How To Hunt Game Using Long Range Rifle Scopes

26 Jul

Written by Wild Bill on The Prepper Journal.

Editor’s Note: I know, Summer is hardly begun, some kids still have a long Summer breaks in front of them while some return to school this week; but the time to start preparing for the upcoming hunting season is upon us so this article from James Smith at is timely in the overall scheme of things.

Nothing beats the feeling of stalking a game animal successfully. It’s the pay-off for rising before dawn, hitting the trail, and using the best equipment for the job. The devil is in the details when it comes to choosing the right rifle, scope, and ammunition. And when it comes to long range riflescopes, it is a crucial step in the stalking, sighting-in, and shooting process.

This is a comprehensive guide on how to hunt game using a long range rifle scope. It includes a breakdown of the five features you should look for in the long range rifle scope you use, and the best ways to hunt game with this equipment.

Features to Look for When Choosing a Scope for Your Hunting Rifle

When it comes down to selecting the perfect long range riflescope for hunting game, the process can get complicated. The many available options just end up muddying the waters sometimes. To help you get a better picture, there are five features to look for that will make this process much easier for you.

Magnification: Choosing the magnification capacity of your long range scope is half personal preference and half scientific algorithm. The most straightforward method of considering which magnification type is best for your hunting requirements is to work out the 1 x magnification per 100 feet (30,5 meters) of shooting distance.

For example, if you were sighting-in at 300 feet/91.5 meters, you would select the 3 x magnification setting on your scope. By using this scope selection technique, you will never be looking at a target that appears more than 35 yards/32 meters away. This viewpoint is a comfortable distance for the eyesight and brain to process.

Most game hunters sight-in at around 100 yards to 300 yards/ 274 meters in distance. It is for this reason that 3 x 9 power riflescopes are the most popular choice for most hunters. It’s the ideal range where most hunters like to take aim.

Ballistic Reticles: This long range scope feature is a relative newcomer to the hunting rifle scene. It provides additional crosshairs or aiming points in the available field of view. Once you have zeroed in your rifle sight picture, you can use the ballistic reticle feature on your scope for better aiming precision.

Ballistic reticles for hunting comes most typically in two formats: Minute Of Angle format (MOA) and mil-dot format. If you have a mil reticle, you will need to have mil-dot adjustments on your scope. Correspondingly, if you have a MOA reticle, you will need to have MOA adjustments on the scope. In that way, the adjustments you make with your elevation and windage turrets will coincide with the sub-tensions in the reticle. But more about that later.

Parallax Adjustment: A parallax is the position of the reticle on your target in relationship to your eye. The PA is a popular feature on bigger, higher magnification scopes because it allows you to dial out the parallax at a specific range so that what you see is what you get. It goes from zero all the way to infinity. If you have a 3 x 9 power scope, you probably don’t need this high-tech addition. However, if you have a 4 x 12 or 4 x 16 power scope, getting a parallax adjustment is a good idea.

First or Front Focal Plane Reticle: You used to find first focal plane reticles only in European manufactured riflescopes, but they have started to become more popular in other countries, and for a good reason. A first focal plane reticle allows you to adjust the magnification on your rifle scope, but the additional aiming points you have in the reticle will still be feeding you the correct trajectory compensation information.

A second focal plane reticle is different. The hash marks only typically match the trajectory when the scope is set at its maximum magnification capacity.

Fast Focus Eyepiece: One of the main benefits of this equipment is its user-friendly integration. It is yet another bit of European technology that is spreading across the Atlantic. It allows you to fine tune your interface with the rifle scope in real time. This saves on sighting and adjusting when shooting over long distances.

There are many things to consider when choosing a rifle scope, the size of the scope, the size of the game, and the shooting distance. But these are the five scope features that you need to have basic knowledge about.

The Anatomy of a Rifle Scope

Because riflescopes are fairly costly pieces of equipment, it makes sense to buy one suitable for your long range hunting rifle and the terrain over which you will be sighting in. It also depends on the company you keep when hunting outdoors as a group. If everyone on the team considers less than 100 yards/91 meters as fair game shooting distance, and you want to go after the more challenging targets, then you should change your hunting group, not your equipment.

The scope you choose should be at least 12 x top magnification, and 16 x is preferable. Higher magnification of 6 x 24 is possible, but finding a target at close range will be more difficult, especially if it is moving. The larger the magnification, the better the optics must be. It’s no good being able to zoom in when you can’t see a clear target in low light conditions.

When you mount the scope, it needs to be with the greatest possible integrity. Any movement in the tube or loosening of the mounting screws will turn your trip into a “one that got away,” saga. It is for this reason that a standard mil-dot or MOA reticle in front focal plane position is recommended.

Once you establish the perfect sight-in distance for each of the mil-dots descending from the center, the calculation won’t change. Even if the scope is set to 8, 22, or 16 x, the first mil-dot will be set at the correct distance. The same thing applies to windage turret calculations. When you have a front focal plane mil-dot, any windage (horizontal) adjustments are the same whether the scope variable is positioned at 10 or 16 x.

Your scope should hold up to the recoil of your rifle caliber as well. Taking this into account when choosing a long range rifle scope may limit your options, sadly, but it’s a vital component to getting the job done.

Mil-Dot vs. MOA for Game Hunting

Do your research before deciding on which system to use.

  • Stick to the measuring system with which you are most familiar
  • If you are more comfortable with metric, mil-dot may be the best choice, although the “mil” is not an abbreviation of millimeters
  • If you are shooting over shorter ranges, many hunters holdover using a reticle altogether
  • Long range riflescope accuracy should consider precision, calculation ability, and equipment cost

If this calculating is ruining your hunting experience, simply carry a dope card with you at all times. Once you are more familiar with your mils, you can give over using the dots and make super-fast shots without it.


Proper shot placement for long range hunting is a very important factor. It’s not as simple as sighting-in your rifle so that the cross-hairs are dead-on at 300 yards/274 meters and pulling the trigger. That means the first mil-dot (see diagram) down would be dead-on at around 500 yards/457 meters.

The best way to illustrate this is by using a trophy object standing at a distance of approximately 300 feet away at a steeply inclined uphill angle as an example. When the rifle scope is zeroed at 300 yards, it is actually almost 4 inches/10 cm too high because of the shortening of the trajectory angle. The bullet’s pathway is 4 inches above the aim point, even though the game target was at 300 yards. The best calculation is to zero the target per 100 yards. The first mil-dot should be down dead-on at around 400 yards/366 meters and the second at 550 yards/503 meters. These adjustments will ensure that the bullet path will never be above your point of aim.

Depending on what caliber and bullet weight you’re using, most riflescopes will use this basic sight-in and trajectory. The bullet has a slight left to right arc at long range. If the windage turret is set at zero per 100 yards, this can veer as much as 7 inches/17 cm off target. Counter this by setting the windage at 550 yards on a calm day. The bullet will still be 1.5 inches/3.8 cm to the left of the target when shooting at 100 to 400 yards, but it will be dead to rights at 550 yards.

Remember, the more practice you get in making these decisions, the faster they will become second nature to you on the field. And that brings us to the crucial part of long range game hunting:

Taking the Shot

Before you take any shot over 200 yards/182 meters, make a few calculations in your head using the WAR acronym: wind, angle, and range.

Wind deflection calculations: Use a handheld wind speed calculator if mental arithmetic is not your forte. It will help you formulate the wind speed, angle of the wind, and how it will affect your trajectory. There are also some useful computer software programs to help you grasp the required compensations.

Angle: Straight down being zero, and level straight out being 90 degrees, if your target is approximately 65 degrees, your angle x range multiplier will be 0.8. The more hunting experience you have, the easier it will become to gauge the angle degree. A good handheld rangefinder will calculate and angle x range multiplier of 0.7 for a 45 degree target.

When to Take Another Shot

If you are using a spotter to let you know when you’ve made a marginal hit on the target, base your next shot on the information you receive from your spotter. If the first shot was a complete miss, but the trophy target is still unaware, make the necessary adjustments and try again. If the target is on the move, withhold shooting again until the target is stationary once more.

If you begin game hunting with an experienced crew, they can guide you to all the best places to sight-in. Someone can use the spotter, and point out any beneficial observations. Remember that once your spotting scope is deployed, you will be locked into that position for a while.

A few other hunting essentials are water or energy drinks, PB&J sandwiches (they don’t turn in the heat), granola bars, and jerky. Don’t forget to wear weather-appropriate clothing, and cover up with insect repellent if it’s bug season.

The only thing left to say is Happy Hunting!

Glossary of Long Range Rifle Scope Terms:

  • 1-inch tube: The erector tube of the rifle scope, most come in 1 inch diameter
  • AO: Adjustable objective. A type of parallax correction feature
  • Ballistic reticle: Incorporates many factors for correct point of aim
  • Ballistic turret: A feature of high-end riflescopes. Allows for more than one predetermined turret setting distance
  • BDC: Bullet Drop Compensation. The relationship between the fired bullet, target, and gravity
  • Clicks: the number of rotations of the turret adjustments
  • Duplex reticle: The most common style of available reticle with cross-hairs reaching the field of view edge
  • Elevation: The vertical cross-hair of the reticle
  • Fast Focus Eyepiece: Sighting and focusing technology from Europe that allows for a sharp, crisp image
  • Fixed Power: The magnification is fixed without varying high to low power settings
  • Holdover: Calculation using BDC technology
  • Light Transmission: The amount of light that’s collected by the objective bell and transmitted to the eyepiece
  • LR: Long range
  • Original Zero: The distance for which you have sighted your scope.
  • RS: Rifle Scope
  • Turrets: Used interchangeably to describe the knobs and dials that protrude from the scope
  • Windage: The horizontal cross-hair of the reticle.

Be Safe out there and be sure to check out The Prepper Journal Store and follow The Prepper Journal on Facebook!

The post How To Hunt Game Using Long Range Rifle Scopes appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

Things You Can Cook Over a Fire

25 Jul

Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editor’s Note: A guest contribution from Scott Huntington to The Prepper Journal.

Before we had ovens, cooktops and microwaves, there was only one way to cook up some grub — over the fire. You have to admire fire’s staying power. How many other old-world methods remain relevant thousands of years after they were invented?

Cooking over an open flame isn’t just fun, it’s popular for a good reason. The flavor you get from a flame-cooked meal is difficult to match on even the finest bar-b-queue. Plus, sometimes it’s the only cooking method you have. From surviving and camping to just getting creative, here are 10 things to try next time you’re around the fire.

Blueberry Orange Muffins

Let them try and tell you that baking on a camping trip is a bad idea! This environmentally-conscious muffin recipe makes your pack lighter by re-using the peels of oranges that you can eat on the trail. When it’s time for dessert, mix water and muffin mix as directed and then spoon the result into the empty orange halves. Wrap the mini muffin trays in a double layer of tinfoil and set them in a warm — but not flaming — section of coals. Allow eight to ten minutes of cook time. Boom, a sweet treat that you wouldn’t expect around a campfire.


While they’re simpler to do over the backyard fire pit than on the trail, kebabs can be packed and made in the wilderness with little hassle. The beauty of these simple-but-tasty creations is they allow you to create a multitude of flavor combinations and can customize for meat-eaters, vegetarians or omnivores. As your skill in combining flavors improves, you can play around with mixing things that cook faster or slower, like meat and fruit, and using the thickness of each slice to help the entire skewer cook evenly.


Everyone loves pizza, right? But you might not think to cook it over a fire. With a simple pizza stone, you can make it on your backyard grill or beside a babbling brook. Fresh pizza dough can easily pack into camp for a first-night-out feast, and of course, it transports well from your fridge to the bar-b-queue. Similarly to Kebabs, you can enjoy a number of flavor combinations and you might be surprised how much you enjoy the nuance of a crispy-yet-chewy grilled pizza crust. It’s not unlike a gourmet wood-fired pie.


We’re not surprising anyone by including steak on a list of things you can cook over a fire. A steak traditionalist might even argue this is the only way meat should ever cook. Choose a flavorful piece such as New York Strip or Rib Eye to make over the open flame and the fat on the meat will nearly cook it for you. We recommend a good coating of butter or olive oil, complemented by some salt, pepper and rosemary, but you’re welcome to get more creative with your steak seasonings. Another great thing about this fire-cooked meal is there are several sides you can make over a fire as well.

Corn on the Cobb

Sure you could boil your corn, something we’ve probably all had. But flame-grilled corn-on-the-cob is without question the better way to have it. Plus, it’s so simple. Pick up some good fresh corn, shuck it and wrap in tinfoil, and place in hot embers for 20-30 minutes.

You can also do it with a campfire grill to reduce the mess. Throw a nice chunk of butter and some salt and pepper inside the tinfoil wrapper to add the perfect finishing touch to this sweet and healthy side.

Baked Potatoes

Similar to corn, baked potatoes can be made easily around a campfire by taking advantage of the wonders of tinfoil. However, as a heartier dish, baked potatoes can serve as a main dish when stuffed with the right ingredients. Do some meal prep before hitting the trail by splitting your spuds and packing them with bacon, chives, butter and seasoning. When you arrive at camp, everything will have melted together in the foil — you can finish it off by cooking it over the fire.

Egg and Sausage Taquitos

We tend to focus on dinner when the idea of making things over a fire comes up. But what about breakfast? For the most important meal of the day, breakfast can get neglected on camping trips, but these simple breakfast taquitos will give you a morning boost whether you make them for the kids at home or cook them up after a night on the trail. Meal prep is fairly simple — you make some sausage links and eggs, season them up and then wrap in a tortilla and add seasoning. Make sure you have a good means of keeping these cold if you plan to make them at camp.

Campfire Griddle Cakes

Your camp-mates will be thrilled to wake up to the smell of hot, fresh pancakes on the trail. If you’re used to cooking on a cast-iron skillet, these are about as straightforward as making pancakes at home. You can whip up a batch of batter in 15 minutes at home and jar it or bring with you on the trail using a Tupperware container. Make sure you bring along the necessary flatware. These aren’t as easy to eat with your hands as a kebab, hot dog or s’more. Extra points if you remember syrup and fresh berries.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Similar to the baked potatoes we mentioned earlier, these stuffed veggies can easily serve as a main course. The recipe we chose uses a combination of rice, veggies and ground beef for a well-rounded and nutritious dinner that helps get all your food groups in while you’re out on the trail. The stuffed peppers are cooked in a Dutch oven and take about 30-45 minutes, which should be enough time to prepare additional sides if needed. They look pretty gourmet when done — proof you don’t have to be at home to enjoy something special.


What would a list of fire-cooked goodies be without s’mores? These old-timely favorites will bring a smile to anyone’s face, whether on the trail or in the backyard. Did you know, s’mores have gone upscale? Try them with fruit, peanut butter and other wild combinations.

Cooking over an open flame is a wonderful social experience and a way to make plain-old good food. It brings the family together and gives you an excuse to try some truly special recipes that you otherwise might not. So try out some ours, or let us know in the comments below what your favorite flame-cooked eats are!

Be Safe out there and be sure to check out The Prepper Journal Store and follow The Prepper Journal on Facebook!

The post Things You Can Cook Over a Fire appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

Nutritious Food Plants You Can Harvest Quickly

19 Jul

Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editor’s Note: A guest submission to The Prepper Journal from Raymond Poole. Raymond Poole is an organic cooking and gardening fanatic. He spends his free time trialing and testing different growing techniques to make his beloved fruit and vegetable garden flourish to full flavor.

Admit it, we want things to happen fast. We’re a society of fast food, fast internet, and instant gratification. But when it comes to growing nutritious food, we have to be patient. Mother Nature usually needs time to work.

But there are exceptions in the vegetable world where gratification, if not instant, isn’t far off. We only need a few weeks to produce some nutritious vegetables and enjoy them for a great lunch or dinner. Imagine having fresh spinach harvested four to six weeks after planting. Even better, a vegetable garden in your backyard will complement that verdant, green lawn and add some color and texture to your landscape.

There are many wholesome veggies you can grow, relatively quickly, a few steps away from your kitchen. Here are five vegetables to get you started.


Spinach is an excellent source of minerals, vitamins, potassium, zinc, magnesium, iron, and calcium. And you can harvest it as soon as a month after planting. Sow the seeds into good quality soil and then water.

This is a must-have vegetable if you’re living off the grid. Spinach improves eyesight and cognitive function, combats Alzheimer’s disease and gastric ulcers, and increases blood flow to the brain. Its high content of potassium and its lack of sodium helps maintain good blood pressure and its antioxidants strengthen muscles. It also reduces the chance of heart attacks and strokes.


Carrots are excellent as part of a salad, as a snack, and taste great when cooked. They thrive in the USDA’s Hardiness zones 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. They do need lots of sun, and do well when planted about three to five weeks before the last frost. Select a thin fingerling variety and plant the seeds about 2 inches apart at a depth of ¼ to ½ inch. Water at least 1 inch per week and fertilize four weeks after planting if the soil is lacking organic matter. Don’t use compost. In about six weeks, you’ll have your harvest — and some can be picked even sooner as part of the thinning process.

Carrots offer carbs and fiber, lowers cholesterol and reduces the risk of cancer. It includes vitamin A, which promotes good vision and improves immune functions. Its Biotin enhances metabolism and vitamin K1 promotes bone health and blood clotting. It has potassium that improves blood pressure and vitamin B6 to convert food into energy.


Another ideal food for salads, radishes are ready for your table in as little as 21 days after planting. This is a cool weather crop, planted in spring and autumn and two weeks before the last frost. It thrives in sunlight and well-drained soil with a pH level of 6 to 7, according to the Farmer’s Almanac. The soil should be free of rocks. Include organic matter like compost, manure, or leaf mold in the soil before planting.

Rich in fiber, radishes also aid the digestive system and help combat several forms of cancer. They improve cardiovascular health, relieve respiratory disorders, lower blood pressure, help manage diabetes, and protect the kidneys.


Lettuce grows in colder temperatures and is ready to begin harvesting 30 days after planting. Plant in the early spring when temperatures are between 45°F and 65°F. It thrives in moist, cool conditions and can tolerate a light frost. It will flower or bolt to seed if the weather gets too hot.

The soil should be loose, moist, well-drained, and fertilized. It favors acidic conditions. So include some compost into the soil. Plant seeds in rows of 12 to 15-inches long. Leave a space of 18-inches between rows. Thin the growing seedlings to 4-inches apart to prevent overcrowding. You can harvest over time, by cutting outer leaves as they mature, or take the full plant when leaves are full size, but still tender. If you wait until the lettuce is too mature, it ends up tasting bitter.

There are several types of lettuce. They include Romaine, which is sweet and crunchy. Crisphead or Iceberg, which has a crisp texture and mild taste. Butterhead (also known as Boston or Bibb) has large, soft, green leaves that are sweet tasting. Romaine has the greatest benefits.

Lettuce, in general, has only 12 calories for one shredded cup. It prevents the build-up of plaque. It includes relaxing and sleep-inducing properties. Its minerals improve energy. It’s an ideal food for anyone monitoring their blood sugar or wishes to maintain their weight.


The green leaves of the arugula plant have a peppery taste and are ideal for salads. Once mature, cut the leaves off the plant and enjoy. Leaves will continue to grow back each year.

The plant thrives in well-drained, moist soil with a pH level of 6 to 6.5. Add compost to the soil before sowing. Do the composting in the fall. and plant the arugula in the spring. The plant tolerates cool weather and an occasional frost, so plant as early as April in daytime temperatures above 40 degrees. Select a sunny location for planting, although it tolerates some shade. The plant grows 1 to 2 feet tall and is ready for harvest about four weeks after planting.

You can either plant the seeds in rows or scatter them over an area. The seeds should be about one-quarter inch deep and 1-inch apart. Once the leaves develop, you can harvest.

Arugula includes vitamin K, which assures healthy bones and a better immune system. It also has cancer-fighting properties, increases metabolism, improves eyesight, and enhances mineral absorption.

Growing your own nutritious foods provides many benefits. You’ll save time and money with fewer visits to the grocery store. You’ll also be prepared if the store shelves are empty!

Be Safe out there and be sure to check out The Prepper Journal Store and follow The Prepper Journal on Facebook!

The post Nutritious Food Plants You Can Harvest Quickly appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

How to Make Sure Your Stuff Lasts Forever — or Close to It

17 Jul

Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editor’s Note: A guest contribution from Scott Huntington to The Prepper Journal.

Whether you live primarily off the grid and rarely venture to town or you simply wish to extend the life of your belongings to save money, taking certain steps can make everything from your clothes to your home last longer. Even though many now live by the convenience principle of tossing broken things and buying new, learning to extend the life of our objects also helps protect the planet we share. In a world where every other product bears a label reading “Made in China,” the cliche they just don’t build things like they used to has merit.

Any way you slice it, extending the life of anything from your car to your kitchen appliances makes sense. When survival is on the line, protecting your tools keeps you alive. Here’s how you can maintain the items you own so they last as close to forever as possible.

Extend the Life of Your Clothes

Washing and drying your clothes can cause them to pill and wear more quickly. Whenever possible, opt to hand wash your clothes. It takes longer, but it’s far kinder to the environment and your wardrobe.

Tossing your clothes in the dryer may help them dry faster, but it does a number on the fabric — the lint screen gets full of all the bits of thread pulled from the fibers of shirts and more. Plus, line-dried fabrics smell so much more amazing than those dried with chemically laden sheets. If you live in an area that prohibits outdoor clotheslines, invest in a drying rack you can place on your porch or balcony to dry your duds.

Rotate your clothes and maintain proper hygiene. When you wash a load, put the clean clothes further back in the closet so every item sees relatively equal wear. While it’s not true you must shower every day unless you’ve been working in a coal mine, do wash your armpit and groin areas twice daily, as sweat can leave salt stains on clothes.

Make Your Food Last Longer

Using the right materials for food storage requires a small upfront investment, but you will save money and your stash of strawberries in the long run. Rinsing fruits such as berries in a vinegar and water solution before putting them in the fridge eliminates bacteria that cause spoilage before your produce hits the drawer. As fruits decompose more quickly than veggies, store them in separate drawers.

Invest in quality reusable food storage containers designed for different products. Store leafy greens in cartons lined with paper towels to draw out moisture and keep them crisper longer. Keep milk in sealed glass jars to extend shelf life, and spend the money for washable cheese cloths to keep your cheddar from molding after a few days.

Keep Your Vehicle Running Strong

Protecting your vehicle means performing regular and preventive maintenance on engine and body. To keep your car or truck rust-free for years, invest in rust protection for your undercoating and wash the underside of your car regularly. Wash your car at least every other week, or more often if salt and grime accumulate faster due to inclement weather.

Keep your engine running by getting regular oil and filter changes. If you drive a four-wheel drive or high-performance vehicle, speak with your mechanic about using synthetic oil — this extends the time between changes and keeps engine heat lower. If your car is older than 2007, change the oil every 3,000 miles. Newer vehicles can average 5,000 miles between changes. Replace your air filter every 15,000 to 20,000 miles.

Do the Same for Appliances

If you’ve got an older fridge, take a dollar bill and close your refrigerator door on it. If it pulls right out, it’s time to change the gasket. Doing so costs only $30-$70 and takes a screwdriver and an Allen wrench. You’ll save a fortune on electricity and keep food fresher longer.

Change the air filters for your HVAC system out monthly. Some experts recommend doing so less often in the winter, but deciding to cut down on filter changes depends on many factors. If you have pets who shed or if you smoke, keeping up with monthly maintenance can save you in terms of costly future repairs.

When it comes to your dryer if you use one, invest in a snake wand to clean out the lint trap more effectively. Create a spill barrier when using the oven by placing cookie sheets on the rack underneath your casserole or pie. Use a paste of baking soda to clean spills up if they do occur — as soon as the oven safely cools, of course.

Protect Your Furnishings

Do you ever feel warm when you sit next to a sunny window in your home? The heat isn’t only burning your skin — it’s also fading the wood and fabrics of your furnishings. Investing in window tinting can cut your cooling and heating bills, as well as preserve the life of your leather. Even your blinds become faded over time from sun and heat, so you’ll maintain your window coverings too. A bonus of such tint is that you can see out, but strangers cannot see into your home.

If your leather furniture suffers minor tears, you can buy repair kits and fix them at home in little time. Did you carelessly take a chunk out of a chair leg with a hammer while using it for support on another project? Get some wood putty and stain to repair the nick instead of buying new.

Extend the Life of Your Roof

If your roof leaks, the entirety of your homestead can suffer damage. Extend its life by keeping your gutters clear of leaves and debris, as overflows can lead to leakage. Perform a visual inspection of your roof while you do so — if you notice missing patches of tile or shingles, repair them without delay. If water damage reaches the rafters, black mold and significant water damage can occur.

Are you roughing it and having problems with your tent gear? Keep repair tape and basic tools with you to patch holes quickly. When you change campsites, shake out tents thoroughly to remove debris and insects. Pass on using water to clean it, as this can cause mildew, but if some develops from exposure to the elements, use a distilled white vinegar and water solution to kill it. Be sure to dry the area thoroughly.

Extending the Life of Your Belongings

Living in the sticks means driving miles to get supplies — and who wants to tackle such a drive every time something breaks? If you’re living rough or minimalist, no doubt you need to preserve the life of the possessions you keep with you. Even if you live in New York City, though, extending the life of your belongings saves you major moolah. Cash is better kept in your hand or even under your mattress than doled out constantly to merchants in a disposable-minded society.

Be Safe out there and be sure to check out The Prepper Journal Store and follow The Prepper Journal on Facebook!

The post How to Make Sure Your Stuff Lasts Forever — or Close to It appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

Reflectors and Mylar: Home, Garden and On The Go

12 Jul

Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

There are all kinds of ways windshield reflectors and space blankets can make life easier and increase our capabilities as preppers, both everyday and during emergencies. Some of the camping and car uses are the most well known, but they don’t get applied in our homes and backyards much.

What we’re doing with them affects just how much quality we need, and thus what we might expect to spend. We also have other options such as regular ol’ aluminum foil and the option of snagging aluminum bubble insulation.

Mylar Sheets

I should say up front that while I have a couple of the dollar-store wallet-sized sheets in my daily bags and vehicle, I am not a huge fan of them. I’ve tried them out a few times. They never got top billing for my vest or pocket stuff when I was camping.

We can get better versions of simple, thin, super-compact, super-lightweight heat sheets for not much more, which is now my choice.

We can also get the types where the mylar sheet is mated to a much sturdier nylon or canvas backing, complete with grommets. They’re pricier and have added bulk, but they’re far more sturdy with more ease of use.

That’s what I tend to go with now for away-from-home emergency kits when the space isn’t of issue.

I have always lived in areas where wind is a factor, even in the woods. Most of my packing and long-distance solo driving has been done in areas with crazy-vicious thorns and-or thick brush. I have had all kinds of things punctured and ripped from rocks, sticks, and mesquite. I also almost always have dogs with me, and do not always have a file for their nails or control of their wagging tails.

Thin, flimsy space blankets just don’t fit my outdoors emergency needs.

I also find them to be a serious pain to fold up, a pain to work with due to the light weight, and insanely noisy.  

Others do like the regular ol’ dollar-store versions, express no real issues with them, and make them work in all kinds of conditions. For $1-$3, give them a try and see if they work for you.

There’s also all kinds of emergencies – and all kinds of uses in everyday life. We don’t always need a rough-ready Mylar sheet to reap the benefits.

There’s no reason to spend more in those cases, some of which apply to the uses below.

There’s no reason to spend more than we have to, ever – watch for seasonal sales and check outlets like Ollie’s and Big Lots, clip some coupons for Academy and Tractor Supply, and keep more of the budget available for other things even when we’re after the heftier emergency blankets or vehicle sun shades.

Windshield Reflectors

These are my backpacking, evac kit, and kayaking go-to choice. I typically carry 2-3, bundled so they form a belt pad and pad the back of my pack.

I started carrying just one to serve as a bedroll pad. Just like they reflect heat away from our cars, under our bodies, they reflect our heat back up. In a pinch, they can work solo as a ground cover, but I usually have a ground cloth of some kind.

I punch some holes and add loops so they’re easy to attach up over or beside my body as well, regardless of bivy or tarp shelter type. If I have sufficient insulation from the ground, that reflection is more useful to me.

That reflective value can be netted with any of the mylar and mylar-lined options. I still use the vehicle heat shields under a bedroll just because they’re less likely to bunch up or move, and they’re thicker, covering my pad needs.

I also prefer those fold-up vehicle pads for wet and snowy packing and kayaking because they can provide a comfy place to sit or kneel, and because it’s easier to rig them with some branches, around trees, or with line to reflect a fire’s heat back at my sitting and sleeping area.

There’s another big bonus when it comes to the vehicle reflectors over thinner sheets and plastic-tarp types: sparks.

I have never managed to actually have a sheet blow into a fire and melt immediately, but I have every once in a while had a gust hit a 1-sided or 2-sided/angled reflector fire just right, at just the right time, to send some embers blowing.

The vehicle sheets have never caught or had holes melted from just incidental sparks. The space blankets, however, have.

It’s just something to be aware of.

*Reflectors for fires aren’t just about keeping us warmer. Set up logs, rocks, spare lids, etc., to help food cook faster, even if you don’t set up a large section, or look into a reflector oven.

Creating a smaller space and reflective surfaces can also help make our at-home emergency candle and oil ovens and stoves more effective, decreasing cooking time. Likewise, heat shields and reflectors can help keep heat contained to a cooking area for poorly insulated campers, shacks, and trailers even with gas or electric cook-tops.

Reflect Heat At Home, Too

We can throw cheap sheets or sturdier windshield screens all over to help lower fuel use and make areas more comfortable. They work under the bottom sheet or the mattress for beds, humans or pets.

We can use them propped up behind animal beds as well. Windshield reflectors or sheets adhered to plywood or shipping pallets can be used for livestock, too, lowering the times we use heat lamps for birds and lambs.

We can also use them atop kennels or hanging from rafters to create canopy beds for our animals, holding and reflecting more warmth yet just as they do for us.

Mylar sheets (or aluminum bubble insulation) also work to reflect heat from behind our chairs and lining our workshops, near our wood stoves, on attic floors, and even on our windows.

Covering windows to reflect heat back works even better if we go with double-ply sheeting with something dark on the outside to absorb solar radiation, and the mylar on the inside.

Just like those sunscreens help keep vehicles cooler, we can use them during summer outages to reflect light away – just like switching to pale-colored curtains.

It applies to RVs and hunting shacks as well, or to tents that have windows and dark colors and car/truck camping.

If we have the sturdier versions, we can use hooks and line or poles to angle the screens out away from our windows so we can cut the light and heat, but still retain some airflow.

Outdoors Light & Heat Control

Any of our reflectors can help us with comfort and efficiency outside, too. With the reflective surface above, heat from the ground is contained and reflected back down, giving us extended use of our decks and porches, protecting gardens from cool snaps, or helping to retain warmth from any passive or active heating we use.

Especially during the spring-autumn verges and during winter when the sun’s arc is still low, we’re not losing significant amounts of light if we use tall hoop frames.

Other times, we might lay reflective ground cover or our handy alternatives to reflect light upwards, or prop any of our options against the back of a greenhouse or bed to reflect more light still from the sides.

Other times, we specifically want to lower the amount of sunlight reaching our gardens, and might even angle a screen so it’s blocking the whole afternoon sun.

Doing so – and adding a reflector facing outward instead – can lower the heat for cooler-weather crops and reduce evaporation and transpiration, reducing our need to irrigate in dry seasons.

We can also make use of our light and heat reflectors for indoor plants. It’s especially helpful starting seeds in low light conditions, whether that’s a window in early spring or “just” maximizing growth for countertop sprouts and microgreens.

It also allows us to maximize the efficiency of any grow lights we use – for birds as well as plants.

Smaller Structures

Whatever type we might choose – to include those cheap Mylar sheets or regular ol’ foil – we can use reflectors to increase the effectiveness of solar panels large and small-tiny, and solar heaters and dehydrators. They’re also handy for solar-heated water systems, whether those are warming houses or greenhouses, or feeding into showers or pre-heated cooking and hand-washing stations.

Vehicle sunscreens can make for incredibly easy solar cookers, but they, too, can also be assembled using any of our options – there’s no need to spend more for the sturdier or larger sheets.

Reflectors: Worth A Couple Bucks

Whether we’re planning for everyday emergencies or a major End-of-Days event, having some options on hand to reflect heat one way or another can be a major assist. That assistance applies to normal life as well, allowing us to do more with less work or fuel expenditure. In some cases – like decreasing the use of heat lamps and space heaters – it can also reduce risks on the home front.

Given the relatively inexpensive investment required, it’s worth trying out the options and keeping a few on hand, at home, in vehicles, with emergency kits, but also for everyday trial-and-error testing and development.

Be Safe out there and be sure to check out The Prepper Journal Store and follow The Prepper Journal on Facebook!


The post Reflectors and Mylar: Home, Garden and On The Go appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

Run-n-Gun: Lights, Camera, Action

18 Jun

Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

Whatever our primary shooting type and needs, there are a few things we can do to make sure we’re a little more ready when we pull the trigger on a real, live target.  This time around, it’s looking at low-light considerations and options.

This focuses mostly on defensive shooting. It can readily be applied to both LTL defense, though, and to training for paramilitary engagements.

I Don’t Need No Light

Yes, you do. Particularly for home and property defense.

One, yes, there is typically ambient light. However, it is not always sufficient for locating something that’s not moving or that is hugging shadows. Even if it is…

Two, depending on where that ambient light is – like, outside from the moon especially, but the light source is on the far side of something, it creates a silhouette.

Back-lit, pitch-black figures are hard to identify.

So are shadowy, dark figures.

Maybe you’re okay with shooting some packer or stray dog that’s just cutting through, or some neighbor who’s coming to beg a ride to the hospital.

Or, the cop creeping on the violent criminal while his/her partner is running to the house to ask/warn you about them.

Or, a neighbor running up to it with a gun because they just saw a yote chasing your calves or somebody creeping your property on foot or in a vehicle without the lights on, or that the smell is not from the last fire, but a new one about to hit the roadway/horizon.

Be real nice to light them up instead of automatically shooting them, for most of us.

Then there’s ID’g live-in’s, family/friends who have keys and-or alarm codes, or guests or a teen who could be raiding the fridge, any of whom might be potentially stepping outside because they want something from a porch or vehicle.

Or, hey, they heard something.

And, hey, if you live where a gun-toting relative, partner, or neighbor who sees/hears something odd might be sidling along checking that you’re okay, that silhouette might be armed.

Be nice if it was household-property SOP to go ahead and wreck somebody’s night vision instead of automatically putting holes in our own people.

*This is also where having flash-thunder type identification cue and learning to not jump the trigger is super-duper useful, too; ‘Cause, it’d be nice if our family/partner didn’t have to live with having automatically put holes in us when we lit them up.

Doesn’t being prepared for anything mean we should actually be preparing for anything? To include not shooting indiscriminately?

Let There Be Light

I prefer a handheld light and unsupported hold to a gun-mounted light and bracing my wrist. Some prefer to keep their hands on their gun.

Some hate the idea of using a light at all.

Hey, not having a skinny cone pointing to my center of mass is one of the reasons I like that offset handheld, so I’ll give them that one. However, I think how they envision lights getting used has a lot to do with the reluctance.

We do not leave that light on nonstop.

In fact, ideally we have a light that readily allows us to flicker it on and off, and we make free and full use of that function.

*If you have bad hands, consider a tac light with a wider, softer on-off tab than the common rear or side thumb pad or button. We just fix it straight to the light. If our fingers are aggravating, we can even practice holding it with the on-off key against our palm or the pad of our thumb, so we’re squeezing the whole hand, not one thumb or finger.

Loitering With Lights…

…is a good way to give any bad guys a really good idea where we are and provide a nice, visible aim point for them.

That’s where flickering helps. Light on, light off. Light on, light off.

There’s a super-duper important step in there that regularly ends up missed, though: Move.

Anytime we’ve availed ourselves of our light, we relocate.  

If we’re super-duper restricted (hallways, thick brush we’d rather not snag, etc.) a free-hand light becomes even more useful, because we can change where it’s shining from instead of always having that puppy right there inside dessert-plate and copy-paper accuracy ranges of our face and chest.

Even with it gun-mounted, though, or needing to keep two hands on a long gun, move.

Move it, move us, as much as possible.  

As much as we can without losing our footing, as far as we can without risk, even if all we can do is tip a gun and go to tiptoes, then crouch or take a knee, do it.

In a tight hallway, we can lean to use it, and move back 1-2 paces pretty easily, even working with a partner (we train so they know that’s what we’re going to do).

Do not linger where the light was.

Wheelers, hop-alongs, & cane bearers: There is even more argument for you to practice not only one-handed shooting, but also off-hand shooting. With limited mobility, the advantage of moving gun and light back and forth by space and cover is huge.

Seriously think about gluing/taping/tying a tooled 1×1 to your creak-in-the-night gun if it’s not mount-ready, so you can mount a rifle/shotgun tac light with an extended softie-pad control to it (mounted within reach of your thumb for off-hand shooting) or shell out for an ambi that works with your dexterity.

Wheelers: Leave one hand on whichever wheel needs to spin to change your profile and location immediately.

Stick Walkers: By type, you’re even less immediately mobile than wheelers and may have to holster/bag a gun to relocate. It’s even more important that you’re training to do a hand-to-hand gun/light swap at a height where you can be holding cane/crutch against your body or in position to make a hop aside as quickly as possible.

Anyone of Limited Mobility: You must practice awareness of leaning in, light it up, light off, and then leaning away (rather than the light tracking your initial movement away from “there”) because it’s going to take a little longer to move further away from your X.

Don’t Linger Applies Post-Shooting, Too

Even if your target dropped, they may be down and out, or they may have instinctively dropped and now be coming. Don’t count on them being alone, either.


Light on. Fire and kill it, kill it and fire, whichever, and move.

Re-check target with light, light off. Move again. Check flanks and rear with light, light off, move. Sweep original contact front with light, light off, move.

It’s constant, indoors or out.

Don’t Break the Bank

We’re looking for reliable, but it doesn’t have to be run-over-by-a-tank sturdy, and we only need it to at most illuminate the distances that are realistic for us based on our range of sight – not be seen from Mars.

*Range of sight = how far we can see before stuff’s in the way, not necessarily the effective range of our gun or personal shooting capabilities.


Mirrors can help us refine clearing skills, but cameras have added benefits. Even old flip phones usually let us record video, and can be connected to computers directly for reasonable review screen sizes. Many affordable little pocket digital cameras have video capabilities, too.

Use them to help identify how exposed we are as we practice house clearing, and to get a real count of how long we’re taking to do things like look, how risky that light is to us in varying deployments, and if we’re modifying our trigger speed to meet our accuracy needs in challenging conditions or letting trigger fingers run wild.  


If you have a gun for defense of any kind, particularly grid-down disasters without power and with greater delays or nonexistent 9-1-1 services, you must be practicing. Crazy as it seems, there is actually a difference between shooting one-handed, shooting one-handed with a light at a well-lit range, and actually using that light to identify and then engage a threat target whether it’s gun-mounted or hand-held.

Doing it well one way and in one setting does not necessarily translate.

We also want to practice our light maneuvers at home, in the dark, with little cues, because it’s easy to miss spots and how we angle that light can actually create big shadows for things to hide in, increasing the amount of time we leave it on and delaying identifications.

Go ahead and get a light and a stick some lovely evening and rush out into the yard, too, to save your crops/garden/pet/livestock from a pest or to fill pan and pantry even if you insist you would never risk leaving the house to check an odd noise.

Work fixes for the risk factors – to include turning yourself into a silhouette – and make sure it’s as feasible with your eyes, yard, household, and body as the ones who insist, oh, psh, nah, you don’t need no lights.

Form your own opinion, but make it an informed one, and then act on that.

Be sure to check out The Prepper Journal Store and follow The Prepper Journal on Facebook!

The post Run-n-Gun: Lights, Camera, Action appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

Why Do Preppers Need to Know Basic Plumbing?

13 Jun

Written by Wild Bill on The Prepper Journal.

As a homeowner I will be the first to admit that I would rather change out a 220v circuit breaker during a hurricane while knee deep in vermin filled flood waters than work on plumbing. But as a homeowner it is a required skill as the damage from leaks or broken pipes can be extensive so Megan Nichols shares her expertise with us..

And as a prepper it is a required skill to keep your water supply flowing, both in and out of your home, be it any day or in a hunker-down emergency.

However, when people are talking about prepping, the conversation usually centers on bunkers, food, water, medical supplies and skills and ammunition, but there’s one thing a lot of people leave out: plumbing. Knowing how it works, and how to repair it if it breaks, can be a valuable tool. Why do you need to know basic plumbing as a prepper, and what skills should you focus on?

Why You Should Learn Plumbing

First, it can save you a lot of money in the long run, even if the world doesn’t end. The average cost of calling a plumber can range from $45 to $200 an hour, so if you can fix leaks or repair running toilets yourself, you can save yourself a lot of cash.

If the world does end, you won’t have the option of calling a plumber, so you’ll need to be able to fix problems on your own.

Finally, plumbing is a fantastic skill you can barter for other goods or services. Chances are high that we’ll revert to a barter economy after the world ends, since money won’t mean much, so having applicable skills can ensure your survival in one of these situations.

Now that you know why you need to learn plumbing, what basic skills do you need to know?

Fixing a Leaky Faucet

A leaky faucet can cost you a lot of money if you’re still paying your water bill. If you’re not, it’s still a waste of a valuable resource you could run out of if the infrastructure collapses. First, figure out what type of faucet you have. Faucets come in four varieties — compression, cartridge, ceramic disc and ball. Once you know what kind you have, fixing a leak becomes easier.

Leaky compression faucets usually need new washers, while ball and cartridge models typically need new o-rings to prevent them from leaking. Ceramic disc faucets rely on neoprene seals that need to be removed and cleaned, so you don’t even need to worry about the hassle of finding new parts.

One leaky faucet could cost you upwards of 2,000 gallons of water a year, so fix it quickly.

Stopping Banging Pipes

If you’re in a situation where stealth is paramount, the last thing you want is your pipes banging in the walls every time you turn on a tap or flush the toilet. If the pipes aren’t fastened tightly enough, changes in water pressure can cause them to bang against one another and eventually wear out, causing leaks.

Thankfully, this is an easy fix. All you need to do is secure the pipes to prevent them from moving. If you can’t access them, installing water hammer arrestors can soften the changes in water pressure, preventing the banging.

Stopping a Running Toilet

Running toilets are just as annoying and wasteful as leaky faucets, so it’s important to fix them as quickly as possible. There are two possible leak points: the valve that empties water from the tank into the bowl, and the seal between the two pieces. The first repair is easy — just replace the flap. It should cost you less than $3 from your local hardware store and is something you can do in 10 minutes.

If the seal between the tank and bowl is leaking, you need to remove the two bolts holding the pieces together, then replace it. This is a bit harder, especially if the bolts have never been removed and are rusted in place, but it’s still a fairly simple repair.

Unclogging a Plugged Drain

Plugged drains are problematic and can even create a health hazard if they cause sewage to back up into your home. Clogs come in all shapes and sizes, from hair in the shower to roots growing through your sewage line. The first thing you need to do is figure out where the clog is. Sometimes this is easy — if your sink is backing up in the kitchen but everything else in the house is draining fine, chances are high the clog is somewhere between your sink and the main sewer line.

If everything is backing up, starting with the toilets, the problem is probably in your main drain line.

You’ve got a lot of options here. You might be able to clear small clogs with vinegar and baking soda — just like making a volcano in elementary school science class — or with commercially available drain cleaners. If this doesn’t work, you may have to snake the drain. We recommend including a 25-50-foot drain snake with different head attachments in your survival supplies. You may even have to disassemble it to clear out the blockage.

If you do take the drains apart, make sure you have everything you need to reassemble them once you’ve cleared the clog.

Repairing Water Heaters

Just because the world has ended doesn’t mean anyone wants to take a cold shower. Gas and electric water heaters provide warm water for bathing, washing dishes and doing laundry — but they don’t last forever. Knowing how to repair a water heater could earn you quite a bit in the barter system.

Thermostats and heating elements often fail, and getting new pieces could prove problematic if you don’t have the option to drive to Lowe’s or your local plumbing supply store. Heating elements usually fail because they get coated with a buildup of whatever minerals are in the water. You can restore the water heater by removing the elements, cleaning them off and replacing them. It’s not as good as installing new ones, but it will get the hot water flowing again.

Many problems can be fixed by just flushing the water heater to remove any buildup or sediment in the bottom of the tank.

While we’re not recommending practicing on your own water heater, knowing how to repair one could serve you well if everything falls apart.

How to Learn DIY Plumbing Skills

The easiest way to learn most of these skills is to start practicing. Fix that leaky faucet you’ve been ignoring for weeks, or flush out the water heater if your shower keeps getting cold before you have time to rinse the shampoo out of your hair. If you’re not sure how to do something, consult YouTube — there are tutorials there for nearly every repair you can think of.

Learning plumbing won’t just save you money — it can also be a valuable prepper skill you can trade for goods and services if we end up back on a barter system.

Be sure to check out The Prepper Journal Store and follow The Prepper Journal on Facebook!

The post Why Do Preppers Need to Know Basic Plumbing? appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

What’s Your Trigger Finger Doing?

11 Jun

Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

If our accuracy has plateaued or backslid, we may have picked up one of several finger habits. Two we can check for are resigning pacing to our fingers – versus eyes and brains – and the reset portion of our trigger pull. There are some self-check tests we can run for either, and drills that can help restore or engrain better control.

Some of those drills also have benefit for moving-target and stimulus-reaction training, solo or with a partner.

*Disclaimer now: While some of the following images display legitimate problems (particularly grip/finger placement issues), others may have just been caught mid-action. I do not mean to imply they have runaway or slap-happy fingers, I just needed to demonstrate the ideas.   

Coming Off the Trigger Between Shots

Sometimes shooters immediately, entirely and preemptively release the trigger.

Sometimes they only fling it all the way forward or break contact with the trigger in reset, leaving a gap. Sometimes they slide and contact the side of the trigger. Sometimes they immediately straighten the finger when they’re finished shooting.

We should absolutely be cognizant of breaking the magnetic attraction between fingers and the inside of the trigger guard. However, it needs to be a conditional, situationally aware, deliberate selection – not muscle memory.

One, if it’s jerky and too fast, it’s impacting our follow-through and shot placement. 

Two, sometimes we’re not actually done.

When we need those next shots, we can end up rushed and trigger pull suffers for it, with experienced shooters actually losing some of their longtime fundamentals and accuracy as a result.

Just like beginners who come off the trigger and real routinely slap it from the rush, far wider patterns and more chaotic patterns result.

Back up and return to some fundamentals drills now and again.

To combat it, here and there, run drills where you work each stage of trigger pull separately and distinctly. Choose when to break the shot, and when to reset, and when to disengage the trigger; don’t let the finger do it automatically.

(A lot of hunters – including archery – have no idea why that’s going to be a challenge for other types of shooters. Those make excellent finger-watching partners.)

Painfully slowly, ease that trigger back. Break the shot and pull through.

Stop, right there, trigger to the rear. Hold it. Count to random one-up numbers. “Now, I reset.”

Return to slack trigger just as deliberately.

* Dry fire and airsoft/BB gun practice is great if it’s good practice, but diagnose and work maintenance live fire, too.

Add-On: With the pull reinforced, randomly or in cycles, choose whether you’re taking another shot, or whether you’re coming off the trigger. Don’t only work mag-lock or single-shot drills.

(Choose if/when we’re returning to ready, too; don’t let arms decide when it’s time to chest cradle a gun or what ready position is safest – use the brain that makes us more than meat puppets.)

Some other time or later, go through the trigger press and reset in a smooth continuation, but slowly and deliberately and with distractions that engage the brain.

Count backwards from 97, mentally fill in a Sudoku box in some pattern, run through the alphabet backwards, work exponentials of 2, come up with synonyms or rhyming words… The distraction slows us down, engages multiple brain pathways, and helps embed the actions as synonymous with deliberate thought, not just muscle memory that may not actually serve us well.

Also practice taking a beat to actually assessing what’s around.  

A partner can hold a strong light or a laser on a target (and move it between targets) for variable amounts of time and a variable number of shots.

Or, use a cell phone/timer to create random, variable shot counts before we enter assessment and disengagement phases.

Not knowing exactly how many shot’s we’re firing, we stay ready to shoot after each. With a partner, we’re also watching to see if we’re actually clear, and if it stays clear.

That help train us to control our finger and hands/arms, not let them take over.

Problem 2: Shot Pacing Never Changes

For most practical shooting, we need to find a balance between “a lot to the everywhere” and “one shot, one kill” level of precision (“precision” in this case meaning “grow gray and die of old age between shots”).

Sure, sometimes close is enough to wing them, slow them down, make them duck – covering fire, right?

(Uhh …bystanders? …other responders? …flammable/explosives near the target?)

We’re looking for the marriage of speed and accuracy at varying distances, using our slow-fire and near-target groups as a baseline – not the bulls-eye or group size itself.

There are a lot of legitimate reasons that our patterns loosen up at “distance” – distance being variable platform to platform, shooter to shooter.

Sights/optics cover more of the “smaller” target resulting from distance, creating fundamental limits. Tiny and acceptable movements create angles, which get wider apart the further from us they go.

However, we can maintain our level of accuracy at distances, particularly “near” ranges (3-7 to 25-30 yards, or out to 50-75 for shotgun and 75-100 yards for reasonable base-level defensive rifle). It just requires more control, which typically translates to a slower rate of fire.

And that’s what we need to check: That our aim is off because of our inherent and real limitations, not due to runaway trigger finger.

Again, we want to remain in control. Our trigger finger doesn’t get to operate on autopilot.

Without a shot timer or editing software, determining the time between shots at different distances is difficult, particularly working at close range or with dot optics or lasers.

The better and faster a shooter is, the more difficult it gets. Regularly, though, if we record even just the sounds with a cell phone in our pockets, we can hear that there is a difference in the times between sets of shots.

Just like when we take a beat for that one perfect shot at the T or face or drop-dead triangle.

And that’s exactly how we test and practice it if we’re restricted to single-lane and-or single-depth ranges.

Create or buy targets with lollipops, boxes, bulls-eyes, silhouette or even animal shapes of different sizes. Or, for fence rail shooting, set up different sizes and shapes of boxes.

If you have multiple depths/lanes/targets available, by all means set up targets with 8.5”x11” paper stapled to them at reasonable distances for your engagements – handguns ranging 3-7, 10-15, 15-25+ yards; rifle from the same 5-7 yards or start at 15-25 yards going out to 50-100+.  

The further/smaller our target, the more perfectly aligned our sights need to be to avoid deviations.

Getting that alignment takes juuuuuust a little longer, and then juuuuuust a little longer still the tighter we need that shot to be.

If our finger is in control, working off a count timer, instead of our brains registering “now” as our sights align, it’s likely we won’t see a consistent pattern grouping for diagnostics.

But we can hear it, usually.

Review, and if all you’re hearing is a consistent pattern at the first 2-3 distances (past that, if you’re not hearing slowed pacing there, too, but usually it’s the next-closest and the one after that that really sees rushed shots), check the targets to see if your spread is acceptable and still in that letter paper or dessert plate we need.

If not, concentrate on making those clean shots, not just quick ones.

The goal is to engage the bad guy as quickly as possible (or shoot as much dinner as possible; I’m easy).

“Engage” means hit him. “As quickly as possible” means “only as fast as we can land solid hits”.

Sometimes just blanketing an area in lead is okay. Mostly, our target is not the only thing downrange, and we really need our target to drop before they get closer/further.

Too, we need to be able to make that hip-neck-T/triangle/disconnect shot when we’ve determined center mass is not working.

If our finger is used to being in charge, running as fast as it can regardless of our sight picture because we got used to shooting at a certain speed, we can’t make those shots when we need them. We need to know if that’s a problem, so we can correct it.

(The first issue’s fix-it drills can help there, too.)

Habit vs. Control

Muscle memory is great, until it’s not. When training for practical scenarios, whether it’s hunting, self- and home-defense, or some kind of combat, we have to be especially cognizant of what we’re embedding.

Especially if we also shoot sports, with the habits they can instill, we need to spend time on practical practice and engage our brains to avoid having those habits become life threatening to us or others.

Taking control from a trigger finger both in when and how we get off the trigger, and when certain levels of accuracy is required – and slowing down or speeding back up, deliberately, target by target – is a huge part of that. It’s something many shooters either never develop, or actually lose as they fall into the rhythms and ruts of habit.  

A little practice here and there is all it takes, but work them live fire as well as dry. These are both cases where our actual habits tell most at the range, with actual bangs and projectiles punching patterns that don’t lie.

Be sure to check out The Prepper Journal Store and follow The Prepper Journal on Facebook!

The post What’s Your Trigger Finger Doing? appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

Upcycling for Preppers – Pool Noodles

5 Jun

Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

Fear not, you’re not going to see cutesy flowers, beer floats, or kiddie obstacle courses. Pool noodles have way more practical things to offer, whether we’re re-purposing a Star Wars party’s light sabers, scraps from assembling lightweight and challenging shooting targets, or buying fresh.

They’re handy enough, it’s worth keeping an eye out for end-of-summer salvage or even hitting a Dollar Tree to keep a few on hand – and nice and neat, if we can source one of my all-time salvages, the humble and versatile shipping pallet or DVD rack.

While cruising through, keep alternative resources of the same basic type in mind, like conduit insulation. Also keep in mind similar-shape goodies like wrapping paper and paper towel rolls, and items that are nowhere near the same, but can very well perform the same or similar functions, like plastic bottles.

Sometimes there are far less expensive ways to do things, and pool noodles really qualify only if they’re already there looking for a job to do. Sometimes, though, they or a similar chunk or tube of foam really is best.


These guys excel at protecting stuff from crashes and rubs.

In an emergency, some of damages might not be worth fretting – like cord rubbing paint off a car while lashing everything it will hold to the top. While we’re building up to that disaster, though, it doesn’t hurt. And sometimes, that damage is more than cosmetic – like if it’s the cord fraying with every bump and jostle.

Squeeze them between furniture and walls, pad the rockers on a rocking chair that pinches toes or scrapes walls, and keep from dinging doors or bumpers against stuff in the garage. Wad them under sofas to keep pet or kiddie toys from accumulating underneath, or to discourage small animals from getting under there and then higher up into the furniture.

Bumpers are also handy while we’re rearranging houses, or we can attach them to a cart somebody uses indoors to offset physical limitations.

While we’re padding things around the house, consider keeping a split noodle available if you sit on the edge of a tub/shower with a track for a door to bathe kids or animals.  

And, #1 Mostest-Importantest Bumper Ever: Ceasing the attacks on toes by vicious bed frames.

(Seriously. You need 12” of a $1 noodle to never do the gasping flamingo getting dressed or making the bed again. That is an incredible return on the investment.)

Another really awesome one is cutting out the shape of your tow hitch to save shins.

Handy Holders

While we’re more in the “convenience” vein than grrr-survival stuff, slice another foot or so and then cut a flat side and slit pathway through the length to hold playing cards or tiles from games like Tsuro.

It’s useful for injuries, old age, and little kids (and obnoxious games), and works if you make yourself some cardboard/pasteboard Scrabble or Dominoes while bunkering in somewhere.

People also do versions where they use just a slice, and there’s an alternate where you use old CDs/DVDs and a binder clip, but one of the things I like most about the long holders is that you can play while you eat or shell peas/beans, etc., without constantly picking up and putting down the cards or tiles.

(If there’s not a pool noodle handy, Lego and Lincoln Logs work a treat, or you can split some sticks to tie together.)

On a more practical side, pool noodles also give us a helping hand with paintbrushes.

That quick holder is also handy for preventing contact (cross-pollination) when you’re using paintbrushes to hand-pollinate squashes and melons to protect the seed line, boost harvest, or because they’re indoors or covered in mesh due to pest threats.

Also In The Garden…

Use them as fills and to increase drainage in pots, or to hold reservoir space in sub-irrigated planters. They’re also handy-dandy root pods or floats for rafts in aquaponics or hydroponics systems.

I’m more inclined to use the very many options involving plastic bottles and fast-fill slow-release irrigation in the garden, but we can poke holes in pool noodles (cap the ends) to create sprinklers or, if we can control the water pressure, slow soaker hoses.

The sprinkler adaptation is also plenty handy as an animal or foot wash or cool-down station.

Cut into spirals, they can also help protect our young garden trees (and stakes) from animals and tool bumps/mowers.

In aquaculture or aquaponics – or when fishing – they can be attached to laundry baskets or simple frames covered in netting for breeding seclusion, segregating adults and fingerlings, or purging harvest-able fish, or as a live fish basket to keep everybody fresh until we’re ready to go home.

Speaking of Fishing…

Since pool noodles float, they are absolute winners for anybody on the water. Cut a slice to loop onto key chains or a short segment to balance small flashlights or fillet knives, glasses cases, or anything else valuable.

It’s also fast and easy to attach them to poles themselves. Go as simple or as “pretty” as you like with it.

There are all kinds of ways to make jugs and bobbers or buoys out of them – some of which are adaptable to bottles, but some of which see real benefits using pool noodles. 

A few inches of pool noodle can help keep hooks out of trouble and lines from tangling between poles. A few feet, and we can keep whole racks of poles neat and tidy and ready for the next trip.

This video showcases a few additional uses for anglers, and highlights some of pool noodles’ specific benefits perfectly. (Yes, it’s the second of a series. No, I did not watch the first; this one had what I was looking for).

Remember to be adaptable – The video above showcases fishing gear, but hollowed out a little more, longer, shorter, or using an alternative like cardboard rolls, the same premises apply to other gear as well, off the water as well as on it.

A little slice with some strategic divots can prop our phones for hands-free DIY follow-along if we find something we like.

Back at Base Camp

Pool noodles are light enough with flexible enough storage options (like padding breakables in a bag or the microwave plate in an RV during travel), they can be toted easily, then unpacked to serve as water catchment “gutters” or to make lines and poles more visible and protect toes from those, too, if they’re as vicious as bed frames.

They can protect us from vicious segments of RV pop-outs, too.

There are limitations, but a pool noodle or three can also make for some handy insulation for hookups if temperature drops unexpectedly or something happens to our kit. (That applies to other outdoor hoses as well.)

Two Wheeling It

While staying in shape, saving fuel, or scouting and practicing for a bugout, throw a pool noodle on your bike – whichever side traffic is going to be passing on.

Drivers won’t be any happier about sharing the road with cyclists, but there’s some compelling anecdotal evidence that they do give riders a bigger berth with that visual reminder sticking out at them, and stay better aware of bike traffic.

The noodle is flexible enough that if it does get bumped, it’s no worse than being passed at 35-80 mph by a truck.

Be smart about it, though, and arrange a cup holder or hook somewhere so you can pull it and brace it for a little while if you’re maneuvering around slower vehicle traffic or alongside pedestrians.

Shorty Adaptable Hose

Not everybody has a faucet that’s convenient for filling buckets. Instead of buying adapters, try a $1-$2 pool noodle. Most have plenty of sealant on the interior to prevent messes.

Do keep a hand on that puppy, though, or use wire tires, a clamp, tape, etc. to keep it in that bucket if you’re going to step away.

(I see people who’ve affixed it to the faucet; that has never actually been my problem.)

They can also work as quickie extensions for pumps and other hoses that don’t quite reach.

Doors Stoppers x2

They’re not great on carpet and heavier draft stoppers are more effective, but for regularly used doors, pool noodles can work really well either in pairs connected by fabric or sliced down the length to clamp around the bottom of a door.

They’re also handy in keeping doors from closing all the way, whether it’s to keep pets from locking themselves in the cool bathroom or basement, or to make it easier to repeatedly open a door while carrying loads in or out.

Wiggle that slice on the side with the hinges instead of the knob to keep a door from shutting at all.

Pool Noodles for the Save

I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest pool noodles can pull of quite as much as shipping pallets, empty bottles, or wire coat hangers, but they can check an awful lot of boxes for us, pre-planned because they’re just that good at something – like padding, floating, or spiral cutting to use as instantly expanding-contracting binders for pipe, stakes, and light handles – or filling a need that crops up because they happen to be available.

As spacers they can help us create stackable grates for drying projects or dehydrating food, or inexpensive light-duty shelving.

Float a small net or a foraging basket, create stall bumpers, or mod a hoe or rake into a squeegee or broom. Pad crutches after an accident, protect windows or siding from shutters that rattle, or silence a bed frame.

The list for how we can use inexpensive pool noodles is pretty expansive way before we get to the many ways people use them for babies or highly questionable uses like padding a porta-potty bucket “seat” or using them instead of hose or ABS/PVC for garden hoops.

Cheap, versatile, easy to source, fairly durable depending on use, and easy to work with for the not-quite-DIY’er. What more could we ask for in a prep?

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The post Upcycling for Preppers – Pool Noodles appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

If Only….

4 Jun

Written by Wild Bill on The Prepper Journal.

If only we had to deal with such a problem….we all hope to have this problem BUT it does bring things one must be prepared to deal with to survive.

How to Survive Winning the Lottery

So, you hold a winning ticket in your hand, and the shock has yet to set in. What next?

Winning the lottery is one of the best things that can happen to you, but only if you do it right. Just take a moment to imagine life after winning millions. Your name would be available to the public, and you may have to make a press appearance or two. Even if you don’t, most of the people around you will know you won. You’re an instant celebrity, and your life is now open and public. As a prepper, likely living a rather private and secluded life, a lot will change.

Of course, the next question is what to do with the earnings? What is the best way to spend so much money, particularly when it comes to prepping for future events? Should you trust a bank? Should you hold onto cash yourself? Are there better ways to invest, or is that something you should stay away from altogether?

More importantly, where do you go from here?

Consider Your Anonymity

After realizing you won, but before turning in your ticket, there is something you should consider. Most state lotteries require winners to claim their earnings publicly. However, a handful of states allow winners to remain anonymous if they so choose. Those states include Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, Ohio, North Dakota and South Carolina. Arizona, Georgia, Texas and New Hampshire also allow some form of anonymity.

If you live in one of the aforementioned states, then you can decide whether or not to go public about your win. But if you live in another state — California and Wisconsin prohibit anonymity altogether — you will have to claim your win in front of everyone.

Even if the option is not available, this is something to consider before turning in a ticket. Understand how your life may change after coming forward, and what that means for your prepping journey.

Hire Some Help

Unless you’re already a millionaire with a trusted circle of advisers, you’re going to need some. As soon as you can, look into hiring an attorney, financial adviser and an accountant. The attorney will deal with escrow, legal and public affairs. The financial adviser will help invest and safely store your money. The accountant will help with a new budget as well as tax and IRS requirements.

No matter what you plan to do with the money, enlisting help is one of the best things you can do to ease any stress or additional burdens you might incur. Plus, it’s rare that people really know how to handle that much money. That’s why 70% of people who receive a big sum of money end up broke a few years after.

Know Your Plan

Preppers always think ahead, which means you probably have a five or ten-year plan in motion. Follow that plan, just speed it up a little thanks to all the new funds. If you were planning to acquire some property or a home in the next few years, get it now. If you planned to outfit your existing property with a bugout shelter and supplies, push up the timeline.

The best part of prepping is that you’re always ready for what’s coming next. It’s likely you already have everything in place to survive as-is, so you technically don’t need much more.

Sticking to your plan, despite the money, will not just keep you on track, but it will also keep you alive if something does happen in the middle of all this.

Where to Keep Your Money

With that much money, there’s no need to keep it all in one place, but you don’t want to trust the banks to hold onto it either. In an emergency situation, everyone knows that the banks will be one of the first places to be hit, not just by criminals and thieves but by all kinds of panicking people too. And anything in a bank is within easy reach of the government

It’s safer to have the money set aside already. So, where do you keep it?

Cryptocurrency is popular these days, but it’s not a good idea as far as prepping is concerned. If and when the grid goes down it’s basically useless — as are most paper currencies including federal bonds and cash.

The best way to invest the money as a prepper would be to roll it into your real estate or property, hide away some cash just in case, or purchase precious metals. If not metals than trade goods and supplies that you can use to barter when society goes to hell.

As for hiding spots for the cash, the obvious place would be somewhere in your bugout shelter. At the least, make sure it’s close enough to your exit that you can grab it quickly on the way out. The last thing you want to do is forget any cash or valuables you have stored because you’re in a hurry. You’ll need them to barter.

Watch Out for Greed


Money does some weird things to people, especially huge lottery sums. Family, friends and acquaintances might come calling, asking for money they didn’t earn. Strangers might show up on your doorstep begging for charity. Others still might hide malicious intent, like targeting you with a lawsuit.

Unfortunately, all of these things come with the territory. You need to understand that it will happen and you need to be prepared. Learn to say “no,” especially when it’s about something you don’t want to do. Only give away or share what you’re truly willing to lose. Do your best to hunker down, especially during the weeks after winning, and stay away from the public world for a while. If you’re lucky, most people will forget what happened.

This is also where having a plan in place helps. If you know how you plan to spend and invest your money in advance, you are in a better position to turn away others or refuse offers.

Take it in Stride

Winning the lottery doesn’t have to be a death sentence for your old way of life. It will change some things, sure, but if you play your cards right you won’t live any differently, and that’s a good thing.

For starters, stick to your prepping plans, including those you had for a buying property or installing a shelter and then outfitting it with supplies. The great part about having more money is that you can speed up the entire process and even add some extra here and there.

Hire some help as soon as possible. You’ll need an accountant and attorney at the very least, but a financial adviser is also a safe bet as long as YOU, and not them, retain full and singular control of execution of expenditures.

Finally, try to invest or spend the money on things that would hold valuable after a disaster or emergency. A little cash is okay, but you don’t want to keep all your currency in cash and you certainly don’t want to store it at a bank.

If you do these things, you should be well on your way to surviving a major lottery win!

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