View Full Version : Ingress points, choke points and backstops for HD planning...

Al Thompson
October 8, 2002, 01:42 PM
When we typically start thinking about using our shotguns for home defense, we tend to address hardware issues (ammo, guns) without having a framework to put everything in perspective.

That framework is evaluating your abode for ingress, choke points and backstops. Here are the quick definitions of these terms and how to sit down and think through your "fire" plan in your residence, or place of work for that matter.

For shotguns, the most likely time for use will be in the evenings when folks are asleep. Daylight or evenings, IMHO, there will be enough movement of family that remaining in a static position and hunkering down may not be possible. While the main idea here is to have a plan that you can modify when needed, these same planning steps may go out the window if some crack head stomps through your front door as everybody is watching TV. Somewhat off topic for the forum, but that's when a handgun in your belt or secured in close proximity becomes invaluable. Food for thought.

Ingress points are any breaks in your walls that enables folks to enter. Doors are obvious points, but windows need to be considered too. For those folks with attached garages or coal chutes, they count as well. IMHO, this points out the need for activly securing your windows. A simple hole drilled and filled with a nail helps bunches.

Choke points are specific locations in your structure that force people to enter. Think of a long hall with the living room/den/kitchen at one end and bedrooms at the other. To get to the bedrooms in my example, everybody must negotiate the hall way. The entrance of the hall becomes a choke point. The landing of a stairway at the top or bottom becomes a choke point for anyone traversing the stairs. For those of you ahead of the game, hallways, doorways and stairs are usually known as fatal funnels - no room to manuver and the defender has all of the advantages.

Engagement areas - this is where you plan to shoot. As Clint Smith likes to say, proximity deletes skill. Best to plan your engagement areas as far out as possible.

Backstops - simply what's behind your engagement areas. If you cover your choke point with a firearm, what lies beyond? In my case, my primary engagement zone is down a hall - but I have a neighbor's house directly behind the line of fire. There are two walls between us, both with masonite siding and drywall.

Putting it all together, we first figure where most folks will enter - usually via a doorway (ingress points). We then figure where they will have to go to get to us or family members (choke points). Once you determine the choke points, you know where you need to be to control these points, hence your engagement areas. What lies beyond your engagement area is your backstop.

From the top, in my one story house. I have two doors - one in the back that leads to a combo kitchen/dining room/great room and the front dor that leads into the great room. So I know my most probable ingress points. The only way to my bedrooms is down a hallway from the great room. The entrance to my hallway is the choke point, down the hall and everything behind it is my engagement area. My backstop is my exterior wall (drywalll, masonite siding), 20 feet of air and my neighbors exterior wall (masonite siding, drywall).

In my best buddy's two story home, his choke point is the landing at the top of his stairs. Alll the kids are upstairs and he needs to cover that point to secure the second floor. His engagement area is the landing and thhe stairs. Backstop is either the exterior wall and neighborhood (landing) or the floor (stairway).

Once we have a gameplan for the defense of the place, we can start looking at hardware to enhance our effectiveness by determining your ranges and adjust your loads (backstops). Given that we are usually better with a long gun than short, the shotgun and it's variable payload comes into it's own.

You should now know your max range(s) and your backstops. If your in an apartment with very short ranges and thin walls, perhaps some size of birdshot will work best. Another thing is that you may not need to pattern your SG at 20 yards as you have no 20 yards shots possible. If your in the woods, with a 360 degree free fire zone, reduced muzzle flash and long range performance may go to the top of your list of good things.

To help make those decisions, there are several threads reporting both ammo/choke performance at given ranges (see baseline data - float thread) and we're starting to get a few threads that compare shot size and penetration data. You can always make up a dummy wall or two and test your loads yourself - just post the data here for all. :) As most know, as distance increases shot sizes need to go down - a load of #8s may work at ten feet, at ten yards, I would increase my shot size to #4s as a minimun. See the thread "birdshot for HD'.

Hopefully this will be a rock soup sort of thing. Everybody should feel free to contribute their thoughts so that we can all expand our knowledge base.

Dave McC
October 8, 2002, 07:48 PM
Kudoes, Giz!! That should be on a Stone Tablet somewhere.

Casa McC has arms ready and concealed on all levels. The drill is to acquire, engage, and head up if possible,alerting as we go.

Top floor is our Eaglesholm.More arms, cell phone and landline kept there. The stairs up is a check point, engagement area same, backstop landing at the bottom, walls are cinder block with cedar shingles. No neighbors in LOF.BTW, distance is 10 yards longest possible shot opp.

Ammo/weapons for non shotgunners are 38 and 357 mag revolvers, with 110 gr +P+ JHPs. Effective with less chance of overpenetration.Some flash, but there's tradeoffs with any ammo.

Mo' crucial is training. All of us know what to do, and we go over it from time to time. Cover is emphasized, along with target ID.

Hope more folks add to this soup....

October 10, 2002, 06:37 PM
You certainly do seem to grasp the concept of constructing lanes of fire for you home defense plan and I commend you for the thought and effort you have put into this. However, I do take exception to your choice of birdshot for HD. This has been the subject of many hours of debate in my circles and I have had the opportunity to do some testing and try to figure out what will NOT work. You are right, in that #8's or whatever rabbit or dove load you choose will do the job if your target distance is 10 to 15 feet. I don't know what the distances of engagement may be in your home, but I would suggest that you pace off the distance down a hallway or whatever the greater distance might be for your own situation and then try your favorite shotgun defense load at that distance at your firing range. From my experience, most birdshot loads will be largely unreliable stoppers (and I mean stoppers as in NOW) at distances common in many homes. As for the issue of projectiles penetrating walls and posing a threat to family members or other noncombatants.....that's what you have constructed your fire lanes for...complete with sturdy backstops

Al Thompson
October 10, 2002, 08:56 PM

I agree more than disagree. :) I did a test in this thread, would you be so kind as to share your thoughts? I'm still a bit leery about the feasibillity of the 3/4 inch plywood test. I'd really like to see how it compares with your experience.


October 11, 2002, 03:44 AM
Threads like this one make for pretty good mental exercise.
I hadn't thought much within this internal framework but fortunately I can find few concerns on further reflection. I also have the advantage of living with the wife and no kids at home, in the country with no neighbors. I put alot of thought into layered security and layout of structure before we finished the house and moved in 5 years ago. HD weapons, lights, phone, first aid, and fire suppression, etc are all readily available. My 12g stoked with 3" #4s and OO cause I usually grab it first for some 4 legged troublemaker around the place. couple of well-placed, well-loaded handguns plus the dog and the alarm system. wife thinks I get carried away but we sleep pretty well.