Making a Survival Retreat Defendable

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Having a prepared survival retreat is one of the crowning pinnacles of preparedness. That cabin in the woods is what many of us aspire to, even if it isn’t a cabin and it isn’t in the woods. While it’s something we all would love to have, it’s often left till later on in our prepping, simply because of the high cost in building it. 

Even so, hopefully we’ll all reach that point at some time in our prepping process. However, I think a warning is in order. While a survival retreat out and away from the population centers provide many benefits, one that it does not provide is the ability to defend yourself. Should a gang of marauders find your survival retreat, you’d be on your own. There wouldn’t even be any neighbors around to help.

With that in mind, it’s necessary to set up any survival retreat with the idea of being able to defend it against a superior number of attackers. I don’t know how many potential shooters there are in your family or survival team, but I think it’s safe to say that the bad guys will have you outnumbered.

This is not unusual in the world of warfare. There have been many battles, throughout history, where a small group of brave souls held a defensible position against a superior force. While being tied to a fixed location doe have some disadvantages to it, they are outweighed by the advantages, if those advantages are used properly.

Select Your Site Carefully

Site selection is an important aspect of making a defensible position. The high ground is advantageous. While that high ground may be farther from water and other resources, it gives you an advantage of being able to shoot down on any attackers, making it harder for them to hide from you. If you end up building any sort of palisade around your retreat, you definitely don’t want anyone to be able to look down into it.

Watch out for cover and concealment that people could use to sneak up on you. You’ll probably need to thin out the forest near your home, eliminating hiding spots.

Use Terrain to Your Advantage

Terrain can be used to your advantage, especially taking advantage of areas that are harder to cross. It doesn’t matter if it’s a body of water, a wall of impenetrable underbrush, a cliff or an area of loose rock, if it makes it hard for attackers to approach your retreat, they’ll probably look for another avenue to approach from. That narrows down the avenues you have to defend.

Don’t just ignore an area which seems unapproachable. You’ll still need to keep an eye on it. But that’s not the same as having defenses built in that direction.

For the rest of the terrain, try to put obstacles in place to slow down their advance. If all you do is manage to force them to walk, instead of run, at least they’ll be better targets.

Develop a 3-Layer Defense

The old formula is to have a 3-layer defense. If you look into it, you’ll find that castles and many forts are built with that in mind. There’s usually an outer wall or breastworks, which are set out from the wall of the fortress. This first line is set far enough away that it won’t give the attackers any help, once they gain possession of it, while still being close enough to provide support from the fortress.

After that first line, the walls of the keep or palisade form the second layer of defense. This is where the fight moves to, if the enemy manages to take the outer wall. It is a more robust defense, usually with higher walls. Finally, the last layer of defense is the keep within the castle walls. That’s where the last stand is made, before escaping through a secret passageway.

For the sake of your cabin in the woods, you obviously won’t be building a stone castle. Even so, you need those three positions, possibly made by deadfall logs dragged into position, with fighting positions built behind them.

Remember, it has to be Self Defense

No matter what you do, you’re going to have to demonstrate it as being self-defense, perhaps in front of a court. Therefore, the idea of using a sniper rifle to pick them off at a distance is not really acceptable. Rather, you’re going to want to be able to engage them quickly, at a shorter range, once they’ve proven hostile intent.

When that happens, concentrate on taking out the leaders. Often that’s all that’s needed to stop an attack. While they may reorganize under a new leader and come back, at least you’ll have won the war for the moment.