HomePosts Tagged "SHTF" (Page 24)


When you own a long-range shotgun, it’s all about taking those perfect, accurate shots. But it’s not always easy, not even if you’re a seasoned shooter, but especially if you’re a novice. So mounting a scope on your rifle seems like the obvious and easy solution, but it might not actually be as easy as you thought. Unless you are zeroing your rifle scope before you count on it to help you hit the target, there’s no use if firing a single shot. So here are a few tips and tricks on how to do that, with very little effort or time involved.

Defining the process

First of all, zeroing your rifle scope simply means adjusting your sights so that you can hit with precision the target you have in mind when firing from a given distance. Speaking of distance, it varies depending on the type of shooting you’re doing, the caliber you are using, the scope adjustment unit of measurement and, last but not least, on your personal preferences.

Normally, the shorter the distance the easier it is to zero your scope, keep it that way and shoot your target with maximum accuracy. This is because on a shorter distance, the point of impact is less affected by external variables. A short-range here means approximately 100 yards. A longer one of, let’s say 300 yards, will be a lot more difficult to shoot and it will actually render your scope pointless on the long run. Which is to say that you need to zero it all over again, after each shoot, because the external variables have changed.

Setting up your scope

This is the first step you need to take in the whole process of zeroing the scope on your shotgun. First and foremost, adjust the eyepiece, which is the rear lens of the scope. This part can actually be rotated in order to focus your eye on the reticle. Don’t forget to do this, as you need a perfectly sharp reticle when it comes to long-range shooting. It will also help to look at your target solely through the reticle and not with your naked eye, or, worse, to keep shifting your gaze at it between the reticle and the naked eye, which leads to unnecessary eyestrain. When the image is crisp and clear, you will know you have gone through this step correctly.

You also need to level the cross-hair. It’s probably best if you mount the shotgun on a stand, so that it can be held in a steady position. You need its stock to be level and square to the ground. Rotate the cross-hair so that the vertical one is right in the center. If it helps, you can imagine a line running through the cross-hair that also runs directly through the center of your rifle. Certain adjustments can be made later on as well, but it’s a very important step to get it correctly aligned now, before you tighten it down.

Testing the scope

After you mounted and properly adjusted the scope on your shotgun, the best way to test it is to head out to the shooting range, where you can shoot it safely and repeatedly. It’s also easier to measure the distances and the backstops while you’re there, as opposed to being out in the open, for example.

Here are some tips and tricks for practicing at the range while testing your scope:

  • Practice on a bulls-eye custom-made for zeroing. They normally have many measurements, which will make the adjustments very accurate.
  • Study those measurements thoroughly after each shot, in order to determine how “off” you were. Only by doing this will you be able to tell what you need to do next and if you’re improving or not.
  • Always follow the rules and regulations of the range you’re shooting at. This will help you develop a correct shooting technique.
  • Mount the gun on a rest. Although you might be tempted to hold the rifle yourself, remember the ideal way of shooting with high accuracy is when the rifle is securely locked on a rest. This eliminates user-error or slight trembling of the hand.

Choosing a scope

And last, but not least, be careful when you select your scope. All the steps mentioned above will come to nothing if you have the wrong scope. There are many great rifle scopes you could go with, so here are some pointers to help you choose.

  • Don’t go over the top. Indeed, the technology used for making shotgun scopes keeps getting better and better every year, producing bigger and more accurate scopes all the time. But that doesn’t mean you have to choose those ones. Remember the simple rule of not buying a Ferrari just so you can go grocery shopping. Choose the one right for your eyes, your prey, your shotgun and the distance you’re shooting from.
  • Do your homework on technical details. This is the easiest and surest way to know which scope is best for your needs. You need to find out and learn that, in a 3-9X40 scope, 3 means three power. The image you’ll be seeing through your scope will be magnified three times. The nine means 9 power, or 9 time, 9X closer than you see it with your naked eye. You can find many articles and tutorials online with a simple search.
  • Understand a rifle scope’s anatomy and learn the terminology. Although it might look simple at a first glance, a scope is actually a complicated and delicate piece of equipment, made up of many intricate parts. Take knowledge on your side and find them out. You will want to learn about the eye piece, the ocular lens or the eye relief. If you don’t choose a proper eye relief, for example, you might get a black eye. Why? Because if the eye relief you’ve selected doesn’t allow for much space between your face and your gun, the recoil will hit you right in the eye. These are all things you should know before getting into the business.

So there you have it; some easy ways in which you can make zeroing your shotgun’s scope fun and less time-consuming. And with hunting season in full swing, we definitely need this advice.

  When you own a long-range shotgun, it’s all about taking those perfect, accurate shots. But it’s not always easy, not even if you’re a seasoned shooter, but especially if you’re

How many of you woke up to prepping before anyone else around you did? As I have shared on the pages of Final Prepper before, I started getting into Prepping back in 2008. There were no specific events that I can think of that made me start prepping, but the financial crash probably played into my overall concern. As I tried to learn as much as possible about the threats to our society that I had previously been completely ignorant of I became more and more troubled about how my family would fare if various disasters happened. I guess you could say that I started thinking about my family at that time from a different perspective.

It was for me an awakening to a world that posed far more threats than I had thought about ever in my life. I was happy to go along as are most people thinking that sure bad things do happen but never to me. I started to look at my family and how simple disruptions in supplies could leave them without food. Realizing the number of things that I had taken for granted hit me like a ton of bricks so I started researching everything prepping or survival related I could get my hands on.

In the beginning of my journey to becoming a prepper, I focused mainly on internet sites. That led me to books and my first book was John Lofty Wiseman’s “SAS Survival Handbook”. I purchased this book because at the time my vision of survival was being stranded in the wilderness. Since that time my thoughts and perspective have changed, but the information in this book was invaluable and led my mind in other directions as well.

All of my research was filling my head with ideas and potential scenarios to plan and prepare for but my wife was almost completely unaware of what I was thinking. By the time I got the nerve to talk to her about everything I was worried about, and what I planned to do about it, I was pretty worked up. Instead of subtly trying to convince her or making a compelling and rational case for doing anything I blurted out a whole list of problems and conspiracies at bedtime when she was settling in for the night. Needless to say it didn’t go over well and my wife thought I had lost my mind.

At this point I had ruined one opportunity to get my wife on board with prepping but I was not deterred. I planned to keep working on her but it would take some time. Meanwhile, driven by my new belief and compelled to action I began to prep without her knowing.

Cater to their intellect

My wife is a smart woman so if I was going to spend any money it had to be on things she saw value in. I had to figure out how to prepare without giving her my deep down reasoning behind the need. We pretty much agree on just about any purchases we make although I get an allowance and she gets her own allowance so a lot of my prepping supplies were purchased through my monthly stipend. There were some items that I was able to prep by convincing her of their necessity for a very common and real event; power outages.

Some of the purchases I was able to make like a Kerosene heater and candles and lanterns were directly related to a winter storm. We had experienced lots of people we knew who had gone without power for weeks after winter storms and our children were much smaller back then. I was prepping for power outages, but I never mention prepping. I was stocking up with supplies that would see us through a disaster but my wife was only thinking about keeping our young children from freezing. I removed the psychological barrier to the word prepping or survival and just let her consider how best to keep her children warm in the middle of winter without any power. This didn’t have anything to do with government conspiracies, it was simple common sense and allowed me to kill two birds with one stone. I was prepping and she knew about these purchases I was making but in her mind it was different or at least perfectly logical.

Almost any prepping supply has dual use

A lot of my prepping supplies were purchased with the stated reason of a camping trip. I told my wife that I wanted to take the family backpacking and she thought that would be fun. She didn’t know that I was getting bug out bags, sleeping gear, food preparation tools, water filtration and cold weather gear. Of course I was, but I wasn’t prepping again, I was purchasing items for the family vacation! No problem!!

Majorities of prepping items have dual use and if you can frame why you are purchasing them in a way that has nothing on the surface anyway to do with prepping you might get less push back. My water filter for camping would also work in a bug out bag or grid down scenario. Our sleeping bags could keep us warm if we lost power or were forced to leave home but were purchased to keep us comfortable in the woods on our trip. Speaking of leaving home, the tents provided our shelter too that would keep us sheltered on the trip and additionally when we bugged out.

Food has a single use, but stocking up on extra food is almost uniquely a prepper identified trait. The way I got around this was by framing bulk purchases as saving money on our food budget. This doesn’t work on everything but I got a Sam’s membership several years back and started buying food we routinely use in bulk. This way I was able to save money (on most items) and I could tell my wife that I was just taking advantage of the awesome savings on 10 can rolled tubes of chunk tuna. I bought 25 pound bags of sugar, big bags of flour, bottles of honey and salt because these were all staples that we use daily. I could do the same thing with ketchup and pasta and even aluminum foil. My wife went along with the purchases because she thought they were a bargain, but I was building up stores of food we could eat off of for much longer than a normal trip to the grocery store.

Use the news

Was my wife really falling for my arguments? Probably not entirely, but I gave her plausible excuses to buy the rationale for my purchases. At the same time all of this was going on I would mention current disasters that were happening anywhere in the world and casually say things like “that would be horrible to go through that and not have any food, wouldn’t it?” when watching the latest disaster somewhere in the world.  At the same time on our backpacking trips I was letting my family experience bugging out and they didn’t even know it. They were learning to carry bug out bags through the woods, make fires with our Swedish fire steel, filter drinking water and cooking over a fire.

Often I think that people only object to prepping (assuming money is not a problem) when they believe that the prepping supplies only have a use in the highly rare event of a disaster. Most people don’t like thinking a disaster can happen in the first place, much less want to potentially waste money on something they believe is unlikely at best and crazy at worst. I still maintain that as someone who is interested in Prepping you have a duty to prepare and provide for your family or the people you plan to be responsible for in a disaster scenario. I hope the advice above doesn’t come across as dishonest and I wouldn’t be combative about anything you are trying to convince your wife or husband that is important to you. You can still prepare without the reason being zombies. You can still take steps to be ready for emergencies if you go about this in a little more stealthy way.

Hopefully this will give some ideas. I’d love to hear how you prepped if your spouse or significant other was against it.

How many of you woke up to prepping before anyone else around you did? As I have shared on the pages of Final Prepper before, I started getting into Prepping back


There may be situations if you are trained and armed when you will have to take aggressive action and counter-attack those who are attacking you.  For example, an ambush that does not kill all those in the kill zone or just disables your vehicles, to get out of the kill zone you may have to attack the ambush party. An attack on a residence where access has been gained by the attackers, the residents or security team must clear any attackers from the residence.  An attack on a shopping mall or hotel where you may be visiting or staying and aggressive action would be required to evacuate the location.

This is very basic information and can help you establish your own procedures if you are in a situation where you have the capabilities for counter-attack options. This is based on basic procedures for close protection teams and can be adapted to most situations.

Note: You cannot learn the skills required for this by reading a book or this document, you have to learn to shoot and train tactically for these tasks. This section can help you establish your procedures; you won’t become a Ninja by reading this!

There are three fundamental elements to aggressive actions:

  • Speed
  • Surprise
  • Aggression

For your action to be successful you must have at least two of the above elements

Mobile counter-attack

The conventional military response to an ambush is to attack the ambush.  In most cases an individual or small security team would not be able to attack an ambush, for to do so would leave a client or family members without close protection when the need is greatest. Also an individual or two-man security team would not usually have the weapons or ammunition to do so to perform and assault.

The best means of attacking an ambush is to use a separate security team not responsible for the client’s immediate protection. The counter attack team should consist of people who have received training in small unit tactics and have sufficient firepower to deal with all threats.  It should consist of not less than two people, in one vehicle. The counter attack team follows the client’s vehicle at a distance so that it will not become caught in an ambush on the client’s vehicle but close enough to be able to an attack the ambush quickly.  The distances the team will have to be from the client will vary due to terrain, traffic etc.  The protective surveillance team/personnel can be trained and used as the counter attack team.

Actions on a terrorist ambush by immediate close protection personnel:

  • Return fire
  • Drop smoke
  • Cover Client’s vehicle and attempt to break out.
  • Send contact report

When counter attack begins:

  • Give covering fire.
  • Remove Client from the killing zone to a safe location.

If the opportunity arises to escape before counter attack team takes action and never endanger the client because of your concern for the counter attack team.

Actions on a terrorist ambush by Counter Attack Team:

  • Move to killing zone at best speed
  • Use lights and siren for distractions
  • Debus and attack ambush or drive at ambush.
  • Do not hesitate. Fast, aggressive action is vital.
  • If Client has been extricated, do not attack ambush but cover move to safe house.
  • Weapons. Maximum use must be made of automatic weapons, grenades and CS gas etc.

Counter-attack on buildings

A counter attack on a building must be mounted quickly; the longer the delay, the more time the attackers will have to fortify their positions. A counter attack plan must be made and, if possible, practiced.

The counter attack team should consist of at least two people, but not more than five; i.e. a team leader and two pairs. The team leader needs as much information as possible on the situation in the building.  This could be obtained from civilians, locations security team, staff by the use of radios or cell/mobile phones or social media.

The information required includes:

  • The number “of attackers.
  • The description of the attackers.
  • Method of entry
  • Types of weapons and equipment used by the attackers
  • Location of the client
  • Physical state of the client
  • Location of any family or household staff
  • Overall casualties

Methods of Entry

  • If restricted by protective measures use same entry point as attackers but only as a last resort
  • Enter by stealth whenever possible.
  • Enter at the roof or top floor whenever possible.
  • Early contingency planning to identify possible means of entry.
  • Secure the entry point.

Room Clearing

  • Work in pairs.
  • Clear the door.
  • On entering the room IDENTIFY targets before engaging with fire.
  • Check all hiding places.
  • When room is clear, secure and lock the door if possible.


  • Control will be difficult.
  • Clear the building progressively; room by room, floor by floor.
  • Stairs.  Once taken, stairs must be held.
  • Use fire and Maneuver
  • Avoid confrontation with other team members.
  • Avoid being silhouetted or illuminated
  • Use natural and locations lights to your own advantage.
  • Use sound to disorientate the attackers: 1) Alarms. 2) Sirens. 3) Concussion Grenades.
  • Use of vehicles for approach and escape. 1) Must not spoil surprise. 2) Must remain secure. 3) Must not be put to unnecessary risk,

Action when building is clear

  • Ensure that the Client is safe.  Do not, however, remove them from a safe room.
  • Check that all attackers are dead or secured as prisoners.
  • Ensure that the perimeter of the building is secure.  Secure the entry point(s).
  • Decide whether to hold or escape
  • Co-ordinate external agencies on their arrival.

It is unlikely that plans proposed before the event will be put into effect as envisaged. The plan must be carefully thought out and rehearsed by all members of the team.

  There may be situations if you are trained and armed when you will have to take aggressive action and counter-attack those who are attacking you.  For example, an ambush that


People who are interested in preparedness routinely end up looking further into the future than an event and the aftermath, and eventually end up looking at sustainability and self-sufficiency. Whether we want to augment an affordable beans and rice diet or we want to never need a supermarket again, growing food rears its head. There are lots of factors that go into gardening and crop raising. It starts with the very seeds we plant, so I’d like to look at two of the seed sources we see in the preparedness fold, and how to test seeds to find out if stored seeds are still viable.

How to Procure seeds

Seed kits and especially the long-storage seed vaults can be had good and bad, like any other one-size-fits-all gear or a multi-tool. There are some charts available that tell you how long regular ol’ seeds last, in a fridge or at a constant temperature in a closet. Various vaults and long-storage kits will provide their own estimates.

I tend to think there are a lot of people making a lot of money off fear purchases. I dislike the claims of feeding a family for one year without specifying the calorie contents possible (veggies are diet food). I feel a little better about the “Plants an Acre!” claims, although method affects that, too. I think a lot of the packaging of those kits are window dressing with little effect – and it should be noted that with a lot of kits, their “use by” date is derived from the longest lasting seeds inside. They may boost storage time some, but it may not be enough of an expansion to warrant paying for a “vault” or Mylar instead of a Ziploc freezer bag.

Nobody agrees about seed shelf life across the board, but that’s pretty common in both life and gardening specifically, and there are always exceptions. Maybe freezer, fridge, 65-75-degree shelves make a difference to other people’s spinach, but mine and a lot of my brassicas tend to hit 50% germination at 3-5 years no matter what storage location I go with, fancy kit or saved seed in a junk-mail paper packet.

There’s also the factor of climate.

Very few seed kits or vaults are tailored to Arizona, Alabama, Alaska, or the Adirondacks (some have regional planning). There are some tried and true varieties that will thrive almost anywhere if you have good garden soil – if; not intended for tilling a clay or sand yard for the first time without serious amendments – and some that are a little more lenient toward poor soils. Few kits, however, account for both the short growing season of North Dakota and the sweltering heat and humidity of South Carolina. There’s likely to be something in there that anybody can plant, but you may not be able to use everything in the kit.

Crunch numbers to see what applies to your region, what you’re growing seasons allow for, and figure out how much of the cost is seeds you can’t or are unlikely to use.

Crunch the numbers on the types of seeds you’re getting, too, and be aware that most seed kits provide way more tomatoes than I could keep up with and very, very few calorie and protein crops, so you still need additional seed stocks (deer corn and pigeon peas not crazy talk). Something like a third or half of those “More than 20K seeds!!!” may be leafy greens of some kind – not only near-nils in calories, but also with seeding rates of 3-5 seeds at 2-3” and then thinning to 6+ inches. In other words, not a lot of food value for a lot of seeds, but they go far toward ballooning numbers for advertising purposes.

I’m sure there’s a ton of examples for when buying more expensive kits meant for long-storage would be worth it. I can actually think of a couple. I can also think of a couple of little kits or bucket kits that are just nice, handy, fairly economical ways to get a start. I just want people to be aware of the limitations so those can be considered as well. It may end up that you’re better off buying the seeds you specifically want instead of a kit or vault.

I’d also like people to consider whether they can survive to the next planting, growing and harvest seasons in their regions before they delve on a long-storage seed kit – and from that, decide if they’d be better off applying their budget elsewhere.

Sale seeds may or may not be a great alternative. Grandma and great grandpa didn’t need fancy packages to keep seeds for a couple of years, but they did typically keep them cool.

Early on in the season, seeds have come right from growers and packaging plants, where they were somewhat cared for. By the end of the season and the start of next spring, seeds have spent months or a year going from blazing hot to cold on a daily basis in a lot of storefronts, or at least hitting 30-40-degree swings, with exposure to high humidity in a lot of the garden centers. Like coffee that goes in and out of a freezer, this degrades the seeds. The more extreme the conditions and fluctuations, the more at-risk the germination rate is.

I do buy the 10/$1, 4/$1 and $1 seed packs at the beginning and end of seasons, but I limit myself to $5-10. I am more likely to take advantage of end-of-season seed sales from an internet provider (that I already trust) where there is some expectation that my seeds have been stored properly over the spring and summer than I am a brick-and-mortar shop, especially the ones with seed racks right by doors where they’re getting the greatest temperature fluctuations for 6-8 months. I do buy my field-plot seeds at the end of the seasons from bulk distributors, and so far they’ve been fine for next-year planting.

If it works for you, great. If you’re buying them without doing germination tests, maybe check that out before you go whole-hog with a garden or really depend on producing food.

Use germination to test seeds

Germination testing isn’t difficult. It’s highly valuable in determining how viable your seeds are – and for how long. I will understand if somebody doesn’t want to pop a $200-$300 seed vault or set of #10 cans, but if it’s already several years old – and as good as some claim – go for it anyway. General commercial seed packets will be fine after opening as long as they stay dry. There’s no change in storage life opened or unopened for them.

To do the test, snag some plastic storage bags or bowls, paper towels or smooth dish cloths/hankies or some fast food napkins, and a dry erase marker for “good” dishes, a Sharpie for disposables or Ziploc bags. If your seeds need scarification or stratification, do it. A lot of seeds benefit from a pre-soak for 4-24 hours, even if it’s not a requirement. For a germination test, I have no problem giving everything the best chance, even if I don’t plant them as soaked seeds in real life.

For a plastic bag, mark it so you know which variety and intended planting year it’s from (or the year you saved it) as well as the date you’re starting the test and the days it should take to germinate. Dampen your napkin or paper towel, toss in your seeds, stick them somewhere warm, and cover them in dark cloth (or stick a bunch of bags in a stock pot with a good lid).

For “good” bowls, use the dry erase marker on the container or snag a disposable plastic container like a milk jug or old blinds to cut up and mark with the same information. If you’re sure it’s not going to get rattled and your seeds will stay segregated, you can line a baking sheet with a smooth towel, put a drying rack on top of it, and cover that with an additional damp towel. For bowls, damp hanky- or bandana-like cloth or paper towels go in the bottom and you cover them with another damp towel. These dry out faster than Ziplocs, so they’ll need checked twice a day or more frequently.

Keep an eye on the seeds for mildew and so that you can update your notebook with how many have sprouted and the age of the seeds tested. Eventually, you’ll develop an average for seed shelf life in your storage conditions even within general classes and types like spinach, squash, buckwheat, crowder peas, and grass grains.

Running the numbers

Sets of ten are easiest to reach a rate for without doing any math at all – add a zero, that’s your percent (8 of 10 sprout – 80% germination). Multiples of ten give a better baseline, and it’s simple conversions for them. The “real” way to figure out the rate is to divide and then multiple by 100. Say 32 of 50 sprout, then…

32/50 = 0.64, then 0.64 x 100 = 64; a 64% germination rate.

If you’re good with eyeballing estimating and relationships, just go with that. 32 of 50 is 3 of 5, 6 of 10, so 60%. It’s close enough. This is to make your life easier, not harder.

Applying the results

There are some seeds that are just finicky and some that may germinate but the survival to transplant or harvest size is a little low. If you’re hitting a 50-75% germination rate routinely, get some help to make sure there are no test problems. Mold under 7-14 days means you need to find a slightly less-warm spot and possibly reduce some of the moisture.

If the test’s fine and those are your germination rates for a specific package, you need new seed for storage. Whether it’s age, manufacturer, or storage conditions, yours don’t have too much life left to give. In most cases, it’s going to be a combination of these factors that degrades seed shelf life.

When you plant and start seeds with those germination rates, you may want to double the seeding rate, because you know half aren’t going to even sprout.

Germination testing isn’t a one-off. Doing it once and never again doesn’t work. If these are your storage seeds, you need to be testing batches every 1-2 years, because viability drops off. That said, unless they’re saved seed (which I test at harvest time) you don’t really need to do a germination test on anything intended for planting this year or last year. Unless they got soaked or baked sometime or have had a really hard life, they should be fine.

Local help helps more – generally

Two of the greatest assets for growers is the nearest county, university, or state extension office, and the local Master Gardener’s association. They’re right there. A lot of our states have a whole handful of regional variables, but most have somebody who’s familiar with them – and might have somebody right there in your backyard.

Use them. The more local the advice, especially about pests and growing season and crop varieties that thrive, the better the advice is going to be.

Do, however, beware of five monkeys in a cage – the “we’ve always” syndrome; we no longer use leaches as healers or wipe only with our left hands, and those kinds of advances apply elsewhere as well. We now have all kinds of growing methods that do not involve tilling in lime, but that remains fallback advice north, south, east and west. (If any amendment is part of your gardening plan, you’re going to want to stock up on that, too.)

Advice should be taken with a grain of salt and additional information sources should be sought out, for anything, but if you’re strolling around or looking at pictures of a highly productive garden, and you’re growing using the same methods in the same place, these people might be worth listening to – from where they get their seeds and baby trees, to how they handle them.

Additional seed tips

There’s another round of seed tips coming up, specifically dealing with tracking seed varieties and their yields, and storing seeds for convenience, efficiency and contingencies. With any luck, some of the points raised in this one will help you decide for or against certain seed sources and you’ll be able to rest more comfortably knowing the results of germination tests, as well as be able to find somebody to help if you’re having garden problems.

  People who are interested in preparedness routinely end up looking further into the future than an event and the aftermath, and eventually end up looking at sustainability and self-sufficiency. Whether


DISCLAIMER: This article in intended to provide basic information regarding defensive tactics to preppers who are new to the subject. Those with a military background or other advanced knowledge in tactical maneuvers are referred to more advanced treatments of the subject, such as the excellent book Contact! A Tactical Manual for Post Collapse by Max Velocity.

The tactics discussed here are purely from the perspective of group and community defense, and are limited to tactics that would apply to active-defense situations.

Tactics are defined as “the art of disposing armed forces in order of battle and of organizing operations, especially during contact with an enemy”. While authoring my preparedness book (“When There is No FEMA“) I covered the topic of using classic military tactics in post-SHTF situations. This was a natural extension of the treatment I had already given to guns and ammunition. (After all, what good is having a gun for defense if you don’t know how to apply it effectively?)

Recently, while viewing the excellent movie Lone Survivor, I came to realize exactly how important and pertinent the topic of defensive tactics is to the prepper/survivalist. As I watched the portrayal of those special forces soldiers being pursued by the Taliban across the rough, forested hills of Afghanistan I could not help but relate those scenes to the tactics I had covered in my book.

That realization of the importance of defensive tactics was further reinforced by recent social unrest in and around Ferguson, Missouri. From the news coverage of happenings there we have observed groups of loosely organized looters literally shooting their way into buildings. If and when a large-scale disaster strikes on a national level, and when pure hunger is the motivator, it is logical to infer that such violence will be acted out with much greater intensity, and almost certainly with less intervention by law enforcement.

SIDE NOTE: Many years ago I had a roommate who had dedicated his life to the pursuit of martial arts. One piece of advice he gave me that I have never forgotten was that one should always be imagining potential threats and vulnerabilities such that, when an attack materialized, one would be preconditioned to react instantly.   Needless to say, this bit of wisdom applies as much to group defensive tactics as it does to hand-to-hand combat.

The corollary to this advice is that a survival group should conduct regular drills and have regularly scheduled training sessions.


Effective communications is essential to being able successfully carry out tactics, and communications benefits greatly from adopting a common vocabulary. The following are some common terms related defensive tactics:

  • Avenue of Approach – the path that an adversary is likely to take when approaching.
  • Field of View – a geographic zone that can be monitored through direct observation from a particular location.
  • Field of Fire – a geographic zone that can be protected by gunfire from a particular location.
  • Flank – a military formation’s undefended side.
  • Hard Cover – a location that provides both concealment and protection from weapons fire.
  • Soft Cover – a location that provides concealment only.
  • Suppressing Fire – weapons fire used to prevent the enemy from firing.
  • Kill Zone (“KZ”) – a geographic zone that has been selected to engage an approaching enemy for maximum effect.
  • Safe Zone – a location that has been specially hardened to withstand direct attack. Children and other non-combatants should generally retreat to a safe zone in the event of an attack.
  • Counter-Assault – an attack that is launched in response to an enemy attack.

Basic Tactics

Basic tactics tend to be quite simple and well known, and often involve defending from fixed locations.

They may also be combined and incorporated into more complex tactics. Basic tactics include:

  • Ambush – Concealing one’s forces and laying in wait along the anticipated avenue of approach to attack the enemy when they enter a predefined kill zone.
  • Crossfire – Firing on an enemy from two or more locations such that it is difficult or impossible for them to find cover (note that, as an example of combining tactics, an ambush may be designed to incorporate crossfire).
  • Charge – A frontal assault carried out with such speed that the adversary is (hopefully) overwhelmed before being able to mount an effective defense or counter-assault.
  • Flanking – Attacking an enemy on their undefended (or less well defended) side.
  • Hit and Run – Launching a surprise attack on a (possibly larger) opponent and quickly retreating before the advantage of surprise is lost.
  • Advance and Retreat

Knowledge of the defense-related terms defined above, as well as the basic tactics described here, should be covered by any survival group’s defensive training. By the time the group comes under any sort of attack these terms and concepts should be firmly fixed in everyone’s mind.

In addition to developing good knowledge of tactics, knowledge of the local terrain and the best possible level of physical fitness are critical. Physical strength will be necessary to carry out the tactics described here, and good tactics always required a knowledge of the local terrain (NOTE: If at all possible obtain and study topographical maps of any areas you may be defending).

Best Practices

Force Dispersal

In the case of two sides engaged in a gun battle, with each side finding hard cover in a single location, it’s easy to imagine that a dangerous stalemate condition might develop in which each side has the other pinned down and unable to move. However, if one side in that same conflict were to be able to fire from multiple locations – catching the enemy in a crossfire – then unless the enemy was in a position that provided complete protection from all angles the battle would soon be over.

The practice of ‘fanning out’ before engaging an enemy carries with it some significant defensive advantages as well. The loss of a single position (or the compromise of its cover) will not expose the entire group to direct fire. In fact, the availability of other team members to provide suppressing fire greatly increases the chances of survival for those team members who had been compromised.

The practice of trying to ‘fan out’ prior to engaging an enemy in a gun battle should be virtually built into the DNA of all defenders, and this practice should be reinforced continuously with drills and training before it is ever put to the test in the real world.

Topographic maps can be easily purchased for your entire city


Positioning Along a Diagonal Line

It has been common throughout history, and across all branches of service, to deploy equipment and troops along a line that is diagonal to the enemy’s line of attack. This orientation, known as the ‘echelon defense’, carries the advantage that it provides the defenders with a wider field of fire while also largely denying the enemy a flank to attack. When engaged in a firefight it is not always possible to select specific positions due to the constraints of terrain and the availability of cover, hence this deployment may not be possible. However in some cases this may be possible (e.g. when using trees in a densely wooded area for cover).

When defensive fortifications are being constructed around a fixed location it may be possible to anticipate an enemy’s avenue of approach and construct those defenses along a diagonal to that path.

Advanced Tactics and Defensive Principles

The Flying Wedge

The ‘Flying Wedge’ formation is a V-shaped formation that is basically two diagonal Echelon formations that converge. Like the Echelon, it does not present a readily accessible flank while at the same time providing the widest field of fire. This V-shape also provides a ‘spear head’ that can be used to punch through an enemy’s front line. The flying wedge would typically be employed in in a situation in which there is reason to believe the enemy forces could attack either flank.


‘Leapfrogging’ is a tactic that involves two or more defenders (or groups of defenders) alternatively advancing and retreating in steps while the other defenders provide suppressing fire. Military trainers often advise those advancing or retreating to say to themselves … “I’m up, he sees me, I’m down” … when in motion to help provide the assurance that they are not exposed long enough to come under fire. The risks associated with leapfrogging can be substantially reduced if one defensive position can serve as ‘overwatch’ and provide continuous suppressing fire.

The principle of leapfrogging applies to more than close quarters fighting. Two snipers, for example, could provide covering fire for one another over a larger geographic area.

Hills, the Defender’s Best Friend!

Use of terrain features has figured decisively into battles throughout history, and hills have proven to be particularly advantageous. In fact, the ‘reverse slope defense’ was employed quite effectively by the Duke of Wellington in 1815 during the Battle of Waterloo in his defeat of Napolean Bonaparte’s army. This simple-but-effective tactic involves the defender simply traversing a hill and then lying in wait on the opposite side for the pursuing enemy forces to crest the hill. The defenders will have taken cover or simply laid down on the ground to conserve energy, steady their aim, and present a more difficult target; while the enemy is more fatigued and silhouetted against the skyline.

This tactic is so well-proven that it merits additional discussion. An experienced adversary (particularly one with military experience) may recognize the potential danger involved in pursuing over a hill. If so then they will hesitate. If fighting in terrain that offers a succession of hills it may be wise to lay in wait behind a second hill, and observe the enemy’s behavior in traversing the first. This will provide some insight into the opponent’s own level of tactical sophistication.

When taking cover to lay in wait behind a hill, the defender’s forces should seek to fan out, as described previously, such that an approaching enemy will be caught in a crossfire.

SIDENOTE: It should be pointed out that the reverse slope defense becomes much less useful for those who are facing an enemy who has airpower.   Not only can aircraft launch attacks against the defender, but they can also communicate the defender’s position and defensive posture to any oncoming ground forces. Regardless of this, as was realistically portrayed in “Lone Survivor”, those aircraft are not always available, and they must eventually disengage to refuel. Also, if your opponent happens to be the stereotypical group of “mutant zombie bikers” they probably do not have airpower. Hence the tactic that worked so well against Napoleon may very well also be employed effectively on the modern post-SHTF battlefield.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: If I could recommend any one defensive tactic to be considered above all others it would be the reverse slope defense. Not only has it proven itself repeatedly in real battle situations, but it can also be quickly executed with minimal training.


The ‘flanking maneuver’ is a battlefield maneuver that is as old as recorded history. It involves engaging an enemy directly while also attacking them (preferably by surprise) on one or both sides of their front line. This can be a highly effective technique because:

  • When firing at an attacker to the side the enemy puts their own personnel into the field of fire.
  • The attack from both the front and one or more sides essentially constitutes a large-scale crossfire.
  • Enemy soldiers that are constantly watching over their shoulders for threats coming from multiple directions become quickly demoralized.
  • A flanking maneuver from both sides becomes a partial encirclement.

Defensive Tactics mean the difference between life and death in battle.

Flanking maneuvers are often attempted by mechanized or mounted forces, as their increased mobility helps to assure success. Nevertheless, flanking remains a very legitimate tactic for those engaged in close-quarters fighting on foot.

The best way to flank an enemy is to anticipate their avenue of approach and to have the forces attacking the flank stay concealed until the time comes to attack. In this way the enemy does not have the opportunity to observe the troops positioning themselves.

Defenses against a flanking attack include controlled retreat, which can pull the flanking forces back towards the front line; starting a new line of defense that faces the attackers on the flank, or deploying in a circular formation so that there is no flank to attack.


Encirclement consists of completely surrounding an enemy force and attacking them from all directions simultaneously. This tactic is much like flanking, and offers similar advantages; however it also has a serious drawback. If an enemy is surrounded and has no line of retreat then that realization can galvanize them to fight with much greater ferocity.

SIDE NOTE: The ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu, in his renowned book The Art of War, describes an encirclement scenario as being ”desperate ground”. Because those on desperate ground are presented with no option but to fight to the death, he recognized the danger of engaging such an enemy. Sun Tzu’s recommendation was to always leave an enemy with a path to retreat, and to attack them during the retreat.

Hammer & Anvil

The Hammer & Anvil tactic is much like the flanking maneuver, except that rather than having the secondary force attack the flank (the side), it attacks the enemy from the rear. The name of this tactic originates from the fact that enemy is caught between the hammer (the force attacking from the rear) and the anvil (the front line fighters). Like the flanking maneuver, the Hammer & Anvil maneuver benefits greatly from the secondary force being highly mobile.

A variation of the Hammer & Anvil consists of the rear forces executing a series of hit-and-run attacks rather than fully engaging in battle.

The Hedgehog Defense – Drawing Fire and Thinning Enemy Ranks

The hedgehog defense was originally conceived as a tactic for armored warfare; however the basic principle can be applied to small arms combat as well. This tactic involves placing a strongly fortified and well-supplied defensive location along an enemy’s avenue of approach such that the enemy may commit some of their forces to attacking that position while their main forces continue to advance. This has the effect of thinning the enemy’s ranks prior to a major engagement. Once the enemy’s main forces have been defeated the defender can return to the fortified location to attack the enemy forces remaining there (in this case the returning friendly forces would constitute a hammer and the fortified location would constitute an anvil).

Ideally the hedgehog defense would incorporate a number of fortified locations along the enemy’s avenue of approach in order to successively thin their ranks.

The hedgehog defense should only be considered if some aspect of the situation really lends itself to the tactic (for example, if a fortified position already exists along the avenue of approach). The weakness of this tactic is that the enemy may choose to simply ignore the fortified location and continue advancing in full force (which is exactly what happened when Hitler’s blitzkrieg attack bypassed France’s Maginot Line during World War II).


Having access to weapons and ammunition is simply not sufficient for the defense of any individual or group hoping to survive a major, long-term disaster. Good equipment is part of a solid foundation for defense, however dealing with adversaries having superior numbers, equipment or any sort of organization requires training and tactics. Paradoxically, the better prepared a group is to defend itself, the less likely it is that it will find itself in danger. However, when the need to act does become inevitable, a good command of defensive tactics will make all the difference.


Introduction DISCLAIMER: This article in intended to provide basic information regarding defensive tactics to preppers who are new to the subject. Those with a military background or other advanced knowledge in

With a budget of almost 14 Billion dollars in 2013, you would expect that FEMA would have the resources at its disposal to really be able to assist the public prior to any disaster. If you haven’t already; I recommend going out to the FEMA website to see what their recommendations are for getting prepared. FEMA, through their Ready.gov website is the government’s office that addresses most of the specific topics of the prepper movement so I was surprised at the information I found on their site.

Regardless, I went out to see what I could learn from FEMA. I say that because I truly believe that our government should have the smartest people in our country in positions like this, right? I mean if you are an agency that deals with disaster you need to have the top disaster experts in the world giving out advice, right?

FEMA breaks the topics on their website down into a few categories to start with:

  • Be Informed – This is where FEMA says you can “Learn what protective measures to take before, during and after an emergency”.
  • Make a Plan – “Prepare Plan and stay Informed for Emergencies”
  • Build A Kit – “Build a kit for disasters to be prepared.”

So at first glance this seems like a good start. I went under “Be Informed” to learn what protective measures I could take and decided to start with pandemic. The first thing to notice is that they mention influenza pandemic and I didn’t see anything about Ebola, but let’s just assume that anything bad enough to spawn a Pandemic would be covered by FEMA. They mention having a two week supply of food and water, plenty of prescription drugs, copies of your health records and to talk with family members about how they should be cared for if they get sick. Lastly they ask you to volunteer and get involved.

During an actual Pandemic (this is the page that FEMA has for Pandemic information) they recommend avoiding close contact with people who are sick (Really??) staying home from work if possible and the usual suspects of covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze and washing your hands.

A pandemic by definition is when a disease is prevalent throughout an entire country, continent or the whole world. I am going to add my own addendum that there must be a relatively high loss of life. With that definition, the only other pandemic any living person has seen (I don’t count AIDs or SARS) was the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918-1920 that killed an estimated 30 to 50 million people in two years. In the United States alone over 675,000 people died in two years!! When FEMA is supposed to be informing you about what to do for a Pandemic that is the best they can do?!!!

Lists of phone numbers does not prepare you for a disaster

Maybe I am over reacting and this is sound advice? Perhaps, but look at Ebola where they say you are contagious for up to 21 days. If you are supposed to stay indoors for three weeks, you would be mighty hungry that last week if you only stored two weeks of food wouldn’t you? The World Health Organization states that people with Ebola can still transmit the disease though semen for up to 7 weeks after they have recovered. Is it possible that a two week plan might leave you seriously under prepared for the next pandemic?

Obviously I take issue with the plans FEMA seems to have for sheltering in place should that be necessary during a pandemic so I went over to their Make A Plan page and then down to the Plan to Protect yourself and your family link. The page seems worthless to me and the most prominent item on the page is a link to download their Family Communication Plan which is really just a sheet for you to write down phone numbers, a meeting place and medical insurance information. I don’t see how this is a realistic plan. Phone numbers are helpful I guess and having your dentist’s phone number would be a good thing if you are having a tooth emergency but I expected more again from FEMA.

A family survival plan is more than just simply writing down phone numbers and being truly prepared requires more than two weeks of food; especially during a pandemic. FEMA it seems has always recommended the most basic information and supplies that anyone probably already has on hand. Is this preparing or are they trying to cater to our lazy side? Is this the lazy person’s way to prepare? Just write down some phone numbers that won’t help you at all and keep the regular amount of food you probably already have on hand and no worries! But while you’re at it, FEMA does recommend some social messaging shout outs you can use.

FEMA doesn’t have a plan for you

You can go lots of places on FEMA’s website and there is some good advice, but on balance I get the sense that either FEMA is trying to lower everyone’s expectations for any real disaster to the point of leaving millions under prepared or they are simply out of touch with reality. I know people who have been without power for longer than two weeks in the winter and this wasn’t considered a disaster by any stretch. When we imagine disaster, it will probably take FEMA two weeks just to get out and do anything if you are foolish enough to believe that you only have to hold out until they get there. Once FEMA does arrive, they are no magic savior. Remember Hurricane Sandy when the FEMA office closed? They actually had the mental sharpness to hang up signs informing the public, who presumably was going to the offices for assistance, that they were closed “due to the weather”. You can’t rely on anyone else in a disaster so it’s important that you take the responsibility for your life and the lives of those you care about into your own hands.

FEMA doesn’t want to get out in the storm to help you.

So what are my solutions since I seem to know everything? First thing is that will admit that I don’t know everything but I don’t believe there are any one size fits all plans for preppers. You can’t just say store 2 weeks of food and think that will do for just about any disaster. Everyone has to have their own plan that has been carefully structured based upon the needs, resources and skills of your family/group with a strategic consideration of the potential threats you face. Here’s my take on FEMA’s 3 points.

  • Be Informed – Make sure you know what is going on in your home, city, region, state and country. Staying informed doesn’t have anything to do with sports scores, reality TV or what the latest star is doing that has gotten her in trouble. Being informed is knowing what is going on around you (situational awareness) and what is going on that could affect you. Learn as much as you can right now about different ideas and perspectives. I like to think we cover a lot of bases on Final Prepper, but there are dozens of other sites out there that offer a ton of great information too.
  • Make a Plan – Once you have considered who you are prepping for, it then makes sense to ask what are you prepping for. Once you have the answers to those two questions you can start working on a plan that will work for you personally, that addresses the needs of your family with regard to the threats you have identified. Your plan won’t look like mine, but there might be similarities. What works for you might not work for a single mother in the city.
  • Build A Kit – I don’t think the normal supplies I would consider for someone to be adequately prepared would fit into anything I would call a “kit”. A kit sounds like a box that sits in the closet. If you want to be prepared you will need to begin stocking up on supplies and that means different things to different people. There are lots of bases to cover but the most important begin with food, water, shelter and security.





Make your plan to fit your family, to take into consideration where you live and what you are dealing with. You will make better choices than any bureaucracy and your family will be better off with you than at any FEMA shelter regardless of the disaster. FEMA doesn’t have a plan for you. They have a plan to maintain order for the masses and hopefully prevent chaos. You are the only one that is going to keep your family’s needs in the front of your focus. Take steps now to ensure you aren’t living with FEMA’s idea of what is important.

What’s your plan?

With a budget of almost 14 Billion dollars in 2013, you would expect that FEMA would have the resources at its disposal to really be able to assist the public

A violent mob a tad over 1,000 strong is blocking all outbound traffic on a major freeway leading out of downtown, your car is stuck in the snarled traffic and night is approaching. What are you going to do?

You were just about to pull into work on a Monday morning when an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) leaves your car sitting in the middle of the street on a downtown city block. How are you going to move?

Record breaking 100-year flooding is quickly rushing towards your neighborhood, and you have heard the bridge to safety is already under 3 feet of water. Where are you going to go?

Civil unrest, the breakdown of society, perhaps Martial Law, or the absence of the Rule of Law, are all possible consequences of any number of doomsday scenarios, or even breaking points themselves. Solar flares or tactically deployed strategic nuclear weapons can emit an EMP capable of destroying on-board computers and sensitive electronics in vehicles manufactured after 1980, while damaging the power grid and basically returning modern technology to the peak era of horse and buggies, the butter churn, and the quill pen. Major natural disasters such as flooding, earthquakes, and wildfires can be severe, quick, and unannounced, potentially forcing you into an immediate need to evacuate, sometimes without the luxury of vehicles, boats, or other modern modes of transportation.

What is your current level of prepper conditioning?

Being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, swarmed by an angry mob can reduce a city to foot traffic, and potentially put you in direct physical danger. Think about Ferguson, Baltimore, Dallas, Milwaukee, or Reginald Denny, the truck driver during the 1992 L.A. Riots, whose beating was caught by a news helicopter:

Fight-or-Flight instincts right? We are all familiar with that clever little quip. Are you capable of fighting back? Against multiple aggressors? For a sustained period of time? If not, are you capable of the flight option? Can you escape those aggressors? Could you outrun them in a sprint, through an urban environment, and continue to lose them over a sustained longer distance? What if you do initially outrun the aggressors, but are eventually caught and then forced to defend yourself? Fighting fresh sucks enough, try fighting when you are already fatigued. It is important to consider your level of prepper conditioning before you are facing a disaster.

Many of us have our everyday carry (EDC) gear, whether on our person or in a small easily accessible bag of some sorts, at all times. Others have a get home bag (GHB) or bug out bag (BOB) loaded with tools, gear, emergency food supplies, and even defensive items, either in our vehicle, at work, or otherwise ready to grab and go at a moment’s notice. Have you ever shouldered that pack and walked any distance? Even if you know a route to get home without consulting your Google maps or in-dash navigation, have you ever actually walked it? How far is it? What type of footwear do you have on? Dress shoes, high heels, flats, sandals, all not good choices for long walks. Have you done so in inclement weather? What if your planned route is impassable (consider the angry mob presence, or flooded roads/trails)? How heavy is that pack again?

Paratus 3 Day Operator’s Pack Military Style MOLLE Compatible Tactical Backpack Bug Out Bag

Sheriffs offices, fire departments, and other emergency management professionals do their best to warn residents of impending danger from natural disasters, and will assist in pre-planned evacuations often designed to allow ample time for you and your family to be removed from your residence safely. However the timing of natural disasters is not always so convenient and officials may not be available to help you, individually. You may have to load up your valuables and find a road out, but without the knowledge to move forward, a safe route may not be possible in your family car. Can you hike out of your neighborhood on foot? Are you a strong enough swimmer to tread water for extended periods of time, or even swim across a pond or lake to escape the danger? If you have small children with you, are you capable of carrying them to safety as well? Can you push a heavy object out of your way, lift an item off yourself or a loved one, pull yourself over an obstacle, or negotiate a series of uneven, loose, or otherwise treacherous terrain to find safety on solid ground?

What do all of these have in common?

How long do you expect to survive a SHTF event?

All of these scenarios are examples of easy ways your ability to survival the initial blow of shit hitting that proverbial fan will depend upon your physical ability and conditioning. If you have ever been in a fight, even in training, sparring, bag drills, or other controlled environments, you know how quickly you can fatigue. If you have not, just find a large pillow or something else soft to punch, and hit it as furiously as possible – as if your life depended on beating that pillow – for about 30 seconds, then assess your heart rate, breathing, and perspiration. They are probably all up quite a bit. Rest for 10 seconds then do it again for a minute. Then sprint out your door to the end of the block, and do it again for another 45 seconds. Rest for 5 seconds and go ALL OUT for a final 10 second surge. Then run a lap around your neighborhood and reassess yourself when you get back home. Go inside for a glass of water, you earned it – then defend yourself against that last attacking pillow for another 30 seconds. Get the point?

Fatigue from fighting is very real, and very quick. If you are not big on hand-to-hand combat, but have read a couple of books, or seen a movie or two, or practiced kata or other sequenced movements such as are commonly trained in karate and taekwondo, then you may not know how your body will actually stand up to the massive expenditure of energy required in a fight. Need somewhere to start? Look for a local gym and sign up for a free test class in Krav Maga. Condition yourself.

If you have ever been in a fight, even in training, sparring, bag drills, or other controlled environments, you know how quickly you can fatigue.

If your prepping relies heavily on the use of EDC, GHB, or BOB gear, you should not only be intimately familiar with every piece of gear you carry or plan on carrying, but you should be even more familiar with what it feels like to actually carry that gear. As the crow flies, I work 10 miles from home. My regular commute covers 15 miles. Pending any alterations in safe passage following an incident, I expect my trip home could range upwards of 20-30 miles. At 6’4” and about 225 lbs with a GHB weighing in around 24 lbs dry, I have a little room for 3 liters of water while keeping my ruck right around 30 lbs. With a little intimate road time, proper footwear, a series of blister/heal cycles and rubbing my shoulders raw from straps, I know what pace I can move at and how long I can move like that. Toss in variables of being loaded with an unplanned item, or extra gear I happen upon, and I also know that I can double upon that coupon and keep going. How do I know that? Walking around the neighborhood, simple day hikes on the weekend, or a good backpacking trip are all good places to start. Or jump straight up for a good sense of what added stresses could feel like on your psyche and your body, and look at completing a GoRuck event (Google it, it is worth every dime). Condition yourself.

Not sure what will be required of you before, during, after a natural disaster? Ask anyone who has lived through an earthquake, wildfire, tornado, or flooding. Look at the Cajun Navy in Baton Rouge, LA. Think they have it easy in their boats? I guarantee they end their day plum tired from the physicality required to help their neighbors. Strangers even. If you cannot push yourself off the floor, could you push a standard home office bookshelf off yourself? If you cannot perform a single pullup, could you pull yourself up and over a large item like a refrigerator blocking the doorway out to safety? Say your kid, spouse, or loved one is unconscious or otherwise unable to walk to safety themselves, can you carry them – even if for just a short distance to get out of the house? Could you drag them even? Can you hike out from danger, run away from danger, swim to safety, or simply walk down the road, for miles, until you find refuge? No, you do not need to go to the gym, eat protein bars and post-workout shakes. Try some simple body-weight exercises. Pushups, pullups, squats, planks. YouTube any one of those, find progression exercises for them if you cannot do them strictly now, and work your way towards them.

Take care of your conditioning now before life takes care of it for you

Get up and move, if even a little. Go for a walk, swim at the rec center, ride a bike, anything. You have a busy schedule. Work. Family. Life. A daily set of push ups, pull-ups, squats, and planks can be done in as little as 5 minutes. You have spent far more time than that just reading this little 1600 word article. You probably spent more time than that navigating the internet to find this article. You may even spend ten times that amount scrolling through Facebook feeds, or news articles, or simply sitting on the couch watching glimpses of your favorite programming between chunks of commercials and advertising. That’s fine. Just slip off the couch and do 10 push ups during a commercial break. Even once a day. How long does it take to walk around the block? Twenty minutes? Take the dog. Can you run a couple of miles? That doesn’t really take too long either? Be like Nike…Just Do It. Swim at the pool? It takes longer to drive there, rinse off afterwards, and drive home than it does to actually swim even just 500 meters. Condition yourself.

No, you do not need to go to the gym, eat protein bars and post-workout shakes. Try some simple body-weight exercises. Pushups, pull-ups, squats, planks.

Surviving is just the first step to survival. If you struggle with the basic physical abilities to easily get through some of the things I have discussed above, what good will the 2 years of food, hundreds of gallons of water, or thousands of rounds of ammunition do for you when the shit hits the fan? That stockpile will just be a jackpot for someone more conditioned for a survival situation than you. Someone like me who comes along later to find the money you spent, thinking you were prepared, when a few simple daily efforts could have made a far bigger difference in your life.

Are you free of addictive substances, habits, or vices? Quitting smoking is hard enough today, without other stresses, and with the assistance of any gum, patches, or other tricks to take the edge off. I know. I have done it. I cannot even imagine how weak-minded I would be a few weeks after SHTF to come across someone trading a pack of cigarettes…I probably would have sold the farm for it if I hadn’t already quit. Many prepper philosophies out there advocate for even non-users to stock up on alcohol, tobacco, and coffee to be used as trade items later on. The thought being that these little trinkets will have substantial value in bartering systems when regular supplies have long disappeared or been consumed by former smokers, drinkers, and coffee addicts. If you make it that far after the SHTF but cannot turn down a smoke, a drink, or a cup of Joe, you are just begging to be taken advantage of.

Is your body accustomed to the diet you plan on sustaining yourself with post-SHTF? Yeah, bust out the beef stew or chicken with salsa MRE, throw it in the nifty heater and lean it against a rock or something, and you’ll be a member of the “these are actually pretty good” crowd. Now eat them every day for two weeks. How has your stomach felt? How are your bowel movements? Are you paying attention to calorie intake versus expenditure? During the crucible for the Marine Corps, you are given just 2 MREs over a 54 hour period when you cover 48 miles with 45 lbs of gear, navigate 36 “warrior stations” and 29 “team building exercises” all on 6 hours of sleep. I had food left over afterwards and don’t remember going number two at all, but made it just fine. If you eat three MREs per day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you’ll “survive” alright, but your guts will hate you.

Can you perform the daily physical duties and manual labor required in your long-term survival plan? If you currently work on a farm or ranch, in most construction trades, oil field operations, logging, or other physically intense professions, you probably do not need much of this information at all. If you do not work in one of the above, or a closely related field, go spend a day with a family member, friend, or neighbor who does work in one of those fields and tell me how you feel the next morning. Manual labor is real. If you think the post-apocalyptic world is ripe with clerical positions, business analytics, or private consulting firms, think again. Your air-conditioned office, break rooms, water coolers, hour-long lunches, and paid vacation and sick leave are all gone. If you want to get by now, it will all be on your shoulders. Day in and day out. If you cannot weed a garden all day, you will starve. If you cannot walk the countryside gathering wild edibles all day, you will starve. If you cannot climb to the top of a ridge, check a trap line, or take down some big game and carry it home, you will starve. If you cannot gather firewood, build or reinforce a shelter, haul water, move gear – over and over – or potentially even engage in defensive postures, struggles, or all out battles, where does that land you in your new world?

Condition yourself early and often. Move. Eat right. Live right. Easiest, cheapest, most sustainable preps out there. I appreciate any and all feedback and dialogue! Know a little about anything in any of these areas, share it, talk about it, and get the thought trains rolling. Disagree with me, let me know why. Look for more to come on my conditioned prepping, from SHTFit. I am totally open to your ideas, I may even flat-out admit it and incorporate your thoughts into my own conditioning approaches. In the end, we should all make sure we are Fit for when the Shit Hits.

A violent mob a tad over 1,000 strong is blocking all outbound traffic on a major freeway leading out of downtown, your car is stuck in the snarled traffic and


Over the years I’ve heard many people describe how they would prep if they won the Lottery.

The Big Survival Truck is usually the first thing mentioned, and it’s almost always a 4-wheel drive multi-ton with brawny winches fore and aft and full stealth capability. Then there’s the all-encompassing armory of truly first-class (and extremely expensive) firearms. Plus tons of ammunition, and a Band-Aid. And a 30,000-acre BOL in Montana with a 17-bedroom underground nuke-proof house and an Olympic-size Jacuzzi—all solar-powered, of course.

Unfortunately, most of those people don’t do very much prepping while they’re waiting for their winning numbers to pop up. They just don’t have the money.

In today’s troubled economy, money goes fast, but it doesn’t go far. The average person doesn’t have enough money in the bank to carry them (and their family) through one month of lost income, much less a full-scale disaster. A person should always try to have some kind of emergency reserve. Not having emergency funds doesn’t leave much room for prepping.

So what can a poor penny-pinched Prepper possibly do?

Simple: Get four envelopes and label them Water, Food, Clothing, and Gear. Determine to use the contents of each only for its designated purpose. Then follow these three easy steps to fill them up with money:


Take a good look at everything you own. Then sell everything you don’t actually need and/or use except items of genuine sentimental value. Everybody needs two 9/16″ wrenches. But if you have three, you should sell one. Even if you can only get $0.50 for it. It may seem like a small thing—too little to be worth bothering with—but the average adult has about $2,500.00 worth of possessions they neither use nor need. Those are the things that should fund your first preps.

Sell everything that you don’t need or want to make money which could be used to purchase prepping supplies or simply build a nest-egg for harder times.

Auction the good stuff on the Internet, have a few yard sales, rent a stall at a flea market, advertise in the free Classifieds, and tell all your friends. Be persistent. Eventually, you’ll sell it all. Trust me on this: Somewhere, somebody desperately wants that three-headed elephant statue that someone must have given you because you’d never buy anything like that, especially if it cost money and you weren’t drunk. However much money this step makes, divide it equally into your four envelopes. (Water, Food, Clothing, and Gear)


Think outside the box and purchase wisely. Water, of course, should be your first concern. It’s far more critical than food. A person can last a month without eating, but after three days without water they’ve stopped lasting and started dying. The minimum water allowance should be 1 gallon per day, per person. Set 5 gallons per person as your first water goal, and pursue it with the cost of the container in mind. You can buy 3 gallons of “spring water” from the Wally Store for $5.78—but you shouldn’t.

Instead, collect freshly emptied 2-liter soda bottles, rinse them out, and fill them with food-grade water right out of the tap—at the rate of about $1.50 per 1,000 gallons. Price: $0.01, rounded up. Also collect every screw-top beer can you can get your hands on. Wash and rinse them thoroughly and then you can use them for storing water and many other needful things. Free cardboard boxes can be collected from supermarkets to store your water bottles neatly and to shift them fast if you ever have to bug out.

Don’t worry about purifying tap water that goes into clean containers. The chlorine that’s already in it will do that job for you automatically. Gradually work your way up to storing 30 gallons per family member, if you can. When you reach your water storage goal, empty the Water envelope into Buy/Sell.

Water should be the very first item you stock up on.

Food should be your next concern because in an emergency the supermarkets will be picked clean within hours. Do all your panic-buying long before it’s time to panic—then you’ll never have to. Again, shop wisely: Don’t automatically shop at the most expensive supermarkets. Go to the cheaper ones, and also check out any Bent & Dent Stores in your area. Many times the canned goods there aren’t dented: They just came out of torn cartons. Clip coupons and look for sales. Be sure to check out any local auction houses. Some have monthly food auctions where you can get almost anything except fresh meat at amazingly low prices—as low as 10% of retail for some things.

Buy long term storage foods only, plus whatever you find that you would normally buy in your ordinary shopping. After each auction, figure out how much you saved on the regular shopping items and add that much as cash to your Food envelope. What you save on regular items at the auction is the time and gas you would have expended in ordinary shopping. The cash saved can go to your preps without impacting your standard of living.

The first rule is “Store what you eat and eat what you store.” If you hate green olives, don’t buy a gallon just because they happened to be cheap at the moment. You should stock only foods that you are accustomed to and like. ALL your foods should be comfort foods. Emergencies are stressful enough. There’s no need to add diet discomfort to the situation. Store the kinds of food you are eating, eat the food you have stored before its expiration date, and replace it as you do.

Buy rice and beans because they are cheap and provide complete amino acids when eaten together—but be sure to acquire the recipes that make them into superb meals. Buy canned beef, pork, and chicken, plus soups and vegetables. Buy white pasta because it keeps longest. (Spaghetti packs very compactly.) Ramen noodles are cheap, but go rancid in about two years. Buy extra virgin olive oil and canned lard. Both have their different uses.

The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource

The second rule is to buy in small containers. Refrigeration may not be available, so don’t buy canned vegetables by the gallon—unless your family is large enough to eat a gallon in one day.

The third rule is to buy variety: Don’t buy 100 lbs. of rice and 100 lbs. of beans and 10 lbs of “everything else”. Buy some of every kind of food you like, plus enough spices to put some serious zing into your cooking. When the flat-screen TV is dead, meals may become the high moments of the day.

Your first food goal should be three days (nine meals) for each person in your family. Do some careful calorie counting, and plan for three 1500-calorie meals a day. That’s more than the total 1500 calories a day many people recommend, but emergency situations are stressful, and usually require a lot of manual labor (such as walking instead of riding). The idea is to maintain your optimum body weight, not to drop to your minimum.

Gradually work up to a thirty-day food supply, and eventually try for ninety. When you’re good for food, retire the Food envelope and roll any leftover money into Buy/Sell. Then turn your attention to Clothing.

Start with durable but comfortable foot gear. Buy good new work boots, or military surplus combat boots. Buy several pairs of thick wool socks. Break the boots in, and wear them at least a few hours a week to keep them supple. Buy a surplus military poncho w/ liner. That’s good gear, and you definitely don’t want anything orange or yellow at any price. You may eventually need to be very inconspicuous.

Assemble one complete set of clothes for winter and one for summer. Include a camo hat with a brim and a black knitted watch cap, work gloves, knee pads, two bandannas, and sunglasses. Don’t be too proud to shop the thrift stores for used clothing. Incredible buys can be found there. Plus, in a disaster situation you don’t want to be seen in anything that says “Rich Person/May Have Food”.

When you’re good for clothing, empty the Clothing envelope into the Buy/Sell envelope. Then turn your attention to Gear.

Gear is an endless exercise in optimization. Start small. Buy the cheap stuff first. Haunt the thrift stores, dollar stores, yard sales, and flea markets. Roughly in order of importance: a good folding knife and a good sheath knife for each person. Also two Bic lighters, a Stainless Steel water bottle, personal cooking kit, pocket chainsaw, 30’ of 550 paracord, a tarp, a groundcloth, and a good wool blanket. A buck saw and a ¾-axe for the group, plus a four liter pot with bail & lid. Matches in a waterproof pill bottle for everyone, plus a small first aid kit.

Store your gear in a large gym bag—and with it your three day supply of food and three gallons of water. Two bags is okay, if there isn’t room in one.

All of that will be far too heavy to carry on your back, which is why you needn’t put it in a backpack. Instead of a $100+ backpack, buy an old golf dolly from a thrift store for $3.00 or so. You can tie the bags on and roll your gear instead of having to carry it. You’ll be amazed at how well that works.

The last part of Gear that bears discussion is personal defense. It’s a sad fact that in a serious emergency or disaster scenario the only animal you’ll find that will be both vicious and eager to attack you will be another person. Every person should carry a razor-sharp machete to chop brush with. Machetes do not run out of ammunition. Mace can also be a good friend in bad times. The best brand is Bear Spray.

Depending on the circumstances and the personal choice of conscience, a firearm may be desirable. The debate over which is best is endless, but having both a pistol and a long gun offers the best of both worlds. Being seen with a long gun can be disadvantageous—it can draw the attention of law enforcement (if there is any law left) and it can draw the first bullet from an unseen sniper on the trail.

For that reason, I recommend the only long gun I know of that can easily be hidden in a Bug out bag, gym bag, or book bag.

That’s a 12-ga slamfire shotgun made according to the instructions in the Kindle eBook The 15-Minute Shotgun. It breaks down into two pieces, the longest being 18-1/2”, reassembles instantly without tools, and can be used for both personal defense and subsistence hunting.

And, to the delight of the average Penny-Pinched Prepper, it only costs $10.00 to make.

When you’re reasonably well geared up, the Gear envelope can also go away, and you’ll be down to one envelope: Buy/Sell. And that brings you to Step 3:


Prepping is an ongoing process. It requires a small but continuing subsidy. Use your Buy/Sell money at auctions to buy things you can immediately sell for a profit on Craigslist. By that I mean a good washer-dryer set bought for $50.00 and sold for $200.00 the same week. Or an ugly flatbed trailer bought for $65.00, spray painted generic black, and re-sold for $250.00. Or an immaculate recliner bought for $5.00 and sold for $75.00. I have done all of those things at auctions and many more. I have funded my preps for years with an occasional Buy/Sell and made a little money on the side, too.

Spend your Buy/Sell money however you wish. By the time you’re reasonably well geared up you’ll probably know exactly what you next prepping goals should be. Whatever they are, they’ll probably be as uniquely individual as you are.

In my case, I’m saving up for that solar-powered Jacuzzi.

  Over the years I’ve heard many people describe how they would prep if they won the Lottery. The Big Survival Truck is usually the first thing mentioned, and it’s almost always


We know in a grid down situation that medical supplies will become a thing of the past. I worked as a delivery driver for two different major companies supplying hospitals and clinics with their supplies in Northern California. I can tell you for certain that there are no reserve medications in most hospital storerooms. Most hospitals operate on a just in time delivery system. They order it one day and get it in the next day. They may keep a small one day supply of some things on hand that they can use up that day and replace the next day. But they keep nothing on hand. To drive home the point: If most medical centers need a 9 volt battery to run a machine they order one 9 volt battery which is placed into a 55 gallon plastic bag, which is placed into a plastic tote which includes a packing slip with a bar code on it, and a bar code on the outside of the tote. When the hospital receives it they check the tote and pull the battery and send it directly to the machine that needs the new 9 volt battery.


You can do some things now and some things later. I would advise that you get a supply of a general antibiotic such as Amoxicillin on hand now. You don’t need your doctor’s prescription to do it. Fish Amoxicillin comes from the same place as the stuff they give to humans. You can order on-line. Since most of the time I’ve been given Amoxicillin it’s a 500 MG dosage 3 times a day for 10 days. That means you need 30 pills. I have ordered on-line and purchased 100 pills for about 30 dollars. That would give me enough for 3 separate treatments and still have 10 pills left over for trade. In a true SHTF situation each tablet will be worth more than gold. I recommend you keep your bottle in the refrigerator. Keeping antibiotics cool helps extend their potency.

Food grade hydrogen peroxide

Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide. This stuff is dirt cheap. You need the Food Grade which is a 35 percent solution and no additives or stabilizers in it which can hurt you. Food Grade is a 35 percent solution and is used in the agriculture industry to clean eggs among other things. I strongly recommend you obtain and read a book by Madison Cavanaugh called “The One Minute Cure.” It provides a lot of history for it and some ideas for its uses. Like anything else in life you must take some precautions in using it. First, at 35 percent it is considered to join the Hazmat family of flammables. 90 percent Hydrogen Peroxide is called rocket fuel. So don’t use it near open flames and remember it must be diluted a lot before you use it with the body. If you happen to spill some on your skin you need to immediately wash it off. Prolonged exposure can cause permanent nerve damage. There are several books on how to use it. Please get one and understand it fully and how to safely use and store it.

I was introduced to Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide when joking with another truck driver who was performing a pre-trip inspection on his truck. I got so excited about what I heard I ordered a gallon of the stuff and had it at home waiting for me to try. Actually I quickly discovered that when I read the book, which I received at the same time I got my Hydrogen Peroxide, I had purchased enough for a lifetime, or two. There are numerous ways that Hydrogen Peroxide is useful. I’m going to include a way to use it that I’ve not seen anywhere in print. In several books I have seen mention that it was used to fight the Pandemic of 1918. But no one said how.

I have had severe Asthma for as long as I can remember and I’ve been on one or more asthma drugs 24/7 since I was age 3 just to breath. I wondered how to I could safely get some diluted Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide into my lungs and see if it would help control my asthma.

A bottle like this makes a good delivery mechanism for the Hydrogen Peroxide.

I purchased a 2 ounce empty spray bottle in the travel section at Walmart for 99 cents. All of my readings told me I needed to dilute it down to something near a 3 percent solution. I’m an over-the-road truck driver and figured I needed a way to measure. Doing the improvised method, I took my thumb and held it against the bottom of the 2 ounce spray bottle and then kept applying it going up the side of the bottle. I estimated that my thumb represented about 1/11 of the bottle. I figured that was close enough. I held my thumb against the bottom of the bottle and filled the bottle up to the line of the top of my thumb. Then I filled the remainder of the bottle with purified water (I used reverse osmosis—most books recommend you use distilled.) I then took the spray bottle and squirted the watery mist into my mouth a couple of times while I inhaled through my mouth like you do with asthma inhalers.

Read More: Medicine to stock up on for when there is no doctor

I was currently using Symbicort and Ventolin. Both of these drugs, like all Asthma drugs have side effects including raising your blood pressure. My next challenge was to guess how much I would need to try to make a difference and get me off my prescription medications. I decided to start with three inhalations three times a day. I did that for a day and then I stopped taking my Symbicort. Ventolin is used for emergency breathing situations only. I had been using my Ventolin three to four times a week.

I was fine for the rest of the day without needing any Ventolin. For the next week I kept taking my hydrogen peroxide spray. I had no Asthma problems. I did not need my Ventolin once! I could actually feel my lungs changing. Up until now I have always had congestion, felt moisture, on the insides of my lungs. That all went away within a week. I had no wheezing or other noise coming from my lungs. I have since dropped the dosage to one to two puffs once a day when I remember. Yes, I can sometimes go a day or two now without any. If I’m near my trigger situations such as severe cold or smoke then I take more.

The Survival Medicine is an excellent resource every prepper should have in their library. When you can’t seek professional medical attention you will be on your own.

Since March 9th, 2012 I have only used Ventolin twice. Once when I had been near forest fires where I had been breathing the smoke for days. I finally started clogging up and needed a burst of Ventolin to give some relief. The other was in Idaho last summer when I took some time off and went camping with friends. We were near a lot of forest fires and again I used a puff of Ventolin. I needed the extra clearance with all of the physical activity I was doing at the time and wanting to keep up with friends.

I have a cousin with COPD from smoking for years. She was on Ventolin and her doctor was experimenting with other inhalers to improve the oxygen level in her blood. I told her about this and sent her one I had set up for myself to help get her started. I saw her a couple months later and she was extremely happy. The oxygen in her blood has gone up a full point since she has started using it and she has stopped all the other inhalers. Her doctor is happy with her lung capacity now.

There is another way you can use the stuff and that is by adding it to your drinking water. Think a drop to a few drops to a bottle of purified water. If it starts tasting like bleach, dilute it immediately.

I mention this because most end of the world as we know it books all believe that at some point we will also get some kind of respiratory pandemic. I believe that this stuff can help the body greatly strengthen the immune system. Most of the bacteria that makes us sick does not do well in a highly oxygenated body.

It’s also a way to increase the levels of oxygen in your body without spending a fortune. I would keep some on hand with a few spray bottles just in case. Please keep it in a low temperature stable environment. Like most other things heat breaks it down. Again, you may be able to find some in places that sell stuff for agriculture. But right now you can get it on-line pretty cheap.


Most of us are familiar with alternative treatments for a wound such as honey or tree sap and using super glue to help close a wound. I’ve not read anything in any of the prepping books about plain old charcoal.

It’s an old camping trick. I’ve had buddies who have been out on long hikes in the mountains and made the mistake of eating something that probably just went bad. They end up sicker than a dog. They collected the charcoal from their fire, crushed it down as much as they could and dumped it into a glass of water and drank as much as they could. Charcoal is an amazing substance. It will absorb a lot of bad things in the stomach. It’s not a cure-all, or a stomach pump. But most people who overdose and get taken to a hospital to get their stomach pumped are then often given some solution with charcoal either pumped into their stomach if they are unconscious or given to drink if they are awake (I was told this by a friend who worked in an ER in Silicon Valley many years ago). If you ever eat something and things start going south get as much charcoal into you as you can (and of course if medical treatment is available get to the ER as well).

I personally keep a bottle of charcoal capsules in my bug out bag and several other places. It’s cheap, light, and easy to carry.

  We know in a grid down situation that medical supplies will become a thing of the past. I worked as a delivery driver for two different major companies supplying hospitals

Some of us have the ultimate goal of self-reliance. Maybe it’s just “increased” self-reliance, or maybe we’d like to be almost totally self-reliant. A big part of self-reliance is the ability to produce our own food, whether we’re working with planters in a window to avoid the common recalls or plotting out our 30K square foot pantry garden. Regardless of scale, maximizing our production is something we all strive for. There are some terms and sowing concepts we may see but not really understand that relate to sowing seeds, especially, that can help us maximize our yields.

Some of those concepts include underplanting, underseeding, sub-sowing or under-sowing, succession and staggered planting, and congestion planting or fill beds. A lot of the ways we can maximize production from our space overlap and interact, which means the terms get used together or in place of each other. That can lead to some confusion on what each really is. I’ll largely use small-bed examples to try to clarify the concepts, but they can be expanded to larger plots

Congestion Planting

Congestion planting has two main facets. In some cases, congestion planting refers to the use of a bed instead of separated single rows, even in bare-earth, tilled-ground plots. In other cases, it refers to absolutely packing something into a space – a “fill” or “blanket” sowing style.

The latter can be visualized as blanketing marigolds around tomatoes and cabbages instead of having one marigold to one crop plant, with bare earth around them. It can also be seen in spread seeding – sprinkling or machine throwing something like lettuces or a game plot mix over a surface. When we talk about congestion planting a companion like sweet alyssum or a cover like buckwheat, this is what we mean – dense blankets. It’s done to maximize benefits from a companion, create a zero-bare-earth or total-canopy systems, and to choke out weeds.

In other cases, congestion planting is used to maximize harvest.

Creating a diagonal grid or staggered line instead of a straight line or a square grid lets us put more plants into the same area. “Gaia’s Garden” by Toby Hemenway has a good example of the “row” version of this, which can be applied to annuals as well as perennials. Congestion planting a grid of plants in a workable bed instead of separating rows of crops lets us get more yield out of the same space, too. For example, take a 12-foot by 6-foot garden area. In this case, it’s for spreads of about a foot – because there are an awful lot of plants that fit that space, beans to pak choi, fingerling potatoes to corn, candle peppers to rattail radish – but it works for 15-24” plants as well.

Instead of getting 36 as in a single-row row-cropping example, we’re able to get 42 primary plants into the same area with a diagonal grid (AKA: staggered grid, offset grid). That is a ratio that scales up.

Read More: Conventional Guides to Crop Rotation

A “straight” or “square” grid (squash the row cropping lines together) would have netted 48 primary plants, while the diagonal grid allows for an additional 12 companions or smaller crop plants with the main crop, for a total of 54 yielding plants in a 4’x12’ space. Both exceed the yield from single-row sowing.

*Individual interests, planting style, and needs, as well as choosing a 3’ instead of a 4’ bed, will determine if a diagonal or square grid is more efficient.

In addition to the increased total yield from congestion planting, there are other benefits to congestion planting in beds – raised or in-ground.

Eliminating the walkways between each row means there is less compaction, which makes for better root and soil health through better water movement and increased aeration. The shade created by the mature main crops will help keep soil cooler and moister than open rows with bare earth between plants. It will also allow for cooler-season annuals like radish, spinach and lettuce later in the season than they would normally be palatable. Once established, the canopies also help reduce weed growth, whereas the space between rows allows for sunlight to penetrate to the soil line, making weeds more of a factor.

Eliminating the walkways between each row means there is less compaction

Succession Planting & Staggered Planting

Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre

Succession planting isn’t an overly new concept, and it’s probably one of the most-heard terms. In succession planting, the goal is to not have dormant space and open earth in production spaces. Crop cycles are timed so that we maximize our space and growing season, avoiding lost time and wasted area. We have our tomato and pepper transplants ready and staged so that as lettuce and cabbage comes out, we plug in the next start immediately. Heading toward autumn, we start additional cabbages and sometimes greens so we can stick them in sweet corn plots immediately.

“Succession planting” is also sometimes used instead of “staggered” planting and harvest – staggering sowing dates this time instead of designing a staggered row.

With staggered planting, we start our seeds at weekly or two-week or even monthly intervals. We may do only a few plants at a time, we may do a couple of square feet at a time, or we may do a few rows or a partial plot at a time. For things like radishes, we may put in 12-18 every two or three days for a while, skip a week, and do a few more sets.

Staggering our planting allows us to harvest reasonable amounts. We can start some early and late for fresh eating, and plot out periods when we expect to have the bulk of determinate tomatoes coming in, spreading out the canning workload around our tree crops and other annuals, vacations, and our busiest parts of the seasons.

It also allows us to hedge our bets. We can start the first 2-5 tomatoes, then another set, and hold off on the main body of our for-canning tomatoes until we’re certain weather will hold for them. Then we take a break, and either root some of the suckers we pinch or start a few more seeds, and plant additional tomatoes that will still be in full production later in the season, or that can be grown in containers or in a protected area, extending our tomato harvest into cooler weather. We could easily divide our tomato season into thirds or quarters instead, starting seeds for each segment so that they’re yielding excesses for canning, but so that a late drought, low-calcium problem, or early cold, wet weather doesn’t affect our total harvest as much.

Read More: Understanding Seed Types and their Importance

Succession and staggered planting aren’t exactly the same, although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Staggered planting is more a factor to take into account with succession planting. Succession planting is similar to “zero bare earth” or “full canopy” planting in that there is always something active in the garden during growing season. It can be used with tilled-earth methods as well as the mulch-bed systems, and with transplants or the concept of underseeding and underplanting.

Underplanting & Underseeding

Underplanting is an umbrella concept that includes underseeding (AKA: sub-seeding, sub-sowing, under-sowing).

Underseeding is when we drop seed while another plant is still actively growing. It’s a little different than the staggered seeding that produces best results in a Three Sisters mound. In underseeding, we wait for our Three Sisters mound to start crinkling from frosts or reaching its maturity, and we plant something like beets, radishes or greens underneath the corn, beans and squash.

The timing is important. We want to be cutting down our hungry, mature plants about the same time the seed is germinating below them, so the cool season plants don’t face as much competition. We can do it in the mounds mentioned, or we can do it along the sides of rows and within beds as well. It’s limited to non-tractor farming unless mature plants are low enough and well-spaced enough for single- or multi-row equipment to get through. The tight spaces make it something much more common for a backyard kitchen garden or containers than large-scale field crops like wheat and beets.

Underplanting has applications both for perennials and for annuals.

Deciduous trees take some time to leaf out in spring. By building up a no-till bed around their bases, even dense canopies can have some early garden space eked out for radishes, beets, turnips, greens, and some others. Cut-and-come-again crops like spinach and lettuces will benefit from an extended season in a lot of climates due to the cooling shade and reduced evaporation. Depending on orientation and climate, things like onions and some herbs may be fine all season under an apple tree, and in some cases, a summer cover crop such as crowder peas or buckwheat may be possible. Edible ornamentals like hostas and wild food such as upland cress or mock strawberry are additional options for the bases of trees.

The benefits to underplanting trees and shrubs extend beyond the additional and early harvest. The trees themselves benefit from less mowing compaction, increased biomass, and pollinators that camp out due to constant pollen and nectar access. In some cases, the crops and herbs we choose to grow may actually repel some tree pests and disrupt some diseases or their vectors.

In the case of annuals, underplanting acts more like the Three Sisters example.

For example, consider a plot where lettuces are interspersed with a line of beets of turnips or radishes, and maybe some small head cabbage (with bunches of marigolds if inclined). When the root veggies are pulled and it’s warm enough for tomatoes, those starts go out, with the lettuces and cabbages still thriving. Some of the lettuces are pulled instead of cut, opening up a little space around the new tomato.

With an egg and a handful of compost, tomato starts are plenty big enough and aggressive enough – especially since they have deeper root systems than most cutting lettuces – to grow without problems. Cabbages are timed to be cut and have the roots severed as the tomato grows to 18-24” tall and they start encroaching on each other. By the time the tomato is starting to rob from and shade out lettuces, the lettuces are bolting or going bitter anyway, and can be cut a final time. If they’re already bitter, they lay right on the ground, providing some additional shade and mulch for soil, which retains more moisture. That’s about the same time the tomato needs every bit of nutrients and less competition for flowers and fruit set, and – especially in raised beds and containers in dry and hot climates – enormous amounts of water.

The system works in reverse again as the season ebbs and tomatoes start to dry off. We underseed spinach and chard, prune our tomato aggressively so it concentrates on maturing its fruit about the same time our baby plants start popping up, and by the time the spinach and chard are starting to struggle from the competition, our tomato should be done for the season. A serrated blade or pruning shears gets used to sever the roots and cut the stalk, and our bed stays in constant production.

Both underplanting and underseeding are intended to make sure that not only is garden space actively doing something, but that there is no exposed earth. They limit the total amount of space we need to produce significant yields, and they reduce the amount of time we wait in between harvests.

Seeding schemes

Congestion planting, succession planting, staggering seed sowing, and underseeding or underplanting are just a few ways we can maximize our yield within a given amount of space. There are labor and water-saving benefits to some of them, but the primary goal is to make the most of our cultivated land. Using our space to maximum efficiently may allow us to grow additional crops, or we may find room for rabbits, water catchment systems, composting, chickens, an outdoor seating area, or shrubs and trees that will further increase our yields or act as passive solar heating and cooling devices.

Even more than when we select what types of seeds and the specific crops we want to grow, deciding upon a planting or sowing style can hugely impact our gardens and crop spaces. Someone who wants to use a tractor for all phases of growing and maintenance may not find as much use for most of the discussed styles, but for others, an efficiency planting style might be worth some consideration.

Some of us have the ultimate goal of self-reliance. Maybe it’s just “increased” self-reliance, or maybe we’d like to be almost totally self-reliant. A big part of self-reliance is the


Once you have a firearm you need to consider what it is going to take to feed your weapon. You can think of it in the way of just getting enough ammo for a particular hunt or recreation, but I suggest you take a good hard look at stockpiling ammo for the just in case scenario. There are some good guidelines and tips on stockpiling ammo that will simplify this process for you and make it easier than it sounds on some forums you may have come across.

Stockpiling Ammunition: Amounts and Types

First we will go over the best amounts and types of ammunition to stockpile. This could be specific to the caliber and gauge of the firearms you so they may be somewhat generalized. The first type is the ultra popular 22LR. It is common and popular for good reason because it is light, effective, and generally cost efficient. The fact that you can generally get larger lots of this ammo for a fraction of the cost makes it an absolute staple in any ammo stockpile. Chances are you already own a 22LR and if you are new to firearms they are great way to get into shooting because of the lack of harsh noise and absence of recoil making it easy to get your fundamentals down. If you are able to master your shooting fundamentals with a gun that uses cheap ammunition you will be way ahead rather than trying to buy a gun to make you better. 22LR is now becoming a little easier to get a hold of in the 500 round lots again so it is a good time to go out and grab some. My recommendation for the amount to keep on hand is 2,000 rounds that you actually keep stockpiled away from your normal shooting stash. In the event you need to hunt for food this gives you a lot of opportunities with minimal space to store it and weight of the cache. This is only 4 cases of the 500 round “bricks” you typically see people buying.

For semiautomatic weapons such as your AR-15 and AR-10 platforms, as well as semiautomatic pistols it is a good idea to keep around 2,000 rounds as well because these types of rifles can really chew through your ammunition stock if you do a lot of shooting. It’s pretty much nothing to go out and shoot 100 rounds in an afternoon and that is just a little over 3 standard 30 round magazines. If you can keep stock of more than this it is even better but aiming for 2,000 rounds in reserve plus whatever amount you deem for practice shooting is a great goal to shoot for. It is the easiest and most affordable to buy FMJ (full metal jacket) ammunition because it is the most available and in the largest lots if you want to get bulk pack. A good goal is to have around 200 rounds of the more specialty type ammunition such as ballistic tip, hollow point, and match ammo because they are great for what they are designed for but are often over double the price of the conventional FMJ type ammunition.

For your bigger bolt guns and magnum rifles try to keep around 250 rounds in your reserve stash. The reason for this being a lower number is factored by two main reasons: cost and amount typically used. If you own a 300 win mag you know how expensive it is to shoot and the fact you don’t typically go out and try to shoot 100 rounds in a day unless your shoulder is made out of granite. However if you do a lot of long-range shooting you may go through more of this ammo so keep in mind the 250 rounds is just the amount of ammo you are saving for an emergency not included in your normal shooting ammo. For shotguns aim for about 500 rounds because regardless of gauge this is a lot of firepower. It might be a good idea to get a variety of loads besides just basic #7 bird-shot. 00 buckshot is great because of its effectiveness at self-protection and slugs for hunting.

Storage Solutions for your stockpiled ammo

MTM 50 Caliber Ammo Storage Can – $10

Now that you have a better idea of how much ammunition to keep on hand I’ll go over the best ways to store it for long-term storage. First you will need some good containers such as plastic or metal ammo cans. These come with a gasket in the lid to make a strong seal when snapped shut making moisture and humidity difficult to permeate. I recommend leaving the ammunition in the boxes it comes in just for organizational sake to keep a bunch of loose rounds from rolling around. If you buy larger lots they sometimes come in an ammo can already so that will save you a step looking for a container. You can buy replacement gaskets so if a gasket ever starts to fall apart or dry up you can simply throw in a new gasket to keep the integrity of the ammo can. The best thing to do is keep desiccant packages inside the ammo can to absorb any moisture that would be inside the can keeping the rounds dry.  These are cheap and you can usually find them in things you already purchased in the packaging. Make sure to mark each box with what is inside either with some tape to write on or stencils so it is easy for you to identify if in a hurry.

Cost effective way to start stockpiling ammo

If you do not have the money to drop $350+ on a big lot of ammo you can simply go for a small box of ammo every week or couple of weeks. Just as an example say you will get a box of 20 rounds of .223/5.56 every week at around $9 a box for basic FMJ will add up to only $36 dollars a month and give you 1,200 rounds year. So basically you can incrementally add to your ammo stockpile instead of have to buy in bulk. It does offer some cost savings to purchase larger lots but may be a little easier to budget for a smaller weekly expense. As long as you take some simple steps to budget and prepare for it you will be able to begin getting a good cache built up.

  Once you have a firearm you need to consider what it is going to take to feed your weapon. You can think of it in the way of just getting


If you happen to have worked on a military base in the past, I’m sure you’ve encountered guards standing at the guardhouse routinely waving traffic through the gate – maybe stopping the occasional vehicle to ask a question or two before waving them through. Such a relaxed approach may be adequate during peacetime, however post-disaster these procedures will be wholly inadequate. This article will describe how small communities can establish and manage effective post-disaster roadblocks.

With the recent unrest in Ferguson, MO we’ve actually had a rather ugly preview of coming attractions regarding the need to control and monitor the movement of people. The image of a large gang of criminals, intent on looting, migrating to a neighboring community and shooting their way into a locked store, is an image that should be forever branded into the consciousness of every prepper. This is precisely the reason that the movement of people will need to be controlled, and it’s going to require more than a smiling face and a wave of the hand.

In the wake of a major disaster, those living in small to mid-sized communities will be faced with the challenge of quickly reorganizing to cope with new and immediate concerns. One critical need will be to “control the perimeter”, which will involve establishing security checkpoints to control and monitor comings and goings. Without such controls the risk of disease and lawlessness could threaten the community’s very existence.

While, at first blush, it may seem trivial to set up a roadblock (“Hey, you two guys go down the road and check anybody passing through town!”), during times of disaster an effective roadblock requires more serious consideration.

Selecting Locations for Roadblocks

As with many aspects of life, when establishing a roadblock “location is everything”, and factors that should help to identify the best location for a roadblock include distance from population centers, availability of sufficient space to meet the roadblock’s missions, ability to be defended and potential for line-of-sight communications.

Ideally a roadblock should be a minimum of 0.75 miles (1.2 kilometers) from any dense population centers. This distance corresponds roughly to the range of a high-powered rifle. In other words, a defensive perimeter is much less useful to a community if an adversary can effectively shoot at members of the community from outside the defended perimeter (a roadblock should, if possible, be that distance from any location where a member of the community lives or works).

Military snipers have been known to, on rare occasions, hit targets at distances approaching 1.5 miles. Obviously a bit larger safe zone should be considered if one anticipates adversaries having military sniper training.

Roadblocks are staffed by people, and in the long term people require supporting infrastructure. Such infrastructure potentially includes provisions for the sanitary elimination of human waste, protection from the weather, storage of supplies and space to be used to detain travelers without blocking traffic. Any location considered for a permanent or long-term roadblock should address these real-world needs.

The security of those staffing a roadblock should be a primary concern when selecting its location. It is inevitable that there will eventually be security incidents at any roadblock, and the personnel there should be able to ward off any anticipated attack until reinforcements can arrive. The availability of hard and soft cover should be considered, as well as local geography (with regard to both offense and defense). In some situations it may be important to have a concealed shooting position located nearby to provide supporting fire in the event of the most serious situations.

Yet another important factor to consider when selecting the location of a roadblock is the availability of line-of-sight communication to the community. This can be important in case other more conventional means of communication become unavailable. For example, flags might be flown to request reinforcements or to visually indicate other abnormal situations. In some cases it may be necessary for a central headquarters within the community to have a line-of-sight to the roadblock, while in other cases it may be sufficient for the roadblock to be within sight of any population center (from which communication might be relayed to the central headquarters).

In addition to the factors already mentioned, a roadblock should be established at a location that is a natural traffic bottleneck. Otherwise it is possible that intruders could simply bypass the roadblock.

Sandbags are an often over-looked prepper supply that can make very effective cover for fighting positions. Just add hard work.

Facility and Equipment

Without certain basic features necessary to meet the needs of those who will be staffing it, the ability of a permanent or long-term roadblock to accomplish its mission will be significantly degraded. The roadblock station should feature:

  • A latrine or other means of eliminating human waste in a sanitary fashion
  • A source of clean water
  • A structure that provides protection from the weather
  • A flagpole (and various colored flags) for backup visual communication
  • A siren or other device for producing a loud and distinctive audible alert
  • A lockable storage bin that is protected from the weather
  • Sandbags or some other form of hard cover
  • Nearby access to places of concealment
  • A movable barrier to control the flow of traffic
  • A radio or other device for security-related communications
  • Chairs
  • A temporary parking area where one or more vehicles may be detained without blocking other traffic
  • Signs posted at appropriate locations to provide instructions and cautions to approaching travelers

Flags of various colors should be available to, at a minimum, signify abnormal security conditions (perhaps yellow and red), requests for unscheduled personnel rotation and requests for medical assistance.

In addition to the equipment listed above, those who staff the roadblock (and anyone providing them covering fire) should carry weapons that are appropriate to their role. Holstered handguns, along with spare magazines and a good supply of ammunition, are probably a best fit for those staffing the roadblock; with a rifle close at hand in the guard shack. The advantage of holstered handguns is that they leave hands free for signaling and conducting searches.


Good communications, both among the personnel staffing a roadblock and between the roadblock and other security personnel within the community, is vitally important. Efficient non-verbal communications between the personnel staffing the roadblock can be quite useful. For example, hand signals might be used to guide traffic or to quickly and silently communicate ‘caution’ or ‘danger’ to other personnel staffing the roadblock. They might also be useful in communicating with any concealed locations that are tasked with providing covering fire during times of heightened security.

Radio or other forms of electronic communication between the roadblock, a central headquarters and/or other roadblocks or other security personnel can obviously also fill a vital role. If non-secure radio communications are utilized then standard code words (similar to the ’10 codes’ used today by law enforcement personnel) should be employed to augment communications security (‘COMSEC’).

TA-312 field phones can still be purchased in surplus stores.

An alternative to radio communications is the use of military grade ‘field telephones’. Such phones provide the advantage of increased COMSEC. Military-model phones worth consideration are the TA-1, the EE-8 and the TA-312 field telephones, which have been used by the US military throughout the twentieth century. The TA-1 offers a range of up to four miles and requires no power source (it is voice-powered). The EE-8 offers a range of up to 17 miles, but requires batteries. The TA-312 has a range of up to twenty-two miles under dry conditions, and features a built-in hand generator so that batteries are not necessary for operation.

Small military switchboard devices can be installed at the central headquarters to enable point-to-point telephone communications between multiple locations. There would also be a need to obtain sufficient lengths of telephone wire to interconnect the desired stations.

As has already been mentioned, flags and sirens can fill an important role by providing a means of communicating certainly critical conditions to the entire community.


It is typical to have a roadblock staffed by a minimum of three individuals; two members of the team typically process foot traffic and vehicles through the roadblock in accordance with standing orders, while the third oversees the operation from the guard shack and is ready to react appropriately if an incident develops. Occasionally the duties associated with manning the roadblock can be physically demanding (for example, if the station comes under attack), so it is important that all team members be physically fit.

Under normal circumstances teams should work in shifts and rotate on and off the roadblock in accordance with a pre-established schedule. As already suggested, in times of heightened alert it may also be prudent to employ a concealed sniper to provide support on an as-needed basis.

Using Roadblocks to Gather Intelligence

Roadblocks can be excellent (and cost-effective) sources of critical intelligence information about potential future security threats to the community. Question and answer sessions conducted with passers-by can provide a wealth of information which can often be corroborated by multiple independent observers. When collecting information from travelers about potential adversaries they may have observed, the following ‘SALUTE’ questions should be remembered:

  • S)ize of potential adversaries
  • A)ctivity a potential adversary was observed being engaged in
  • L)ocation of potantial adversaries
  • U)nit Types Capabilities of potential adversaries
  • T)ime the potential adversary was observed
  • E)quipment possessed by a potential adversary

Policies and Procedures Governing Roadblocks

The individuals manning a community roadblock should be governed by policies and procedures in addition to and standing orders. Policies governing a roadblock should include:

  • If possible the personnel staffing the roadblock should wear common uniforms or otherwise present themselves to travelers as members of a disciplined and professional unit.
  • To the greatest extent possible, roadblock personnel should maintain detailed notes of all incoming and outgoing traffic, including answers to the ‘SALUTE’ questions described above as appropriate.
  • The maximum number of consecutive hours that individuals should attend a roadblock without being relieved.
  • Identification of different classes of travelers (e.g. community members, vs. known locals vs. unknown personnel)
  • Standard operating procedures for handling each class of traveler.
  • Policies regarding personnel taking necessary breaks during their work shift.
  • Regularly-scheduled check-ins with the central headquarters.
  • The use of special signs or signals for identification purposes.
  • The procedure for evacuating the roadblock in the event that it is overrun (including the destruction of sensitive materials and equipment)
  • Criteria for pursuing vehicles that attempt to flee the roadblock


The use of roadblocks to control and monitor the flow of inbound and outbound traffic (foot traffic and otherwise) is important to the community from many perspectives. In addition to strengthening the defense of the community, it can be a valuable source of strategic intelligence. The presence of roadblocks also increases the community’s sense of security and well-being, which can itself translate into increased productivity and economic activity.

To paraphrase the great poet Robert Frost who once proclaimed that “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors” it can be said that “Good Roadblocks Make For Secure Survival Communities”.

Somehow my version just doesn’t seem as poetic!

Introduction If you happen to have worked on a military base in the past, I’m sure you’ve encountered guards standing at the guardhouse routinely waving traffic through the gate – maybe