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If you have been thinking of getting a dog to use as a “Prepper Dog”, this article will help guide you in choosing the best candidate and understanding the training behind the Ideal Prepper Dog.

There are certain qualities which one needs to look for in an ideal SHTF dog. The dog should be naturally alert, intelligent, athletic and courageous, with a strong sense of duty to protect home and family. Good genetics will produce a healthier dog with lower maintenance. It is good if the dog is not too large and able to get into small spaces but big enough to be a man stopper, not just an alarm dog. A Prepper Protection Dog will stop a man if needed but will be compact enough to fit into small places.

The best breeds for the job are the Belgian Malinois, Dutch Shepherd and German Shepherd as well as crosses of these breeds which are often used successfully in the Military and for Police K-9 work. These dogs are recognized as Police K-9 dogs by the criminal element and therefore are a strong psychological deterrent. There are other breeds and mixes which could make great protection dogs as well & a professional trainer would be able to evaluate and set up a suitable training program for you and your dog, as well as evaluate your handling skills and whether you can handle a high drive dog, or need more of a medium drive dog.

Most Huskies, Labradors, Great Danes and Poodles would be a small example of breeds that are not generally suitable for Prepper Dogs, as they are bred to be companions and pets, not a working protection dog.


The Military uses Malinois for bomb detection and protection work for Special Forces.

There are three types of dogs for protection work. An alarm dog, that is a small/large dog who barks to alert you that something is wrong. A threat dog is one who looks big and fearsome, will bark but is purely for a psychological deterrent. A man stopper, is a large powerful dog professionally trained to physically stop a man if need be. A man stopper dog, if given the command or if his owner is attacked, must react. This dog is capable of damaging a person badly in a brief encounter and has the confidence and training to do so while remaining under the control of it’s handler.

Not everyone can handle a man stopper. There are varying degrees of threat dogs and man stoppers. The handler’s abilities and handling skills will directly determine if they are capable of having such a dog. I have placed many trained protection dogs with new handlers and families. It is very important for someone to get a dog that they can handle. GatorlandK9 has 40 combined years of experience matching dogs with handlers to ensure success.

A dog for prepper work must be environmentally sound, that is the dog is not stressed in new places or situations. A well trained Prepper Dog should be able to work in hostile environments with gun fire, bad weather and stressful surroundings. If a dog folds under these conditions, it should not be considered for prepper work. Another trait which will disqualify a dog is uncontrollable aggressive behavior. The dog can not be a danger or a loose canon.  A dog should be confident, social and obedient to its pack leader. Professional training by someone who understands protection work will teach your dog to obey it’s advanced obedience, which should be required by any reputable trainer before going on to protection work. Protection exercises will focus on defense of the handler and area that the family has chosen to live. Most importantly, the dog learns when and when it is not appropriate to defend it’s territory. If the handler is attacked, the dog must react.   Proper training helps prepare your dog for violent conflict.

American Street Ring is a system of practical protection training that was founded by Ted Hoppe. The ASR Protection Dog Level would be a good foundation for a Prepper Dog because it combines intermediate level obedience with handler protection exercises that show that the dog will not just bite a sleeve but will protect the handler. Criminals do not wear bite sleeves and your Prepper Protection Dog needs to be trained for the real world. For more information on American Street Ring as a system of training for Prepper Dogs, go to http://gatorlandk9.com/available-dogs/protection-dogs


Protection Dogs will alert you to intruders and give you time to get to your firearm.

An important duty of the trained dog is to take away the element of surprise if you are attacked. If someone is planning on robbing you and sneaking up on you, a good Prepper Dog should alert on this. As a handler, you need to recognize that your dog is communicating an alert to you which may be subtle such as having the dog stand and the ears perk up or more dramatic such as barking and running in the direction of the threat.

The best protection you can have is a well trained dog and a gun. In the event of a robbery, the dog will buy you time to get your gun and take away the element of surprise of the bad guy. If you have a dog sleeping by your bed and someone is trying to break in, the dog needs to slow that person down or stop that person, buying you time to get your gun. Remember, an alarm system cannot defend you and a gun cannot wake you up. A good Prepper Dog can do both.

A criminal may have doubts as to your ability to use a gun or your willingness to shoot him, but that same criminal may show more fear of a dog than someone with a gun. This is where the value of having a Prepper Dog comes in. The importance of the psychological deterrent cannot be over stressed.

If and when the grid goes down, everything as we know it will change. Dogs must serve a purpose in protecting their owners. The time to train your Prepper Dog is now.

You can contact Ted Hoppe at 888-898-7877 or go to the website for pictures and videos of training at http://www.gatorlandk9.com

If you have been thinking of getting a dog to use as a “Prepper Dog”, this article will help guide you in choosing the best candidate and understanding the training


The argument to prep for bugging out or sheltering in place is a big one in prepping circles. Sheltering in place is the most comfortable because it is your home. And it’s the easiest. Why learn to hunt or garden if you have a years’ worth of rations in your basement? While prepping to bug out is smaller, cheaper, and easier to hide from the non-preppers who may criticize you. Some say it all boils down to what you are prepping for – some sort of national emergency, oil crises, natural disaster, mass civil unrest, pandemic, etc. Or where you live – in a city, suburb or rural area. But I always point out an often overlooked threat that immediately follows a true TEOTWAWKI situation – fire. No matter the reason, it doesn’t really matter unless you are always ready to bug out.

A true TEOTWAWKI scenario is when people stay home from work to protect their families. That is when society as we know it stops to function. No cops, firemen, doctors, etc. So no one will be around to put out the fires that occur naturally, accidentally, or intentionally. And that’s a threat whether you’re in a city, town, or in the country. Think your secret hideaway in the woods is safe? Most places in the developed world don’t let natural forest fires grow and clear out the underbrush that builds up. Usually they are put out as soon as they start. So any forest fire post-collapse can build up to be extremely powerful. If you live in the country, grass fires can be intentionally set and it’s no big deal. But if an entire town or a city goes up it can become an unstoppable force. Putting all your eggs in one basket, like being totally dependent on your year’s supply of long-term food, or planting all your heirloom seeds to grow all your food can become useless when an unstoppable fire is approaching to wipe out your crops.

When bugging out you have less to worry about from fires because you are already on the move with your supplies. But where are you bugging out to? Of course not all of us can afford a countryside retreat. If you live in the city with nowhere to bug out to you still have options. For example, I live in a small town but I still have neighbors. And when the SHTF I may find that my castle is now The Alamo surrounded by a mob of people who were not prepared for TEOTWAWKI but know my family was. I can’t afford a secluded getaway. So I keep a list of farmland, woodland, and undeveloped places in the country up for sale. Hopefully no one would notice if they were to suddenly become occupied post-collapse. And if the rightful owners showed up I’ll offer my help as a working hand, or security.

5000 Watt 200AH Solar Generator & (2) 100 Watt Solar Panels

The point is we all should prep with an “Always ready to bug out” mindset. Any shelter in place or country getaway is subject to the threat of fire. And those who bug out usually have a second location to get to, like a cabin with solar power and a shed full of freeze-dried biscuits and gravy. Which is still susceptible to the threat of fire. So I advocate for a simpler and practical approach to prepping. It may save you time and money in the long run.

First off everyone should be able to survive whatever situation you prep for with ONLY what you can carry in a moment’s notice, i.e. your bug out bag. That means you need to be able to forage, hunt, trap, build a shelter, and clean your drinking water with what you carry on you. Knowledge is always the best force multiplier. Learning practical survival skills is the first step to prepping.

Secondly, prepping is part gadgets/tools, and part skills. Too much emphasis is put on tools and equipment that will only weigh down your pack and won’t be of any real use when you need to hike 20 miles a day to escape a massive fire or get to your hide out in the country if taking a vehicle is not an option. Learn from the ultralight hikers who cut their toothbrushes down to 3 inches to conserve weight and space in their pack. Acquiring a compact, lightweight and durable sleeping bag, tent, and other gear is a great idea. They may cost an extra dollar, but if you’ve ever carried your entire campsite on your back while hiking all day then you’ll know what I mean when I say the compact and lightweight gear is worth it.

Likewise, too much emphasis is put on skills that have little practicality post-collapse. Sure basket weaving can be useful but wouldn’t your time be better spent honing your shooting skills? Or learning herbal medicines? I learn my skills starting with what I think will be the most useful overall then work up from there. I plan to speak more on this in a future article.


Have a plan to get out if sheltering in place is no longer an option.

Thirdly, planning is everything. Plan for emergencies and stock up on some supplies. Plan to get out if sheltering in place is no longer an option. If you are able to get a country getaway and stock it with food and power and supplies, then do it. If possible, try to pick a location that would have a decent chance at surviving a forest fire. In getting to your country getaway, have safe zones along your route in case of obstacles or unknown threats. Plan a scenario if using a vehicle is not an option. Libraries and museums are rarely looted in civil unrest, or emergencies because there’s not many supplies to get there. But a library does offer books on subjects you may need to brush up on. State parks can offer lots of cover but in the event of a mass exodus from a city, everyone will be looking for a new home and state parks may become overcrowded quickly. And if you have to leave your home, to bug out to your cabin in the woods or to find a new homestead, you still need to have your bag packed to leave in a moment’s notice. If a disaster were to pop up suddenly such as fire, looters, zombie hybrid grizzly bear, then you can still be able to survive in a “Oh shit, run!” situation.

Like I say, always be prepared to bug out. Because we cannot always plan for every situation and until you have the skills of a caveman and can walk out into the wilderness and survive with nothing then you always need to have your tools at hand that you need to survive. In a true TEOTWAWKI situation nowhere will be safe from the threat of wild fires. Never become dependent on anything you can’t take with you.

  The argument to prep for bugging out or sheltering in place is a big one in prepping circles. Sheltering in place is the most comfortable because it is your home.

When preparing for emergencies in our lives, preppers often tend to focus first on reactionary needs. We can envision the possibility of a disastrous event happening and we plan for and prepare a response for that event. If we are unable to make it to the store for some reason, we store food and water to take care of our family’s most basic needs. Should we be attacked, we train for self-defense, acquire tools and supplies to even the odds and make plans to defend our castle in the worst case scenario. Many preppers view their plans as solid and naturally expect the other 90% of the population who (we are convinced) hasn’t made any preparations to eventually, some day, show up and try to take what they have. In this case, there is always the expectation of conflict and we routinely discuss how we envision that ending.

But what if we could modify our thought process for a while and first plan on avoiding conflict when SHTF instead of considering violence as the inevitable outcome of the prepper haves versus the unprepared have-nots? For those of you who have been reading the Final Prepper since we started, no I haven’t gone all soft. I still very much expect and prepare for violent action if necessary, but I think too often that is the default prepper or survivalist’s response. I certainly don’t want to ever have to defend my life with deadly force, but I believe in my core that I will do what is necessary to protect the lives of my friends family and any strangers I see who need it. I thought this latest installment of our Back to Basics series could focus on some alternatives to conflict that could end up saving lives in the right situation.

The scenarios I mention below and what usually flavor most articles on this site will assume that some massive disaster has happened. The SHTF event you have been preparing for has occurred and almost instantly you have choices to make. How you decide to handle each situation could mean the difference between coming out alive or suffering needlessly.

Why should we try to avoid conflict?

There are many reasons I can see for eventually engaging in conflict, especially when we are considering a true SHTF scenario. I would argue that there could be just as many if not more reasons why should be avoiding conflict at all costs. Perhaps it’s simpler to say that conflict avoidance should be the first tact you try. Escalations may be a foregone conclusion, but only when you have no other options. Some readers and commenters will say that when lives are on the line, it’s safer to simply blast someone in the face than try to bargain or negotiate but I would argue that taking that approach goes against some of the philosophy that I believe most preppers believe in.

Preppers want to live. The want to succeed, to thrive, to overcome obstacles. Preppers and prepping is about hope even when the events we seem to fear would lead many to feel hopeless. I believe that there is a reason we are prepping and it isn’t simply to see how many zombie bodies and empty shell casings we can pile up at our feet. We want a different life perhaps, but it doesn’t automatically come at the expense of everyone else.

Conflict with another person, or people will take a toll on you. Sometimes that toll is lives. Other times it could be the loss of close friends or family. It could be a deal to trade goods that goes the wrong way, the loss of someone who can support you, or the loss of a resource you may need to survive. In a true SHTF scenario, your little survival group is going to need all the help it can get so playing nice as much as is prudent will be to your advantage.

Avoiding Conflict with Looters

I think that one of the first effects of a major SHTF scenario will be migration out of the major metropolitan areas. Looting will follow as the people who stayed behind scrounge for supplies they want in homes and businesses. Any location that appears to have resources the looters need will be a target when the threat of incarceration is gone. When there is no longer any rule of law, even little old grannies will be looting if they want to survive.


Looters in the days closely following the SHTF event will be looking for targets of opportunity. They certainly won’t take on an armed group at first but as the situation deteriorates, they could come back and with more practice and armed with greater numbers. Sure, you could put on a show of force, but you might want to save that for later.

The concepts of the Grey Neighbor come into play here and by simply making your house appear to already have been looted; you might avoid someone viewing your house as a target. Throw some trash and clothes in the yard. Smash a window – provided you can seal that back up with some black plastic. Spray paint some graffiti on the front wall and rip the screen door off one hinge. It may work just enough to make lazier looters skip on past your house.

Avoiding Conflict with your neighbors

This one is trickier because looters might not live next door to you, but your neighbors will be able to watch what is going on at your house all day long. The last thing you want is to have your neighbor working against you. They could turn you in to the authorities as a hoarder and all your supplies could be confiscated. Or, they could form a group against you to take what you have by force, citing the common good. Neighbors would ideally be part of your larger group well in advance of any conflict, but that still could arise if they are desperate.


After the event has settled, check in on your neighbors and see if they need help with anything. It will arouse much less suspicion to dole out some charity early on in the form of food and water when normal supplies would not be exhausted. Offer to let them use some generator time possibly. If you wait for 3 months after the stores have been closed and offer them a sack of rice and some beans and then will be very curious as to why you still have supplies and what else you might have. Help them out and if you feel you can trust them, invite them into your group for mutual aid. They might only be able to contribute extra, willing hands but it would be better than having them as your enemy if you can afford the burden. As with everything else, you will have to make choices about who you open up to.

Avoiding Conflict with your survival group

Many of us already have a stocked bug out retreat ready to go. Even the most prepared group is going to have high levels of stress when you are forced into a less than ideal situation after the SHTF. Tempers will flare and there will be decisions that are met with disagreement. In a very toxic situation, the group could splinter leading to power struggles and worse.

Any survival group that is going to succeed will need to have a set of clearly defined rules and everyone’s strict adherence will be necessary. The longer you have been a group and the more times you have been together the better off you will fare but the larger picture is that the group’s survival depends on each member contributing and sometimes sacrificing for the good of the overall group. Negotiation skills and open communication will be key.

Avoiding Conflict with your family

For most of us, our survival group is simply our family. We don’t have a cadre of ex-mil buddies who have been training for years and have fortified bunkers under our ultra-rural enclave in the hills. We will just have the people we are around every day, maybe a couple of friends or extended family that you take in. For people in this situation, I think that fear will be more heightened for the majority of them; they won’t have had the opportunity to think anything through as you have potentially. The unknowns and worry will be huge stressors that they will have to come to grips with and you as the leader will have to manage.


As a leader, you are going to need to exhibit a greater sense of calm than you probably ever would in your day-to-day life simply because everyone will be looking to you for answers. If you are the go-to prepper in the family, there will be many questions. Every decision you make will likely be questioned because the people you are surrounded with don’t know what you do and bring their own opinions and beliefs to every situation.

In the very beginning, as soon as it is practical, you need to sit everyone down and tell them everything you know, what you plan to do and why you think your decisions are best. It may be necessary to get group consensus or create a micro dictatorship for a while. It really depends on the crisis, the people you are dealing with and your style. The main goal is to keep everyone safe and these are probably the people you care most about. Let them know they will be fine, you have a plan and you are prepared. Then prove it with your actions.

Avoiding Conflict with other survivors

Lastly, if you have made it through the disaster, you will be dealing with other survivors. I believe neighborhoods will form communities very quickly post-disaster but due to geography, neighborhoods might remain somewhat isolated. As time goes on, you will meet other people and hopefully form friendships, perhaps barter or simply form a larger community to share resources. Every other group has been through their own tragedy, they have their own fears and securities. Understanding this and helping them mutually, after precautions have been made will be better than some turf war over the garden.

In almost every situation I can think of besides someone kicking down your front door, or shooting at you from the wood line, there is a very good reason to try to avoid conflict. Strangers can become friends. Even enemies can let past grievances die. In a SHTF scenario, if you want to live, avoiding conflict will be one of the highest priorities.

When preparing for emergencies in our lives, preppers often tend to focus first on reactionary needs. We can envision the possibility of a disastrous event happening and we plan for

When I was young, I’d watch in fascination as my mother used her treadle sewing machine (a late 1800’s Singer that belonged to my great-grandmother) to fashion all sorts of clothing, blankets, couch covers and schoolbags.  I’d sit on the floor and watch as her feet deftly pedaled fast on the straightaway and then slowed as she rounded a curve or reached an end.

Built before electricity, the heavy Singer emitted a peaceful clicking sound, interrupted only when the ancient leather belt flew apart. Mom would stop pedaling, rejoin the leather ends with a bent nail and bit of tape, and resume sewing. Without realizing it, I was learning much about mechanical advantage just by watching my mother sew.


Before and After

Finally, at age 11, I was allowed to use the machine myself. What a thrill to pick out a Raggedy Ann pattern at the Ben Franklin store in town for my first project. The fabric, buttons and stuffing came from my mother’s scrap box – what she called “glad rags.”  They may only have been faded remnants of former garments, but she was “glad to have them.”

To make the dress ruffles, I used the Singer gathering attachment. Embroidering the facial features called for bolting on another ingenious gadget. I followed the directions in the yellowed manual, eventually trying out each attachment as I completed Raggedy Ann.

As a teen, I made clothes for myself or modified straight-legged jeans by adding jumbo triangles of gaudy fabric or bandanas to transform the pants into bell-bottoms. It was the 70’s. What can I say?

After a car, my next big investment as a young adult was a New Home sewing machine that could form buttonholes and even had some extra fancy stitches (that I never used). I just plugged the machine in and away I went, consuming a million miles of thread over the years as I crafted curtains, quilts, clothes and even a boat cover or two.


Needs some TLC

Nothing compared, though, with the satisfaction of sewing with that antique treadle machine. I quickly surmised the whir of an electric motor is impersonal and challenging to control. But, I grew up being told technology is better. My mother, too, gave her treadle to a neighbor and then bought a modern plastic and tin sewing machine. At least her treadle did not end up in the city dump with so many others.

On our journey to self-reliance, we’ve been gathering human-powered tools when we can find them. It’s surprising how quickly hand- and foot-powered tools were abandoned when electricity became available. From 1850 to 1890, more than 100 apple-peeling devices were patented. Then the peeling inventions ceased, except those running on electric power. And so it goes with thousands of other nifty human-powered appliances.

I drove by a fix-it shop recently and couldn’t believe my lucky find – an antique stainless steel hand-cranked washing machine sitting out front. I zoomed in the parking lot and ran over to the washer, only to discover petunias blooming in the rusted basin.


Sewing machine box refurbished

Our search for old-fashioned tools intensified last year as Darren worked on another invention – a pedal-powered PTO. The original intent was to develop a device that could pump volumes of water from our well, not the measly 2 cups per stroke a common hand pump yields.

Once that was accomplished, Darren decided the PTO had so much more potential than just pumping water. So, he set it up to operate our grain grinder and a low-RPM alternator for charging batteries. Now, we’re continually thinking of other tools around here that can be adapted to the PTO (the drill press, metal grinder, band saw). Ultimately, all this led to the WaterBuck Pump.

Meanwhile, I continued searching for an old treadle sewing machine like my mother had.

Finally, we found an abused White Rotary treadle machine at a Springfield thrift store for $60. Even though I was discouraged by its neglected condition (I didn’t even take a picture of it), I was eager to get it home and start refurbishing. I wasn’t interested in beauty; I just wanted a working treadle machine.

The machine appeared (and smelled) as if it was stored in a chicken coop. The battered cabinet was broken in places and the hand wheel stiff to turn, but we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. Darren replaced or repaired the busted boards while I disassembled, oiled and cleaned the machine. I took a few photos only so I would not forget how to put it back together.


Quilt sewn with the Treadle sewing machine

As we worked, we marveled at the quality craftsmanship. Online copies of advertisements reveal that this machine was built to be affordable for the average household, costing about $55 new in 1913. Yet, the cabinet has in inlaid ruler, handsome curved drawers and detailed wrought iron stand. The machine is adorned on every side with golden decals.

Darren was especially intrigued with the precise machine work. After cleaning and oiling the treadle in the shop, he gave it a few pumps to get it spinning and then came in the house to fetch me. We went out and saw the flywheel still silently turning minutes later, perfectly balanced and smooth.

Between the two of us, we had the cabinet and machine looking and running like new in no time. As soon as my new leather belt arrived from Amazon, I was sewing.

First, I made a cover of old drapery scraps to hide a broken cinder block that we sit the Berkey water filter on in the kitchen.  Total project cost: $0.

Next, I recovered an old glider rocker I found at the thrift store for $15. I didn’t take any “before” photos because, once again, I wasn’t even sure Darren would let me put that ugly thing in the house.  The cushions were worn, stained and coated in pet hair.  I ripped them apart and washed the foam padding outside in a tub, and then traced them onto some new, heavy upholstery fabric (another thrift store find).


Sewing with zero power!

Meanwhile, Darren tightened and glued the chair and matching foot stool.  If not for the foam taking so long to dry, the entire project would’ve been completed in a few hours.  Still, I got a super comfy chair (I always wanted a rocker!) and stool for less than $20.

With the mundane chores behind me, I had a blast sewing an outrageously colorful quilt, and even used the treadle to quilt the fabric. My shoulders got a workout handling all that fabric, but what fun!

That hundred-year-old White ran like a champ through several layers of HEAVY fabric without skipping a single stitch.  It took a while to get used to rotating the wheel away from me when I start out.  It’s sort of like learning to drive on the opposite side of the road, but I got the hang of it.

While I treadled along, I thought of the lucky housewife who got the White Family Rotary sewing machine new in 1913 or so.  I’m sure it was a treasured investment and lovely addition to the home décor.  It certainly is around here.


When I was young, I’d watch in fascination as my mother used her treadle sewing machine (a late 1800’s Singer that belonged to my great-grandmother) to fashion all sorts of


There is a very popular Hollywood movie, although not a box office smash at the time that has aged incredibly well and developed a bit of a cult following, it has even spawned an Internet church, which offers free ordination, and it’s own festival. One could say that simply imitating “The Dude” from the Big Lebowski is no way to go about being prepared for life and emergencies that may come up. I would agree with that, it is not a prepper film, nor is the character to be emulated, but that’s just, my opinion, man. However the idea they casually present in the film is taken from a natural law and a verse from Ecclesiastes 1:4 “One generation passes away and another generation comes: but the Earth abides forever”, this is something that we can all learn and benefit from.

Growing up it wasn’t called survival, it wasn’t about being prepared to flee or hunker down, it wasn’t about being armed for the sake of defense from looters, marauders or a terrorist attack although when armed for whatever reason you are better prepared to attend to any of the above, it wasn’t about fear of the unknown or possible outcomes of an unknowable future. It wasn’t tactical and it certainly wasn’t cool and there was no fear going into it or the expectation of something bad happening. It was called living and being ready to face whatever work and uncertainty any day on the farm might bring. It was about doing the daily chores, checking the pumps and irrigation, feeding the chickens and shoveling the manure, baling hay and putting up for the winter months, canning the garden surplus and sharing the rest. It was about neighbors and community, it wasn’t perfect but it worked and continues to today.

It is a mindset that can only be learned by doing, when all is as it should be the body does what the mind tells it to do and only you should be able to control how you think. Notice, I said should, as all to often in today’s society we confuse our own free will with what we have been spoon fed by many sources, good and bad.

So having the right mind is paramount and with this mindset comes the stoicism and steadfastness that leads to quiet strength in emergencies, natural disasters and the ability to deal with whatever, whichever wicked and /or good things that will come your way in this crazy little thing called life. Let’s look at how you can put this mindset to your own prosperous use and for the sake of definition let’s give it a name.

Leatherman Wave Multitool

I would maybe call it “country thinking” or “farmer thinking” or “we don’t have the money to buy new clothes, so we better make some thinking” but none of these really roll of the tongue or could be featured in an infomercial or self-help guide, so let’s give it a fancy, modern, branded name. “The WILL to abide”

By definition “to abide”: accept or act in accordance with (a rule, law, decision or recommendation). I want to bring in a laser focus on the later part “act in accordance with” this means that as things are presented, as they come to your immediate need of attention they will be dealt with and this is really a natural law. Think about it, you are getting in the car, you have the day planned, you know where you are going and what you are going to get done, nature suddenly calls, well if your smart, naturally, you will abide. Another example might be that you are loading your car trunk full of whatever supplies, sundries or materials you have just procured and the trunk wont close, but you have twine in your trunk so you place a well-practiced knot and a truckers hitch and on your merry way you go, this is also “the will to abide”. You need to cut the twine for another purpose (because if you know your knots and hitches there is no need to cut the twine for a simple hitch) so you take the old timey pocketknife or modern multi-tool or whatever it is that you always have with you because you know you will need it and you cut the twine. The blade is sharp because you abide by the fact a sharp knife cuts cleanest and a dull knife is more dangerous, that a cut from a sharp knife heals quicker than a gash from a dull one, you know this is true so you abide.

How to achieve “The WILL to abide”, for some it is quite natural, some people have had very pragmatic upbringings and having “the WILL to abide” isn’t second nature but rather is nature and how they will deal with everything that crosses their path, barely thought about but for others it is an empowered awakening that brings them to the point of realizing that they are responsible in how they process their day-to-day interactions with the world we all share. For others still it is a tool that needs sharpening, just like that pocketknife so it is ready to use when needed.


Remember the serenity prayer regardless of your denomination or belief system it applies universally.

#1 – Surrender the fear:

You will never have everything you need every time all the time, you are not in control of the larger picture, you cannot carry every conceivable tool or replacement part for every possible situation. Realize that things are not really in your control and that’s okay. Become at ease with it, abide by it, embrace the fact that none of us are impervious and you simply cannot be prepared for everything. If a large enough asteroid were to hit the earth and blow it apart, all your preps and respective molecules will be floating in the vacuum of space and that’s that. With liberty from fear comes the freedom to act. Remember the serenity prayer regardless of your denomination or belief system it applies universally “ God/Buddha/Vishnu/Spaghetti Monster grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference”

#2 – Embrace change:

Change is a changeless state; it is constant and ongoing, unstoppable. Winter begets spring, which begets summer, which begets fall. You crawled, then walked, then ran, and then used a cane, then laid down to your final rest. Reject your hard-wired normalcy bias, it is a chemical deception and will not last, make yourself aware of the fact that everything is going to change, then refer to #1. When you are putting up a new building drive by one that is falling down, in disrepair and remind your self that what is now brand new will someday most likely be in the same state of decomposition, you can tell yourself maybe that won’t happen but most likely it will and over a long enough time line it is certain.

#3 – Be discerning in your thoughts:

Don’t fall into every fear mongering headline the mainstream and alternative media feeds you or avoid them altogether if you wish and cut the cord but the same goes for the prepper community, there are certain things I am certain of personally and will believe till the day I die, that we have not been told the truth about 9/11, that the banks knew they would be bailed out in 2008 and that big pharma does not always have our best interests at heart. However there are things that are just plain fear porn and manipulations used to make prepared people, people who will abide seem like foolish chicken little’s as well as sell overpriced gear and food and gladly take your hard-earned commodities. Cultivate your common sense and don’t be fooled, search for truth but don’t be an absolutist, see # 2


Do you have a can of seeds but no experience gardening?

4# – Live the prep:

Abraham Lincoln once said “ If I had six hours to cut down a tree, I would spend four hours sharpening the axe” What does that really mean? It means that dull and inefficient tool use is dangerous and wasteful, on many levels. It means that if you have your 1 or 2-year supply of food, are you ready to implement it? Are you rotating it? Do you know how to cook with it? Are you using the tools you have in the most effective ways they can be used? You may have a thousand rounds of .308 ammo and the spiffiest new scope on your AR-10 down in the basement but is your scope sighted in, do you know how to use the Mil-Dots on that thing to allow for windage and declination or elevation? Do you have a can of seeds but no experience gardening? Ask your self these real questions and give yourself real answers, then act accordingly and practice, abide with the idea that someday soon you may need them for real but implement them now and use them now, there is always an excuse and a solution, if your apartment doesn’t have the green spaces for a garden, start something in your windowsill, anything to raise your experience level and your personal value to what is now and what you will need to abide.

Develop Community Now:

I have several, rather distant, semi-acquaintances that can quote every new meteor threat and site You Tube scripture as to the moment the world is going to stop spinning and how ready they are to be lone wolves in this brave new world. Well, good on them, thankfully they are all childless and spouse-less and their specific genetic mutations will not pass on. Humankind is not a solitary animal, never has been and never will be, sure we have a small percentage of curmudgeons and hermits but thankfully it is just that, a small percentage. We need each other now folks and we will need each other after a flood, hurricane, mega virus or an EMP, so the logical thing is to build a network of like-minded people in your extant community and a good cognitive knowledge of others that would be useful in a post SHTF scenario. I have lots of sewing supplies but I don’t have a loom, but I know someone who does. I have eggs, fish and rabbits and I know quite a few people who raise a hog or seven, see where I’m going here? No matter what happens in the future “The WILL to abide” means community.

The Will to abide is about power: friends, self power, community power and the power of the human spirit to adapt, change and grow, it is about being prudent, resourceful, prepared, self-sufficient and a whole bunch of other fallen from favor adjectives. The fact that society as a whole doesn’t share our perspective that things are always changing and that we are overdue for a larger than normal event doesn’t diminish our existing society. It simply means that it will not abide.

  There is a very popular Hollywood movie, although not a box office smash at the time that has aged incredibly well and developed a bit of a cult following, it


Fire making – as we are used to – results from a chemical reaction and some friction (whether from a match or lighter). Even those lighters with a glowing element deploy the principles for fire lighting. In the absence of matches and lighters (and ignoring the ‘elbow grease’ methods for making fire) several chemical reactions result in combustion, without requiring additional help from a match to get them going. In a desperate situation you can make chemical fires without matches or a lighter.

Three elements need to be present to constitute a fire – heat, oxygen and fuel. Fuel may be solid, liquid or (oxidizable) gas. When striking a match or flicking a lighter, the friction provides the heat as a spark, open air contributes the oxygen and the fuel is what you supply – in most cases a carbonaceous or nitrogenous substance. To kill a fire you remove one of the three elements – in most cases the oxygen (by smothering), but also by cooling or isolating the fuel.

There are many chemical reactions that lead to combustion. Some are more dangerous and people with no experience in this regard should stay away from those. For instance stay away from black powder used as propellant in shooting or blasting. This is an explosive. How many times have we seen (on TV) that a bullet is pulled from a cartridge and the propellant then used for starting a fire, or that barrel of black powder used as a distance fuse. Those are very controlled circumstances and rather dicey, even when using nitro propellant. That’s (reasonably) ok if yours is nitro based, but keep away from black powder. The thing is that black powder is compressed (e.g. in a muzzle loader) so that there is no airspace over the powder. In contrast, nitro-based propellants are normally (not always) not compressed and an airspace is allowed between it and the bullet (mild compression in big bores are not uncommon). Never overdo anything, and especially so when deploying the might of nature.

There are very simple chemical methods by which a fire can be started. This brief article explains four ways to make fire using chemical reactions. No matches or lighter are needed to start the fire.


Chemical Fire #1

  • Potassium permanganate (in some places also known as Condy’s crystals) – an oxidant
  • Glycerine – supplying the fuel
  • Water – as reaction facilitator (it dissolves the potassium permanganate and accelerates the reaction)

Add a few drops of glycerine to a few crystals of potassium permanganate. Accelerate the reaction by adding a couple of drops of water. Alternatively a solution of the potassium permanganate can be made and (drop wise) added to the glycerine.

Chemical Fire #2

  • Acetone (as in nail polish remover)
  • Sulfuric acid (as in battery acid from the car – it’s appreciably weaker but should still work; the full strength version is preferable but should be handled with care as it is seriously corrosive). Keep this away from water as the adding of either to the other also generates a lot of heat and sputtering.
  • Potassium permanganate (Condy’s crystals)

Soak a tissue with acetone to make it more flammable. Draw sulfuric acid into a glass pipette (if you do not have a pipette do not use a metal spoon, rather a sturdy plastic one). Dip the pipette into potassium permanganate so that the tip of the pipette is coated with a few crystals. Dispense the sulfuric acid onto the tissue. The potassium permanganate and sulphuric acid mix to produce manganese heptoxide and fire. If using the plastic spoon, let the sulfuric acid drip onto the acetone soaked tissue and trickle some potassium permanganate crystals onto the tissue. Again, keep your face away from the vicinity of the reaction.

Chemical Fire #3

  • Sodium Chlorate crystals (an alternative for calcium chlorate which can be used to purify water)
  • Sugar (yep that sweet stuff) in crystalline form (and for the diet conscious, xylitol should work as well – this is the fuel supply)
  • Sulfuric acid

Mix a small amount of sodium chlorate and sugar (really small, like tip of a tea-spoon of each). Initiate the reaction by adding a few drops of sulfuric acid. Watch the eyebrows or mustache/beard.


Chemical Fire #4

  • Ammonium Nitrate powder (component of fertilizer)
  • Finely ground Zinc powder (I guess you can make your own by working at a piece of Zinc – that’s the element – with a fine file)
  • Hydrochloric acid (pool acid is useful)

Mix together a small amount of ammonium nitrate and zinc powder. Initiate the reaction by adding a few drops of hydrochloric acid.

Chemical Fire Safety

If you are performing a demonstration of chemical fire using any of these reactions, use very small amounts of the chemicals listed for each fire. Wear proper safety gear and work on a fire-safe surface. Should you intend to actually make fire in any of these ways, have your kindling close at hand as a chemical fire is not lazy. It will burn out quickly if you do not utilize it. Best is to actually initiate it on a dry leaf, paper sheet or piece of bark, that will also be consumed in the reaction and serve as a kind of ‘starter’.

Should you carry any of these chemicals in your BOB/BIB or store them in your stash, please ensure absolute isolation from one another (in the BOB/BIB) and proper ventilation (in the stash). When actually starting a fire in any of these ways, prevent inhaling any fumes which may be generated during the process, as these may irritate your airways and nasal/oral linings.

Not all of these chemicals are necessarily freely available everywhere, but they are not uncommon. When stored properly most (if not all of them) should last for years. Acetone is very volatile and may evaporate if not sealed effectively. Similarly, hydrochloric acid tends to lose its chlorine, bind oxygen and convert to less active forms which may not be as effective in fire starting. The chlorine is the oxidizing agent there.

So, check it out – BUT BE SAFE OUT THERE!

  Fire making – as we are used to – results from a chemical reaction and some friction (whether from a match or lighter). Even those lighters with a glowing element

As preppers we routinely discuss the need to have firearms for home security. Logically, one of the next questions revolves around how to select the best handgun for home defense. You may know that you need a handgun or someone is telling you that you need to get a handgun to defend your home, but if you have never even held a handgun, how are you supposed to know what to purchase? This issue isn’t constrained to little old ladies or fearful women; men have a lot of questions too. In each case, it is easy to make purchase decisions that don’t take into account a lot of variables that could mean the difference between finding the best handgun for home defense and some bloated monstrosity your brother recommends.

Not to pick on your brother, but there are a lot of considerations to take into account if you want to get the best handgun for you. I am not talking about the best handgun in the world although there may be preppers who comment below about a certain make or model or caliber and the inherent strengths of their choice. Buying a handgun for home defense is something that you need to think about if your goal is to ensure you have the best tool that is going to help you keep your family or yourself safe. Before we can even begin talking about which gun you need, let’s start by asking yourself a few questions.

What do you need this handgun for?


Handguns are a common choice for home defense

That seems like silly question but in reality; you need to ask this first above all others. If you ask me why do I want a handgun, I would answer that I want a handgun so that I can use it to defend myself or my family from someone who intends to do me harm. I think this is a fairly normal answer, but there are other reasons people buy handguns. Some people purchase handguns because they simply like the fact of owning a gun. You see Angelina Jolie on the screen wasting bad guys with a big hand cannon and you say to yourself, I gotta get one of those! I don’t think there is anything wrong with that necessarily as long as you above all things use the firearm in a safe and responsible manner.

Knowing why you are purchasing the handgun is an important question because it can affect other decisions you have to make. It is also important that you understand the gravity of making a purchase like this. If your intent is to protect your home, have you seriously considered the possibility that you may have to shoot someone to stop violence from happening to yourself or a member of your family? If you are not willing to shoot someone then maybe you should make another choice.

The purpose of your handgun should decide some of the characteristics of the eventual gun you buy. For instance, if you wanted to buy a handgun for defending your home that can influence the caliber, the style and even the ammunition you would load into it.

Where are you going to keep/carry it?

The next question is where are you going to carry this handgun. Is your intent to carry this handgun concealed with you every day or do you plan to keep this at home for home defense? As you can imagine, the method of carrying your firearm should influence what you are purchasing. If this is going to be a concealed carry weapon, that will determine size first and how you secure it (holster). If this is going to be a bedside gun, are you going to need a safe with biometrics to prevent access? Do you plan on locking this in another location like a larger safe? The answer to the first question might dictate some of this.

If you are looking for a handgun for home defense, how do you envision needing to use it? Do you plan to run to your bedroom if someone kicks down the door or will you have this handgun hidden somewhere that you hope you can access?

What size/type do you need?

OK, so we have determined what you plan to use the handgun for and that is home defense. This entails the possibility of shooting someone. Again, this assumes you have carefully considered if you are willing to take another life to defend your family. If you aren’t ready to do that, then I would reconsider purchasing a firearm in the first place. Assuming you are ready to pull the trigger if needed, we move on to more specific questions.

There will be a debate over caliber that nobody will ever win. I can tell you my opinions, but you need to come to your own decision on the caliber you need. The debate with handgun calibers is usually centered around stopping power. Stopping power is really just how much force a given bullet will hit someone with. So, the logical thought is the larger the caliber bullet, the more stopping power, the better the round is for home defense. It isn’t that simple though.

For handguns, there are some common calibers that most people use. The common calibers for handguns would be .9mm ,357, .40 and .45. There are others, but these are the most common.  The larger the bullet, the more mass will hit your target, but there are hundreds of different load configurations that make the actual act of figuring out which round is the best difficult. To get a sample of some of the options, you can look at this chart on Chuck Hawks site.

If I am shooting at someone in my home I want that bullet to do the most damage possible so that I can stop the bad guy as quickly as possible. For me that means a larger bullet with a little more kick. My preferred home defense caliber is .45 with hollow point bullets. Is that the perfect round choice for everyone? Not at all.

With a larger caliber you have some what higher recoil on the handgun when you shoot it. With greater penetration, you may have to worry about rounds going through walls and injuring someone that isn’t even in the same room as you. With 45’s you will always have less capacity in the magazine, because the rounds take up more room. With a .9 mm for example you can probably hold double the rounds. There are trade-offs though.

What to choose? I would say that you need to shoot several different rounds before you make a decision. Your firearm should be the best for you because you can use it better than another. For example, I have a Glock .9mm that I thought would be perfect for my wife but time after time at the range it would mis-fire for her. There wasn’t anything wrong with the pistol because I would shoot it without a single malfunction. I just assumed the smaller caliber/less recoil of the Glock would be better for her because she was a woman.

Her favorite is my old 1911.45 though because it feels “right” in her hands and she can shoot it very accurately without ever missing a shot.


Handguns have a lot of accessory options

Trying it on for size

Which brings me to my next point.  If you are looking for the best handgun for home defense, you need to try several out before you purchase. Almost any gun store with a range has a rental program where you can actually shoot several different firearms to see which one feels the best. If this is your first purchase I would never recommend buying a handgun without firing it first.

You are looking for several things when you are trying out a handgun. First, does the size match your intended carry method above? Next, does it fit in your hand correctly? A lot of gun manufacturers offer replaceable grip extensions now to augment the grip. The handgun should feel perfectly mated to the inside of your palm. How does it feel when you shoot it? Shooting a handgun should be a simple extension of squeezing the trigger. There will be a little recoil of course but it shouldn’t hurt. You should also be able to generally hit what you are aiming for. Don’t expect perfection if this is your first time shooting, but different guns shoot differently. Going back to the story of my wife; she was much more accurate with the .45 than she was with the .9mm and that has nothing to do with caliber. The .45 just fit her better.

Bells and Whistles

There are a lot of accessories you can purchase for a handgun. There are weapons lights that will illuminate what you are shooting at. You can even find integrated laser sights that when properly aligned will shine a laser pinpoint right where your bullet will land giving you an easy heads up way of pointing without necessarily looking down the sights on top of the weapon. There are even custom parts to change the appearance of your handgun. I would hold off on all of this until you have a gun that is working perfectly for you. There will be time to pimp your handgun later.

Practice Makes Perfect

Of course, once you have purchased that handgun you have to practice with it. You can’t expect to be very proficient with a firearm if you never pick it up. Even though the price of ammo is a lot higher than it used to be practicing with your handgun is vital to ensuring that you will be able to use it for the reason you purchased it. When your life is on the line you want to make sure that the handgun you purchased for home defense isn’t an expensive paper weight.

As preppers we routinely discuss the need to have firearms for home security. Logically, one of the next questions revolves around how to select the best handgun for home defense.

Under normal circumstances, home security systems such as ADT home security can be an excellent step towards achieving peace of mind. But these systems are far from a cure-all for your home security needs – especially in a grid-down scenario where your system is left unplugged. Even alternative power sources run dry eventually, meaning that relying on a home security system solely for your home defense needs is careless. These can also become impractical when an emergency drives a family from their home, leaving remains open to looters and thieves.

Often during emergencies, homeowners are taken advantage of while away at an emergency shelter or searching for supplies, making sustainability an important safety feature. Your household should also be prepared to handle intense heat, cold, and grid-down scenarios for as close to indefinitely as possible. While a home security system can be an immensely effective tool in warding off potential crooks when everything is running as it should, there are certain aspects of home security that homeowners should consider when preparing their home in order to take whatever the world throws at us in stride.

Weatherize your home

When your power runs out, one of the most noticeable conveniences you’ll sorely miss is indoor climate control. Even with an alternative power source, heating and air conditioning are not practical uses for power when it becomes scarce. Weatherizing your home both improves your family’s health and comfort while allowing your family to stay within shelter without needlessly searching for fuel sources or outside aid. It also protects your family from the dangers of carbon monoxide that many basic fuel sources create. Finally, a well-sealed home is also more likely to avoid the complications of flood damage. To prevent extreme weather conditions affecting protection against home invasion or personal injury, there are several steps to consider in preparing your home.


Weatherize your home.

First, it’s crucial to have an energy audit performed in your home. Professionals often offer energy auditing services, though a DIY approach to this task can be fruitful. Put simply, this audit is about checking your home’s insulation, looking for air gaps, and sealing your home as tightly as possible inside and out. For more information and advice on energy audits, see Energy.gov.

Some other crucial steps of weatherizing include protecting your pipes from freezing or corrosion. Should your water remain potable throughout a natural disaster or emergency, it would be important to keep your water source as well-maintained as possible to withstand the hardiest conditions. (However, water frequently becomes not fit to drink for a while after the grid goes down when filtration systems lose power; see the following section for advice on water sources.)

Besides sealing your home well, consider some simple modifications to weatherize your windows and lower the chances of your home becoming damaged, especially during storm or blizzard conditions. Shatter-proof panes, shutters, and storm windows are excellent affordable options in making sure your windows won’t shatter, which makes home invasion and personal injury from debris all the more unlikely.

Prepare food and water sources

Keeping your family unexposed to the elements outdoors and looters is the only sure way to defend them, so unless there is an emergency shelter accessible it is prudent to become as sustainable as possible in your home. As a bare minimum, the FDA recommends creating a supplies kit that would last your household at least 72 hours. A household able to function without requiring travel or delivery for resources is ideal, though only possible through meticulous planning.

A steady supply of preserved, dehydrated, or garden-grown foods is your first concern. Your food supply should be non-perishable; but this can make avoiding salty, dehydrating foods difficult. Seek out salt-free or low sodium versions of foods that your family enjoys. Dry mixes and dehydrated foods are a popular choice amongst preppers for their healthiness and shelf-life. Canned foods are feasible, though usually come steeped in salt and other preservatives. Generally, any food which requires neither cooking nor refrigeration is best.

Keeping a potable water supply besides your water system is another essential part of a good survival plan in your family. Some types of water contamination can be boiled away, though this form of sanitation can be inconsistent and requires a fuel source. Bottled water can be helpful, though scarcity and expiration dates definitely limits their use. For in-depth advice on properly sanitizing different outdoor and indoor water sources, see this pamphlet by the Red Cross. The popular rule of thumb is that you should have a gallon of water per individual to cover both their hydration and sanitary needs. If your emergency situation is in a particularly hot climate, you may need to double or even triple this standard.

Have a family plan


You can’t say you didn’t warn them.

Preparation is the biggest factors playing in your odds for survival in any emergency – and natural disasters are no exception. In order for your family’s emergency plan to be successful in survival and to keep your home secure, mutual planning is necessary. Each of your family should be aware of meeting areas for circumstances when family members need to leave or when a home invasion occurs. Share common emergency contact information and know precisely where to go when a member becomes separated.

Your plan should incorporate some basic kits of medical supplies, batteries, alternative power supplies, light sources, and anything else to cover the special needs of your family. If possible, stocking on medications that your family might require in advance is a good precaution. Make sure you have adequate tools that run independently of power, such as auxiliary locks for entrances with electronic locks and manual cooking appliances. Your primary concern for backup generators and other power sources should be for lighting and communications devices.

To enhance your home defense during power-down scenarios, there are a few modifications you can make. Equipping the front of your home with motion sensing lights can ward off potential looters. Alternatively, sealing main entrances with signage warning off looters can make your home less of a target – especially if leaving your home is necessary when resources run dry. Maintaining your presence known can be a powerful deterrent to burglars, but avoid making your resources or power obvious to outside observers.

What other tips would you recommend to families faced with a natural disaster to keep their family members and home safe?

Under normal circumstances, home security systems such as ADT home security can be an excellent step towards achieving peace of mind. But these systems are far from a cure-all for

Figuring out Feed – Creating healthy ratios for sustainable livestock

Continuing in the saga of feeding our livestock from our own area – or just cutting some of the feed costs and stocking we have to do – we land on the task of figuring out exactly what and how much of which feeds to give our animals. Just like humans, livestock has varying needs, and the needs change as they go through their life stages. There are three main components to feeding anything: mass – getting bellies full (because hangry livestock leave their enclosures more and are less pleasant to handle), getting the right amount of calories, and nutrient breakdown. One of the most common nutritional components that come up is protein. Calculating a feed mix and protein are things I’ll point out this time around. Charts and articles are pretty easy to come by for how much mass various livestock needs, and the amount and quality of forage livestock is given is so variable, I’m not touching on that one right now.

Calculating livestock feed

There’s a really handy tool called a Pearson Square that can help when we decide to feed livestock. Basically, it allows you to reach your desired total protein percentage using sets of known feeds.

Say I want a 22% protein feed mix for young game birds using my own duckweed and commercial milo.

I draw a square with my target protein percentage in the middle, and starting on the left, put the protein ratio of my feeds at the top and bottom (duckweed – 50% protein; milo – 9% protein). I subtract diagonally: 50% minus 22%, bottom right = 28; 22% – 9%, top right = 13. The numbers give me the parts per total of my feed components – which are read across, not diagonally. In this case, it would be 28 parts milo to 13 parts duckweed, 41 parts total.

“Parts” is like saying cups, gallons, pounds, bushels – whatever. It’s a ratio, like cuppa-cuppa-cuppa cobbler – each cup being one part. (1 cup each sugar, flour, and milk; 1 stick melted butter; mix in bottom of pan/dish; pour 2-4 pints or cans of pie filling, preserves or partly drained canned fruit over it; bake 45-60 minutes at 350 degrees F; add heavy or whipped or clotted cream as desired; nom-nom away.) Your chicken or goat cobbler just isn’t always “1”, sometimes it’s 5 and sometimes it’s 35 – just depends on what your ingredients are.

I can reduce that and ballpark it if I want to. The example is 31.71% duckweed (13 divided by 41) and 68.29% milo for Mix 1. I can call that one-third and two-thirds and be pretty darn happy.

Pearson Squares can be used to calculate individual species and animal needs from the same base feeds available in your area, or can be used to decide how much of a supplement to grow compared to a main feed source.

To do multi-feed calculations, you create your first mix, then a second mix, and use those and their total protein counts as the components of a third square. There’s an example of working through that below the simple square here, and examples of figuring out total percentages of the mixes here: https://courses.ecampus.oregonstate.edu/ans312/six/ration_4.htm


Image/Chart(s): The amount of protein needed at various life stages, purpose, and species can vary significantly – geese and ducks and chickens have similar needs as starters and layers, but finishing meat birds and maintenance-weight waterfowl and game bird breeding stock have almost double the needs of meat chickens and roosters.

You can also create multiple Pearson squares using pairs of available feeds you’d like to mix and your target protein, then add them and their various parts to create a very large total parts:
(B+D from mix 1) + (G+H from mix 2) + (K+L from mix 3) = M-the total parts of the feed mix
It could be 4 parts, 16 parts, 9 parts, 28 parts, 11 parts, and 22 parts for a mix with 90 parts to get a total protein (X-center of all 3 squares).

Happily, there are automatic plug-in-the-numbers calculators online for a Pearson’s square.

Colorado State has some nice pubs with livestock feed options, breakdowns of needs, calculation examples, Pearson’s square worksheet, and conversions.  If livestock keeping is a topic of interest, both are worth reading and possibly printing out:

When we start talking about tree and shrub fodders and alternative feeds like wigglers and black soldier fly larvae, it can get a little more difficult, although some of the calculators are catching up with duckweed and fish and insects. You can get additional information about the protein content of various possible feed components from here.

Additional information for ducks – written for pets, but nice breakdown by age and by percent of feed and nutritional needs – is available here.


There’s a reason the feed calculators and so much of the data about various feeds talks about protein – protein is important. Protein is where we get our amino acids that make up enzymes (which perform every single function in our bodies). Protein is the building block of muscle. It’s not only how we grow, it’s how we repair damaged tissue and rebuild tissue from work/labor (like walking around a pasture, chewing cud, or climbing out of our pasture).


Many of our homestead animals are pure vegetarians, requiring foliage-based proteins.

Protein becomes a major talking point, because our livestock are largely vegans, with a few vegetarians and omnivores thrown in there. Our livestock has largely been refined and refined over and over to produce critters that bulk up at rates our ancestors even fifty and a hundred years ago would have taken as witchcraft. To do that, though, to put all that protein into eggs, into milk, and into muscles we’re going to eat (or feed our other critters), they have to be consuming higher rates of protein than ever before in history.

Protein is also where our feed costs are typically highest, especially animal-based proteins instead of plant-based proteins. If we can produce even some of our own protein, we can start reducing our dependency and costs.


Images: The ability to produce some of our livestock’s protein needs using something that grows and recovers quickly and is easy to grow from animal wastes like duckweed that any livestock and even dogs can safely consume can reduce feed costs and feed store reliance.

That’s somewhere else where the nice Pearson Calculator comes into play.

Say I’m not ready to cut the cords yet, but I’d like to start making some headway. I can take my base raise-out or maintenance feed for either, and use it as a “grain” with it’s 12-16% protein content, then plug-in my desired protein supplement.

Conversely, I can get my really good layer or baby game bird feed, and instead of wasting money feeding it to birds that need 14-20% protein instead of 22-25% protein, I can use a Pearson square to figure out how to cut it with my own home-raised grasses, grains, and veggie crops to get livestock exactly the portions they need and increase my feed-cost efficiency.

Running those squares and applying general rules of thumb and guidelines by species can also help tell me how many minnows, pounds of duckweed, and bushels of barley I want to produce to decrease my feed store reliance. Doing so can help me figure out how much growing space I need for feed components instead of just winging it.


Images – Protein needs change by species, life stage, age, and purpose.

Different species need different amounts of protein in their diet, and at different life stages protein needs change again.

Pregnant and lactating females, laying females, “dry” dairy or breeding animals or birds in non-laying states, molt, and young birds at varying stages all need differing percentages of protein. There’s always some wiggle room, and especially in the cases of birds and dairy animals, the forage quality, time on forage, and forage space and competition can make a big difference in what they need to have provided and what they can get for themselves.


Charts: Goat and rabbit bucks have similar total protein needs, but lactating hares have much higher needs than nursing and milking goats.

Some quick-fire rules of thumb for feed to go with the info-chart overload:

  • Game birds need more than chickens at almost every stage (turkeys, ducks, guineas, geese, quail – even domestic lines) and many won’t eat the same leafy vegetation that chickens and even grazing geese will, so alternative sources or milled/mash feeds have to be provided
  • Too much protein creates donkeys that are headstrong and wily, and can actually make them sick, cause hoof problems, and kill them
  • You really are what you eat, and any beekeeper or duck or bear hunter can testify to it: Eggs and meat will change flavor and richness based on their feed source, especially the protein sources for omnivores
  • Just buying a game bird laying or chick mix with super high protein amounts and heaving it to all the fowl is wasting money, even more so if that poultry has forage areas or garden supplements like slug boards that are already covering some of their needs for *free*
  • What we ask of an animal (production, yield, labor, effort in feeding) affects how much they need fed and how much protein and calcium they require for health; a growing-out steer and a milking nanny need a lot more than a weight-maintenance stud or a just-bred or dry-phase doe


The amount of good, high-quality forage our livestock has access to changes the amounts and types of feeds and supplements they require from us. Providing livestock with species-specific areas like high forages for goats and flower-and-insect-rich pastures and woods-edge habitat for poultry can also decrease the chances of illnesses that prevent them from making use of provided feeds.

Go ahead and capture and print or save to our favorite low-energy EMP-proof device some of the charts of both needs and protein components. Find the ones that apply to calcium as well, because that’s a biggie, too. Do it for all the domestic stock, not just those you have or are considering, so that the information is already on hand.

Having that information when the internet and feed bags are no longer available may help you turn your algae-and-microbe clogged pond into a resource for barter, or just help keep some of the livestock in your area trucking through. The more genetic possibilities we have with livestock, the longer we can keep operations going.

Pearson Squares are designed for protein, but they can be used to calculate any nutritional value based off forage or milled feeds, to include calcium and fiber percentages for each type of livestock.


Pearson Square & Protein

There are charts and articles and references for just about any type of domestic stock’s protein needs. They do have other needs. Calcium is a big one, and it doesn’t always get its due outside laying hens. However, protein makes up an enormous part of the success in raising animals, especially active animals, breeding dams, layers, and meat or dual-purpose breeds. Since it’s also the higher-cost element in a lot of feeds, it seemed worth addressing and providing some references for DIY protein components.

The Pearson square is built for proteins, but along with the ability to twist it from a vegan like a horse, donkey or goat, or omnivores like ducks, pigs and chickens, over to dogs and cats, we can also use that square for other feed measures – any vitamin, calories, raw fiber. We can also move the unknowns around to X, A or C, as well, to find what percentages of a component like protein we do need, or what a total percent would end up as. Really, we can use it to help us any time we have two components with measurable qualities, but we’ll stick to feed for a while.

It can be a pretty handy tool if we choose to manipulate it. Or we can stick with downloading the app for a phone or plugging in numbers on a computer to just figure out a protein supplement for our bagged feeds, or mixing our own two-ingredient or series of mixed feeds from scratch.

Figuring out Feed – Creating healthy ratios for sustainable livestock Continuing in the saga of feeding our livestock from our own area – or just cutting some of the feed costs

When people come to me for tactical pistol training I tend to ask them why they want to do the class and carry a handgun and the responses I get are usually the same; to protect themselves and their families, because they need to be able to defend themselves etc. Then I ask my clients why the bad guys carry guns and the responses are usually again the same; to kill us and harm us. From my clients responses it’s easy to see who the wolves are and who the sheep are! I tell my clients there is one reason they are carrying a gun and that is to kill people and if that is not their reason then don’t carry the gun.
One thing that needs to be avoided is thinking that a gun will make you a tough guy. I have come across many men for whom caring a gun is a status symbol, it re-enforces their masculinity. A gun is a tool, the same as a hammer, which can be just as deadly as a gun. If you need a gun to give you confidence, you have problems because that confidence is false confidence and can get you into situations that will be way beyond your limitations. Guns are tools that need to be respected, not something to hide behind!

What is the tactical mindset?

To me tactical shooting is not a sport; it’s about staying alive and killing your opponent as quickly as possible. If you are in a situation where someone is trying to kill you, your family or your team members you must kill them first, that’s it. Political correctness does not enter into it; we are talking about your life and death not banning super-size sodas or gay marriage. For most people the thought of killing someone and the legal ramifications are a nightmare but you’re better off dealing with the aftermath than being dead.  when the threat is over. Teaching controlled aggression to civilians and 1st world police can be difficult, professional militaries achieve it with strenuous training and strict discipline; both of which seem to be lacking in modern society in general.


Teaching controlled aggression to civilians and 1st world police can be difficult

There is a lot more to tactical shooting than just shooting; being a good shot is just part of what it takes to stay alive. One story that came out of Latin America was of a top competition shooter who was driving to work one day when two kids on a motorcycle pulled up next to him while he was stuck in traffic. The kid on the back of the bike had a revolver and asked the competition shooter at gun point for his wallet, he complied. As he was handing over the wallet he went for a Walther PPK on his ankle, the kid saw the gun and shot and then killed him. Who was the better shot that day, the trained or the wise?
I tell my clients that the three golden rules to personal security are think like a criminal, keep a low profile and always have an escape route.
  • Think like a criminal: Put yourself in the criminal’s shoes and think how you would rob or kidnap yourself, how would you break into your home or hotel room.
  • Keep a low profile: Do not draw attention to yourself, consider what you wear and drive, don’t be loud and rowdy. And don’t tell strangers to much about yourself, especially anything to do with your personal security. If you are trying to impress someone use a cover story.
  • Always have an escape route: Make sure you know how and have the means to get out of your location to a safe area. Know how to get out of the hotel and have the means to get out of the city, then possibly the country and you know how to get to a safe location.
Use of force is a last resort and should be avoided at all costs, fighting is for amateurs. You want to do everything possible to identify and avoid any potentially hostile situations. Unlike the movies, street fights are not glamorous and when guns are involved people are going to be killed, maimed and paralyzed. In reality, someone will be going to the hospital or the morgue and in most places others will be going to jail. You must never use excessive force against the person who is attacking you. The level of force you use you must be appropriate to the force being used against you. When defending yourself you must always be able to justify that the use of force was necessary. The laws on the use of force vary greatly from area to area, do your research, knowing the law is all part of an efficient personal defense program.

When people come to me for tactical pistol training I tend to ask them why they want to do the class and carry a handgun and the responses I get

Since I started prepping officially I have made quite a few purchases. Some of these have been incremental, single purchases and some have been raids of the local Walmart or Sam’s Club to buy a ton of items in one trip. When I do get to make trips like this I usually come out of the stores with bags of items and have to put them somewhere.

In the past I would try to incorporate my prepping supplies into the rest of my household items thinking that by doing this I would enable a good rotation plan. If you add 12 packs of batteries into the battery drawer you will ensure they are used and never expire or at least that was what I thought. I did this with things like batteries, hygiene items and first aid supplies but then I went to look for batteries for a GPS I bought several months later only to find that we were almost completely out. My kids had gone through a ton of double AA’s over the summer playing their Wii.

Then I went to audit the bug out bags and found other problems. In each bug out bag I had a small clear plastic bag that contained the basic hygiene supplies so that if we were forced from our home we could clean up should the opportunity present itself. I had travel size toothpaste, shampoo, hand sanitizer, toothbrushes and other minor items that would just help you feel like a human again if you had been without a shower for a while. Three of the bags were missing items that had been pilfered throughout the year for camping trips, vacations and out-of-town travel. I was starting to see a problem with my plan.

I figured on buying a ton of prepping supplies and then checking that box off my big prepping checklist that I had. Once I bought these sundry items I figured I was good, but I slowly remembered due to this reinforcement that I was pretty much the only person who was thinking about supplies like this in my family.

After that I began to hide all of my prepping supplies. Not really, but I began to take them out of circulation so they wouldn’t disappear without my knowledge. I put a bunch of supplies in a large bin and tucked it safely away behind a lot of other things like wrapping paper that was reserved for the holidays, decorative centerpieces and Knick knacks that almost any home has. My wife knew about these supplies so that if I wasn’t around she could make use of them, but keeping them out of the general population of household items ensured they didn’t get used.

One day my wife told me we were out of pain medicine and naturally this occurs when she has a screaming headache. She asked me if I had any, knowing that I had planned for the apocalypse like a good prepper and of course I did. I didn’t want to dig into my stash though. Not because I wanted my wife to have any pain, but I didn’t want to have to resupply the aspirin or Motrin or whatever she needed, but naturally I dug out my box and grabbed her the medicine she was asking for.

It was like a trip down memory lane for someone who doesn’t have a very exciting life. I opened the box to see the items I had stored and smiled to myself a little for being so darn smart to have thought of this in the first place. About that time I looked at the expiration date on the Tylenol and realized it was expired by a year. I know that expiration dates do not render medicine bad or ineffective, but still I wanted to have the freshest supplies for my family so I needed to go back to the drawing board.

Organized so that you know where things are

Organization is an important part of prepping to avoid some of the problems I mentioned above but primarily it helps you to know where your supplies are. Have you ever purchased anything related to prepping and then couldn’t remember where you put it? I have done this before and almost always find it, but if time was of the essence, looking around the house for that crucial piece of gear is not what you need to be focused on.

The problem usually comes down to storage space. If you have a ton of storage space in your home, like a completely empty basement or garage, no problem. If you are like a lot of people and shoving food under the bed you have to think about your prepping organization plan a little differently. I wish I had a basement that I could line with shelves and keep all of my supplies, food and tools in an easy to access place, but I do not.

When space is at a premium, it helps to group like items together in storage bins so you can keep track of what you have and for perishable items, rotate stock. All those prepping supplies hidden in the back of the closet were fine but I neglected to remember to rotate things we did use like medicine, vitamins and batteries. Almost everything else in there, because it was stored in a climate controlled environment would last for decades without any problem


A place for everything and everything in its place.

Organized so that others know where things are

Organization is something that my wife and one daughter have in their DNA. Actually, if I gave my daughter a pile of all of our prepping gear, enough time and plastic storage totes, she would have it all organized, notated and inventoried. Wait, now that I say that…

Seriously though. It isn’t just enough to go on your supply runs to Walmart and drop a couple hundred dollars and hide it away. Your family needs to know where to turn if you aren’t there and they need something. Hiding supplies in your desk drawer isn’t a system. You should have a designated place for prepping supplies or maybe several but the supplies should be labeled and your family should understand that some things are not to be used. It helps to start this when you are getting started prepping but can also be changed even if you have been prepping for years. All it takes is some spare time and a plan.

I have broken my supplies down into categories:

  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Security
  • Hygiene
  • Sanitation
  • Communications
  • Lighting

Food is the easiest because we do eat on this every day, it has a place already (the pantry) and I don’t worry about anyone taking food because it has to be rotated. I do have places for freeze-dried food and MRE’s because those are not part of our short-term storage.

The other items are located in bins in various places that my family knows about.

Organized so you can rotate items in your storage

There are some items you don’t have to worry about rotating. For example in the hygiene box I have soap, shampoo, toothpaste, combs, razors and a lot of other things. We don’t need to rotate any of these supplies because they will last decades provided the storage location is free from heat or moisture.

Items like batteries last the longest in cool (not refrigerated) spaces so I wouldn’t want these to get stored in an out building. They should ideally be rotated too but if stored in their original sealed plastic they will last a very long time. Vitamins should be rotated, so should medicines and one way to do this is to keep your rotatable items in a separate container. When you go to the store to purchase new medicine, it goes in this container and you take out something with a closer expiration date. Instead of throwing everything in the same drawer, this discipline will make it more obvious that you need to use the first in first out items. It also helps that your spouse is on board with this plan.

It might seem easier to shove everything into a big box and forget about it, but a little organization will help you and your family with knowing what you have, keeping their intended use in the front of your minds and ensuring you can find it quickly when you need it.

What organization ideas or practices do you use in your prepping storage efforts?

Since I started prepping officially I have made quite a few purchases. Some of these have been incremental, single purchases and some have been raids of the local Walmart or

You’re going to want to read this in order to put the following 10 points into context; regardless. Some will read it and agree, some will read and disagree, some will debate intelligently. 

Preparation to Act: 10 Important Things to Know About Violence

  1. Violence is not a bad word. It is just a word.
  2. Violence is neither good nor evil.
  3. More violence, sooner.
  4. “Use of Force” could just as well be “Use of Violence.”
  5. “OODA Loop” is the single best but most frequently misunderstood term in the profession of arms.
  6. Action may be driven by conscious and subconscious emotion, but does not depend on emotion to occur.
  7. A cryptologist, a psychologist and a Franciscan monk continue to shape how we fight.
  8. Training for violence is important, but training for what leads up to violent action is more important.
  9. Violence should, if justified, be used with neither hesitation nor regret.
  10. There is a silent A in OODA: Acceptance.


The word Violence conjures different feelings in different people.  For some it has an automatic negative connotation, something to be avoided or shunned for the visions, memories or sensitivities it invokes.  For others, it speaks of a tool; the physical application of force to reach a desired result.  Still others share both feelings, both views.  For those of us who carry a firearm to defend our life and the lives of others, violence is a possibility that should be viewed as an eventuality.  Violence is a neutral term describing the willful and intentional use of a physical power.  Because we are emotional by nature, we apply an emotional meaning to the word.  We don’t do this intentionally, and we don’t make the decision consciously (for the most part), rather our emotional view of violence is shaped by who we are; our experiences, upbringing, religion, fears, environment, objectivity and subjectivity.  It becomes implicit before most of us are conscious of the subject, though ever changing by our continued experiences in life.  The view of violence, for those who have not used it with the intention of seriously injuring or killing another, is often esoteric.  They may have an understanding of the steps to take, the methods, tools and techniques, but not the end result of those actions.  This lack of explicit experience is both a blessing and a hindrance, and it is something we all have to face at some point.  Those lucky enough, or those willing to seek it out on their own, can do so in training, provided that training prepares them, as realistically as possible, for what they will encounter with a real life use of violence.

Preparation for violence is both mental and it is physical.  Preparation is the total sum of training and practice that should be pursued by any student of force.  For training, there are many taboos about how we speak on the topic of violence, and some terms are taboo for good reason.  But the problem with a taboo is it assigns a negative view to a term that may describe an otherwise positive or neutral action.  Instead of kill we have incapacitate, even though any upward thinking person knows that the most efficient way to incapacitate a threat is to, well….you know.  So let’s see if we can avoid viewing our taboo words as taboo, as well as those Politically Correct as politically correct words. These were undoubtedly chosen by a well degreed committee with perhaps zero experience to preparation to choose such a word. Let us instead focus on the simple and direct preparation for violence by those of us willing to use it.

Violence isn’t evil, and it isn’t good.  It merely describes an action.  The same as force, though we say use of force, not use of violence.  Why?  I don’t know who made the decision or how long ago it happened, but at some point someone decided on the following naming convention: force is for the good guys and violence for the bad guys.

Fine, they ultimately mean the same thing but only the word violence conjures the emotional connection you have to realize in order to accept it as a tool.  There simply isn’t the same emotion assigned to force.  Semantics?  Perhaps, though consider that all those catchy shirts, tattoos, slogans, morale patches and stickers don’t throw around force as a motivator.  Sure, the head shed wants it to be a bad word but the alpha in all of us recognizes it for what it is; an explanation of something we all will gladly use to defend life.  I’m not going to use force, I am going to exercise extreme violence so long as that violence is justified, and I will continue to use it as long as it is justified.

In my personal and professional opinion, that is the mindset to have and a mindset I fear we are losing, especially in the civilian world (I’m talking to the cops, too). This is in large part due to the political and “progressive” nature of our legal system and the affects it has on teachers and instructors.  The military is somewhat immune from this pedantic shift, but whether this continues (and for how long) remains to be seen.

The study of the use of violence (or you can use force, if you like) has come a long way. Every student of the gun (and martialists) have been introduced to the psychological and physiological research that is the continuing result of decades of study—study into the application of physical violence against an enemy.

I don’t think I’m supposed to use enemy either.

Don’t get me wrong, I celebrate every bit of research that makes defending my life easier and makes me more effective doing so.  The dark side, so-to-speak, of some of this science is that it attempts to substitute itself for actual experience. It needs to be driven to the audience in a way that they can relate to and apply it; unfortunately this frequently does not happen.  What I mean to do now is lay out, as straightforward as possible, the process we go through in a use of force.  Some of this science and theory you may have been introduced to before, and some will be brand new.  This won’t be a short journey, but I will tie it together in the end and give an as complete picture as possible.

The curious case of the OODA Loop.

I can’t think of a single mental process more examined, charted, spoken on and misunderstood than Colonel John Boyd’s Observe-Orient- Decide- Act Loop.   OODA is a series of time competitive cycles that lead to an action; but what the hell does that mean?  Let’s break it down.

Observe: you perceive a stimulus with your senses, usually sight, though sometimes initially by sound.  This stimulus can be the presence of a bad guy, or the actual observation of a person or known bad guy going for a weapon or making a furtive movement; it can also be the audible perception of a threat, or the mechanical sound of a weapon being handled.  Observation is a potential loop.  Each new stimulus forces us back to Observation.

Orient:  This is perhaps the most misunderstood but the single most important cycle in the OODA loop.  Orientation is where we process our observation and focus on its source.  This is the critical moment where our emotional views, upbringing, religion, training, experience, environment, physical condition, mental condition, fears, conscious and subconscious knowledge are weighed against our observation.  This is also the first point where our Sympathetic Nervous System will activate (if not already activated) to prepare us for a fight.  The sum of who we are is going to seriously affect the next step in the cycle; meaning that if we are not prepared for violence, we are not going to be prepared for what comes next.  Orientation is a loop.  If the stimulus changes and we must Observe again, Orientation will occur again.

Decide:  The results of Orientation lead to the decision we make.  The physical and environmental stimulus we observed will guide the decision we make, weighed against the Orientation process.  What this means is that if we are not trained, or have not experienced a particular stimulus, our decision is going to be complicated by our mind accessing memory to search for a solution.  If we are emotionally unprepared for the observation (not committed to the use of violence against another person), this will further delay or completely prevent a timely decision.  Our decision is going to be based on the specifics of our perception (observation) and what options we have available to us to confront it.  Like Observation and Orientation, Decision is a loop.  If the stimulus changes, all must be processed through again.

Act:  Action is the end result of Observe, Orient and Decide. It is a process that occurs in a predominantly subconscious and very short period of time.  Action is where weapons are drawn and used, commands are issued, punches thrown, or where the terrible collapse of mental processing occurs and nothing happens.  This is where most people live and train, the physical acts.  Action is driven by conscious and subconscious emotional responses, but it is not dependent upon emotion to occur.  It takes the same amount of time to turn the page in a book as it does to draw a weapon; the urgency of the latter is applied by emotion, self-preservation and training.  Just as the other steps in OODA, Action is a loop.  Any change in the stimulus and the process begins again.

This is how I view OODA and how I explain it.  OODA is infallible in its concept, but convoluted in its application because most of the steps that take place during the process can’t be consciously appreciated.  Sure, the first time any of us get schooled in OODA we nod along, but how many of you honestly understood it the first time it was laid out for you?  If you didn’t, it was probably more about the fact that we are unable to pull fractions of a second out of our brain to compare them to the model than it was about the instructor’s inability to teach (or your ability to comprehend).  OODA is all about time; it’s an expanded explanation of our reaction time process and the segue towards more psychologically focused training.  OODA is also very much about minimizing emotional investment in anything that isn’t the direct application of violence when violence is needed.  But OODA doesn’t stand alone to shape the total picture; for that we need a cryptologist, a psychologist and a Franciscan Friar and no, I’m not kidding.

Paying attention and making decisions.

Claude Shannon isn’t a name many of you are likely to know, but his touch on the world is all around you.  See, Shannon was a mathematician, cryptologist, and electronic engineer working for Bell Labs during WWII and among some of the other amazing things he did, he developed what became Information Theory after the war.  Information Theory is based on human communication and reconstructed it to assist with data transmission.  Shannon’s Information Theory is nearly everywhere you look and you may not even realize it.  Information Theory, simply put, states that the transmission of information at all times should remain as simple as possible (it’s also the basis for all telecommunications and search engines on the planet, which makes him the Tesla of computers and phones).  The most common words in language are often the shortest and because the most common words only assist in the construction of a point, a listener could miss portions of the sentence and still glean the meaning.  What this means is that our perception of a stimulus need not harbor on conscious observations if we have trained and practiced for similar situations; basically if I have heard a sentence spoken before, I need only hear parts of it to glean the meaning.  Information Theory isn’t concerned with the intention of a message (the intentions of our bad guy) only with his actions.  For the quickest mental path through OODA, Dr. Shannon gives us the groundwork to strain out the emotional roadblocks we encounter during Orientation.  How do you consciously use this theory?  Bear with me.

Doctor William Hicks gave us Hicks Law (actually the Hicks-Hyman Law, but Hicks gets the credit thanks to history).  Hicks Law is a concept I’m sure most of you are familiar with, but for those of you who are not, the Hick Law focuses on reaction time when making a decision.  The more choices a person have available to them, the longer it will take them to make a decision.   For the use of force, this is important not only in regards to reacting to a threat and deciding on a course of action, but being confident in the ability to do so.  The number of choices is based on training, equipment and what you are actually reacting to.  Emotional concerns, our conscience or a lack of confidence can and does complicate the decision making process.  Further complicating our decision making process is a lack of sensory information, if present, which can slow the Observation and Orientation phase of OODA.

Once the mind has Observed and Oriented, a Decision must be made.  The time from Observation to Decision is measured in milliseconds, between 160-390 milliseconds (depending on if the initial observation is audible or visual, audible usually providing a faster reaction time Robert J. Kosinski , 2013).  Observations in low light extend reaction time (and have other particular effects on perception).    The selection of a decision according to Hicks is effected by the number of choices; for each additional choice, the mind takes an additional 25-38 milliseconds (Sternberg, S. 1969).  These numbers are somewhat academic in the fact that they do not take into account emotional considerations and psychological stress associated with a lethal force encounter.  But to you, how much does that matter?  Well, the first part of the problem in appreciating Hicks Law was already mentioned when we looked at OODA; we are not able to examine fractions of a second in our mind because that is not how we consciously process time.  We also must consider that reaction time is delayed by a lack of a solution; meaning that if you are encountering a situation you have not trained for, your mind will not find a solution in short term memory and be forced to call up long term memory, or if you are unfortunate enough to be lacking a choice due to lacking a piece of equipment.  These problems are also measured in milliseconds (best case scenario).  Given the choice of an equal reaction time to my threat, or a 190 millisecond head start, I’m going to take the head start every time; which is why understanding OODA is so important, though some of you are probably wondering what does this have to do with being prepared for violence?  Bear with me a little longer; first, our Monk.

Willaim of Ockam was a philosopher and a Franciscan Friar with a lot of time on his hands. This was because he lived through the late 1200s into the 1300s, a time when most people thought (and a few read) for entertainment.  Ockam didn’t originally invent what has come to be known as Occams Razor (it goes back as far as Aristotle) but Ockam gets credit for it because he used it often and to great success.  In the simplest terms, Occams Razor states that the simplest explanation for an event or observation is often the truth.  Meaning that we humans like to draw neat little lines between a question and a conclusion (or assumption)

An example would be this: when you hear a diesel rumble coming up the street you think 18-wheeler, not dump truck.  It may very well be a dump truck, but you need more information before you conclude that.  You could make a more complex assumption (or theory) at the sound of a diesel engine, but the time to do so and the additional factors in which you could be wrong creates needless thought processes.  From Occams Razor (in a roundabout way) came The Principle of Economy, stating that “Scientists must use the simplest means of arriving at their results and exclude everything not perceived by the senses (Ernst Mach).”  Now how does this apply to OODA, or Hicks, or Information Theory?   They all work together and do so based on the fact of human nature, that everything about another person’s intentions is an educated guess at best.  We simply cannot know, at any time, what another person intends to do without lending a degree of blind trust to their words and actions.  So to put it in a more useful example, someone running at you with a raised bat likely means you harm, as opposed to thinking that they may just be in a hurry to show you their bat.  This is the intuitiveness of the Razor, it is the guide for safe assumptions based on what our senses perceive.

Perception is all we have to make decisions absent placing a degree of trust in other’s intentions.  Is the Razor fallible?  Of course it is, so is OODA, Hicks and Information Theory; fallible due to the tricks of our own mind, a lack of information, too much information, or misreading the intentions of another person.  Perception is the first two steps of OODA, and it’s where the mind forms its plan, makes a Decision and Acts.

The key to acting efficiently and quickly, the key to being prepared to use violence is here.

Knowing Harm and Knowing When to do Harm

Our mindset towards violence must be one of acceptance.  I accept, and expect, that I will need to visit violence on another human being if their behavior and/or actions leave me no other choice.  This is what I train for and practice for.  The more training, the more practice, the better prepared I will be and the quicker I will be able to recognize the need for violence.  Emotions can cloud our decision making process, or assist in our response to violence.  An objective fear of injury promotes a faster reaction, which is how we have been able to survive on this planet for so long despite being ill equipped to, say, kill a bear or tiger with our opposable thumbs.

Those without healthy objective fear would make a series of stupid decisions and may not even make it out of childhood.  Fear attunes the senses, it is what activates our Sympathetic Nervous System and prepares us to fight, flee or freeze.  It is my personal and professional belief that an acceptance of the need for violence, no matter who it may need to be used against, promotes a faster reaction time to a threat. It minimizes nonsensical choices in what force we will or won’t use and builds resolve into the decisions we make that lead to our actions.  Outside of reality based training, such as that conducted with a Non-Lethal-Training-Ammunition in scenario structured events or hand-to-hand training, personal training experiences where violence is used in reaction or anticipation of a threat’s behavior are very, very limited.  Cardboard can’t comply, can’t shoot back, and even if it may move, it’s usually in a very unrealistic and somewhat comical way. Because of this, much of our mental preparation for the use of violence is either personal or through the pursuit of realistic training.

For the military and law enforcement, it’s a unit/department decision and quite often what looks like a good idea from the top, is watered down and prone to ineffectiveness at the bottom.  Things become more and more political-correct driven and because of this, your willingness to use violence at the moment it is needed is threatened by poor training, poor practice, fear of litigation or simply not knowing what to do or when to do it. Why? Because you have not been prepared for what you are encountering.

Cardboard can’t comply, can’t shoot back, and even if it may move, it’s usually in a very unrealistic and somewhat comical way

This is where personal preparation is more important than anything.  First, know the law; know when you can use force to defend your life or the life of another.  Know it well, memorize it and then train for the exigencies.

More violence, sooner.

This is where some people get uncomfortable with the conversation, and that’s fine.  I don’t have a crystal ball, therefore I cannot see the future.  I live on the premise that anyone who behaves in a manner that threatens my well-being or the well-being of another will continue to do so until stopped.  Since I cannot ever reliably know what another person’s intentions are, I can only act against their actions or their failure to listen to reason.  Can I warn someone to drop their weapon before I use force?  Of course, in fact for law enforcement, we have to when feasible.  The definition of when it’s feasible is left to the individual officer and the totality of the circumstances, as it should be.  The same should be true for every responsible citizen carrying a weapon for self-defense.

Your bad guy makes the decision to have violence visited upon them through their actions, the decision you have to make is when and how much.   As a law enforcement officer facing an armed threat that could immediately harm me or others, I have always lived with the One Warning Rule.  If feasible I will give one command to drop the weapon, that’s it.  Barring any additional changes in my threat’s behavior after my warning, I will use force.  I see nothing gained by acting otherwise because I am not willing to play a What If game, nor wait for someone whose thoughts I do not know, have a change of heart.  The longer I wait, or the more ineffective warnings I issue, the greater the danger to my safety and the safety to others becomes.

Of course it’s not that simple; because we have seen fit to yoke ourselves with polices, rules of engagement and many other administrative weights that serve to ignore the fact that Action is faster than Reaction.  We have to obey these rules, but we do not have to do so at the cost of serious bodily injury or death for there is no policy that can force me to suffer injury in the name of administrative comfort.  But for the ultimate sake of my point, let’s set aside policy and look at the mentality only.  As an example, I present the following;

A police officer confronts an individual armed with a firearm who has verbally threatened him; the police officer has the following choices;

Do nothing (emotional response to fear, or lack of confidence)

Identify himself Issue a verbal warning to drop the weapon (trained response)

Flee (emotional response to fear, lack of confidence or conscious decision based on being outgunned)

Seek cover (trained response, emotional response)

Draw baton/Taser/Pepper spray (disparity of force decision, lack of training or lack of confidence in understanding of legal/policy options)

Draw weapon (trained response, natural response to the level of threat faced)

Obviously a police officer has more “options” to confront this situation than a soldier or citizen would, right?  No.  The choices are the same.  Freeze, Flee, or Fight.

Now, consider that before a choice is made the threat is already in a position of advantage to use force, his weapon is in hand and he is ready to act.  Should the officer issue a verbal warning while taking no additional steps to protect himself, the threat gains an additional advantage in time. He also benefits from the knowledge that the officer has the means to meet force with like force, but at least for the moment, will not.  Suppose the officer draws his weapon and points it at his threat.  Does this now give him the position of advantage to issue a verbal command?  No.  If anything, this places the officer and the threat in a tie for who can use violence first.

I have in numerous training exercises I have put officers and citizens in this exact scenario. 99 out of 100 times, the threat is able to raise and fire his weapon just before or at the same time the officer/citizen fires his and in some cases, the threat fires with no response at all from the officer/citizen.  In the rare times when the officer/citizen is able to fire before the threat, the rounds still pass each other in midflight.  Action is faster than Reaction because Action must occur before a Reaction can be raised.

We must process through OODA, there is no way around it.

Even so called “muscle memory” is an unconscious reaction to our stimulus.  Training and repetition may build you to the point of Unconscious Competence in drawing and firing your weapon, but you are still doing so as a reaction to a stimulus.

When can, when should violence be used?  As soon as it is justified because I cannot see the future.  I must be comfortable with using violence and that comfort comes from understanding how my mind prepares to use violence.  When facing grievous bodily harm, no other option is reasonable.

Violence through OODA

Now we tie it all together right back where we started, by viewing OODA through the lens of committing to the idea of more violence, sooner.

Observe:  our senses perceive a stimulus, either through prolonged/deliberate contact (you already recognize and in some way are interacting with the threat before realizing they mean you harm) or in a spontaneous encounter (you are literally surprised by the sudden appearance of a person and their intentions to harm you).  Observation is the constant feed of information from an interaction with a person.  Their speech, mannerisms, body language and behavior can give you clues for safe assumptions as to their intentions.  Over half (as must as the often quoted Dr. Albert Mehrabian’s “93%”) of communication is non-verbal, though verbal clues are usually present in prolonged encounters.

Remember Information Theory?  This is one part of OODA where IT can play a huge part.  We need not hear the entire sentence to get the meaning, nor must we know why a person’s mannerisms give us the feeling that they mean us harm (assuming a fighting stance, clenching fists, attempts to physically flank you, etc.)  The more we know about the subject (in this case, verbal and visual clues) the more we are able to fill in the “blanks” on what our threat may intend.  Of course in a spontaneous situation, the immediate aggressiveness of our threat makes rapid recognition through good training critical to a fast reaction.

Remember Occams Razor?  The simplest explanation for a man to square into a fighting stance is that he intends to fight.  Observation is also when your Sympathetic Nervous System will likely activate upon observation of a threat.   Observation continually loops back to the stimulus to gather new information.

Orient:  Orient is comprised of who we are, and how we have been trained.  A man will hold his hand in a certain way when reaching for his wallet than when reaching for a gun.  This is largely explicit knowledge, it has to be learned.  Against a spontaneous threat, we are at the mercy of nature and training.  Our SNS may compel us towards deciding to flee from a recognized superior threat, to simply seek cover or prepare to defend ourselves.  Had you received training against the spontaneous appearance of a weapon, or pre-assault indicators in speech and body language, you will be able to progress past Orientation much faster.  If a man assumes a fighting or a shooting stance, we Orient to this based on our knowledge.  IT helps fill in the gaps and our friend Occam eliminates the ridiculous possibilities one would do such a thing if they did not mean us harm.  Orient is where any hesitation towards violence will complicate making a Decision.  Your Sympathetic Nervous System’s activation will elevate heart rate, dilate pupils, flatten the lens of the retina, narrow your field of vision, force your posture to square to your threat and begin to degrade fine motor skills.  All of our collective knowledge weighs the observation while continually looping to receive new information as it comes in.

Decide:  Decision may be where our first conscious thoughts take place, and where any hesitation, fear or lack of training or experience can affect the speed and effectiveness of your actions. If it is needed, this is where total commitment to violence needs to happen.  Short term memory will access the reflexive, repetitious training and practice that best fits the situation if you have prepared for what you are encountering; otherwise the decision will be delayed (relatively speaking) as your mind accesses long term memory to find a solution to a problem you have not trained for or have not trained enough for.   The number of tools you have to confront a situation will lengthen the time it takes to choose one (Hicks Law).  Factoring in IT and Occams, a clear Observation and Orientation with consistent feedback as more information comes in will shape your Decision and help to eliminate unsafe assumptions or nonsensical explanations for the behavior of your threat.  As the Decision is being made, the effects of SNS can complicate your actual reaction.  Proper stress inoculation training will help prepare for the real thing when it happens.  Once the Decision has been made, only additional information from the stimulus can prevent it from being carried out (such as a sudden surrender or realizing what you though was a gun is in fact a phone).

Act:  The Action is about intent.  It’s about violence.  You cannot shoot someone “a little bit.”  Action is where much of people’s training and practice takes place, the physical act of pulling (pressing, squeezing) the trigger, throwing a strike or using a knife/baton/Taser etc.  We focus on the fundamentals and put holes in paper.  You will be attacked 100% more often by people than paper, and our Action should always consider this truth.  Action training is important, but training for what leads up to Action is far more important.  Being prepared for the use of violence without reservation, the willingness to use as much violence as possible the moment it is justified will greatly solidify resolve and help reduce (along with good training and practice) any hesitation in Action.  Getting to Action from Observe requires urgency, attention to your threat and a strong understanding of how emotion can aid or delay your response to a threat.  When violence is justified, the Action is a response to the behavior of your threat.  They make the decision to have force used against them.  When it’s time to Act, do so and do so violently.

The Silent A: Acceptance.

I feel I need to be very specific in what I am talking about.  In no way am I promoting the use of violence or force in a situation in which it would not be reasonable to do so under the circumstances.  What I am promoting is accepting that if you have the means to use violence, the training and the desire to defend your life, you must accept that when that time comes, there are no half-measures.  You must subdue or incapacitate your threat as quickly as possible.  Violence will continue to be a taboo word, seeming to grow more so as time goes on.  Progressive attitudes and political correctness are reshaping the way our good guys come up in the professional and private world, and it’s not for the better.   I don’t want to go off on that tangent too far as that would be a whole different article, I just want to underline the point that something as simple as use of force  in place of violence has a sterilizing effect and takes away from what actually happens and needs to happen.  We know they are the same, yet the removal of emotion is the removal of acceptance.

What I am promoting is accepting that if you have the means to use violence, the training and the desire to defend your life, you must accept that when that time comes, there are no half-measures.

The use of violence is going to be an emotional event, perhaps before and certainly after.  We can go far to prepare ourselves for the use of violence by accepting that there are situations in which it is a necessary tool and when it is necessary, resolving to use it without hesitation or regret.


You’re going to want to read this in order to put the following 10 points into context; regardless. Some will read it and agree, some will read and disagree, some