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From the Library

Some Thoughts on Scouts and Spies by Gerry Barker

I found this little booklet, while looking for references for pre-Revolutionary re-enacting… It was written by a former SF soldier, who is also a historical reenactor, so it obviously piqued my curiosity. It’s a short, simple little booklet. It offers a good introduction to the modern fundamental skills of reconnaissance patrolling, through the vehicle of historical trekking. The emphasis on solo scouting missions—which were a very real thing, once upon a time—and ultralight weight trekking, with minimal equipment, to cover more ground, faster, with improved stealth, is a useful one even for a lot of modern SOF soldiers to re-learn. For the typical prepper with his 98lb bug out bag? It’s probably critical.

This book is highly recommended.

Simple and Sinister by Pavel Tsatsouline

Like a lot of Pavel’s stuff, this book enjoys a lot of overblown hyperbole. The program is billed as a minimalist conditioning program, and it is. It’s also probably pretty complete for most people. I’ve used it for my conditioning programming, a couple of different times, and been very satisfied with it. Best of all, from your perspective, it starts out really easy, and advances at your own rate.

If you’re looking for a minimalist conditioning program, or a change of pace, or an introductory kettlebell conditioning program, I recommend this book.

If you want a closer look before buying it, I did a review for it in one of this week’s second tier Patreon articles. It wouldn’t be particularly fair to them for me to rewrite the review here, but it’s worth it.

100 Edible Mushrooms by Michael Kuo

Mushrooms, especially wild foraged mushrooms, are a delicate subject. While there are only a very few wild mushrooms in this country that are actually lethal, compared to hundreds that are perfectly edible. Unfortunately, as the old proverb says, “You can eat any mushroom….once.”

This book is a good look at 100 different edible mushrooms. Including quality color photographs and instructions for safely identifying the chosen mushrooms, as well as where to locate them, he also includes a number of recipes for actually cooking them.

In recommending this however, I would be remiss to not point out that, while some edible mushrooms may have medicinal properties that make them worthwhile, as a source of calories, mushrooms don’t offer much benefit, compared to the inherent risk of eating one of the few bad ones. On the other hand, I really like mushrooms, and the minerals and flavor added by incorporating them into meals, is worthwhile, in my mind.

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Campfire Chats

I’ve been on the road for most of the last 2+ weeks. We went out West to see family, and to do some private training. On the return trip last week, I drove 22.5 hours, straight, through one night and day, slept for about six hours, and then drove 12+ hours straight through the rest of the trip. I had limited Internet on the trip. I managed to get the Patreon articles up the first week, but last week they didn’t get them until today, along with today’s articles. I’ve also not checked emails. As soon as these articles are up, I will start digging through emails.

If you have an email you’re waiting for a response to, please have patience. It will probably take me a bit to get through them.

John

Enjoying your website. Lots if good info from a fresh perspective. I also hold onto my 30-30. I am old and nostalgic. Anyway I have been following Mark Rippetoe and Jim Wendler for a long time. You may want to check out Dan John and a Russian guy named Pavel (kettlebell guy). They have quite a lot of good info on fitness. Andy Baker and Jonathan Sullivan also extend Rippetoe’s work but for older guys.

I’ve been reading Dan John longer than Rippetoe, and I’ve been reading Dan, Ripp, and Pavel longer than I’ve been reading Wendler. I just discussed Pavel in a couple of articles on Patreon today, in fact. While his presentation is pretty over-the-top, his science makes sense, to me (but then, I’m not a physiologist. I’ve read a lot, but ultimately, my knowledge is “Bro-Science”), and everything he’s written that I’ve tried has worked out really well for me.

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In reply to comments on the Patreon section:

Yes, we as humans aren’t hardwired to look to the sky for predators. However, in my very limited personal experience, drones are less than subtle. One of my wife’s friends had a three day long wedding. Part of this overly elaborate wedding involved drone photography.

Imagine for a moment that a flying weed whacker is trying to sneak up on you to take your photo. How close do you think it would get before you looked up and saw it? I think in the future, humans might spot drones before drones spot the humans. I don’t picture a drone getting very close to a hostile armed force before someone takes a successful potshot at it.

Would I send a drone with a normal camera to do surveillance? Maybe, but the surveillance would not be covert by any stretch of the imagination, and the drone would be disposable (even if I didn’t want it to be). Maybe if you have 100 acres of wooded land, then knowing precisely where your low flying patrol drone was shot down is exactly what you want.

If on the other hand, you wanted to be covert about the drone surveillance then you’d need a camera with optical zoom. The purpose of the drone would not be to help get your camera close to a target, only to get your camera high enough to have a line of sight to the target.

The Z30 Camera by DJI is probably good enough to do this. If I add the price of the camera and the drone together, it looks like slightly less than the price of a new car. If information is that important to you, it might be more cost-effective to invest in a network of paid informants first (like Lord Varys from Game of Thrones)

The research I’ve done so far tends to correlate with this. I’ve seen drones that went high enough, and were quiet enough to not be noticed with magnification and/or magnified hearing, but they tend to cost multiple thousands of dollars. If Uncle Sugar was paying my bills still, I might not have a problem with that, but thousands of dollars on something that has limited applications…..(fair weather, low or no winds, limited range, etc) is probably not going to pencil out for me. I like the IDEA of an unmanned, aerial FO, but…..what’s my threat matrix look like, and is it worth the cost/benefit payoff? So far, as far as I can tell, the answer to that is no.

For me, at least, lots of LP/OP along expected, or likely avenues of approach, combined with patrols covering possible avenues seems to pencil out a lot better.

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Is there an AK equivalent to Colt AR ( not too expensive, not too cheap)?

Windham Weaponry in Maine makes a fine 7.62×39 AR style rifle.

I’ve heard Windham makes decent AR15s, and I know the history of the company, which I dig, but I will point out two issues with this response:

An AR in 7.62×39 is NOT an AK equivalent. While I know people who swear “mine works great for me! I’ve never had a misfire!” I’ve never actually seen one that would fire reliably without massive, repeated malfunctions. It’s a feed angle issue, generally. Look at the shape of an AK magazine, and then look at the shape of an AR magazine….Now, if Windham is doing what a couple other companies are doing, and removing the magazine well of the AR, so the AK-type magazine/shape will feed reliably, that’s fine, but that’s also NOT an AR. It’s not an AR or an AK. It’s some post-Cold War bastard love child.

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When I was a private, my team leader fixed my flinch with the Ball and Dummy Drill. The shooter remains on the firing line while his assistant loads the gun, one bullet at a time. He loads the gun with either a live round or a snap cap (fake bullet used for training). Obviously the assistant varies and does not set a pattern.

It’s so embarrassing to flinch, you fix it quickly. If you have no assistant, dry-fire to build the muscle memory of not flinching.

 

Obviously, I’m intimately familiar with ball-and-dummy. It CAN work, but I’ve seen it not fix anything as many times as I’ve seen it fix flinching and jerking. Ultimately, even with ball-and-dummy, the fix is in just having the willpower to force yourself not to flinch anymore.

Dry-fire can help. It’s why we do dry-fire, but it’s also naive to think that your brain doesn’t know the difference between “I loaded this magazine with live rounds,” and “I have an empty gun, because I’m doing dry-fire.”

Ultimately, I stand by my previous suggestions, that the best way to cure a “flinch” is to will yourself to quit being a bitch about it, and to grip the gun tight enough that even if you do flinch, the gun can’t move.

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Where is the link to your Patreon sign up ?

Www.patreon.com/mountainguerrillablog

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The reason I no longer have the Ted Benson house is divorce. I have a lesser house now, but a better home(stead)!

I’ve been through a divorce. I get it. I’d have given up a Ted Benson house to get rid of the bitch too.

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Dies The Fire was refreshing after indulging in more recent survival/prepper fiction.

I remember this, every single time I re-read Dies the Fire.

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If you’re wanting to build a log structure I’d recommend NOT hewing the logs. I’ve take a log home building course, and one thing pointed out is that squaring a log off exposes all the layers to decay.
Overall I’d suggest the Butt and Pass method, with rebar pins driven through the log and halfway into the one below every 3 ft. Use a Milwaukee Hole Hog to drill a 1/2 in hole through the top log, then drive the rebar pin (length equal to dia of top log + 1/2 dia bottom log) through with an electric demolition hammer. Do not try to keep the pins perfectly plumb, you want them to be at a slight angle. This technique eliminates issues with settling as the logs dry out (yes, use green logs) as logs shrink to center and will “grip” the rebar pins, and due to the slight angle of the rebar the log will be held in place.
Check out LHBA (Log Home Builders Association).

On the hewing thing…..we discussed this in one of today’s Patreon articles, actually, but I’ve been inside buildings, built with hew timbers, that have stood for 500-1000 years, in daily public use. If you’re using new growth, plantation raised pine, that might be an issue, but good oak or other hardwoods? Meh. I think it’s way less of a problem than supposed. Hell, we’ve got a house, down the mountain from us, that is the original homestead of the fella that started the village. It’s been there since like 1814. They just re-roofed it, and the old couple that own it are getting ready to move into it (it was in daily household use until about 20 years ago, when the last old lady that lived there passed).

I wouldn’t do butt-and-pass on any house my name was attached to. First of all, there’s a lot of extra gaps for water to get in between the logs. Second, normal shrinkage, of anything other than kiln-dried and sealed timbers, is going to open those gaps up. I’d also stay far away from anything except absolutely necessary metal-to-wood contact. As the metal changes temperatures, any ambient moisture is going to condense on the metal, and then get absorbed into the wood, leading to rot issues.

Check out Charles McRaven’s work, and Ted Benson’s (both of whom I think I’ve recommended before on this blog…and I KNOW I’ve recommended Benson’s work).

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Campfire Chat

I’m posting early this week, because I will be tied up tomorrow. Also, I will be on the road next weekend, probably including Monday, so next week’s articles will be delayed.

Patreon folks: articles are going up right now.

First tier subscribers, there is a continuation of the Survival Retreat/TACFAC article series. There’s an added bonus for you guys this week as well. A reader, who is an active duty SF soldier, sent an AAR of his experiences in actually building a TACFAC on one deployment, and the returning to the same TACFAC, later, after it had been used by multiple other ODA. I’m hoping if you guys ask questions about it, he’ll find the time to respond either on the Patreon page, or via email to me, and I’ll post them.

Second tier subscribers, it was a slow week, but you’ve got the next article in the combatives series, answering the knife question that someone asked, and the journals entry, including my personal training from last week, as promised.

If you’re not on Patreon, you’re missing out….seriously.

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If you are religious, joining the local church and especially the ladies auxiliary is the surest way to acclimate and be accepted into a new community..

Absolutely, 110% solid, good advice.

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I can vouch for the “go skydiving” advice. I did and promise you’ll be a different person when you return to earth. I’d skip the kind where you’re strapped to the front of a real skydiver and pay more for the version where you leave the plane with two dudes hanging on to you. They’ll make sure you’re OK and not too terror-stricken before turning you loose before you pull the cord. The training for that experience is longer and better and it’s as close to solo as you’ll get the first time. Plus you’ll hang with some seriously experienced jumpers and learn that way. It’s worth far more than the extra cost.

As far as the experience itself, the dreaded feeling of falling ends in less than one second. Seriously, it’s over that fast. Then it’s just really REALLY windy. The chute opening is surprisingly gentle then you’re basically on a carnival ride. The parachutes have steering controls and brakes and are a lot of fun – find the wind sock to gauge direction, figure a reasonable approach course and steer it to touchdown. Then urinate.

 

The only skydiving route I recommend is static-line progression. Do it the right way, from the beginning.

 

And, experiences vary. I was never not scared jumping, from standing in the aircraft, waiting to exit, until I was on the ground, unhooked, and still intact.

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For the grizzly, hard cast rounds are definitely the way to go. Buffalo Bore sells them in almost every caliber, and the 9mm page has a story of an Alaskan guide (with pictures of the skinned bear) which killed a grizzly with it! But a rifle is always better. I don’t have much grizzly in my area (Utah) but I do have extremely long ranges, would that warrant moving up in caliber (308) for a general preparedness rifle? I can make hits at a fair distance with the AR and 55gr but in that west desert 1000 yards happens fast, and I was planning on just moving up to 77gr TMK. But then again, with target discrimination issues you’ve brought up, should I even worry about it? Also, going to convince the wife I need to go skydiving now! Thanks again for all you do.

I mentioned in Guerrilla Gunfighter 2, if I was still in the intermountain West, I’d probably consider an AR10/XM110 in .308 as a general purpose rifle, for sure. I also lived rural, while I was there. If I had lived in town, or in the city, I’d probably have stuck with 5.56. I’ve been working on moving to MK262 as my primary round, but they’re expensive to buy, even in bulk, and I don’t have room to set up a reloading area yet.

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I’m in the middle of “A Pattern Language” right now, which my psych-major wife also loves. Thanks for recommending both. I’m also trying to turn bits from “Speed Power Endurance” into a routine, because I don’t have one.

I’m pretty stoked for building my own house in a couple years, and while it’ll be brutal to balance a graveyard shift and a home construction project at the same time, it’s really the only way to afford a house on a spread out here without a big mortgage. A few years of hard work, or a few decades of payments? Not a hard equation to solve.

 

Awesome! I’m glad you’re getting benefit out of the From the Library articles. I really do love A Pattern Language, and wish I had time to read it more often. There’s a number of lessons I’ve learned from it that I wish I had discovered before I built our house. Ah well, hopefully the next one will be better.

 

I can’t recommend building your own house enough. I know it’s not for everyone, and that’s okay, since there’s too many fucking houses and buildings in this country anyway, but if you’re on bare ground, doing it yourself is totally the way to go, even if it takes longer.

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I used to own a Ted Benson house, that place was some kind of crazy stout built home! Never had a worry about snow load, or anything else. Much better than stick built.

Dude, that’s awesome. Why’d you move? I love my house, but if I wasn’t going to build, now I can’t imagine buying a house that wasn’t a legit timber frame or a real log house (not a kit built). I’m actually going to build a range shed this fall, and am leaning towards a hewn log building. Initially, I was going to do it out of earthbags, as a trial piece, but I really like the idea of a hewn log building on the place, and an 8×12 range shed seems about the right size, and achievable by myself, or a couple occasional helpers, for building out of hewn logs from the trees we have on the place.

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Is there an AK equivalent to Colt AR ( not too expensive, not too cheap)?

I honestly don’t know, so I’m going to let readers who may be AK guys, chime in. We have three Kalashnikovs. Two are -47s that I was given or traded for, for teaching purposes. One if a -74 that belonged to my late stepdad, that he built from a kit and a receiver flat (and that I’ve actually never fired, and don’t know if he ever did, truthfully).

Both of the -47s are WASR-10 Century guns. Those have a—deservedly—poor reputation for QC issues. I will say, I’ve had zero issues with either of mine, other than I bent the fuck out of the oprod on one, causing it to malfunction until I beat it straight again with a hammer (one point for the Commie Peasant gun!). So, while I’m not comfortable recommending them, I do have to admit, I have zero complaints about my WASR-10s…..

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I am hoping to sight in my new DD very soon, and have been reading the ‘How to zero’ section of GG v2 with great interest.  I appreciated you adding that section, as I really had no good idea of how to zero a rifle beyond spraying the target with rounds and guesstimating the necessary adjustments.  And I also appreciated you breaking down the approach based on the type of sights (irons, RDS, or scope with BDC).

How does one determine the center of a 5 group shot, unless the target used has X/Y coordinates?  If the target does have those coordinates, each shot could be assigned an X/Y location on the target, and the centroid of those 5 shots determined.  The X/Y coordinates of the centroid would then provide the MOA adjustments after a little trigonometry.  But I don’t see how one could do this with a plain white target with a black dot in the center.  Does anyone make a target with ‘coordinates?’

Also, what does one do if the sighting system is WAY off?  I’m not sure if this is a realistic scenario, but what if one can’t make it on paper at 100m?  Move the target in until consistent contact with the paper is made?

I use a piece of 3×5 index card usually, or, I just draw a black dot on an IDPA silhouette. There are a number of different zero targets available though.

So, I thought I made it clear in the book, but to determine the geometric center of the group, it helps to start by having a very small group. If you’re not shooting sub-4MOA (1 inch at 25 yards), you need to work on grouping before you worry about zeroing, because any zero is going to be too dispersed to be valuable anyway.

Then, I draw a line around the outside of the group, from center-to-center of all rounds that aren’t obvious flyers. Then, I guess what the exact center is, and measure from there. If your group is small enough, even if you aren’t exactly in the center, you should be within an eighth of an inch or less, and that will be close enough to get you zeroed.

I generally zero at 50 or 100, but even if I zero at 50, if my first shot isn’t at least on cardboard, I move close. I’ve had rifles that someone handed me that I had to get within 10 yards of, but generally 25 will be close enough. Once I can get my shot group on the cardboard, I can start making adjustments. If my first group is WAY off, I’ll make really aggressive adjustments, even if I overshoot the bull, and have to adjust back.

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Any tips/tricks for fixing an involuntary flinch when shooting? It happens more often with pistol than rifle. I dry fire daily and fire live 2 or 3 times a month. The flinch doesn’t happen on the first few rounds but later on, usually during the middle of a drill where I’m focusing on the timer vs accuracy. I always realize the flinch after the fact but never before. Thanks in advance.

Only answer I have is pure will. I had a bad flinch for a few years, and nothing seemed to fix it. Then, one day, I was zeroing a 12 gauge, with a shifty red dot. It ended up taking me like 40 rounds of full power slugs. By the end of it, I was literally crying. In order to get it over with, I would will myself, despite the pain, to not flinch, and it worked. After that, willing myself to not flinch with a rifle or pistol, was cake.…

From the Library

This week’s selection is a trilogy of novels by SM Stirling, the author of the Dies The Fire/Emberverse series that I’ve mentioned a number of times on this blog. This alternate series starts with Island in the Sea of Time.

In it, the island of Nantucket is shipped back to 1250BC. Conveniently, a USCG training ship, the Eagle, is sent back as well, since it was inside the boundary that was transported back.

The value of the series, is it discusses the experiences of the Nantucketers, as they discover they’ve been tossed back into a world they can barely imagine, and have to figure out how to make use of the different personalities, skill sets, and limited materials and equipment they have available to them. Over the course of the three books, they manage to rebuild Nantucket’s historical fishing and shipping industry, go from a small hobby-level engineering setup in one dude’s garage, to an international manufacturing capability, fight several international conflicts with the powers of the era, deal with traitors-turned-emperors in Mycenae (Greece), and more.

From their initial visit to Alba (Britain), to sailing expeditions around the globe for discovery, the series does a good job of exploring some of the possibilities that we may be facing as the hegemony continues to degrade, and things collapse around us, even as other parts of the world maintain some semblance of civilization.

I recommend the series, both for a great preparedness thought exercise (what issues did the Islanders have to deal with that you’ve not even considered?), and because it’s an entertaining read. Stirling really is a phenomenal storyteller.

Campfire Chat

There weren’t many comments that warranted inclusion here, so there’s a couple from emails.

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I live in NW MT, where griz and mountain lions are common.  We had a griz attack a few weeks ago, stopped by two shooters with .357 and .44 mag.  I had a mountain lion on property two weeks ago, which I frightened away with a round from my G17 (which I thankfully had on me).  Our game warden warned us to upgrade from our daily carry 9mm with the lion and bear risk in mind, and to switch from hollow points to cast bullets.  Do you have a recommendation for a handgun with the big predator threat in mind?

I had one very close encounter with a grizzly sow, at about 15 yards, who happened to have a very curious cub. I was armed with a .357 at the time, and all I remember thinking was, “This is a fucking pop gun! She’s not even gonna notice if I shoot her with this thing!”

I’ve spent a LOT of time in grizzly country, and seen a lot of grizzlies. That’s the only time I ever felt like I NEEDED my gun to deal with the situation. Of course, that was also the first time I’d ever actually seen a grizzly, outside of a zoo, and I ended up not needing to shoot her. I remain convinced that my charming personality and stunning good looks made her decide I wasn’t a threat to her baby.

So….my advice on a handgun recommendation in grizzly country is, “Carry a rifle.” Seriously. Even if it’s a little 16” .30-30. In addition to that however, I will mention something that a very experienced Alaskan outfitter told me once, “The key to stopping a griz is stopping their heart. Carry whatever you want, but make sure it’s got enough ass behind it to penetrate to the heart itself.” One of the things I discussed in Guerrilla Gunfighter 2: Preparedness Rifle and Carbine, is the fact that, where I live, 5.56 will kill anything I might need to shoot, from people to animals large and small. Since I don’t suspect in a grid-down scenario, most people are not going to be “hunting,” so much as shooting opportunistically, when it comes to wild game, I believe a general purpose rifle, that covers as many of your needs as possible is a good bet for your primary carbine or rifle. Because of my location, my M4—conveniently—fills that bill. If I still lived in the Rockies, I’d probably carry my M1A or an AR10/M110 (and, yes, I do occasionally switch out the M4 for the .30-30 or the 12-gauge slug gun, as discussed in the book.

As for cougars? Meh. I’ve seen six or seven cougars, total, in my life, and only one of them did I see long enough to shoot (To be clear, I’ve never “hunted” cougars. The one I shot was a favor for a neighbor, when he found it in his barnyard). I shot that one with a .22, and managed to kill her (if you’re gonna do that, I recommend being REALLY good at fast snap shots on moving targets. There ain’t gonna be no “double taps” or “rapid fire strings.” They move way too fast. I shot her, and then had to find her, track her visually, shoot again, etc.)

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I have been trolling your site as well as others for some time scanning for insights as well as a touchstone that not everyone alive is retarded and drinking the pay ops cool-aid, so again, thank you. I have a particular issue that I feel you may have some insights into. I am prior service and currently overseas working in the ‘Stans. Along with this lifestyle comes the lack of a clan or even strong ties to return to other than prior service clan that are scattered to the corners of the globe. I am contemplating a plot of land to start to develop roots in but being overseas you can understand that this proves difficult. My question is, in my position how would you proceed as I will literally be starting from scratch? I have been scouting areas in Montana, Wyoming, Texas (where my vehicle, firearms and items reside) and parts of upstate New York. Each one provides its own unique set of issues. While several have significant tax advantages they also offer unique agricultural and environmental challenges. Perhaps I’m overthinking this and just need to pull the trigger on something or maybe I should be looking into something else entirely…Honestly any advice would be beneficial.

Dude, that’s a tough one, honestly.

How old are you? Where is your family? Parents still alive? Grandparents? Got cousins and shit? Siblings? Even if you don’t get along with them, there’s a kinship tie there. Do you still talk to any old school chums? Get along with them?

One of the conversations I had—repeatedly—with people, when I told them I was moving back to where I grew up in the South occurred when they asked if any of my people were preppers with training? I would point out that, no, not for the most part. Certainly none were on a level where I would want to go into a gunfight with them. But, as I also pointed out…I was more worried about having people I could trust. Give me a dude I know I can trust, and I can teach him to shoot, move, and communicate. Teaching those skills is a lot easier than building the kind of relationships we’re talking about…

So, recognizing that it may not fit your situation, without knowing the specifics of your situation, I would be concerned less with possible tax havens, and more with getting back to rebuilding relationships with people I already knew, and had relationships with. Granted, some of them may have turned out to be shitheads in the ensuing years, but I bet not….and certainly not all of them.

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I’m reading GG v2, and noticed that you have a M1A!

Please note: I am NOT asking what rifle to replace my AR 15 with.  🙂

But IF one wanted a semi auto 308, is the M1A the way to go?

For the love of all the gods of my ancestors and yours, no!!!!

Now, I love my M1A (don’t tell anybody, though!), and I dig shooting it, and I’ve even used it for my deer rifle (once. It was way too much of a pain-in-the-ass, compared to a .30-30 or my M4).

If you feel like you NEED a .308, I’d suggest an AR10/SR25/XM110 clone. That having been said, I am going to build an XM110 next year, but I’m doing it in 6.5 Creedmore, which is what I’d actually suggest if you feel like you NEED an intermediate-long range gun.

That having been said, my M1A is the Springfield Squad-Scout, and I really do get a kick out of shooting it. Practical issues aside, there is something very nostalgic about shooting a rifle made of wood and iron, still. Maybe it’s a result of my misspent youth, reading Soldier of Fortune, Gung-Ho, New Breed, American Survival Guide, and all the other “mercenary” and survivalist magazines back in the ‘80s?


 

I have been told is a no go for me, as there so little sun during the winter in NW MT.  Did you get enough juice out of PV when you lived in ID?

Yes, and No. We weren’t off-grid the entire time we lived in Idaho, which was most of a decade. But, for the times we were off-grid, we did get enough, even in winter.

That having been said, there’s a very important qualifier in your question….”Did YOU get enough juice out of PV…?” WE did. We also didn’t use the battery bank for anything, at that time, except to charge a single cell-phone, to run a radio receiver a couple hours in the evenings, and for lighting. That takes a VERY small amount of electrical power…. So, it really depends on what you’re planning on running on the system. There are a lot of folks in both NW Montana, and in N Idaho, that are using Solar though….

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I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now. I’m 55, have lived a sedentary lifestyle for quite awhile and it shows. Your constant harping on PT finally got through my thick skull and started eating (a little) better, riding my bike, and a little over a month ago I talked my wife into letting me get a weight set and rack so I can work out – and I have been, kind of to my surprise. So I’ve got the PT part down – finally, at least so far.

The problem is I’m not a brave person. Kind of a chicken-shit to be honest. I read the article by Matt Larsen that you talked about last Monday. In your opinion, is courage/fear control something that can be learned? If so, can you recommend some resources, either types of training or mental exercises?

“We become what we do, regularly.”

I do believe it is possible. How do you go about it? That I’m not so sure of, but I would start with intentionally putting yourself in situations that make you physically and/or mentally uncomfortable. I’m deathly afraid of heights. So, I joined the Army to jump out of airplanes and helicopters. I also rock climb and rappel. Now, I’m still scared shitless of heights….but I manage to deal with it, without completely losing my shit.

So, find something that makes you uncomfortable—or scared—and just do it. Use whatever tools you need, before hand, to build yourself up mentally for it, for now, but just commit to doing it.

For most, middle-class folks, I think the three things most accessible are going to be the three that I found worked really well for me, as I was coming up: 1) join a boxing gym. Not a “cardio boxing gym.” Find an actual boxing gym, preferably one training amateur and pro fighters, and go join (in my experience, the more Hispanics there are in the gym, the better the boxing gym is….wait, was that racist? Who cares. It’s true). Nothing will get you over your fear of interpersonal conflict faster than getting punched in the face a bunch of times by some pissed-off 16-year old Mexican kid four weight classes lighter than you (I get my ass beat regularly by the teenage Mexican kids at our gym. It’s not fun, but it is humbling). 2) If a boxing gym isn’t possible, find a good MMA gym. You’ll still probably get the opportunity to do some legit full-contact boxing and kickboxing, but more importantly, getting smothered under some big bastard, who’s got 40# of weight advantage crushing your lungs, while he’s simultaneously choking the shit out of you with his arms, is, well…fear provoking….learning to just breathe, and relax, and work through that, is extremely useful in overcoming fear, in my experience. “Shit, it can’t be worse than that fat fucker sitting on my chest choking me!” 3) Go skydiving. Seriously. I’m not telling you to become a skydiver (I’m not. I’ve skydived, but I’m not a skydiver. I fucking hate jumping. I hated jumping in the Army too.), but we are naturally wired to be terrified of heights. Developing the ability to overcome that inherent terror, is—I firmly believe—the single best thing that ever happened to me, as far as overcoming fear in any venue. You’ll never be “not scared,” no matter how many jumps you do (and if you do lose your fear, you need to stop jumping, right-the-fuck-then, because it means you’re about to do something really stupid). I’ve talked to guys with thousands of jumps logged, going back decades. Every one of them told me, “Fuck yes, I’m still scared when I go up. The day I’m not scared is the day I quit.” That’s not because they’re adrenaline junkies—well, not entirely—but because they recognize that, if they lose that fear, they’re gonna get lazy, and end up doing something stupid.

As far as individual exercises, meh. Different shit works for different people.

For me, I just start cracking jokes, and making myself laugh. Seriously. I figure, if I’m laughing, I’m not crying, right? Beyond that, “tactical breathing” is all the rage these days, for controlling the autonomic stress reaction. I learned it from my granddad when I was a kid, and then again when I was in the military, although my granddad taught it differently.

The contemporary method, at its most basic, is to simply breathe in through your nose, for a four-count (I use, “one thousand and one, one thousand and two, etc”….). Then, hold it for a four-count. Release for a four-count. Whether you need to hold the pause on the exhalation is debatable, depending on who you ask. I do, because it’s how I was originally taught, but I was also originally taught to hold a seven-count, not a four-count….The longer count, to me, seems to force you to calm the fuck down a little quicker. Your mileage may vary.

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One of the things we’re talking about, on the Patreon Page today, is dealing with people showing up at your “retreat” location, looking for a place of refuge. It’s interesting to me that people are so quick to jump on the “I prepared for my immediate family. They should have had more foresight!” wagon. Sure, it’s true, they should have, but….they didn’t.

We have developed our farm as a place for multiple families to show up. Some of them have helped build our facility, and continue to do so, either with actual building help and guidance when needed, or they are the “clan-of-choice” that also comes out and trains regularly, because we all know holding the place is going to be critical.

Most of the people I expect to show up though, are those friends and family members who have said—regardless of how they try to pass it off as a joke–”Well, when the SHTF, we’re coming to your house!” Unlike most people I read and talk to, my response is always, “Well, we’re counting on it!”

After all, we’re gonna need more bodies. Whether that’s for security purposes, of putting someone in a LP/OP, with a trained buddy, or because somebody gonna hav’ to hoe d’ peas, is irrelevant. I’m certainly not going to turn my own kin away, regardless of how “silly” they may think I am, right now.

Someone sent me a biblical quote about this very topic the other day. While I’m not a Christian, I know a lot of the readers are, so it might give y’all something to meditate on….

Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” –1 Timothy 5:8 (NIV)

But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (KJV)

Now, again, I’m not a Christian, a fact I’ve never hidden, so it could be argued that this is something akin to “the Devil quoting Scripture,” or that I don’t understand the context, but I would counter with, “it’s pretty fucking blatant what is being said.” Fortunately, I’m a historian, so I understand the context better than most modern Christians do. And, since I am a historian, I know how to look for secondary sources for references. If you’re looking for something to get past the initial light reading, “Oh, but it says ‘especially for their own house!’” you need to understand the construction of the “familias” in that era, wherein it was not just Dad, Mom, 2.5 kids, and the pets. It was the extended family. It was, to use the Old English phrase I used in Forging the Hero, kith-and-kin.

Here’s an additional reference discussing it: Ellicot’s Commentary. If you read the commentary for the entire chapter of 1 Timothy 5, you’ll see that Paul was discussing a lot more in this letter, than just the modern nuclear family…..

So, what are you doing to prepare for the extended clan to show up? Still wanna focus on “stuff,” or should you be focusing more on “skills” that can be used to multiply the stuff? I know my answer….

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One of the things I’m doing on the Patreon page, for second tier subscribers, is going through some of my old journals, and writing commentary on some of the entries in there. This requires an explanation. I don’t record “Dear Diary, today, I did this and this and that. We went to here and there and there. I had a wonderful day.” Instead, my journals are records of my training practice, as well as ideas that come into my head for related topics. Mostly though, my journals are where I take notes on what I’ve read. Found an interesting quote in a book I’m reading? Write it down, so I can think about it later.

So, for first tier subscribers, you’ll be getting the next installment in the Survival Retreat discussion this week. For second tier subscribers, you’ll be getting the second installment in the series about actually integrating some combatives training into your training. This week is about practicing not getting knocked the fuck out…You’ll also be getting an article, much like the campfire chats, where I’ll share a quote from my journal, preparedness related, and then discuss it.

If you’re not on the Patreon page, and you’ve read this far, what are you waiting for? It’s a couple bucks a month. How long have you been reading this blog? Did you get a couple dollars a month worth of value out of it? I appreciate the support. More importantly, my wife appreciates the support. She keeps telling me about her garden seeds orders for next spring…..

From the Library

Building the Timber Frame House: The Revival of a Forgotten Craft by Ted Benson

I’ve mentioned previously on this blog, that I built our house myself (with a little help lifting the heavy shit from our clan-of-choice. With the exception of one timber, which we lifted with my neighbor’s tractor, we didn’t use heavy equipment to lift any of the beams in the house…and for the record, lifting a green 18ft 6×8 timber, 30 feet into the air, is sketchy as fuck!). I also had no real construction experience prior to that project.

So, how did I go about it? I ordered and read every single book on timber framing that I could find, that had been published in the last fifty years, in English (and several in German!).

This book was the single most useful reference I had at my disposal. In fact, I’ve now owned three copies, because two copies stayed on the job site while I was working, and ended up destroyed; it was that useful.

Obviously, not everyone has any interest in building a timber frame house (And, honestly, if your heart is not 110% set on it, I don’t recommend it! It’s a lot of work). But, it’s a pretty quick, simple way to put up a stout outbuilding, including emergency housing, if you keep it simple (don’t use oversized timbers like I did, for aesthetic reasons….). I am firmly convinced that, with the aid of this book, and the tools that Mr. Benson recommends, ANYBODY with the physical ability to use the tools in question, could walk into their woodlot, and build a small timber frame house in less than a summer. If you practiced your joinery cutting first, and got it dialed in, you could do it in less than a month.

Every single cut and joint you’re going to need is clearly illustrated with quality pen-and-ink illustrations. The science and math is covered for determining what your beam sizes need to be, but in terms that even laymen (like me!) can actually grasp. There’s even some different building plans in the back of the book, for different size projects.

The only potential drawback to this book is something I discovered after I had built our house. Some of the joints that Mr Benson recommends, while they work (my house is two stories tall, and has withstood 90MPH winds already…) well, are NOT the same joints that were used historically in the eastern US and in Europe. Now, if you’re doing historical restorations, that’s an issue. If you’re building a storage shed for your prepper supplies, or you’re putting up some small cabins for “bug out location” housing for your people to live in when SHTF, that’s just not a deal killer. Interestingly, nobody has EVER noticed the ahistorical joints in my house that came from Benson’s book (the only fucked up joint that HAS been noticed is one I designed, trying to simplify things. It didn’t work worth a fuck, and I ended up having to scab that joint, after we got the wall stood…and standing the wall got REALLY scary when we heard my joint cracking, just as we got a couple thousand pounds of timbers to head height….

 

Recommended

Campfire Chats

I don’t have a “From the Library” article this week. My mother was finally released from 24/7 care last week, so I got to go home for the first time in over a month. Between taking care of some missing orders that my helper fucked up, and taking care of things on the farm that had been neglected, and finally spending some quality time with my wife and kids, all together, I simply didn’t have time to get any reading done, really. Sorry.

Patreon subscribers, your articles are posted as well.

First tier subscribers, you’ve got the third part in the retreat facility article series up. Second tier subscribers, you’ve got an article on combatives training, and some key ways to incorporate it into your training. You’ve also got a soft skills article on thinking outside the box, in which I take on Climate Change, as well. It’s a topic (the outside the box thinking part), I’ve been working on in my personal journal, and discussing those issues with second tier subscribers is something I’m going to try and do regularly. You also have a third article, in which I discuss some current events that are on everyone’s minds.

If you’re a regular reader of the blog, but haven’t subscribed to Patreon, I urge you to do it. It’s a couple bucks a month, and consider what value you’ve gotten from my efforts here over the years. Now, recognize that I’m getting paid to write those articles…how much more in-depth are they going to be, do you think? How much more valuable are they going to be, when neither I, nor you, have to worry about the random Internet trolls interfering in the conversation?

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One of the things that gets overlooked a lot, by preppers and survivalists—especially those without military combat arms experience—is that there is a vast, vast difference between a “patrol pack” and a “get home bag” or a “bug out bag.”

Building your “tactical patrol bag” based on a “bug out bag” list, is retarded. At the same time, looking at what I carried in my ruck as say, a young Ranger private, for a “bug out bag” is not going to work out at all, especially when I factor in that I now have a wife and kids to deal with as well.

Make sure you understand the difference between the mission requirements of a patrol, bugging out for who knows where, and getting home from work. Then, decide which type of bag you need, and what it needs to contain. That article is coming up soon on Patreon.

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As one who has spent a great deal of time in nature, both in the Army and as a rural resident, what do you recommend for dealing with natures annoyances. Just asking for a friend who may have come home with a boatload of ticks, chiggers, and poison ivy.

Well, ticks, I just pluck off. I’ve read that a tick needs to be bit down for 24 hours before any pathogen transfer, such as Lyme Disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, happens. I don’t know if that is true or not, but I do know that I’ve pulled tens of thousands of ticks off myself, over the course of my life, and have never suffered anything from them. Chiggers, I don’t wear shorts in the brush, and I wash with soap and water. Same with poison ivy.

In other words, I just don’t worry too much about it, to be honest. I’ve never had a problem with any of those. I know what poison ivy and poison oak look like, and I pay attention to what is around me, so I’ve never “walked into a pile of poison ivy” for example. I’ve certainly never wiped my ass with it.

I’ve had chiggers before. They itch, badly. I wash the site with good soap, and then try my damnedest not to scratch the itch (to be clear, I usually fail). Eventually they go away, and I just suffer in the meantime.

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do you have any info on the up coming food shortages do to the bad weather this year.

Not specifically. I suspect it will impact far and wide, but then, I’d have expected it to do so already, with commodities futures speculation, so who knows?

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Have you read Fry the Brain by John West? I thought it pretty good, definitely enlightening to learn the various techniques of insurgent urban snipers. I thought the part about the troubles in Ireland was particularly good–particularly the use of auxiliaries and teams of specialists to defeat sophisticated forensics of the British. The part on remote operated rifles was interesting too–meshing into a discussion on drones that you alluded to in your other post. Anyway, I saw it was on Ellfritz’s reading list.

Similarly, opinions on Resistance to Tyranny by Martino, if you’ve read it?

I’ve read both, and have them on my bookshelves. I don’t recall having an issue with either one, but it’s been a few years since I read them, so I’d probably have to go back and re-read them to comment specifically on anything.

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Your comment about the Townsend videos struck a chord. I do French and Indian War and Revolutionary War events in the southeast. The best video I saw, in my opinion, was on the process of making Mead.

I haven’t watched the Mead video, but that’s because I’ve been making mead for a number of years now, despite being a non-drinker (it’s usually a big hit at holidays though, with our clan). I don’t know that there’s any of their videos that I’ve gone, “Meh. That sucked!” though. Most of their cooking videos make me want to force my wife to try them though.

I’ve wanted to get involved in 18th century reenacting since I was a kid, and my stepdad came home with a grocery sack of Muzzle Blasts and Backwoodsman magazines, he found at a garage sale, and I devoured them all in a weekend. Unfortunately, the last thing I need is another expensive hobby. So, I incorporate those elements of it that make sense, in light of my lifestyle, when I can. I really do “need” a flintlock muzzleloader though….

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Last week you discussed whether or not you would encourage your son to join the military. I have grappled with that same question. I have four young sons ( young enough that the point of joining a United States military may be moot by the time they are old enough). I am already teaching them the distinctions between warriors and soldiers. I was an NCO in a light infantry unit in Iraq back when Baghdad was the wild west and I have found the experience that I gained there to be invaluable. Not only tactically but the ability to see a mans true value, to be able to distinguish who can be counted on when shit gets real. I credit the shared suffering of life in an infantry unit with opening my eyes to the realities and necessity of a barbarian tribal outlook. I guess my question is, absent the gravity of actual combat experience do you think its possible to develop young men into competent warriors/to teach them the necessity of coming together as a team? Could you elaborate on how you would develop and initiate young men into your tribe’s mannerbund? How would you approach replicating the gravity of the decisions made in combat and the lessons learned?

Short answer? Yes.

The fact is, modern military forces, as we know them, are a recent phenomenon in the human experience. While it is certainly simpler to achieve the status of “warrior” in terms of physical skills and mindset, in the military, in today’s western society, it is not a requirement to achieving those things, and in fact, may be detrimental in some ways, even if the experience is in the SOF world. One of the things I’ve had to grapple with, albeit to a lesser degree than if my experience had been limited to say, the 82d or 101st, is correlating my experience and knowledge, to the situation I am in now.

As a general thing, I can’t comment on the specifics you questioned. One, because whatever methods we use are specific to our needs, and second because we don’t actually have specific methods that can really be articulated, without a lot of thought and introspection to recognize what they are.

I will say, specific to the “warrior” question, all of my children box, and do jitz, and shoot. All of my children do PT, including running and climbing and lifting and carrying heavy things. All of my children—and the children of the clan, to a lesser degree—hear “harden the fuck up, and quit crying” regularly, when they suffer minor physical aches and pains. Psychological stuff, like their grandpa dying, we encourage crying, to deal with grief, but we’re also very matter-of-fact about those things. Death shouldn’t be foreign, which it is for way too many Americans. Actual physical injury, like a broken bone or something? I’m not going to get pissed at my kid for crying when they break a bone, but I’m not about to let them scream incoherently about it either.

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I noticed a match safe in your ‘junk on the bunk’ posts.  Have you come across a good brand of matches that are NOT storm proof?  The storm proof ones leave a nasty taste when I light my pipe (same reason I don’t carry a zippo).
Not really. The matches we have at the house, that aren’t hurricane matches, are the cheap boxes of matches you can buy at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. I suppose you could go really old-school, and use a flint and steel, with a piece of char cloth?

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Too often, whether I am discussing things with people, face-to-face, or I am reading a “prepper porn” novel, the assumption is made that a “grid down” event is going to cause the same level of cataclysm, everywhere. This is the psychological opposing equal of the bright, progressive, globalist future, where everyone will have three cars, computer implants, a supercomputer cellphone, synthetic food, produced out of the cellphone, and a nice crackerbox house in the suburbs.

While such a collapse, theoretically at least, could possibly, conceivably, happen, via some sort of deux ex machina, black swan type of scenario, the fact is 5000 years of recorded history, pretty clearly illustrates that it probably isn’t likely. What is far more likely is the “decline and fall of Rome” Part Deux, that we are witnessing.

As the federal regime loses more and more legitimacy in the eyes of the populace, people look to local solutions and leaders, both official and unofficial, to provide them guidance. An example of the increasing loss of federal legitimacy can be seen in the bipartisan response to the alleged suicide of accused child sex trafficker, and political affiliate Jeffrey Epstein the other day.

Now, a child molester, knowing without a doubt that he is getting a lifetime worth of convictions, committing suicide? Absolutely possible. Even common. He was pulled off suicide watch, apparently within the normal SOP of the facility, and even on suicide watch, people routinely manage to off themselves with some regularity.

Did he kill himself, or was he murdered? Fuck if I know. I wasn’t there. I wouldn’t even bother to guess, or worry about it, because it doesn’t affect me, a single solitary bit.

What I do find interesting however, is the fact that, even within the political class, there is a lot of discussion about the possibility—probability—of his death having been a murder, via a conspiracy. While I’ve seen theories put forth that POTUS was behind it, the far more common theory, even from the Left side of the faux spectrum, is that it was at the behest of the Deep State generally, and the Clintons specifically. Now, I would expect that from most conservatives, and even libertarians (who, really, in my experience, do tend to be Conservatives that wanna smoke pot), but when aggressively Leftist liberals are spouting that, it is pretty clear that the legitimacy of the federal government, in the eyes of the people, is increasingly illegitimate.

What does that have to do with collapse though? It doesn’t happen the same way, everywhere. Even in something as “universally cataclysmic” as a CME or EMP, different people are going to have different resulting impacts, and as a result, different communities are going to have differing impacts. The same, certainly, applies to the far more likely (since it’s already happening), collapse of American imperial hegemony around the globe.

Just because employment in your area is available, and there’s housing, doesn’t mean that is true elsewhere, even a county or two away. Roads in my area are, for the most part, remarkably good. We have a pretty good tax base, and the industry in the area demands good roads for shipping, and so their employees stay happy. On the other hand, if I drive a county away, to the Interstate, I see a road that looks fit for the Third World, and the surface streets are even worse. Does that mean the collapse is on us? Or, does that mean, since I’ve got good roads, the collapse is not going to happen?

Don’t assume that what works in one context—my mountain top, rural farm, for example—isn’t going to work somewhere else. What is necessary somewhere else—like a large urban inner-city—isn’t even going to be necessary here. When we look at situationally contextual planning considerations, we need to take into consideration, not only what our environmental needs are, but what the likely impacts of various collapse scenarios are going to be.

As an example, in a total economic collapse, so beloved of prepper porn authors, where trucks aren’t running, and people are starving, or living off stored rice, how likely is it that Joel Salatin’s community is going to have a lot of starving people? Not very. They may have issues with securing the produce, but they’re not going to have a problem with having food.

Portland, Oregon, for all of its problems, has a gravity-fed municipal water system. While there may be issues with some of the high-rises downtown, most of municipal Portland isn’t going to have an issue with water procurement. That doesn’t mean they’re not going to have a lot of problems (evidenced by the fact they already do), but that’s something they probably don’t have to worry too much about.

Think about context. Always.