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Living a Barbarian Life: Don’t Settle for the Mediocrity of the Minimum

Originally published 6NOV16.

We, as products of western civilization, tend to hold the view of “barbarians” as uncouth, slovenly, unindustrious hillbillies. This, despite the fact that there are artifacts of the barbarian past that we still cannot explain the construction of, outside of attributing it to “space aliens.” Yet, without the specialist divisions of labor inherent to civilization, our barbarian forebears managed to not only feed and clothe their families, they managed to develop their mental faculties to a degree that allowed them to develop many of the cultural values we tend to hold dear even today (because, as I pointed out in Forging the Hero, the values we tend to hold up as the most cherished of “American values” are NOT Roman, but were originally Celto-Germanic tribal traditions that survived the Imperial period).

The fact is, those ancestors of ours were very industrious and productive…they just didn’t produce the same things, in the same industries that the urban civilizations did. That doesn’t make their contributions less valuable, unless your metric of value is how long a relic lasts, even after it is no longer useful.

I had a conversation with an acquaintance the other day, whom we will refer to as Bill, that led to some startling revelations for me, about my own world views, and the vast gulf that apparently exists between exactly how barbaric (by which I mean, “foreign,” rather than “vicious”) compared to most people in contemporary American civilization. It was ironic, because this conversation happened shortly after I had seen a meme on social media that said, “My goal is to create a life a I don’t need a vacation from.” I HAVE a life I don’t WANT a vacation from…and that is pretty damned foreign to people, apparently, So, this article is a brief discussion, based on the conversation I had with Bill, about how I’ve gone about creating that life. Best of all, it’s a life that I can continue, regardless of what happens in International Geopolitics in the coming days, weeks, and months.

Bill works, like most people, 40 hours a week, at a relatively stress free job. He’s not in a management position, and his job, while mildly physical, is not particularly strenuous. It’s not like he’s digging the Erie Canal with a spade and a wheelbarrow. He’s not logging virgin old-growth forest with a two-man crosscut saw and a fucking ax. He’s in a climate-controlled building, and isn’t expected to life more than about 50 pounds.

Despite that, he claimed—and his wife verified—that he is “so exhausted’ when he gets home, that he can only spend an hour or two with his kids before he goes to bed for the night.

If a person “has” to work forty hours a week, “for the man,” to pay their bills, I get it. We all got bills to pay, and not everyone is cut out for entrepreneurship. I’ve had regular day jobs in the past (although, to be honest, I’ve NEVER had a 40-hours per week job, except in high school. I’ve always worked a minimum of 50-60 hours a week, when I worked for wages). I even have a “regular” job now, although I do work for myself (I don’t make a full-time living as a writer or as a trainer, and I’m not interested in doing so in either case). The difference between Bill and I—and all of our successful ancestors throughout the past—is that I don’t stop at 1700.

I started writing this blog while I was working a 70-80 hours per week job, that had me outdoors, summer and winter, in Wyoming, doing hard physical labor. Lifted loads could go as high as 100+ pounds, even in the middle of the night, in a snowstorm. The blog of course, resulted in teaching some classes on the side, followed by THREE books, all while working a regular, “real” job at the same time. While neither the blog—which I have never monetized—the books, nor the classes have been profitable enough to provide a sole income, they have offered enough extra to allow me to take the risk to go to work for myself, doing something that I really enjoy. It certainly didn’t reduce my working hours though.

I have another acquaintance, that I know through my clan, who is in his mid-50s. His name is Bob. Bob was recently bitching to me about how he’s worked “hard” all his life, and wants to retire, because he “deserves” it, after working so hard all of his life. Here’s the catch though, Bob doesn’t have any retirement savings. Without delving into the lack of providence and good judgment THAT implies, the fact is—and I’ve known Bob since I was a kid—the dude, in point of fact, did NOT “work hard” his entire life, by any objective metric. He worked 40 hours a week, sitting on his ass, and took his two weeks of paid vacation every year. If he wasn’t at work, he was sitting on is ass, watching television and drinking cheap beer. He and his wife collected food stamps and every other source of welfare aid they could finagle out of the government as they “raised” four children.

I’m gonna tell you right now, if you consider working 40 hours a week as “working hard,” don’t look to me for sympathy at your life failures. Don’t look to your ancestors for sympathy. Don’t look to the Founding Fathers for sympathy. In that case, the only place you’ll find sympathy is in the dictionary. It’s right between “shit” and “syphilis.”

I’m not saying a dude has to go out and get a second job for wages, but if your metric of “success” in life is being able to come home, after working an eight hour shift, and sitting on your couch, eating pretzels and drinking a case of beer, you DESERVE to live in the shitty trailer you live in.

The third problem that Bill brought up, before I got sick of listening to his bitching, and told him to shut the fuck up, he didn’t recognize as a problem either. He thought he was doing “good.” I was trying to help the dude out, to figure out why he was stuck living in a shithole duplex that was falling apart around his family, despite “working hard” at his 40 hours a week job. So, I asked how much they were paying for rent. When he told me, “$500,” and I knew he clears close to $30K a year, I just about choked on my Copenhagen. I mean, I was legitimately confused. How can you bitch about being broke, when you make over $30,000 a year, and only pay a fifth of it, per year, in rent? That doesn’t add up, at all.

Well, it turns out, when you pay over $1500 a month to the local Rent-To-Own joint, in an attempt to “build up your credit,” making ends meet at the end of the month gets a lot more challenging. I bought my wife a television a few years ago. It’s the first television I’d ever owned in my life. As I recall, I paid right around $700 for it. 60” flat screen, new-in-the box. Well, as it so happens, Bill and his wife “own” the exact same model of television…they’ve paid $150 per month, every month, for the last two years, to pay it off, and they still owe money on it. Now, mathematics was never my strong suit in school, but…

My wife found a beautiful, all leather, five piece living room suite of furniture a couple years ago, on Craigslist. We paid like $400 for it. Meanwhile, Bill and his wife “bought” an upholstered, three cushion couch, at the RTO store…they pay $250 a month for it…and have been paying for it for the last eighteen months (and his wife told me, they still have to pay for another year!). When I asked why the fuck they were paying that much for so little, I got the typical lower-class response of, “Well, we’re trying to build up our credit scores!”

Aghast, and more than a little sick to my stomach at their utter stupidity, I hastened to point out three things to Bill and his wife, that I had assumed were common knowledge among everyone over the age of, I don’t know, twenty-five?

  1. Most Rent-To-Own places do NOT report to the credit bureaus, so even if you do make your payments every month, it doesn’t do fuck all for your credit score.
  2. The last time I financed anything was a pick-up, in the mid-1990s, when I was a young NCO. Seriously, I’ve never financed ANYTHING since, until my wife and I bought land (more on that later). Despite that, when we started looking at property, I got a credit report. My score was well over 700. See, as it turns out, while the Rent-To-Own places, like the Buy Here, Pay Here used car lots, do NOT report to the credit bureaus, the utility companies actually do…so, if you pay your bills on time, you end up with a good credit score, even if you’re not buying a bunch of shit on credit. Since I’m not throwing my money away on finance charges for overpriced bullshit, I can manage to pay my bills on time.
  3. Why exactly are you trying to “build your credit score?” Bill and his wife claimed they might want to buy property, or a house, or a car, in the future. What I can guarantee, is that, at the rate they’re going, they will never be purchasing real estate, period. They’re not going to be able to come up with the money for a down payment…

So, let’s analyze the situation Bill and his wife find themselves in, and I’ll offer some tried-and-true, apparently VERY barbaric solutions to them…

First of all, we’ve got a dude, in his early 30s, with a fuck-all easy job, working a mere 40 hours a week, who needs in excess of 13 hours of sleep every night. I get needing to sleep in occasionally…like once a month…maybe even once a week, even, but if you religiously need more than eight hours of sleep every night, in your 30s? You need a fucking doctor’s appointment, because you are ill. I—and most of the successful people I know—average between 4 and 6 hours of sleep most nights, with the occasional eight hour night, once a month or so. If I sleep ten hours, I wake up feeling like shit, because I’ve slept too much and dicked up my diurnal rhythms.

Fixing this is going to be a three-part task for Bill, or anyone in the same predicament.

  1. Start eating healthier. This isn’t about “eating Paleo,” although that’s a damned fine idea, cheaper than the processed “meals” and fast-food he is currently surviving on, and generally helps a lot. Every time I go off Paleo, even for a meal, I pay a heavy price for it in physical and mental sluggishness, intestinal distress, and lost productivity, sitting on the toilet, shitting my brains out.

    This is about eating real food. Granted, his wife will probably have to learn how to cook. Simple enough, she knows how to read, at least at a high school level, and can presumably do basic mathematics. Look up some recipes, and get to it. It’s not like she’s got a fucking job anyway, in today’s shit economy. It will also require retraining their children to eat real food, rather than the shit they’ve grown up with. Here’s the thing though…Even buying grass-fed beef and farm-fresh, free-range, organic eggs (the latter from a neighbor until our new batch of hens start laying), we can buy a week’s worth of Paleo diet groceries for less than $150, for our family of four. If we eat out, at any place that is NOT fast-food, we’re looking at $30-40 per meal, minimum, and even fast-food is anywhere from $20-30 a meal.

  2. Start doing some PT. I’m not talking about some sort of hard core, John Mosby, The Reluctant Partisan PT regimen. I’m not talking about Forging The Hero stuff here. I’m talking about being fit enough that you don’t need to sleep thirteen-motherfucking-hours a night! Most of the people I know who are even remotely physically fit find six hours of sleep a night ideal, and only push it to eight hours a night if they are in the midst of a particularly grueling training cycle, and need it for post-workout recovery. How much more could you accomplish in your life with an extra SEVEN hours per day? Dude is wasting that much, being so unfit that he needs 13 hours of sleep every night…
    Even if he just walked to the park with his kids, and played on the monkey bars and slides with them, he’d get physical benefit from it (and for the record, Bill is not overweight, let alone obese. He’s just unhealthy unfit.)
  3. Practice a little self-discipline. Initially, coming off a too-long sleep cycle is going to be a pain-in-the-ass. It’s really easy to roll over and slap the snooze button a dozen times, or to just turn the alarm clock off. It’s too easy to decide, “Oh, I feel a little, tired. I’m gonna go to bed early tonight.” Don’t succumb. Live up to the gifts of the past and practice a smidgen of your ancestral self-discipline. If you go even a week, forcing yourself to only sleep 6-8 hours a week, while eating healthier, and doing a little bit to get yourself fitter, you’re going to find it easy after that. Just do it.

Second, we’ve got a dude who thinks 40 hours a week, at a stress-free job, is “working hard.” Fixing his health and fitness will go a long way towards remedying that. Then, he’s got to decide what to do with that extra time he’s created in his day. Civilized people, of course, according to modern civilized values, would choose to watch television, surf the Internet, or go drink beer in the yard with their buddies.

The barbarian answer is different: create something of value for your family and tribe! Maybe Bill could find a second, part-time job. Better, he could find something he either enjoys—or even hates, but is good at—and create a side business. It might not pay much, especially initially, but even a little bit is better than nothing—which is exactly how much you make, sitting on your ass, watching television, while drinking beer.

Don’t settle for the mediocrity of the minimum. Raise your own stature within your tribal community. Working forty hours a week should be seen as a minimum. This doesn’t mean you HAVE to go find a second job though. Anything that creates VALUE for your family counts. Remember? “Who does more is worth more!” If you put in four hours a day, after work, in the backyard with your kids, planting and tending a garden and some backyard livestock like rabbits, how much value would you add, through additional savings on your grocery bill?

Or, create your own side business! Look at your skill sets, vocationally or avocationally. How can you leverage those into some additional income? Bill likes doing mechanic work. He loves tinkering around in engines (I don’t get it. I hate that shit, but whatever…). I suggested to Bill, “Call the RTO store, and tell them to come take this shit back. Take the $250 you spend on your couch payment, and go to Goodwill, and buy a fucking used couch. Hell, the one you’re buying is used anyway, now. Take the television payment, and if it is really important that the kids get to watch cartoons, go buy a little television and a DVD player, and let them watch that. Take the money you’ve been spending on that overpriced shit, and set it aside into savings. In a month or two, go buy a piece of shit, beater car. Clean it up, tune it up, fix any broken shit, and then resell it.” Even if the profit is only a couple hundred bucks, you’ve created new value! Better, since he could be doing it in the backyard or garage, he could be spending time with his kids, and teaching them a valuable skill at the same time! Is he going to make a living off of it? Probably not. He is going to get to spend quality time with his kids though, and create value. Doing so will require not sleeping thirteen goddamned hours a night though!

Maybe you don’t have any hobbies or skills though. Maybe you went to college, got a useless degree in some stupid shit like “Underwater Basket Weaving of Lesbian Afro-Asian Cultural Groups,” and you’ve spend your entire “adulthood” in your parents’ basement, watching television and playing video games. Now though, you recognize that you need to do something, and you’d like to not live in your parents’ house anymore, because it is cramping your dating life (I’d offer that unemployment and a total lack of conversational skill about anything other than television and video games is more to blame…).

Think of something that you’d like to try, or something that might be useful later in your life. Your degree is in “Underwater Basket Weaving of Lesbian Afro-Asian Cultural Groups?” Great! Start weaving fucking baskets, and see if you can create a market for them. Yuppies are all kinds of into handicrafts and shit, right? You want to move out of your parents’ house, but cannot imagine being able to afford a house on your convenience store clerk wages? Great, do what a friend of mine did, with zero previous experience…go spend a couple hundred bucks at local pawn shops and thrift stores, and pick up some used tools. Go to the lumber store and buy some lumber. Go watch a metric fuckton of YouTube videos, and get to it. Sure, trial-and-error is a hard way to learn, but it is possible.

I know a dude who had zero woodworking experience, and is now in the finishing stages of building a timber-framed house, from the ground up…including a native stone foundation! He worked in the evenings and his days off, simply because he wanted to, and was willing to do the work, to give his family a nice home that he knew he couldn’t afford to have someone else build for him. I know a couple of different dudes who have built log houses that would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to have built, by themselves, with no previous professional carpentry experience. They were just willing to do the work, and they didn’t believe that the day ends at 1700.

It’s not just about saving money—although you might learn to make a lot of stuff you would otherwise buy, and you’re not spending that money on stupid shit like crappy “food,” and finance charges for televisions—but you might actually be able to turn it into a profitable side business that creates added value for your family and clan. My buddy the new timber-framer has already started about building small timber-framed outbuildings and guest cabins for sale…and there’s apparently a market for them, no less. Bill, that inspired this post, could be selling a car or two a month, even at a small profit, in the shit-hole economy we are in, by selling below what a dealership has to sell at to make overhead.

Third, we’ve got a dude—or a couple, actually—who has bought into the consumer materialism of contemporary civilization, and believes they have to have all this “stuff,” so they won’t be embarrassed when people come over to visit. That requires more effort than the other two, but it’s really all mental effort.

Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle! It’s environmentally friendly, no less! The crass, mercantile materialism of contemporary civilizations makes it really easy to partake of instant gratification, and all you have to do is pay far more than the products are worth! That’s something our forebears didn’t have, most of the time, and I would argue, they were far, far better off because of it. If you want a television, so you can watch The Voice? Fine. I think it’s retarded, but my wife likes to watch that show, so whatever floats your boat—Hell, I’ll even admit that I like music enough that occasionally one of the performers will make me look up from my book, when they perform well on a song I like. Don’t finance a fucking television though. Set money aside and wait until you can pay cash for it, buy a cheaper, used television, or—best of all—do without. It’s nothing but a productivity waste (in our house, I’ve found we basically have to establish rules that forbid turning it on during daylight hours, or keep everyone outside doing things, or we get sucked into it. If it hadn’t made my wife happy to be able to watch movies, I’d regret ever having bought one.)

Our truck has over 400,000 miles on. We still drive it across the country for teaching classes. Unlike Bill, I don’t like mechanic work. I actually detest it. I do it though, because we can’t afford to buy a newer vehicle, and I’ll be damned if I will finance one.

One of the big complaints I see a lot, in the whining over the state of the world, in preparedness circles, is bitching about evil bankers. Here’s the thing though…if you’re bitching about evil bankers, and you are currently paying interest payments on (almost) anything you’ve financed, you’re full of shit.

The “(almost)” is legit. I see a lot of people bitch about “owner financed properties,” but those complaints originate with the banks and realtors, because they are losing out. If you believe in “evil bankers,” but you’re opposed to “owner financed” real estate, you’re full of shit…or dumber than a box of shit. You might pay a little bit more in interest rates—or not, if you do your homework, and haggle well—and if you miss a payment, there might be less wiggle room for forgiveness than with the banks, but you’re paying that interest to a person, rather than a bank, and you have a lot more room to haggle on price than you do with a real estate agent looking for a bigger commission, or a bank representative with a board of directors to answer to.

I understand financing real estate. It’s the only thing I’m even willing to consider financing, and we did. We also got a ridiculously low interest rate, despite owner-financing, negotiated a sale price well below market value, pay a little extra every month, so we will be paid off in 2/3 the length of the note (further reducing our interest costs….), and always make our payment at least a week earlier than the due date. As a result, the seller has put in writing a change to the contract that gives us more leeway, in case we are ever late on our payments. It’s very barbaric—again, as in foreign—to modern civilization, but that is called “being responsible,” and it’s something our barbarian ancestors were intimately familiar with.

Conclusion

Seriously, quit your bitching and whining. Are the politicians, bankers, and the rest of the oligarchic class working contrary to your interests? Of course they are. So fucking what? They’ve always been doing so. Even George Washington, the patron fucking saint of America and the constitution, sent the Army to fight the agrarian yeoman of Jeffersonian Democracy during the Whiskey Rebellion. You can remain a “civilized” peasant, and bitch and whine about how unfair it is, or you can say, “fuck it!” step outside the boundaries that contemporary civilization is trying to restrain you within, and go full-on barbarian, to create your own definition of success—by being your own man—or woman—and doing what you need to do to create the life you want.

Anyone who has taken my advice to read Glubb, and Toynbee, and Spengler, should have at least begun to brush away the cobwebs of cultural myopia, and recognized, this election really doesn’t mean a damned thing. The empire IS in its death throes. Remaining a peasant, hoping the aristocracy will wake up and do the “right” thing, as you define it, is one potential path. Saying “fuck it,” following Jack Donovan’s advice, and “learning to love the battle ax,” and creating your own innangarth of shared values, customs, and traditions, with like-minded people, by forging the life YOU want, is another.

Only one of them allows you and your people to survive the death of the empire though.

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The Shooting Drill You’re Probably Not Doing Enough…

(This is an older article that I am republishing, because it came to mind, at our weekly training this weekend, when we returned to practicing this drill. We’re going to do it again this coming weekend too.)

As I watched the “tactical shooting” training industry take off in the middle of the last decade, one of the things I found bemusing was the trend to get away from simple “Snap Shot” drills, often derided as “UP!” drills, after the shooter command of “Shooter, ready? And….UP!” I watched as guys coming out of different units, both SOF and Big Green, did anything they could to move away from this very basic, almost mind-numbingly monotonous drill. I understand—and understood—that the basic snap shot drill was all too often overused, while simultaneously, and at first glance, paradoxically, underutilized.

How is THAT possible? Trainers had/have a tendency to rely on the drill—especially in the military—because it’s simple, easy to run on a square range, with a large number of moderately trained (or even barely trained) shooters. That’s good in a way, because it’s actually, as we’re going to see, a very useful drill. In many ways, I argue, it’s the single most important drill you can do for effective combat shooting.

The problems arise—and they still arise for many, if not most, shooters and instructors—due to a piss-poor understanding of how to leverage the maximum amount of benefit out of the drill. When it simply becomes a rote thing, with no metrics for performance—and thus improvement—it loses the vast, vast majority of its benefit.

The Benefits

So, how can the most basic, beginner level drill you can run actually be the MOST important drill you can run? Well, first of all, as any good shooter, and all the great shooters, will tell you, advanced shooting skills are simply a mastery of the fundamentals. That’s obvious though, right?

The single most important shot you will take in a fight—and it doesn’t matter what gun you’re running—is the first shot of the fight. It needs to be accurate enough, and arrive soon enough, to rob the opposition of the initiative. So, developing speed and accuracy for the first shot is critical. Best way to do that? Master the snap shot drill.

But, what about all the cool-guy, go-faster drills that have you performing mag-dump after mag-dump on the range, focused on split-times, transitions between targets, and all the other “chicks-dig-it” Jedi gunfighter tricks?

I’m not saying those are not important. They are. What I’m saying is…

1) If you hit the dude in the dick…or the face…or well, really, anywhere, it’s going to buy you a margin of time. If your split-times are slow, but you’ve “interrupted his OODA loop” by putting a 5.56mm hole in his penis, guess what? You’re probably going to get a chance to shoot him again, even with a slow split-time.

Yes, you should be able to engage with multiple, aimed rounds, at a high rate of fire. Nevertheless, getting that first hit will go a long way towards allowing you to get the others, even if they’re not sub-half second splits.

2) One of the most important things we learn when we do “snap shot” drills CORRECTLY, is exactly how much precision we need in order to get as fast as we can get, at different ranges. I need a lot less precision to get a head shot in less than one second at 10 meters than I do to get a torso shot in less than one second at 100 meters… This carries over to target-to-target transitions, because our neural pathways between eyes, brain, and trigger finger, are being exercised and trained to recognize how much precision is “enough.”

3) Building the neural pathways to build a solid, stable, durable firing position that will allow you to get a first-round hit at various ranges, as fast as possible, will facilitate all the other shooting skills you need with that particular weapon.

But, How Do I Do It Right?

The first step in utilizing snap drills to their full benefit is establishing metrics. HOW are you going to define success? Just by hitting an E-Type silhouette? That’s the standard that caused a metric shit-ton of heartache with most of the military, when the military started recognizing the importance of CQM shooting. Hitting an E-Type silhouette is simply not adequate. Hitting an E-Type silhouette at 10-25M is a really, really bad joke.

So, step one is defining a more challenging target. If you’re shooting snaps at 10-25M, or closer, focus on a target the size of an index card or smaller. Since I’m kind of a lazy bastard, and don’t want to walk downrange every shot, to check my target, I just use a 6” steel plate.

At 50-100+ meters, I genuinely believe a C-zone silhouette is adequate. If you look at the size of it, it’s roughly the same size as the center portion of the upper thoracic cavity of an adult male. That’s “enough” precision, even at 200 meters. If you end up being a little outside in the real world? A rifle round will still fuck his week up, and it will generally slow him down enough to allow you a follow-up shot. Further, there’s nothing stopping you from painting a smaller circle on the C-zone to refine it further. Once I had my snap shots consistently under 0.9 seconds on a C-zone, at 100M from the standing, I started using an 8” steel circle instead. When that’s consistently a comfortable level below the one-second mark, I’ll drop to a 6” steel at that distance.

One issue that we see a lot in training people who have a traditional American view of what marksmanship is–”I kin shoot a gnat off a fly’s ass at 300 yards, by Gawd!”—is that they want MORE precision than is actually necessary. This of course, sounds like heresy, but it’s really not. We all love precision shooting. I like printing a one-hole group with 10 rounds at 100 meters. Unfortunately, that level of precision takes more time than we probably have, when the other dude is trying to get his “comments” into the conversation. He will probably not be overly concerned about placing his shots precisely in your heart, but even if he “just” shoots you in the leg or arm, it’s going to have a seriously detrimental effect on your precision anyway, so you HAVE to learn to know what is—and accept—“good enough.”

This issue most commonly arises, in my experience, when guys are running optics. I love optics. I will never willingly move to the sound of the guns with a rifle that is not equipped with decent optics. Unfortunately however, people have to understand that just because you CAN be more precise with optics doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always the RIGHT choice. So, one aspect of utilizing the snap drill is accepting that “perfect” really IS the enemy of “good enough.” This isn’t an attack on precision shooting, or even a suggestion that precision should be ignored. I still spend a lot of time, every range session, working on precision, and once I’m able to shoot “fast enough” and “precise enough,” then I can change my definition of “precise enough” to something more challenging.

So, step one in correctly utilizing the snap drill is establishing an EFFECTIVE level of “precise enough.” Once you have established what your standard of “precise enough” is, stick to it, but start focusing on achieving it faster. How fast is “fast enough?” I can’t tell you that. If you’re stuck fighting a guy who is really not committed, and is a lousy shooter, five or six seconds might be “fast enough.” On the other hand, if you’ve got a trained, aggressive shooter, with a lot of gunfights under his belt, sub-1:00 second might barely be fast enough… or it might not be fast enough.

Generally speaking, I tell people that, realistically, from the standing, low ready, they need to be able to move into any given firing position, and engage a target of the above dimensions with at least one aimed shot, in less than three seconds. Why?

Because, doctrinally, we teach the use of a 3-5 second rush, and under fire, that really does tend to shorten towards the three second end of the spectrum, for obvious reasons. If I can get a hit in less than three seconds, on a reduced-size target, when reacting to a cue, and the dude takes three seconds to get to a position of cover, then I’ve got a pretty solid chance of actually getting at least one round into him. Whether that one round drops him where he is, or he gets to cover, and then tries to move again, it’s still PROBABLY—GENERALLY—going to slow his roll a little bit, increasing the odds that I’m going to get to hit him again.

Anyone of reasonable health and fitness can achieve a sub-3:00 second first round hit snap drill, even if they’re dropping into the prone. Seriously, if you can’t, with even just an hour or two of training and practice…..take up cooking. You’ll be a lot more useful to everyone, and you’ll live longer.

Realistically though, ultimately, you should be pushing that speed barrier, as long as you’re still shooting “precise enough.” When you find a barrier that you can’t get faster than, without missing, it’s time to focus on solidifying your skill at that speed. Focus on performing the skill properly, at speed, and pretty soon, you’ll be able to break your new barrier. This is not about “how fast can I shoot.” It’s about “how fast can I shoot properly?” As the old adage goes, “you can’t miss fast enough to win.”

I don’t consider myself particularly gifted athletically. I have to work my ass off for everything athletic I do. If I can consistently break sub-1:00 snaps at 100m, and sub-2:00 snaps dropping to the prone, there’s no reason anyone cannot.

The problem with time metrics on the snap drill that has often arisen in the military, is the lack of emphasis on that metric. For entirely too long, the mantra has always been “slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.” While appealing, it’s only partially true. Yes, in order to go fast, you’re going to have to have smooth, well-developed biomechanics. Unless you’re willing to push your speed until your biomechanics start being “not smooth” though, and then focus on smooth again, at that speed, you’re just engaged in martial masturbation. It’s like doing a kata or something, with the rifle.

The drawback to the time metric though, is that it becomes THE GOAL. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s just a metric. It’s a way to measure your performance. That’s the problem with standards. If you establish them low enough for people to achieve easily, they achieve that and say, “Meh. Good enough.” If you set them high enough that they might actually be, well…”good enough,” then people get discouraged and give up. So….your “standard” is “precise enough,” as fast as you can…and then a little faster.

It’s Not About Shooting Faster

The purpose of the snap drill is genuinely not about shooting “faster.” In the real world, shooting faster actually tends to have rather deleterious effects, like shooting the wrong fucking person, because you shot before you recognized that it was your 12-year old, and NOT a MS13 gunslinger.

Our goal is to shoot “sooner.” What’s the difference? Shooting sooner is about working the problem correctly, and only making legitimate shots, as soon as possible. That requires more than a fast target acquisition and a quick trigger finger though. It involves knowing and understanding what the parameters are that allow for a legitimate shot, in your circumstances, and then—and ONLY THEN—breaking a FAST, ACCURATE shot. Being able to recognize what is “precise enough,” and then delivering it “fast enough,” wil allow you to shoot sooner, AFTER the decision-making process has allowed you to positively identify your target as a legitimate target.

The time metric just forces you to accept “accurate enough,” instead of pushing for “precision.”

Snap drills will develop your ability to make the decision “THIS is accurate enough,” at the speed you’re capable of making the hit. Whether it’s the first shot of the fight, or it’s the first shot on the last bad guy still standing; even if it’s the second or third or fourth shot in a string of shots to put a motherfucker on the pavement, that recognition of “THIS is accurate ENOUGH” is valuably developed with snap drills for a time metric.
Conclusions

No one is suggesting—or at least, I’m not suggesting—that you shouldn’t perform other drills (Hell, I offer a twice-monthly drill subscription!). The basic snap drill however, should be—and should remain—a bread-and-butter staple of your training diet. It will increase your ability to deliver a solid, first shot hit that may allow you more time to get follow-on hits. It will increase your ability to recognize “this is accurate enough” under the stress of time constraints.

I often tell people in classes—and I believe it to the depths of my soul—other than a firearm (and a holster, if we’re talking about handgun work), the single most important training tool you have available to you is a shot timer. While ammunition is obviously necessary for live-fire training, I’d take a guy who has a shit ton of good dry-fire training on a shot timer, over the dude who has plinked at targets with live-fire, but no metric of performance, any day of the week and twice—maybe thrice—on Sundays.

This article was originally published on 14FEB16. I have been thinking about it a lot lately, because my kids are older, and I’m more and more impressed with them, daily. I’ve updated this article in a couple of places, with the updates highlighted. Overall though, I stand by this article, 110%.

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One of the prize-winning article requests was: “engagement/psychological preparation of children/youth in your planning and preparations—what the hell are you going to do with TMO?”

The following article is actually an excerpt from the working draft of the new book. It is not the exact content in the finished book, but pretty close. Mostly, just the layout is changed, to fix contextual issues that only make sense if you’ve read the six and a half chapters that lead up to this point, before getting into the training-specific aspects of the book.

For most people, the mental image that arises with the term “feral children,” is the boomerang-chucking little mute kid in the Mad Max: Road Warrior. Sociologically, the term “feral children” however refers specifically to children who live isolated from human contact from a very young age. This leads to a lack of cultural behaviors and understanding, including care and language. While historically, many feral children have been abandoned or confined by their parents as a rejection of intellectual or physical handicaps, there are cross-cultural mythological examples of feral children growing into successful adults. From the Roman foundation myth of Romulus and Remus, to the modern fiction examples of Kipling’s Mowgli, and Burrough’s Tarzan, we can reflect back to the earlier point from this book that “myth is history, told better.”

In the mythological examples, we see children with relatively normal levels of human intelligence and physicality, growing into a superior being, because of their enhanced physical attributes and survival instincts that have not been dulled by exposure to social behavioral norms. Of course, this concept is closely tied to the “noble savage,” or “Myth of the Golden Age,” but it also offers an extremely useful approach for developing cultural identity and raising children that will continue the survival of cultural values and tribal identity.

Feral is derived from the Latin “ferusmeaning “wild.” It is specifically defined as “untamed; undomesticated; hence, wild; savage.” A more contemporary edition of Webster’s includes “having escaped from domestication and become wild.The issue then becomes, “who is defining ‘untamed,’ ‘undomesticated,’ and ‘wild?’” If we allow the imperial culture to define those terms for us, then most “traditional American values” are now the realm of “wild” and “savage” people, because they do not fit the cultural norms of the imperial culture. To the Roman imperial culture, the Celto-Germanic barbarians were—by definition—wild and savage and undomesticated, because they did not adhere to the customs and traditions of imperial culture.

Yet, even in the Roman example, we look at the foundation myth of Romulus and Remus, and we see a glimmer of memory of the barbarian, uncivilized youth of Roman cultural identity. We must strive for the same. We must strive to raise children who are not constrained by the morals and regulations of imperial culture, but instead, who are constrained by the cultural values of our tribes’ values and so, live in frið with the rest of the tribe—whether kin-group or sodality—increasing the chances that those customs and traditions will survive the death throes of the declining empire.

There are three basic aspects, in my understanding, to raising feral children (It is absolutely critical to understand that, to some degree, this section is largely hypothetical for me. While we do raise our children this way, our oldest is still primary-school aged. By the time she is a teenager, or young adult, we may have realized we were complete fucking retards on the subject, and ruined our child’s life through shitty parenting.—Update #1: Several years later, I stand by this article. My kids are amazing. They are healthy, intelligent, well-spoken, and will not take bullshit from anybody, including their parents.). The first of these, as in all things, is leading by example. We cannot expect our children to internalize the cultural values we profess, if we do not provide the moral exemplar for them to look up to. At best, in such cases, we can only hope that, by setting such a shitty example, our children are repulsed by it, and strive to achieve a life opposite our own, thus actually succeeding at living the values we professed, but did not live.

If you profess to believe in critical thinking and logical decision-making, as a cultural value, you cannot get angry and scream at your child to “shut the fuck up, and don’t question your parents!After all, by questioning the basis for not only your decisions, but even the basis of your authority to make those decisions, the child is successfully implementing the critical-thinking you profess a desire for them to learn. If your cultural value is that parents are, ipso facto, the source of all right thinking in the family, in the tradition of the patria potestas, that is fine. You’re a fucking moron, but that is fine too (let’s face it. We all know parents who are considerably less intelligent than their children. Case in point? You humble author). However, if you expect your child to learn critical thinking skills, you’d damned well better be able to explain to them that there is actually a philosophical basis for your parental authority. (Update #2: This doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally tell my kids to “shut the fuck up…for like 10 minutes….please…just stop talking for the next ten minutes…” What it does mean is, they’re allowed to question us about our reasons for doing or saying things. Sometimes the answer is not what they want to hear, but I try to always give them an answer.)

If you profess to believe in the virtue of health and fitness to the survival of your tribe, then your children had probably ought not see you spending every available moment of free time, sitting in front of the television or the computer screen. While some time with either tool is not even noteworthy, your children should see you engaging in activities—and probably should be participating themselves—that validate your professed belief in health and fitness.

The second aspect is the inculcation of critical-thinking skills. If we accept that wisdom and good judgment are the basis of good fortune for both the individual and the clan, then it seems self-evident that teaching basic critical-thinking skills—logic—is a fundamental prerequisite of training our children to be leaders of their own generations within the tribe. If we teach our children legitimate logic and critical-thinking skills, they are less likely to find themselves coerced into actions inimical to their best interests and the best interests of the clan, through political and corporate marketing schemes that play on falsely created emotion.

The third aspect, directly related to the above, is the absolutely essential requirement of homeschooling our children. While this is often attacked by many within the preparedness movement as “impractical” for “most” people, that—in itself—is a failure of critical thinking and judgment. The typical reason provided for declaring homeschooling to be “impractical” is the “need” for two incomes, and the resulting inability for one parent to stay home. That is completely a function of surrender to the marketing of imperial corporate cultural programming. If removing Mom from the workforce requires a downsize of housing or material lifestyle, what are you losing?

  1. Oh, I don’t want my children to feel deprived!This concern is an admission that you are allowing others to define the cultural values of your children. If your children are raised to value family connections and values over material wealth, how could they feel deprived by the opportunity to spend more time with their family? It is only when we see our children corrupted by the corporate advertising of the imperial culture—through public schooling, whether from teachers or their “peers,” or through television and other media marketing—that we see this raised as a concern.

  2. Well, what would the neighbors think!?Who gives a shit? Unless those neighbors are part of your kith-and-kin, in which case, they should—by definition—share your cultural values and traditions, the opinions of your neighbors should be completely irrelevant to you. If they are of your tribe, and share your cultural values, and they voice opposition to your homeschooling, I would offer that there are two issues potentially raising their head: a) they do not, in fact, share your cultural values, at least in this specific area, in which case, you should reconsider where you’ve placed the boundaries of your tribal identity, or, alternatively (and possibly more likely) b) maybe they are not making a comment on your values, but on your ability to adequately teach those professed values. Perhaps, in the latter case, it is not the neighbors you are actually concerned about, but the unconscious understanding that you’re a fucking retard, and have no business trying to educate your children, if you are truly concerned about the survival of the tribe, rather than your own ego (Update #3: While the vast, vast majority of homeschooling parents we’ve met have been amazing people, I’m not gonna lie. I’ve met a few that even I genuinely believed their kids would be better off in public institutions.)

  3. There is no way my wife would go for that!” Like both of the aforementioned “concerns,” this actually illustrates nothing more than a failure of basic critical-thinking skills and good judgment. In the first place, it is a failure of critical thinking on the part of your wife, relative to the goal of survival of the tribe—and thus, of her own children. If your wife recognizes her role as the cultural arbiter of morality—in her role as the keeper of the hearth—then there is really no sound basis for refusing the role of homeschooling teacher for your own children. Does she believe that her income, as a method of funding more purchases of material goods, to assuage her guilt for not being home to raise her children, is more important than, well…being home to raise her children?

    This of course, reflects back on the other side of the poor judgment involved. If you are a husband who is married to a woman that does not share your cultural values and customs, you demonstrated a remarkable lack of good judgment in marrying her in the first place, didn’t you? The reciprocal is equally true of course. If you are a wife, who is married to a husband who insists that you cannot afford to stay home and take care of the children, because of financial considerations, and you believe that passing on the cultural values of your kith-and-kin is the most essential role you have in life…then you’re a fucking idiot for marrying his ass in the first place.

    The common retort to this that I often hear from critics is, “Well, I don’t believe in divorce! That’s a cultural value.This is often offered as a defense for an unsuitable pairing that occurred because of youthful indiscretions and the lady of the house getting “knocked up.” I get it. Shotgun weddings are still a very real thing where I live. I’m not even referring to the morality or immorality of premarital sex(for me to protest premarital sex as immoral would require a level of ironic hypocrisy that even I am fundamentally incapable of) What we are referring to here is the “Well, she got knocked up, so I did the right thing by her and the kid.Make no mistake, I agree this is the appropriate response. For better or for worse, you’ve passed on your DNA, and have—in my personal belief—a moral obligation to ensure the best possible outcome for the child. However, none of this removes the guilt of piss-poor judgment from your moral load. Now, because you lacked the good judgment to use a better form of birth control, or to abstain from premarital sex, you find yourself saddled with a spouse who does not share your cultural values. Undoubtedly, this was a result of the programmed conditioning you received in your own life, leading you to fall for a pretty face or a hard body. In the heat of the moment, good judgment and critical-thinking skills often fall victim to “damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!So, now you’re stuck, watching your children raised in the teaching of a culture completely foreign to your own values and traditions, with the forlorn hope that maybe—hopefully—you will be able to reverse that programming in the brief interludes you have with your children, at supper and on the weekends. Of course, at the same time you are struggling to achieve this, your efforts are being very effectively countered not only by the official programming of the public education system, but also of the unofficial programming of exposure to peer-group children with similarly contradictory values to your own tribal cultural values.

There are of course, despite these refutations, instances where it is not practical or practicable for mother to stay home and teach (Honestly, I don’t have a fucking clue what they might be, but people keep insisting to me that there are…). In such cases, in the tribal approach to surviving the decline of empire, we have a ready-made alternative, in the origin of education in much of America, when a local community built their own school, and hired a school teacher to come teach their children. In such cases, we have the opportunity to select a teacher that teaches lessons that correspond to your cultural values.

While the obvious example of this is private schools, whether secular or parochial, there is a less obvious example. That is simply, in cooperation and collaboration with others in your tribe, selecting a member of the tribe to act as the community schoolteacher, at least for the primary grades. It is, in effect, a return to the one-room schoolhouse model of yore (Yes, I am specifically talking about an obsolete, archaic system—that resulted in literacy rates estimated to hover steadily above 94%, versus current statistics, which hover between 80-85%, depending on how strictly you define ‘literacy.’).

We see the effectiveness of this educational model described by French emigre Pierre Samuel duPont de Nemours (Pierre Samuel was the father of Éleuthére Irénée du Pont, founder of the DuPont company.), who, in 1812, penned an interesting little booklet on National Education in the United States of America (Available in digital format, courtesy of the University of Michigan, at: http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015030974144;view=1up;seq=7) wherein he pointed out, “The United States are more advanced in their educational facilities than most countries…they have a large number of primary schools; and as their paternal affection protects children from working in the fields, it is possible to send them to the schoolmasters—a condition which does not prevail in Europe…most young Americans, therefore, can read, write, and cipher. Not more than four in a thousand are unable to write legibly—even neatly…the Bible is read; it is considered a duty to read it to children; and in that form of religion the sermons and liturgy in the language of the people tend to increase and formulate ideas of responsibility. Controversy, also, has developed argumentation and has thus give room for the exercise of logic…In America, a great number of people read the Bible, and all the people read a newspaper. The fathers read aloud to their children, while breakfast is being prepared—a task which occupies the mothers for three quarters of an hour every morning. And as the newspapers of the United States are filled with all sorts of narratives…they disseminate an enormous amount of information.

What we see then, is a historical model of community- and family-based education, predicated on the local community’s shared values, that led to the growth of the most powerful culture in the human experience. Perhaps—just perhaps—it is time to return to that model, on the local, community and tribal level, to ensure the survival of our cultural values?

Ultimately, the goal of survival preparedness, if we use “I want to survive!” is a dead end. You are not going to survive. Whether that is in the long-term or the short-term is largely predicated on your ability to develop the types of strong tribal ties that allowed your ancestors to survive the decline of previous empires. Simply building a gang of fellow preppers may be adequate to ensure survival in the short-term, at least until someone comes along who offers more benefit to your friends-of-convenience. In order to survive for the long-term, you need to develop that level of loyalty among your kith-and-kin—or within the intentional tribe of a sodality. Even then however, you can only survive to the end of your natural lifespan. The continuation of your cultural values requires passing on those values to the next generations. That requires strong families, with children who are indoctrinated in the values of the clan’s culture.

By providing the example to your children, of how to live in accordance with those values, and by educating them with the skills and lessons of those values, you provide the greatest opportunity for not only their—and your—short-term survival, but also for the long-term survival of your culture. That requires, as in all other aspects of life, emigrating “outside” of the metaphorical borders of the decadent, dying imperial culture’s definition of “modern family values.”

Update #4: Start early, and give your children responsibilities, and make them take responsibility for it. Give them room on the leash. My oldest is 7 now. She has, since before she was six, been responsible, every day, for feeding the rabbits, the chickens (and collecting eggs), the dog, and the cats, both house cats and barn cats. If the weather is REALLY bad, I will help her with those chores, but they are her chores, and her responsibility. There is no punishment or consequence for not doing them, because they have to be done. So, she does it.

One of the perks of being responsible is, she gets to do stuff on her own during the day, at times. She spends a lot of time, in the woods, by herself (I did too, at that age). She has a little haversack with survival gear in it. We spend time occasionally, learning how to use her survival gear more efficiently, but she has a Swiss Army Knife that she received on her 5th birthday. I told her, when she got it, “If you cut yourself with this, you lose it for 10 days. If you cut anyone else with it, I will throw it in the pond, and you won’t get another knife until you’re 10. She lost it, for 10 days, about a week after she got it. That’s it. She also has two different Mora knives. She has never cut herself or anyone else with them. She has a Bahco folding saw. She cuts down small trees all the time with it (only after verifying with dad, that it’s okay to cut down that particular tree). She has a signal whistle, in case she gets hurt or lost (the woodlot isn’t that big, and is fenced. If she gets lost, she’s trying to get lost…).

She knows she gets to go into the woods by herself, because she is responsible. She knows she gets to carry a knife…occasionally she’ll even wear it on her belt to town…because she is responsible.

Her little sister is four. She will get her first SAK for her birthday this year. She will get the same lecture, and she will begin splitting the chores with her sister.

Respect is a product of responsibility, and unless we give our children the opportunity to be responsible, they will never learn it.

Campfire Chat

1) Sacrifice your ego. This is a hard one for a lot of people to swallow. I box, weekly. I average 3-6 hours of boxing and/or muay Thai training per week, in addition to what I do at home, on my own. I probably don’t NEED to go to boxing training. I’ve been in a lot of scraps, and have managed to not get hospitalized or killed yet. I do it though, because if we’re not getting better, we’re stagnating, and you know what’s stagnant? Putrid, rotting flesh.

So, I go to boxing. As a general rule, I’m the oldest person in the gym, by at least a decade. You know what sucks? Getting your ass kicked by a bunch of 15-25 year old Mexican kids who think they are the next Oscar De La Hoya. You know what else sucks? Getting punched in the head by some corn-fed farm kid who thinks he’s the next Great White Hope. But I do it. I have NEVER “won” a sparring round. Ever.

Why? Because I’m not trying to win. I’m trying to get better, and I’m trying to help my sparring partner get better. It doesn’t matter if they’re better than me, or not. It doesn’t matter if they have fifteen pro fights under their belt, or it’s their very first time sparring.

One of the ladies asked me to feed focus mitts for her recently. Over the course of twelve rounds of mitt work, she explained that she had wanted to work with me, because she got tired of the young guys smashing the shit out of the mitts, when she took her turn holding them. She had watched me enough to know that I didn’t have my ego in the way, and wouldn’t try to “show off.” That was possibly the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me, in a boxing gym. Sure, “Man, you kick like an angry mule!” or ‘Dude, that left hook is a rib breaker!” strokes the ego, but “you’ll help me get better, instead of showing off how good you are” means I’m doing good work, helping others get better.

I try and do the same thing at our weekly range training, with my clan. I’m not the only dude there qualified to teach and train. I do it, most of the time though, instead of getting my personal practice in, because I want my guys to get better than me (the fact that the range is on my farm, and I can practice on my own doesn’t hurt, either). I run the more complex drills, and I demonstrate the simpler drills, but I generally don’t waste their limited weekly training time showing off how fast I am.

Give up your ego. Work on helping others improve around you, even at the expense of your own development, for a little bit. Build rapport. Build frith. Build strength in your clan/tribe/group.

2) Folks who have been in a class with me will know, I had a really bad caffeine addiction. I would regularly drink 5-6 Monster Energy drinks per day. Before I jumped on the energy drink wagon, I would down a case of Coca-Cola daily, when teaching. I did the same when I was not teaching. Even when I did strict Paleo Diet, my “cheat” was Monsters.

Obviously energy drinks aren’t Paleo, but I justified it, in my own mind, by pointing out that I wasn’t doing Paleo to lose weight, and if my only bad dietary habit was Monsters, I was still doing light years better than the average dude on the Standard American Diet.

People would bitch at me, that I needed to stop. They’d tell me they weren’t healthy. They were going to rot my intestines out. They were going to cause neural fatigue, etc. Blah, blah, blah, blah.

For the last couple months, I’ve felt kind of “bleh.” My PT was suffering. My combatives was suffering. My shooting was suffering. My farm work was suffering. My nutrition was suffering (Monsters, I am convinced, really are a gateway drug to eating like shit.) I was getting really short-tempered with my wife and kids. I was just miserable.

With no idea where to start, I decided I would start by fixing my diet. I told my wife, on Sunday, two weeks ago, “Starting tomorrow, I’m done drinking sodas and Monsters.” I told several of my peers in the clan the same thing. I’m pretty sure they all thought I was full of shit. At best, I’d fall off the wagon, and drink one or two a day.

So…it’s been two weeks, today. I’ve been better about getting my ass out of bed on time in the morning. I have WAY more energy to get shit done. My PT and my boxing has improved. My farm work has improved tremendously. Before, I would have to do something, and just think, “Fuck, I want to move to town…this is going to suck.” I would still get shit done, but I dreaded doing it. Now, it just gets done. I don’t even think about it. I’ve taken time to play games and go hiking in the woods with the kids.

Guys, seriously…if you’re drinking that shit, take it from a dude who managed to function, despite drinking a half-dozen or more every day…STOP. You will do more, while having more energy, without drinking that shit.

3) We did a little bit of patrol formation training, a couple weeks ago, for our weekly training event. At one point, I was at the end of the formation, but I wanted to get ahead of it, so I could make sure everyone was using shadows and concealment properly, as they were moving. So, I moved out to the side, and ran around to the front, about 100 meters in front of the formation (eight man diamond). Leaves hadn’t started sprouting at our elevation yet, so the formation was spread pretty far out, despite being in the timber, and I went out far enough that none of the guys saw me moving around. It wasn’t until each buddy team moved past me that they noticed I had gotten ahead of them.

One of our guys looked at me, and said, “Holy shit. Did you break the land speed record getting around there!?”

I had moved fast. Through the woods. With full fighting load on. I had run about 400 meters, in a little under a minute. That’s not particularly impressive, until you realize, I did it, through the trees and underbrush, wearing 25# of gear, and carrying a rifle, and by the time they got to me, I was not even breathing hard.

Guys, I’m not a fucking 20 year old Ranger anymore. I’m in my mid-40s. What I do, in order to still be able to pull shit like that off, are “Terrain Run Intervals.” I measured off 200, 400, 500, and 600 meter distances, in my wood lot. I run 200 or 400 meter intervals, one day a week. One other day of the week, I run 600, 800, or 1000 meter intervals….through the woods…with a 40# weight vest on. My goal, on the short interval days, is to cover a total of 2000-2500 meters. On the long days, I aim for running a total of 5000meters, or 5 kilometers (that’s just over 3 miles). I rest, in between intervals, twice as long as it took me to run the last interval.

I highly recommend the exercise. It’s far more rewarding than running intervals on the track or on your street. Occasionally, I’ll jump a deer, or some small furbearer, so I get an added bit of excitement. You can’t possibly run it as fast as you can on the street or track, so it’s actually easier on your knees and ankles and hips (at least, I’ve found it to be). If you’re a fat fuck, and can’t run 20 feet? Then start by walking. Next week, walk faster. The week after, jog a couple of the intervals, and walk the rest. When you’re jogging all the intervals, start running the first couple. Continue, ad nauseum. I promise, you run a couple miles a week, in the woods, with gear on, and you won’t be a fat fuck for long.

4) The new book, The Guerrilla Gunfighter, Volume 2: Combat Rifle and Carbine is up for pre-sale, on the Warhammer Six Press site. I anticipate being done by 15MAY, or 1JUN at the latest. I am giving myself leeway though, and putting the expected shipping date as 15JUN, because it seems like something always pops up, and I end up looking like an asshole. That’s not to say I won’t fuck up again, and be an asshole, but I’m trying to hedge my bets.

Guys, I’m not just covering AR15s in this book, or AR15s and AK47s. I’ve got information on using lever-action rifles as a fighting weapon, and pump-actions (to be precise, I don’t own a pump-action rifle. I do however, keep my 870 loaded solely with slugs, and run it as a big-bore carbine, out to 100 meters plus). I’ve even done a section on using stripper-clip fed bolt-actions, like the M1903 Springfield (that one required some range time to learn the TTPs…if all you have is a bolt-gun, okay, but I feel bad for you, because it’s a bitch.

There’s a section on field firing, and on individual movement techniques in the field. I didn’t just cover known distance marksmanship, and I didn’t cover just CQB distance, “shooting rifles at pistol distances.” It’s a rifle/carbine book. Like Volume One of The Guerrilla Gunfighter, it includes a LOT of training and practice drills, and a rifle POI. The current draft is in the vicinity of 450 pages. It’s going to be a doozy.

5) I’m still trying to figure out how to approach the Patreon idea, if at all. I’m not going to stop doing the blog, so the Patreon needs to be a value-added measure for subscribers. What would you guys want to see? An extra article each week? Photos in articles, where possible? (No videos, still. Sorry). I’m open to suggestions.

From the Library

Urban Rifle by Clint Smith

Far be it from me to cast aspersions on any of the “grand old men” of the training community, but dude, seriously? If you cannot figure out, this many DECADES in, why the fuck we use shot timers for skill development, in a combative shooting class, “because I’ve never seen a shot timer in a gunfight,” you need to check your fucking meds. I actually quit reading at that sentence, so I can’t tell you how the rest of the book was.

If you’ve never taken a class, or read a book, or watched a video on carbine/rifle training, this might be okay. If you’re jumping in a time machine, and going back to 1975, this might be okay. Otherwise, I’d pass on it. That pains me to say, because I watch Clint’s videos on YT, and the dude cracks me up. I’ve been told we’re pretty similar in our teaching style as well. But, I honestly feel, at this point, if someone is telling people that shot timers are not important in combative rifle training, then they’re fucking their students. Sure, “Speed is Fine, but Accuracy is Final.” But, if that round doesn’t get to its target in time, you still lose. If I shoot you in the fucking leg, a second before you break your shot, guess what? There’s a pretty solid chance you’re going to fucking miss, because you’re going to be a little distracted. If I keep shooting you, accurately ENOUGH, while you’re trying to line up your shot, because you’ve never used a goddamned shot timer, in order to train yourself to shoot accurately FASTER, then I’m going to win, even if I’m not as accurate as you are.

The Man Who Killed Bonnie and Clyde by John Boessenecker

My wife downloaded the new Netflix movie Highwaymen last week, and convinced me to watch it. It was surprisingly good, and this is coming from a guy who has basically given up on American cinema. I knew quite a bit about Frank Hamer, but decided to refresh my memory after watching the flick. This was a good bio of him, and, as a friend pointed out, “if half this stuff is true, Chuck Norris, on his best day, couldn’t polish Hamer’s boots!”

The Straight Lead: The Core of Bruce Lee’s Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do by Teri Tom

I’ve had this book for years, and finally pulled it off the shelf to read it. I’m not what anyone would call a Bruce Lee fan. I think there is a whole lot of Hollywood/Hong Kong movie mythology surrounding the dude, and if anyone today made the claims that Lee made, about “secret” fights and death matches, we’d laugh at the fucker.

I remember reading Tao of Jeet Kune Do when I was in High School, and thinking it was the cat’s meow, until I was telling my grandfather about it one day, and he got really pissy with me: “You wanna know about Bruce Lee? He was a little gook faggot! He couldn’t’ve fought his way out of a dirty pisser stall! Fuck Bruce Lee!” (My late grandfather was a very vocal advocate of western boxing and Judo as the foundations of combatives.)

I pulled this off to read though, because, I’ve always felt like my lead jab left a lot to be desired. I’ve always read about dudes—and I’ve met one or two—who could land a KO punch, with nothing but their left jab. So, I’ve made it a point, over the last several months, to focus on developing my left jab more. From focusing my pre-boxing workout warm-ups on nothing but throwing left jabs from various angles and positions, on a weighted “head bag.” (I actually don’t know WTF it’s called. It’s basically an oversized speed bag, but it weighs about 60#, and it hangs lower and freer than a speed bag), I’m trying to develop that KO left jab, or at least one that will make even a big dude stop and think, “Fuck that hurt…and that was his weak hand! Maybe I don’t want to tangle with this dude after all….

So….I’ll mine it for details. I’m not done with it, because it’s not a huge priority in my reading queue, and so far, it’s a bunch of fawning over a dead movie star, but we’ll see if it gets better.

The Organic No-Till Farming Revolution by Andrew Meffero

This is a survey, featuring interviews, with a bunch of organic, no-till farming practitioners, operating on various scales, from commercial to small family farm opertions. It’s really good. Even the parts that are talking about commercial scale production methods—which carries no interest for me, at all—gave me some good ideas, and a couple of the folks in the book had ideas that made HH6 and I decide to change our approach to a couple things. Highly recommend.

Campfire Time, Or, Shootin’ the Shit…

(I’ve decided, since these seem to be pretty popular with readers, and are pretty cake to write anyway, that I’m going to try and include these stream-of-conscious articles about stuff I’ve been thinking about over the week, that didn’t warrant a full-blown article….)

1) I’ve never liked “button” compasses, but I’ve kept one on my watchband for most—not all—of the last thirty years. As a guy who learned land navigation as a RIP candidate, and later as a Ranger private, when our GPS were shoebox sized “Pluggers” the batteries of which last about five fucking minutes, I’ve always had pretty set views on what constituted valid land navigation.

I wore a button compass on my watchband in high school, because it seemed like the cool, outdoors-guy, survivalist thing to do, but I didn’t actually know fuck-all about using a compass for navigation (I once got lost as fuck, despite having a compass in hand, less than a mile from my house, and ended up coming out of the woods behind a neighbor’s house, and had to walk like six miles to get home, because of the way the roads went….). After RIP, and in the Ranger Regiment, I could find a goddamned t-post stuck in the ground, no matter what, because I understood declination, intersection and resection, azimuths, and all the other cool-guy stuff. It wasn’t until I spent time in the mountains that I suddenly realized, 90% of the time, I don’t need my goddamned compass for land nav, because I finally learned how to REALLY terrain associate, and USE the map.

So, I still didn’t really need a button compass. If I had a map, I could terrain associate or dead reckon, and get pretty much anywhere I would ever need to go.

Then, I started doing long-distance travel, via car, with my family, for training classes. While I can pack a lot of shit into a vehicle, if we ever had to dismount and walk home, it quickly occurred to me, I wasn’t going to carry enough topo maps, of a useful scale, to navigate across a state, let along across multiple states. BUT….if I thought back to my land nav classes, and the “cheats” we used in Ranger School and Selection, and after both, there was a solution…

With a bound Highway Atlas, I had plenty of waypoints and hand rails, already laid out for me.

So, I need to go from a suburb on the outskirts of Nashville, TN, to say, Republic, Missouri. I generally use 1:25,000 scale maps with the Military Grid Reference (MGRS) overlaid on them. I can’t even imagine how many maps that would require me to carry. But, I know, from Nashville, if I walk in a generally westerly direction, which is simple to do with a button compass, I am going to eventually reach the Mississippi River. Assuming I cannot beg, steal, or borrow a boat, somewhere along the river, eventually walking northward, I’m going to hit a bridge that I may be able to sneak across. I will also be able to determine specifically where I am along the river, by determining what town I am in.

Okay, so I end up all the way at Cairo, Illinois, before I find a bridge that I manage to sneak across, instead of being able to cross on the I-155 bridge west of Dyersburg, TN (I would be deliberately trending northward anyway, to avoid/bypass Mogadishu on the Mississippi). So, I cross the bridge, and get into Missouri, now, I’m going to cut due South, until I hit the River again, to get south of I-57, and then I cut due West until I hit I-55. Now, I’m going to walk West, trending slightly towards the NW. I’m going to eventually run into one of two waypoints: I-44, or Branson, MO. If I hit Branson, guess what? I know how to get to Republic from Branson, without needing a map. If I hit I-44, I handrail it westward until I hit Springfield, then I go due South to Branson, and then…again…I can walk the rest of the trip in the dark.

But, what about danger areas, like cities, and roads, and farms, and villages, along the way? That’s easy…go around them. If I’m moving West by Northwest, and I need to go around a town, I go around the north side. If the obstacle is along my handrail, I go around on the South side, and then go back to where I can maintain my handrail. It’s really pretty simple.

The same applies in my general area as well. I live close to—not adjoining—a National Forest. I can go through the woods on my neighbors’ property, and make it to the National Forest. If I get out there, and I get turned around, I KNOW there is a state highway to my West. At any given point, it’s not going to be more than 30 miles away, and chances are, given my farm’s location, it’ll probably be within five or six miles. To the East, there is a major Interstate not far away. The North, there is a paved county road and a US Highway, and to the South, there is another Interstate, although it’s at least twenty miles. So, worst case scenario, and I’m completely bugfucked addled and lost, I line up the button compass, and walk until I hit one of those, then hand rail it home, or until I reach a house where I know people, and hitch a ride home.

To be sure, from a TACTICAL perspective, I need the ability to determine and adhere to, strict azimuths, in order to get to a very specific spot, in time to make a difference, so a quality orienteering compass or a USGI lensatic compass (still my preference, because I do a lot of shit in the woods at night), is still necessary, but if I’m down to just my survival load (the gear in your pockets and on your person…what today we call your “EDC” load), I can still get home, no matter where I am.

There are a lot of button and wrist compasses out there. I’d really like to get a Suunto M-9 wrist compass, and at $20-30, they’re not expensive. Other than lacking tritium for lowlight visibility, it would actually work for basically ALL of my land nav needs. Instead though, I’ve got the Cammenga tritium illuminated wrist compass, because it fits on the same band as my watch (Although, now that I write this, that Suunto might need to happen after all…).

2) Everybody gets hung up on combat knives. We’ve got one of our local guys that carries a bayonet for his AR as his combat knife (and yes, it’s the piece of shit M9). I keep trying to talk him into replacing it with something more practical, since he can’t even mount a bayonet on his rifle, but… Another of our guys has a kerambit on his chest rig. I….just….well…..never mind…

I have a really, really nice Ban Tang Clinch Pick. It sits in my gun safe. That’s horrible, but I realized, especially living on a farm, that it just wasn’t practical. I use my belt knife, every single day, at least a dozen times a day, for cutting shit. I cut twine and rope. I cut packages open. I cut pieces of brush to fabricate shit out of brush for my kids. You know what I don’t do very often? I don’t cut or stab people very often (except myself. I cut myself all the fucking time, unfortunately). So, my EDC knife is a small ESEE Izula, or it is one of the small puukko knives that I’ve collected over the years. Neither is a “fighting knife,” but you know what? All of them are sharp enough to shave with, so they WILL cut a motherfucker, and they all have a point, so they will all stab a motherfucker.

One of my mentors told me once, as a very young enlisted man, and I’ve repeated it on this blog, a lot: “It’s a lot easier to shank a fucker with a Swiss Army Knife, than it is to cut brush to camouflage a hide site with a dagger.” My chest rig has an Ontario RAT-5 on it. It’s not a “fighting knife.” It’s a utility knife, but if I needed to, I can cut a dude off me.

Other than the Ban Tang CP, I don’t own a lot of “expensive” knives. I’m not a knife collector, although I have a collection of well used knives. Just pick a decent knife from a decent manufacturer, and use it. If you want a bad ass, high speed, custom knife from your maker of choice? Go for it. If you’re happy with the Kabar you were issued at Parris Island 50 years ago? Go with it. If you’re happy with the USAF “Pilot’s Survival Knife” that you filched from the supply room when you were a private, stuck on a detail (don’t ask…)? Go for it. It’s just a fucking knife.

3) Greg Ellifritz posted a link on FB today, to an article about tourniquets being overrated. While I think that article title was probably hyperbole, I do think it is important for people to make the distinction between being a cop or soldier, who is wearing body armor, operationally, and being Joe CCW, who is probably not. To be sure, I keep a tourniquet on me at all times. It goes in my pocket in the morning, along with my wallet, keys, knife, gun, and can of Copenhagen. I keep a tourniquet Ranger-banded to the stock of all of my using rifles. I keep one on my war belt, and another on my plate carrier.

But…tucked into my pocket along with that tourniquet is a set of chest seals. Why? Because I’m just as likely to take an upper thoracic cavity hit in any shooting I am likely to be involved in these days, as I am to take an extremity hit. Why? Because I’m not a douche that wears body armor to the fucking grocery store. I keep a plate carrier in the back seat of my truck, but am I going to have time to throw it on if some shithead decides to try and carjack me? Is it going to do me a fuck-all bit of good if I’m standing at the counter of the Stop-N-Rob when some dude decides to walk in with a sawed off shotty under his jacket?

I can improvise wound packing. I can improvise a field dressing. Technically, I can improvise a tourniquet and a chest seal…but…of all of those, the last two are the two that improvised versions of don’t work worth a shit in the real world, and they’re also the two that, conveniently, can be tucked into a small space in a pocket, and disappear. If I’m wearing Carhartts or Dickies work pants? They fit into the cellphone pocket on the leg. If I’m wearing BDU type cargo pocket pants? They fit in the cargo pocket. If I’m wearing straight leg blue jeans? I tuck them in my back pocket, next to my wallet.

I really like the FoxSeal chest seals for EDC. They’re not anything special, but the package folds in half easily, and it takes up less real estate than the tourniquet does.

4) Everyone should own chickens. Seriously. I get it, you live in an apartment, and can’t have chickens. Get A chicken, and call it your pet bird. Better, get two hens, and call them your pet birds.

We have 32 laying hens and a rooster. Everyone told me, “Start with five or six laying hens. You’ll get plenty of eggs.” Being me though, I wanted to make sure I was gonna get PLENTY of eggs, and Hell, six eggs is barely an omelet for me. What are the wife and kids gonna do? So, I got 33 chickens (we had one die last fall) and a rooster. All winter long, we averaged between 6 and 12 eggs. Awesome! Scrambled eggs for breakfast! Next day it’s fried eggs. Next day, it’s hardboiled eggs for lunch. After a week, I was fed the fuck up. “Babe, seriously. We can do eggs every other day, but if you don’t cook a couple meals without eggs in them, I’m going to lose my shit!”

The problem with that was, pretty soon, out countertop egg basket was full…and then, overflowing. Oh shit….

For the last month, we’ve been averaging one to two dozen eggs…per day. For the last two weeks, we’ve been averaging 26-30 eggs a day. One day we got 38 eggs (I still haven’t figured that one out…).

We’re—literally—giving away flats of fresh eggs, daily. Today, I delivered eight dozen eggs to folks, on my way to town.

We COULD sell them. Call it two dollars a dozen, at two dozen a day, and that’s almost $30 a week! That’s ALMOST my Copenhagen budget weekly…more importantly, that’s more than our feed bill…and our feed bill is actually lower in the summer than in the winter, despite the increased production, because we feed them garden scraps and grass cuttings, and they eat bugs all day.

We COULD sell them, but we don’t. Instead, we give eggs away to members of the clan, and to neighbors. It’s a small gesture, but it builds frith within the clan, and rapport with the neighbors.

Seriously…get chickens. Even if you only get a dozen, and you only sell a couple dozen eggs a week, to cover their feed bills. Now, you’re getting free eggs, and when they get too old to lay anymore, or you just decide to replace them, you’ve got free meat to put in the stewpot. A whole hen, put in the cast iron pot, and put on the woodstove, on a winter morning, right after breakfast? An hour before supper, you toss in some cubed up potatoes and carrots, and then, ten minutes before supper, add some celery?

AMAZING…and it’s not even much effort.

It used to take me five minutes to feed the chickens. I would toss a bucket of scratch grains to them, check their water, and check their laying mash. In the winter, I refill the laying mash about once a week. In the summer, since we add grass clippings when we mow, and we toss them garden scraps anytime someone is in the garden working, I refill the laying mash about once a month. A bag of scratch grain, at our local co-op, is $5, and they don’t really need it. I just do it to keep them out from underfoot while I’m in the henhouse. A 50# bag lasts us four or five months.

It no longer takes me five minutes. It takes me ZERO minutes, because my seven year old gets up in the morning, gets dressed, and goes to take care of the chickens and the rabbits…not because we told her to, but because she enjoys doing it (although, if the weather is really shitty, I end up doing it still).

Seriously…get some fucking chickens.

One of the arguments we hear is, “I live in town, and we’re not allowed livestock.” The common argument in the other direction is, “Most towns have exceptions if you only have hens, and even if they don’t, as long as you don’t have a rooster crowing, nobody will know.”

Bullshit.

Our henhouse is 75 meters from the house. My house has 8” thick walls, and my door is 3” thick, triple ply timber. When one of those hens lays an egg? We hear it. They are SO damned proud of what they’ve accomplished! Hell, I can hear my neighbors chickens celebrating occasionally…and their henhouse is between a quarter and a half-mile from our house (I can’t hear theirs from in the house, but I can from the front step). So, get chickens, but be aware ahead of time…they are not the silent ninja birds that everyone likes to portray them as.

5) I’ve got the carbine book almost done. I’ve had a few people ask me about doing a pre-sale again. I gotta tell you, after the debacle that the last book turned into—through nobody’s fault but my own—I’m really hesitant to do so. It’d be simpler, on my end, to wait and release it from Lulu. On the other hand, a couple people have said they like the pre-sale, even with the wait and mishaps, because it feels like they’re directly supporting the blog. I’m still sorting out shipping issues with books (NOT pre-orders anymore, as far as I can tell). So, my question for readers is? Is there any interest in the pre-sale again? Through the Warhammer Six Press site?

6) Since he has done a couple of reviews of my books, to my stunning benefit, I’ve conversed with Pastor Joe Fox, of Viking Preparedness a bit (I feel okay revealing this, because he’s mentioned me several times, with the caveat of “I won’t reveal who, unless he chooses to do so”). Between visiting with him, and recently discovering that my wife is, apparently, a subscriber to a half-dozen or so Patreon pages, we’ve been discussing broadening the blog a little bit, by doing a Patreon page, in addition to the blog. Before I bother with ANOTHER Internet commitment though, now that I seem to have a handle on being regular with posts here, I need to know how much interest there would be. The Subscription Drills are okay, but not any sort of “knock it out of the park” on my end, although they seem to be popular with subscribers. I’m not even sure what we would do specifically, for a Patreon page (don’t bother suggesting videos), but I’m not going to waste time looking into it too deeply, if there’s not even any interest (on the other hand, the blog currently has over 3,100 subscribers. If every one did a dollar a month, that would not hurt my feelings—or my farm infrastructure—in the slightest little bit….)

7) The guys at Gadsden Dynamics got ahold of me recently, and told me they had a new “improved” version of the Underground Partisan chest rig, and they wanted to run it by me, before putting it out for sale, since my nom de guerre is attached to it (although, I don’t make a penny of sales. It’s just a really good chest rig, and I happened to give them the design parameters for it.).

They sent me one. It IS an improvement on the original, with one of the major fixes being the only complaint I had about the original, which is a removable lower back strap. The original lacked this, and I had a few times where I would go to jerk a magazine out, and it would get stuck, as the bottom of the rig moved out from my body.

The cooler change though, is that the whole chest rig can come apart, and be velcroed to the front of a plate carrier. Now, I have, over the years, managed to accrue a pretty impressive collection of gear, including pouches, chest rigs, pouches, plate carriers, pouches, holsters, pouches, IFAKs, pouches….did I mention pouches? But, I realize that not everyone has, and a lot of people are on a budget, and nylon gear is fucking expensive. So, the two-fer-one option in the new and improved UP chest rig is awesome. It’s not ideal, perhaps…If I’m in a situation bad enough that I’m wearing body armor, I probably want more than three or four magazines on my person, but, if a dude is getting started in gearing up, and is limited in funding, this is a solid option.

The More You Know, the Less You Need: A Personal Example of

Coming into spring/summer, one of my normal activities annually, is to re-set gear layouts. Someone asked me the other day, “How would you pack a 72 hour pack, versus a week-long or 10-day pack?” As a guy who grew up with a Regimental SOP for the layout of rucksack and load-bearing equipment, even after I left the Ranger Regiment, I always stuck with the idea that, my BASIC LOAD, absent mission-specific and team gear, was the same, whether I was doing an assault that was projected to last 72 hours or less, or a long-term mission that required me to be in the field for weeks or months at a time, was the same. Outside of quantities in munitions, water, and food, the equipment requirements are fundamentally the same, whether I’m going to be out for 1 night, 10 nights, or 100 nights.

Granted, if I can look at the weather forecast tomorrow morning, I might be able to decide, “fuck it, the low is going to be in the fifties, and there’s a 2% chance of precipitation. I don’t need any kind of shelter, and I can sleep in my clothes!” As soon as you add in external modifiers to the equation though: enemy action, the possibility of something delaying my return-to-base, etc, that goes out the window. So, while I might pack just my fighting load and an assault pack for a quick raid that I am reasonably sure is going to last less than a couple hours (the small assault pack allows me to pack enough stuff to stay alive if I’m separated, or a quick raid turns into some sort of Battle of the Black Sea event), for anything that involves even a single over-night, without an easy, basically guaranteed RTB the next day (say, an overnight in the nearby forest with my kids), I’m packing the same basic load for a weekend trip as I would pack for a month-long trip. The only mitigation would be climactic/environmental conditions. In winter, my load is significantly different than in summer, because of the vagaries of cold, cold/wet, etc. Also, in my current environment, I’ll sleep on the ground, on a sleep pad, in late fall and winter, after first freeze, but because of venomous snakes and insect vermin, unless METT-TC dictates it an impossibility, I will always choose to use a hammock, to get up off the ground, in spring, summer, and early fall.

So, as I was going through my gear today, repacking my “Get Home Ruck,” I was also keeping in mind the fact that I have an upcoming training trip in a few weeks that is several hundred miles from home. With the current state of international affairs in the world, and the increased urgency with which the federal government seems to think it necessary to warn people of potential electric grid failures and the potential for EMP, in the back of my mind is the very real potential for having to walk home.

When I got my pack and fighting load gear done today, I jumped on the scale. My total equipment weight—ruck, plate carrier, war belt, and ammunition—without water, was 65#. That’s a REALLY light load, all things considered. But, I’ve gotten lazy in my dotage, and started thinking about the fact that I could travel a LOT faster if I reduced the weight even further. In the interest of doing so, I started breaking down my packing list, looking for things I could do without, things I could replace with an equally functional, but significantly lighter alternative, and which of those would still allow me to achieve what I needed to achieve…

——-

One of the interesting things about getting involved in sustainable/natural building and Permaculture, has been exposure to a small population of people that I otherwise wouldn’t have much involvement with. This includes what most readers would probably term “dirty smelly hippies.” These include people who are doing their damnedest to reduce their personal imprint on the environment. Regardless of what your personal beliefs are about environmentalism and environmentalists—and apparently, in some cases, environmentalism has become equated with a lack of basic personal hygiene, for extended periods of time—I’ve found, through my discussions with these folks that we actually have a lot in common. Many of them are “survivalists,” without using that term, and many of them have far more practiced expertise in basic survival and “off-grid/post-grid” living than the vast, vast majority of middle-class, overweight “preppers” do, with their secret bunkers full of gear.

This has been beneficial to me, personally, because it has helped to change my personal paradigm somewhat, reminding me in some ways, of things I had seen overseas, but never put into the proper frame-of-reference.

For instance, I’ve met a few people, in the context of “sustainable/natural building,” who have been “voluntary homeless,” for lengthy periods of time. Now, I’ve personally lived out of a rucksack, outside of the military, for months at a time, by choice, but I always had a rucksack full of pretty high-tech gear, and I always had a source of income to fall back on. If shit got too uncomfortable, I’d always had the option of getting a hotel room for a weekend, and eating in a restaurant. That’s not always been an option for some of these folks, for a host of reasons (and before some fuck-nugget jumps in bitching and whining about “losers,” or “EDPs,” I know several of these people with VERIFIED post-graduate degrees, who were extremely articulate, and simply chose this lifestyle based on their personally closely held values. I’m not judging them negatively for that, because they weren’t trying to force anyone else to adopt those values, and fuck you if you think they should have to change because you don’t like what they do).

——

So, I was looking at my gear, and thinking about lightening it, and I took the METT-TC approach, as I am wont to do.

Mission: My mission, in the context of the upcoming trip, is to return, as quickly as possible, safely, to my family, at our farm.

Enemy: In the event that I am forced to use my ruck to live out of, in order to complete my mission, I can comfortably assume my “enemy” will be anything from hungry refugees from large urban areas to local bullies deciding that “WROL” means they can become whatever shithead they decide to be, to local, state, or federal LEO/authorities, trying to control movement of people to maintain control over a growing catastrophe. It could also include outlaw gangs, or whatever other fantasy drama adventure foe your imagination can come up with, but those are the three I was thinking of. In all three, my general plan for dealing with them would be the same: avoidance as much as possible, and contact only under my terms.

Troops: The friendly troops situation is better than normal, because I have three or four of my local clan traveling with me to the class. Outside of that, I only have a few contacts along the intended routes of travel, and I cannot be certain that, in such an emergency, they would even be where I would know to look for them. So, my friendly troops situation is limited to the four or five of us.

Terrain: The Terrain is the KEY factor here, in the context of this article. There are two minor mountain ranges I will need to cross, and two major navigable rivers. There are numerous small towns and a couple of major urban areas that will require crossing through or bypassing. We’ll come back to the terrain thing though, because the number of built-up areas actually turns out to be a boon, in this context.

Time: Time is an important factor. 1) If an emergency is serious enough that I need to WALK home, living out of my ruck, things are REALLY bad, and I don’t want to be away from my family and farm, let alone the rest of the clan, any longer than absolutely necessary. 2) The less weight I carry, the faster I can travel. Granted, the others with me are less experienced with long-distance travel with heavy rucks, and will slow me down, but this means that myself, and the one other traveling companion with significant experience can travel enough faster than the others to allow us to move around more, providing all-around security for the others as we move. 3) Because several of us have night vision capabilities, we can travel at night more securely, and/or extend our daytime travel into the hours of darkness, to reduce our time en route.

Civil Considerations: While, under the stated environmental conditions ANYONE could be a hostile, given the right motivation, most aren’t going to be. Most are, like my people, simply going to be interested in taking care of their own business. Avoiding offending those people, or picking a fight with them, will potentially be a critical element in our successful return home.

——————–

So, in a nutshell, I need to be able to move fast, reduce the chances of drawing unwanted attention (and let’s face it, under those conditions, five or six dudes, all packing guns and rucks, and moving fast IS going to draw attention), while not scaring the shit out of some random farm wife along the way. All of this needs to be accomplished while still maintaining the basic ability to stay alive under field conditions.

What do we need, to stay alive under field conditions? SMOLES is the acronym I have used most of my adult life, and it is one I’ve written about in the past, both on this blog, and in The Reluctant Partisan, Volume One: The Guerrilla. It stands for Self-Defense, Medical, Optics/Observation, Land Navigation, Extreme Weather Conditions, and (Basic) Survival.

Self-Defense, in this context most likely means focusing on not drawing unwanted attention. That probably rules out the Crye MultiCam pajamas routine. While most people would probably expect to see people open-carrying weapons under those conditions, especially in the early days and weeks of an event, someone wearing full-on camouflage and LBE is going to be an anomaly, outside of the National Guard or LEO…who generally travel in larger groups, and will—probably—have vehicles, even if they are commandeering local privately-owned vehicles (which, to be clear, is far from out of the question for me too…but I’m worst-casing the scenario, and assuming I’ll have to be on foot). So, step one of my Self-Defense plan is normal looking, earth tone clothing: my normal every day attire in other words. Step Two is staying out of sight as much as possible. Step Three is a war belt that can be mostly concealed—at least at a distance—under the tails of a button down workshirt, with a magazine or two for rifle reloads, an IFAK/BOK, a pistol, and a general utility knife that can double as a last-ditch, “cut the fucker off me, because we’re wrestling over my pistol” weapon. Pretty basic. I’ll also add my “Underground Partisan” chest rig that I designed for Gadsden Dynamics, since it was specifically designed to be worn under a jacket or sweater or baggy shirt and disappear. With a decent work shirt over it, left unbuttoned, it still disappear until you’re basically within conversational distance, and then they’re going to see all my other gear as well anyway.

Really, in the event that weapons do need to be used in self-defense, in this context, it’s going to be in the context of a “break contact,” to get away. We’re not interested in taking control of other terrain. We’re interested in getting home and getting control of our own terrain. So, “self-defense” in this context literally means “self-defense,” and nothing more. I don’t need a LOT of ammunition or a whole pile of weapons. In fact, if it weren’t for the fact that I’ll be concealed carrying a pistol for the initial trip anyway, I’d probably not even bother including a pistol in this context.

Medical, I have largely minimized down to a wallet sized IFAK/BOK, thanks to some input from my buddy Allan Kay (of Alone, S1 fame). It’s the same as my EDC kit, and includes a tourniquet, a set of Fox Chest Seals, a package of compressed gauze, and a package of QuickClot, plus a nose hose and a chest dart. Bandage material I can improvise pretty much anywhere, and have done so, within the last year, in fact, in a case that involved a significant amount of hemorrhage. I don’t really carry a “boo-boo kit.” With the kids in tow, I do, but for me personally, I’ve found few boo-boos that I couldn’t ameliorate with a piece of 100mph tape.

Observation/Optics. I keep a pair of Steiner 10x binos in my ruck, and I have my PVS-14s in there as well. For this particular “mission,” I’m not worried about adding a spotting scope, although I might have one of our guys packing a thermal/IR scope as an item of team gear.

Land Navigation. Considering the distance to be traversed, carrying topo quad maps for the entire trip is impractical. Even with road maps, any maps small enough in scale to be useful would require too many to be practicable to carry. Instead, I will grab the road atlas out of my truck, rip out the three or four relevant pages, and use roads and towns as way points. By doing so, I don’t have to know exact azimuths. I can simply shoot “North” until I hit “Hillbilly Highway,” then I know I need to handrail that road until I hit the outskirts of “Farmerville.” When I get there, maybe I need to go NorthEast until I hit Interstate 666, then I can move across that, East, until I hit US Highway 999. When I get there, I cut North along it, until I come to “Hayseed City,” etc, etc, etc.

The biggest issue with that is the two navigable rivers I need to cross to get home. Neither one is going to be crossed by swimming, practically speaking. They will require crossing a bridge or begging, borrowing, or stealing some sort of watercraft to get across. In this case, fortunately, both myself and one other of the traveling crew have extensive small-boat experience in the military (he more than me, actually), so there are multiple options potentially available.

Extreme Weather Survival. While this trip will be happening in mid-March, and the weather in the traversed region can vary from sunny and in the 80s, to freezing rain and snow, there are few risks of it getting into single digit temperatures, and it PROBABLY won’t get over 90F. So, the biggest issue we face is cold/wet with freezing rain or sleet, or simple thunderstorms at just above freezing temperatures. In all of these cases, the best method available is going to be finding shelter out of the rain/sleet, to minimize our exposure to the wet. While everyone will have a sleeping bag in their ruck, I don’t need to pack a 3-Bag USGI arctic sleep system or anything spectacular like that. In fact, given that I have a tarp for a hooch, I could probably get away with nothing more than a decent wool blanket. My sleeping bag, in this case, will be a 0F rated civilian backpacking bag. It’s light, synthetic, and compresses small enough to fit into the sleeping bag pocket of my ruck, and only weighs about 3 pounds.

I could, in all seriousness, probably do away with the shelter and sleeping bag, given the context of the “mission.” In the case of an event that required me to walk home, there are a couple of options for shelter. Number one, all over this country right now—while things are still…mostly….”functioning,” there are deserted and abandoned buildings and houses, in various states of repair and disrepair. Holing up in one of those to escape inclement weather is a common practice among my “homeless” acquaintances, and would certainly be an option for 5-6 armed men with night vision and team work, even if it meant tossing other “squatters” out for the evening. Number two, most of what we will be traversing will be farm country, which means the opportunity to POLITELY ask for lodging in a hay barn or outbuilding is not out of the question (and yes, that still happens as well, although I would be leery of approaching an obviously occupied farm house in farm country, in the event of a “grid down” event. If I did, I would actually ditch my gear and weapons, for the initial approach, and simply rely on my guys for overwatch protection). In either of these cases, shelter would not be a concern, and as far as bedding, anything from an abandoned blanket, to a number of old tarps can be pulled over you to provide varying levels of insulative value. Finally, there is the old stand-by of shoving your clothing full of rolled up balls of newspaper or even straw or dry grass for insulation. There’s just not much risk of “extreme” weather, given the environment I am specifically looking at, in the time frame I’m looking at.

(Basic) Survival: Survival can be basically broken down by the Rule of Three: You can go Three Minutes without Oxygen, Three Hours without “shelter” (from the elements), Three Days without Water, and Three Weeks without Food (I stole a really good modification of this rule from my buddy Greg Hamilton recently, but that’s a subject for another article!).

Although the potential for HAZMAT exposure is mind-boggling high in this kind of potential event, outside of carrying a HAZMAT suit and/or at least a pro-mask, the only thing I can do to really deal with that threat is keep my eyes peeled, and look out for things that look suspicious, and bypass them. Even in the event I was carrying a pro-mask, I’m not going to wander around wearing it, so…

Three hours without shelter is about exposure to the elements. It doesn’t mean you need to knock out a poncho hooch every 2.5 hours or something ridiculous like that. My clothing is appropriate for the time of year, because even when I drive to town, it’s far enough away from the farm that, if something happened, we’re not going to make it home in less than a day or two (by myself, I could make it in three or four hours of walking. With the kids and wife in tow, I’m looking at a minimum of 3-5 days). So, outside of a sudden squall of rain catching me far away from any shelter, I’m not particularly worried about this. My basic addition to my kit is a stocking cap of wool, and a waterproof jacket. I hate Gore-Tex, and I don’t mind getting a LITTLE wet, absent cold, so my normal “wet weather” gear is simply a lightweight GoreTex jacket, sans waterproof trousers, and if I’m looking at THAT heavy a downpour, in this context, I’m going to build or look for shelter anyway.

This is really one of the key factors that too many people (myself included, far more often than I would like to admit…): an emergency “bug out,” or a “get home” scenario is NOT a combat patrol. You’re not doing a deliberate movement-to-contact, a raid, or an ambush. It’s akin to a reconnaissance patrol, but it’s not really even that. It’s really just similar to a backpacking trip in a really shitty Third-World country…where you have the ability to be well-armed.

Generally speaking, we tell people, in field conditions, to carry one spare, dry pair of clothing, for sleeping in. This is solid advice. I generally keep a single pair of wool long johns for sleeping in, and a pair of Ranger panties and a t-shirt. The temperature determines what I sleep in, but in actual tactical field conditions, such as the context for this article, I’m going to be sleeping in trousers, and shirt, and a boots, ready to roll out and run. If we were dealing with a more static position, I wouldn’t hesitate to throw my plate carrier on over a t-shirt and Ranger panties, and jump into a pair of slip-on boots or shoes, but there is nowhere between the class location and my home that I am interested in defending. Rolling out, grabbing my ruck, and running is the SOP Immediate Action Drill (In fact, I may call it the 3R Battle Drill. How fast can you go from in your fart sack, to grabbing your ruck, ripping out a mag dump on targets at, say 50-100 yards, and then run a 300 yard run? Obviously it wouldn’t be a straight 300 yard run, in this context. It would be a break contact drill, but still…).

Shelter can also encompass the ability to create/generate heat. This is obviously fire-starting, but I will include this under food, since it’s more applicable there, in the context of my forthcoming trip.

Water. You can go three days without water, but that is three days, in moderate weather, with little or no physical activity. Start humping even a light ruck in 60, 70, 80 degree weather, and that time frame drops precipitously. Further, even under those moderate weather conditions, and not doing anything, within a day or two, your physical and cognitive functions are going to start dropping precipitously. In my home environment, procuring water is simply not an issue. You can’t go a mile without tripping over a stream, a spring, a creek, a pond, or a lake. It’s simply a matter of having something to hold the water in, and some way of making it potable. I’ve got a really nice MSR pump type filter for my ruck, and I keep a Sawyer mini filter in my fighting load, with its little squeezable bladder. I long ago gave up on Camelback type bladders. I’ve simply seen too many of them explode, even under minimal stress. I went to metal one quart water bottles. I generally keep one insulated one, from HydroFlask, and one single-wall, uninsulated version, in my ruck. The epiphany I had today was that, my Sawyer is good for something like 100,000 gallons of water…and an empty 2-liter, plastic soda bottle, like my “hippie” acquaintances prefer to use for water bottles in the woods, is WAY the fuck lighter than even the single-wall metal bottle…

It’s not as robust as the metal container, but…those things are fucking EVERYWHERE! Hell, look out the window of your car, driving down a country road, and you’ll see 2-liter and 20-ounce soda bottles laying in the ditch. In even a small, rural community, people’s trash cans are full of them…so are the trash cans at gas stations, rest areas along the highways, truck stops, etc. And, the best part? The Sawyer Mini screws right onto the threaded mouth, so it doesn’t matter…generally…what was in them. If you find one in the garbage, and it’s still got some fluid in it that smells like flat soda, you can rinse it out with ditch water, fill it up with the same ditch water, screw on the Sawyer, and start drinking. So, if you pack a plastic water bottle, and it breaks? It’s an easy, free repair, found pretty much anywhere along your “bug out” or “get home” route.

The other potential drawback is that you can’t purify water by boiling it, in the container, like you can with the single-wall metal bottle. So what? If I have time to start a fire and boil water, I have a pot to boil it in, and if not, the other common item of detritus available in any trash heap is some form of metal soup or vegetable can that will hold water, and it can be cleaned by tossing it in the fire first for a few minutes.

So, step one was dumping my water bottles, and replacing them with two two-liter “soda” bottles. I get more water for less weight, and I can dump the bigger, heavier filter system, and just rely on the Sawyer mini.

If I’m going to crossing an area that I expect to not have any water sources, or I think I might not be able to stop for water, even long enough to just fill the bottles, I can also consider scavenging a one-gallon milk or juice jug (I really LIKE the one-gallon fruit juice jugs with the handles and the screw top lids). Again, these are easy to replace, out of pretty much any trash heap, for free, and they’re less expensive than purpose-built items.

You can go three weeks without food. Again, that’s under ideal conditions, with minimal physical exertion, but I can tell you, from personal experience, that even under minimal exertion, after a week of zero caloric intake, you’re not going to be able to do much except sit on your ass, and dream about eating food. Even a little bit of food will go a long way though.

I have eaten so many MREs in my past that I—quite literally—cannot eat them. When I try, I end up puking them back up before I’m halfway through the main entree. So, MREs are out for me. They’re heavier than they need to be also. I have a similar aversion to freeze-dried foods like Mountain House, that is almost as gut-wrenching. I’m not however, going to suggest you start digging through trash heaps for food—although that is far from an impractical solution, at least in the early days of a crisis, before everyone else gets desperate as well. I’ve talked to a number of experienced “dumpster divers” who swear they’ve made incredible finds of canned foods and dried goods, in addition to their “barely bruised” fresh food finds. I’m also not going to suggest foraging for wild edibles along the way. While that’s doable, to some degree, what most armchair survivalists don’t understand is that, a) wild foraging, among most “primitive” people is actually more along the lines of gathering foods from a cultivated “food forest.” They already know where the edible stuff is, and they’ve encouraged it to grow more easily in those places, and b) it is generally heavily supplemented with game meat and/or fish.

None of these are out of the question, and I’ve typically carried a set of a dozen purpose-built small game snares and some sort of small container of suitable bait (peanut butter is my go-to), as part of my SERE kit in my ruck. In the context of simply trying to get home though, I’m probably not going to rely on that either. Instead, what I’ve done is replaced all other foodstuffs with five things:

1) a couple pounds (dry weight) of jerked venison. I shot the deer from my front step, here on the farm, dressed it, and butchered it myself, before slicing up the meat, seasoning it, and drying it.

2) a pound of plain, white rice in a zip lock bag (I’ve considered replacing the rice with whole oats, for a number of years now, and still haven’t done it. The micronutrient ratio is significantly improved over white rice, and there’s an ancestral tie there, to the Highland Scots side of my ancestry…)

3) a pound of “bannock” bread mix. This is simply flour (in my case, I’ve mixed whole wheat flour, barley flour, and rye flour), some salt, and some baking powder. Add a dash of water to make a really thick dough, wrap it around a stick, and lean it close to a small fire, and in a few minutes you’ve got the equivalent of baking powder biscuits. It’s a traditional Scottish Highland food (although, I believe they used ground oat flour rather than wheat, typically), that was also very common among trappers and traders employed by the Hudson Bay Company, and has long been a mainstay among woodsmen in this country as well.

4) a small packet of various spices. Generally, I limit myself to chili powder, salt, pepper, a “seasoning salt” blend, and some bouillon powder.

5) a pound of rockahominy. This traditional backwoods meal could be—more so even than pemmican—said to be the fuel of exploration and settlement, especially in the Southern Highlands. This is simply parched corn, that is then ground together with some sugar, and stored in a bag or pouch. You can eat it dry, by the spoonful (seriously…DO NOT TRY AND EAT AN ENTIRE HANDFUL! In fact, I HIGHLY suggest you not eat more than one spoonful, the first time you try it, and then on an empty stomach, and wait several hours before you try eating more…trust me on this…or don’t…), or you can mix it with a bit of water and make a porridge out of it. This was the foodstuff of choice of the longhunters who explored Kentucky and Tennessee, in the 1700s. I’ve read accounts in original source literature, that claimed a handful of rockahominy, and a stick of dried venison would keep a man moving, with a load, for a week. I’ve not tested that myself, but this has become my go-to “emergency” ration. I keep a pound of it in the GP pouch on my fighting load, and I keep a pound of it in my ruck now as well. (Seriously, this stuff is amazing. It takes almost like popcorn. I mix some raw cane sugar in with mine when I grind the parched corn, and the stuff tastes like caramel corn.)

The only additions to this I would make normally would be in winter time, when I’ll add a pound of cheddar cheese, and a pound of peanut butter, simply for the fat calories.

Of course, in order to make the rice or the bannock edible, or at least palatable, you need to have some means of cooking it. My go-to for fire starting these days is a small ferro-rod and striker combination on a 550 cord lanyard that I wear around my neck. In our area, there is ample cedar growing to make tinder bundles that will ignite pretty easily, but I also recently saw a mind-blowingly good idea from Alan Kay that was so simply brilliant, I’m saddened to not be able to claim credit for it.

One of the best tinders available, as most people know, is petroleum jelly on cotton balls. What Alan did was take those cotton balls, and shove them into a length of plastic drinking straw, then heat sealed the ends closed. So, in a piece of straw about an inch long, you’ve got enough tinder to reliably start a decent fire, and the plastic in the straw means it burns slightly hotter and slightly longer, than just the cotton ball and petroleum jelly combination. Best of all, I can carry four or five of those in my wallet, and forget they are there. Three drinking straws, from a drive-through soda, and you’ve got enough to start a fire every day for a month or more. That’s a month of fires for basically less than a dollar (I can buy a 100 count of cotton balls at the Dollar Store for $1, and I can buy a tub of petroleum jelly, at the same store, for another $1. Hell, if I paid another dollar, for a pack of 100 straws, and divvied it up, I BET I could get a year’s worth of tinder for $3. In fact, I may try that!), and it will take up less room in your pack than most other types of tinder would for a week’s worth of fires.

My traditional go-to answer for field cooking has been either a MSR Whisperlight 600 Internationale, or the MSR XGK multifuel stoves. I chose those options, many winters ago, because I could find fuel for them anywhere in the world. Even on deployments to the least modern places in the world, I could always find something like kerosene or diesel or aviation fuel to fuel them. The drawback to them both, of course, is that they basically sound like a jet engine in use. Unless you’re sitting in a Mission Support Site (MSS—think Objective Rally Point for a surveillance mission), at 9000 feet above sea level, somewhere in the Hindu Kush, with 90mph winds blowing, to mask the roar, you’re not being very “tactical” when you’re cooking with either stove type.

For SERE of course, we’ve long taught the use of the Dakota Fire Hole, when a cooking or heating fire is necessary, and that is certainly an option, if time is not a major factor. For my money however, given the context we’re talking about—bugging out in a grid-down system in a mostly inhabited region—the way to go is a simple twig fire stove. There’s a pile of them out there (and I don’t even remember who made mine) that collapse down into a flat package about 6×6 inches, and they all work basically the same, and they all work off burning small twigs, so you’re not spending a lot of time gathering a pile of firewood. I can heat a cup of water to boiling in about two minutes when I get mine going full bore.

Fire of course, has a pretty noticeable visual signature, between the light created, and the smoke, but these stoves do a good job of minimizing both. By using small twigs, they get hot enough, fast enough, that they really don’t produce much smoke, if any, and between the body of the stove, and the fact that you’re building a really, really small fire, the light signature is almost nonexistent to the naked eye. In the dark it WILL be visible if someone is looking, but that can be countered by using it inside a structure of some sort (remember earlier, when we were talking about the number of uninhabited/abandoned buildings around…?). Best of all, if you don’t want to pony up the money for it, or you need to replace it, you can use a large metal can to do exactly that, although it won’t be collapsible and flat-packed, unless you bust out the tin snips and put more effort into it than it is probably worth.

Finally, you need something to cook the rice/oats in. I’ve carried a one-quart stainless MSR pot for years, and I’ve carried a couple of stainless nesting cups that fit the bottom of my 1-quart water bottles, much like a canteen cup. I’ve liked the ability to cook a quart of food (which usually overstuffs me anyway), AND brew a mug of tea or hot cocoa at the same time. But…in this context, I’m looking at getting home in a hurry, not having a leisurely meal every day, along the way. So, I dumped the MSR pot, and one of the mugs. I have done training courses where all I had for cooking was the cup, and it was not particularly limiting. A small handful of rice, a couple pieces of jerky cut up into the rice, fill the cup with water, and set it in the coils. In ten or fifteen minutes, you’ve got a meat-and-rice dish that tastes good enough, and is reasonably filling, with enough calories to keep you warm overnight, even in the snow country.

Again, if the cup is lost or damaged, or you simply decide you need an extra? Grab a small vegetable can out of the trash heap, fire cleanse it, and put it into service. When you’re done? Toss it back on the trash heap. Now, you’ve not only made use of it, but you’ve left “no trace” for the tracking element to follow you. How do they determine if YOU used that can in the fire, or if it was just some random homeless dude?

——-

We get really wrapped around the axle about gear in the preparedness community. I’m as guilty as many people. I’ve relied on “software over hardware,” but I’ve always tried to take advantage of my physical fitness to allow me to leverage more gear to apply that software. When I really started thinking about it though, it occurred to me that I could, in the context of a “Get Home” situation, really dump a significant portion of my gear, and still survive well enough to return hale and hearty.

The more you know, the less you need, but you need to actually KNOW, not just have watched a couple YouTube videos, or read some blog articles.