Editors Note: The following guest article was generously contributed by James Smith in October of 2015. It is worth rereading if you caught it then as well as for the first time now.
Additionally I want to add a link to a great, recent article along the same subject line from Aaron Karns of Startsleeping.org which can be seen by opening this link.
Every year, over 2500 people die and around 12,000 are injured in home fires in the United States. Direct property loss due to fires at home is estimated to be over $7.3 billion annually. Like any other man-made catastrophe, home fires can also be prevented.
To protect yourself and your family, it is essential that you understand the elementary characteristics of fire. Because fire spreads very quickly, there is absolutely no time to collect any belongings or make a phone call. In less than two minutes, a small fire can become fatal; in about five minutes, an entire residence can be engulfed in flames.
Smoke and heat from fire can be more hazardous than the flames. Inhaling the extremely hot air can char your lungs, while the noxious gases can make you drowsy and disoriented. Instead of waking up due to a fire, you may fall into deep sleep. Contrary to popular belief, asphyxiation is the leading cause of deaths caused by fire, surpassing burns by a 3-to-1 ratio.
A large majority of home fires are caused in the kitchen, while cooking. These fires are also the leading cause of injuries. At night, fires are mostly caused by cigarettes not put out properly, lack of precautionary measures around fireplaces, and heating appliances kept close to combustibles and furniture. These fires are considered more dangerous than others as they can fume for quite a long time before being discovered.
Fire is QUICK!
In less than thirty seconds, a minor flame can get totally out of control to become a major fire. It takes less than five minutes for a house to be filled with thick black smoke or to be completely engulfed in flames. Most fatal fires happen while people are sleeping. If you are woken up by a fire, don’t waste time trying to collect any things as fire spreads fast and the smoke is too thick. You will barely have time to escape.
The heat from fire is more dangerous than the flames. With room temperatures rising to 100 degrees at floor level and 600 degrees at eye level, the heat alone can kill. The hot air, if inhaled, can scorch your lungs and leave you dead in a matter of seconds. The heat can also melt your clothes and skin.
Fire isn’t bright, its pitch black. Fire starts bright, but quickly produces black smoke and complete darkness. If you wake up to a fire you may be blinded, disoriented and unable to find your way around the home you’ve lived in for years.
Flames do not kill as many people as toxic gases and smoke do. Oxygen is used by fire to produce toxic gases and smoke that kills. Inhaling small amounts of these gases can leave you disoriented, short of breath and drowsy. The colorless fumes can put you into deep sleep even before the flames reach you.
You can only prepare yourself and your family if you know the characteristics of fire. In case of a home fire, know that every second counts, so your family and you must be prepared. Have a fire escape plan and make sure each member of your family knows it well. You must keep some of the necessary survival supplies in your home. Keep an extra door as a fire escape route and see that it is not blocked in any way at any time. Install fire alarms and keep a check on them regularly to make sure they are functioning. Here are some tips to help you prepare:
A properly installed smoke alarm is the only thing in your house that can alert you and your family 24/7. A functioning smoke alarm enhances your chances of surviving a lethal house fire considerably.
Install smoke alarms that contain both photoelectric and ionization smoke sensors. Test their batteries monthly to ensure that they are in working condition. See that you have a smoke alarm installed on every level of your house, especially the basement. Sleeping areas should have smoke alarms both inside and outside, this is especially recommended by the US Fire Administration.
Furthermore, disabling a fire alarm can be a fatal mistake. Open a door or window, or wave a towel at the smoke alarm to clear the air.
During a Fire
If, even after all the precautionary measures, a fire happens to break out at your residence, follow these tips to ensure survival:
While making your way towards the exit, crawl low under the smoke. Poisonous gases and smoke collect towards the ceiling, so crawling your way to the exit may allow you to escape.
As soon as the smoke alarm sounds, think only of escaping. Do not stop to gather your belongings.
If you see smoke blocking your exit, look for another way out.
Before opening any doors, feel the door and the doorknob; if they feel hot, do not bother opening it, look for another escape route instead.
While opening a door, open it slowly to see if there is heavy smoke or fire.
Stop, drop, and roll if your clothes catch fire. Make sure you cover your face with your hands and roll on your back again and again until the fire is out.
Escaping the Fire
To ensure survival in case of a fire at home, you should know any obstacles that may hinder your escape route. For example, gratings or grills on windows usually have a fire safety feature that allows them to be opened easily from the inside.
Make sure you have fire escape ladders if your home is of multiple stories. Ensure that the anti-theft mechanisms that block entry from the outside are easily opened from the inside. Your family members’ safety is as important as yours, so you should teach them all the precautionary measures, as well as conduct a drill at least once a year so they know how to escape a deadly fire.
About the author: James Smith is a survivalist, who loves to write about survival skills and techniques. He has extensive knowledge about different survival kits and other survival supplies which he loves to share with others by writing blog. Follow him on twitter @jamessmith1609.
Editor’s Note: This post was an entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Matt W in January of 2017. I am re-posting it because I have had many questions of late on the cost effectiveness of reloading vs stockpiling commercial ammunition and I am still on the fence on the subject in general.
Being a “doer” like most preppers I have always been fascinated with the idea of loading my own ammo. Perhaps caught up in the advertising that shows a rugged individual working a re-loader in a nice wood-paneled room full of hunting gear and trophies, wearing a plaid flannel shirt, a steaming cup of coffee (or hot chocolate) on the bench, with trees in autumn colors outside the window, and of course, his favorite hunting dog laying at his feet in anticipation of time in the field filling his head.
The cold hard fact from my point of view is that I did not do enough shooting to really justify the initial investment. I once actually had the whole deal in a shopping cart at a favorite supply store. I love hunting upland birds and shooting skeet and trap, but life has gotten in the way of that almost daily. Am I the only one who realizes the more time-saving gadgets I have the less time I have to take advantage of them? So I returned everything to its rightful place back on the shelf. I was looking at $900 and couldn’t justify it not having shot that much commercial ammunition in the preceding 18 months. Of course I would be ahead now, 6 years later, but just barely. And now, looking at favorite pistol and rifle calibers, I see some sense in it as I once had a 264 Winchester Magnum that was a GREAT varmint rifle but commercial ammo was expensive, still is. Traded it away when $$$ was tight. Don’t know that I would have shot it enough to recoup the investment but I would love to have that rifle back. The clarity of hindsight.
In any case I would love to hear what other preppers think on the subject. Wild Bill
With the interest in the preparedness lifestyle growing at an explosive rate, one important skill is often brushed aside: reloading ammunition. Often, persons embarking on their own personal prepping journey will procrastinate on learning to reload their own ammunition. The reasons to put off learning to reload are understandable. Often, many people would rather just buy more firearms and more ammunition than put the time and money into learning reloading. People usually are put off by the expense of reloading equipment, feel that they do not have the time to learn reloading, or they do not have a person available to teach them.
Learning about all the reloading equipment and techniques can seem daunting at first but the skill is worth the effort. The initial investment in equipment and supplies for reloading can cost as little as about $300 or as much as one is willing to spend. However, there are many benefits to making the investment. First, a person can save a lot of money reloading, quickly recouping the startup costs. Second, by reloading ammunition a person can get much improved accuracy over using only factory ammunition. Third, for many rifle and pistol calibers a hand-loader will have many more choices available than solely relying on factory offerings, the combinations of components are near infinite. Fourth, reloading will allow a person to have ample supply of hard to find ammunition for a favorite pet caliber, unusual and rare cartridge, or old hunting rifle. Finally, when the next ammo shortage happens the reloader will be able to maintain his / her stockpile. As can be seen, there are many good reasons for preppers to take up reloading and each one will be looked in more detail.
Without a doubt, one of the most popular reasons that persons learn to reload ammunition is to save money. Ammunition is expensive and it is not getting any cheaper! However, anywhere from 65% to 80% of the cost of ammunition is in the cartridge case. Therefore, a person should always pick up their spent cartridge cases. That reusable brass case ties up a bunch of money, too much money to just leave laying on the ground like garbage. For example: if a box of rifle ammunition cost around $20 then about $15 of that is likely tied up in just the cartridge cases. No one would walk by $15 laying on the ground and not pick it up but people will leave perfectly good cartridge cases laying all over the range. A person could reload that box of ammo for $5 or less. That savings adds up fast and recoups the initial investment in equipment. The amount of money saved can be used to buy more ammo, more guns, optics, range time, training, prepping supplies, and on and on. If shooting those big safari rifles is appealing, the savings to the reloader are truly amazing. Some big game rifles cost the shooter anywhere from $5 to over $25 every time the trigger is pulled. This cost can prevent any frequent or meaningful target practice, often even impairing properly sighting in the weapon or zeroing a scope. Reloading can make shooting these big guns affordable and fun. As mentioned earlier, cost savings is a major motivator for reloaders. As a person living the preparedness lifestyle, allocating money and resources properly to maintain a regular life while preparing for the worst events is an ongoing process. Reloading is a good way to help preppers cut cost and spare resources.
Obtaining greater accuracy is another good reason to learn reloading. Many people who start reloading just to save money quickly discover this benefit. The quest for peak accuracy is what gets many people really fired up about reloading. Once a person experiences how easy it is to increase accuracy for a given load, they are well on the way to a life time of reloading. Firearms are expensive. Many times, people have been very disappointed with a new firearms shot groups, assuming there is a problem with the expensive new weapon. After hand-loading some ammunition, they have discovered there is nothing wrong with the weapon and that factory available ammunition is causing this sub-par performance. For example: this is very typical for 45 Colt revolvers. Historically, there has been some variation in bore diameters of production revolvers in this caliber. For safety reasons, the major ammunition manufacturers will produce loaded ammo with bullets in the smallest produced bore diameter. In some guns, these too small bullets will not engage the rifling’s and just rattle down the barrel, flying erratically out the muzzle. Accuracy is unbelievably poor when this happens. An easy fix for a reloader is to determine the bore diameter and reload using bullets of the appropriate diameter. This method has been proven to turn poorly grouping guns into tack drivers. Sometimes, the problem with a firearms accuracy is not in the gun but in the ammunition. Loading one’s own ammunition can help correct that.
Reloading greatly improves consistency and uniformity in the loaded cartridges. Hand-loading can definitely help with increasing accuracy over the modest distances of handgun ranges but the most dramatic improvements can be gained over the longer ranges usually shot with rifles. Some factory ammunition is very good. However, hand-loads will give the best and most accurate results over factory loaded ammunition. Much of the accuracy potential in a batch of hand-loads comes from consistency gained through precise attention to detail. With factory ammunition, there can easily be a 5% to 10% variation in muzzle velocity from shot to shot. A careful hand-loader can greatly reduce that variation in muzzle velocity, which will give a more consistent point of impact. Reloaders can also adjust the overall length of the loaded cartridge by adjusting bullet seating depth to better match the specific weapon they are using. This will improve accuracy by reducing bullet jump (distance a bullet travels before engaging the rifling) and more closely aligning the bullet center with the bore axis when the rifling is engaged, resulting in a better spin and truer flight. A careful reloader can more precisely align the bullet into the case, keeping the center of the bullet more closely on the axis of the weapon’s bore. The reloader is in control of every variable of the cartridge. The case lengths can be trimmed to exact specifications. Case mouths and crimping can be uniformed. Any possible variable can be minimized or eliminated to produce the most consistent ammunition, which all leads to better shot groups. Competitive shooters have long known that hand-loading is the way to get out the most accuracy from their weapons.
If a person is not shooting one of the more popular calibers, they may be disappointed with choices in factory available ammunition. Some of the lesser known, newly introduced, or very old calibers will not have enough choices of bullet styles and weights available in factory production ammunition. Some very capable cartridges are no longer offered in newly manufactured ammunition. A reloader will still have the ability to produce ammunition for these discontinued calibers. Dies and cartridge cases can still be purchased for calibers that have been discontinued long ago. Handloading or reloading ammunition is a way to get around these limitations.
The combinations of components are limitless. Bullet weights and shapes can be chosen specifically for maximum efficiency for any given purpose. Different bullet tip shapes, ogives, and base configurations can be chosen to fit a rifle or load for greater accuracy, consistency, or function. A person can load expanding bullets into cartridges for old surplus rifles that are generally only available in full metal jacket configuration, turning that old surplus rifle into a viable hunting weapon. Different propellants will burn with different rates and characteristics. This will affect muzzle velocity, consistency, and accuracy. With so many possible combinations of bullets, propellants, primers, and cases, a person can tailor a specific load for any purpose. If the goal is to get maximum efficiency, maximum utility, maximum accuracy, or effectiveness over a wide range of shooting distances, reloaders can tailor ammunition to any purpose. The sky’s the limit on possible loadings.
One very important thing to anyone living the preparedness lifestyle is securing and maintaining an ammunition supply. In recent years in the United States, we have experienced several ammunition shortages of varying degrees and durations. Everyone knows that is not a question of whether or not there will be another ammunition supply interruption but when the next big one is coming. The author remembers a time when he would give no consideration to leaving the house with a firearm without any ammo thinking “I’ll just pick up some on the way to the shooting range.” It is getting better but not quite back to those days yet. Certainly, anyone reading this article has not so distant memories of going to wally-world and seeing the ammo shelves empty. During the last ammo shortage, reloading components were still available for a time after all the ammo was off the shelves, allowing reloaders to stock up on components before the supply temporarily dried up. Reloading components are easy to stock up on. For example: at the time of writing this article Unique and Power Pistol powders were about $20 a pound. A person could load up around 1,150 rounds of 9mm ammo with one pound of these powders! Store a few pounds of powder and a person is set up to last through the ammo drought. Another way for a reloader to cut cost and extend his or her ammo supply is to cast lead bullets. After the initial cost of equipment, money saved by casting bullets will quickly recover the startup costs. Additionally, lead could be gathered from alternative sources instead of buying it. This will allow the resourceful prepper to make lead bullets at no cost. With some components in storage, the resourceful prepper can spend a little time in the evening reloading and replenishing his or her ammo supply when everyone else is scrounging for ammo or getting gouged by online price hikes.
So, it’s easy to see how reloading is another valuable tool in well-rounded preppers kit. Many people tend to feel rushed and overwhelmed when coming into the preparedness lifestyle. Along with marksmanship, martial arts, archery, fishing, hunting, farming, canning, tanning, mechanics, carpentry, communications, first aid, sewing, sanitation, and land navigation (just to get started) reloading seems like a ton to learn. However, persons reading this already have a great asset: motivation. If a person is willing and motivated to learn, there is a wealth of resources available.
Everyone is different and learns differently. For some people, it will be very difficult to pick up a reloading manual and start off reloading without any issues. For most people, the easiest and fastest way to learn is to have a someone actually show them step by step how to do it. Unfortunately, unless someone already knows a friend or family member who reloads it can be difficult to connect with someone willing to teach. No one wants to deal with that grumpy old condescending jerk at the local gun shop or put up with the know it all attitude from gun show arm chair rangers. This is why I’ve taken it upon myself to bring reloading to the preparedness community. I had no one to help me when I was learning reloading. It was frustrating. There is a whole new crowd of people who are either first time gun owners or have a general interest in firearms but feel isolated because they don’t have good resource people in their social circle. Often these persons are turned off to guns or discouraged because someone at a gun shop or gun show discouraged them or talked to them like they were stupid. That is why I am passionate about teaching others to reload. I offer completely free help, advice, and information in an encouraging, supportive, and nonjudgmental environment through email. Even though anyone could pick up good info from my emails, my emails are geared toward persons who have no or very little knowledge and / or experience with reloading. All you need is an inbox and a desire to learn. I’m not compensated for this service in any way by any one. This is just my way to give back to a great community. I send out emails regularly with reloading related content. Additionally, anyone can send me a message and ask anything they want about reloading. It’s a totally free service. You can follow the link below to sign up to my email list or just message me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can subscribe to my newsletter at https://forms.aweber.com/form/82/515771282.htm
I’ll look forward to your questions,
Matt “Papa Bear” Wooddell
On yet another anniversary of 911, the 16th, the images from that day are still haunting and still heart breaking.
Those lost, lives forever changed, bravery on a scale that can’t be measured…
and yet uplifting as well….
Civil servants, airline employees, “average” citizens if there is such a thing, the people you pass everyday without giving a second thought stepped up. We saw then what we saw in Texas a couple of weeks ago, what we are seeing now throughout the northern Caribbean, and the Florida Peninsula.
People doing their jobs, people surviving, people reaching out and helping others. People picking themselves and others up and moving on. A favorite quote attributed to Winston Churchill “When You are Going Through Hell, Keep Going!”
As Preppers this is what we prepare for, why we plan and why we know that we will keep going and hope we will be able to assist others when the need arises. Please take a moment and reflect on the true human spirit, not the one painted with a broad brush of hate driven by a selfish agenda.
NYC set the bar high, Texas stepped up and now we are watching Florida pick up the torch.
The Prepper Journalwould like to hear from preppersin Texas and Florida as to how their plans worked, and more importantly what may not have worked as planned.
Promise made, promise kept. Finally preppers you get to cast your votes for the “best articles” published between May 15th and July 16th of this year. And not a moment too soon as Round Elevenis just around the corner. Money, money, money! But more importantly GREAT information!
I have chosen five (5) worthy candidates for the Round TenPreppers Writing Contest. Again, it was a hard thing to do, so many honorable mentions, so much coverage of wide-ranging subjects. Impressive. Paring the list down to five (5) remains the challenge. As always, I want to thank everyone who entered and remind you that Round Elevenis just a few weeks away. And yes, as always, previous winners can still win again!
I will leave the voting open through the weekend so please let me know which article you think is the best. The five (5) articles in contention for the three (3) prizes of Amazon gift cards are (in no particular order):
One of the most fascinating subjects I had to study for a captain’s license was weather forecasting. Back in the late 70s there was no Weather Channel with satellite photos or live radar images to rely on. We had to learn to forecast weather by observing the sky, our surroundings, and recording the change in the barometric pressure. Wind speed is deduced by how it affects objects around us. Offshore, we could look at the wave tops to judge the wind velocity. On land we observe tree branches, weeds, or grass.
When I first started studying weather forecasting, I had several good books on the subject with a pocket weather guide the easiest reference to carry around. A guide helps with determining the different cloud formations and the type weather that would be associated them. Periodically logging, every ½ to 1 hour, the changing barometric pressure in association with the clouds added another layer to the forecast. Next was the direction and speed of the wind. Subsequently, by recording the rise or fall of the barometric pressure over time, the wind direction and speed, and the cloud formations, a forecast would come together. It is important to note that low pressure systems will produce much more wind with unstable weather conditions, where high pressure systems produce milder, more unchanging conditions.
C. Crane CC Pocket AM FM and NOAA Weather Radio with Clock and Sleep Timer
When I first started watching the Weather Channel, in the mid-90s, they focused totally on reporting the weather. If and when some storm or weather event was happening, then they sent people out into the field to cover it. Back in the studio, a meteorologist would analyze the conditions as the weather progressed. That was great for me, because I seeing what I had been studying for the past 20 years and witnessing just how far weather forecasting had advanced.
Today, as I begin my studies on prepping, I realize the importance of knowing some basic weather forecasting. After all, the worst natural disasters in America are weather related. Therefore, understanding what effects weather will have on most any disaster is of a primary concern.
Observing a wildfire, we predict how the wind and humidity affects the speed at which the fire spreads. When a chemical spill or explosion occurs, the weather will determine areas in danger from the fallout. Understanding basic weather principles helps when considering how heavy rainfall may affect a local dam or roadways. Other factors help us predict foggy conditions, hail, ice, or snow. A summer stable high pressure area tends to produce heat waves, which are the number one cause of weather related fatalities in the U.S. Here in Texas, we know all about heatwaves and droughts.
The worst disasters in America are weather related.
Predicting the effects of the changing weather around us, gives us the ability to prepare for it. Once the SHTF and we are left to our own instincts, the weather will be a major factor affecting our survival. Subsequently, here are some questions to think about.
The Weather Channel will be able help until the electricity goes out, then what?
Do you have an emergency weather radio; one with a hand crank or solar cells?
What about weather (wx) broadcast on Short Wave, AM, or HAM radio?
Where do you find the frequencies that broadcast weather info and at what time they transmit?
What about a small handheld anemometer that also displays barometric pressure?
A pocket guide to weather forecasting stored in your prepping gear?
All these questions are easily solvable.
As an example of local awareness, here along the Gulf Coast of Texas, we get tropical fronts in the Spring and Summer. The warm, humid Gulf air is drawn inland to the mid-Atlantic states. Cool fronts descend on this area as the jet stream comes south and the cool dry air meets the warm humid air and a front develops. Low pressure systems have a counter-clockwise rotation and high pressure rotate clockwise. Low pressure systems tend to move rapidly where high pressure will remain stationary for some extended period of time. High pressure tends to steer low pressure. Lifelong residents on the Gulf Coast know all about hurricanes and flooding and they both are associated with high and low pressure systems.
Topography also plays a huge part in how weather will affect a geographic location. Learn the local weather patterns for the different seasons of the year where you live or plan on heading when bugging out. Knowing the local weather patterns and having a basic understanding of the weather, you will be surprised at how easy you can forecast the weather. Discerning the wind speed and direction, cloud formations, and barometric pressure, you will have all the data you need at your figure tips. The data is not that difficult to collect.
Use your field guide to classify the clouds and for a reference. Purchase a small, portable, digital weather station to obtain wind speed and pressure data called an anemometer, which are readily available at a nominal price. Also, a compass to record wind direction, a good mechanical pencil, and a waterproof note pad to log readings every hour or 1/2 hour, depending on the situation. Thus, for a small investment, you can have the tools for forecasting the weather in your bug out bag. What I use cost less than a good hunting knife and takes up about the same space. I carry them when I go out shooting pictures or go to the beach just to practice. If you fish, a small weather station would be an excellent tool to forecast the quality of fishing and a good excuse to buy one.
Having some basic weather forecasting knowledge could be the difference in knowing when to seek shelter from a rapidly approaching front, or getting caught off guard trying to shelter after it hits. Weather related incidents cause the worst disasters in the U.S. Many times, just by having a basic understanding of the weather, how it is going to affect your community, and what you need to do for shelter, could save a lot of lives. Make the investment in inexpensive, easy to understanding weather forecasting tools and learn how to use them. It is an enjoyable way to gain one more step toward being better prepared when the grid goes down.
Looking around I couldn’t find an important piece of information – how one should fight in a SHTF situation. I think this is an important topic to cover because it has several special circumstances that need to be considered.
Ammo will need to be conserved – I don’t care how many rounds you have saved up, it won’t be enough and the long-term of a complete collapse of society (potentially 40+ years) means that from the get go every single shot will be precious.
Due to limited manpower and the fact that any attrition will be felt heavily, patrols, night combat, and outposts will be nigh impossible to field with regularity.
Expanding on the above, most medication has a limited shelf life and even minor wounds will start to become quite threatening (increased risk of disease and infection) – Medication will run out fast.
With that in mind, let us analyse why tactical considerations are always important and what style of fighting we will have to adopt. Due to the fact that ammo will always be a luxury, modern tactics which rely on the idea of expending more ammo in a gunfight at the foe over men or positioning is obviously not possible.
Now – every weapon you should use should focus on stopping power, the smallest cartridge in your arsenal should be 6.5mm (handguns excluded). Whilst 5.56 has good aerodynamics and is plentiful it simply is designed to suppress whilst a mortar, grenade, or artillery piece does the killing – it simply isn’t designed with taking down man-sized targets with minimal rounds (I have heard anecdotes of anywhere between 5-15 torso shots on an adrenalized up foe before they go down).
With that out-of-the-way – let us look at the overall thought process and things to identify before you engage in any situation.
Manpower: Who has more bodies at their disposal – do they look weak and ill-trained or are their movements/positions well thought out and the men (and women!) well fed? Are they all moving armed or do they have the luxury of people dedicated to guard duties?
Armament: What weapons are they using – are they rusted and in ill repair? Can you identify if they are carrying enough ammo for everyone to fight adequately?
Maneuver: Who is in the better position? – do they have a path of pursuit and escape, do they have a height advantage? Importantly are they defending something valuable (like a base or stash)? If so you may have the luxury of being able to attack at will, the same thing goes if you are on the defensive.
From these 3 guidelines a threat level can be deduced, obviously there will be some situation where one advantage is so great that it will offset disadvantages – this is a rough guideline. If they check off none, then you are probably in a position to utilize a diplomatic approach and join groups. If they check off one of 3 then you should approach with caution, maybe attempt to surround them at night and make your intentions clear – again diplomacy may be the best decision here. If they check two of three than combat should be avoided until you are in a position to use your advantage to overwhelm them (attacking at night, in an ambush, etc). Do not attempt diplomacy at this threat level as you will not be in a position to make a fair deal and all emphasis should be placed on evening the odds or avoiding the threat. Finally if they check off all three do not engage at all, the goal is survival not heroic death and if worst comes to worst retreating completely or surrendering goods is preferable to a bullet in the brain. They still are people and unless you are absolutely sure that they are completely hostile they may be willing to work with you.
Now with the overall threat assessment done we may now talk about the five stages of combat (Recce, Skirmish, Combat, Push/Withdraw, Decisive Blow/Total Withdrawal).
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” – Sun Tzu
Recce is often the most overlooked stage of combat but it is BY FAR the most important. Recce is the mode of thought that you should be on at all times, dispatching a scout if possible and identifying incoming threats. The more focus you place on recce the more forewarning you will have as to inbound threats, and more time to prepare/evacuate. Obviously you will be unable to have a complete recon net due to limited supplies but any extra hands should be trained for recce and dispatched when possible.
This is where you will identify your enemies capabilities on your threat checklist and decide whether to choose engagement/diplomacy/retreat. Just to outline how vital this is, 90% of a good tactician’s skill is how the deploy and utilize information from recce, with the other 10% being a good leader with good interpersonal skills and the ability to keep cool under pressure.
This is where you action your initial decision on engaging the enemy, it is the period where hostilities have begun but you are not locked into a fight. This will be the period where you harry the enemy with traps and marksman to attempt to pick off men before you attack or they reach your designated point of defense (usually your fortifications).
Some skirmishes may only last a minute or two and some may be the entire fight, note that your main focus should be leaders and sensitive targets (heavily armed fighters and if possible, medics). The goal of this will be to break your enemies organisation and morale when combat begins – that being said…
This will be the time when individual training counts. Communication will be close to impossible in this brief period and this is where the most casualties will be sustained – though despite this being the most calamitous point of a fight it will be the least important for you as the person in command. Your main role will be encouraging your men and stopping any obvious screw-ups.
What you should be watching closely is the movement of combat, are you making good progress towards your goal or are you sustaining casualties – are there hostile elements that you were unaware of?
Before I make my next point the thing to keep in mind is that in a ‘battle’ there may be multiple combats, intensive fighting between periods of skirmish, pushing, and retreat.
This is as much a phase of combat as it is its own separate action, and the commands will have to be executed well and especially in the case of a withdrawal you need pre-planned points to ensure cohesiveness.
Really the most that can be said of pushing is that your enemy has begun to break or have thinned enough that they can no longer maintain the area their position demands, as I would expect almost all combatants to be ill-trained this will almost certainly result in a decisive victory as the enemy breaks completely.
However, keeping your men together in the case of a withdrawal is another issue. The things to watch out for: can you retreat to your designated point safely (if you have one – keep in mind most defense should take a multi layered approach), do you have enough manpower left to pursue another attack, is the enemy willing to pursue or are they holding position. If it is the latter the combat may switch to a skirmishing stance again.
TOTAL WITHDRAWAL/ DECISIVE BLOW
Decisive blow: Your enemy has completely shattered, this is the period encompassing cleaning up resistance before taking stock of supplies and beginning the process of recce again – re-assessing.
Total Withdrawal: This comes about one of two ways – Your force has broken and are fleeing in a blind panic, or it is (hopefully) an organised retreat to put some distance between yourselves and the enemy combatants and re-asses. You will again need to survey the situation and determine the next point of action for your group.
Something to note – Overall your group should always be prepared for a total retreat, even an easy fight could be a ruse and you always need to be prepared to move and maintain as many supplies as possible.
In this conversation, we’re discussing pistol safes for use in a defensive situation where everything’s on the line.
I imagine myself in a scenario where I’m woken up by a bump in the night. Likely taking place in the wee hours of the morning. An uninvited guest decides to bless me with their presence and take what they please. When my life is threatened, I’d confidently respond with a Glock® 17 and the necessary amount of Speer +P Gold Dots. Now, to get this out of the way. I have a love for all things Glock®, and think the Glock® 19 is the pinnacle of well-rounded self-defense weaponry in pistol form, and this is my scenario, so we’re sticking with the Glock®. To that end, I choose the 17 for my bedside defense out of a healthy respect for the benefits of increased sight radius. Also, I’m not confined by space for concealed carry, nor do I care about printing. Insert your firearm of preference for use with your imagination.
Obviously, in nearly any circumstance I’d always choose a rifle given the option, but remember, this conversation is about a bedside pistol safe for defensive use, that are accessible quickly. If we wanted to get into it, we could discuss benefits of room clearing, and reduced penetration through drywall of some pistol rounds in comparison to rifles. We’ll save this for another discussion, however.
I move towards my pistol safe and realize my RFID bracelet is in the kitchen next to my wallet. I don’t sleep in my kitchen. I don’t sleep wearing a Live Strong bracelet, and never will. No Bueno.
Adrenaline flowing, I roll towards my pistol safe and enter the super-secret passcode. I expect a loud Bleep, Bleep, Bloop, followed by a holy presentation of my Glock®. Only this time, the batteries are dead… Also, I left the override key near my wallet, in the kitchen, with my RFID bracelet from above…
You know where this is going. My IPhone 7 only works a third of the time when trying to unlock it in perfect conditions. My SpeedVault pistol safe set me back $180. No chance this is an improvement over the IPhone. I’m not even going to risk it. This is something I’d never consider as a defensive and readily available gun storage container with its challenging, at best, unlock mechanism. Not ideal for reliably dispensing my Glock® on demand.
Now we’re talking. Through muscle memory and repetition, I effortlessly enter my code. Feeling the quiet yet audible tactile clicks of each button, followed by a quarter turn of the release knock. I know what comes next. The safe opens via spring hydraulic lifts with a perfect presentation of my Glock®. It’s reliable, predictable, and highly resistant to failure – unlike many things in life. There are many good mechanical safe options on the market but look at www.Fas1safe.com for bed side or floor mounted placement.
Why a pistol safe?
In a perfect world, I’d have my rifle sitting bedside. One problem. In my perfect world, there are other people. Some of these people make it not so perfect. For my safety (i.e. unwanted access), and theirs, particularly with children in mind, a safe is the responsible option for me. The best I can do is apply the most effective tool for the job, and for me, that’s a mechanical pistol safe. Failure of deployment is unacceptable; it must be mechanical.
Mechanical safes are where I put my trust. I refuse to rely on electrical opening mechanisms, finger print scanners, and RFID bracelets to stand between me and my firearm. With that said, I’m a millennial, I love polymer guns, and 1911’s equally, and I have children, so I train for and prep with their safety in mind.
Soon, we talk large gun safes, mechanical vs. electrical.
When it comes to being prepared for disasters great or small, readers of this blog know I like to have different options. That isn’t to say that I roll out of my house with 3 different kinds of each piece of gear on me and 5 others in the pack in the trunk, but I do have more than one way to skin a cat so to speak. For food, I have different types of food stored and methods of producing my own food. For water, I have stored water plus many different filtration options and methods to obtain more. When it comes to security, I have plenty of options there as well.
Most of the articles I have written on the Prepper Journal look at security from the perspective of defense as in when you have bad things happening, bad people usually try to take advantage of the situation. My recommendation for most scenarios like this is to have firearms to defend yourself. They also have the added advantage of being able to be used to acquire food if you are lucky enough, but they aren’t without their disadvantages too.
Weapons need ammo, they need regular maintenance and cleaning and they aren’t quiet. Yes, you can mitigate these points to varying degrees by stockpiling supplies but even if you have a warehouse full of weapons and supplies that doesn’t guaranty this approach will work for you. Another huge issue is that for a lot of people, owning a firearm just isn’t realistic or possible due to where they live or personal issues. What is the option for security in that type of situation?
Alternative Survival Weapon
“My intent was to create a very small, lightweight hunting package,” says Howard Winther, the bow’s designer and manufacturer. “I wanted a bow that I could hook onto my backpack and not even feel it as I hiked along. I was looking for a bow that would fit into the corner of my car truck and carry anywhere.”
You can always go caveman and build your own homemade weapon in a pinch or you could embrace your inner Katniss Everdeen and look toward archery. I haven’t shot a bow since I was a little kid but when Howard Winther of Liberty Archery reached out to me to try out his Liberty I bow I was very intrigued.
I have long admired the skill archers have of taking down large game with accuracy and stealth, but I never had the time to take up the hobby. I sure would have appreciated getting out to the woods during deer season much sooner, but I was content to wait for black powder or rifle season. Bows are very common in hunting circles, but would they also make a good prepper option for a survival weapon?
The Liberty I Bow is unique in a few ways that make it worth a second look.
Compact – The bow itself is only 20.5″ axle to-axle* which makes it almost half the height of many traditional compound bows. Also makes this easier to hide.
Light – 2.3 pounds will reduce fatigue and makes this friendlier to smaller framed people.
Fast – 338 feet per second with Liberty Arrows.
Powerful – The Liberty 1 is a proven winner at taking down larger game than you will ever see running around North America, unless the zoos empty out.
Joerg from the Slingshot channel gave this bow a nice review below with some velocity measuring equipment I don’t have.
How does the Liberty I apply to Preppers?
“My intent was to create a very small, lightweight hunting package,” says Howard Winther, the bow’s designer and manufacturer. “I wanted a bow that I could hook onto my backpack and not even feel it as I hiked along. I was looking for a bow that would fit into the corner of my car truck and carry anywhere.”
There are likely some of you out there saying, of course! Who wouldn’t think of a bow as a survival weapon, I mean people for eons have been using them. I do get that, but I wonder if they aren’t second down on the list behind a firearm in the eyes of most preppers. Getting back to my first point about having options – a bow can be a tremendous prepper weapon in a few different ways:
Stealth – There isn’t a market for archery silencers is there? Well, technically there are string silencers but even the noisiest bow isn’t going to be heard more than 25 feet away. Say you decide that you are bugging out to the woods if disaster strikes. I maintain that you won’t be alone and this fact will mean that hunting for the food you need to protect your family is going to be more difficult. Wouldn’t you rather take down a deer with a quiet bow as opposed to any rifle you have?
Peep Site on the Liberty I
Reloading/Reusability – Yes, you can make your own arrows too just like you can make your own bullets. Granted, there are different supplies and skill sets needed but it is just as viable a method as any. If that approach doesn’t work for you, there is always the possibility of making your own arrows from scratch. Additionally, if you don’t break an arrow, they can be reused again and again.
Legal Issues – Do you need a background check to purchase a bow? Nope! Do they register you in a database when you do purchase a bow? Nope!
Concealabilty – This one might be a stretch but with the Liberty 1’s compact size you will have more options with where to conceal this weapon should you need to keep it away from anyone’s attention. It’s so light you can throw it up in a drop ceiling tile and diminutive enough to hide behind your back if you don’t have the quiver attached. Additionally, it’s smaller size will make it easier to shoot from the ground. You can easily shoot this while sitting down because the bow’s short overall height won’t get in the way.
Shooting the Liberty 1
People seem to think you can pick up any weapon and become proficient in its accurate use in minutes. I know I have a lot of practice yet before I will head out into the woods and try to bring home dinner but the bow feels great in my hands. The pull is steady but when you reach the end, the pressure releases almost completely and maintaining a steady hold is simple and effortless.
No. A bag of pine shavings is not a suitable backstop for an arrow. Fortunately, I had a big tree behind it.
I tried to save a buck by not getting a proper target but quickly learned that a bag of chicken bedding does not stop an arrow traveling over 300 feet per second. Lesson learned and I still need much more practice, practice, practice.
When I received my Liberty I, Howard insisted we talk on the phone so he could go over a few things with me and answer any questions I had. He was incredibly patient and helpful and I understand he does this for each customer he has. If you are looking for options, I suggest looking at the Liberty I from Liberty Archery.
Before anything else I will quickly mention one thing that has been repeated a lot but is always worth mentioning – physical fitness! I have met people who hold the belief that it doesn’t matter if they cannot handle a flight of stairs as ‘the weight will come off when it needs too’ and ‘my body will adapt’. You can be the best prepared and equipped person on Earth but the harsh reality is that day zero will involve a lot of hard work, even if you intend to hunker down, you need to take into consideration preparing your AO and getting there. The reality is that no matter the event, prepping without the willingness to make some sacrifice to fitness is hoarding under a different name.
Now with that over with…
Skills – not stuff!
All too frequent is the mentality that having lots of “things” is going to make a SHTF scenario easier; while yes, there is a baseline amount of prepping supplies that will improve your chances and are basically necessities (A good knife, a map, a plan, and a gun depending on how you feel about the situation) that isn’t everything. What I am talking about is the huge tendency to believe that having an object is the same as being able to use said object proficiently.
Using a knife as an example – I believe that you will be hard pressed to find a single prepper that doesn’t carry a knife and have a good fixed blade somewhere. However I would say over 80% of preppers do not have knife skills, what I mean by this is do you know you to whittle, make traps, baton well, the uses for various knife blades and shapes, and how to dress a kill for hide and meat?
The same can be said of maps – yes navigating when you know your initial position is easy, but in the event you get disoriented can you triangulate your position with landmarks. What if you do not know the area, can you still find your way around?
People tend to think of prepping items of – it is good to have. Instead try to think of it in a mindset of ‘what else could I bring instead’.
Prepping – like engineering, is not about having the most of everything, it is about having the right amount of everything. Whether you intend to stay or bug out, it is of course important to have the skills (Can you pack a bag correctly etc). However I see many people approaching with a mindset of hoarding will make things easier, as an example I spoke to a man whom had 43 different weapons with almost 500 days of non-perishable food. This mindset of buying without realizing that in a SHTF scenario every item you bring or stock has a cost.
For example with every weapon that man owned he was paying a price in 3 different ways.
Obviously, space and weight. That 2.5 Kg rifle could be swapped for 2.5 Kg of water purification tablets, ammunition or tools – people tend to think of prepping items of – it is good to have. Instead try to think of it in a mindset of ‘what else could I bring instead’.
Finally, almost everything that is a tool for your own survival is also a tool AGAINST your survival. A bigger stash makes you more attractive to bandits and in this situation the only reason to have that many weapons was to maintain a guard force large enough to protect 200-300 people. If your plan is to conscript people and form a sizable community for survival that is fine, but having 40 people armed and only having enough farming tools and equipment to support 10 long-term is very dangerous.
Learn to maintain and make everything!
Learn as much passing knowledge on simple items as possible, learn to make bows, furniture, simple houses, simple clothes, simple bags, and anything along that line
This is less applicable for people prepping for 3-4 day events like earthquakes and more aimed at people prepping for a complete breakdown of human society for an indefinite period of time. All too often I hear statements like ‘I have these 2 really super high quality solar panels so I will be fine’ unfortunately the reality is even the most expensive and well made tools money can buy are unlikely to survive 10 years of use. It may not be a nice reality but the reality is that any tool that you bring that cannot be replicated with basic machining knowledge and tools is temporary.
Learn the basics of reshaping scrap metal and wood – learn to make a furnace with materials that are renewable (Think clay and charcoal for the fire). Learn as much passing knowledge on simple items as possible, learn to make bows, furniture, simple houses, simple clothes, simple bags, and anything along that line – not only will it be useful in equipping your group but also for trading, a working and replaceable long-range weapon like a bow will be worth more than luxury cars 15 years after a collapse.
And finally, learn how to lead and how humans think.
People, given tools and direction can and will work and provide for themselves and the unprepared group who bands together will outlast the lone prepper.
Prepping has a strong theme of different strokes for different folks but one of the most common themes is ‘Everyone is going to be marauders and is going to be after me and I am going to have to kill so many hapless raiders and that justifies my federal armory of weapons!’. I have served, and I have been in disaster situations both long and short-term and the reality is there will be raiders for maybe a week – tops.
After that people will work together on a small-scale (think tribes) because we are naturally altruistic. After maybe a year or two and people are established raids will begin again. Preppers are almost always very exclusionary – I have met people who think the world will end if you share your beans but it is almost exactly the opposite.
People, given tools and direction can and will work and provide for themselves and the unprepared group who bands together will outlast the lone prepper. Television always portrays survival groups as a bunch of assholes all fighting for dominance all the time but really, it is the opposite! Almost always everyone just agrees they need food or whatever and no one steps up to the plate to really make decisions. Be that person and you will form a group of 20-30 people who will work for you and with you to make everyone’s lives better – it is how we are programmed.
The final note I leave you with on this topic is that people always form tribes and tribes are ALWAYS communal. Don’t expect that refusing to share what you have will extend your life at all.
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