|A reinforced firing position. Bring on the mutant zombie bikers!|
We've talked through toughening your doors and windows, and if done properly, these measures will slow down any would be intruders. However, these measures will do little/nothing to stop incoming gun fire.
The typical modern home is not especially resistant to bullets. I'm sure you've all seen ballistics tests with drywall, studs, etc. Bullets whiz right through. Conventional drywall homes provide concealment, not cover--an assailant can't see you directly, but the structure does nothing to stop incoming rounds. If a mob of armed brigands are attacking your home or retreat, you want something more considerable than some plaster and wood to hide behind and return fire. With some thought and work, you can prepare a firing position inside a conventional structure that provides both concealment and cover.
A note that, if able, you should not limit your group's defensive positions to one structure. Listening/Observation Posts (LP/OPs), forward points and fallback/rally points could all be a part of your plan. These could be similar urban-style firing positions or more conventional foxholes and sniper belly hides (well concealed, of course!). If you can help it, you do not want to engage a hostile force from the same structure where your children and other non-combatants are living/sleeping. And you want as many options as you can have in case a fight breaks out!
Locating Firing Positions
There are three basic placement options for firing positions in a structure - windows, loopholes and rooftop. Of these, the loophole (a small hole knocked in the side of the building) offers the best concealment. If your firing position will be from a window, locate it back inside the room and shoot from a kneeling, sitting or prone position, if possible - you want to avoid silhouetting. The rooftop will offer you the highest elevation and best view of the surrounding area, but generally offers the least measure of concealment.
Reinforcing Firing Positions
As mentioned, walls offer lousy protection against incoming fire. The standard method for reinforcement is good old sandbags. Sandbags are multifunctional and are a really great tool for fortifying, building and reinforcing - stock up on them. If necessary, you can improvise sand bags from things like plastic grocery bags, pillow cases, big ziplocks, buckets, boxes, medium sized garbage bags and so on.
Another household option would be boxes of old books, stacks of old newspaper or piles of phone books. Packed, dense paper is a surprisingly decent bullet stopper, at least for pistol and lighter rifle loads. Anyone has seen the episode of Mythbusters where they use phone books to armor a car? Here's a Box O' Truth on bullets vs paper subject. On another note, a well packed book case can make decent cover or a backstop for those thinking about inside the home defense.
Really, you want a thick barrier of bullet slowing stuff between you and attackers - steel plates, concrete blocks, stones, bulk bags of food, etc. Whatever you've got or can find, use it.
Windows can mean flying, broken glass all over the firing position that you will be crawling around, so you will probably want bust out the windows if fighting looks certain. If windows are broken out, you will want to barricade them, either with scavenged materials or with plywood hurricane shutters prepared beforehand. If your windows have good security film, then there's no reason to bust 'em out.
Make sure that your firing position is camouflaged and blends in - a single hole in the side of the building may stand out, but several holes might not. One window open, all others closed; you get the picture. Use furniture, junk, whatever to help with additional concealment. Don't make loopholes any bigger than they need to be.
Finally, if explosives or building collapse are a potential, a sturdy piece of furniture and a layer of sandbags overhead can offer a measure of protection.
Got any thoughts or tips about setting up firing positions in the average home? Comment away!