More and more people are coming to me with questions regarding prepping. Preparedness once was something that was done by the average American much like squirrels gathering nuts. It didn't have a name, it was simply part of life. As time went on and the typical American family departed from the majority being on or near farms, the ideas embedded in us for storing up for the winter, preparing for planting, readying the harvest were lost among, iPhones, internet, and bustling streets with produce from Argentina and clothing from Indonesia.
Today we find ourselves in a restless nation. We have those who believe a different view of law and order and a different method of keeping it. Basically the idea of law and order is now a moveable dial depending on whether it has good optics or not. The reality is defending the law is sometimes an ugly business, and due to it being managed by humans, mistakes will always be made. Period. But, historically as a society we chose, as a collective, to deal with the injustices and hopefully right the wrongs along the way so there maintains a balance between keeping the peace through force and over arching dictatorial rule. An entire section of society today has determined it to be ok to commit certain law breaking as long as it is in the guise of protest. It is ok to break a law as long as no one gets hurt, scratch that, killed. It is ok to fight the law because it is now known that the law won't always win, and they are all racist anyway. This has triggered more and more of the very thing that the movement was supposedly trying to reduce. By fighting the law, it escalates the need for the law to fight back... And so it goes. All while citizens are killing citizens at an alarming rate (while the media ignores it) while law enforcement is on its heels trying to figure out what they can and can't enforce not based on laws but based on the elected officials who have suddenly become experts at law enforcement.
That leads me to this article. For those who are concerned with where we are going as a nation, regardless of who ends up in the presidency, this is for you.
When considering Prepping many images may come to mind. My family went on Doomsday Preppers (Season 3, Episode 13) back in 2014 and I even had a website dedicated to prepping years ago. I decided to go on DP in order to show that normal people not just the crazies should be and are preparing for a natural disaster or worse. The reality is, for the most part, while some good information can be gleaned the majority of the DP franchise is made purely for entertainment. Given Hollywood's tone of late it was likely produced to cause the average American to view "prepping" as fringe and therefore silly. Just another conspiracy theory, don't dare do it if you want to be like normal people. It is after all a "reality show". So some things should be taken with a grain of salt. Even my episode. We did the best we could going up against the director at times but, well, it's a reality show. In reality we started preparing due to what we saw changing in our government during the Obama years (yes on the show we said it was for the potential for new Madrid fault activity. Ok, legit issue but not my reasoning but sounded a lot better on national TV than the reality at that time). Predictably when 2016 rolled around things got quiet from a prepping perspective nationwide and it seemed most breathed a sigh of relief and realized maybe things are going to be ok. And then 2020 happened. Would you have ever thought that you couldn't fly out of country at any time you desire? Or travel to another state without being placed in quarantine? Or not be able to open your business you know, for business? So based on all the changes that have happened in such a short amount of time...
Lets discuss legitimate preparation.
Why you prep may somewhat change how you prep but the fundamentals never change. Most who prep tend to lean toward security more than reality and I hope to cover that here as well. Most natural disasters are survivable if prepared for it. In fact, we have natural disasters all the time and many on the coast have generators and food and things of this nature stored up to prepare for such. Same applies for west coast dealing with fires, earthquakes etc. As you might imagine each of those types of natural disasters have different requirements regarding preparation. Most natural disasters are localized to a region if not even tighter. So if you have money or have prepared to a minimal level evacuation is relatively easy and setting yourself back up somewhere else, or even back where you were when the threat is over is possible and generally not life threatening. What is not potentially survivable is what we are facing today. A complete disregard for the rule of law. When the law doesn't back you up in protecting yourself, now you are in a bit of a different situation. I wont go further into that but based on law enforcement in cities being required to "let go rather than risk confrontation" we will continue to see an up-leveling in violence particularly in the cities until "we the people" reach a breaking point. At which time it will either be too late or not.
When preparing think back to what it took to survive and thrive in the Wild West. Secondly, and this will depend on your disposable income, how much of the comfort world do you want to take with you. Power, running water, heat and cooling to name a few. Creature comforts now considered necessities. With all of that in mind, consider the following:
1. Food: Food supply needs to come in a variety of types.
a) Long Term Food storage, either canned or purchased (I have a 15 year shelf life food storage that will last our family 6 months. This gives us time if we are cut off to make it to a growing season where we can grow our own and work with neighbors for trade).
b) Grow your own. Have a working garden and get the family involved in learning to operate it and make it effective.
c) Canning. There is a reason grandma was an excellent canner. Canning is the most effective way to glean from the cheap produce of summer and eat on through the winter. It also saves a ton of money especially when coming from your own garden.
d) Freezer storage. You can only keep so much or can so much. Having a large amount of freezer storage keeps you from having to learn how to preserve meat and vegetables. Keeping that freezer full will go a long way to keeping your family healthy even if running to the store to grab whatever, isn't an easy option. Obviously having a sustainable way to keep it powered is a different discussion.
e) Hunting. Refilling the freezer is also necessary if down time becomes more long-term. This of course will depend on your location but it is still a viable option for many of us especially those of us who have strategically relocated (Excellent book titled Strategic Relocation)in order to protect our lifestyles for the future. Hunting is an entire topic in itself however because much like crops, hunting should be a sustainable resource but ONLY IF used properly. Over hunting will "kill the golden goose". A down environment creates a calorie intake requirement that we are not typically used to in modern society. Even if you are prepared and have solar, a well, a farm, etc. the calories required to keep it all running is far higher than going to your local deli and grabbing a sandwich. This is why meat was such an important requirement to a healthy diet until really just recently (past 30 years). You can expect to burn 20-40% more calories in a down environment depending on your preps than you would in normal lifestyle. And it could be even more depending on travel required for water, hunting or gathering requirements. If you have a large family, those intake requirements are exponential.
2. Water supply. It's literally not possible to make it long without water. Regardless of the terrain, elevation, temperature, etc, having a fresh water supply that doesn't require grid power is critical. Even so, water has multiple things to consider:
a) Water located at shelter. Having a sustainable source for water where you are sheltered is critical.
1) Well water is best option if possible. The concern to keep in mind is insure you have a way to run your pump on solar power or at minimum a generator so that you still have access to all that water if the grid is down. Losing power is an inconvenience but losing water is life threatening.
2) Rain water collection is a great option (depending on laws in your state - yes some states say its illegal to collect what falls from the sky). This can be done with tanks attached to your gutters where you collect and use as desired. Calculations for how much water you use per month compared to how much rainfall you receive will determine how many collection methods you need.
b) Water purification. Well water is typically verified to be safe to drink but even then sometimes its beneficial to have purification systems to take out undesirable smells or tastes (sulfur) or UV light to kill potential bacteria. A reverse osmosis spigot takes all impurities out but also leaves you with mineral-less water. A solution for this is to place mineral rocks in a container that you drink your water from and you fill that container with purified water.
c) Portable water purification. If you must leave (fires, unrest, etc) then you need a way to take pure water with you. But there is only so much you can carry. So having a way to purify nasty water you come across is paramount. I have used the Katadyn water purifier for years and have both backpack versions that I use motorcycle camping as well as a larger model capable of purifying gallons with less time and energy. Both are very portable and if you come across a pond or even a deep puddle you can get clean drinking water from those sources. Life straws are an even more portable option when size is critical.
3. Shelter - Most of us consider our house our castle but reality is in todays environment depending on where you live it may not end up your final destination. Living in a condo in the city requires a lot of 3rd party services that must be in consistent operation in order for your condo to remain livable. Sanitation services, water, electric, security, access to food. The city is an amazing bustling place... Until its not. And when it becomes dangerous, it becomes a cage where all access to required necessities become restricted or unavailable. Your only option from a city standpoint is prepare yourself to leave. This is a different topic of conversation and requires an entirely different method of preparing a bugout bag that enables you to have what you need in a bag while you travel to somewhere safer.
What I'll discuss here is the bug-in decision. What do you do when you know you want to stay where you are but you want to be as self reliant as possible in doing so. Homes today are largely energy efficient but even so the larger the house the more energy required to keep it. Having a way to heat the house (or a portion of it) or potentially cool it without grid power is critical if you want to stay in that home especially with children. Location will define what that means. We live on a mountain and winter can get pretty cold, but its nothing compared to winter in Montana. So take into consideration your yearly environment. Summer is mild to the point where AC is a convenience but not required.
Again, many of these solutions only work in a suburban environment at minimum and rural at best. Having a working fireplace or better yet a wood stove (fireplaces are inherently inefficient as they are now designed more for visual appearance than functional use. Wood stoves provide long burn heat with less wood and can boil water or even cook on if needed. The older the stove the better. EPA changes put in place during the Obama administration castrated the functioning wood stove making new ones far less powerful than those used for decades. All in lieu of carbon emissions even though we still provide controlled burns to forests in order to better protect them which create more carbon than every stove in America for likely multiple years. An option if you have a fireplace that has a good chimney but not efficient fireplace is to purchase a wood stove and store it in the garage. Also purchase the necessary materials that would be needed to attach the stove through the fireplace and utilize the chimney. Get the necessary training from a chimney expert on how to do this safely. IF you ever need to implement the stove you have it available to you. If not, you still get to enjoy your home as it was designed to look.
Depending on where you live the ability to cool your home even just a few degrees could be critical especially if you have young children. Outside of fans, the only option for significant cooling is air conditioning which means you will need a sufficient power source in a grid down environment. Enter Solar/Wind.
Solar power can be a fantastic option for off-grid power but it is only as good as the storage ability you have for that power. The sun doesn't work 24/7. Especially in the winter capturing energy from the sun is shortened by several hours and the angle is not as direct which also affects capture potential. Battery banks for a regular size house will run anywhere from 4-8000 dollars and provide 10 years of workable service and will provide the house with power at night when the solar is unable to be utilized. Some areas can benefit from wind as well and combining the two can provide some boost especially in the winter and even at night depending again, on location.
Just because you have a solid shelter doesn't mean there are not considerations to implement should things not go well. Those on the coast know that keeping plywood on hand is the best way for securing their home in the event of a hurricane. While it will likely still sustain damage the hope is the more vulnerable parts of the home will be secured (windows) and therefore keep structural integrity of the home as well as security. This goes for other types of concerns as well and doesn't just apply to those on the coast. In light of civil unrest plywood buys you time but also shrouds the home in a level of "no one is home", "nothing to see here". This will typically work in your favor. Criminals are by design, lazy people. If they were not lazy they would have figured out a way to earn their stuff rather than taking yours. As such, the path of least resistance is statistically their option of choice. An unlocked car over a locked one. A house without a security alarm over a house with one. A house with windows over a house that is securely boarded up. Recommendation would be to install the plywood on the outside with screws - not nails. If you own a two story home, don't install on top windows (unless for natural disaster). This allows you to still have good visuals of what you are dealing with outside from a safe distance. However, have plywood ready and sized appropriately to install upstairs from the inside should the need arise (throwing of rocks or other objects through the windows). If it appears that molotov cocktails are being prepared you must take additional steps as that is a threat against your life and immediate action to stop the threat may be warranted. At this point you now have to weigh heavily the complications of those actions and be prepared for the outcome. It should be noted that installing plywood on your 1st floor windows may change your planned escape routes should a fire ensue. Make sure the family knows the updated plan for escape.
4. Security. Rounding out the typical thoughts of "living in the Wild West" would be security. Settlers in the past lived off the land and were faced with threats of all sorts. From natural threats to human threats they had their wit and typically their gun to stave off the enemy or die trying. We have lived in a relatively peaceful society for so many years that the average American can't imagine life where a battle is literally one bad day away. Many countries live with that reality on a daily basis. They still go to have coffee, they still go and do their work all the while the potential for a rocket or a shell is constantly in their mind. Our lawful society and justice system has for the most part continued to tame the west and bring safe society to the masses who live here. Until recently. There is a push currently toward allowing damage to occur to property with no recourse, to allow criminals to resist arrest without recourse, to allow criminals to be released due to a virus with a 99% recovery rate. Criminals are being placed on monitoring systems where they commit additional crimes moments after being released. Security unfortunately is changing in America. It is my hope and prayer that those who are pushing a criminal first agenda will be defeated and law and order will be regained in the streets before we are in full on battle and the police are overwhelmed or so limited in their actions that law doesn't win.
For many Americans this "summer of love" has been met with violence including killing kids in the streets. Its a statistic for you unless its your kid. Then suddenly its a different feel. So what do you do? You are not a violent person and you can't imagine harming another. It is being sold today that cops are out looking for black people ready to lay into them and take them out if possible. Exterminate because thats just what cops do. The reality is far different. Taking another persons life is a difficult thing for ANYONE to do. WWI we learned significant lessons regarding human psychology and learned even more in WWII. We found that most men were incapable of pulling the trigger even when their life obviously required it. Life was precious. It was sacred. It was not to be taken lightly. It wasn't mine to take. Training in the military changed between WWII and Vietnam (Korea obviously being in the middle) and as a result rather than focusing only on can you hit a target, they were trained specifically to KILL. KILL before you can consider the gravity of the situation. This had undesired results as many things went wrong in Vietnam and men came back changed. Never to be quite the same because of how they had been programmed and the ultimate result of that programming.
PTSD is real and it isn't just reserved for military. Anyone including cops who find they have to take a life many times live with that the rest of their lives. Just because you know the guy was a bad guy doesn't eliminate the emotional pressure you sustain as a result. Cops have been trained to fight to live, to eliminate the threat when required, but not near to the level as the military. I'll assure you cops don't become such so they have a license to kill. The toll has long term affects. Military personnel today deal with massively complex rules of engagement some even more complex that today's law enforcement officer. Reason being is the military many times is making decisions based on what will win a war, not what law is being broken but of course there are plenty of those as well. And they are dealing with optics much like law enforcement is as well. Fortunately, the statistic still holds true today that most officers will never fire their duty weapon over the course of their career outside of training. This is far different than what is being sold in the media. Historically there was a reverent fear of the law. "I fought the law and the law won" was a song that brought reality to "its not worth fighting the police because the law will ultimately win." Instead, just be a good human and everything will work out ok. Today we are seeing active disregard for law as well as those charged with upholding it.
If the current trend continues and the police don't show up either timely or at all, how do you protect yourself? There is a reason sirens are always blaring going to a scene. Its not just so they can run more safely through traffic. It is hopefully to give the victim a chance so they know the calvary is coming and notify the perpetrator we are coming for you. But, what training do you need in order to know that you CAN protect yourself if help doesn't come in time? What tools do you need to do it in the most effective way. Gun sales are up 80% this year in the wake of the "peaceful protests". The question would be is the spike in sales equaling a spike in training? I don't know that answer but I can answer this. IF you are not trained AND willing to use a tool of destruction, it will be used against you. Every fight that occurs where one side has a gun becomes a gun fight. This is true of fighting the cops and it is true when fighting a fellow citizen. If you are carrying a weapon and are not trained AND WILLING to use it, then you are potentially carrying your own murder weapon. Please let that sink in. The person who is coming at you has already defined himself as willing to disregard the law to some level. You on the other hand have not. You have not crossed the barrier. You are carrying a gun but have taken all the necessary steps to remain within the law. Your perpetrator has not. You have to be willing to state to your inner self that this person's life who is willing to take your life must be stopped at all costs. For most of us civilized people the only way to get this hesitation out of us is through training. And its more than just hitting targets.
Police have it much harder than the general armed citizen because they are charged with going after very people who they know are already willing to break the law, they just don't know which ones. So every time they confront a person who has broken a law they know that that person has already walked a certain way through the threshold of darkness. Perhaps it is only simple possession. Perhaps it is attempt to sell, maybe aggravated assault, or perhaps aggravated assault with deadly weapon. The cop has no idea how far in the slide the perpetrator is when she approaches him and how far he is willing to slide during that confrontation. As the saying goes, there is no such thing as a routine traffic stop.
You on the other hand have an easier path. If a person is grabbing your purse you don't have the same level of required knowledge that a police officer must have because it is assumed that if the person is grabbing your purse he may also be trying to take you with it. (Check your state laws with regard to that statement as some states do NOT allow you to stand your ground). You have the right to defend yourself. Be aware that once you decide to stand your ground you have now crossed the threshold that may require you to take someones life. In addition, even if you believe you are alone, the bullet that leaves your firearm may not be. If you shoot, and miss, you are responsible for every bullet that leaves that weapon. If it misses the perp and flies across the street into a window and strikes a mother holding her child, thats on you. Training matters. Training is required. Training will keep you being the good guy and out of jail.
Is it worth it? The gravity of carrying a deadly weapon on your waist is heavy for sure. Is it worth it? For years I have carried a firearm and just because I have a firearm doesn't mean I have to use it. I remember the early days prior to being a law enforcement officer I did feel different carrying a gun on my side. I honestly didn't like it. It was weighty. It gave me pause. It made me realize that I had something on my waist that could take someones life at a distance. That feeling fades with time and it becomes part of you. Or at least it should. Much like a hammer to a carpenter. Being able to keep a cool head is part of that capacity for discerning when it must be used or not. If you are a hot head, carrying a firearm is likely not for you. This is why I'm for the laws that ALLOW open carry but I am actually against the PRACTICE of open carry. The reason I support open carry as a law is I don't want law abiding citizens accidentally showing their weapon on their side from cover and someone calling it in and an unnecessary confrontation ensues. If I am transferring a gun from one vehicle to another and someone sees it, it shouldn't be breaking a law. However, in practice there is never a good reason to allow your enemy to know you are armed until they are being presented with the purpose of said weapon. If you are sitting in a restaurant and you have a gun on your hip and a criminal comes in to rob the place and they see your weapon; you are the first to be shot. Likely before you have had time to put down your Calamari appetizer. If however, you are concealed carrying and an assailant comes in guns brandished and decides to rob the cash register, now you have in your control whether or not you find it necessary to get involved. If he appears to simply want the money and run, let him go. Take awareness of his/her build, what they are wearing etc and stay to notify the cops of anything you remember. If, however, it looks like he plans to shoot up the place, and place you and your loved ones in danger, you can determine the best time to let him know you are armed. And unlike the movies, you don't talk to him, you are not a trained negotiator with backup. It becomes an action of life and death. (check laws in your local area - nothing stated here is a recommendation of action, simply scenarios to get your mind thinking)
Ok, I need a gun.. What do I buy? I remember Vice President Biden saying at one time that all a home owner should ever need is a double barrel shotgun and simply fire two shots into the air and your criminal will be scared away. That has to be about the worst advice that anyone with 1/2 a brain could give someone. 1. No one is ever trained to give warning shots, not the cops, not the military, not civilians. 2. If you have a double (count that as 2) barrel shotgun and you fire 2 shots into the air, you earned what comes next. That said, let's consider typical defense firearms and why they are chosen.
Idiocy aside, shotguns are extremely capable especially in urban environments and specifically within your home. They are devastating to the perpetrator, they don't require as tight of accuracy for the user, and with the proper loads are less penetrating through walls than other types of firearms. (regardless, you must be aware of the design of your home and where you can and can't shoot due to other family members in the home. This must be practiced and everyone must be aware of what to do).
That said, shotguns have downsides.
a) Limited rounds. Most shotguns only have about 5 rounds available and require racking between rounds which takes time. The shotgun I use for personal defense at home is a KSG which is unique in that it has 2 tubes that house 7 rounds each. This allows me to mitigate 2 deficiencies of the typical shotgun. The first being limited rounds. 14 shotgun rounds is a lot of firing. Beyond that you are in an all out war. FBI statistics state that most gunfights end with 3 rounds being fired within 3 seconds, and within 3 yards. Home invasion may be a little higher (don't have that stat) but basically what I want to get across is it doesn't happen like in the movies. UNLESS multiple assailants are coming into your house. Second reason why what the Vice President said is outside of logical thought.
b) Limited effective distance. Depending on the round used and the barrel of the shotgun the spread of the shotgun increases with distance reducing the percentage of pellets that will hit the perpetrator. Beyond 25yrds a double-aught buck shot (00) becomes less effective due to spread and lack of rifling. Shotguns can shoot slugs which can be accurate up to 50yrds and beyond. I load my KSG with one tube of 00 and the other with slugs. I can choose which I need based on the situation. This mitigates the second downside of shotguns.
c) Hefty kick. A shotgun is hurtling a massive amount of lead toward an object and newtons law of action/reaction applies. Some shotguns kick less than others due to design but even the best will kick more than an AR for instance. This should be considered when deciding WHO is planning to use the weapon for self defense. Practice with it. If it puts you on the ground, it likely isn't your weapon of choice.
Handguns benefit from numerous advantages but also have their own limitations. Handguns are typically what a person considers for personal defense and it is likely the most versatile as it can support protecting your family in your home as well as on the move as you travel (check laws in your state and even local). The same thing that makes a handgun a benefit can also become its weakness. Because it is small and with a comparatively short barrel than a shotgun or rifle more training is required to properly operate it. Its far easier to hit a target with a shotgun than a handgun.. Especially under stress,. Next, unlike in the movies where a single bullet from a handgun throws the perpetrator through the window, in real life, you may not even know if you hit him. Worse still, the perpetrator might not know either. This means that he may continue his advance requiring you to continue to discharge rounds toward him wondering all the while is anything actually coming out. This is why law enforcement is trained that within 20 feet a person with a knife is more deadly than a person with a firearm. Because you can accurately place rounds on your target and he may still have the ability to cut you lethally before he goes down. This is the horrific reality of a gun/knife fight. It's also something the general public has a completely wrong understanding of due to Hollywood representation of gunfights. Another reason why the general public rarely understands why multiple rounds were fired from an officer when fighting for her life.
Today's modern rifle is equipped with anywhere from 10-30 rounds depending on your state and allows for rapid firing with minimal kick and ability to go back on target between shots with speed. Additional accessories can be added to the weapon including a laser sight allowing for quick sighting, flashlight, optical scope or sight for fast target acquisition. They are a superb method of protection however, they too have downsides.
a) They are loud. Don't get me wrong. All guns are loud. But the speed at which the 223 round leaves the barrel and the amount of force applied to make it leave all turns into report that can be literally deafening especially when fired indoors. Again, unlike the movies where everyone is firing from cars and within houses without any ear protection then they have a quiet conversation about it after... Well that's just not the way it works. At all gun ranges hearing protection is required. However, I suggest you just once if necessary, fire your weapon without hearing protection. If the sound shakes you to the core because you have never heard it before and thats outside, imagine what it will do when you are in a hallway. Train to expect the report. There are also small earbud hearing protectors that provide enhanced hearing while at the same time cutting firearm report that I highly recommend having available in your preparations. Depending on the situation, you may or may not have time to utilize them during an invasion but in a bug out situation, wearing them could be extremely beneficial. Losing hearing for the next several hours or even days could put you at potential risk. You can purchase suppressors that work to reduce the report of these firearms but currently all suppressors are heavily regulated and require a tax stamp and are registered with the ATF which takes both money and time.
b) Its an extremely fast and powerful round. As a result it can easily leave your home and penetrate into another home IF you are using the wrong type round. The only round that should be in a weapon like this for self defense in a home should be an expanding TAP round. This will cause the round when it hits an object to expand and therefore have less penetration potential and therefore less undesired destruction potential. It also works as a more effective solution when hitting your intending target.
c) Not legal in some states/cities. Laws are ever changing but this firearm is met with more legal challenges due to "its scary design" so you do need to check with local laws with regard to this firearm.
a) Anyone regardless of physical ability can learn to shoot one quickly and accurately. They simply don't kick more than a slight tap on the shoulder making them a solid choice for all age groups even the elderly.
b) More rounds allows for less need for magazine training. If you have a 30 round AR instead or a 5 round revolver you have the advantage of not having to worry about high stress reload. The perpetrator will also quickly realize what you are armed with and possibly second guess his decision to continue the advance.
c) Tactical options such as flashlight, laser, etc make target acquisition easier, faster, and more accurate.
Security beyond weapons. Security doesn't begin with defense. It begins with offense. What can you do to reduce your threat footprint making your home, vehicle, or person less desirable as a target than someone or something else. Awareness is your primary benefit when out and about. Having your head in your phone, or on the phone, or blindly walking to your next location is a sure sign of weakness to a perpetrator. Remember, they are typically lazy and want an easy take, not a difficult one. When leaving the store, having your head up and looking around (on a swivel) will automatically reduce your chance of becoming a victim. If you see them before they see you, you reduce the chance they are willing to advance and increase your time needed to respond to the threat on your end. At home, having solar powered or battery powered security cameras and motion sensing lights around your home reduce the chance that a perpetrator will continue the advance. If they think they are being watched, they will typically change course of action. If they don't, well you can see them and can more accurately take action.
Having a firearm in my opinion is a wise investment and should be considered by every law abiding citizen in the United States who is mentally prepared to use one. Securing these weapons is also a necessary component of safety. Thankfully there are many options available today to secure your firearm but at the same time allow for immediate access when needed. Having in a safe or a keyed lock through the trigger makes it an expensive brick at best. If you are going to buy a gun and especially if you have children at home, having a method of securing them when not in use is paramount importance but having them quickly accessible is equally important to the safety of your family. You never want your firearm to be stolen in a robbery when you are away from your home only to find that it was used in a murder down the road.
My hope and desire with this portion of the article is before purchasing the firearm make sure you are willing to take responsibility that comes with it. Much like never being willing to drive drunk you must be willing to be properly trained, willing to pay for necessary hardware to secure the weapon, willing to purchase the proper ammunition that will have the desired result, and willing to accept the consequences IF you end up in an altercation that requires the use of your firearm.
4) Less Lethal - There are also less lethal options to consider. Pepper spray or mace being one of the most common. Easy to carry, legal virtually everywhere, easy to use. Effective within limits and always a good option to have at your disposal. There is a reason why its on every police officers belt. It should be noted that pepper spray doesn't affect everyone the same or at all. While rare some simply don't have the same typical reaction so use with that wisdom. Knives while effective require even more training than firearms because of the inherent close nature of using them. If you bring a knife fight to a gunfight.. well you know how that goes. Tasers can be effective depending on your training in their use and while they can be effective they do require close contact which again may work for you or against you. Heavy clothing may reduce effectiveness and if the perpetrator is on certain drugs it may have little effect at all. The effect is also very temporary so once it is used have a plan for immediate escape.
5) Personal Protection - Additional personal security options are bullet proof vests. These are more affordable than ever and available from a myriad of quality sources and range from 500-1000 per vest. You can also purchase bullet proof inserts designed to place in backpacks. These can be used as shields if necessary if your family is having to escape one location to retreat to another.
We tend to assume in today's environment that communication is almost too easy but the reality is depending on where you live cell phone access is not always automatic but even in areas where 5g is becoming prevalent it doesn't mean that it is always available. Wide spread cellphone access is almost always limited, down or overwhelmed during a natural disaster. After the twin towers were hit in NYC cell phone use was quickly overwhelmed and you were lucky to get through if at all. And that is assuming the towers are still working. Hurricanes can wipe out communications for longer periods making communication difficult if not impossible.
I use a combination of satellite communicators as well as HAM radios for shoring up communication limitations. I have a Garmin 66i satellite communicator which allows me to send and receive text messages with anyone else in the world to cell phones or other satellite based communicators. I also have multiple HAM radios that have all the frequencies of surrounding repeaters programmed into them allowing for quick communication even in a down situation. Most repeaters are serviced and maintained by other HAM operators and most have secondary power sources outside of grid power to insure they are available even during long term power issues. HAM does require you get a license by studying the technology and taking a test where you will receive a callsign from the FCC that is unique in the world. You will use this callsign to communicate with other HAM operators when operating on HAM frequencies.
HAM radios go far beyond just HAM frequencies however. The modern HAM radio is small and powerful providing anywhere from 3-5 watts (possibly more) of power to reach out and touch someone else. They are also able to use standard radio frequencies available from 2-way radios you buy at the local big box store (Family Radio Service - FRS) and these channels are available and able to keep in touch when within a mile or so away (they always claim more than reality). You can also program in frequencies such as MURS which is (Multi-Use Radio Service) which allows up to 2 watt output which allows a further range than FRS. Finally GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) is a licensed service like HAM but without the testing requirements that allow a frequency band that most portable HAM radios can utilize. Licensing is cheap and good for 10 years. Expect a range of 5-25 miles on these frequencies and can even utilize repeaters. GMRS is a powerful service and only costs 70 dollars and is good for you and your immediate family. It operates on a higher wattage which along with the frequency it operates on is what gives it its added range. Learn more about how to get started with GMRS HERE. GMRS is a great service and allows you to operate in the US in the following frequencies 462.650, 467.650, 462.700 and 467.700 MHz assuming you are not near the Canadian border. There are rules for operating on these frequencies but they make sense and easy to comply with.
I have multiple HAM radios that I use for both MURS, GMRS and HAM operation. I have several Baofung cheap portable ham radios as well as 1 Icom ID-51A radio. In addition to normal HAM operation, I can use the Icom for accessing digital repeaters which basically allows you to connect to a local repeater through the airwave that uses the internet to connect to a remote repeater anywhere around the world which will then broadcast my signal over open airwave in that location to a HAM operator in that area. Its a very cool capability and as long as there is internet you are good. The obvious limitation of that technology is if the internet goes down then you can now only communicate to your nearest repeater which has the potential to reach out further depending.
6. Navigation. In addition to the assumption of ubiquitous cell phone access is our equally misguided assumption that maps are always available. The reality is without cell phone service many of us can't get out of our neighborhood. I am guilty of this as well and even in pilot training while we start with physical maps and dead reckoning methods we quickly advance to GPS and point to point flights because, well its just efficient. The same goes on the road where we say "hey Siri, directions to wherever" and your phone dutifully plugs in your desired location. As a result on a heavy reliance on GPS its harder to get in our heads a visual map of how the area is laid out. What is North of us, how far South to the next town. What town is it? What road would get me there. What do you do when you can't yell at your phone for a quick answer? What happens when it replies, I can't answer that right now. Physical maps, along with compasses, are still useful tools particularly in your local area. More importantly maps that have elevation and trails listed if possible. Any map that will give you detail on how to get from point a to b without hitting the main roads. In motorcycling we use Butler maps as they are beautifully designed and highly beneficial to anyone who likes to take the road less travelled. They are also uniquely useful in times when services are limited.
In addition to paper maps I use a product on my phone called GAIA. It allows for the downloading of a multitude of types of maps from topographic to road. This allows you to use the GPS in your phone even if cellular service is unavailable to help you navigate where you need to go. In addition, I as I stated earlier have a Garmin 66i as well as a Garmin Fenix 6 Pro watch which both have built in maps and allow you to use for navigation without external services other than GPS. You can still use them even without GPS but will need to keep your wit about you with regard to following yourself on the map.
7. Mobility. In movies you always see people packing up as if going to a weekend camping event and you see miles and miles of cars strung along on broken highways all going nowhere fast. (queue up music to Walking Dead) This is true of evacuations due to natural disasters as well as different situations where perhaps locations have been taken over or controlled by radical groups. If times truly got tough, road blocks legitimate or nefarious could easily be a concern that could limit your ability to get from point a to b. Remember that anytime you are circumventing a government road block you are now going beyond the support for rule of law and are subject to consequences. If you attempt to bypass a government road block and they see you regardless of your virtuous reasoning will be seen as an attempt to get away with something and could be subject to a response. Other road blocks are ones put in place by those NOT part of our government and are basically criminals taking hostage our roadways in order to achieve their desired agenda.
1) Off-road capable. Having an off road vehicle be it dirt bikes, jeep, enduro motorcycle, side by side (muffled) in these cases can be very beneficial. Remember, every confrontation with someone who doesn't have the same life view as you could potentially place you or your family in harm's way. The best option is not to place yourself in a position which requires confrontation in the first place. If you can avoid, it is far better than going in saying, "I have a gun, I'm ready!" The reality is if you avoid them then you have a 100% chance of surviving. If you have contact, then your odds are certainly less and now it is dependent on your training compared to their training (or sheer numbers) neither of which may be in your favor. When considering off-road vehicles the quieter the better. What's cool in a normal environment can get you killed in a down situation. Example: A two-stroke motorcycle can be heard from a long distance where as a 4-stroke can tool along with minimal report.
2) Motorhomes certainly have benefit although they have obvious weaknesses. They are big, slow, and obviously have stealth limitations. On the flip they have huge fuel tanks giving a strong range, water on board, room for preps, and a built in generator for power. Motorhomes are available of all sizes and a ton of fun in good times and very functional in bad times. Big homes like mine have more room but not nearly as capable as a 4x4 Sprinter camper available today. Everything is a compromise and must fit specific to your needs and situation. Again, your best option is to be where you want to be when something goes wrong. But having options if the time comes to jet with supplies is powerful for peace of mind.
3) Bicycle - Bicycles are excellent travel options and their biggest two benefits are quiet and renewable fuel source. They are literally limited only by your strength. Bigger families or families with young ones make this a more difficult realistic option but having quality bicycles are certainly a strong long term strategic prep.
4) Backpack - If all else fails, you still need a way to get you and some preps from point A to B where A is less safe and secure and B is more prepped and safe. Backpacks come in all flavors but having one that is load bearing for long term hiking is critical. The little backpacks we typically use for laptops and books will not suffice in a down situation where you need to make 15-20 miles per day. The average person with load can walk about 3 miles per hour. The more fit you are you can raise that to about 4 but even then you are still not covering a ton of ground. Your health, your current fitness, water supply, food supply, all will determine how far you can expect to get on foot per day. Speaking of feet, insure your whole family has at least one pair of quality shoes that will work well for hiking. Waterproof boots that have been worn and are known to be comfortable are the best scenario.
I tend to believe the best in people but also realize given situations the worst can come out of them. I prepare for the worst while hoping and praying and believing in the best outcome. An optimistic realist. We do live in interesting times. That said, just about every generation at one time or another has been able to use that tag. From 2 world wars, the Cold War, high inflation, economic depressions and recession or two... the list goes on. Humans it would seem don't like things to be left alone especially when things are going well. In the beginning of this year we were welcoming the best economy we have seen in ages, employment was up, unemployment lowest in history, successful peace talks in the Middle East (that actually happened in the wake of 2020), the list just goes on. And yet, we now find ourselves in months long rioting and protesting and fear of insurrection of monumental levels. For the monuments that are left that is.
We each will bear a responsibility for what happens next. My recommendation is to prepare like you have never in your life but make decisions with the hope we will figure all this out and move forward as a nation and a world. In my opinion, November will be a defining factor on whether we have the capacity (the right even) to move forward or whether we will be silenced forever and subject to the wills of those who were once considered our "representatives". Passions are obviously strong on both sides. If the silent majority chooses not to wake up and stand up, we may find ourselves ruled by the rest.
Finally, love your fellow humans. Regardless of color, creed, or ideology. I believe there is racism. But I also believe that most people are not racist. I don't know of a single law that puts a white person above a person of color. If there is one, it should be stamped out, immediately. I believe we have made tremendous strides in race relations overall over the past 60 years, regardless of what we currently see in the media. I believe there is always room for improvement and we should actively work to do so. I also believe it is not black Americans who are directly responsible for what we are seeing happening. I believe they as well as many good people are being manipulated to achieve goals not in line with the good of America. I believe we have failed an entire generation in providing proper parenting. I believe we have failed as a society to provide schools and higher education that teaches the good that America is and goals that it has yet to reach with a hope of them being part of reaching them. I believe capitalism is good but corporations have twisted our government officials and lined their pockets to make it something that works for the powerful vs individual benefit. I believe we have domestic threats that are actively attempting to change America. I believe good people can become useful idiots. I believe that our woke tech giants are more dangerous to our society and our representative republic than any foreign agent. I believe that if the democratic platform is implemented we are but a few years from change that we can peacefully walk back from and that most democrats will find that it no longer represents them as well but by then it will be too late.
Adventurist at heart, David Mays looks to inspire others to live their life with focus and purpose. Experience and expansion is why we are here.