Friday, August 1, 2008

Protection - Firearms

(plus ammo and practiced skill)

Our dad gave my brother and me each a tube feed .22 bolt action rifle and a single shot 16-gauge shotgun when we were 11 and 12. First came all the gun safety lessons of course, then he showed us how they worked in detail (he was an engineer). Dad was a good teacher, with high expectations. We both became pretty good shots and learned not to waste ammo.

In the military I was introduced to the 1911 45ACP. I did okay, but I was not near as good as I was with a rifle. After Vietnam, I went plinking twice, then didn't shoot again for 35 years. Do not misunderstand, I have believed in, and wholeheartedly supported the second amendment since the first day I understood it.

When I became preparedness aware I realized it was time to get back into firearms. I decided my bride and I should, as much as possible, have the same brand and model in all our weapons.

So, whats "the word" on weapons choice in the self defense-preparedness-survival world? The answer is easy: every caliber ever invented is the only smart choice - according to someone or another - ditto for weapon type, brand, model and ammunition too. The only consensus I found is that we should be armed. There are a number of very bright gun guys out there, and sometimes they even agree! I gotta say, I really enjoyed this research. Nearly everyone is quite passionate about their choice of caliber and weapon. In the end, it really is very personal.

I had the advantage of knowing guns rather well (decades ago) and I was starting from scratch at the same time. There is a ton of cool stuff available today. After a few weeks (the wife says months) of reading everything I could find on the subject, going to gun shows, and bugging my friends about what they think, I realized I was having a wonderful time. Guns are fun!

During this time of research, one of the things that surprised me is the recommendation that we should have a minimum of 5,000 rounds per weapon stored for preparedness. I thought that was nuts myself, so I did a little investigating. I read the accounts of the LA Riots (1992) in which one Korean family fired 2,000 rounds in six days protecting their business and family. I thought about this for awhile. Theirs was one of the few businesses not destroyed in the area. They could not call a "time out" and go shopping for more ammo. They had food, weapons and ammo on hand when they needed it. Good plan, and it worked. So I factored the cost of "minimal" ammo into my planning.

That thoroughly screwed up my great plan for weapons. The cost of 5,000 rounds of 45ACP starts at about $1,500 (as of this writing), plus the pistol and gear (cleaning stuff, magazines, holsters, etc) is at least $600 - call it $500 used. Thats $2,000 each - $4,000 for the wife and I together! My vow not to cuss was seriously taxed.

There is always a bright side. This got me to thinking about what we are preparing for. We needed a bunch of other stuff, like stored food and a zillion other things. This is when the concept of Levels of Preparedness was born. Everyone needs to start somewhere and get the ball rolling. A preparedness plan of some sort seemed in order. First we needed to get the basics in every Category of Preparedness for a 7 day long problem (Level 1), then add more stuff to be prepped for 2 weeks (Level 2), then a month (Level 3), and so on.

As the length of the emergency increases, so does the threat level. A week long emergency is bad of course, but it is not likely to unhinge my little world resulting in rampant crime. A month long emergency is a horse of a different color.

Relating this to firearms turned out pretty good. We needed to start with small bore weapons for training anyway, to build up the wife's confidence and our skills before we went to the larger bore weapons. At the same time, a 22 will likely be enough of a deterrent to keep honest folks honest in a small emergency (Level 1, maybe Level 2), before the unprepared folk's desperation becomes a big factor. Plus we would have some money left to work on the rest of our categories.

The 22 pistols, with 10,000 rounds, plus all the gear, spare parts, magazines, and supplies cost less than $800 for both of us. We now shoot a lot, the wife is having a ball (whew) and we are getting pretty good. Personally, I am way better with the little 22 pistol than I ever was with a 45.

After we got the 22 pistols we bought 22 rifles (and all the stuff: ammo, mags, parts, etc). Then larger bore pistols. Next is larger bore rifles, then matching M1 Abrams (hers will have pink tones)...

I have avoided mentioning any specific weapons. I will write about what and why we got the particular guns we did. I will also detail what, why, and how (with pictures) I set them up as I did. Right now I am writing as often as I can to explain the concepts of the Categories and Levels of Preparedness.

I just reread this so I could post. Being an airhead, I left out a significant part of Protection prep: shooting skill. Opps.

Just about the time humans are comfortable enough with guns to think we won't shoot ourselves, we also start thinking we are more powerful, even formidable. This is a natural feeling of course, but it will get you killed. A gun is formidable, not you. Well... maybe you, but not most of us until we have deeply ingrained multiple skills with our little fire-sticks. Accuracy under many varying conditions is the bigger goal, but so is judgement, various reactions, mind set, predisposed decisions, and a host of other things.

There will always be the yahoos that think holding a gun will change them. Our job is to develop the responsibility and talents that go with guns. This takes training and a lot of practice. Here is a dumb little true story of yours truly.

A long time friend of mine was an armed professional for decades. He explained to me that in his experience, the weaver stance is not always practical, like when hiding behind a vehicle's fender in a gun battle. He suggested I learn point shooting. He explained that when being shot at and shooting back, one does not always have the inclination to stick their head up and take a proper aim, thus point shooting. This requires really good hand-eye coordination... and tons of practice to develop this skill.

So off I go to my favorite shooting spot with a brick of 22s, plus my fully tweaked itty bitty 22 pistol, and a hand full of magazines. By the end of the day's shooting, I was doing pretty good with this point shooting. For the last magazine of the day I tossed an empty shotgun shell out about 10 feet or so and started point shooting, not aiming. I was astonished that I hit it 6 out of 10 times. Every time I hit it, it flew off and I had to reacquire the point. Wow! I was pumped! Woo Hoo! I'm da man!

Just three days later I took my wife out to show off my amazing new skill. It didn't happen, not even close. After some 400 rounds I began to do a little better, but not so hot as the last time. I'm guessing I may become consistently good at point shooting after, oh, say a million rounds or so. The wife was probably thinking the safest spot out there was wherever that shot shell was.

The point here is that we should get some training. Learn what you need to know, then practice practice practice. I know this is a cheap shot, but a brick of 525 .22 rounds is still only $15. I can afford to shoot quite a bit of that stuff. 45ACP would cost over $150 to do the same amount of shooting, and my hand and arm would be sore at the end of the day. The little old 22 has it's place. (I still want a 45!)

After my humbling experience with Point Shooting II, I read about Flash Sighting. I suspect this is a good thing to master as well. I will give it a go. From the website "Both flash sighting and point-shooting take a lot of practice to master, but they are some of the most critical pistol skills to perfect."

I would love to attend the likes of Front Sight, but the cost is prohibitive for us. On the other hand, I have the good fortune to have one friend in particular that was a professional gun guy. He is willing to teach my bride and me some things. He has carefully stressed that gun safety is number one, and that if I accidentally shoot him, he will accidentally hand my severed head back to me, with apologies, of course.

Obviously we have far to go in this department. We are armed with a wholesome respect for firearms, good attitudes, and the willingness to learn even from the ground up. Our target accuracy is getting pretty good, I am getting 2 1/2 to 3" groups at 100 yards with my 22 rifle. That will help, but it is not even close to being all the skill needed in combat.

The first layer of protection is Anonymity, second is Stealth, third Evasion, fourth Formidability, fifth is Guns, ammo and practiced skill.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Protection - Formidability

Just so you know, it was a coin toss for me as to which comes first, Formidability or Evasion. It depends on what happens around you, and when.

Being formidable is not about size, that helps of course, but that is not it. Among the most formidable people I ever met is a little lady named Tracy. No kidding.

In my misspent youth I was a brawler. I'm just big enough to irritate those very few shorter fellas that feel the need to take down a guy because he is taller. Years later I learned that many of the fights I got into were because I was an easy-going wuss. Well... after a tour in Vietnam something changed in me. Nobody picked fights with me anymore. Vietnam gave me a certain level of formidability.

Webster's on-line dictionary defines it this way: Formidability: formidable

1 : causing fear, dread, or apprehension
2 : having qualities that discourage approach or attack
3 : tending to inspire awe or wonder

Definition #2 is the subject of today's little chat. "Having qualities that discourage approach or attack." If you are seven feet tall with 300 pounds of solid muscle, that ought to do the trick.

But what about Tracy, at 5'6" and maybe 130 pounds? When we were camping one year, she stopped a bunch of bikers in their tracks, torn them a new one, and sent them packing with their heads hanging. I saw the whole thing (and thought I was gonna get killed protecting her - I never had to do a thing, whew!). Trust me, she has frozen this boy in his tracks with just a look. She has one of those aforementioned "qualities" so rudely not clarified by Mr. Webster.

Wouldn't it be cool to be a formidable creature when SHTF. Folks getting mugged right and left while you dance between the raindrops, so to speak.

Sorry, I don't have any instant formidability pills. Some guys that go off to war come back with it. It is more than simply self confidence, or a certain strut when walking. Lots of guys try to act like they have it, they mimic what they've seen on the tube. Nope, that don't work in a real pinch. You and I have seen many a "tough guy" melt when confronted for real. I've seen some little dogs with it. What the heck is this formidability thing?

I asked my lovely bride (of 35 years, last week) to define formidability for me. "Some creatures radiate a certain essence from their inner core." Excellent, but not clear enough for our purposes here today.

From The American Heritage Dictionary: #3 is: Difficult to undertake, surmount, or defeat: a formidable challenge; a formidable opponent.

The best definition for preparedness purposes is from Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary: Exciting fear or apprehension; impressing dread; adapted to excite fear and deter from approach, encounter, or undertaking; alarming.

In particular, I like the "deter from approach, encounter, or undertaking" part.

This is what I came up with. Suppose you are confronted with situation that requires you put someone down, or die yourself. That moment is not the time to decide whether or not you can take a human life. That soul searching choice had better be made long beforehand, long before you take up arms to defend yourself and/or your people. If you don't, you will die in the moment you are thinking about it. When you make the decision, in your soul, that you will do the deed, something changes inside you. You become a tad more formidable. Becoming a first rate marksman adds to this choice (it does not replace it!). Excelling in certain martial arts does the trick too. Part of this is self confidence, sure. Another part is the knowledge, as apposed to the belief, that you can, and will, take down your opponent. People can sense this, they can feel somehow that they are in real danger.

Considerable experience, real experience, at controlling a threat seems to be one of the common denominators of those with formidability. Another is courage, facing a threat whether you feel fear at the time or not. Tracy is not a physical threat, but she gets the job done rather well. Whatever her thing is, she has become really good at it.

When some yahoo starts talking tough, it is just talk. He is just trying to pump up his bravado to do what he thinks he can do, and has done so many times, but only in his dreams.

As soon as he says, "I'm gonna [whatever his threat is]", take the threat as real and beat on him till he is whimpering. Do not listen to him pump up his bravado, just do it. The down side to doing this is some of these tough talking critters are cowards. They may come back with friends, or try to hurt someone you care about, to hurt you however they can. Watch your back. The best way to stop this is to physically hurt this fool so much that he is not just a little scared, but terrified of you. Leave the area promptly. [My opinion only - this is not a recommendation.]

A policeman in uniform, with his holstered gun and all sorts gear on his belt, and especially dark sunglasses, looks formidable. Some of this is our human conditioning. Policemen are an "Authority", and oftentimes it is the person in the uniform as well.

A jovial cop is not particularly formidable, neither is one with attitude (the attitude is scary only because of the authority behind it). This is why, IMO, most cops try for the "poker face" non-expression. It works fairly well. We also presume cops have all sorts of training and expertise.

The objective here is to see that you and your people are safe and cared for, not getting into fire (or any other kind of) fights at every opportunity. Learn to become formidable: Exciting fear or apprehension; impressing dread; adapted to excite fear and deter from approach, encounter, or undertaking; alarming.

With all this talk about protecting my people, I will fight for real Freedom, as opposed to the shackled so called "freedom" in America today.

The first layer of protection is Anonymity, second is Stealth, third Evasion, fourth Formidability, fifth is Guns, ammo and practiced skill.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Protection - Evasion

Huh? What the heck is this about? The first two layers of protection (Anonymity and Stealth) will go a long way towards preparation security. Evasion is a jump into the future, to the time when SHTF has happened. The following is a little story I wrote to illustrate the Evasion part of Protection planning.

Frank decided it was time to evacuate their home. He and his wife, Connie, spent the last three hours loading their buckets and boxes of preparations into their 4X4 and trailer, checking their preps, and going through their house to make sure they had what they needed. Frank's goal was to get his family out of danger and to their (relatively) safe land, 320 miles to the southeast.

Frank knew avoiding a confrontation is an especially good thing now. The kids were already scared. He knew the only chance they had was to move quickly, efficiently and quietly... right now. The last thing they wanted was some kind of trouble, he just wanted to get his family out of town. He was hoping that the further they got away from suburbia, the safer his family would be.

Finally they pulled out of the driveway in their bug-out-vehicle (sheesh, only yesterday it was just my 4X4!) with their loaded trailer in tow. Even though it was the middle of the night, there was a lot more traffic than they thought there would be.

Frank's crystal ball was a tad off, a zillion other folks were thinking the same thing - at the same time. Most of them are not prepared anywhere near as well as Frank's family. Then again, the "if onlys" were heavy on Frank's mind. If only we left yesterday. If only we had practiced bugging out. If only, if only, if only...

There was palpable tension in the air. Drivers were rude, worse than during his normal morning commute to work. Always more perceptive, Connie saw this as people being afraid, half out of their minds with worry, and probably closer to doing stupid things. Like starting a riot.

Their clever plan to use the back roads and stay off the highways and main roads was in peril; apparently a number of other folks had the same plan. Though the traffic was thinning as they got farther away from town, there was still an inordinate number of travelers for such a time and place. They started to calm down a little as traffic continued to thin the farther out of town they got.

They saw that folks had all kinds of stupid stuff packed in their vehicles (TVs, toasters and such). Suddenly Frank was not all that pleased with his well tarped load, he noticed several people looking at it with open curiosity. Uh oh. "Connie, we need to get on an even less traveled road. What are our options?"

She pulled out their evacuation map and looked at the possible routes Frank had marked on the map last year. Connie had him turn left off this crowded little county road and proceed to use their Alternative Route #3. A mile or two later they found that they were alone on the road. Frank was relieved that the possible threats seem less, yet at the same time they were alone in unfamiliar territory. He kept going, aware that they had over 280 miles to go, as the crow flies. He had no idea how far they had to drive on this route. Another "if only".

By mid morning Frank was really tired. The family needed to take a break; it was time for meal, to use a bathroom, walk the dog, and it wouldn't hurt to top off the gas tanks from the supplies in the trailer. They started looking for a likely place to pull over and take a break. Its not like there were west coast freeway rest stops out here, in fact they were just glad the road was paved. Another "if only"; Frank should have actually driven this route and figured out possible rest points.

A big problem occurred to Frank. With the trailer he cannot turn around just anywhere; the roads out here were barely two lanes wide. Taking a gravel side road was a big risk because he couldn't turn around. He wondered where are they would stop for a break, maybe even a short nap. There is very little traffic, so eventually he pulled over as best he could in a wide spot and searched the evacuation map for a likely spot. Another "if only". He wished he had a more detailed map of the area.

A pickup truck pulled up beside them from the opposite direction. Both Frank and Connie were looking at their map and didn't see it coming. The two men in it were checking out their trailer, "You lost Mister?"

In a flash Frank realized: he is a stranger to them; everyone knows the SHTF; his hand gun is inconveniently located in his holster, tucked under the safety belt; and the 4X4 was turned off. "We're just passing through, looking for a place to pull over and feed the kids." He was very aware of the one guy looking curiously at his trailer.

The older man said, "Folk around here ain't so friendly these days. Best to move along."

"Thanks neighbor," Frank said. He started the 4X4 and drove off, not too fast, but not messing around either. He told Connie to watch that truck till it was out of sight. The truck did not follow them.

By now the whole family really needed to use a bathroom. There was no traffic, so he told the family, "We are going to stop in a minute for a bathroom break. We are going to do this differently, there are no bathrooms. The ladies will use the right side of the road, the boys will use the left side. Break out the toilet paper, plus handy wipes to clean your hands."

A few of minutes later, he found a spot with a mile long view in both directions, so he stopped in the road. Everyone got out and did their business while Frank kept watch. Then Junior cared for the dog's needs, Connie took over the watch, and Frank did his business. The road was still clear, so Frank pulled a gas can from the trailer and poured it in the gas tank. It was still all clear, so he put two more cans of gas in the tank to top it off.

Frank pulled the truck forward 100' to escape the fragrances of his family's completed business. Then he kept the watch while Connie broke out food and drinks for everyone. Their daughter saw to the dog's meal.

Meanwhile Frank was wondering how to provide better access to his pistol, and for that matter, his rifle while driving. More "if onlys". He should have also made some provision for bathroom breaks, that was gross.

There is still no traffic, but everyone is staying close to the 4X4. Connie brought him a huge sandwich and a large cup of cold coffee. Once again he marveled at how smart, observant and thoughtful she is. After 20 minutes the family got back in the rig, all were ready to go.

Connie had her rifle beside her feet, barrel down. It had a loaded magazine in it, plus she had two more loaded mags in the door pockets, ditto for extra pistol magazines. Her pistol was tucked between her seat and the console for quick access. Frank put his pistol in the same place on his side, then he saw that Connie had put two loaded pistol mags in his door's pocket. He smiled when he saw she had a band aid over the end of her rifle barrel to keep stuff from getting in it.

Feeling much better, they started out again. Frank was wondering what else he should worry about. They had driven through six little towns so far on these back roads. They chose not to stop in any of them because of the very uncharacteristic, but obvious, unfriendliness in the few people they did see, and everyone they saw was armed. Were they worried about the "golden hoard"? Were they assuming we are squatters/refugees looking for a safe place to land?

What about ambush/roadblocks? He remembered reading about those in two excellent fictional survival books; Lights Out by Halfast, and Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse by James Wesley, Rawles. Another "if only" he should have planned for.

"Connie, I've been thinking about the way folks looked in every small town we've driven through. I guess they are worried about the coming refugee and squatter problems. I think we should avoid towns the rest of the way to our retreat. I remember reading about some people setting up roadblocks to ambush travelers for whatever they had with them."

Connie thought about this for a full minute before she said, "I think you have a good point. Find a place we can stop for a few minutes to re-plan our route around towns, especially Millersburg."

"Millersburg? Our place is only 12 miles from there. That will be our home town for sometime to come. What are you getting at?" Frank asked.

"Do you really want those folks to see us drive through town in this rig loaded down with buckets of stored food?"

"Well, duh. At least one of us is thinking. Good call Connie." Frank stopped on the crest of a small hill so he could watch for miles while Connie figured out a route to their land. This time he used his binoculars and studied the road very, very carefully.

Half an hour later Connie called Frank over, "Sorry it took so long Honey, we have quite a tangle of roads and three little towns to get around. So many of the roads wind up either going through or very close one town or another. If my calculations are right, we are only about 15 miles from the cabin, but we have to drive nearly 40 miles to get there safely." The kids cheered and climbed in. "The first thing we have to do is turn around and go back 3 miles, then turn left on..."

They made it to their cabin on 12 acres without further incident.

Evasion can be (should be) way more detailed for countless situations. This is my attempt to introduce the concept. Your comments, and your additions to this prep planning, are most welcome!

The first layer of protection is Anonymity, second is Stealth, third Evasion, fourth Formidability, fifth is Guns, ammo and practiced skill.

Protection - Clarification

Suppose you have a dozen large bars of solid gold. These particular magical golden bars need to be stored in a somewhat controlled environment that has limited access. You live in the suburbs.

You are stuck having to hide these, more or less, where others might accidentally get a peek.

Thus we go about figuring out ways to stash our preps. Thinking of your preps as golden bars instead of miscellaneous stuff might get you into a proper mood regarding who you want to know about your preps.

We have neighbors that are fine people. The proverbial cup of sugar is lent around the neighborhood. There is a reasonably good sense of community here.

The value of these magic golden bars means more to you than wealth, they represent the future survivability of your family.

Which of your neighbors do you want to look after your gold when you go away for a weekend?

We need to protect our preps. We start by keeping our preps secret. No one needs to know about it, unless your preps are for community use.

When TSHTF we will see a major paradigm shift. Stuff like food and other preps will become more valuable to Joe Citizen than gold. He will be desperate to feed and care for his family. If Joe knows about your stuff that he needs, you will become the bad guy - thus the enemy - your own community will turn on you and treat you as such. Instead of a prudent prepper, overnight you will become a "Food Hoarder".

The first layer of protection is Anonymity, second is Stealth, third Evasion, fourth Formidability, fifth is Guns, ammo and practiced skill.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Protection - Stealth

Protection - The name of the game is survival, not ego feeding man stuff. Think Stealth.

In the 1960s and 70s I was a hot rodder. I built a bunch of fast cars, raced them, and miraculously, lived to tell about it. One in particular comes to mind today. I put a big Pontiac motor (a 389) in a '56 Chevy. The sucker was pretty quick when I was done with it. In those days cars like that were called sleepers. It looked factory stock. Later on I started adding cool stuff; chrome wheels, loud mufflers and so forth. By then it was a pseudo street rod, no longer a sleeper. But as a sleeper, that old '56 Chevy fooled a lot of folks. I didn't know it then, but it was stealth-like.

Today there are hundreds of things we can do to be stealth-like with our preps. One that comes to mind is NOT parading around the neighborhood in cammies and showing off your prep stuff. In light of my car-guy background, one might suppose I have a cool 4X4 with all the off-road goodies. I wish, but nope, not where I live today. That would stand out like a '23 Ford T-Bucket in the grocery store parking lot. Not smart. I do have a 4X4 that will go just about anywhere, but looks like a cleaned up beater thats never been off the road - just the look I was shooting for. I miss the rumble of power the last exhaust system had. Now my rig is as quiet as a new Cadillac. This sucks, but at least others won't hear me if I need to be stealthy.

An awesome, fully decked out 4x4 might take you virtually anywhere. A not-quite-standard 4X4 (with a locker rear end) will take you 95% of anywhere, and you just might still have money to get the little things, like enough stored food for the family. My 4X4 is a 1988. Does the job, and we have stored food, arms & ammo, gear and goodies. I am nowhere near ready for SHTF, but I am getting there without having to make payments on a cool truck.

Preps should be kept as quiet and personal as your underwear drawer. One of my pet peeves is the proverbial monster gun safe in plain sight. Showing off the manly collection of firearms is fun, BUT - Do you really want desperate folks (like your neighbors at/in SHTF) singling out your family as a possible source of food and gear they need very badly? Hide the safe.

Leaving ammo cans in plain sight, not good. Sure they're cool, and useful for lots more than just ammo, but they send multiple subtle messages. One of which is you are a manly man with guns and stuff, all the other subtle messages are about your family someday being a target of desperate folks. Stash them somewhere. And paint them any color but green or black. Mine are gray, boring, and hardly noticeable.

Your additions and comments are most welcome! Thanks,

The first layer of protection is Anonymity, second is Stealth, third Evasion, fourth Formidability, fifth is Guns, ammo and practiced skill.

Protection - Anonymity

Protecting yourself has layers. The first is anonymity. If you are not obvious about preps, appear to be just another sheeple, blow off other's talk about how bad things are getting, you will probably not be suspected of being an "Evil Food Hoarder", or worse (in the public eye), a survivalist.

For example, when buying a quantity of anything, pay cash (not a debit or credit card!) and do not use any type of ID in the process. This rules out club stores like Costco that track your purchases with your club card. Remain totally anonymous. I was stunned when I found out Costco tracked all my purchases (so does Safeway). It is uncomfortable to know that the authorities can find out we have a bunch of food stashed. I can see it now: after TSHTF, they declare us as "Evil Food Hoarders", and steal our preps "for the greater good". "The greater good" means feeding themselves while they go about the business of being "in control". I am hoping enough time has passed that last fall's purchases are falling off the radar. We are taking steps to mitigate these possibilities.

Do not store your preps where a neighbor can see you access it. Back your vehicle into (or up to) your place then haul it in on the QT, after dark if necessary.

Keep your preps to yourself. Hide them. Ours are on shelving in the insulated garage, but covered with various stuff ranging from some homemade cupboard doors (scrap 1/4" panels on hinges) to frilly curtains the wife made. The garage looks a bit messy, but normal with no sign of preps: lawn mower, work bench, a few miscellaneous boxes of stuff and some camping gear (in plain sight, though part of our preps).

Go about the business of prepping with your mouth shut. People remember the littlest comments at the worst possible times (like kids). When they are hungry and scared, they will recall you tried to talk them into prepping. This is not good. [More on this later.]

An old friend of mine one day commented that he thought I was doing a good thing (prepping) and wanted me to keep him posted on what all I was getting. Uh oh - I thought the hair on the back of my neck was gonna stand straight out. I let it drop and didn't said another word about prepping to him. Seven months later we were chatting about the cost of fuel when he asked how the prepping was going. Not good.

We are moving a few hundred miles away in a month or so. Our new address will be kept very quiet. We are still working out how to do this.

When I was first stocking up on 22 ammo I bought 10 bricks at a time at four different stores in the same chain. I paid cash and selected the checkout clerk carefully: a young lady obviously not paying close attention to anything. I got away with it then, but in the future I will buy only two or three bricks at a time using the same method. Things are different now...

Avoid calling attention to yourself and what you are doing. Act casual about it. Be anonymous.

Another example: Sam McCool is my pen name, each part borrowed from old time personal heroes of mine. In this way I hope to help others learn from my mistakes and do a better job of prepping for themselves without calling obvious attention to myself.

About finding other preppers: When you think you may have discovered another closet prepper, start very slowly with a light and casual prepping type comment. It shouldn't take much to figure out if they are or not. Even before this, consider what the upside is for you if they are a prepper. Generally speaking, the fewer that know you are a prepper, the better. That of course leads to another whole, and large, can of worms.

Be anonymous.

The second layer of protection is Stealth, third Evasion, fourth Formidability, the fifth is Guns, ammo and practiced skill.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


These categories are listed in order of your survivability priority. We should always try to keep a balance of things and skills between categories. If you do not plan ahead you can easily end up with 500 pounds of food and no way to cook when the power goes out, or insufficient clothing, or no way to communicate, etc. These errors are a serious threat to your survivability.

Please keep these in balance. This is crucial to your success. Read Preparation Levels to get a handle on this.

The Categories in brief:

0 Planning Create plan A, then B and C plus variables in each category. No plan = plan to fail.

1 Water (hydration, cooking, cleaning & sanitation)

2 Food (Cooking, storage, growing...)

3 Clothing weather considerations; hot, cold, rain, snow, wind, etc and combinations of these: (plus layers, a plan for washing, drying, repairing) Footwear!

4 Shelter – If you have to evacuate your home, specifically where will you go? Alternatives? For the short term a tent), mid term (yurt, other?) longer term (ranch, tiny community)?

5 Protection 1- Anonymity 2 - Stealth 3 - Evasion 4 - Be formidable 5 - Guns, ammo and practiced skill with each of these!

6 Transport – vehicles (car, truck, bikes, walking) with at least three alternative routes to each of your several possible destinations. Other considerations: fuel, oil, parts, etc for each mode. Maps, compass,

7 Health Physical & mental health, first aid, remedies, supplies,

8 Financial – Cash, silver, extra supplies. Digitized copies of your important records. Think about including charity and barter.

9 Comm (Communications) – Receiver AM/FM radio for news. FRS/GMRS and HAM for two way.

10 Power – Rechargeable batteries, chargers with multiple input sources (12VDC, 110 VAC, solar, wind?, pedal power? other?

11 Fun (Entertainment) Boredom quickly leads to stupid mistakes.

In all Levels and Categories you should have a plan A, B &, C. If it can go wrong, it will. Alternatives can be life savers, yet they need not be expensive, just thought through and planned.


Preparing for an emergency can be overwhelming and expensive. These Preparation Levels keep you focused on getting the job done with the resources you have. One step at a time works if you have a plan. This is the plan.

Seek to fulfill all your family's needs in Level One before you start Level Two, especially in categories that you find more interesting or fun.

Level 0: This is planning. What will your family really need? Worksheets will are available to help you think of these things. The good news is that you probably already have a bunch of these things and skills.

Level 1: You and your family are fully prepared for up to a 7 day emergency in your home, or if need be, you are prepared to evacuate to a safer location. This includes being prepared to take your emergency provisions with you. This Level is the most important preparedness accomplishment of all. You will learn what you need to be thinking about and what you can do to take care of your people.

Level 2: Is like Level 1, but you are now prepared for a crisis of up to 2 weeks long. Don't even think about this Level till you have completed Level 1 in every category. At this Level you build atop everything accomplished at Level 1.

If you skip around on the Levels when you are getting your stuff, you will run out of resources (money or time or energy or commitment or etc) before you accomplish the basics. Then your family is in danger. Stick to your plan.

Level 3: Like level 2, but for a 30 day long crisis. Transporting your provisions adds another dimension to your planning. You may need a small trailer.

Level 4: Upgraded to 60 days provisions and evacuation. Things become more complicated by the sheer volume of provisions (in all categories). A trailer is needed. Time to consider prepositioning (more on this later) some provisions and gear.

Level 5: Ninety days of provisions. Prepositioning is now necessary.

Level 6: Six months of provisions. Prepositioning needs to be expanded.

Level 7: A full year of provisions. Prepositioning needs to be expanded again. You should be seriously looking for land.

Level 8: Your own land off the beaten path, far from a large population base, with water, fertile soil, southern exposure, etc. Treat this as a vacation property while preparing to live there, possibly permanently. Everything about this place will be low key, out of sight, quiet, and defensible. Provisions for up to 4 years. Whatever is needed to grow food and raise appropriate farm animals (crop seeds, gear, buildings, equipment).


The goal of balance in preparation is critical. If your preps are kept in balance, then when a disaster strikes (without warning, of course) you will be prepared in all 12 categories at whatever Level you were able to achieve. Your family will be together, safe, have food to eat, have a place to rest, and so forth. This is your job, a sacred responsibility. It is a huge expression of love. Its also tough to do.

Whatever your particular reason for prepping, you know there are hundreds of other reasons coming to light as our economy's fragility continues to reveal itself. If things go bad, chances are they will go really bad, ie; the domino effect.

So, lets get real. When commerce stutters to a stop, emphasis will be quickly focused on getting food and essentials to stores. Do you suppose politicians will take advantage of the situation to advance their agendas? “No guns or ammo will be shipped. Today's valuable shipping space is needed for food – for the children.” Can you see this coming?

Swell. If you do it now you have a shot at taking care of your family. If you don't, well, you don't.

Do you have enough ammo to see you through? Many of us buy a box or two of ammo (50 to 100 rounds) on our way to do a bit of shooting. Yet, during the LA riots in 1992, one Korean family shot 2,000 rounds during the six days they were in danger. How long do you think our American collapse will last?

Experts in survival preparation suggest that you should own an absolute minimum of 5,000 rounds per gun. The point of mentioning this now is that with all the preparedness supplies needed for your family, you will have to plan how to use your resources wisely to keep things balanced. If you have 300 pounds of rice and no other stored food, nor a camp stove or pot, your family is in bad shape. Balance the needs of your family. Start with Level 1 and complete all of it – in every category – before you start on Level 2.


The world has already changed. Most things on planet earth are seriously effected by the price of crude oil, one way or another. Crude has tripled in cost from January 2007 to July 2008. That change was just slow enough for us to adjust emotionally, and remain in denial as long as possible. It worked.

We are aware that things cost more. We denied things were really changing, or convinced ourselves that things will return to “normal”. Facts are facts:

The housing bubble popped, credit has nearly vanished, gasoline is twice what it was a year ago, everything we buy is going up in price. Our world has changed.

Get used to it. Adjust – or watch your life as-you-have-known-it be destroyed.

In the fall of 2007 some folks stocked their pantries as a means of saving money once they figured out that prices would continue to rise. Remember the rice shortage?

That is a good plan by the way – if you are alive you will need to eat, and prices are not going down. A thoroughly stocked pantry is a good savings account. You will use the food.

Many folks wound up with several hundred pounds of rice last fall (good) but no way to cook it if the power went out (bad). Do It Yourself Preparedness is a plan to do what you need to do to take care of yourself, while keeping a balanced perspective of your personal big picture. This is not so easy as one might imagine. It is really easy to wind up with a lot of some things you will need – and none of other things you will need even more.

There are so many ways our personal lives can be trashed. Job layoffs, sickness, living expenses rising beyond our ability to pay, a local disaster (think of a Katrina magnitude disaster in your neighborhood), and the worst of the bunch – these kinds of things happening to enough people that they get mad enough to rebel or riot – right down the street from you.

Without changing your life much, you can prevent many of these things from trashing your life by being prepared. For a tiny example, if your town's electricity went out for a week and you have appropriate food, a camp stove and extra propane, you would be way ahead of those without a way to cook.

There are 12 basic categories of preparedness. Don't buy anything till you have read about these and Levels of Preparation.

We have to walk before we can run – in all things.

It won't do your family a bit of good if you plan strictly for emergency X and then emergency Y (that you did not think of) happens. To cover everything pretty well we make the following assumptions for planning purposes:

  • There will be no public electricity, water, or stores open for shopping.

  • Police and fire services will be overextended and not available.

  • There will not be any government or agency help available (in time to save you) such as FEMA, the Red Cross, etc.

  • Most, if not all, of your extended family, friends and neighbors will not be prepared.

  • You may have to evacuate your home.

Sounds pretty grim. On the bright side, if you plan for this state of affairs you will be ready for just about anything. You won't go broke getting ready by buying all kinds of stuff that sounded good at the time, but winds up being useless when you desperately need it.