Skip to content

Campfire Chat

August 5, 2019

(Patreon Subscribers, first articles are posted! First tier folks, you’ve got the second installment in last week’s Retreat Facility article. Second tier folks, an article on the scattergun, including useful training drills to work on.)

I keep seeing people on social media, discussing the active shooters in Texas and Ohio this weekend, expressing shock that in an entire Texas Wal-Mart, there was apparently nobody carrying a gun, that was willing to maneuver against and engage the shooter. There are a number of issues with this disbelief. First of all is the fact that something less than 5% of Texans actually have concealed carry permits (I believe, IIRC, they are CHLs in Texas). Added to this is the well-known fact that the vast majority of CCW/CHL permittees don’t actually bother carrying their pistols, as a regular thing. They tend to only carry “when I’m going somewhere I might need it!” ignoring the fact that you’re probably better off not going those places in the first place, if it can be avoided.

More important, is the issue that guns are not fucking magical talismans. Having a gun—even assuming you are actually dedicated enough to carry it—doesn’t suddenly give you the ability to do wondrous feats of heroism. There’s an article going around, from the Washington Post, back in March of ‘18, by Matt Larsen, of Modern Army Combatives fame, and LTC John Spencer. It’s titled “A Gun Won’t Give You the Guts to Run Towards Danger.”

This is a critically important reality that too many in the “tactical” and “preparedness” neighborhoods of the gun community don’t grasp. As the authors point out in the article, being issued an M4 or an M16 doesn’t make a soldier into a meat-eating gunfighter. It takes experience facing fear, and working through that fear.

The thing is, you see, as humans, we have this instinct for survival built into us. Some things are intuitively scary to us, because of evolutionary developments: things that go bump in the night, growls in the night, heights, etc. All of these intuitive fears are easy to understand, hard to overcome. I’m an experienced paratrooper, skydiver, and rock climber. Nevertheless, I still get nervous in high, exposed places. I’m not even a particularly great rock climber or skydiver, but I know enough to realize that even the very best athletes in these fields are still frightened by the possibility for death and or bodily harm in the pursuit of their activities. What makes it possible for them to overcome that fear is not a lack of it, but familiarity with the sensation, in those circumstances.

We need to build the same type of familiarity with potential situations we might face, if we are going to be able to overcome fear in a shooting situation we might find ourselves involved in. The biggest of these is simple fear and discomfort about interpersonal violence. The vast, vast majority of modern Americans have never even been punched in the face. To think that you are suddenly going to go from “I’ve never even been in a fistfight!” to “I’m gonna smoke check a motherfucker!” is beyond hubris. It’s fucking retarded.

Beyond that simple issue, we have the issue of normalcy bias and accepting that “this is actually happening. Right here. Right now. Shit.” I’ve been in a number of situations, as a private citizen, over the last several years (I’ve been in a number of situations as a private citizen, over the course of my life, actually, but I’m focusing on these) that a lot of people, when those scenarios are described to them, find shocking. Some of these, like pulling my rifle in a road-rage incident, as described in Guerrilla Gunfighter I, and thus precluding the need to shoot him, are relatively easy to fathom. After all, road rage incidents occur every day, all over the country. Others though, like the time, also described in that book, and in The Reluctant Partisan II, when we forced a car off the road, after watching a man thrown from the vehicle, and I pulled my pistol on the driver, until she exited the vehicle, are less common. These are not uncommon because they happen infrequently, but because most people have their heads so far up their asses, that they don’t realize what they’re seeing, and if they do recognize that something “strange” is happening, they rationalize it away as something else.

It is critical that, not only do we learn to acknowledge that this shit does happen, every day, and can happen to us, we’re not going to be prepared for it when it does happen, regardless of how courageous we “think” we are, and how well armed we are. Courage isn’t manufactured into the gun. You’ve got to provide that on your own.

The other thing that the media makes it really easy to overlook is, while it is certainly true that a mass shooting is traumatic to the victims and their families, the reality is that far, far more people are killed each year, in one-on-one violence, than all the victims of mass shootings added together. There are individual cities (not just counting Chicago either!), where the monthly murder rate exceeds the total victim count in every mass murder in the last decade. They really are a Black Swan event for most of us.

That having been acknowledged though, while the vast majority of gun owners aren’t going to train to be able to effectively negate an active-shooter event, with their EDC gun, that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t. I posit that I’m not particularly gifted as a shooter. I work hard to get to the level of ability I have, and if I slack off, I lose that ability in a hurry. I’m really not that special. But…if I can develop the ability to make an on-demand head shot, at 50 yards, in less than 2 seconds, from the holster, anybody can.


A question for you about building legitimacy in your community. Currently I’m 27 and I’m trying to get members of my church to take looking out for each other more seriously, as in not really using outside sources for labor or expertise. The problem I’m running into is that I think my lack of having a bachelor’s degree or higher is holding me from being taken seriously in a way, as my church as a whole is extremely well educated. I’m considering pursuing an engineering degree in the spring on a part-time basis, even if only for personal development as my employer would pay for it, but I have to wonder if I’m wasting my efforts in terms of building regard for my opinion.
I already lift, run, ruck, do calisthenics and dry fire daily, shoot twice a week, and am starting BJJ early next month, but it seems like I’m treated as a well-meaning, but ultimately misguided youngster. My question is if I should devote the time and effort into formalized education in order to have legitimate accreditation to my name, which will also be potentially useful, or if I should not waste my time and to simply pursue more practical avenues to building community resilience.

My first response would be to point out that, without knowing the community in your church, I can’t comment authoritatively on what would increase your opinion’s worth in their minds. I certainly wouldn’t go out and get a degree, just for that reason. If you’re getting the degree because of personal improvement, by all means, but not just as a means to improve your standing within your church community. If my employer was going to pay for a degree, I’d focus on a degree in something with more long-term benefit to my interests (of course, that might be your interest, and you didn’t specify what kind of engineering degree you were looking at).

Instead, I would focus on listening to the needs of the community around me, and then working to assist in fulfilling those needs. “Oh,” says Mrs. Smith, “I really need to find a plumber to come clear the sink drain. Mr. Smith did it while he was alive, but now that I’m a widow…” Cool. Show up the next day, with the appropriate tools, and tell Mrs. Smith that you’re there to clear that kitchen sink drain. Then do it. You do this five or six times, and people will start looking to you for helping with little things like that. Set the example. If someone needs something big, and it’s going to cost some money, by all means, let them pay for the materials, assuming they can afford it, but, if it comes down to insisting on paying you, charge them less than anyone else would. Make sure you vocalize WHY you’re doing those things. “Oh, Mrs. Smith, it’s no big deal. It’s what we do for our neighbors/church brethren/etc.”


Warwolf was a great book–got me interested in making a couple lead-weighted clubs for one thing. I also read a book I saw you mention before, War Before Civilization, that seems to attest to the effectiveness of clubs given the amount of skull fractures evident in historical battle and massacre sites.

I suspect there’s going to be a great demand for the ability to deal with threats, at close ranges, without the noise of gunfire, in the coming years. I spend a lot of time working contact range weapons into my repertoire of skills, for this reason.


CAS, though limited, is now within reach of any homeowner –> drones. No, you’re not going to get the kind of support that a Warthog can provide, but it’s better than not having one at all.
Check out the vids where they were armed with grenades and dropped them into the open hatches of tanks in Syria. I think Youtube even has videos where kids have mounted guns to them. Of course, I’m not advocating doing anything illegal, I’m just pointing out what others have done..
Plus, in surviellance mode, they can push out your security perimeter whether it’s static (homestead) or mobile (flying ahead of your convoy giving you advancted warning of roadblocks, etc.) They can also deliver small packages (repeaters, etc.) to terrain/locations not easily accessible or of high-risk to humans. Have a tech guy/gal on your team?

I’m going to discuss the application of drones for security applications later in the series, for sure.


So you don’t recommend joining up for combat arms experience? Is there a private equivalent or something?

Not unless it is something you are specifically interested in doing. A lot of the combat arms experience isn’t going to be particularly relevant, even in a total grid-down TEOTWAWKI scenario, and the stuff that is relevant, like shooting well, and even basic small-unit tactics, is available in the civilian private sector. More importantly, the way it’s taught will probably be more relevant to private sector needs. There’s not a lot of point to learning to execute a platoon-sized takedown of a village, as a private. You’re not going to have a platoon, and as a private, you’re not going to have enough to do with the planning to really understand what is involved anyway.


In regards to the mountaintop vs CAS, modernity does pose some daunting challenges. Historically you would want walls and other static defenses, but good luck these days with shaped charges/ IEDs, even in a Mad-Max grid down yadda yadda. I don’t know what the answer here is, if anyone does.

I suspect there is a place for walls and static defenses, but most of that depends on the METT-TC analysis. We are incorporating some static barriers, but they are extremely limited.


You mentioned areas that would become hostile to certain demographics without rule of law; Besides a willingness to perform extreme violence, what is your plan since your family isn’t Christian? I too grew up and live in the South, let’s not kid ourselves on the potential for sectarian violence.

1) We don’t flaunt the fact that we’re not of the Book. It’s not a secret, but we don’t throw it in people’s faces either. 2) Our people know, and don’t care. Our shared values, customs, and traditions, are still there, despite the lack of a shared religion. So, in the end, we rely on the security of kith-and-kin.


How would you advise I get friends and family to become more preparedness-minded? They’re all right-of-center politically, but I think the relative peace and a (albeit ineffectual) Trump presidency has made them complacent.

I can’t get half the concealed carriers to actually carry their pistol, and forget about a tourniquet or flashlight. I also can’t get 95% of them to even consider going for a ham license. I just know they’ll be panic-buying ammo and talking about SHTF when the next Democrat inevitably gets in the WH. How can I get through to these people to prepare NOW?

The only advice I can offer is to keep doing the good work. Set the example. Point out to people examples of what is important, and offer guidance when they are ready. Mostly, set an example by being prepared for an “uncertain” future, while also being successful in the now.


In the process of sitting with my mother, I had some access to Internet, and was watching some YouTube videos the other night. If you’re not watching the videos from Jas. Townsend and Sons, under the YT channel name “Townsend,” you’re doing yourself a disservice. They are a company out of Ohio that sells historical reenactor gear for the 17th and 18th centuries. One of their videos that I watched (I watched a LOT of them), was on laundering clothes in the 18th century. I learned a useful trick for cleaning wool….

Apparently (I haven’t used this yet), you can make a paste out of diatamaceous earth (DE) and a small bit of water. Rub that onto a stain or soiled spot on your wool garment, without grinding it into the fiber. Then, let it dry. Shake out the garment, or brush off the DE, and it should have pulled out the soil. Certainly worth a try, and I will be using it, this winter.

I’m also going to try their method for salting pork in the coming months, and I suspect I will make some potted meat, in the form of breakfast sausage. I’ve seen the idea before, but like a lot of topics, it sort of went in one ear, cogitated around in my brain for a few minutes, then got shoved out the other ear by some new idea or concept coming in.

From → Uncategorized

  1. Michael J Clare permalink

    Good chat. Re normalcy bias, courage as a firearm accessory etc., I agree…as you suggest, stress innoculation/training is available. Everyone I know should avail themselves of it as soon and often as possible.

  2. Matthew Morehouse permalink


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

    Mas Casa

  3. David permalink

    John Lott Chicago Tribune article. Talks about the prevalence of mass shootings in the U.S. versus other countries, as well as gun free zones.

  4. James permalink

    My response to getting friends/family to prepare a bit more is keep trying.I have found(with others) that having the whole family involved with say camping/gardening/heck,just building a brush shelter helps all folks learn and work with others and,just good quality family time.These are good things to know and opens the path towards more skill building in a group environment.I get the point tis hard to get em to even carry say a med kit,my solution was putting together IFAK kits for folks for Christmas and also a list of videos on how to use said stuff,very minimal sure,but,may make the difference.

    I feel the hardest hurdle is getting folks to think things can go very wrong(understandably),once crossed over find folks like trying new things/learning new things,the smalls add up.

    I for years have said would get me tech/general license,only now just starting to study,and with so much going on in my life will be a long road,but,at least I am on it,best of luck to all.

    • James permalink

      Keep adding to your situation. Are you rural or cosmopolitan NYC? If in a sweet spot geographically relax. Medical and cooking are over looked.

  5. Scott Shiver permalink

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

  6. Mike J permalink

    Agree 100% IRT Jas. Townsend. They have DVD’s of all of the shows on YT for sale on their site, and I recommend them highly. The episode on making a wood fired earth oven, and baking bread in it is great information, as is the salt pork etc. I consider them must have for the day when YT bans them.

  7. Vagus permalink

    With regards to engaging active shooters, I applaud you for speaking the truth. I’ll even go further with it, if I’m at XYZ when the shit goes down, my #1 priority is getting my loved ones clear. That probably means running, and engaging only if they’re between me and and the exit. I’m not going to sweep the premises and get my loved ones or my own fool ass killed, I’m not James Bond. If I felt I could engage after #1 is accomplished, then and only then maybe.

    Second, I have drawn a weapon twice, and I’d probably still hesitate. Shooting someone is heavy shit, 1) you might get shot by the jittery cop 2) You’re going to get drug through the legal system 3) other consequences I haven’t even considered yet, like a security clearance or employment restrictions. I’m not going to step into that ocean of shit unless I have absolutely no alternative, see above.

  8. LowKey permalink

    Regarding walls and static defenses, I suspect a model from which to start and draw ideas would be Rhodesian Farmhouses of the 60’s and 70’s. A good overview on the subject is at
    One of the things I noted is the combination of a safe room along with a radio net with which to call for aid from kith and kin.
    I’d love to hear your critique of their methods.

  9. Grumpy Hermit permalink

    I think it needs to be said that the El Paso Walmart is known as and 30 ought 6 zone, no legal carry allowed.

  10. Curtis permalink

    I’m a CHL holder, but I’ve definitely accepted that in a mass-shooter scenario the point of my pistol is to get myself and my family to safety: As a sheepdog, my flock is four deep. Everyone else can pound sand.

    You touch on normalcy bias and inability to accept the what’s happening, but our human nature is much worse. People are innately curious. Noises and and panic will draw lookie-lous who break cover and even amble into the danger zone because they want to see and hear what’s going on. It’s hard to break the desire to figure out what’s going on or see what’s going to happen next, and just calmly unass the AO.

    People have to prepare to fight and ignore that voice in the back of their heads that says “What was that noise? What’s going on over there? We should check it out! I’m safe here now, so I should poke my head out a little and see what’s going on.”

  11. SharpsShtr permalink

    General question,

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


    • James permalink

      Poison Ivy: wash with Fels Naptha soap bar or use Tech Nu as directed. Apply hydrocortisone 1% cream or lotion and swallow oral Benadryl 25 mg . This treats itch , red , swelling skin. If your break out is on face and eyes go to a hospital.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Three From Mosby | Western Rifle Shooters Association

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: