Tuesday, August 5, 2014

2014 Goals revisited

My plans for 2014
-Get certified as an NRA Rifle, Shotgun and Pistol instructor- class in Feb-Done
-Get another business off the ground that will enable our self sustaining lifestyle-Done
-Start a solar/battery system to remove some loads from the grid-Not done
-Take enough classes to get up to speed in Carbine and Patrol techniques-Done
-Complete the remodel on the house-Not Done
-Have 100,000 rounds of ammo stored in components or rounds-Shot it all up
-Backpack a 100 mile trail-got up to 50
-Build up fuel storage-Slightly
-Build 2 more cache locations-1 Done
-Buy a grain mill-Not Done
-Outfit the B/O trailer with solar power-Not Done
-Get the HAM up and running-Not Done
-Buy a Jeep for a 3rd vehicle-Not Done
-Expand my food storage by 6 months with long term items-Close but not quite
-Get my oldest son up to speed with a rifle and pistol-Done
-Clear out the rest of the useless junk in my house-Done
-Install a hidden compartment in the house-Not Fone
-Install an alternate water supply in the house-Not done
-Build an observation post-Not Done
-Read more apocalyptic fiction (good ideas at times)-Done-48 books total
-Finish a second Blog for gear reviews-Started
-Build window and door covers-Not done
-Build a safe room inside the house-Not Done
-Upgrade the surveillance system-Not Done

Not great, but not bad either. Still a few months left to get it done.

My Year of Training

This winter, I was offered a chance to take an NRA instructors course through the BSA. I'm a decent shooter for being mostly self taught, so I figured, why not! It was a good class to take, very informative and useful for teaching scouts to shoot. All the age old basics are there, with the 1910 shooting positions and the like. It was dated, but had the basic knowledge and useful tips to refine the most basic of shooters.

After the class, I decided to up my game seriously. I read books, watched skills videos, talked to pros about it and decided that I'd like to forgo the competition circuit and just refine practical skills and combat techniques. I'm pretty lucky to run in a group of friends that has Avid shooters and professional soldiers and LEO SWAT shooters. I've had a great time learning how every shooter overcomes issues and trains to an optimum level. I've shot more this year than ever in my life. I'd venture to say I've shot as much ammo this year as I have the past 3 combined. It has really helped me become the shooter I always wanted to be.

Once I was feeling good about my shooting, what should I do to improve? Take some upper level training. I had an opportunity to preview a class with a new training co that is offering some next level classes like PSD and Vehicle ops as options past the basic Carbine and Pistol classes offered by most. The lead instructor has an impressive list of credentials, but Zero sell-ebrity appeal. I chose to take the vehicle class and see what it's all about.

Day 1

I got my rhythm immediately, but I wasn't prepared to go right into either Bounding in pairs or Bounding by pairs, I can't remember and there was a serious contention about the actual representation of this course of fire. This was my first sign that there was some tension between instructors. It was pretty light, and I wasn't worried about it. 2 of the three had their stuff wired tight and had everything pretty well squared away. It was the third guy that seemed to look for reasons to stir the pot and let everyone know what he thought, without regard for the course.

Day one was all basic work up. They made sure that I was squared away. Transitions, accuracy, muzzle discipline, volley fire and verbal commands. Everyone was 100% in the game, Even in 100 degree heat. We did some fun drills for time and it tested us very well. We wrapped up and cleaned up our mess.

My biggest issue was with my magazines. I was using Pmags for a class for the fist time in my life. I loaded them with stripper clips to top them off in a hurry between sets and every once in a while I'd load up 31 in a 30 round mag. It made mag changes interesting when the over filled mag would lock up my AR. Same goes for 40 rounders, they lock up at 41 just like the 30's do at 31. I was using my oldest ammo, some was a bit green and corroded, but I only had 3 misfires out of 1k rounds. My biggest failure was a split case on a 9mm round. It blew out the base and caused a squib round. 2 of the other shooters were using my ammo with zero failures so my QC process is working well. I was just shooting the stuff that was marginal, so I expected a failure or two, but not 4.

The next issue was that I worked on my gun the night before I left, installing a Geissele SSA trigger from my REPR into it for the class. The pins kept walking out on me and I had to engage them further to get them to hold. My fault, totally. I know better than to take an untested gun into a class, but hey, what an adventure.

I installed an AM TAC muzzle brake that fits my GemTech can, and it worked flawlessly. Zero muzzle rise but with a bunch more blast. When we were working in close quarters, my team mates didn't care for the blast. There was also a noted reduction in flash.

This was also my first class with an urban ERT Sling. I've been using them for a while now and love them after transitioning from a single point. The only issue I had was when clearing a jam, the placement I had for the sling put the buckle right where it would catch between the edge of the stock and the charging handle. I just need to move the attachment point from the back plate to the stock.

My leg platform for the magazines proved to be too loose and would drop a mag when I ran. I got it up higher the second day and it worked like a charm.

The new bladetech holster was a total failure. It jammed up on me several times. If the gun was moved out of it's lowest position even 1mm, it would jam up the mechanism and I'd have to push it back down to release the back strap. I was rather unimpressed with my 150 dollar purchase. I'm usually pretty quick with a transition, but this seriously hampered my draw and sapped my confidence. I muddled through, but it really wasn't pleasant.

Day 2

The real fun begins. We learn how to react to contact from a vehicle. Getting your butt over the hump and out the drivers door from the passenger seat caused some serious damage to me and my kit. It was tough, and I learned to do it as easily as possible. I'm glad I'd foregone the use of my plate carrier and went strictly belt and drop legs. Both the heat and conditions dictated it. A seat belt is the enemy when you are trying to get out of your metal coffin in a hurry.

We attempted bounding in a 4 man team, and I have to tell you, it was a total goat rope. No matter what we did, it was wrong. I screwed up a few times with lines of fire, and we ended up with 3 instructors telling us to do three different things, and when we got done Lovely #3 always wanted to interject or stop the exercise to tell us what to do. I kept over thinking everything and just couldn't get it all down. It was like I was back in the kitchen at home with both mom and dad telling me what to do and neither would let me do it. #3 never just let us make decisions. He wanted to constantly control our tempo and direction. When we did it the way he wanted, the other instructors jumped us. Finally we just stopped and went to something else. I totally lost my cool when I was told to bound back and got counseled by #3 for doing so when the rest of my team pushed  left. My angle of fire was close, but within tolerance for the exercise. Then he wanted to argue about that. The next go round, we all got together and decided on a plan for our extraction. We did it perfectly, and #3 wanted to tear it down and nit pick the fact that our cover was thin. Yes, it was thin. Yes, it wasn't perfect. Our execution was great and we were working towards a goal of a clean run, only to have everything we worked for thrown back into our faces. We were bleeding, sweaty and tired, but he just kept at it. Finally the lead instructor called it and we moved on before the 4 students decided to zip tie his ass to the rocking chair on the porch of the main building.

We took a break and hit the AC for some hydration and some time for the instructors to talk. After the talk, we went into another drill where we did dry run bump take downs and then drilled on block and stop take downs. After we put it all together, we did it in 2 man teams live fire with targets in the car. Everyone did this well and we did several runs in different configurations. It was a very dynamic environment with a lot of trust in your partner. We were shooting at targets in our zone with the other shooter on the opposite side of the car. It went well and we sped it up til it was fluid. #3 was pretty silent and didn't talk to me at all. I think the other instructors had a "Come To Jesus" meeting with him.

We started back in on the defense tactics on a downed vehicle.  We only operated in pairs, and this worked out very well. My teammate and I were doing our thing and getting solid hits on our "aggressors" out past 300 yards. The lead instructor drove and we used his vehicle as cover and bounded out past the vehicle to get angles on the the shooters. We did this several times with different positioning and cover. Really fun drills, but very tiring and high stress when you're shooting past your instructor.

The last thing we did was shoot from a vehicle, through the windshield and check the hits. We did the break and rake on the windows and shot from different angles into the car to see what stops bullets and what doesn't. We finished on that and decided to have a little contest. See who could hit a LaRue target at 125 with a pistol. My Teammate won the contest, and I was the only other person to get a hit. Good times and great experiences.

All in all, the class was great. I will not take another class if instructor #3 is there, but it seems that everyone felt the same way. The lead and second instructor are top notch. #2 was a bit of an acquired taste, but the man could do it. He was a shooter and without a doubt, had the ability to impart that knowledge in an appropriate manner. His mechanics were perfect. The lead instructor was a consummate professional. He knew the material and the best way to impart it. His issue was too many cooks in the kitchen. I believe the third instructor was pushed on him by the venue, but I'm not for certain.If #1 and #2 gave classes again, I'd be in line to hand them money. It's well worth the drive.

I don't regret driving 1100 miles each way to attend the class, it was well worth it. I was exposed to things I never planned to do or learn, it was more of a fun class for me. I did refine some skills and change some things in my standard kit and technique. I'm better for taking the class and anyone would be as well, with a caveat. If  #3 is there, turn off your ear muffs when he's speaking. Listening will do nothing but frustrate you and inflate his misplaced ego.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Still Covered Up

I took a new job that's been killing me on my free time. I've had to let a few things slide, the Blog being one of them. I still have 8 articles in the cue, most of which are gear reviews.  I'll get some time when I'm running the range at the scout camp. Summer break is coming quickly.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Been very busy recently.

With all the snow this year, the plow business has kept me hopping. I've also taken on NRA instructor training so I'm staying out of trouble for sure. I have 4 more days of classes until I'm all done. There are several articles and a few gear reviews in the pipeline, just need to get some time to finish them and get some pictures.

The last few weeks have only allowed me 1-2 days a week of free evenings, so it gets to be a daunting task just staying awake and typing. I did re-join the NRA after a 20 year hiatus. I dropped my membership once the 1994 ban happened. I felt they didn't fight very hard for our freedoms.

Be back in the saddle soon.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Deleted Facebook Post

I posted a little rant the other day on Facebook that was deleted for no apparent reason so I'm going to post it here. If they are afraid of it, then it must be good.

Food for thought: Did you know that the NRA has 4.2 million members? That's 1.2 million more than the armed forces, and many soldiers are also NRA members. The GOA, Gun Owners of America has 300,000 members, of which I am one. Many of these cross over to the other groups as well. I am not an NRA member because I feel they are willing to compromise with our elected officials to violate my civil rights. (The NRA has written many of the gun control measures we see on the books today.) The GOA was instrumental in killing any 2013 legislation that would limit my natural rights that are protected by the constitution of these United States.


There are calls for the disarmament of these political activist groups, but who's going to do it? Both groups have become very vocal about their stance on illegal legislation, with the NRA voicing it's "Stand Your Ground" message to the membership. The GOA's "No Compromise" stance since the inception of the group has garnered many fans in the firearms community. There's really no hope for compromise on the issue.

In Connecticut they passed a bill to register certain firearms and any magazine over 10 rounds. They estimate 370,000 of those firearms are in the state. Only 50,000 people chose registered their firearms, and even less registered standard capacity magazines of which they have no estimates on their numbers. There are approximately 7,000 police officers in Connecticut, of which I'm sure many disagree with the law. Are you beginning to see the futility of these actions? Lets say that of those 320,000 unregistered guns, many people own 3 or 4 of those weapons a piece. That means that 7,000 armed people have the duty to arrest and prosecute 100,000 or so armed people who refuse to comply. Maybe the 230,000 strong DHS will do it! No, only between half and a quarter of them are agents, the rest are support and operations people.

So the real question is, which of you anti-gun freedom haters is willing to come to each of our houses and take our guns away? What will you do if I say no? Will you use your hired guns to kill me? If that's what you're all about, you're not really anti-gun, you're anti freedom. Using the guns you supposedly oppose to proliferate your hatred of an inanimate object that is incapable of evil!

So who's really the gun nut? The guy that has a few guns that have never and will never be used in a crime, or the supposed anti-gun advocacy that wishes to use guns to force people to adopt their agenda?

Guns are a fact of life in America, you can choose to accept it and go on, or you can waste time, resources and money on a losing battle. Pass your illegal laws if you so choose, when you turn good citizens, vets and longtime outdoors men and women into criminals overnight with your laws, be ready for them to start acting like criminals.

Better yet, Repeal the 2nd Amendment. At that point I will have no excuse for not acting.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Wifey's 3 Day pack.

I'm in the process of building a 3 day pack for the wife to take in her vehicle. There are so many threads out there on how to build one for a man or kids, we don't hear much about the contents of a woman's BOB. Women are hardy and able to deal with much more than we think, but they also can wilt pretty quickly without some semblance of civilized products or regular items.

Let's look at it from the perspective of a problem solver. How far (Realistically) will she have to travel? How far can she walk in a day? Will she have companions? Can she travel safely? Is she trained or mentally ready for a sudden tedious walk? What will make it easier for her?

Then we get into the essentials for her trip, including the math for how long her trip will be. It's all math at that point. Let's use my wife as an example. She's a remote employee for a 3 letter mega corporation and travels to local clients only rarely. Usually she's too far away to rescue, or she's here at home. Recently she's been in Dearborn, MI consulting for another mega corporation that sports 4 letters. If she's that far away, I can't help her because she's out of reach. Not only that, the pack won't be coming on the plane with her so it's moot. If she's at a local client's place, she can make it home within 3 days at most. About 35 to 40 miles max. She can do 15 miles a day without issue as long as she's not running for her life or injured.

What will she need to make it 3 days on her feet in this weather? The lighter the pack, the faster the trip, plain and simple.
Pack- decent 3 day pack or daypack.
Shelter- Something to keep the rain off you while you rest or sleep.
Water- A way to get clean drinking water.
Food- Anything light, low salt and high calorie.
Light- Lightweight light source
Protection- Something to fend off Dogs or two legged animals.
Comms- Some way to contact home as far away as possible
Route- Find your way home without getting lost
Clothing- Weather appropriate gear
Personal items- Stuff you want and might need to have around.

Pack- It's usually best to figure this out last, because you want a pack big enough to fit everything you need. I have a few extra 3 day assault packs and some duffel bags, but for Christmas a few years ago I got her a really nice Kelty Backpack, a Redtail 30. It's really close to the size she needs, but it's a bright color. I'll decide once I'm ready to get the pack together. I have a feeling a black NC Star 3 day pack is in her future.

Shelter- The simpler the better. A tarp, casualty blanket or best of all, a Poncho would be perfect. It allows for protection without occluding your surroundings too much.

Water- I'm going to put a nalgene bottle and 2-20 oz water bottles in the pack in case my boys are with her. She will also get a bottle of purification tabs.

Food- Clif bars, some hard candy, some jerky sticks and trail mix.

Light- A small headlamp, extra batteries and maybe an extra flashlight. Preference given to a headlamp with a red beam for discreet travel at night.

Protection- This is where it gets screwy. She likes guns but isn't interested in carrying a gun so doesn't want to go get her carry license. That means in order to stay legal she needs a long gun. The obvious choice would be a KelTec Sub 2000 in 9mm. Breaks down to pack size, will take 33 round glock mags, and is easy to manipulate. 100 rounds JHP in 3 mags, 19 in an extended mag to keep in it. A decent sling will help too.

Comms- Cell Phone as primary and then a 2 way GMRS radios with extra batteries in case I can go look for her. All call signs and codes in a small notebook in the pack. Radio is set to proper channel and privacy code before hand. We have tested them and they are good to 4 miles if at least one person is elevated. If the phone lines are a mess, texts should still work as long as the towers are still operating. Another option is a backup disposable cell phone in case of a domestic threat.

Route- Pre planned routes from each side of the larger, meaner city close by, as well as from each direction of travel from home. A map and compass will be in the pack, with a rain cover or ziplock bag. Routes Marked in highlighter close to home but not all the way. Maybe to the edge of where she knows the streets well.

Clothing- Army Surplus silk thermals, a few pairs of warm non cotton socks, a warm hat, rain suit if no poncho, a loose fitting warmup or track suit. My wife is well endowed, no reason to entice the animals. She always wears a warm jacket and I'll throw and gloves and a scarf inside the hat. Another hugely important item is shoes. Find a pair that she doesn't wear because they look too shabby and put those in the pack. She won't miss them and they will be well broken in. Think Grey Man Camo. Have her dress as average as possible and remove all jewelry.

Personal Items- TP, Wet Wipes, Tampons (There's a 1 in 5 chance she will need them), Nail clippers, a small knife, Zip ties, Gorilla tape wrapped around a shopping card, Paracord in case she needs to repair clothing or breaks a shoestring, a small microfiber towel. Anything that's small and light that will help her. Maybe a lighter and some Votive candles in case she needs a fire for an emergency, like if she fell in some water and was too cold to continue on without drying off. First aid kit with plenty of Ibuprofen. Some cash in medium and small bills would help as well. Keep them in different places in case the pack gets grabbed.

Things to make sure she leaves out of the pack:

Earbuds- They will ruin her ability to observe her surroundings.
High salt food- It can cause a person to dehydrate and get cramps
Alcohol- No reason to make a person sleep deeper than need be or have dulled senses.
Loud toys for the kids- obvious attention getters.
Brightly colored clothes- Think grey.
Purse- Have her throw everything in the pack, dirtbags know purses mean money.

 Should she ever need to use it, the earlier she heads out, the safer she will be. If she's in denial and shelters in place, it's going to get more difficult. We live near a major city and many of the companies she visits aren't in the best part of town. Her most often visited client is in the middle of a large industrial/urban complex of factories, scrap yards and has a major interstate and a large river between her and the house. The Interstate only has 3 places to pass under it that she could reliably use without adding a day to her trip. There are 2 river crossings under the interstate, but they aren't passable.

Without a plan, the proper mindset, and the tools to succeed, any venture you attempt can be more difficult than it needs to be. I love my wife dearly and would want her to make it home if there's an emergency. I know many of us always think of ourselves and how we would make it home, but what about the rest of the family? It's only fair to make sure they can have the same or even a better chance than you do.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Gear Review: LA Police Gear 3day pack

About two years ago I bought an inexpensive 3day sized pack from LA police gear for 29.99 plus shipping. http://www.lapolicegear.com/diplomat-3-day-backpack1.html I expected it to be a thin, cheapo bag for stuffing extra gear in. What I received was a very durable material backpack with good stitching and thick padded straps. I looked the unit over very well and decided to utilize it as a primary unit, retiring the light weight pack I've grown out of.

I decided to do some research on the pack before I invested the energy to personalize it. I found widely varying reviews and opinions on the pack so I was adamant about deciding for myself. Upon the first evaluation, I was still undecided due to the cut and bulk of the pack. At first the zippers were very hard to operate and caught on the lining very easily. Once broken in, the bag sculpted to my back and the zippers became far more user friendly. The first addition I made the the pack was a 102oz water beast bladder system from Camelbak. It fit perfectly and even came in OD like the pack I chose. As I've added equipment and accessory pouches all over it to make an extended sustainment pack. This brought it's capabilities from 3 days to a month or so fairly quickly. The molle system made adding the pouches very easy. The pack itself full loaded weighs in at 36 pounds before water is added to the bladder.

The interior of the pack has a pvc coating making the pack water resistant. The external compression straps make it easy to attach a bed roll, rope or backpacking tent. I've also added a tomahawk to the exterior compression strap. Instead of buying a ready made system that you have to deal with how it's made, this system allows for easy customization. The drink tube can be routed left or right due to the pack having 2 gusseted outlet tabs with hook and loop closures. I haven't tried rucking the unit for extended days, but it works great and is fairly comfortable for a weekend pack trip. I usually use it for car camping trips and extended range trips where it would take 3 or more days to walk home.

Overall, the pack gets 2 thumbs up. One for being fairly inexpensive and one for being robust for it's price. I'm not saying this unit is equal to anything made by Blackhawk, Eagle, Maxpedition or other name brands. The packs strength is it's price. It doesn't have the best zippers or hook and loop. It doesn't have a name brand's warranty or backing. I've kept this pack loaded for almost 2 years now and I've car camped, hiked, rendezvous, and bugged out with this pack on numerous occasions. There isn't a single rip, tear, hole, zipper issue or even a worn strap. Solid performance at a budget price. The only reason I'm changing is so I can have a modular sleep system in my pack during winter and to have a better suspension system.

Let's take a look at mine:

I've added a Condor extra large bottom pouch that was made to be a stand alone satchel. A few Blackhawk pouches of different types, a Condor Tool carrier pouch and smaller flashlight/admin pouch on the front. Each pouch has it's purpose. Food, first aid, hygiene, Pens and paper, tools and such. The outside Molle webbing has held up tremendously well. Not a single stitch has come loose, nor has a zipper had to be reset. It's holding together my menagerie of pouches like a champ!

The modular nature of the pack allows me to customize the setup depending on what I'm planning. I can attach my shotgun scabbard to the side and now I have a pack hunting rig! Another couple additions I made are a SOG tactical tomahawk in a custom made kydex sheath and Blackhawk TaTang knife in a custom sheath.

The pack has been complete for about 6 months now, so I guess it's time to replace it with something designed to do what I'm forcing this pack to do and return this pack to a 3 day pack and pass it on to my son.
Here's what the pack holds right now, minus food. I keep a small food bag prepped and ready for a hasty exit. I can lash it to my pack in a second so the food isn't in there right now.

Gear list:
8x12 tarp, heavy duty tent stakes, Skeeter Beeter Hammock, Precut tarp lines, Sleeping bag, Rope, Cook pots and stove kit, rain gear, dopp kit, mess kit, Stainless mug, tea/coffee/juice kit, playing cards, Med kit, sam splint and shears,Katadyn hiker pro filter, Poncho and garbage bags, shemaugh, hat, gloves, wet wipes, zip ties and gorilla tape, head net, microfiber towel, paracord, notebook with info and codes, Night ize figure 9's, writing utensils, mirror, tools, inner tube ranger bands, P51, Blackhawk TaTang knife, SOG tomahawk, 12v solar charger, AA/AAA charger, CR123 charger, assorted batteries, chem lites, headlamp, backup battery charger for technology, bladder, map case and compass, GPS, water hose, yoyo fishing kit.

I used to add a pad and 2 man tent under the compression straps when it was cold out, but they are in the trailer and it's freezing cold outside. Not gonna go get them right now. I did notice a few things have come up missing over time. My spare socks are missing, as are the clothes pins I keep in there. Huh, must have needed them elsewhere.

I'll make sure to post a review of my recreational pack, and Osprey Aether 70, when I get a chance. The new Bugout pack, a Marine ILBE and assault pack, will also be coming up for review.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Snowmageddon 2014

It seems that global warming is really getting into high gear with a serious cold blast of arctic air into the midwest for quite a few days now. I think we've has a full week of subzero temps this season. Quite a bit of snow as well. I can't remember the last time we've had this much snow stick around for so long. Reminds me of the winters from the 80's. I figured it was all cyclical until I saw this picture on the news.
Seriously? Snow in Egypt?

I'm enjoying the snow, but the bitter cold temps are just nuts. We are in for below zero temps again this weekend with 2 days of fresh snow as well. Old man winter sure has it in for us. I'm on facebook and found it rather hilarious that people are still hung up on global warming. Yeah, that's the ticket! Or is it climate change now? They can call it whatever they want, I'll call it weather and just plan for it. Weather is cyclic in nature and the sun has far more to do with it than anything. I'm not saying we shouldn't be stewards of the planet, but let's be realistic. Killing the economy, shuttering businesses and dooming our children to debt is far worse than letting a little co2 hit the atmosphere. It's not like the composition of gases in the atmosphere has changed a bit in the last 200 years.

As prepared people, we must be ready to meet the needs of our family in case there is a problem. That problem might happen at any time, in any weather condition so be ready to meet the challenge when it's time.
When 12 inches of snow fell, I thought I was ready. Turns out I wasn't 100%. I keep my generator on the trailer that's next to my house. When I did a service change this year, I installed a generator crossover panel that will run needed power to the gas furnace, kitchen, lights, office, garage, and microwave. The generator plugs in to a 30 amp 240v twist lock receptacle and powers the panel at that amperage, the panel then distributes it. It even has meters to balance the load with. Well, it turns out that the fuel tank on the generator has some water in it. Frozen fuel line stopped it cold when I tried to get it started in -5 degrees when the wife called and told me the power went out. I was out plowing snow but was close so came home and.... failed to help. The power came back on a couple hours later and we resorted to firing up the gas fireplace in the mean time. Had it not, I would have been out there dealing with it when I came home from plowing. While I was out working, I saw no less than 5 transformers blow. It was quite a sight with all the snow and wind, it really lit up the sky with an eerie zombie green glow.

The next day I got out there and drained the water out of the fuel and got the battery charged back up. Everything went fine and the panel tested good so all is well. I did notice that the fuel looked and smelled a bit stale, so I added fresh and some heet fuel line antifreeze. I'm back to ready again.

Another issue I had is that I keep half my stored food in the trailer. Some of that food is in jars that can freeze. During the power outage, some cans and jars froze and popped the lids off, and the food will need to be used before spring hits. The heater I keep in there reset to off, and didn't heat the inside to 50 degrees like it's set to. Another chink in the armor. Need to upgrade my heater to a manual model that comes back on to the same setting as before the power goes out.

And the last issue we've had is issue with mice this year that we've never had before. When I refinished the front door, I tarped it and guarded the entrance the day it was off, but we had an invader in the house after that. I trapped him a day later and haven't had another issue til this winter. I've trapped 2 mice and there is another that seems to be eluding the traps. It's not around but 1 day a week or so. Very odd pattern.

Hopefully the rest of the winter goes well. I'm afraid the market will correct this month, it's long overdue.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Bugging Out. Why?

Both Ryan at TSLRF and then Alex at TEOTWAKI are having a discussion on bugging in and out. When is it best to stay, when is it best to leave? Your personal situation will dictate the need for those decisions.

Personally, I will choose when the time comes for us to leave and how long we shelter in place. We live in a suburban town that is well known for treating big city criminals with an iron fist. The judges rarely give leniency and almost always send real criminals away for hard time. Your upbringing and social situation is no excuse. About every 6 months they are involved in a police action shooting of some sort where the bad guy is assuming room temp long before the ambulance is rolling. I personally like this attitude that keeps the scum at bay. They know better than to come here and make trouble. The ones that don't know better go away for a long time.

These same officers are also the first line of defense in a situation where civil unrest or natural disaster would make our community a target. The community is rather conservative in nature for a town that directly borders the 11th largest city in the US. I personally know many of the administration and can call on them if a need arises and they can call on me to man a roadblock or make infrastructure repairs on demand. That relationship makes me want to stay as long as the golden hoard is kept at bay. I live a few miles from the border of the city in all directions and that would give me enough time to bail out if need be.  My house is on high ground, surrounded by a golf course. There is an easy egress route less than a half mile from my house that lets out into a rural area with no major roads or highways that can reach it. Is it perfect? No. I have 2 apartments nearby and the highway lets out 2 miles away. Many in my neighborhood are elderly or survival deficient next generation lugheads. There are maybe 10 families within the 43 houses here I can count on for a defensive stand. Most are the elderly, one, an old gunny, would be hot stuff with his Garand, but he'd be shooting from the window with his O2 tank next to him.

What events would mandate leaving our castle? There are several. Chemical spill, an explosion like the one last year that I wrote about and JWR published on his blog Indy explosion. The nuke plants in Illinois melting down if the fault line near us blows out. An outbreak of tornadoes that makes living here impossible due to abject conditions or social unrest after the fact (katrina like). A law change that would make me a criminal. A total breakdown of the financial system. Chemical spill on the highway could do it too. Some of these are short term, so not bailout worthy, just lock up and take a bag to a hotel or friends house.

No matter the reason, if you must leave, you have to have a plan to do it successfully. You must have a place to go or a place to bring along with you. You have to be capable of loading an unloading gear under duress and without sentiment making decisions for you. This is about survival, not about who gets grandma's china. If you leave needed equipment behind, consider it a loss. It's doubtful you will be able to salvage anything left behind. Don't let emotions distract you from your current objective. If you're crying because you had to leave your house, you're not in the right state of mind to make decisions and travel. Save it for later, when everyone is safe and the road is behind you. Practice your route and decide alternates. Towns you come to may band together and decide to keep outsiders away or "Pool" resources that they come across.

My major project for this year is to map several routes and alternates that will get me the 197.75 miles to the 2nd house in the hills and hollers. I plan to do so on my motorcycle to look as innocuous as possible. The regular route is mostly raised federal highways, then state highways til the last 30 miles of rural roads. The last 15 miles just got paved a few years ago. ALL the people that live in that enclave are like minded. They have set up a shooting range for everyone at the end of the road and the entire neighborhood is surrounded by a lake, rugged terrain and federal land that you'd need a boat to get there if we blocked off the road. It's nothing but farms from the time you leave the state road and the neighborhood was developed by retired cops. It's about as secure as you can find, with a renewable food source bordering the property.

The original plan is to stay it out at home where we can live in relative comfort.I have put resources and time into a plan to exfil should the situation warrant doing so. Part of being prepared is giving yourself options.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Greatest Depression.

There are literally thousands of books out there that try to convey what a future depression would be like. Many aren't as sure about the outcome because they think the government will intercede. I'm of the mindset that the Feds will be of little use and Staties will be beneficial but ham stringed by the lack of resources. You have to look at what's in their best interest. Infrastructure and civil defense enclaves are the cogs the feds can't do without so they will guard those to the end. All in all, they will be ineffectual due to their ineptitude and self interest. Unlike the 1920's, this depression will require a pliant populace due to the general public's inability to care for themselves.

More people, more support. The Feds can't feed everyone. They can't even try. Maybe for a week at best. Our current society's disinterest in helping each other and abject self interest will come out and foil the best laid FEMA plans. Our society isn't ready for the loss of economic function and if the Feds further manipulate it to keep it running, they will continue to do irreparable damage.

The American condition is one of disinterest in self preservation. Most have no interest in saving for a rainy day, they have more interest in a new car and 6 years of payments. If the paycheck stops and there's no unemployment money to go around, the feds might print it, devaluing the dollars that do get distributed. The inflation cycles increases and people can't feed themselves with the funny money. The apartment or house goes back to the bank and it all ends for them.

The people have lost the ability to feed themselves. In the 20's they still had large gardens or small farms. Those are gone, traded the toil of fresh food for GMO filled poison found on a shelf, not fertile ground. When the shelf is empty, or the price is too high, then the fun starts. Things will be forever changed. Maybe the people who survive, those that were ready for the eventuality of inflation and unrest, will teach their children (once Again) to respect themselves and be grateful for what they have instead of the lust they have  for the shiny new things they see online.

Get ready, it might be you.

2013, A Year In Review + goals for 2014

I'm not a nostalgic person in any form, but I do recognize the value of history and learning from our mistakes and not so great choices. My biggest regret of 2013? Not selling my 20" REPR during the craziness of the gun control scare last winter. I could have bought a nice truck with the money I made.

Best Choice? That would have to be simplifying my life and paying off my debt. It's nice to not have to all nuts if business is slow or sales are down. I can relax a bit and enjoy myself without worry of where the next meal will come from.

Worst Choice? Not living a healthy lifestyle. I have a ton of work to do to get myself back into fighting shape for the classes I plan to take throughout 2014. I'm for certain that there is a fight brewing. That fight can take several forms and our elitist ruling class isn't going to go quietly into the night.

Changes I made over 2013
-Really started the process of having long term food storage past a few buckets of rice and beans.
-Started a storage and cycling method for fuel and other usable resources
-Got into backpacking and enjoying my boys out in the natural world
-Disconnected the TV from cable
-Purchased a web site for use in an upcoming business venture
-Started gardening for more than just fresh vegetables
-Dehydrated food for storage
-Canned food for storage
-Upgraded my battle rifle to 308
-Purchased enough firearms to arm my family for a lifetime
-Purchased spares and consumables for the firearms
-Created a cache
-Upgraded my security
-Invested in redundant comm gear
-Practiced with firearms more often than the previous year
-Practiced field craft regularly
-Purchased firearm training for my wife
-Purchased a library of books for reference on self sustainment
-Sold off all my gun collection that wasn't based on defensive needs
-Sold off some guy toys I didn't need- who NEEDS 6 motorcycles?
-Built up my primer, powder and bullet stores
-Built up my reputation with local government and law enforcement
-Met more like minded people
-Outfitted the entire family with rugged outdoor gear

My plans for 2014
-Get certified as an NRA Rifle, Shotgun and Pistol instructor- class in Feb
-Get another business off the ground that will enable our self sustaining lifestyle
-Start a solar/battery system to remove some loads from the grid
-Take enough classes to get up to speed in Carbine and Patrol techniques
-Complete the remodel on the house
-Have 100,000 rounds of ammo stored in components or rounds
-Backpack a 100 mile trail
-Build up fuel storage
-Build 2 more cache locations
-Buy a grain mill
-Outfit the B/O trailer with solar power
-Get the HAM up and running
-Buy a Jeep for a 3rd vehicle
-Expand my food storage by 6 months with long term items
-Get my oldest son up to speed with a rifle and pistol
-Clear out the rest of the useless junk in my house
-Install a hidden compartment in the house
-Install an alternate water supply in the house
-Build an observation post
-Read more apocalyptic fiction (good ideas at times)
-Finish a second Blog for gear reviews
-Build window and door covers
-Build a safe room inside the house
-Upgrade the surveillance system

All in all, very doable list for 2014. The major issue is the economy. If it tanks before this year is done, I'm hunkering down and living through it. The rest will wait a few years at best. I have needed skills and I can live on.

Operational planning will stay about the same. I've built some inroads with some like minded people that would be a good addition to the family so I'd like to work them into the plan if they continue to pan out.

Biggest weakness is the lack of food at the bailout location, if I can't drive there, I'm in bad shape. We're fine at home. What's your plan?