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.

Kebabs

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.

Pizza

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.

Steak

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.

S’mores

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.

Mobility vs Armored: Which is Better?

10 Jul

Written by Wild Bill on The Prepper Journal.

Survival is more of an art than a science and there are as many opinions on the “right” way to do it as there are preppers. While everyone isn’t certain they have the final answer, the truth is, no one really knows because the showdown, apocalypse, calamity, SHTF, disaster, fall of America, whatever you want to call it, hasn’t happened yet. Since it hasn’t happened yet, and reliable prophets are few and far between, there is no way of knowing what kind of situation you’ll find yourself in when it arrives.

If history has taught us anything it is that the earliest ones to recognize the coming change will be mocked and chastised by the masses, and persecuted by those bringing about the coming changes. It will be subtle, covert and matter of fact as the spin is set into motion. A transgression here used to quell the first flash points by complicit and coordinated judgement by the 5th estate, supported by the social media infrastructure we see as more benevolent that would George Orwell. History abounds with such grant illusions, the sheep in denial until slaughter is inescapable. The government of Venezuela has been killing its citizens for months, do you see that on the news or do you see the latest tweet from some troll elected to Congress by a disconnected populace?

Since we all like planning for vacations and trying to get the best travel bargains so should we also be trying to plan ahead for the long term when it all goes south. That means you need to consider which option is better for you and your family. Should you hunker down in an armored bunker and ride out the storm? Or, should you opt to be mobile so you can stay one step ahead of the storm? (taking into consideration the lessons of the Golden Horde, of course.)

Armor Up

If you’ve ever been in the military you might be familiar with the saying among tank crews about scratching each other’s backs. This happened a lot in Vietnam, where a VC would wait until a tank got right up close to them. When it was close enough they would jump up on the tank and try to stuff a grenade or something down the hatches. They were locked of course; after all, what good is armor if you leave the door open?

Then a second tank would radio in that they were going to scratch the back of the first tank with the VC on it. The second tank would hose down the first tank with machine gun fire until all the enemies were gone. They knew the crew inside the first tank was safe behind all that armor so they could fire away.

Is that your goal?

A heavily armored bunker dug deep in the ground with limited access in or out, is a tough nut to crack. When the balloon goes up you’ll be safe and sound behind steel and concrete walls while the world tears itself apart outside. This is an especially good option if the outside world is engaged in a war of all against all. Widespread guerrilla warfare, mainly dependent on small arms, doesn’t generally include the use of the kind of heavy-duty explosives that could breach an armored bunker.

Properly constructed and camouflaged, your bunker might not even be noticed during that type of conflict. Once all the heavy fighting is over or has moved out of your area, you can emerge with all your own firepower intact and ready for action.

Staying Mobile

But what if a situation develops where two large enemies are fighting it out with heavy artillery and bunker buster bombs, going after anyone who won’t declare for their side? In a case like that, you might want to get out of Dodge. That means you need to stay mobile.

Wherever the fighting is, you need to be somewhere else. If you’re in a jeep or truck of some kind you’ll have to sleep in a tent or portable shelter at night. If you’re running in an RV, then you’ll be sleeping in your RV when you have the chance.

An RV is certainly an attractive choice since it has so much storage room inside and acts as a home away from home when you’re on the road. It is also clearly a civilian vehicle, one of the millions on the road, which allows you to perhaps hide in plain sight, lost in the crowd. Any military style vehicle will draw unwanted attention but an RV, the vehicle of choice for aging (and “harmless”) snowbirds, will have a much greater chance of letting you fly under the radar. 

Now driving one while armed to the teeth, decked out head-to-toe in camo and wearing your body armor might make yo boil to the top of the “harmless” crowd, but having all those items at the ready affords a measure of confidence, and preparedness that, as preppers, give us some comfort.

Staying Healthy in the Apocalypse

Weapons, armor, and mobility aside, you need to stay healthy while the world around you is eating itself. Water first, a well-stocked medical cabinet and first aid supplies is next, of course. After that, you need to ensure your and your family have a balanced diet, enough to last for several months during the initial unrest, then a good supply of seeds to grow your own food after that.

And son’t forget the value of sleep. Sleep deprivation is a well-known tactic for wearing down prisoners. Don’t do that to yourself with primitive sleeping quarters or rotten mattresses that kill your back. When it comes to survival, you need to be bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and bring back a sense of balance to a world that has gone crazy.

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

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Modern Minuteman – Wilderness Skills

3 Jul

Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

Editor’s Note: As we prepare to celebrate our Republics 243rd birthday what could be more appropriate than a third installment of R. Ann Parris’s Minuteman series?

From the most localized and lowest-level threats like rioting and looting, to major upsets that see individuals band together to usurp a larger, well-organized threat, how we deploy and for how long in what types of environments affect the skills most useful for us. That includes the survivalist skills we see listed so often.

They’re great to have, but as with learning them for general preparedness, what gets top billing for our time and income is largely situationally dependent.

Continuing the framework of my skillsets articles, I’m not focusing on how-to or subsets of the skills listed here. Instead, I’m offering a yes-no-maybe answer to the question of whether these in particular apply to preppers who are thinking about preparing for a minuteman role.

Land Navigation

I hit orienteering and pace counts in a former article. It’s only a “maybe” for compass-map skills (based on location/terrain) and a definite “yes” for pace counts (across the board, everywhere). You can check out my reasoning’s here https://www.theprepperjournal.com/2019/05/31/modern-minuteman-yes-no-maybe-skillsets/.

Primitive Shelters

Maybe.

If our AO is somewhere with large tracts between friendly shelter, sure. A tarp isn’t always enough, even combined with the ability to get up off the ground.

If we can’t rest, and if we’re burning calories shivering, our bodies and minds wear down. If we’re not crossing those tracts, though, spend the time honing something more universally applicable.

Fires

Nah, not so much – particularly alternative and primitive fire starting.

Again, some scenarios and some personal situations form exceptions. As minutemen we’re probably going to be operating fairly close to home and for limited periods of time – hours on duty, days on post or in transit.

Yeah, there are times and certain climates where a fire is the only way to dry things or stay warm, but it’s far from universal, especially today, and it’s hugely dependent on our area of operations.

And, yeah, even today some militaries lean heavily on stoves and fuel tabs with rations.

Mostly, though, they can keep warm with gear and eat cold/dry chow. So can we.

If we do need flame, largely a pill bottle or coin purse kit holding matches and a lighter that’s kept inside the clothes on a lanyard and a couple of candles will do the job to keep us warm or get a fire going enough to dry each load of wood combined with a tarp or cave-like shelter.

They do it with less effort (calorie expenditure, sweat/dehydration) and less time than primitive fire-making methods, and lessen the risk of exposure from larger fires.

Foraging Wild Foods

Maybe, but mostly “nah”.

I’m a huge proponent of wild foods, and the ability to source and cultivate wild foods – now, as well as for emergency situations. Mostly, though, whether we want to include small game hunting and trapping, fishing and fish traps, or only plants, how often are we expecting to get cut off far enough, deep enough, that we can’t push through with whatever our everyday carry and patrol pack contains?

Particularly as minutemen?

And, particularly as minutemen, how is it we plan to accomplish this foraging?

Go ahead and picture any given scenario(s) you like.

We’re urban moseying through streets in Gray Man attire with nondescript bag, or leaving our rural homestead for the dunes/woods/slopes/fields.

We could even being going “Red Dawn” in our heads, living out there in the wilds with our bushcraft set and our insurgency kits.

We’re in full combat load out with our mask in place, weapon of choice slung or in hand, multi-day pack to settle in for sniping and harassment or just because we’re heading 6-8+ hours away (so no matter how quick our action, we’re on our own for a while), or just our day patrol pack.

And now we’re foraging.

We’re either balancing these bags and whatever else we have to stoop and snag some chow or set up for animal proteins, or we’re staging our gear – stripping to our musette back or day pack, with or without a primary weapon if it’s there, with or without a sidearm or slingshot.

We’re either not making much headway, or have halted completely – making none – and in some scenarios we ditched our bag or propped our rifle, cutting ourselves off from the gear we decided we had to have available when we packed that bag.

The further away from it we get, the more vulnerable we become to losing it entirely, while also doubling the chances that somebody sees signs of a person operating in this area (us+bag versus the combo).

If we’re setting snares or fishing yoyo’s instead of air gun hunting or plant foraging, we have to then go back through to collect them before we move on.

Sure, there are times it’s more than possible to easily balance the two directives – food and distance.

I can readily snag berries to drop in my canteen cup in its pouch or the open jar in my cargo pocket, munch as I go, or pull my pellet gun to pop a squirrel that waits in my drop pouch. Not a major delay, readily possible in even a full winter combat load and pack, and depending on my scenario, maybe some fresh foods are totally worth it.

If I have to forage for chow, though, it takes time.

Not only is there time spent collecting, I regularly have to process that chow, which may require more water than I have on me and-or a fire – which means I’m either toting my fire, or I have to stop earlier yet to make that fire.

We also have to weigh how many calories we’re burning fetching those foods and preparing them versus how many we consume.

There are scenarios where, yeah, being able to source some food is huge.

Particularly since so many of the applications for modern minuteman deployment have us in relatively normal situations with portable foods, and-or operating near home or work, it’s mostly just not necessary.

Unless your scenario has you way-way out akin to armies on the march and out of or tired of their basic rations, operating close to home means the ability to deploy with jerky, crackers, last night’s biscuits or bannock, a canning jar of stew, dried fruit, etc.

Augmenting as we’re stopped or passing anyway is great, but as far as necessary skill sets for minuteman service … nah.

What is valuable, though, today’s everyday localized disasters to major upsets and crises, is the ability to…

Source Safe Water

Especially in urban and suburban situations, not just trekking the woods and rural retreat properties, absolutely and emphatically, yes.

The rationale for doubling down on water skills is a nigh-on endless list.

  • Dehydration saps decision making and physical capabilities long before hunger, heat, or cold.
  • Utilities are enormously vulnerable to natural or man-made disasters that affect power or the infrastructure itself.
  • Utilities and specifically water systems (city water, wells, or springs) are vulnerable to all sorts of contamination’s – human and animal wastes from backups and floods, deliberate sabotage, chemical spills from factories and trains/ships/trailers.

  • While some pressure remains in systems initially, the longer a situation goes on, the more our pressure and-or residual contents decrease.
  • Wells can run low enough to suck air and springs can drop to trickles, even if we have all the parts and skills we need to keep pumps running indefinitely despite power disruptions.
  • Water distribution and supplies are quickly exhausted even in otherwise “normal, functioning” society right here in the U.S., without any other disruption in services besides water.
  • The denser the population and further downstream/downhill our location, the more contaminants and disasters that can affect our water supply.

  • Very few of us carry around enough water at all times to cover our needs and the needs of any partners with us at any given moment for 8-12 hours of exertion, let alone 2-3 days.
  • Roof type and bird presence greatly affect just how safe water catchment may be to drink, and how much filtration/treatment it requires.
  • With authorities focused on bigger fish to fry (or, the cause for us manning our positions in the first place), distribution of water supplies may take a low priority – or, be available only in limited areas and limited quantity, in some cases with reduced ability to send representative(s) without leaving our position(s) vulnerable.

  • In dry seasons, natural waterways can already be few and far between in backcountry … and in pastures/fields.
  • By disaster, and previous disaster, dams may fail or end up low, decreasing reservoir levels and the overflows/control flows that normally feed area creeks, canals, and spring lenses.
  • If we’re actively engaged in combat operations or hunkering in to avoid detection, we may not be able to detour to planned water sources.
  • Travel impediments can affect how much distance we’re making (total time expended) and the effort it’s taking, increasing our need for water and decreasing our ability to tap expected sources.

Absolutely embrace the potential that as modern minutemen we may “only” be defending our block of Baltimore or Koreatown, or may be well able to withstand life at our rural retreat. By all means, apply everyday operations by grunts afield.

However, also acknowledge that the very idea of a modern minuteman suggests life has hit a hitch, and that Uncle Murphy usually laughs last and longest. Those grunts have a big system moving bottles and buffaloes around, and a five-cent part can disrupt water from our faucets.

Take some time to learn the signs of water and how to access it when we can’t see it, how to make it safe, and how we’d transport it from one building or floor or rural/woods location to another if our partners are over there dehydrating.

Wilderness Survival for Minuteman Deployment

Because we’re all different, in very different areas with very different situations to consider, the ways we anticipate participating as a citizen soldier varies. That means the skills we need to be effective vary, too.

(Editor’s Note: A comment on “photojournalism – there were no “Koreatown, LA Riots in 1992”, there was the Rodney King Riot in 1992, where the business owners in the area of  Los Angeles known as “Koreatown” armed themselves to the teeth, barricaded their business and stood guard, ready to shoot any looters or people attempting to do damage to their businesses or hurt their families. As a result the area was untouched, passed by by the criminals who set fires and destroyed property throughout Watts and Los Angeles. A lesson still not learned by so many. In that same area today would they not all be arrested on one of the endless weapons charges that have popped up since?

Nowhere is that truer than the wilderness and survival skills we might require.

There’s too much to do to try and cover it all, particularly all at once while also balancing daily life and other preps. Think through specific situations, and current capabilities. Whittle the many lists that exist down to highest priority, and concentrate on the things that have the most application in the most scenarios.

Work what’s most likely to be needed and used first and foremost, for us specifically as individuals, and expand later on.

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

The post Modern Minuteman – Wilderness Skills appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

OMG, Now What?

26 Jun

Written by Wild Bill on The Prepper Journal.

While we all hope to never have to make the decision to use deadly force to defend ourselves and our loved ones, it happens everyday somewhere and with an opposition party in the USA that incites and advocates violence, hate and criminality in the place of reasoned debate and an open mind, criminals may not always be that person kicking in your front door.

From road rage escalating to flag burning to destruction of public and private property to the assault on our history, the flash points can be anywhere and escalation is sometimes impossible to control.

The Christian approach of “turning the other cheek” can often result in that one getting struck as well or worse. 

“How Did This Start?”

Always the first question, how did this start, how did it escalate so quickly, how did it come to this? This is also the map of the trail that is going to play out in your life going forward. Like the 5 steps of grief each must be examined under a microscope and defined ad nauseum before moving on to the next step.

The temptation to find self guilt in your actions will be real, no matter what endless keyboard warriors and armchair quarterbacks claim. Every soldier and every police officer goes through the same process, or lies about it. 

And this is your most dangerous time, as you try and process what happened those tasked with determining what happened will not give you the time to process your actions. Memories go stale and get convoluted by time and distance from any event. And every word spoken in that first hour will haunt you forever, set the trail map mentioned above and map out where things will go from there. This is your most vulnerable period.

“MAKE IT STOP!”

When someone escalates a confrontation to the level of using deadly force every one who has faced this, including professionals like police officers and soldiers, has the same gut reaction – NOT to shoot to kill, but to shoot to make it stop. That they may be one and the same is situational. This is why your first reaction is to keep pulling the trigger until it doesn’t go “bang” anymore, why suspects in armed confrontations with police are often shot multiple times. It isn’t some macho thing, it is preservation of self and loved ones. It is subduing the threat. 

I for one blame the mind-numbing desensitization of this on the media, from the old westerns of the post WWII period to the movies to TV news who refuse to show the reality. (Thank goodness Sam Peckinpah finally showed up.)

If you take nothing from this article other than to make your first statement as to what happened “I shot to make it stop!” as opposed to “I shot to kill” then I will have provided some value. 

Remember, the Police Want to Go Home that Night too

To quote Hans Gruber from the first Die Hard Movie “Relax, police intervention was inevitable….” And it will be in your case should you be involved in any self-defense using firearms.

Understand that they are responding to an “active shooter situation” and are clueless as to who shot who or why when they arrive BUT will engage, with gunfire, anyone they see with a gun, so, if the threat has been neutralized by you, make sure to holster or put down your weapon before they kick in your door and keep your hands in clear sight. And answer from cover and then follow their demands. They will arrest you and handcuff you and take your weapon. So would you if you were in their role. They want the situation completely defused, the same “make it stop” mindset.

Do not, under any circumstances pass the weapon you used to anyone else, not a trusted family member, no one. It is now a crucial piece of evidence in your defense and you do not want it convoluted by others fingerprints, etc.

Lawyer Up

No matter how justified, no matter how many witnesses, get professional council immediately. Look into Texas Law Shield or USCCA now, before you need it. There are others, these are the two I have used, and still do. KNOW what they do and do not provide.

Know also that it only takes one prosecutor looking to make a name for him or her self and further a political career to make a justified shooting in self defense into a jumping off point for their gain, at your expense. And don’t lose site of the fact that criminals have families and they can hire lawyers too and they have a complicit media always willing to give them public voice. 

Now is NOT the time to tell your side of events other than to state you were assaulted and you want your lawyer.

The ten (10) things NOT to do are:

  • Call 911 in a Panic
  • Leave the scene
  • Move or tamper with evidence
  • Have your gun in your hand
  • Make a statement to police without your lawyer
  • Fall for the “good cop/bad cop” routine
  • Try your case on the spot with them
  • Lecture them on “your rights”
  • Fail to address them as either “sir or officer”
  • Be surprised if you are treated as a criminal

In a society so over-burdened with laws by so many governing agencies you can be assured you have broken at least on law, if not several, in your act of self defense. For example most cities make it a crime to discharge a weapon within their limits, no matter the reason. The list could be long. Even if the city doesn’t have that law, the county may, or you may be withing a restricted distance to a school, government facility, and on and on. 

Consider simply stating “My gun is laying over there, and that is the gun that I used to shoot my attacker in self defense because I feared for my life. I do not want to say anything else until I have had time to talk to my attorney. I want to cooperate with the investigation completely, but I’m very upset right now and I need to talk to my attorney first. I hope you understand.”

Believe me, if you can say the above in a clear controlled voice you are better than 90% of you fellow citizens who will be traumatized by the situation. Taking a life is a necessary evil sometimes, but it is never easy, and you will never be the same.

Better to be judged by 12 than carried by six, you will be judged. Try and not be your harshest critic and seeking professional counseling is not a sign of weakness.

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

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Modern Minuteman – Yes-No-Maybe Skillsets Vol. 2

25 Jun

Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

Many aspects of the Modern Minuteman toolbox apply to preparedness in general, however personal and small-scale or widespread and earth shaking our pet disasters may be. As with overall preparedness, our exact situation and our expectations of disaster scenarios affects what we prioritize for our finite time and attention.

Last time, I concentrated on an “early/now” frame for prioritizing a handful of commonly recommended skills. This time, I’m actually taking the “at all” perspective, be it amped-up community watches, riot control, or some NWO-EROL situation we’re gearing up to oppose.

As always, opposing opinions are welcome. The more perspectives available, the better everyone is able to make their own decisions.

Gauge Community Climate

Absolutely and emphatically, yes.  

Heaven help me, I recently found myself agreeing with Nancy Pelosi. A group of students approached her in her office to express their displeasure in her lack of support for an AOC environmental bill. Her reply was essentially that stupid to waste time on something with absolutely zero chance of passing.

That was a fair enough point on its own, and speaks directly to taking the pulse of a population.

Even more so was a nugget that made fewer news sites in the following days: The belief that trying to push too-extreme an agenda – however much she personally might agree with it – was worse than doing nothing at all. It would only further ruffle feathers, making things harder to achieve the next time around.

I’m no more fan of politicians than the next, but the ability to accurately predict and read the masses is something that we do need to be aware of if we have any interest whatsoever in being a citizen soldier.

What the community will stand and what they won’t is the bedrock of insurgency and resistance movements.

What they will and won’t stand in good times, versus crux moments and tragedy, historically makes or breaks those movements, as well as the hold over a community by a commanding force – whether that’s a large, visible government with policing agents and military, or the behind-the-scenes types large and small. 

It applies to anticipating and either preventing or responding to something like a riot or demonstration, as well as guerrilla actions against occupations and undermining strongholds of loyalists for either/any faction.

Large scale, long-term or single-event short-term, we have to be able to gauge the mood of the mob and the climate of our communities, and our reactions have to come from a complete tool set – not just picking today’s hammer.

If we can’t, our chances of success are downright nil.

Denial & Disruption

Most emphatically, yes.

Riot control on sidewalks or countering the jackboot takeover, we want to be able to deny our enemy intel and assets, and disrupt their way of doing business (and ability to relax).

That can take all sorts of forms – and has, throughout history.

Interdiction and harassment take so many forms, it really rates its own set of articles even to nutshell the tactics and techniques employed by insurgency and resistance in guerrilla operations, community and large-force counters to guerilla operations, and even law enforcement and IT deterrents large and small, and internal policing by law enforcement and militaries and even lowly little small-business operations, as well as force-on-force operations from pre-tech eras to modern times.

On the larger scales, it involves all sorts of supply and travel disruptions, misinformation/counter-intel, harassing fire, false flags, etc.

Many of those can also be applied on the smallest of scales – even interpersonal conflict and self-defense situations – employing different techniques to the same theories, or adapting techniques to fit conditions.

Again, though, we really want to mind the effects on and reactions of our internal and closest-ties allies (family, coworkers, partners), the near neighbors, and the community at large, as well as our opposition and the reactions of their varying rings of influence.

Wilderness & Military Camp Setup

Yes, absolutely – anywhere.

Site development and placement of elements – modern or long past – have a lot of aspects that apply to preparedness in general, even “just” getting through a hurricane and “just” setting up our homes for everyday functional efficiency and security.

The same aspects keep them relevant to a modern minuteman intending to defend storefronts or residential communities from riots as well as the prepper who anticipates infantry-like service defending freedom.  

Positioning for ready communication, rapid responses, protection of key elements, LOS, external observation points, latrines/sanitation, deployment outside the wire and-or green zones, individual safety and incoming-fire cover, fire safety, supply distribution, and awareness of known effective ranges by position and armament all factor in.

They apply equally to both the able-bodied foot soldier and to the physically limited watchman or rear-echelon non-combatant, whatever the situation, however big or small the location.

*Think that one through, and consider our daily nothing-wrong lifestyles – It really does resonate everywhere, from where our smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are, to aggravations or eases when we grocery shop, bathe dogs, do laundry, file and maintain paperwork, coordinate with family and coworkers, get to and from our chores and recreations, etc. We don’t have to be totally paranoid or OCD to start seeing typical trends in non-prepper, non-minuteman sources for safety/protection and efficiency.

Camo & Concealment

Meh.

Really, it’s situationally dependent.

For most of the scenarios we can list off, from protecting our corner of Baltimore or Koreatown to taking our turn as the insurgents – or countering them, or splinter cells of a larger force – unless you’re a sniper operating from the woods, mostly, “meh” leaning “well, nah”.

Flip side: Oh hell yeah, because camo and concealment isn’t always green and tan splotches of paint or fabric.

Camo and concealment is a suit or slacks and a briefcase in a courthouse, yoga pants and a light bag at the park, a “normal” passenger vehicle instead of an off-road rock-climbing mudder or Humvee on the average street, high-vis vests with dirty pants on a road crew with their bucket or tool box/bag, and scuffed up boots on a farm hand.

That camo and concealment extends to mixing up travel patterns to avoid breaking foliage and creating “deer trails”, being able to slip out of a location without observation, and presenting the appearance of following habitual movements and activities while deviating from the norm.

It’s also developing the control to watch our mouths and non-verbals rather than fight every battle that comes our way and picking every hill as our hill to die on. (Return to Nancy Pelosi above to make that an even uglier pill to swallow.)

And, yeah, in a few situations, it’s being able to become a rock on the hill or another tuft of brush, but unless we’re evading birds or sniper hunters, mostly breaking up our outlines isn’t too hard and doesn’t always require paint or cammies.

Hand-to-Hand Combat

Yes and no.

Don’t get me wrong. Self-defense capabilities are great to have, period. It’s not like this world has ever been totally safe, or like it’s getting any crazier.

However you want to apply it, keep in mind how often we see 2-5 cops or foreign militias trying to wrestle a bad guy into cuffs or move them after arrest, and weigh how much training and daily practice they get, versus our ability to invest time and money into training.

Our expectations of the bad guy we’ll be encountering, and how we’re deploying also factor in pretty hugely.

If we’re countering a significant force, whether it’s widespread jackboots and organized invaders or forces that have the benefit of protective gear, our chances of success are much lower.

Similarly, our chances against servicemen from one of the nations that focus significant continuing training time on some pretty gnarly martial arts, knife work, and batons … not so hot.

There are exploits for hand-to-hand combat even against somebody wearing body armor groin to neck, face shields and helmets, and knee pads. We just have to be realistic about whether we’re going to personally stand a chance with our available investment capabilities, or if we want to focus instead on something else.

Learn some basics that fit your physical condition for everyday encounters, but don’t break the bank on this one.

Instead, for minuteman purposes develop awareness, de-escalation, and evasion skills as well as Gray Man presentation.

Also work reflex drills, ankle-knee lateral and start-stop strength (or chair skills), and balance exercises – especially for people who are limited in some way by age, injury, or genetic luck of the draw.

Urban or rural, footing can be iffy. The better able we are to compensate for shifting terrain, curbs, bumps, and slips, and the better able we are to change direction on a dime, the better chance we stand of staying in the fight, whatever the scenario we imagine.

Modern Minuteman Skillsets

Most likely, the term “Modern Minuteman” brings a certain image to our heads. And, most likely, any 2-20 of us would describe very different images – particularly as the most likely and most common potential for a modern minuteman to deploy.

Because we have very different situations and needs, with very different scenarios in mind and very different capabilities due to our physical shape and local environment, the skills we are most likely to need are going to vary.

Some, though, are pretty universal. We can sometimes assign a value across the board, regardless of situation or scenario.

With any luck, somebody disagrees with these, or the matrix I apply at large, and presents points for discussion.

If not and until then, go find somebody who thinks “bah, PC community-pulse nonsense” or “moron, every soldier should fight with sticks”. Weigh the argument presented for those situations, and decide what does actually make sense for you. It’s only having multiple perspectives that really lets us prioritize, whether we’re picking out groceries or putting together our minuteman to-do list.

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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.

Move.

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.

Camera

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.  

Action

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.

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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.

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

Modern Minuteman – Yes-No-Maybe Skillsets

31 May

Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

As if preparedness alone didn’t have enough to learn and do, along with the modern minuteman movement comes additional taskers.

I’m going to cover a handful of the common ones we see on lists when the topic comes up, but from a slightly different perspective. I’m hitting not the skill, the how-to, or the skill’s subsets to consider, but how competitive they are for our valuable time and resources.

(Which means, I’m writing it understanding that there is going to be “bah” and “but” and kickback. Kick away. Multiple perspectives benefit everyone.) 

Remember, we’re answering whether it’s yes-no-maybe right now, or early, not at all.

That yes-no-maybe is also universally contingent on whether or not our preps cover 30-90 days of normal everyday life, +/- additional longevity in food storage and supplies.

Even when it’s yes, or an alternative is offered, if you have to put it on credit, hold off. Do something free until finances are fit, too. Don’t go into debt for any preps, but especially minuteman skills.

Do you need to know how to operate with a map and compass?

Maybe, maybe not.

It’s a good skill, but not universally either super-good or vital. Your location and – more than any other on this list – how far along the rest of your preps are determines how high of a priority it is.

The same skills have a lot to offer for intel as well as travel, even in urban environments, so keep that in mind as other priorities get checked off.

Are you in city or ‘burbs you’re familiar with? Can you or somebody else describe landmarks to get somewhere else? How far out do you have to go before you lose that ability and landmarks become few and far between?

Can you outlast a crisis of the level where some agency or time/wear itself takes down the street signs, rendering them unusable for navigation?

Could you leave your family to go be a soldier who’s not coming back for hours/days on end (or ever) for planning, scouting, and training, then actual engagements, whatever type they may be?

(Practically, can they function; Personally/emotionally has to be answered, too, but that’s based on a lot of situationally dependent factors and scenarios, and has less to do with how far out you’ll be operating – thus needing land nav and orienteering skills – and more whether you can risk joining up at all.)  

Flip side, if you’re out where the only navigation aids are stars, streams (which may deviate in some scenarios), similar fields/pastures, and mountains, with only the odd dirt road and highway you may have to hike 1-5 miles down to find a mile marker and identifier…

Oh, yeah, that’s a much more likely case for taking the time to learn (for more than minuteman capabilities).

Even if orienteering slid to the backburner, do still develop…

– A fairly constant general awareness of what direction you’re facing/moving

– Local maps with road names (nearby hotels/tourism boards can be an excellent source)

If you do want to review or learn (or anticipate learning or having to teach it), this https://theprepared.com/survival-skills/guides/learn-compass-map/ is the best writeup I have possibly ever seen. I thought it was a quick enough read, but I could turn “See Spot Run” into “War & Peace”. Point in case, my review:

Having seen this taught in the military, SAR/CERT, and with BSA, I cannot commend that writer enough. This article easily could have sub’ed for live presentation training … and some muddy-boots training as well.

(Practice in known locations before striking out anyway.)

It covers A-Z basic compass parts and thumbnails: how to use them, orienting a map with declination accounted for at the very beginning, shooting travel bearings, way-point and “missed” landmark awareness along bearings, and developing a present location using a map and compass to create DF-type intersects (and how you know you’ve mis-ID’d one of your landmarks).

If you’re going to have any how-to in your vehicle or bag, this https://theprepared.com/survival-skills/guides/learn-compass-map/ is the one to print and e-export.

If you already know land nav, capture it as a base for future classes/training. That author nailed every aspect of teaching the gear, operation, and troubleshooting.

(Plus, it’s a REALLY well laid-out page with excellent imagery and a jump-to index.)

The only things missing are an image showing how far off track you can end up if you’re just a few degrees off over even just a mile or two, and possibly an image from boots on the ground how different …or same… that can look, and how easy it is to then slide further or end up second-guessing.

And now, having used a fifth of my word limit for the day singing praises…

Do you need to know pace count?

Firm yes.

Even urban/’burbs and gun-control states/countries!

Whether I need you to get within 10-100 yards of one more rock or tree in a prairie or mountain, or am giving directions using roadways and landmarks to walking you in, you need to know how far you’ve gone. In some/many scenarios, you need to know it without an odometer, gps, or pedometer.

I also need you to fairly accurately pace off distances for numerous tactical applications (known-range landmarks for ambush & defense, for one).

By person and location, I may need you to accurately tell me how far or big something was based off your pace count for intel purposes.

*Pssst… There’s abundant non-minuteman applications that make a pace count valuable, too.

Learn your 100 and 1K yard/meter pace count on your most-common surfaces first, and learn it in light pack, heavy pack, and free-moving versus holding one arm still (rifle or injury). Then hit other surfaces: hardpack, meadow/pasture, scree/leaves, rough rock, ‘schwacking/woods.

Do I need battlefield tactics?

No.

Not right now. Point in fact, irregulars and militia have learned as they go throughout history (although not always successfully).

Depending on whether you’re aiming for grunt infantry (yes) or support (not really), it’s “eventually” but extremely low on the list, and the run-n-gun tactics come after and then hand-in-hand, 1:1 with initial defensive/ambush deployment by team/squad/platoon/company sized units.

Learn defensive shooting instead – rifle, shotgun and especially wear-and-carry home- and public-handgun tactics and theory.

One, it’s much more likely to be used, everyday “normal” conflicts that continue into the End of Days or standing up as an on-call fighting force to augment the sheriff/marshall or fend off the NOW/EROL jackboots.

Two, especially at somewhat higher levels of training (or IDPA, 3-gun, and 2-gun sports), it forms a solid foundation that can be added to successively, much of which immediately crosses over to battlefield rifle and primary+sidearm shooting.

Do I need to know combat medic and wilderness trauma aid?

Maybe, maybe not.

Solely from the militiaman aspect, it depends entirely on how much medical support is waiting behind the lines.

Remember, for most of human history even relatively minor puncture wounds were maiming, laming, and killing. As soon as we figured out how to take a limb off with even 30% survival rates, it became the go-to treatment because survival was so unlikely without amputation.

If we’re operating without even the herbal and physiology skills available in the 1700s-1900s, the chances immediate aid that is designed around supporting a patient until they enter a modern medical facility is pretty poor.

That being so, in that scenario, no. It would be a waste of time (+/- money).

However, if we’re anticipating something akin to the national guard’s and sheriff’s reserves’ role in riot control, or something more similar to the resistances from World War I onward, where we can fake a hunting accident or find sympathetic support…

Heck yeah, absolutely.

(Same goes for any prepper scenario and learning as a bugout skill.)

Unless we’re also through packers and kayakers, back-country hunters, etc., though, the priority isn’t immediate.

Even before wilderness/combat medicine, learn basic hiking-injury and illness care.

Most of the injuries we face in modern combat, past history, and in a much more manual-laborer and foot-travel settings (today and yesteryear) are not gunshot and shrapnel wounds. They’re sprains, strains, and burns. Tweaked backs, hyper-extensions, and overuse/repetitive-use injuries are right there with them.

Those skills are out there to learn for free, and worth the time.

The supplies to care for them apply to any disaster, personal income reduction to widespread regional/national crisis, and many of those supplies have nearly indefinite storage life as well as naturally occurring and herb garden remedies to apply. Spend the money there first, and expand as you like.

After sprains-strains-burns, then add in breaks, dehydration/illness support, and backpackers’/foot soldiers’ foot and boot care.

In that order, ideally.

How about man-tracker & deer-stalker spore and stealth skills?

Super tough one… “Maybe, maybe not” but more “yes, even urban, but not right now, maybe.”

Exact tight-urban conditions vary, but the same skills have a lot of application even in today’s bustling cities and the ‘burbs, not just the rurals. (For non-minuteman preppers, too.)

One, the actual abilities are fantastic to have, but even bigger is the impact from learning awareness.

Two, we’re not only directly looking for and gaining intel from our immediate target, we’re learning to interpret what the surroundings and its inhabitants are telling us about what’s around and what’s happened. That has all kinds of not only semi-shadow work but also intel benefits.

Three, once we’re paying attention and looking for tells, we become aware of our own, and almost automatically start working on our “footprint”.

Four, learning anti-tracking requires a solid understanding of being the hunter (although, watch for tunnel vision based on how we do our people-animal tracking).

That list can continue for a while.

Start with defensive shooting and basic injury/illness aid anyway, and advance 1:1:1 with them and tracking/stalking.

See, it only applies to some types of minuteman activation scenarios (despite the situational awareness boost that applies universally, even now). Start with what’s most universally needed, now and “after”, for and outside guardian and war-fighter scenarios.

Modern Minuteman Skills

Skills are absolutely as or more important than things. However, they’re situationally dependent, too, and should be prioritized not only within our envisioned minuteman scenario(s), but also against our current preparation levels, location, and family situation.

All of these are good to have, but when we need them varies.

Hopefully, the structuring of when and why they become viable in my opinion can help you create your own matrix to apply, to these as well as others.

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Practical Prep: Range Tips

28 May

Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

For many preppers, static square ranges are the only opportunity to put rounds through the barrel. They do have some limitations, and they can be pricey, but we can make a few tweaks here and there to both cut costs and make our time on them more effective.

Basic Supplies

Depending on firearm, shooting purpose, and range, what we need to carry changes a little. If we have a dedicated range bag (can be a lunchbox, laptop bag, backpack, whatever), a lot of the supplies can just live there.

Most of us will want something to fasten targets. Staples work on wood and cardboard. Tape covers all. Duct tape is excellent, but unless we’re using it to hang a chunk of cardboard on poles, we can go cheaper.

If the range has overhead lines, we may want to bring string, binder clips, or clothespins even if it’s supposed to already have them ($1 packs; don’t break the bank). For most indoor ranges and ranges that provide stands that go in pipes or holes, those fasteners are less of an issue.

(You still want the tape/stapler.)

Many shooters carry some patches and swabs, a little oil, and whatever tool they need to adjust sights.

If there’s not already a multi-tool in the house, snag a pair of needle-nosed pliers and a fairly sturdy but fairly small screwdriver. They end up doing oh so many things.

Most ranges require eyes and ears. Some have very specific requirements about side panels and visible hearing protection. Most are flexible. 

I have very inexpensive binoculars or Redhead scopes in my bags. They’re sufficient for spotting targets at my distances. If you’re shooting 100-yards+ on the regular, you’ll probably want better, but unless you really are going to be engaging at 200-500+ yards, don’t break the bank.

Other common adds include a ball cap, bandanna and-or hand wipes, tissue (ladies, dudes with ladies: tissue), a boo-boo level first aid kit (tissue or patches + duct tape = Band-Aids), and bug repellent.

Some carry tape measures. If you’re working on a zero without square-grid paper or going for super accuracy, go for it (or a schoolkid’s ruler).

Water is a biggie, although it’s sometimes restricted at indoor ranges.

Stash Stigmas

Class or training, private club to low-cost public, ranges seem to bring out the need to compete. That’s bad enough when it’s skills or hardware on display, but for heaven’s sake, do not feel the need to buy “good” targets.

Or to buy targets, period.

(Unless the range requires you to buy their overpriced paper and cardboard. We do have to follow the rules.)

There are too many freebie options and mods using what would otherwise be trash/recycling, to include salvaged skinny kitchen/bath shelves, election signs, DVD racks, dilapidated tomato cages, and kiddie wiffleball/t-ball stands.

If we do have to buy, buy lower-cost alternates – copy paper, paper plates, hanging plant/light hooks, folding stepstools, garden stakes we can duct tape into tripods if we don’t have soft soil or post holes waiting for us and then string line between or tape cardboard to, etc.

*Some ranges have restrictions about shooting at the ground, and want your bullets to impact the vertical berms. That means we either sit, or find a way to elevate targets.

The more we can save on targets, the more budget we retain for training and prepping other areas.

That goes for everything else on the range.

The next stall down isn’t going to clear pests from our garden, put venison in our freezer, or roll out of bed for our creak in the night. So don’t sweat them, whether it’s platform, ammo, or fancy gear, tight groups, or speed. We’re there to shoot, not compare.

*By all means ask if they have something you’re looking for, stuff or skill (but be mindful if it’s a pay-per-minute range or lunchtime).

Work Fundamentals At Home

Long before you get to the range, you should already be quickly gaining proper grip, familiar with trigger, snapping into the front sight, and quickly acquiring good sight alignment and picture. Carry your lifesaver to TV time, or lock yourself in the bathroom to aim in at the fine print on your ID if you can’t beg or bribe some “me” time otherwise.

That means you’ll probably want some…

Snap Caps

I like snap caps, but any kind of dummy/dud that protects from over travel by the firing pin is fine. They cost less than a box of ammo and provide thousands of trigger pulls, trigger pulls you can make anywhere, anytime.

If you don’t get snap caps, still work on drawing/presentation, grip, reloads, and sight picture.

Practice Like You Play

As often as possible, wear what you will be when using that gun (boxers and nighties are always exceptions; battle rattle is conditional), and go to an outdoor range in all kinds of weather – cold, wet, windy, blazing hot, early or late on bright days with sun in your eyes, nighttime, as close to sunset/sunrise as they’ll let you shoot.

Dry fire and dummy guns are always options, but seeing the tangible proof of what conditions can do to patterns can be highly educational.

Practice like you play also applies to shooting positions.

Use tables and rests to check the zero and test ammo, then get off them. Every fundamental can be practiced at home. Whether it’s hunting using position or rests of opportunity, or defensive and combat tactics, do it for real. And…

Get Rounds Downrange

Again, cover fundamentals in spare minutes at home. If you’re practicing just for hunting, take all the time you need (and practice paused/interrupted and terminated trigger pulls). If you’re practicing for a gunfight, ride the recoil, put the front sight back on the target, and pull the trigger again as fast as possible.

*As fast as possible includes blade-on-target sighting and proper trigger pull.

You don’t need bulls-eyes. You need a pattern mostly the size of a human head or a dessert plate.

If you can blast 3-7 shots at contact distances with your contact platform in a few seconds, then take a couple seconds for a shot that lands in a playing card, soup can, or even a 20-oz. bottle, that is really and truly all you need.   

*Again, hunting is an exception; ultimately aim for golf ball/light bulb accuracy.

If your pattern is bigger than that, absolutely, slow down until it is – unless you’re shooting pistol past 25-30 yards or rifle past 100-200 yards, in which case a K-5 ring or double stack of paper plates or notebook/copy paper is good enough. 

If you can get it tighter without sacrificing speed, great.

One shot, one kill slow fire is for scoped-rifle snipers. Most of Special Ops are landing multiple shots. Plan on it taking more to drop your target, too.

If you only ever practice slow shots, your range habits are going to do you a disservice one of two unfortunate ways if you ever actually need that gun.

Also practice multiple, random-count shots, not only either emptying the gun or using a Mozambique 2-1 or 3-1, 666-Devil, or similar. (They can be handy, but should not be the only.) A shooting partner or even having random timers set for 3-5 to 15-20 seconds tell you a target is down and out can help make practice less unpredictable.  

Take A Lap

In most potential scenarios for firearm use, some alert is going to send us darting – for a gun, for a more appropriate gun, or straight for The Bad Thing if we’re carrying; for cover; for loved ones.

If we’re practicing for combat or a bugout-contact situation, we’re even more likely to be exerting energy and darting around before and during a firefight.

Adrenaline alone – be it hunting, combat, or defensive situations – can send hearts pounding and hands shaking.

So simulate that.

Stressing and then taking a shot can also be worked on at home with snap caps (or air-soft guns, with some target prep), however, like weather, the bullet holes can be informative in ways dry fire isn’t.

Some ranges, it’s more than possible to do eight-count bodybuilders to simulate stress.

When we don’t want to attract the attention or are paying by the quarter-hour, instead, hold your breath while you hang and send the target, load mags, and sweep brass – repeatedly and as long as possible. Take your shots while you’re still trying to get your breath back.    

Mime What You Can’t Do

Range by range, we face varied restrictions on movement of all sorts. Some take a dim view on popping up and down, even. Even with at-home dry fire, eventually we do need to get the barrel dirty.

We can reduce motions to work inside a very small box for leaning, crouching, and footwork.

Holster limitations are among the most common. If a restrictive range is your only opportunity for live-fire first-shot drills, fake it by holding the barrel with the off hand (like the NRA side-by-side pistol pass) and mime the presentation steps, then drop the off hand once you have your shooting grip.

*Psst…practice that switch at home, unloaded, before trying it at the range.

Save the upper level shots – like from the hip or sternum/chin, or extending a fend-off hand while shooting from the ribs – but most ranges are fine for practicing one-handed pistol shots holding your range bag to simulate a child’s hand or leash, or the various flashlight stances.

Make The Square Range Pay Off

If we go just to blast now and then, that’s fine. But it’s hobby shooting, not training.

If it’s training, get the most out of that time.

Save money where possible, so it can be applied to other preps or more practice and training. Work fundamentals and movements at home. Don’t let hobbyists’ shooting standards or gear influence your practice. Find workarounds that are inside the rules if available ranges have tight restrictions.

Hunting or fighting, make range shots as similar to real-world scenarios as possible. It’ll pay off if you ever really need that gun.

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Shooting Tactics and Training: Practice Practicality

23 May

Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

Static square ranges and competitions are commonly the only firearm practice available to preppers. Sometimes, those square ranges and competitions – and even classes – actively or accidentally build dangerous mindsets, habits, and complacency.

Knowing it, we can amend our maintenance and practice to get the most out of our gear, time and gunpowder and be more ready for real-world needs.

Home Range

Eventually we have to burn some gunpowder, but the majority of skills can be developed and refined without it.

We’re actually best served if at least some of our training time is devoted to the places we’re most likely to deploy a firearm – home, entering and leaving vehicles, workplaces, etc. House and yard can also amply accommodate training time with our battle rattle.

Get Fit

Core body strength, cardiovascular strength, and drills to strengthen leg joints and arms against sudden movement and – in our case – shifting terrain makes for a better gunfighter. It creates resilience to injury while increasing our accuracy and stamina.

Being able to move is big all on its own. It’s not actually practiced much in classes, but it does get verbalized: Move. We hear it different ways, but frequently.  

A moving target is harder to hit.

Move backward to gain and maintain distance from an attacker. (Remember the ol’ nuggets: “Distance favors the ranged weapon” and “greater distances favor the better shooter.”)

Find and hug cover, and then move from cover to cover while jockeying for advantageous position.

Move to the X, and move the hell off the X when necessary.

The ability to pop up and down behind cover, slide along cover to engage from a slightly different place, advance or retreat, and find an angle where we can end the threat relies on having bodies that will respond to our commands.

Physical Limitations

Age and injuries are among the many things that affect just how much we can move. The same-ol’-same-ol’ information that gets passed around isn’t as effective for us. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t bother.

If we’re stuck in a chair, we’re stuck in a chair. The shifting center of gravity in late-stage pregnancy is huge, and affects a lot of our abilities. If we need a cane or crutches, we’re not bouncing all over.

If anything, it means we need more exercise – retaining current mobility and working the details on how and where we carry.

String It Up

A holster or sling isn’t 100% required, but, gosh, they’re handy – especially if we’re preparing for Big-Time Badness. Even if we start with a shirt-sleeve pouch, doctored purse, and a DIY sling, find a way to get the gun out of our hands but on our person.

Otherwise, the chances of having it and getting it into play when we need it are pretty grim.

Get Off The Bench

Most of us need more work on unsupported shooting. Take a few braced or perfect-stance shots to develop and check zeros. Then shoot however you’ll most likely be firing that gun. If you can’t stand long, sit on the edge of a seat.

Absolutely be aware of opportunistic rests, lean against the vertical divider/post for that hunter’s shot, and develop/maintain knee-braced and – if you’re spry yet – prone stances (for pistol, too).  

Just don’t practice like there will always be something to lean on.

Standing Still

Even in classes, most shooting time is spent upright and static. Since in both defensive and combat scenarios, we’re ideally hugging cover like a long-lost favorite lover, and not all cover lends itself to adults ranging 5’ flat to 6’6”-plus standing squarely upright, work around the restrictions.

Building muscle memory for the ideal shot is great. However, after achieving basic accuracy (hunting and DM work are the only time you need hits tighter than a dessert plate), start moving around.

You can get away with side shuffles and a step or two forward and back at almost any gun range, and crouching at varying heights. Leaning around may look odd, but do it. Hunch (high enough to clear the bench), close your eyes, and open them as you bob up for a shot.

This one is ideal for off-range dry fire practice, but get in some live fire with typical carry gun(s), too.

Guns Move, Too

Rifle and shotgun don’t have quite as much movement as pistols, but there’s some. We’re leaning to check areas, changing grip and position to open a door or pass, lowering our profile/protrusion if we’re slow-checking corners, using cover, etc.

Our carry changes more still when we’re working with partners and teams.

Pistols are even more active. We’re still leaning all over finding exploitable windows or maximizing cover, we move the gun in and out, we go on and off the trigger, we tilt the gun. That puppy is almost never still – or, it shouldn’t be.

That’s something we can and should be working on in our usual spaces.

And, on the pistol-in-motion topic…

Practice Multiple Ready’s

We typically see very few ready positions, but there’s plenty of reason to have others that are equally second nature.  

The “safe” downrange location for pointing the gun changes. It’s not always the original target’s direction. Nor is it always down or up.

We also don’t always have two hands for it.

If we do have two hands, we may be giving directions or instructions to someone with the other, holding a child or animal reins/collar, dragging a victim clear, pausing to perform must-have lifesaving, unlocking or opening a door, sliding over something, or bracing a hand on something.

There are numerous circumstances when we’re not engaged just this instant but don’t want to holster or bag a firearm and don’t have anything that needs to die to point it at just now. Practice for those moments.

(Conditional readies are a good one for even just a mental exercise going through stores/workplaces/homes, too.)

Scan & Assess Requires Thought…

…Particularly the act of immediately snugging a gun all the way up against your sternum for Search/Scan and Assess phases of an engagement.

Scan and assess needs to be nigh-on constant and the act of deciding an engagement is over should be a multi-step process determined by the evolving circumstances, with a ready determined by that situation.

Neither should be trained as some one-size-fits-all habit.

Combat or defense, we stay aware so we can engage a target of higher priority if necessary.

Combat or defense, when our target(s) are down and no longer a threat, that gun should remain at least mostly presented – off the trigger and tilting up-down as needed for non-targets in the area, but at an active, usable state of readiness that allows for discretionary fire.

Combat or defense, with some few exceptions, that gun should really be at least mostly moving with our head and eyes.

Depending on the circumstances, straight and level ahead of us or in the original direction of fire may not even still be the best place to point a gun, even immediately after engagement (household construction standards, other responders and bystanders, limited visibility in that direction).

This is a problem at ranges where “safely downrange” only exists in one direction. That range-safety limitation may be the origin of so many people teaching it that way. Who knows.

Just be aware so you can practice practical responses at home, and mentally work it while out and about in public places. (Little hand motions at most, don’t tactical air-guitar your way through Walmart.)

While we’re talking about awareness…

Look Everywhere

Anytime we practice, and while we’re out and about, change your focal depth.

Our target is somewhere. Without even moving the eyes really, observe what’s between us and beyond it. Lift eyes, just a little left and right. Make sure nothing’s entering the frame. Depending on engagement scenarios, glance around.

It prevents habit-forming, blinding focus on our current target and only our current target, which keeps threats from sneaking into play and others from entering the frame and becoming accidental casualties.

And when it comes to staying aware…

Watch Where You’re Going

Really. It’s not only okay, it’s highly encouraged that you glance around as you maneuver.

Ranges are usually fairly smooth concrete, gravel, clay, and mown fields. (Pretty sure it’s a big time insurance thing that your shooters not be tripping constantly.) In action sports, it’s non-shooting personnel’s responsibility to make sure they’re not in our way. In training, we usually have plenty of room between moving shooters.

So we learn to not look.

I can think of very few spots in my yard and very few sidewalks, streets, medians, and parking lots where there is nothing to trip over inside 3-10 yards. If things go sideways in a school, store, or some other venue, count on them turning into a minefield of hazards, to include people bouncing all over.

If I’m on the ground because I tripped, I am a static target (AKA: easier to hit).

My response capabilities are severely limited until I get up. If I hit hard enough or got run over, I may not be able to recover or respond at all.

If I do not get my finger clear or jerk a shot, I may take out a bystander or another responder. (Making the situation worse is a big time no-no).

So, for real, dude, especially when moving backwards, watch where you’re going. It only takes a glance.

*Psst… That’s one of the exceptions to a gun staying pointed at the target instead of moving with the eyes.

Move Differently?

Yes, we move a little differently in some situations. We can hunker and run if we’re exploiting cover. We might practice off-road or parkour-style running so we can catch ourselves if footing gives way. Some team tactics work best with smaller, non-extended steps, because staying tight is important up until that minute we fan.

And, yeah – I mean, if it has to be said – you hold onto your gun instead of fully swinging both arms.

Mostly, though, no.

Just go, move, as fast as possible. Again: Moving targets are harder to hit. The zippier you are, the better.

Get Training

By no means should any of this suggest that I dislike shooting sports, square ranges, or classes as training aids. They’re vital. Training is the best investment a shooter can make. Ranges and sports allow relatively inexpensive maintenance and development.

Just be aware of the mindsets and habits that are sometimes instilled, and practice to prevent it from becoming a liability in the real world.

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