them. Then sharpen new points where the heads were with a grinder. Find the center point and bend the caltrops in a vice, to an angle of 130 degrees.
The bent nails need to be nested together, as shown in the picture. Then they should be welded in place, taking care to weld them from both sides. Make a final check of the caltrop, checking to see that the point sticks up, no matter which point is sitting up. Adjust the nails, if necessary, in order to make them stick up straight.
You actually need quite a few caltrops to use them effectively. The idea is to spread them over an area, preferably hidden in the grass. That way, if anyone walks in that area, they are likely to step on a caltrop and put it into the sole of their foot. Ouch!
By denying the enemy the ability to leave the path, you can keep them in the kill zone, where your ambush will do the most good.
Fighting the Ambush
Since this isn't outright warfare, you will probably want to warn any attackers before opening fire on them. Remember, there will be an "after" to whatever you are going through, when law and order are restored. That means that there is a chance that you will be tried for the deaths of those attackers. So you want to make sure that your actions are above reproach.
At the same time, you want to stack the deck if you are going to have to attack. That's why you're going through all the work of establishing your perimeter and hardening your home. So, make sure that you have enough guns facing off against any attackers you have. Don't try to be Rambo, get your family or your survival team fighting alongside you.
If you put your shooters (family members or members of your team) in the windows of your home, you will probably find that you have the front walkway pretty well covered. Anyone out there will be sitting ducks, without any form of cover to protect them. At the same time, if you've protected your fighting positions, as we talked about in the article on hardening your home, your team will be fairly well protected. Advantage to you.
Only one person should actually confront the attackers and talk to them. Everyone else must stay under cover, yet ready to fight. That will help prevent confusion, while coordinating your attack. The one spokesman can confront the attackers, telling them to leave while they still can. If the attackers don't choose to call it a day, this person should also be the one to decide when to spring the trap.
Remember, your goal is to protect yourself, not necessarily to kill them off. At the same time, you don't want to have them turning around and attacking you a week later. So, hit them hard and fast, with the most firepower you can muster. But when they turn tail and fun, let them get away.It's doubtful that anyone will return after falling into an ambush like that. However, don't totally discount the possibility. There's always a chance that someone will try to come back, and if they do, it will be with a bigger band of cutthroats in their wake.