Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Getting Started With Survival

I see a lot of posts on the various forums where people ask how they should get started.  I see advice on this topic that ranges from good to downright dangerous.

To understand how you should get started, you first need to understand the "hierarchy" behind survival.  What things you should worry about first, second, third, and so on.  I'm not going to talk about actual "buy this, avoid that"

First, let me tell you what The hierarchy (unless climate conditions are at extremes) is: Air, Water, Food, Shelter, Self Defense, and finally Medical care (unless there is a dangerous pre-existing problem in which case it moves upward as appropriate).

The hierarchy for times when climate conditions are at extremes is: Air, Shelter, Water, Food, Self Defense, and finally Medical Care (but again this item can move up as appropriate).

With that information as a basis, if you want to begin preparing, then start "close to home" with problems you are likely to face, and then move out to less and less likely issues from there.

I have a post where I talked about "Prep Levels" that was meant to put a sort of "DEFCON" (which stands for Defense Condition) kind of feel to preparedness.

It does you no good to have lots of weapons and ammo if you can't survive a simple grid failure without help due to lack of food and water.

So focus "close to home" ... or at the center of the graphic below ... and move out to each step from there, helping yourself to become more and more prepared.
Here's the thing.  This whole "survival" deal is so situation dependent that actually giving you a good beginners survival guide is fairly difficult.  However if you focus on "PL1" level "survival" and being prepared for that, then you will be more ready for a PL2 event.  Again, see the post where I talked about "Prep Levels" to get an understanding of how this can be done.

Not only that, but it becomes easier to understand how to survive the specific situations you are likely to encounter and thus be much more ready for your specific type of survival scenario should you need it.  What I am saying here is that instead of telling you exactly what you should and should not need, instead, I am hoping to help you to become is prepared in the best way for you without mucking up the waters telling you what works best for me.

My background and skills are different than yours, my strengths and weaknesses are different than yours.  Therefore, the things I should do are by necessity different than what you should do.

If you have any questions about your specific situation let me know and I'll be glad to help.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Well, that was horrible advice!

Over at the Survival Blog, someone by the name of ChemEngineer wrote this post.  Before I get into the post itself, let me say that you've probably noticed that I'm careful about the advice I give.  The reason is that too much of survival is "situational"; meaning that what is the right thing to do in one instance will get you killed in another.  That's why I pose so many questions in my posts to get you to consider what the best method will be for you.

Anyway, I really liked that post.  It was well written and well thought out, until I got to the part that said "Don't plan to live in a tent or take to the mountains to live off the forest. Bad idea."

Folks, what's a "bad idea" is trying to do something based on the advice of only one so-called "prepper expert" when he's giving opinions with no knowledge of the specific situation you may encounter.  Did the writer know what he was talking about?  Clearly he'd studied survival "some".  Was his opinion about tents and mountains correct?  That depends.  In fact, it's the "that depends" that makes me say the person probably hadn't truly thought out various different scenarios which meant he wasn't much of an expert ... and that meant all of his opinions were therefore suspect.

If you've spent time learning about what plants and animals will actually be available to you, should you need to "bug out" then you can indeed "take to the mountains" or what ever.  As for the thing about the tent ... that was just downright foolish.  Many events don't last very long and staying in a tent for a week or two is no big deal, backpackers do it all the time and it's fun (being a backpacker I know this).  I routinely will go on two week long backpacking trips where for the entire two weeks, if I don't have it on my back, I don't have it.  I'm literally living a "bug out" type of scenario on a regular basis.  Like I said, backpackers do this as a matter of course and few think of what they are doing as "practicing their survival strategy" and instead just think of it as having some fun and enjoying nature.

Not only that, but given my background I can speak with some authority about something ... people in groups can get real ugly real fast.  If you live in an apartment staying there is a very bad idea if you are a prepper.

People in that complex almost certainly will come after you if there is even the slightest inkling that you have food and water and they don't.

Do you live in a house?  That might possibly work IF you have "hardened" the house to prevent a swarm of people from just breaking through the walls.  Again, the people in your neighborhood will come after you if any of them know you're a prepper.  They'll come begging for your help at first "please give us some food, we're starving! Please help us, please."

They'll bring out their starving children (can you really resist helping a starving child you know you can help) and beg and plead.  If that doesn't work they'll resort to an outright invasion of your home or apartment.

Here's the thing, in a Shit Hits The Fan (SHTF) type of event (natural disaster such as massive fire, flood, hurricane, etc) you do not want to put yourself into the situation of having to defend yourself if you can avoid it.

Trust me when I say this ... very few people can actually shoot and someone.  TRAINED SOLDIERS have great difficulty doing it which is why it takes so many rounds to make a single kill and why so many come back with mental problems.

It is far better to bug out if you can to a location where you can hunker down and largely be invisible.  However, remember what I said, that opinion is situation dependent.  For any number of a variety of reasons that may not work for you.

In some places doing it can simply be very difficult (e.g. some parts of Denver the government has the ability to completely seal off the roads and leave you with no way out).  If you have to stay where you are (roads washed out or flooding so bad you're stuck or closed and guarded roads) then you have to make the best of the situation presented to you.

In that instance, you want to appear to be gone, but you'll also want to make sure that what ever structure you live in can be "hardened" and you want to make sure that you can make it appear that no one is home.

However, the thing to understand is that if you are going to stay in a city environment then you may need to defend yourself from an incursion of people wanting to see if there is food in your home (particularly if any neighbors know you're a prepper).  If you harden it, then it's possible that people will give up and move on to other, easier targets.  Once everything else has been broken into, they won't stop and sooner or later they will get in unless you prove that you have the ability to absolutely and completely defend yourself ... and that will mean shooting people.

The best thing to do is to begin to do what you can to harden now and continually improve on it.  Try coming up with ways you could break into your house even if it means breaking things (trust me, the mob won't care about that).  When you find a weak point, make it strong.  Keep working on it.

Not only that, but during Katrina not only was the grid down but there wasn't any water either ... if you stay in a city then you have to expect the possibility there won't be running water either.  In that case, how will you obtain water in the middle of a city?  Next to breathable air, water is the single most important resource.  Without it you will die in a matter of days.  If you're staying where you are then you will need quite a bit of stockpiled water.  Remember, not just water to drink, but water to bathe as well.

Further, what about "human waste"?  Again, with no running water what will you do when you have to go to the bathroom?  You can always stockpile "grey water" to fill your toilet tank yourself.  However, we're now talking about needing to stockpile a lot of water.  A natural disaster that knocks out the water supply for two weeks would mean you needing at least 50 gallons of water just to flush toilets with!  That's on top of an easy 100 plus gallons you're going to need to drink, cook, and clean with.  Do you have some place that can handle the weight of 150 gallons minimum of water (that is a lot of weight)?  Do you have some place to store it?

The Paradox Of Hardened Structures

Now there is another problem.  The more "impregnable" you make where you live, should a mob come against your home they may wonder what's being hidden and go at you all the harder.  It's why a decent stockpile of ammo at your home at nearly all times should be considered a must.

Prepping does you no good if a mob of people can just come and take it from you.

I bring this up because in any survival scenario you need to the pros and cons.

Should a mob come after what you have, how will you defend your food and your lives?

If you can bug out, how will you get there?  Will you have water, food, and shelter?

Hope this helps.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Dry Fire: The little known secret of top shooters

Most of shooting is about learning to "be still".  Breath control and trigger control.

One of the best ways therefore to learn how to shoot better is to get an inexpensive red dot sight (any cheap one will do) and put it on a rilfe that has been "3 point checked" that it isn't loaded.

Put up a target at the end of the hallway, and aim at it.  Watch how the red dot moves around, focus on keeping it still.  (I'm not going to cover shooting mechanics in this post)

Now, squeeze the trigger slowly and watch how the dot moves.  Cock and do it again, focus on zero movement all the way through the squeeze.

Do this laying down with the barrel supported, laying down with you holding it, sitting down, standing up, do it using a wall for cover.

Now do it while walking (crouched, step heel to toe).  Focus on being able to hold your rifle with nearly zero movement in the dot of the scope still all the way until you hear the click of the firing pin ... no movement.

This is "target" practice that you can do at home without needing to spend a single cent on rounds.

Now, your rifle, unloaded will of course be a little lighter than it is with rounds in it.  However, what you're after with this exercise is to give you the muscle memory to be able to fire with extreme accuracy without hardly thinking about it.

If you want to take this to another level, there are "lasers" that you can set into your barrel.  These things put a laser dot on the wall and can make a neurosurgeon look like an epileptic.  It's a way of learning to shoot with near zero movement to a whole new level.

If you want to learn to be a great shot, this is one way of getting that done because now you can practice much more often from the comfort of your home.  You can improve your skill without really going anyway.

Hope this helps.

P.S. I know it's been quite a while since I last posted, but things got a little hectic.  My apologies.