A Desperate Migration Pt. II

Photo courtesy of mknobil at everystockphoto.com

Well a short 4 months ago I wrote a post on Human Migration.  As I am sure most of you are aware,  a child migration is under way.  This is not new to humanity, but it sure is causing a stir here in our country.  The big issue in the first post was, ‘How would we react?’  It would appear that we don’t know what to do.

The two camps are actually in somewhat of an agreement:  we can’t take them.  Or maybe the term should be we won’t take them.  The reality on the ground is that we have been taking them, begrudgingly, for years.  Yes, Obama has stepped up deportations, if you believe government reports, but the tide continues.  I do not know the exact numbers, no one does,  everything we hear are estimates that special interest groups want us to hear.  It is in the millions, that can be agreed upon by all.

Look at how Africa or The Middle Beast deals with such human tragedy,  it is ugly.  Filth, dehydration, starvation, degradation, isolation, you have seen the images of refugee camps, let them burn into your mind.  Those places have one thing in common, not enough resources to really help those who need it.  So the question begs to be asked, ‘How will we deal with it?’  Will we just kick the can down the road or will we step up to show the world that American exceptionalism is still alive and well.

Photo courtesy of expertinfantry @ everystockphoto.com

Let me take a step back right now and explain myself.  I believe we are the best Country on the planet, bar none, since countries were formed.  Our founders wrote the best documents possible to set up the best government possible.  Like it or not, governments are a necessary evil to keep the peace, more on that in a future post.  My biggest concerns are what country my family will inherit and will I still be around to help them, I bet every parent feels the same.  I recommend that all of you re-read the Declaration and Constitution, along with books written by our founders to understand how fortunate we are to have a system that affords us to think about how to ‘right the ship’.  Never forget.

Back to our current situation,  children fleeing a miserable existence.  The stories are sad, horrific, and depressing on a level that few of us can imagine.  I have heard some stories that make me turn the station in a moment of weakness.  I have my own problems.  Hell, kids in Detroit, Stockton, Chicago, your hometown have crap lives.  We can’t fix our own problems much less fix other nation’s issues.  Our nation is on the brink of civil unrest, financial collapse, and the world still relies on us for its freedom.  They won’t admit it, but we know.  If not for our military presence then who would stop the fundamentalist/communist/control freaks out there?   The answer is simple, no one.  Back to our issue,  what do we do with these kids.

One, send them back to their hellholes and tell ourselves that it is for the best, because we can’t afford to feed, house, and educate them.  Probably a valid point.  Two, we feed, house, and educate them, then send them back to fix their country.  I have yet to hear that one from either side.  Three, we let them stay permanently with all that entails.  Four, we help fix their countries now so they can go back.  There are a few permutations of these ideas, but the jist is we have to deal with it and look at ourselves in the mirror.  Nation building is not easy or really economically feasible, and it isn’t our job as a country.  Idea one is not without cost, both financially and morally, plus it won’t stop the problem.  Number two has merit because it helps those who need it and allows them to change their country’s destiny,  in time and assuming that they would want to go back. Three opens the floodgates.  Fourth is a deep hole of commitment that I don’t have the stomach for, but it does relate to number two.  This subject makes my stomach churn and gives me a headache.

How did it get so bad down there?  Lack of jobs, gang violence, drug trafficking, and corruption at the highest levels.  Many of our Central American neighbors point the finger at our appetite for drugs,  another valid point.  Our war on drugs is a miserable failure and has done nothing to stem the tide.  The border is as porous as ever.  All those drugs flow through the Central American corridor, bringing all the problems with them.  Some vacation destination countries turn a blind eye to the traffic, in exchange for….  Where you have poverty, you have desperation.  People willing to do anything to survive and after awhile the line between right and wrong is blurred or vanishes altogether.  Gangs rise up.  The parents of these kids are dead, disillusioned, or incapable of providing the most basic of needs, so they send them to the promised land.

None of this is new to the human condition.  It would be easy blame the population explosion, it is at the top of my list for most current problems, but a closer look at history shows that we are willing to maim or kill just to be on top of the heap even if we have all that we need.  So how can we possibly solve this situation that demands compassion above all when we can’t seem to pull together ourselves to solve America’s issues?  Does America still have a heart that goes beyond our front door?  These questions strike at the core of the prepper debate concerning to go it alone or form a community to survive calamities.

Lastly, one of those kids we save might come up with a cure for cancer,  solve cold fusion, or develop warp drive.  Maybe they will just become solid, caring, hard working Americans.  We could use more of those types.  I struggle with my own thoughts that tell me more people here is a bad thing.  I also struggle with the thought of an innocent kid being sent back to hell because I didn’t want to share some space.  I hear there are whole vacant neighborhoods in Detroit.


Eight Reasons Preppers Are Crazy

Doomsday Preppers, zombies, TEOTWAWKI, SHTF, OPSEC, market collapse, food storage, water storage, bug-out bag. If you know what these terms mean and practice some of them then welcome to the loony bin. You are crazy, maybe even subversive. We all know that if you step outside the narrow range of what society considers normal you will likely be labeled. If you break the law you’re a criminal. If you dance on your roof naked you might be called crazy. There are certain ways to act and not to act around your fellow human beings and depending on what society you live in these things can change. In our society if you talk about the world as we know possibly ending then you might be called strange. If you act on it you might be called crazy. You might be tagged as a survivalist, which conjures up images of guys in camo and high powered weapons and shifty eyes who come to town once a year for supplies. Or lately you might be called a Doomsday Prepper thanks to T.V. Worse yet you might be labeled a subversive or even a terrorist by the government. Here are eight reasons we are crazy:

  1. We do things outside the norm.

Yep. We plan ahead. We put away food and water just in case the power goes out. This doesn’t have to be from a CME, terrorist attack or a nuclear war. I’ve dipped into my water supply at least five or six times now because of storms knocking the power out. Imagine that!

 Instead of not having water to do anything when the power went out I went downstairs grabbed enough water in every bathroom to brush teeth and wash up. I put enough water in the kitchen to make coffee, cook, and wash up with. People who don’t store water don’t appreciate how much they depend on it until it’s not there.


  2.  Planning for an event that others don’t see as likely. 

At some point most of you reading this looked around at our world and thought to yourself, “Man, this whole thing is a house of cards and could come crashing down at any minute.” Maybe it’s a market crash. How long can we keep pumping 80 billion a month into the market and getting market highs before people figure out that our fiat money isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on? Maybe it will never happen. Maybe people want to believe in the illusion so badly that it will stay propped up. Then again, maybe it won’t. If it does come crashing down and there’s a period of time where your dollar bills are only good for wiping your backside with, then it might be smart to have some extra food and water kicking around.

 You know all the scenarios. CME, terrorist act, societal collapse, asteroid. If you’ve watched Doomsday Preppers you know society can collapse in any number of ways. Exactly how likely this is to happen is a matter of debate.

3.  We think of guns as useful tools instead of weapons that scare the hell out of people.

Most of us Preppers are pro guns for different reasons. We believe in the right to bear arms. We believe in the right to protect ourselves and our loved ones. We realize if society ever does collapse or there is a major disaster having guns for self-defense might be the only way we make it through with our lives and the possessions that could keep us alive intact.

There are many people out there right now that would like to take our guns away. These people would be happy to give up their rights so that we might be protected by the government. Personally, I’d rather be in charge of my own well-being. The idea of relying on someone to feed my family, clothe us, and give us shelter makes me queasy.

            4.  The media likes to make us look crazy for the entertainment value.

The media is a double edged sword. If you keep in mind that they are in it for the money, you might be able to deal with them and not walk away looking like an idiot. I admit to watching a few episodes of Doomsday Preppers, but I’ve got to say that the way they were set up and the shows were edited were mostly a turn off for me. Maybe there were some really good episodes, but I just preferred not to watch it after awhile.

 Example: There was an episode of a guy here in Maine who has an outdoor school. I’ve met him in person and he’s really quite a guy. Smart, articulate, likable, and he’s probably forgotten more about wilderness survival than I’ll ever know, but the media made him look foolish. I was really disappointed in the way they edited the show for him.

         5.  We practice OPSEC.

Operational Security. It’s important. As you well know this basically means don’t go around blabbing about how prepared you are and where your secret bunker with two year’s worth of food, water, and ammo is located, because if and when things actually do go south everybody you’ve told – and everybody they’ve told – will be knocking on your door wanting a piece of the pie. It doesn’t matter that they had the same opportunity as you to get prepared. Hell, they may have laughed at you for wasting your time and money on prepping. It will be a moot point then because all they’ll want is to make sure their families are fed and protected. And you’ll be their ticket to staying warm, fed, and dry.

 Are you ready to turn friends and family away if it comes down to it? Have you added more preps to help take care of the overflow of people that might show up on your doorstep? 

 If you don’t want to handle a large group of people the best way is to practice good OPSEC and simply not talk about what you’re doing with others. 

 I’ve had people come into my house and remark on the stuff that I have. Invariably they’ll say, “Well, if doomsday ever hits I’m coming to your house.” My response is, “You better bring some mad survival skills with you ’cause there ain’t gonna be a free ride!”

6.  We tend to be a little paranoid. Not necessarily because we’re afraid people will come steal our preps (well that too), but because we don’t want to be branded as crazy. 

Have you ever been at a party and used a phrase like, “Hi, I’m a doomsday prepper!” just to break the ice? Of course not. Neither have I. My experience is that people who don’t understand the need to prep tend to think we’re crazy, foolish, stupid, subversive or even dangerous. Or a mix of all five.

 For that reason I don’t usually talk about it at all. Now, if someone brings it up I’m willing to engage in a limited conversation. If you want to meet like-minded people you have to. It’s just that sometimes it’s harder to meet another prepper than it is to meet another bird watcher. Preppers and bird watchers are both avid at what they do. Bird watchers might occasionally be called a little strange because of the lengths they’ll go to to spot a certain rare bird, but Preppers will be called crazy and I’d just as soon forgo that title and not draw attention to myself. 

         7.  We believe in being self-sufficient.

This encompasses some of the other points made here, but I believe it’s an important concept to bring up. The whole idea behind prepping is to survive any kind of situation as self-sufficiently as possible. I’ve found in many situations when I’ve had to rely on others to get things done I’ve been disappointed. You’ll get a half-assed effort or no effort at all, others won’t take it as seriously as you do, they might get sick or just plain not show up, whatever. If it comes to my survival I don’t want someone else to be in the position to screw me over, either on purpose or by accident.

 The more skills, knowledge, and survival gear you have the better off you’ll be in times of need.

8.  We talk about the zombie apocalypse. 

This would almost be kind of funny except people don’t realize we’re talking about them. I’ve heard people talk about shooting zombies, that horde that comes out of the cities looking for food, water and shelter, after a major catastrophe. It’s easier to talk about killing a zombie than it is a real, living, breathing human being.  A real zombie apocalypse will never happen of course. Here’s a helpful tip, if you’ve got a ton of ammo put away for shooting real zombies it might be a good idea to re-task it for a different purpose. However, a flood of people streaming out of the city after a major catastrophe is a possibility. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying to shoot innocent people fleeing a disaster. I’ll be as compassionate and giving as I can without putting my own family in jeopardy.

Questions? Comments? Sound off below!

-Jarhead Survivor

Police Militarization and Attitude Is Getting Out of Control

Let me start this post out by talking about the good guys. There are many cops out there today that are decent folk who actually care about protecting the general population. Every day they go up against bad people who’d love nothing more than to see them on the sidewalk with a bullet in their head. I can understand how this would make a person paranoid and this article has nothing to do with you guys and gals out there, getting the job done in the face of adversity day after day.

This post has more to do with politics and the militarization of the police force today. I wrote a post about this awhile back, but I’d like to explore it in a little more depth as new events transpire in this grand country of ours. There was a recent article in the news about military gear coming back from the Middle East and being given to police departments across the country. All they have to do is some paperwork and pretty soon they’ve got an LAV (light armored vehicle) rolling up to their doorstep.

Photo courtesy of Naypong / FreedigitalPhotos.net


Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against police arriving on the scene of a shootout in an armored vehicle that will help keep them safe. The inherent problem with this type of gear, and SWAT teams in general, is this: once you have it you have the urge to use it. If you don’t use it you lose it, right?

Many of the smaller towns and cities don’t need these kinds of elite teams around, but nonetheless many have them. If there’s a hostage situation and there’s need of a SWAT team I hope there’s one nearby to help get matters sorted out. If a couple of crazies go on a rampage like those two guys in California years ago we’ll want a special weapons team to take them down.

But lately there’s been a rash of injuries and deaths due to SWAT teams breaking down doors during no-knock entries. A lot of the entries happen because of drug searches. Unfortunately, many times the information they’re moving on is flawed and innocent people find themselves at the end of a gun with the family dog dead. All a cop has to say is, “I was afraid for my life,” and he has carte blanch to shoot your dog. They can also use that same argument for you.


The SWAT team was first developed in response to the bell tower shooting back in 1954. It was shown that if a team with special weapons and tactics were on hand during that emergency it most likely would have ended sooner than it did.

It wasn’t until the war on drugs that things really started to spiral out of control. These days all you need is someone to point a finger at a house and say, “There’s drugs in there,” and they have the right to break your door in and put your family under the gun. If you’re really smart you won’t try and defy them. When you’ve got six or ten guys with assault weapons running through your house all charged up it wouldn’t take much for an accident to happen. I’ve read comments from readers who say, “They better never try that at my house or I’ll shoot the bastards,” and other stupid stuff. First, if you pull a wallet out of your pocket during this tense time you’re likely to take a bullet or twenty. I’d say your best chance of surviving with minimal injuries is just do whatever it is they want and hope you do it fast enough. You figure out the right and wrong of it later. Let me assure you that when someone is holding a machine gun on you that he is going to be right – even when he’s wrong.

Thirty years ago cops didn’t have the same tactical gear they have today with the exception of the SWAT teams. Nowadays many cops have “tacticool” gear. Black military looking uniforms and tactical weapons are common place.

Innocent Victims

Accidents happen. Even with the best planning and training they still happen, but in my mind it’s what happens after that really counts. Awhile back a SWAT team performed a no-knock raid on a house a family displaced by fire were staying in. As they went in they threw a flash grenade into the house and unfortunately it landed in the baby’s crib. When it went off it caused serious injuries to his face and chest.

Now this is bad. Really bad. As the father of a 2 ½ year old I have to tell you I cringed when I read this story.

Then the mother starts asking for her baby and the cops tell her to shut up and sit down. One of the cops grabs the infant and takes him outside and disappears. When the mother goes out all she sees is a puddle of blood on the ground. Later on they catch up with the baby at the hospital and he’s in a medically induced coma.

So far, state and federal agents, including the Georgie Bureau of Investigations and investigators from two district attorneys’ offices, have found no wrongdoing in last month’s predawn raid.

At a news conference Tuesday, the tot’s father, Bounkham Phonesavanh said the officers who lobbed the explosive into his sleeping child’s playpen showed no remorse afterward, and lied to he and his wife about the extent of his injuries, saying the boy had only lost a tooth, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

“The officers cursed and yelled at us and threatened to arrest me after we expressed our concern for our son,” Phonesavanh said, according to NBC Atlanta.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/parents-toddler-injured-flash-bang-botched-raid-call-justice-article-1.1825366#ixzz35s2y44eX

It’s terrible that these things happen, but what I find especially detestable is the complete lack of accountability for their actions. No wrongdoing was found and apologies are almost never given in these situations. I believe it’s because people believe an apology is the same as an admission to guilt and they don’t want to go down that path as it might boomerang back on them in a court of law.

Whatever happened to accountability?

One of the first things I learned in boot camp that stuck with me is that you are accountable for your actions. The DI’s didn’t want to hear excuses and we quickly learned not to even try. If you screwed up and the DI called you on it you said, “The private screwed up, Sir!”

It seems that accountability in these situations is nowhere to be found giving the SWAT teams the belief that sometimes you gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet. It might not be that big a deal to you… until you’re one of the eggs. Think it couldn’t happen to you? Think again. It can happen to anybody. There are many documented cases of people being pulled over for traffic violations and being subjected to cavity searches because they were acting suspicious according to the arresting officers.

Dangerous Situations

What about the danger to police officers who are involved in “no knock” warrants? In this case an officer was killed conducting a no knock search of a guy’s house. The man’s crime? He was accused of having some pot plants and illegal weapons at his house. After the raid they found that he had four weapons legally owned and the pot was only a misdemeanor amount. They could have taken the guy when he went to the store to buy beer, but instead they bang on the door of someone they know to have guns. When the police came through the door the guy picked up a gun and started shooting and killed an officer. The cops then file a murder charge against the man, which were later dropped.

I could totally see myself doing something like that. Imagine waking up and there are guys with guns trying to get into your house. You hear a shot and your dog is killed and men are yelling and brandishing guns. The first thing I’d do is go for a gun too because who the hell but a bad guy is going to be breaking down your door in the middle of the night?

It’s tragic that this officer had to die and I hope that these kinds of raids are looked at more closely before it happens again.

Police Brutality

These kinds of weapons and training have a tendency to spill over into everyday life as well. There has been an increasing feeling of “us against them” among police against citizens in the last twenty or thirty years. To be fair to the police in question, I’ve watched many videos about police brutality and a lot of them are citizens baiting cops until something occurred, and many times that something wasn’t even what I’d consider brutality. Other times it’s exactly what it looks like. A cop gets mad or thinks there’s been some challenge to his or her authority and lashes out at a cuffed or otherwise defenseless victim and hurts or even kills them.

These are just the times when the officers are being over enthusiastic. This doesn’t touch on the aspect when it’s outright abuse of their power. It seems like recently there have been many more instances of police brutality. Some offices have a shorter fuse than others and it doesn’t take much for them to snap and cause you serious injury or even death.

Many times officers will be beating someone and yelling, “Stop resisting!” as they continue to beat the victim into unconsciousness or sometimes to death. It’s as if by shouting these magic words for any cameras or bystanders they’ll be able to justify what they did when the case goes to court.

Again, many times the officer is found not to be responsible and walks away with nothing, not even a reprimand.

Many cops today feel that because they wear a badge they’re entitled to respect, but a lot of times I don’t respect the man behind the badge. Here’s an example recently that happened to my wife’s friend. This woman’s mother hurt herself with a saw of some kind. She sustained serious cuts to her fingers and lost the tips of one or two others. The husband – a man in his 70′s – put her in the car and started driving her to the hospital. On the way he saw a police officer on the side of the road in town and rolled down his window and asked if the cop could escort them to the hospital about two miles up the road. Instead the cop ordered him to pull over. The man decided to keep on going so he could get his wife to the hospital before she lost more blood. The cop followed them the whole distance to the hospital, inadvertently doing exactly what the older gentleman had requested in the first place and clearing traffic for them. When they got to the emergency department the cop hauled the guy out of the car, threw him over the hood, wrenched his arms behind his back causing injury, kicking his legs apart causing more injury, and finally cuffing him in the parking lot. In the meantime the guy is yelling at his wife to go inside and get treatment before she passed out. The cop couldn’t have cared less about the injured woman instead focusing on the fact that this old man had dared defy his order to pull over. An 8 year old boy seated in the Emergency Room saw the incident and once the elder gentleman was allowed in to see his wife the little boy went up and said, “Geez mister, I’m real sorry that happened.” The police have yet to apologize. My wife was astounded by the story. I wasn’t.

It could be that the officer in this example saw the blood (the woman showed the officer her bandaged and bleeding hand) and wanted to investigate what was going on before taking them to the hospital; however a simple line of reasoning may have helped his decision making process. First, the man came to the officer and asked for help. He didn’t try to sneak by and wasn’t waving a gun or otherwise being threatening. Second, the officer saw her injured hand (she held it up for the officer to see that there was a legitimate problem.) Third, even if the older guy had caused the injury he was asking for help getting to the hospital. I would have helped them get there first then figured out what was going on once the woman was getting the medical attention she obviously needed.

In the grand scheme of things this is a small matter, but I tell the story for two reasons. First, it’s local and I know people peripherally involved in the matter, and second, it’s indicative of an attitude by the police that people are generally scumbags until proven otherwise. Even then the civilian has probably done something to deserve the treatment they’ve received. I’ve known several police officers over the years and this attitude was prevalent in them and their friends. One guy I knew who was a former Force Recon Marine used to tell me how he loved Saturday nights because he got to beat drunk people up. He loved to go “drunk beating” as he called it.

Don’t think it’s just here in the United States either. This goes on all over the world.

I often wonder if the need for military style weapons is a response to more violent crimes and more dangerous people the police have to deal with today. If you deal with criminals all day every day it’s bound to give you a jaded view point after awhile. Here in the United States many people own weapons and it may be the police feel the need to have bigger and better guns and equipment just to stay ahead.

Another thing that is likely causing this type of behavior is simply a lack of training on how to handle these kinds of situations. Also, if the office were to be held financially accountable for medical bills for cases involving this kind of police crime maybe it would keep them in check. Right now the tax payers or the victim bears the financial responsibility.


Lately the media and the ability of everybody to take videos of these events have cast the militarization in a negative light. When twenty cops in riot gear use pepper spray on a peaceful crowd it doesn’t look good for the police.

But let’s not forget that not all cops are like this and most of the men and women out there serving are doing a fine job. A few bad apples make the rest look bad and that’s not always the case.

I still tell my kids to find a police officer if they ever get lost, because if you can’t trust a cop to do right who can you trust?

Questions? Comments?

Sound off below!

-Jarhead Survivor


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The Original Dot Sight



What if I told you that there was a dot sight that existed and worked extremely well for 100 years before the first Aimpoint ever clicked on? True story. It was (and still is) a fast, easy-to-pick-up zero-magnification sighting system that served to annihilate herds of buffalo hundreds of yards from the shooter in the late 1800/early 1900s, and it’s been standard issue on U.S. (and other) military rifles since the 1920’s. It still can be seen in various forms on your grandfather’s old lever-action deer-gettin’ Winchester, or possibly even on your SHTF AR-15. Though the theory behind the way the sight works is many, many years old, it still soldiers on on rifles, shotguns, and hell, even some handguns to this day…it’s even found its way onto bows.


Aperture sights.

Aperture sight on a Winchester M54.


By now, I’m sure you’re figured out the fact that I’m talking about the aperture sight, also knows as a peep sight, ghost ring, tang sight, or receiver sight, depending on the application and the crowd you’re running with.


What is an aperture sight?


Put basically, an aperture sight consists of two elements: a front post-type sight (sometimes that have beads – more on that later.) and rear sight that sports an aperture, or round hole, that you look or “peep” through. It operates on the fundamental principle that your eye naturally centers items it looks at in its field of view, and when working in concert with your body’s muscles and its own focusing, the sights will be aligned very naturally…without even thinking about it, after you’re used to using it a little. It’s extremely intuitive, and is a fine choice for any primary sights or back-up sights (BUS).


How does it work?

Looking through the aperture sight of an H&K MP5.

Looking through the aperture sight of an H&K MP5.


As I said, the aperture sight works on the idea that your eyes naturally focus and center items viewed through a circle. This is something your body does intuitively; since the rear sight, which is a round hole you look through, is much closer to your eye, you automatically focus on the item viewed through the aperture, which is the front sight. The rear sight hoop goes out of focus and blurry; it is much the same effect as looking through an electronic red dot type sight. You concentrate your focus on the front sight, and let the rear sight and the target go blurry; your body subconsciously does the rest. And as a general rule, the thicker the material of the aperture you’re looking through, the more precise an aperture sight is; conversely, the thinner it is, the faster the sight is. On my hunting rifles, I generally eschew scopes and mount receiver sights with no screw-in apertures that narrow the sighting hole; I like the sights fast, down, and dirty for hitting moving targets out to 100 yards, which is really the furthest practical range where I hunt. If I see a deer at longer range, not to worry: with a little more time and concentration, the sight works just fine out to longer ranges. I plugged a West Virginia white tail at over 150 yards with a lever-action Marlin in .356 using an open aperture sight and a fine brass bead on my front sight; the same day I shot a nice four-pointer on a dead run at 40 yards with the same gun…it works very, very well for close-in fast action and longer ranges. This is the beauty and versatility of the aperture sight.

On the left, a more open, faster aperture. On the right, a tighter, more precise aperture.


On the left, a more open, faster aperture. On the right, a tighter, more precise aperture.

History and types of aperture sights

In the olden days of yore, before the turn of the 20th century, and up through about 1925-1930 or so, the aperture sight coupled with a fine front bead reigned supreme as the long-range precision sighting system of choice. At first, the cavalry carbines started having rear ladder-type sights that had holes drilled in the sliding sight member to use for precision shots when the ranges grew long. Soon, as shooters realized that placing the aperture closer to the eye extended the sight radius and made the rifle more precise, the tang sight, which was a folding, adjustable aperture on a stalk that was mounted on the rifle’s upper tang (if you’ve ever seen “Quigley Down Under”, you’ve seen a tang sight mounted on a Sharps Rifle in action. Great flick, by the way…heartily recommended!) to bring the rear sight right up to the shooter’s eye for maximum precision.


Lyman No. 2 tang sight. Image from chuckhawks.com

Lyman No. 2 tang sight. Image from chuckhawks.com


Tang sights worked wonderfully, as millions of Western Buffalo will attest – hunter slaughtered the beasts from hundreds of yards (!) with tang-sighted big-bore buffalo rifles – Sharps rifles, Winchester 1876s and 1886s, Remington Rolling Blocks, etc. Invariably, they used tang sights to hurl giant chunks of lead at the big animals from distances so far away that the animals rarely heard the shots, and never spooked – they just fell where they stood. All without magnification – I guess that just goes to show you that it’s not the arrow, it’s the indian.


Tangs sights were great and all, but as anyone who’s used one can tell you, they suck in the ergonomics department. The sight stalk sits right where your firing hand wants to go on the rifle, and if there’s any kind of serious recoil, its gets mighty uncomfortable mighty fast. Enter the receiver sight.


The receiver sight mounts on the receiver of the rifle (hence the name), usually on the left side. However, where there are controls or other protuberances, the sight can be mounted on top or on the right side of the gun. But the receiver sight got the aperture sight out of the way of the shooting hand, and onto the rifle in a spot that didn’t beat the snot out of the shooter’s extremities, only at the cost of an inch or two of sighting radius. The receiver sight quickly came into its own, with companies such as Lyman and Redfield (amongst many others) finding ways so ingenious to mount them to almost every conceivable style of rifle imaginable that it’s staggering and damn impressive. Receiver sights can be seen on everything from lever action Winchesters and Marlins, Remington pump-guns, Mauser bolt actions, and everything in between. Before the heyday of the mass-produced, reliable scope, the receiver sight made its way onto everything – and WORKED. In rough situations, all weather, neglected or cared for – all without batteries. Kinda makes you think these are traits we as preppers are looking for, huh?


A Redfield sight on a Winchester M1895 carbine, (top) and a Lyman 57 on a Winchester M52C (bottom)

The military recognized these attributes, and started making them standard issue to 1903 Springfields around the end of WW1. Since then, every US (and most foreign) battle rifle has had aperture style sights: The M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, M1 Grease gun and Thompson SMG, the M14, and even the ubiquitous M16/M4/AR15 series of rifles has them standard, built right into the gun. Aperture sights are becoming the best way to get sights on combat shotguns as well, with “Ghost Ring” sights becoming the norm for any serious tactical shotgun’s sighting arrangements.


Aperture sights today


These days, with red dot and reflex sights becoming compact, extremely reliable, and very efficient (Aimpoint makes several red dots that have 50,000 hours of contiunuous-on run time), and reticle-style standard scopes becoming tough as nails and clear as day while offering extreme levels of magnification, the aperture style sight has fallen by the wayside. Oh, every chairborne ranger with a tactical Mr. Potato Head AR-15 throws them on his or her multi-thousand dollar catalog gun because everyone else does, but I haven’t run into many who know how to properly use them, adjust them, or god forbid, train with them. They are now jewelry, something to have just to fill up vacant rail space.


Magpul Gen 2 MBUS on an AR-15.

Magpul Gen 2 MBUS on an AR-15, deployed.

Magpul MBUS folded out of the way for optics use.

Magpul MBUS folded out of the way for optics use.

Magpul front MBUS deployed.

Magpul front MBUS deployed.



But the aperture sight is arguably the most useful tool on your modern combat rifle, and many, many manufacturers capitalize on this. Magpul makes a very fine fold-away set of sights with their MBUS (Magpul Back Up Sights) system. Troy and many others make beautifully machined steel and/or aluminum sights that fold down, but are ready at a moment’s notice if your electric sight shits the bed. The company that I do my training through recommends that introductory courses with carbines be shot with back-up or iron sights only! After all, that is what you will be using when the the S truly HTF.


Don’t have a “combat” rifle? That’s admirable too! But you can probably upgrade almost any modern rifle to use an aperture style sight. Lyman, Williams, New England Custom Guns, XS, and many others make tough, no-nonsense aperture style rear sights for most common rifles. The worst that might happen is that you’ll have to bring your rifle to a reputable gunsmith to have it drilled and tapped for sight mounting. Expect to spend in the neighborhood of $100-150 for a good rear sight. Remember, this is something that will save your butt when the cards fold. I use Lyman sights on all my hunting rifles, with a smattering of Redfields. Really, I prefer them – I only have one hunting rifle with a scope on it – but guess what? It’s set up with a Lyman receiver sight too.


What about the front sight? I really like fine brass bead style sights. Williams makes a great one that goes into standard front 3/8” dovetails. The beads come in many different styles, colors, and sizes. Brass, ivory, flourescent, fiber optic, you name it – pick one that your eye can find rapidly and discern against a target, and go with it. Make sure you replace the sight with a new front sight of the same height, or damn close – it’ll make life easier on you, trust me. But that bright front bead will show right up in your field of vision just as well as any electronic red dot sight will – line ‘er up and hit that target!


Front sights on three of my rifles - all with fine brass beads. Very bright and easy to pick up against a variety of backgrounds.

Front sights on three of my rifles – all with fine brass beads. Very bright and easy to pick up against a variety of backgrounds.



Standard factory-issued buckhorn or blade style sights are OK – but for a few bucks, you can get a back up sight that is very, very fast, extremely accurate with a fantastic field of view, and as rugged as you could hope for. And that, my friends, is exactly what we’re looking for when we set up our “oh no” firearms. Red dots and scopes are awesome – you should always tip the balance in your favor when you can, and those are perfect ways to do that – but you really need something as a backup to save your butt when the toys break.


Do any of you run receiver or aperture sights on your SHTF guns? I love this stuff – let’s hear what you got! Have you found something that works better? Tell us about it!


Stay safe!



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SHTF Update – Mrs Jarhead

Hey Everybody,

Thanks for all the comments and well wishes. Mrs Jarhead is still very sick and still in the hospital as of today.

It’s been confirmed as viral meningitis. The hospital staff has been fantastic and she’s receiving the best care possible.

Thanks again for all your prayers, well wishes, and positive thoughts as my family goes through this trying time. They are truly appreciated.


SHTF Update

Hey everybody.  I’m afraid I won’t be able to put a blog post out today.  Mrs Jarhead was admitted to the hospital this Sunday evening and I need to take care of her and the kids.

They’re not sure yet what it is, but the leading theory is a tick borne disease.  All I can say is she’s been in tremendous pain and thanks to some good medication is now sleeping comfortably.

Since this is a prepper blog it might be wise to note that if something like this happened when you didn’t have access to a medical facility, it would be a good idea to have some serious pain killer on hand.  My understanding is that if this is tick borne the idea is to hit it with some antibiotics, something else that might be good to have stashed away.

Question?  Comments?

Sound off below!

-Jarhead Survivor

Cooking Food After the SHTF – It’s NOT Optional

It can be easy to lose sight of the basics as a prepper. You get to worrying about how many beans and bullets you have, and it can be easy to forget about things like how you’ll cook those beans. Remember, most SHTF scenarios are things you can survive.  Some will be short enough that you can skate through on meal replacement bars, canned fruit and water. For anything longer than a few days though, you’ll want to consider a way to cook some hot food. Cooking is crucial to our diets. It helps us digest food without expending huge amounts of energy. TEOTWAWKI is not the time for a raw diet.

Morale - Cooking a hot meal can also be a good morale booster. Whether it’s a simple pot of oatmeal or a soup full of dried veggies and meat, it doesn’t have to be complicated to raise spirits.  I carry oatmealspaghetti makings in our bug out bags. Raisins and cinnamon already mixed in the measured out oats, just add boiling water.   For bigger groups there are freeze-dried meals that can cover quite a crowd. I have one can that will feed 10 people  spaghetti with meat sauce with the quick addition of boiling water.

Basic - Really basic, can you boil water? That should be your starting point for this one. Make sure you have a way to boil water. Bug out, bug in, power on or grid down. Hot drinks, safe drinking water, simple meals and the freeze dried ready-to-eat meals all need boiled water. You can get pretty far with just boiling water, days and days if you plan your food storage right. Think this one through carefully though. You may have to boil water in your house, basement bug in for radiation events come to mind. You may have to boil water in a temporary refugee type situation, maybe you’re camped out at a state park waiting for flood water to recede so you can go home. You may have to boil water for weeks on end with no warning, say your friendly local chemical dealer lets a couple of tanks leak into your county’s water supply.  So you want something that can handle most of those situations, or maybe a couple of somethings that together can cover all the scenarios. My solution was a Kelly Kettle.  It’s a basic rocket stove design. Very sturdy, very safe, light weight. Runs on twigs and pinecones, which I have a lot of.  I don’t have to balance anything on top of it because the whole kettle fills with water.

Safe Meat -For longer SHTF type events you may need the ability to cook up meat. Hunting prizes or raised livestock or just freezer meat that has to be cooked before they rot because power is down.  Of course a basic stick over a fire can get you some cooked meat, it’s not terribly efficient though. A grill or a way to bake the meat bbq style, either would work better. Meat can also go into the boiling water mentioned above, soups and stews are very efficient if you need to get every last calorie you can.

Vegetables – Even garden goodness occasionally needs some cooking to be at max nutritional value.  Cooked carrots, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage, peppers and many other vegetables supply more antioxidants, such as carotenoids, to the body than they do when raw. Boil or steam them for maximum benefits. Lycopene also increases in availability for us after cooking. Gentlemen, if you don’t know why you need Lycopene, give it a quick Google search.

Cooking for a crowd – The last thing I can think about to say on this one, is plan to cook meals to a bit bigger than normal. (And yes, I’m implying that your normal should be a cooked meal.) Whether you are feeding an elderly neighbor, or your brother-in-law is on your couch with his family in your guest bedroom, times of hardship will necessitate people coming together. Make sure you have a large pot and a couple of large pans. And that your cooking/stove setup can handle the weight of those.

What are your plans for grid down survival cooking? Do you get a lot of practice with it? Where do you think your weak spots are?  Shout out in the comments!

- Calamity Jane
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There is little doubt in anyone’s mind that when it comes to the one-gun prepper arsenal, the shotgun reigns supreme. King of the hill, my boomstick, baby! We here at SHTFblog.com have written about many a time – you can find our musings about the ultimate in firearms versatility here, here, and here.


If you scroll through the comments, you probably will find mention of a specific item that increases a shotgun’s versatility exponentially – the chamber adapter. Essentially a slug of metal that has been machined into the profile of a shotgun shell, it has a chamber for one of many, many calibers bored out of the middle. It allows you to chamber a different caliber – from .22 Short all the way to a smaller shotgun shell size, say .410 in a 12-ga – and safely fire it in your larger-bore shotgun. There are also chamber adapters for rifles; my brother has one that allows him to shoot .25 ACP out of a .250-3000 Savage. The caliber choices are extensive; pretty much all your standard pistol-caliber rounds are covered, as well as this company making a kit that allows you to shoot .223/5.56mm, 7.62x39mm, and even .308 Winchester in your 12 gauge. Prices range from a few bucks to over $100, depending on if you want a long-”barreled” sleeve-type adapter that’s rifled, or the style that I got, the “snubnose”, if you will.



I’d been wanting to try one of these babies out for some time, so I basically stopped hemming and hawing and grabbed one off Amazon on the cheap. After all, if it sucks, you probably shouldn’t pay a lot for the suck, right? Right. I ended up purchasing a 12 gauge-to-.38 Special/.357 Magnum adapter from Tru-Bore on Amazon. With shipping, it showed up at my door a few days later, for the paltry sum of just over $31. I didn’t expect much, and once I opened that package, I’m glad I didn’t: at first glance it wasn’t terribly impressive. A nicely machined piece of steel, but that was about it. I secretly had hoped it would be rifled, but I knew deep down it wouldn’t be, and I was right. It’s a smooth bore, and it measured out at .360” inside the bore. Hmmm…a standard .357/.38 bullet is .358”. Sounds to me like an unstabilized bullet….the bullet has .002” of wiggle room in the bore of the “barrel” of the adapter.



Yup, definitely a smooth-bore! .002” may not sound like much, but it’s enough to make that bullet bounce around down that bore like a BB in a coffee can, de-stabilizing the projectile. More on that later.


The back of the “shell” is recessed for the rim of the .38/.357 cartridge. It has a little extra room around the rim for a fingernail, knife blade, or some other plucking accoutrement to retrieve the spent empty cartridge from the adapter. (unfired cases drop in and out with ease, but fired cases expand and stick inside the chamber of the adapter.)


My trusty digital calipers mic the length of the adapter at 2.7315”. With a Winchester .357 Magnum 125-grn JHP measuring 1.5650”, that leaves a “barrel” length of 1.1665”, or just over 1 5/32”. That isn’t much; the average J-frame Smith & Wesson barrel length is about 2 inches. So don’t expect rip-snorting velocities out of the adapter. Sadly, my chronograph is currently being borrowed by a friend, so I couldn’t clock bullet velocities. Future report, I guess; my apologies.


Upon initial inspection, one of the first things I noticed is that the leading edge of the “shell” is very sharp; I took a touch of emery cloth to take the edge off so it wouldn’t scar up the innards of my shotgun. For the first test, I broke open my Winchester 101 over-under shotgun to see how the adapter fit. THUNK…dropped right in the chamber satisfyingly. I went to close the action, and, what do you know? The action wouldn’t shut. I sat there playing with it, and couldn’t come to any real satisfying conclusions as to why it wouldn’t shut. I can only imagine the ejector system may have been causing the problem; break-open guns I tried it on with no ejectors worked fine. It also chambered pleasingly in my Remington 870; I didn’t try it through the action, though, because the weight of the shell plus the sharp edges might have made it catch in the action or jam up. I didn’t feel like disassembling an 870 in a sandpit, so I made a decision to just use it single-shot. It’s not like you’re going to fill the magazine up with these things; the unfired cartridges slide right out without any effort and would surely bind in the magazine and action. This baby is relegated to break-open style guns or single-shot use out of a repeating shotgun.


I couldn’t wait to try this thing out on the range. Reviews I’d read said not expect much in the accuracy department; I didn’t. Lots of factors effected this in my mind: lack of rifling was the biggie, along with the short barrel length, and the lack of precise aiming equipment on the shotgun; all I have on my test 870 is a Meprolight tritium bead. Not exactly a 12 power Leupold…


…but it would have to suffice. With a pistol-caliber cartridge like the .357 Magnum, you have to be realistic: you’re probably not going to be making 100-yard head shots on running antelope. I envision the use of this to be close-range defense to be used in lieu of precious shotgun shells, putting down a nuisance/sick animal perhaps, or one you have in a trap or snare. Maybe with bigger calibers that pack more horsepower, you could hunt deer at close ranges in my mind. But that depends largely on how it performs on target.


My son and I loaded up the gear, and a target stand and some targets, along with a handful of the aforementioned Winchester 125-grn JHP rounds, and a box of .38 Special +P handloads: a 158-grain lead semi-wadcutter (LSWC) at about 850-900 feet per second. After setting up the target stand with targets and getting everything and everyone ready for a hot range, I paced off 10 paces, about 30-32 feet, depending on how sprightly I feel. I slipped in a .38 handload, dropped the works in the chamber of the 870, and closed the action. Everything locked up fine, the shotgun went fully into battery.


I lined up a steady 6 o’clock hold on the target (putting the aiming point of the target directly ABOVE the bead. It makes aiming more precise when your sighting device covers the target) and slowly pressed the trigger. Pop! The round went off, with practically no recoil. It was pretty underwhelming, actually…but hey, there was a hole in the target, surprisingly close to the bullseye, as well! Interesting. I slowly opened the action – the adapter engaged the extractor on the bolt just fine and the ejector popped it out of the ejection port with no fuss.


The fuss came when I tried to use my fingernail to extract the spent case. NOPE. A stiff shake. NOPE. Finally I pulled the felt-tip pen that I was using to mark the target out of my pocket (never did like prying with the point of a knife) and pushed it down the muzzle end of the adapter. With a tap, the .38 case dropped out. Folks, this is definitely not a rapid-fire setup. We eventually settled on a locally-sourced (read: the ground at my feet) free-range organic stick to pop the empties out of the adapter. I will say that after about 50 rounds, the empty cases usually dropped out with a firm shake or a tap on a rock…maybe a little bit of firing residue made the difference?


I repeated the process two more times for a three-shot, 10-yard group:


You’ll notice two things about this group: #1: actually pretty damn good accuracy; far better than I’d expected. The black Shoot-N-C target is 6 inches in diameter, making the 3-shot group under two inches. That’s not terrible, folks: that’s minute-of-rabbit and possibly squirrel if you can get either to sit still long enough to draw a bead and really concentrate on trigger control with crappy shotgun triggers.


The big thing you should notice, though, is that the bullet holes aren’t round. If you look carefully, the bottom two are pretty much exact outlines of the profile of a .38 Special bullet. Yep, they struck the target SIDEWAYS. These bullets are “tumbling”, or spinning end-over-end due to improper stabilization from an oversized bore and no rifling. At 30 feet, this isn’t too much of an issue, however, accuracy will almost certainly degrade very quickly as the range increases. It also means that the bullet will not strike the target nose-on, which is the way bullets are designed to strike; hollow-point bullets only expand if they push into target substrate hollow-point first; same with jacketed soft point bullets. So, you certainly will not get the terminal effectiveness that you could get with a properly-oriented bullet. I COULD make an argument that tumbling bullets will continue to tumble through target flesh and bones (the 5.56mm military cartridge was supposedly designed to do this to help make up for its small diameter), but if I have a dedicated high-performance hollow-point bullet, I’d like it to work as intended. However, knowing that the bullets tumble, I will in the future use heavier, longer full-metal jacketed or all-lead bullets that will be more terminally effective with tumbling. Work with what you got, right?


We stepped back to 15 yards and I let my son give the setup a go.



He thought the whole idea was pretty cool, and really enjoyed the adapter. His groups at 15 yards were almost as good as mine at 10:



Again, a nice consistent tight group, and again, more tumbling. But the accuracy was really far better than I’d hoped for by a long shot. I’d expected the group size to increase exponentially, but it was staying clustered together nicely. So we stepped back to 25 yards, and I got behind the 870 again. I loaded up the Winchester 125-gran JHPs. Holy crap; three shots went into almost the same hole at 25 yards! So, we went back to 40 yards to see how things worked at what I’d previously considered to be “yeah, right” distance. I was getting a bit more optimistic, I will admit.

This time, I sat down to make sure I was getting consistent accuracy with a solid seated position. Again, 6 o’clock hold, really working the trigger produced better than expected results. I fired 5 shots this round.



You can see the .357 25-yard group at upper left; the 5-shot 40-yard group is laid out in thick magic marker outline. We were now getting to be the outside edge of the practical range for the adapter. The group was about 8-9” across at its widest point; the vitals area of a mature whitetailed deer is generally considered to be about that size. I was very pleased with the group, however. I’d fully expected to be off the paper completely at this distance; yet rather I got a useful-sized group that shows decent consistency reasonably close to the point of aim.

For yuks ‘n’ giggles, we opened up at a large prominent rock at the opposite bank of the sandpit.


Yeah, forget about it. The bullets hit the ground about 6-10 feet in front of the target, and then bounced into the bank in a depressingly huge pattern. Even with the proper holdover to get the bullets to impact the target area, you’d be lucky to hit a 15-passenger van or a literal barn door at 125 yards. At 75 yards you’d be lucky to hit a normal-sized entry door to a house.



I must say, I was very surprised by this milled-out hunk of steel. I went in expecting this to be a close-to-useless range toy or conversation starter, but ended up walking away thinking there was actually some utility to this chamber adapter.


Granted, you have an envelope to work inside: I’d say 40, 45 yards MAXIMUM is the effective range of this adapter in .357 or .38 Special. Its limiting factor is the short “barrel” length and complete lack of rifling to stabilize the projectile. Sights (or lack thereof) MAY have been holding back the accuracy a bit, but not much. At 45 yards, the bead of a shotgun at a 6 o’clock hold worked reasonably well – and I’d be willing to bet that most prepper-utilized shotguns will have a standard bead-type sight. I have plans in the works to mount a red dot electronic sight to a shotgun soon; I’ll post a report (with velocities) eventually to see if it actually helped.

If all I has was my 12-gauge, you can bet sure as hell that I’d have these adapters in a couple common calibers, such as .22 LR, 9mm, .38/.357, and maybe something like .45 ACP or .44 Magnum. With every adapter you purchase, you increase ammo availability exponentially. Sure, you won’t have a rapid-fire tactical shotgun, but for the guy who owns a farm or who only wants one gun that’s not a “black gun” so he doesn’t cause a stir, this is a great way to increase your effectiveness with a single firearm. I can see the maximum effectiveness with these adapters coming from a break-open type shotgun with no ejectors; if you only have one adapter, you don’t want it to go flinging over your shoulder at high velocity in the woods after you take a shot at the only meat you’ve seen in days. Keep it captive in the chamber (a rubber O-ring system would really help here…hint, hint, Tru-Bore) and have a small flat headed screwdriver or dedicated prying tool to pop the empties out and you’ll up your fire rate quite a bit. This adapter would work out beautifully for the man with a double shotgun: a side by side or over/under. One barrel would have a standard shotshell in case of a flying bird, the other a chamber adapter with a caliber that offers more punch and precision in case of a deer, coyote, or badguy pops up.

There’s really no down side to having one of these and a handful of pistol-caliber cartridges in your shotgun kit. For 31 bucks, it was worth every penny in my book. I reload for the .357 Magnum, and have several handguns in that caliber – and it’s a very popular caliber here in rural Maine, so ammo should almost always be around or at the very least not a hassle to obtain or load for.

Bottom line: Chamber adapters increase the utility and versatility of your shotgun, and therefore your survival probability in a SHTF situation. I’m getting more. If you have a shotgun, you’d have a hard time making an argument to NOT get one or two to keep with your survival kit.

What do you think? A ridiculous piece of gear that’s not worth your time, or would you now give one a whirl? Do any of our readers utilize these, and is so, how do your results stack up against mine? I’d love to hear about it; sound off in the comments below!


As a side note: you love shooting, right? So why wouldn’t your kids? Be sure to take your children (or, if you don’t have children, take your nephews, nieces, neighbors, whomever!) to the range with you. Teach them to respect the power of the firearm, and how to handle one with the utmost safety and concern for human life. If you start young and teach them properly, you’ll have someone who’s with you all the time who you can trust with a firearm, and a hunting/foraging buddy whose company you’ll always enjoy, and will help you drag game out of the woods, or just provide quality companionship while plinking empty soda cans with .22s at the range. I started my son when he was 7, and now, many years later, he is a fine shot and a respectful, safe young man with a firearm; I couldn’t be prouder.

So get out there, have fun, train, and BE SAFE!



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Seven Reasons Your Bug-Out Will Fail

The S has HTF and you’re ready to bug-out.  You grab your stuff and hit the road and ride off into the sunset, happy to be alive.  Right? Hold on a minute.  Let’s make sure you’re not making a mistake that could derail your bug-out. Here are seven reasons your bug-out might not go as well as you hoped.

  1. Failure to Act

The first one is a failure to act.  You might have the best bug-out plan ready to go, but if you miss the cues of when to leave you might be trapped in your current location with bad things about to happen.  Recognize when it’s time to get out of dodge.  Some of this is going to come from the media in the case of a natural disaster.  Listen to the radio and news stations and if they say it’s time to get out of Dodge you better load up the truck and move out.

In the case of something like civil unrest, a market or money collapse, rioting, or anything caused by your fellow man you’ll have to keep a close eye on the situation.  It comes down to what you can bear.  If you have a low threshold for danger it might be a good idea for you to leave as soon as you suspect something is going to happen.  For those of you who have work and/or family pressures or a spouse that doesn’t believe in prepping and thinks you’re foolish for even considering moving out, you’ll have to have a higher tolerance.  At some point there will be a kick-off event that will decide for you when to leave.  Let’s hope it’s not too late at that point.

Just remember that the longer you wait the more likely you are to be sharing the roads out of town with a bunch of other scared refugees.

When you decide it’s time to leave don’t screw around.  Get moving!  In the case of a quick bug-out you need to be prepared to move fast.  During my time in the service we used to bug-out when the CO went around and started yelling CSMO!  That stands for Close Station March Order and it meant to pack up all the gear and get out of the current position as fast as we could.

If you have your plan laid out and your BOB’s are ready to go then it’s just a matter of throwing stuff in the BOV (bug-out vehicle) and exiting stage left.

2. Inadequate BOV

The BOV you use should depend on the situation.  I’ve heard folks saying they’ll bug-out using a bicycle, which is fine.  But if you’re trying to get out of a city on a bicycle and there’s a tsunami coming, or you’re trying to move through a riot in progress you might be in trouble.  Make sure the BOV you choose is adequate to the task.

Having said that not everybody has a HMMVW in the garage waiting for the day the economy collapses causing you to flee the city with the ring-mounted .50 cal M2 blazing away from the gun port.  Most of you reading this are ordinary Americans driving minivans, passenger cars, or any one of the thousands of passenger cars out there.  This means you need to adapt your bug-out plan to whatever vehicle you’ll be driving, which can be a compromise to the situation.

If you look around the area in which you live you can probably come up with a few likely scenarios of why you might have to bug-out.  For example:  if you live near a railroad maybe one of your scenarios revolves around a chemical leak.  If it’s a small town your car is probably more than adequate for this type of situation.  Or maybe you live in hurricane country along the coast, in which case you’ll want to avoid any Katrina type storms like the plague.  In most bug-out situations you’ll want to move fast, unless you’ve exercised your judgment to leave early.

However, living in a city will present a whole other list of issues and I’ll address this is another post.

3.  Poor Route Planning

Do you have a plan for your bug-out?  Have you thought through all the possible scenarios?  If you’re getting out of Dodge in your vehicle have you prepared a good route and a few alternate routes?  Because if you’re in a city and you’re taking the main artery out of town guess what?  A million other people will be doing the same thing.  My idea of surviving is not being stuck in traffic when the tsunami rolls in destroying everything in its path.

Make a detailed plan of your escape route and have it written down along with some alternate routes.  Take the time to actually drive the route and make notes in a notebook about what you see.  ”Big bridge six miles out of town over fast moving water.  It might collapse or cause a jam up during an ice out.  Or maybe it’s a tactical situation where some group is holding the bridge and not letting anybody through.  (Don’t think that would happen here in the U.S.  Did you forget about the bridge into Gretna and how the cops shut it down to refugees?)  There’s a less traveled bridge two miles south in case of emergency.  Take Route 3 south to Old Town Road to bypass.”  If you don’t make notes there’s a good chance you’ll forget about it when you have to use it.  Or maybe you’ll be incapacitated and your significant other or a friend will be at the wheel.  If they have good notes to go by they might just save your butt.

Make sure your BOV is up to the route.  As you do a dry run over the escape route ask yourself questions as you go depending on the various scenarios you could expect.  I might ask myself, “If I had to move during a blizzard would my vehicle make it to the next town over?”  Answer:  in my minivan hell no, but in my pickup with the plow attachment I just might be able to get the ten miles in order to save myself and the family.  Maybe you live in a flood zone and might have to drive through water up to your hub caps.  Could your vehicle make it?

4.  Tactical Negligence

This is a tough one and not a lot of people think a lot about it.  What I mean by tactical is the ability to move you or a group of people safely through an area without being deterred by your fellow man.  During a disaster of any kind there will be people looking out for each other because there are a lot of good people out there, but there are always a few scumbags looking to capitalize on others.  Or sometimes it could just come down to a family that hasn’t prepped deciding to go next door to the family that has and taking their stuff at gun point.  People will do bad things when desperate.

One of the big ones is OPSEC or Operational Security.  It’s a military term that means don’t go blabbing your plans to anybody.  If you tell one person, that person will tell someone else.  And that someone else might mention it to another someone else and so on.  OPSEC can also be compromised by having a truckload of freeze dried food delivered to your house in the middle of a busy neighborhood.  People notice things that go on in tight communities.  I’m not saying don’t get prepared, just use a little discretion when doing so.  And don’t go telling your neighbors about your preps either.  Friends have seen my pantry and invariably they’ll say, “Well, if anything ever happens I’m coming over here.”  Guess what, I won’t be rolling out the welcome mat to any schmoe that shows up on my doorstep.

Another area you might have to worry about is armament.  Americans love guns and sometimes it seems like everybody and their little sister has one.  Having a great bug-out vehicle and lots of preps might be for nothing if you get held up before you can get out of town.  Be prepared to defend your family, yourself, and your stuff if necessary.  Some people might ask if you’d really shoot someone for a vehicle or a sleeping bag.  Here’s what I say about that.  If that vehicle or sleeping bag is critical to keeping you and your family alive and someone is trying to take it from you then you have the obligation to defend it.  It may sound stupid, but your gear may what is standing between you and death.  If that’s the case and you have the means and skill to protect it I’d say it’s your right.  Having said that, if it means putting yourself or your family in mortal danger don’t be afraid to bail and let them have the stuff.  You can always attempt to get more, but if you’re dead you won’t be able to try.

5.  Poor Planning

When you plan for a bug-out you have to take into account all the variables that your situation brings with it.  Do you have young kids?  Pets?  Older people to look after?  Special medical needs?  Special fuel requirements for you BOV?

I have two small kids and walking any distance with them is a pain.  The oldest can walk by himself for a while, but the 2 ½ year old can’t go any significant distance.  Last year I took the family up a mountain with a full bug-out bag on my back (about 50 lbs for me) and we set up a little camp, made a fire, heated up some noodles and coffee, and generally chilled out for an afternoon.  It was a lot of fun.  Then came the hike down mountain.  My wife carried the baby and then my son (4 at the time) needed to be carried after walking a short distance.  I picked him up and carried him in my arms while wearing the back pack and we made it down the mountain.  This type of activity uses a lot of calories and you need to be in good shape to do it.  It would be exceedingly difficult to do this for any amount of time.

At that point I decided it would be very difficult for us to do any kind of bug-out on foot and re-thought the whole situation.  The gear I carried was enough for me and the missus for a day or two, but have you ever taken two or three young kids to the beach for a day?  Baby bags, diapers, bottles, wipes, extra clothes, toys, etc.  And that’s just for the afternoon!  Imagine trying to do this for a week, on foot and moving through harsh terrain and weather, with two or more little ones.

This meant I’d have to find a way to move my family without moving on foot if at all possible.  I have a four door 4 wheel drive pickup that I’d use in most situations.  The worst scenario for me would be having to move after a CME or some other event has fried all the electronics.  Ironically, it would be easier for me to move the whole family in the winter on sleds than in any other season.  My wife and I are quite skilled on snow shoes and pulling a couple of sleds would be manageable.  Other than that we’d probably be reduced to pulling a crude cart like they do in “The Road.”   We might be able to bicycle once the kids are a little older, but until then I’m just crossing my fingers that nothing bad happens.  (And even then I’ll be keeping them crossed.)

For older people you have to take into account meds, their ability to move, their mental state, and things like that.  If someone has Alzheimer’s disease it will be very difficult to move them.  If they have heart disease or diabetes or any other condition that needs constant medication you’ll have to make sure there’s a way to carry that medication while keeping it cold, or whatever conditions it might need to be stored in.

Do they have a cane or walker?  Are they confined to a wheel chair?  Plan, plan, plan

6.  Bug-Out Location

Many people think they’ll bug-out to the woods and live off the land for a few weeks until things blow over.  Let me put this notion to rest for you right now.  You won’t be able to survive off the land for very long.  Very few of you reading this might have the skills to do this, but the vast majority will starve to death in a relatively short period of time.  Do yourself a favor and find a relative, or friend, or a shelter, or a camp, or some place you can go to in case of an emergency.  Have some cash on-hand in case you need to stay at a hotel.  Whatever it is don’t try and convince yourself that you can survive in the woods for an unrealistic amount of time.

An ideal bug-out location would have a source of running water, be fairly well hidden, easily defendable, and if you have neighbors that think the same way you do there’s always strength in numbers.  Another good idea is to know exactly what resources you have on the property, which means you’ll need to get out and recon on it.  I know the woods behind my house like the back of my hand.  If things went to Hell and I was driven out of my house and had to hit the woods there are many good spots to hole up for awhile until I can get a plan together to get the house back.  If you haven’t hiked an area it’s just a great big black hole until you get out there.  I’ve gone so far as to draw rough maps of resources such as camps I’ve set up, streams, bogs, old logging roads, etc.  It’s nice to have something like this so you can look at it and know exactly where things are.

Do you plan to cut off any roads in to your area if the balloon goes up?  Do you have the resources to do it?  How many people can you rely on to help you out?  Or are you going it alone and hope not to be discovered?

7.  Unrealistic Expectation Of What Camping Out Is

Let’s say that worst comes to worst and you have nowhere else to go, but to the woods.  Many people have no idea what an extended stay in the field is actually like.  Many of you with military backgrounds probably get it.  Ever hiked the Appalachian Trail?  Then you know what I’m talking about.  But if your idea of getting outdoors experience is watching back to back episodes of Dual Survivor you have a tragic wakeup call ahead of you. Get out there and test your gear.  Spend a weekend, or better yet a week, in the bush.  I’m not talking about camping at the local campground, I’m talking about hitting the back woods with a backpack and doing it Alpine Style.  Not only is this a good test of your gear you’ll also start to appreciate what it takes to live in the woods.  It’s hard, folks.  Living without electricity and running water sucks.

You’ll also get a good idea of just how far you can hike that heavy BOB you have in the closet.  If you try to hike a 70 lb. bag any distance when you’ve never done it before it will likely kill you before you’ve gone a mile.  Get realistic about what you need for gear and pack only what you need.


Now you have a few things to look at when planning your bug-out.  This list is by no means comprehensive, but it should get you started in the right direction.  Remember the 5 P’s (Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance) and you’ll be head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to a real exodus from your area.

Questions?  Comments?

Sound off below!

-Jarhead Survivor

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Tornado Talk

Well, most of our readers will probably remember that I live in NW Iowa.  We’ve been dodging more than our fair share of bad weather the past week.  In fact, this post is being typed up in Word, because we haven’t had internet since Monday. Storm after storm, floods on top of floods, and of course, tornadoes. Thankfully, most of the tornadoes have stayed on the Nebraska side of the river. I have friends on that side that I’ve been keeping close tabs on, but so far me and mine have escaped harm.  I’ll be headed to a fun mix of sandbagging, clean ups and benefits this weekend (and next) as our communities rally around those that got hit hard and try to protect those that are still facing down the rising water.  Pilger got wiped off the map.  I know we have readers from the coasts here, do y’all hear about it when a small city in the fly-overs gets its clock cleaned?  The saddest news is the 5 year old girl from Pilger that died from injuries. She was sheltering in her family’s trailer home when it was hit by one of the tornadoes.

Which brings me to my first bit of advice for tornadoes: Choose your shelter wisely. I have explained to my husband flat out, that I will not live in a place without some sort of underground shelter. Period.  I don’t care how poor we get, I don’t care if I have to dig it myself. It’s the height of stupidity to think that anything less than underground shelter will save you and your loved ones if a twister is roaring its way towards you. Have you ever seen what a trailer home looks like after a brush with a tornado? Kindling. Exploded kindling.  Most wood frame houses with vinyl siding will only fair marginally better, and even they won’t provide much shelter for anything larger than an F2.  I have to have my rule, because a surprising number of houses in tornado alley are not equipped with shelter.  Like so many other safeguards in our so called modern America they are deemed too expensive, or too troublesome to bother with. Some companies are offering homeowners the choice to build a tornado safe room into a house that otherwise wouldn’t offer proper shelter. The rooms are enclosed in steel usually, and bolted to the foundation.

Check out some of these models to get a feel for what’s on the market. FEMA even has grants, if you live someplace like Oklahoma or Kansas or Iowa.tornadofrequency

If you are in a community (mobile home or otherwise) that offers community shelters, make sure you examine them with a skeptical eye. Are they large enough to fit EVERYONE? Everyone and their dog? Because you know most people will bring the dog if they can.  Is the shelter normally locked? Who gets the key? Who gets to decide when to unlock it? Is it close enough to your house?

It’s important to make sure you can get out of your shelter. This is one instance where OPSEC could get you killed. If no one knows you have a shelter, it’s possible no one will know where to look for you. There was a gal in Moore, OK that was stuck in her pre-fab buried shelter for days after the tornado because her door handle failed and no one knew where she was.  Doors can also be buried by rubble, or downed trees.   Don’t let this risk deter you though, trust me, your neighbors will happily dig you out if they know/suspect you’re there. They’d much rather dig you out alive from your shelter than they would dead from the rubble.  (Well, don’t trust me, trust your neighbors, you do trust your neighbors, right?) Annually inspect the opening and closing mechanisms for your shelter door. Let your kids practice getting in and out of it.

Things to keep in your shelter? The basics for any shelter, of course, food, water, and medicine top the list.   Tornadoes are often in the evenings, so a place for young/old to lay down would be nice.  If you want to plan for the “after” of a tornado, I would suggest Personal Protective Equipment.  Hard hat, long sleeves, work gloves and steel toe boots.  That’s the minimum that disaster relief groups require for people headed into a tornado aftermath zone to help. Refer back to my exploded kindling remark.  Houses, trees, cars, everything is likely to be broken, smashed and tossed around and flip flops won’t cut it if you’re trying to salvage what you can from the wreckage.  If you work a job like I do, where PPE is required, this can be easy to stash. Just toss your worn out boots/gloves in the shelter kit when you get new ones. Sure they won’t cut it for a 40 hour week at a job site, but most of the time, they’re not so worn out you couldn’t strap them back on during an emergency.

Another part not to overlook is communication. Y’all might remember that I don’t have a TV in my house, no cable, no local, nothing. With our internet down all week, we’ve been relying on radio to keep up with all the watches/warnings and whatnot. We have our big plug in radio in the living room and a couple of smaller ones that run on batteries and hand crank. The local stations don’t mess around and they’ll interrupt programming constantly to keep everyone in the loop as situations and warnings change.  And of course we still had our cell phone, with which to keep close tabs on our friends in the path of harm, and for them to keep tabs on us.  If you can afford it, a good solar charger for vital communication tools will come in extremely handy if you ever find yourself on the flip side of a tornado with all the power lines down and the nearest shelter with charging stations 20 minutes away.  Hubby and I have been drooling over some lately. They get pricy fast, but I like these. Look for watts to see how quickly they will charge things, a 5W charger will work slower than a 15W. solar chargerMake sure you know if they have battery packs or not. Battery packs are needed if you want to store the solar energy to charge devices at night, or in caves, or whatever.

Here’s a 16W one. It has no battery. But it’s faster than the one below, and can produce considerable charge power just in an afternoon of direct sunlight.

This one has a battery. But it’s a bit smaller than the solar collector above, so it takes about 40 hours of sunlight to get a full charge on a large 7200mA battery.

My final bit of advice for tornadoes is this: Reach out to your neighbors, especially if they are new to the area to make sure they know what to do for tornadoes. I heard about some guys dying in a ditch where they tried to hide from a tornado and the flood waters drowned them. People from other countries especially can be unfamiliar with tornado safety.

Stay safe out there y’all! Sound off if you have more tornado talk to share!

- Calamity Jane
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Tips On Staying Alive When the Bullets Start to Fly

Note: we’ve been having some issues with WordPress and getting our posts on the blog reliably (you probably noticed last week was pretty sparse in the post department) so Jarhead Survivor was kind enough to post this for me. -Road Warrior

For the past couple months, shootings seem to be all I see on the news. Violence is running rampant, and though the people doing the shootings seem to definitely have mental illnesses or grudges, you can’t help but wonder if this is the new status quo for our country. With all the attention and media hype given to the subject, (I’d go so far as to bet that if the media stopped reporting and sensationalizing this violence, the number of shootings would drop – but what do I know?) as well as the always present debates of gun control and help for the mentally ill, it seems to me that these acts of violence are becoming more and more prevalent in society today as a way to “show the world” what your problems are, what your beliefs are, and how far you’ll go to show what a martyr you’ll be for your own cause. It’s appalling and frightening – and a reason to be prepared.

 The shooting that has held my ear the longest is the one that happened last week in Las Vegas, Nevada. As of right now (June 10, 2014) the details are still pretty fuzzy about what happened, but a couple of stories you can read here and here seem to sum up most of the news stories that I’ve read pretty well. In a nutshell, a man and his wife, two people who were dissatisfied with the government and authority, decided to start their own two-man revolution. They packed all their arms and ammunition (a .38 revolver and an “AR-1″ rifle or a shotgun) into a backpack, and walked past their neighbor on the way out the door. They told their neighbor that “they had to do what they had to do” and that they were “sorry”. The neighbor, even though she witnessed the couple walking out the door with guns, did nothing, even after the cryptic conversation. Several hours later, the couple, Jerad and Amanda Miller, walked into a pizza joint at an aging strip mall where two on-duty police officers were eating lunch. After yelling something akin to “this is the start of a revolution!”, the couple gunned down the officers, stripped them of their duty handguns and ammunition, and walked across the street to the local Wal-Mart.

image from Facebook/breitbart.com

Folks, what happened at the Wal-Mart is what’s really caught my attention, because it really hits home personally. The details of the happenings inside the Wal-Mart haven’t come out 100% yet – I’m sure they will soon – but from what I can gather, here’s what happened: The Millers walked in the door of the Wal-Mart. Amanda Miller grabbed a shopping cart, presumably to disguise herself as a shopper, while keeping her husband covered. Jerad Miller fired a handgun into the air, and yelled to everyone that “the revolution” had begun, for everyone to clear out if they didn’t want to get hurt, the cops were on their way.

 I haven’t seen security camera footage yet, but I have to assume that at this point, the entire populace of the Wal-Mart at that time instantaneously panicked. After a second or two of “What the hell was that?!” I’m sure people in the back of the store ran forward to the entrance, only to find people who didn’t take immediate cover running for the back of the store. Cashiers must have gasped and ducked behind registers. People surely jumped on their cell phones to call the police or perhaps film the event (a phenomena I don’t understand…”I’m in danger! Better film it!”). Fathers and mothers grabbing their children and herding them behind cover.  I imagine that for several seconds, the tens of thousands of square feet of that Las Vegas Wal-Mart was 99.999% reactionary, and that reaction was confusion or ”Oh, shit.”. Fight or flight.

 Enter bystander Joseph Robert Wilcox, 31. He told his friend he was going to confront Jerad Miller, and drew his concealed handgun, which he had a legal permit for. Reportedly, his intentions were to stop the man with the gun so nobody got hurt. I don’t know if he took cover, I don’t know what he was armed with, or how the confrontation went down. I do know that well-meaning Joseph was gunned down by Amanda Miller, from a shot in the ribs he never knew was coming. Amanda, posing as a customer, had circled around and shot Joseph in the back. He died on the scene. The Millers then got in a gunfight with one of the two five-man police teams who entered the building, where they both were wounded. They retreated into the interior of the Wal-Mart, made a makeshift fort out of various materials, and Amanda shot her husband repeatedly, then herself, putting an end to the whole terrible mess. (Evidence has come to light that the police may have shot and killed Jared Miller)

 The reason this hits home for me is because I carry a firearm legally concealed, as do many others I know. We do so to protect ourselves, family, and others from harm…but this is a real wake-up call personally, as I’m sure it is for the hundreds of thousands other people who lawfully carry concealed. It forces us to ask ourselves: how far will we go with this pistol by my side? Where do we draw the line that we want to defend? What can we learn from all of this? I know this is a SHTF site, and you may be expecting to be reading about Bug-out-Bags or water collection, but the fact is that the possibility of being involved or near an incident like this one is much more likely these days than a total societal collapse, and as such, qualifies as a SHTF event in my book. I’m sure for a lot of people in Las Vegas that day, the S did indeed HTF.


I’ve never been in a gunfight. I truly hope to never be in one…especially one so horribly one-sided as this. But I have trained under people who have, and conversed with many people more who have. I’ve read books and researched the subject…and while I wasn’t there, I would say that Mr. Wilcox may not have thought things through, and been reactionary without giving consideration to strengths and weaknesses. I’m not critiquing at all; I certainly have no right to. What are the thoughts on the matter? What lessons did I take home that this instance reinforces?

 -If you find yourself in a fair fight, you did something wrong. – Joseph Wilcox, from what I can gather, drew his pistol and confronted Jared Miller, who also had a drawn pistol. At a glance,this seems to be pretty fair odds to me, skills and training notwithstanding. I’m sure Wilcox thought that if things went down, maybe if he caught Miller unaware, he would have the upper hand. But there are many other things to consider: What if Miller had been using illegal substances (reports are the Millers were active users of Methamphetamine.), and therefore could not be reasoned with, and if had to be shot, didn’t react to even a well-placed bullet? This is fairly commonplace with many drugs, I understand. What if Miller had a plan, accomplices, and body armor on? (seems to me that he possibly had all three) These are all things that tip the balance of a fight in one way or the other, things that Wilcox could not have known. So that begs the question: why get yourself into what APPEARS TO BE a fair fight? The balance should be decisively in your favor before you decide to engage.

-If you must confront/engage, do so from a position of strength and cover, with no blind spots if possible. – Think things through. Everyone has been in a Wal-Mart. Assuming this happened while you were in the checkout lane, and you had to react with your weapon, how could you do so from a position of cover AND concealment? Ducking behind a register, rolling your body and gun out so minimal body exposure is allowed comes to mind. Behind a customer service desk, back to a wall, is even better. You never know how many bad guys are there – especially in a high-traffic area like a Wal-Mart. This lack of knowledge killed our good Samaritan. Know the difference between concealment and cover: concealment hides you, cover protects you. Always be aware of your surroundings (part of your OPSEC) and think about what could stop a bullet if it came to that. Keeping in that mindset can never hurt.

-Keep your gun concealed. If you must reveal it, it’s time to start shooting. – In my book, if I have to pull my gun, it’s because I perceive enough of a threat to my or others’ lives to reveal my firearm and end the threat. Period. If you pull the gun and don’t use it or don’t intend to pull the trigger (possibly hoping the show of force will scare off bad guys? I don’t know.), then why bother having the gun at all? Drawing your concealed firearm gives away a prime tactical advantage: if a bad guy sees you with a gun, you are a target. If he doesn’t know you have it, you may be able to get yourself in a better position (i.e. behind cover, civilians out of the line of fire, etc.) without drawing attention to yourself. And if you DO draw that gun, you are in unavoidable danger and should start engaging without hesitation. If that gun is out, it’s no time to be wishy-washy. However, as a counterpoint:

-If you can retreat, do so. If you can get out of there, get the hell out of there! Provide relevant information to the police, ask if you can render assistance. Go home to your family. Miller stated that anyone not wanting to get hurt had better leave; in my book that means that he PROBABLY wasn’t going to be gunning down kids in the vitamin aisle. Be smart; leave if you can. You don’t have backup; cops do. You (probably) don’t have training in active shooter situations. Cops do. Cops have long guns, body armor, and if necessary, armored vehicles. You have what you brought in the store/area. Let discretion be the better part of valor: protect yourself and your loved ones with conviction if you are in imminent danger; however, if you can retreat safely, retreat. Don’t be a hero: this hero died. As an extra caveat, in my home state of Maine, you are only authorized to use lethal force if you have explored all other options and cannot retreat. Granted, this is an extraordinary specific case, Mr. Wilcox’s actions were 100% justified, and had things gone the other way, he would have been in the clear. Which brings up the next point…

-IN AN ACTIVE SHOOTER SITUATION, EVERYONE WHO IS NOT A POLICE OFFICER AND HAS A GUN IS A BAD GUY. When the police get there – and they will get there quickly – they don’t know what went down. All they probably know at the outset is that they have an active shooter inside a heavily-populated area and to stop him/her. Police officers these days are no longer trained to sit and wait for backup in active shooter situations; first one on the scene gets in there and engages to draw potential fire away from civilians. Therefore, if you use your firearm in a 100% justified self-defense situation, and you are covering a downed bad guy, the police will rush in and react to a person with a drawn gun over a prone body, possibly with a somewhat predictable, though mistaken outcome. BE SMART. If someone is with you (as Mr. Wilcox had a friend) tell them to phone the police immediately and tell them that there is someone with your description (what you are wearing, skin/hair color) engaging the bad guy(s). If nobody can do that for you, it might be smarter to retreat to a position of cover and make the phone call yourself rather than having you and the police flying blind. It could very well save your life.


As of this final update before I post this article (June 18th, 2014, 8 days later) the Las Vegas Wal-Mart shooting has completely fallen off the media radar. However, it’s an interesting case that re-affirms strong points to think about for the men and women who carry concealed. As always, we don’t have 100% of the information on what truly happened. We’ll never know what went through Joseph Wilcox’s mind when he was confronting Jared Miller. I can’t find any security camera videos of what happened to him, or how the showdown went. All we know is that, despite the very, very best of intentions, things went badly. And we have to prepare ourselves for that: no matter how much we prep, no matter how much we read, no matter how much we debate people online in forums, there’s always the possibility of just plain shit luck. Knowing that can happen, we need to learn to be smart, think things through, and tilt the balances in our favor, whether it’s bring extra batteries for the GPS AND learning map and compass skills for when you go hiking, or engaging  an active shooter from behind cover in a super store. It may not be very macho, but at the end of the day, getting home is still the most important thing; and if we learn from others and what happened to them, we up the chances that we will get home by that much more.

Thoughts on this situation? I’d love to hear them…is my head up my ass? Or did this get you to think a bit about how you conduct yourself?

Stay safe and get home.

- Road Warrior

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Tips for Self Rescue When You’re Lost in the Wilderness

I’ve written about this before, but since there’s a new hiking season coming on and people are still using GPS to figure out where they are I figured I’d do another piece on how to get yourself out of trouble in case you find yourself lost.

“Hey Jarhead!  That would never happen to me!  I carry a GPS.”

Well good for you!  But that doesn’t give you permission to turn your brain off.  Check out the stories here of people who turned their lives over to a GPS.

In other posts I’ve talked about how much I like the GPS on my phone.  It’s awesome.  I can just dial up Google Maps or whatever and figure out where I am within a pretty close radius.  Usually.  There have been times when I’ve checked the GPS in the woods only to discover it thought I was somewhere 20 miles away from my true location.  In those cases I just put it away and went back to the map and compass.

But just because you’re carrying a map and compass or GPS doesn’t mean you won’t get lost.  Even the best navigators make mistakes out there and will occasionally find themselves somewhere they didn’t expect to be.  There have been several occasions when I’ve hit an obstacle – a river for example – that wasn’t on the map.  There’s a sudden thrill of fear and your mind goes “Uh oh!” and for some reason you want to run.  Your brain tells you to run up ahead and maybe you’ll see the trail.  Maybe you will, but most likely you won’t.

Let’s say you’ve just discovered you’re lost.  Your heart is racing, you’re breathing hard, and you’re mind is telling you to run.  You’re way the hell out in the woods and you’ve gone off the trail and all you have is your day hiking kit with you.  What do you do?

STOP!   Stop.  Think.  Observe.  Plan.

STOP! -  Instead of running off and getting even more lost sit down on the nearest stump and take a deep breath.  Ok, you might be lost, but you’ve got resources.  Running is only going to make this situation worse.  Sit there until your breathing is under control.

Think.  You’ve got your daypack with you.  (Right?) How can you leverage it in your situation?  (Read this to see what you should have with you.)  Do you have a map and compass?  When was the last time you remember seeing a trail blaze or know for sure you were on the path?  Were there any identifiers you can think of to get back on the trail?  What can you hear?  See?  Where was the sun when you hiking?  According to the map, which direction is the trail running?  Is there running water nearby?  Starting to think things through will help ease the panic.

Observe.  You’ve already started doing this in the thinking step.  This is important because it may or may not help you get back on track.  Look for terrain features.  Can you see a mountain peak or are you near a river or lake?  Can you hear traffic?  Which direction is north?  Which way were you hiking?

Plan.  Now that you’ve calmed down and assessed your situation you might discover that you truly are lost.  That sucks, but hey!  You’re dealing with it with a calm mind instead of running in circles flapping your arms and squawking like a chicken. You’re heading in the right direction to survive.


Leverage Your Resources

Assume you’ve taken my advice with 10 Items You Should Have In Your Pack. You now have an excellent list of resources at your disposal for a survival situation. I won’t go into detail in this article because it’s laid out in the hyperlinked post. It’s a great starting place for those of you who might not have the experience and knowledge about what to put into your own kit. You’ll find as you gain experience that you’ll come up with your own additions or substitutions. For example, you might decide to use a poncho and poncho liner instead of a wool blanket. See a discussion about that here.

Here’s the thing, if you have a map and compass and the knowledge on how to read them then you’re not really lost. You might be a little displaced for awhile, but you’re not really lost. If you look at your map you should have an idea of where you are within a couple of square miles. All you have to do is look for a hand rail such as a river or road. Let’s say you look at the map and you know you went off the trail somewhere near the middle of the map. In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t really matter. Look at the last known position on the map and then look for a river or road like I mentioned above. It will be in a certain direction from where you are. You might see a road fifteen miles east of where you are. Follow your compass east and eventually you will find the road. It might suck walking off trail through the woods (it would here in Maine I’ll tell ya), but you will find your way out. How do I know? Because I’ve used this exact technique. I’ve felt the cold finger of panic run up my spine when I discovered I was lost snowshoeing in the woods during a snowstorm. I’ve fought down the urge to run to see what’s ahead. I’ve forced myself to sit on a log and dig out my thermos and look around with a rational eye. This isn’t conjecture on my part. These things really work.

Here’s the list:

  1. A canteen and canteen cup
  2. A lightweight rain suit
  3. Lighter or some other kind of firestarter.
  4. Survival knife
  5. Food – energy bars, GORP, or other kind of food that doesn’t need much preparation is a good idea; however, if you have a heat source such as a camp fire then freeze dried foods, Ramen Noodles, or any other kind of light-weight hiking food is an excellent choice.  If I’m on a long hike I’ll have oatmeal and an energy bar for breakfast (don’t forget the coffee), an energy bar for a quick lunch so I can keep moving, and for dinner I’ll break out a freeze dried meal and live it up.  As a side note make sure you’re drinking a lot of water while you’re moving.
  6. Map and Compass (I’m counting this as one unit) or a GPS.  I use a Cammanga Military Compass for accuracy.
  7. First aid kit
  8.  Flash light or head lamp
  9. Wool blanket – this item has many uses and if it gets wet it still has insulating value.  You can lay it out to picnic on, wear it as a cape or shawl with a hood at night  around the fire – it won’t burn like cotton or some of the synthetics out there if a coal lands on it, or you can wrap up in it case you get stuck out over night.  I’ll write a full post on wool blankets later.
  10. Contractor bag – these have many many uses.  You can stuff it with leaves or pine needles and sleep on it, which creates a comfortable bed and vapor barrier.  It can be used to carry water.  Some people say to use a condom, but they’re so fragile I’d be scared to death it would break and lose all my water.  A contractor bag is tough and you could carry a lot of water if you needed to.  (And were strong enough.)  It can be used as a rain coat.  It can be stretched out and used as part of a shelter to keep the rain off.  It can divert rainwater into your canteen.  These bags have many different uses and I suggest you get one for your pack if you don’t already have one in there.

Make a Decision - to move or not to move? If lost, most times you should stay where you are until help finds you. If you’re hurt you may not have a choice about staying where you are. In that scenario do what you can to patch or splint yourself up and get your body stable. If you decide to stay use the Rule of 3′s to guide your efforts.

This is simply a mnemonic for helping to remember the survival sequence:

  • You can live three minutes without air.
  • You can survive three hours without shelter in bad weather.
  • You can survive three days without water.
  • You can live three weeks without food.
  • You can live three months without human contact.

(This is very generalized of course.)

Using these rules as a guide line you would want to build a shelter of some kind first, then look for water, and finally concentrate on finding food. Using the kit above you could make a shelter by making a lean-to out of the contractor bag and a few well cut logs.

Now let’s say you’ve violated the rule about not telling anybody where you’re going. I’ve read many incidents where someone went on a hike, snowmobile trip, or whatever, then changed the plan or didn’t tell anybody where they were going at all. In this situation you might want to think about trying to find your way home. The danger, of course, is that you get even more lost or sustain an injury wandering around in the back woods.

Once you’ve made the decision to start moving make sure you leave plenty of time in the afternoon to make a shelter and get enough fire wood for a good fire. A fire is a wonderful tool for cheering you up, warming you up, boiling water for drinking, cooking food, and providing light. By the time it gets dark you should be all settled in with plenty of wood and a good shelter.

Keep your compass handy and consult it often as you move. It won’t take long moving through the deep woods to start to drift off course. Sometimes you can’t help it due to terrain features and geography, but try to stay on track as much as possible. If you didn’t bring a compass I hope you know how to find the North Star! What about finding direction during the day without a compass? Here’s how to tell direction using your watch and the sun.


If you’re lost a major component of getting found will be finding a way to make a signal. If lost or in need of assistance try to group your signals in threes if possible. Three signal fires, three blasts from a whistle, three flashes from a mirror etc. This will show people you are in trouble.

You can also yell, wave your arms, or do pretty much anything that will attract attention. My experience has been that cell phone reception has been spotty at best and non-existent when I really needed it. Don’t rely on your cell phone as your sole means of rescue or you might find yourself disappointed. I broke my ankle on the 100 Mile Wilderness in Northern Maine once and there was zero cell reception.

By all means ff you’re in an area that has cell reception, use that phone! Call someone to come get you. I’ve heard of people calling forest rangers from the top of Katahdin to come get them because they were tired. I would advise against this as it tends to annoy the rangers.

There are many ways to signal that you’re in trouble. Check out this short video for making a few.

Be Self Sufficient

If you’re lost you need to be a MacGyver when it comes to using whatever you have for gear. Find new ways to use things. Don’t throw anything away as you might be able to use that item for something later on.

Don’t be afraid to spend the night in the woods. If you’ve never slept alone in the woods it can be kind of a freaky experience at first, but after awhile you take it for granted. These days I enjoy a night in the woods by myself, especially in a lean-to or UTS (Under The Stars), where I can hear and sometimes see what’s going on. (Not much usually.)

Don’t depend on someone coming to rescue you if you can help it. Even if you’ve decided to stay put there are always things you can be doing to make your situation better. Add to your shelter to make it even more water proof, keep gathering and processing wood, set up more signals, make figure four traps, purify water, and on and on.

Never Give Up

No matter what happens out there, never give up. You might be scared, hungry, tired, injured, thirsty, whatever. Just remember that what you need to survive could be right around the next corner. You just have to be able to recognize it when you see it. The only time it won’t matter anymore is when you’re dead. Up until that point keep fighting.

Questions? Comments?

Sound off below!

-Jarhead Survivor

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Garden Basics: Weeding 101

Weeding. I know, it seems mundane, but it’s a skill that could mean the difference between a bumper crop and a failed crop in your survival garden. This is really one of those skills you learn best by doing. I can tell you everything I know, but you’ll likely have a different set of weed pressures in your garden, than I do in mine.  I’m going to try here today to get some of the basic and general points all in one place, so anyone looking at a new garden, and having trouble figuring out how to do this thing called “weeding” can have a place to start from.

Top of the list for most new gardeners, “How do you tell the difference between the valuable food babies and the baby weeds?” Practice. Yup, there I said it again, get out there and start to learn the difference, it gets easier, I promise. Things that can help you your first couple of years include:

  • Good marking of where you seed your food babies.This doesn’t have to be fancy, I use sticks to mark rows, and a page in my journal to map things and mark seeding dates. That way you can be more sure about what you are pulling, anything between the rows, or anything outside of the sticks is a weed and safe to pull. Remember the shape of the leaves of what you are pulling, and anything that is closer to a row and in more question, compare the leaf shape to those that you were 100% sure were weeds and see if that helps.
  • Plant the same types of crops for a couple of years and learn what they look like at every stage in development.  As you gain familiarity, add a couple more. This way you aren’t overwhelmed with a ton of new babies to learn in one year.  Although, there will reach a point where you will be more comfortable with things and you’ll be able to guess what a baby will look like from the seed type and from things it’s related to. You’ll notice this approach doesn’t work if you are planting a survival can of seeds, all of which must go in this year if you are to survive the coming winter.
  • Is it coming up in a spot you forgot to water and fertilize? Probably a weed.
  • Has it come up in a few days instead of the week and a half your seed packet says? Probably a weed.
  • A good plant id site. PennState has a good bit of photographed weeds, organized and online. They even have video’s of the weeds, doing what, I don’t know. Check it out! http://plantscience.psu.edu/research/centers/turf/extension/plant-id/broadleaf

What’s the best way to get the weeds out? Get ‘em young. Pluck them out by hand or with some light hoeing, yes, I know how 1800′s. Really, they are so easy when they are young, it’s a 2 finger job. My small hand hoe/3 prong rake works really nicely to clear a row of weeds in the 0-2″ tall range.  Anything in the 2-6″ range will need a full sized hoe or some hand pulling.  Larger than 6″? Well… if the crop that’s buried under those 6″ weeds is still salvageable, you can carefully pull those weeds out, but you’re likely to damage the crop just from the root systems of the established weeds.  Flaming could work, if you have the equipment for it.  If there’s doubt about that crop surviving, it may be better to hoe the whole section under and replant something that will mature in the season time you have left. Check out some of my other tool suggestions for food production!

How often should you weed? If you’re getting every row every couple of weeks, things are easy to stay on top of. If weather or other work has kept you from a row for a few weeks, it can take a hoe, or some really tough pulling out by hand.  A good soaking can help if you’re pulling by hand. Let the soil get on the dry side if you’ll be hoeing.

Why not just spray it? Are you eating any of the crops? Are your meat animals eating any of it? Then you probably don’t want to be spraying it.  I think spray herbicides will be the DDT of our generation, known to our children and grandchildren as a short-sighted and harmful answer to a perennial problem. There will always be weeds. Weeds will eventually adapt to any spray. Just learn how to get them out manually and save yourself the time and cost of herbicides.  I can’t prove that you’ll be healthier for it, but I greatly suspect that to be true. Here’s some more on organic pest control, once you’ve got the weeds under control.

Does it have to be 100%?  No, especially once the crop in question has gottenCIMG6877 big enough to fend for itself. Here’s a shot of half my garlic crop, last week. At this point I won’t do a lot of weeding to this plot, the garlic is mature, it just needs to finish any bulb development it has left, put up a scape for me to cut off, and then over the next month it will dry and die back. So there’s no purpose to weeding anymore. Nothing will have time to overpower the 20″ high garlic before I harvest and hoe the whole section under.



Check out some of these before and after shots for how I weed. You can see the baby grass and dandelions in the BEFORE pic on the left.








In the after picture, you can still see some green from weeds, but most of those are uprooted and just laying on top of the soil where they’ll whither and die. Some are inside the onion row and difficult to remove without damaging the onions.  This is another time when less than 100% is ok, don’t damage delicate root systems just to achieve 100% weed removal.  Remember, there will always be more weeds.

In the BEFORE shot below left, these are potatoes that I had started to hill/weed before realizing I should take a before shot. So look at the lower left section for a true before look. You can see the weeds in the 0-3″ range. Hilling the potatoes every couple of weeks helps me stay on top of the weeds, it’s a kill 2 birds with one stone maneuver.










Mulch is also part of my strategy, I’ll weed the row then cover it good with some mulch, if the plants are large enough to see over it. Potatoes and Tomatoes are the ones I do this the most with.  They have long seasons,



so it’s worth the time and cost to mulch, plus they do better if they have more consistent levels of moisture at their roots. And they are big enough to see over the 6″ of mulch.  And Iowa generally doesn’t have a slug problem, which can be exacerbated by mulching.

Here’s the final shot of the potato row mulch, after I had hilled it with dirt. This is only the first hilling, I usually do at least 2.

Hope this helps. Do you have specific questions? Email me a picture if you need identification help. Or sound out in the comments!

-Calamity Jane
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