In my opinion, these are the best of the best of survival and preparedness articles gleaned from the 'net.

Please visit the originating sites to see more like them.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Need $$$ for Preps?

http://www.peoplestring.com/?f=survivorbax

Here is one of those income streams I recently stumbled across. People String is a website/social network along the lines of face book. One major difference is that it pays you to use its services. Currently I am conducting a test of the earning potential of this site but wanted to share it with you all because I like what I see. Some of the key points of People String are:

   1. It's 100% free to join.
   2. They pay you to surf the web and do the things you normally do everyday.
   3. They share 70% of their advertising revenue with members.
   4. By networking with your own sphere of influence, you can maximize your earning potential.

Now, remember I did not say you can retire off of this site. This is not a get rich quick, make a zillion dollars in 40 seconds offer. What this can be, is another small stream that could help you build a worthwhile cash flow. Many of you are bloggers who use Google adsense as a method of raising funds. Consider this to be along the same lines.

If you decide to join there are a few things you can do to expand your earning potential.

   1. Make People String your homepage. You need to sign on at least once every twelve hours to earn the the maximum people points for the day.
   2. Add the websites you visit every day onto your people string homepage and use the homepage as a launching pad for your web activities. You will earn a little sliver for doing what you normally do for free.
   3. They provide links to Face book, Twitter, and most of the free email services. Access these sites through your People String Site to earn more.
   4. Search from Google, play games, read the news- all from the People String homepage; it will all make you money.

Interested? http://www.peoplestring.com/?f=survivorbax

Square Foot Gardening FAQ

When we posted our Square Foot Gardening 101 post a few weeks ago it got people all excited about starting up their gardens this year … and it also led to a slew of gardening questions coming from our readers on our Facebook Fan Page. We decided to have our cousin Emily, the author of the blog My Square Foot Garden, answer a few of these questions from our readers since she is a pro at helping beginning gardeners get started. In fact she just wrote a new eBook on exactly that topic, so keep reading to find out more about that too!

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Square Foot Gardening FAQ

Hello FSME readers! I’m exited to have the chance to answer some of your gardening questions! Just a little background on me—I’m a mom of two boys, and this is my fourth year of gardening. I’m not an expert, but I am determined to learn all I can and pass it on to others. So here we go!
1. What soil mix is best for raised bed gardens?
I suggest a combination of ingredients called Mel’s Mix. It is equal parts compost, vermiculite, and peat moss. For specific instructions, go to my website and click on the Build It tab, then read the post there.
Each spring I add more compost to my boxes—I usually need to add one quarter to one third of the volume of my garden bed. Also, after harvesting you can replant in that square. Before you do, add a scoop of compost and mix it in.
2. What are cold frames and how do you use them?
A cold frame is like putting a glass roof on your garden. Imagine a mini-greenhouse, built around your garden beds. It helps you plant and grow sooner, and it extends the season later by protecting the plants. I would not suggest using cold frames if you are a beginner unless your weather conditions require it.

3. SEEDS

3a. Do higher quality seeds really make a difference?
YES! I’ve personally experienced this. You know those super cheap seeds by American Seed Company? There’s a reason they are so inexpensive. They have a very low germination rate, about 10%, which means you are paying for a bunch of seeds that won’t sprout.
3b. Where do you buy your seeds?
I have always purchased whatever brand I find at Wal-Mart, Home Depot, or IFA (Intermountain Farmers Association, the local farm coop store). I have found all of these seeds to be similarly priced and comparable in quality.
The advantage of buying seeds at a local store (like IFA) is that they often carry brands that have been developed specifically for the climate in which you live. The advantage of purchasing from a catalog is that you can choose from endless varieties and types of vegetables. I just hate waiting for something to come in the mail!
3c. What are Heirloom seeds?
Heirloom seeds, or vegetables, are varieties that were grown in the “old days.” Many have been used for over 50 or 100 years, and there are many more varieties. However, they are not as disease resistant as the seeds you will find at the store.
Since the industrialization of agriculture, seeds have been bred for consistency and disease resistance. This has resulted in fewer varieties (sort of a “one size fits all”) and hybrids, which are more expensive.
3d. How do I store seeds?
If you use the square foot gardening method, chances are you’ll have tons of seeds leftover. I put mine in snack size ziplock baggies, so if the seeds spill out it’s no big deal. Then I keep them in a cool, dry place. In the summer I put them in my fridge or basement. In the winter I keep them in the garage.
4. What are good plants for colder climates?
Root veggies (beets, carrots, onions, leeks, turnips, radishes, potatoes)
Cabbage family (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, mustard)
Peas and beans
If you have a short growing season, buy varieties that harvest in a shorter time frame.
5. Can you share any composting tips for beginners?
Don’t do it. Okay, that’s not totally true. If you have the space and want to compost for environmental reasons, by all means go ahead. But unless you have a lot of mass (think 100 gallons) and are willing to do a lot of work (turn it every week), you won’t be generating compost for this year. I live on 1/5 of an acre and with the grass clippings and the food scraps from a family of 3, combined with donated leaves, I have barely made enough compost to refill a box or two.
There is no compact, easy, non-messy, non-labor-intensive way to make compost that I know of. I am going to research composting this summer by interviewing my friends and neighbors to see if anyone has a magic composting trick.
The only composting I know of that is compact, very little work, but does use food scraps (fruits and veggies only), is vermacomposting—that’s right, with worms. I have a friend who does this. The compost she gets is like gold, but is measured in cups, not cubic feet. I’m going to do a post on this as well!
6. What’s the best way for a beginner to get started? Step-by-step instructions!
See my special offer below.
We had too many questions for one post, so stay tuned for more great info from Emily coming soon in a future post!

Gardening For Beginners

Emily is the author of a set of two new eBooks that are super helpful for beginner gardeners. We love her easy step-by-step approach to gardening that walks you through the entire process, just like our BabyStep program does for your food storage! She is offering a limited time discount to Food Storage Made Easy readers. Buy both eBooks together and get 20% off by using coupon code FSME20. That’s two books for just $16! Don’t wait, the offer expires on Tuesday at midnight.
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Prepare: What To Do After An EMP Strike


The book One Second After left many of us thinking what we could do in the event of an EMP attack. While nobody has all the answers for what to do one second answer, here are some suggestions that might help.

One minute the lights, air conditioner, computer, telephone and what not are working, the next they are dead. Whether or not an EMP attack will happen and if so, whether or not the effects are as described in popular writing, having a plan just in case is smart.

If at home, the first thing you will notice is the lights have gone out like in a summer or winter storm. The airconditioning or heater, if electric, will cut out. The TV and other entertainment will shut off immediately. Cell phones and landline telephones will cut off calls and stop working. The silence will be deafening.

The same events will occur in schools and work places. Cars, not running, will not start or start and run roughly for a limited time. Airplanes in flight, as awful as this sounds, may lose engine power and electrical systems and begin descending to the ground.

All electrical systems, except the most primitive, will stop immediately. Confusion will reign.

Quick; what do you do?

First things first. If moving, stop. If at work, move to a safe area. If at home. pause and consider if there is anything in your home which may be a threat or leave someone else in danger.

Then, know where everyone is who lives in your home. Kids at school? How are you going to get them? Spouse at work or store? How will they get home? Does your car run? Check. If not, is there a neighbor or nearby, one block or less, with a runninng vehicle? Do you have a bike? Can you ride to the kids school and collect them?

Remember, there are no phones working. That relative or friend who lives across town suddenly may as well be living in Africa as there is no quick or easy way to get to them. So forget about contacting Aunt Sue in Baltimore for the time being.

Once everyone in the home has been collected, make a judgement call - you can either start checking on neighbors or start gettting supplies.

Pros and Cons - Neighbors are going to be a lifesaver. For instance, the lady across the street can watch your kids while you run down to the market to get more food. Also, neighbors can pool thier resources and numbers to watch and protect their properties.

The bad side about spending the initial time after the EMP attack talking to neighbors who are ill prepared to deal with the consequenes. This will be a call on your part.

For me, after having the children collected, there are only two neighbors I will speak with before heading to the market nearby to get more supplies.

Going to the market - Cash is King. Have a supply of cash on hand for emergencies and an EMP attack is one of them. I keep several stashes of small bills around the house that I have added to each time I get paid. It does not take much.

Stores will not be taking credit cards and possibly not even checks if their systems are down so have folding money on hand now. There may be a chance that the stores won't even be selling at all, so be prepared for anything. Most will probably allow shoppers to load a cart with neccessaries if you make the case to the manager that you need food for the kids or something similar.

If the grocery stores are selling, load up. Here's what to get..

- canned food
- baking supplies
- long term foods like rice and beans
- Over the counter (OTC) medicines
- vitamins
- toilet paper and feminine supplies
- matches, lighters and cooking fuel
- batteries and candles
- Soap, bleach
- bottled water

You cannot buy enough food in one trip to last during the total effects of an EMP strike; that period will be months if not years. That is why it is imperative that you start stocking now and use this last chance to buy as a "top off" of existing supplies only.

If there are other stores such as hardware or sporting goods stores open, take advantage now to get any building materials, gardening supplies, camp gear, guns and ammo. Also hit the gasoline station on the off chance that one may have a back up generator to get gas out of the ground.

If you have the money (or if the stores still take checks), make multiple trips to the stores as best as you can. In a few days there will be little or nothing moving to and from the stores and warehouses so the window is limted.

Don't think for a minute you are hoarding. You are providing for your family. Also, you can share what you have purchased with friends, family and neighbors.

At home, get ready. When it gets dark, there will be no law enforcement, ambulances or fire departments running. If a fire breaks out, how will you fight it? What will you do if someone gets sick or hurt? What if thugs try to take advantage of the situation and attempt a break in? Prepare your home for any circumstance.

What happens next? Do you have a nearby water source? If so, start moving water to your home and get busy sanitizing it for drinking.

What about transportation? If you have a running vehicle, keep it close and drive it only when neccessary. A running vehicle will attract attention and may result in it being stolen or commandeered by local government.
Instead use "sneaker power" or a bike for getting around.

Also, stay near the house. There is no need to go wandering around town.

Find a way to get news. That "antique" tube radio of grandpas sitting on the shelf is more than decoration. With power from a car battery through an inverter and you have a lifeline to the outside world. You may find out that your situation is restricted to a limited geographical area. Or that there is an active government relief effort underway. Or maybe that the whole world is effected and the remaining governments are preparing the population for a new dark age. Without communications, you will never know.

Regardless, the first 24 hours of an EMP attack are critical to long term survival. Thnk.

Here's what NOT TO DO after immediately after an EMP attack -

- Waste time having a two hour meeting with neighbors.
- Hang around work or school - go home.
- Wander around the neighborhood discussing what happened.
- Ride or walk downtown to see what the government is doing about it.
- Start gardening, cleaning up your garage or inventorying your "preps". All of this should have been done before.
- Start cooking leftovers on the grill (the fridge and freezer will stay cold a day or so longer).
- Try to get the 2009 car running. It won't happen. 

Riverwalker’s Top Ten Survival Uses for Duct Tape


1.) Use for emergency repairs to gear (tents, tarps, backpacks, raingear, etc.).
2.) Use for temporary repairs to a vehicle in an emergency (patch water hose, etc.).
3.) Use for emergency medical treatment (make splints, wrap sprains, secure bandages).
4.) Use to temporarily secure items in place to prevent loss.
5.) Use for the emergency water-proofing of most items.
6.) Use as a temporary repair for broken glass or windows.
7.) Use in an emergency as a temporary restraining device.
8.) Use to seal an emergency shelter to help make it water-proof.
9.) Use as a reflective coating to create an emergency signaling device.
10.) Anything not mentioned above.
Duct tape is an essential item for your survival kit.
Got duct tape?
Staying above the water line!
Riverwalker

The Realities of Interpersonal Combat: How Are You Preparing?, by Officer Tackleberry

I will start this article with a question: What are you doing on a regular basis (i.e. daily) to prepare yourself mentally, physically, emotionally, and most of all, spiritually, to not just survive, but prevail during a violent encounter?
This is a question I ask myself on a regular basis.  I have also posed this same question to my hand-to-hand combat students.
There is no question that interpersonal violence will be fact of life for many in a post-societal collapse.  But, it is a reality in today’s society that many people (i.e. sheeple) choose to ignore.
Depending on your source for statistics, the number of instances of violent crime reported [in the US] in 2008 was more than 5,000,000.  Yes, there are six zeros after that 5!  That figure astounds and saddens me, but doesn't surprise me.
My full-time job is a police officer with a suburb of a major city that regularly meets or exceeds the number of violent acts from the previous year.  These acts of violence are prominently displayed in local newspapers and on radio and television.  Yet, for many, they refuse to accept this reality and thus refuse to prepare to for it.
Security Awareness
Security awareness needs to be a way of life for all of us because prevention is the best defense.  Now, I am not talking about paranoia, but preparation and practice.  One such example of being security minded is locking your doors once you are in your house or car.  How many times have you seen someone get into their car and talk on their cell phone or do some other task while being totally oblivious to what's going around them?  Maybe you have even done this yourself.
Speaking of locking your doors, how many of you consistently make sure that the door from the garage to your house is always locked?  I can't even begin to guess the number of burglaries that I have been on where the offender(s) found the victim's garage door open and the offender(s) then gained entry into the home via the unlocked man door.  As part of your daily OPSEC for your residence, make sure the garage door is shut and the man door is locked.
Let's take the last scenario one step further.  Just this past summer I saw several incidents in which the offender(s) pushed the center of the garage door back far enough to reach the disconnect cord for the electric garage door.  Once the opener is disconnected from the chain, they quietly lifted the garage door and stole valuable items from the garage.  Also, in one case they gained entry into the home because the man door to the garage from the house was unlocked.
A personal security tool that you can purchase for yourself and keep on you at all times is a small LED flashlight.  Streamlight, Surefire and Dorcy are just three of the quality brands that are out there.  You want a small metal one that’s not much longer than the width your hand so I am not talking about one of those big, 3 or 5 “D” cell Mag-Lites, even though those are good options for your vehicle and home. Having a flashlight already in your hand allows you to check in and around your car when you’re in dark parking lots or garages and performing OPSEC on your personal property.  You can also shine this light in the eyes of a potential assailant, causing temporary blurred vision and disorientation.  If you choose to get a flashlight, try to get one with a tail-activation switch option and that has replacement batteries and keep at least two extra batteries with you at all times.  Most people, even cops, forget to charge their lights and the lights don’t work when they need them the most.  Also, consider getting a light with the scalloped or serrated edges around the lens area.  It makes a great impact weapon should you need it.
Entire chapters can be written on personal and property security awareness.  But, suffice it say, security awareness needs to become a way life because, especially post-WTSHTF, your life may literally depend on it.
Hand-to-Hand Combat
As I mentioned earlier in the article, I am a Hand-to-Hand (H2H) practitioner and instructor.  My primary form is an Israeli H2H system that I have taught to both civilian and law enforcement.  I also teach security awareness and self defense seminars for women in the community.
I have studied several different styles of martial arts over the past 25+ years and have seen many drawbacks of traditional systems.  Most traditional systems are heavy on tradition but light in the area of combat applications.  This fact is well known and recently there has been a plethora of "new" systems out there that refer to themselves as reality-based martial arts (RBMA).
I personally believe that everyone should learn how to defend themselves with both empty hands and weapons.  Even now, depending on the size of your area, the number of officers on duty, and some other factors, our response to your 911 call could be anywhere from two minutes to an hour.  Even if our response is only two minutes, when fighting for your life that may seem like an hour.  Post-WTSHTF, police response may be non-existent. 
RBMAs have tried to step in and market themselves as the "answer" for your H2H needs.  But, there are some serious dangers involved that you need to be aware of.  First, it seems like most of the instructors or "creators" of these systems are former Navy SEALs, Green Berets, Special Forces etc.  Please take the time to learn the instructors true credentials, check references, and observe a few classes.  Also, be wary of the home study courses that claim that you will be able to defeat any attacker in seconds if you just purchase their products.
Another type of RBMA is one that relies heavily on ground fighting, such as Gracie or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or on joint locks, such as traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, Aikido, or some blend thereof.  The goal of these systems, especially in the beginning stages, is to learn to defeat and/or control another one-on-one.  There are too many variables in a violent encounter to justify spending time wrapped up tight with just one person. 
You should train in a system that teaches you to defend common attacks, encourages aggression when appropriate, limits ground work at the beginning levels, works in multiple attacker scenarios on a regular basis and teaches empty hand vs. weapons at the lower levels.  Some of the styles I mentioned do these same things but normally at a much higher rank level which translates to much longer training time.  At our school, you will see all of the above within the first 6 months of training.  I am not saying the system I train/teach in has all of the answers because such a system doesn't exist.  However, one comment I hear consistently is how the participant felt they were ready to defend themselves after the first lesson. This was how our system was designed and is why the Israeli military and police use it to this day.
I know that there are many proponents out there that believe mixed martial arts (MMA), judo, boxing, Thai boxing and wrestling are competent RBMAs, and they are for what they are designed for.  However, these specific RBMAs are limited by rules, safety equipment, number of opponents (which there is only 1), and lack of non-personal weapons.  Don’t get me wrong, these specific systems bring a lot of good training characteristics to the party and I have participated in several of them myself.  But, the point is that you need to train beyond the limitations of these systems. 
Now, some personal thoughts about your family members training in H2H.  If your budget allows, I believe each household member should receive competent H2H training.  Encourage your spouse/significant other to train but, when it comes to your children, especially younger ones, I think you should mandate it.  My wife has attended a womens' self defense seminar and we recently discussed her attending another one.  While she doesn't take formal classes on a regular basis, she likes Tae Bo so I encourage it.  Tae Bo done on a regular basis provides her with physical fitness, is fun for her, and allows her to practice some of the moves she had learned.
As far as children are concerned, I believe that quality self-defense training is a must.  According to a study I read a couple of years ago, there are more than 250,000 assaults in public schools every year.  Based on my experience, I believe that the actual number for this is about 25-50% higher.  I know many schools don't report these incidents because they believe that it will reflect negatively on them.  I know that the training my children have been through has greatly helped them.  One of my children has had issues with a bully and has had to defend himself from an attack where the other child was choking him with both hands on his throat.  This same child was also saved from a nasty fall on concrete when he executed a perfect break fall after he accidentally tripped over an object when playing.  A real good resource for preparing your children is the DVD titled, "I Am Not a Target".  We found a copy of it at our local library and I highly recommend it.
One key aspect of having you and your family trained in a quality H2H system is that everyone should be able to recognize pre-assault indicators.  This way, if one of you doesn’t see the indicators, someone else in your family may and then they warn the rest of the family and/or attack the assailants.  This especially vital in a post-WTSHTF period when it might just be your family against "the world".
Don't Cheat Fair!
I have a specific saying and philosophy when it comes to self-defense: The only fair fight is one that I win!  I have applied this saying to both my personal and professional life.
At the beginning of this article, I mentioned not just surviving, but prevailing during a violent encounter.  You must think and train with the understanding that you may be the only thing standing between your loved ones and their potential pain, suffering, or even death. 
What are you willing to do to stop a violent assault against you or loved one?  Are you willing to scratch, bite, or dig your thumb in someone's eye?  Are you willing to hit someone with a lamp, run them over with a car, plunge a butcher knife into them, or stab them in the neck with a pen?
These are questions you must ask yourself ahead of time and be mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually prepared to do what is necessary to prevail.
One aspect of not cheating fair is using your environment.  Take a look around at the area you are in right now.  What items do you see that you could defend yourself or someone else with?  What could become a barrier between you and your attacker?  What could you strike or stab an attacker with?  Is there anything that you could throw on an attacker that could cause pain, like hot coffee?  If you are at home, how quickly could you get to a firearm should you have picked one out for home defense?  Knowing your environment is a security awareness concept that you should be practicing constantly.
Now, let's talk about biting and eye gouging.  How many of you have ever been bitten real hard?  I have and it was one of my children.  She was 18 months old and she sunk her teeth into my neck the first time I started to dunk her into a pool.  She bit me so hard that my girlfriend had to physically pry open her jaws to get her off of me.  I remember two distinct things: first, it was some of the worst pain I had ever experienced and secondly, it didn't bleed.  I know some people are scared that by biting another person, they may contract some kind of disease.  Yes, that is a valid concern.  But if you’re dead because you wouldn't cheat fair, does it really matter?  Also, if the attacker intends the attack to be a sexual assault, what are you most likely to get a disease from, the completed sexual assault or some blood from a bite?  When you bite, go for a major muscle area like the chest, shoulders, side of the neck, back and thighs.  Try to stay away from appendages such as fingers, ears, nose, or genitalia.  These areas, while being fairly sensitive, will separate from the body with enough force, which helps the attacker with the pain factor, and these areas have the tendency to bleed a lot more.  Why take the chance with blood if we don't have to?
As soon as you mention sticking your thumbs in someone’s eyes, you see people’s demeanor change.  It’s a gross thought that cause many to squirm.  When my wife was in her self defense class and the instructors mentioned eye gouges, she looked at me and said that she couldn’t think of any reason why she would do something like that to another person.  I quickly asked her what she would do if someone suddenly grabbed our son from her.  I immediate saw a physical change in her demeanor.  Her eyebrows furled, her shoulders raised and her fists clenched.  She just visualized a reason she absolutely would stick her thumb in someone’s eye.  A good account of someone doing this very thing in combat can be found in the book, “House to House”, which is about the Battle of Fallujah.
Weaponry Options
No discussion about interpersonal combat would be complete without talking about weapons.  I will focus this part on weapons that are used for close quarters combat.  These weapons will be classified as blunt, chemical sprays, edged, electric discharge, firearms (mainly handguns) and improvised weapons.
When I think of blunt weapons, I think of any object that can be swung fast and hard as to cause blunt force trauma.  Some common blunt weapons are ball bats, sticks, telescoping batons (ASP, Monodnock), kubotans and hammers.  If you carry or intend to carry a blunt weapon for personal defense, you need to practice regularly by striking fairly stiff objects such as a heavy bag or rolled-up carpet.  Many people are surprised how a blunt weapon feels in their hands when striking a hard object.  I know of several instances of where officers have had their batons go flying out of their hands when they have struck a suspect.
Chemical sprays seem to be a choice that many people, especially females, make.  Actually many chemical spray products are specifically marketed to women as self-defense tool.  Chemical sprays have their place but some things to keep in mind is that it is not instantly incapacitating to an attacker, you will likely be contaminated as well and you need to practice regularly to know your particular spray device works.  Several manufacturers sell an inert spray that can be used for training or you can buy a second can of the same kind so you can practice. 
Use of edged weapons is an area that I know I am weak in, and I continue to learn more about. It is also an area filled with many options, misconceptions and a plethora of experts.  Edged weapons are scary to face and personally, when empty-handed, I would rather be facing a pistol or other weapon in close quarters than an edged weapon.  When learning about edged weapons, make sure that sure that your training includes defense against and the offensive use of the weapon.  Spyderco and other manufactures make training knives that look just like a regular one but that don’t have a sharpened blade.  The first time that I trained with this knife it was intimidating to me because it looked so real.  Another training option I recommend is to take several pieces of heavy duty cardboard and glue them one on top of the other until it’s about 4-5” thick.  Now you can slash and stab the cardboard several times.  This will help you to decide if the knife you have chosen will work with the impact of combat.  Once you find one that can hold up to this kind of training and not tear your hand up, keep that one for training and buy a second one for everyday carry.
In my humble opinion, electric discharge devices such as stun guns, Tasers, and similar devices are the most over-hyped and misunderstood self-defense options out there.  Based on my experience and research, these devices don’t always work when needed and, especially stun guns don’t instantly incapacitate an attacker.  Add to the fact that these devices are battery and technologically-dependant, and I believe that they are very impractical, especially in a post-WTSHTF world.
For many people, the firearms option is an absolute must.  If you choose this option then you need to constantly train with it. Shooting is a very perishable skill.  Also, shooting a few rounds into a paper bull’s eye target is not training, it just helps you to get familiar with the gun. Try to shoot human silhouette or similar paper targets.  Shooting competitions, especially the IDPA, are good ways to work on your skills under the stress of competition.  Your training should include force-on-force scenario training with Airsoft, Simunitions, and/or paint ball.  Airsoft guns are a great basic training options for children and others that are not familiar with and/or are initially scared of guns.  You can work on grip, sight picture, sight alignment, trigger control, basic marksmanship and gun safety. While nothing replaces shooting real ammo, air-soft is a great option that I use myself at a mere fraction of the cost of shooting real ammo and I can do it in my home. Just make sure to get a CO2 or green gas operated gun and not a spring operated one that has to be cocked with every round.  You need to train different retention options with your gun, whether the gun is deployed or still in the holster.  You also need to train to shoot one handed with either hand and train to use your flashlight and your gun together for low-light situations.
I kind of glossed over improvised weapons in the “don’t cheat fair” section.  Use your environment to your advantage.  I have seen this done in both bar fights and by women who have defended themselves from domestic assaults.  I have seen people who have been hit with pool sticks, bottles, mugs, pool balls, 2x4s, chairs, and cooking pans.  In many cases the injuries were quite severe.  Some other options are pens, vehicles, screwdrivers, garden implements and household brooms or mops.  One great option is a small fire extinguisher that you keep in your home and/or vehicle.  These are fairly small and lightweight so they can be wielded as an effective impact weapon plus if you spray it an attackers face, it is hard for them to breath and see.  An option I hear touted a lot is putting a key between your fingers and strike that way.  For this to work, you must hit a vital area, which is very hard to do in a dynamic situation.  Plus, I believe that the impact will cause significant enough damage to your hand at impact that they keys will leave your hand and cause severe injury to you.  To see so for yourself, fold a towel over several times and put it over a small pillow that’s lying in the floor.  Now, slowly strike downwards into the towel/pillow combination.  I think you will find that just a soft strike like this can sting your hand.  A good option for your keys is keep a small chain or lanyard on it, like the ones that you see people wear around their necks.  In a self-defense situation, grab the lanyard and swing your keys in a circular motion towards the attacker like a mid-evil flail.  When choosing a lanyard or similar option, get one with as much metal as possible, especially the clip that attaches to the keys.  You want something that will hold up to the impact that will result from a strike.
A common theme for weapons is that you need to regularly train with whatever options you choose.  Consistent, quality training is must that will pay off when you need it.  Do a lot of research and networking to find competent instructors and training venues.  While nothing can equal the stress of actual combat, choose training options/venues that put you under stress, which helps prepare you for combat.  This is why force-on-force training is so critical.
Your Mind: Your Greatest Resource
Preparing your mind and your body for the realities of combat should be a constant journey, not a destination.  For average citizen, seriously hurting or killing another person is not a normal behavior and I thank God for this.  This is why we are able to have a somewhat “civilized “ society.
The military and law enforcement know that this is true and that’s why measures are taken in training to help soldiers and police officers overcome this normal resistance.  Humanoid 3-D targets, human-shaped steel or paper targets, video simulators and force-on-force training are just some of the methods used to help remove hesitation/resistance.
Along with previous mentioned training methods, you should be thinking of scenarios in your mind and how you would react to them.  We do this in law enforcement all of the time.  But, it is no longer referred to as “if/when” thinking.  This method is now referred to as “when this happens, this is what I will do”.  When you leave “if” in the equation, there seems to be room for doubt and many people are still surprised when a violent event occurs.  By using the “when/what” method of preparation, you are more likely to be surprised when a violent event doesn’t occur.
Also, you need to be thinking outside the box.  An example of such thinking is feigning compliance should someone get the drop on you and has a temporary advantage over you.  This is especially true in sexual assault situations.  Feigning compliance may cause the offender to lower his guard enough for you to launch a counter attack or it may cause him to take his eye off you long enough for you to grab an improvised weapon.  Another example in the area of sexual assault is that the attacker may get close enough for you to suddenly bite or scream into his ear.  How many of you have picked up a child who suddenly screams just about the time you get the child to your face level? It scares the heck out of you.  Screaming when in close to an attacker is a great force multiplier.
There are some great training books that will help you to prepare for the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of being involved in combat.  First and foremost on the list is the Bible.  One Biblical example is David, who was a great warrior who served God and protected His people.  The books "On Combat" , "On Killing" and “Sharpening the Warriors Edge ” are also great resources.
But, even with everything I have said previously, I believe that the strength to defend yourself or a loved shouldn’t come from just you because the human is a created being and thus has limitations.  The strength that you should rely on comes from God and the hope we have in His Son, Jesus, as our risen Lord and Savior.  As a Christian, I pray for God’s strength and protection on a regular basis and I hope that you do too.
I pray that this article is useful and informative to you.  I pray for our nation and our leaders.  I also pray for God’s blessing and protection for each of you and your families.

The Art of Humping a Pack, by Blake in Arkansas

Walking with a loaded pack on your back is what the United States Marine Corps Infantryman refers to as "humping".  And while it may not take a lot of brains to put a loaded pack on and walk, it has definitely become an art, science, or skill that is constantly honed by infantrymen of all types.
With eight years as a Marine Corps Infantryman I have learned quite a lot about the art of humping myself.  There are several factors that come into play before you strap on your pack and take your first step.
  1. PHYSICAL FITNESS:  What is your current level of physical fitness?  For those of you who have thought about or have a plan for when the SHTF, you know that this is an important factor of yours and your family’s survival.  If throwing on your BOB and heading for the door with fifty lbs. of survival gear on your back is the first step of your plan, then your not going to get very far if you haven’t conditioned your body to take this kind of physical exertion.  The best type of physical conditioning for humping is humping.  You don’t have to be a long distance runner to be a good humper.  The best thing to do is to just strap on your pack and step off for a mile or three and then gradually increase the distance each time you go out, or at a reasonable rate (add a mile a week).  Every time you increase your distance you should also increase the weight of your pack.  I don’t recommend starting out with a fifty pound pack.  As with any kind of body conditioning you should start out light and work your way up as your body becomes used to your training.

  2. PACKING:  Got a good pack?  If you don’t you better get one.  If the pack you have isn’t a good one you’ll find out once you start humping with it.  I won’t recommend much gear, because all personal gear is just that, personal.  Its your preference.  I will say this, you can’t go wrong with an ALICE pack. Are there better packs out there?  Yes, but when it comes to affordability including durability…it’s a proven product.  In the end it all comes down to what you prefer.  Packing is a separate art in itself.  The first rule in packing is “Ounces make pounds!”.  Nothing goes into the pack that you don’t absolutely need or can’t live without.  You should consider the weight and size of everything as you pack.  One of the most important packing aids that I’ve found through the years is one gallon zip-lock bags (buy the good ones they’ll last longer).  Use these to pack things separately inside your pack.  Stuff them full and then zip up the bag almost to the end, then (if packed with non-breakables) smash the bag to get all the air inside the bag out.  Then zip the bag up the rest of the way.  This will help keep you from wasting space inside your pack.  I would recommend packing breakable items in outside compartments, or packed in between zip-locks of underwear and T-shirts or something soft.  Zip-locs also help waterproof your gear inside your pack.  Using a waterproof bag or a trash bag as a liner will also work but this will give you added protection. Zip-locs also help keep your pack organized.  These can also be used as a washing machine as I found out in Iraq.   Stuff everything into your pack as tight as it will go, then cinch down the outer straps as tight as you can get them.  Second rule in packing is “A tight pack is a comfortable pack!”  If your adding or strapping items to the outside of the pack make sure they are secure.  When theses outer items shift our flop around they will cause you to sway and possibly fall if they are heavy enough.  Just the movement alone can cause you discomfort.  I would also recommend not strapping things to the top of your pack (sleeping bags, etc.) unless they are small.  These will push on the back of your head and cause unneeded neck pains, and you will have plenty of pains to worry about already.  These may also hinder your vision.  Strap them to the bottom of your pack if possible.  I would recommend food or energy bars and often used items to be in outside compartments.  This makes for easy access on short halts and maintains spillages to separate compartments.  Field strip your MREs down to the individual packages, get rid of the cardboard containers.  You can over-pack a few pounds on food.  Because you will be eating the food and essentially lightening your pack at the same time.  And your route to wherever your going may be unexpectedly altered, and you may be on the hump longer than you anticipated. And the third rule of packing, “If you can't put it on by yourself, It’s probably too heavy!”

  3. GEAR POSITION: When you put your pack on make sure it’s adjusted to the center of your back.  Make sure all of the straps are secured to the pack frame properly and that they are tight around your body.  You may have to alter positioning of your personal gear that you are carrying on your body (canteens, ammo pouches, butt packs, etc.).  I recommend that your gear be positioned so the back pad of your pack frame sit squarely in the small of your back, adjust your pack straps accordingly.  Improper ride of the pack will cause extra back pain, and shoulder pain as the straps will be digging into your shoulders.  And setting the pack on top of your pouches may cause damage to them that you may not be able to repair.  I recommend your weapon go on last.  Be sure you are able to deploy your weapon as needed and get to spare ammo without the pack getting in the way.  And if you have to dump your pack, then make sure you can do so without it getting caught in your high speed sling and choking you.  You should know in the first mile whether you need to adjust your gear and pack.

  4. BOOTS & FEET:  An Infantryman or “Grunt” can probably tell you as much about foot care as a foot doctor, as these are generally their primary mode of transportation.   As before, I can’t and won’t recommend a boot.  Its personal preference.  However, please consider your local weather and terrain in selecting the proper boot.  Boots weigh a lot and take up a lot of space.  You can pack a spare set, but you may not have the room.  The best way to break in a new boot is to hump in it.  (Don’t forget to pack extra laces.) The only recommendation I’ll make is don’t skimp when it comes to buying boots.  They should be considered one of your most valuable survival tools.  Because having feet means you can still survive.  Pack plenty of socks, cotton or wool.  When humping, if you will wear a pair of dress socks under a pair of cotton or wool boot socks this will help prevent blisters.  Although you may still get them.  Only extensive humping and conditioning of the feet will prevent blisters.  They also make humping socks made out of Teflon that work good.  From my experience moleskin doesn’t work well if you are going to continue humping.  It just pulls the blister off. Ouch!  The best cure for blisters is Tincture of Benzoin Be ready for some pain.  It feels like someone is putting a blowtorch to your feet for about ten minutes.  But after that you will only experience minor pain or no pain at all from the blister.  You can put it on an open blister or draw the puss from the blister with a syringe then insert the tetra-benzoine into the blister with the syringe.  I’ve had it both ways.  I prefer the syringe method because it leaves the skin on over the blister.  This method once cured me of two half dollar-sized blisters, one on each heel.  After only a ten miler in broke in boots.  I felt no pain within fifteen minutes, remained in the field the whole week and we speed-humped out that Friday and I got no blisters.  It works.  But it will make a grown man cry.  Or want to.  Don’t forget foot powder and anti-fungal powder or cream.  Change socks daily, or soon after your feet get wet.  Also when humping don’t take your boots off until the end of the day, or unless changing socks.  When you stop for a break take off your pack but try not to sit down.  This makes your feet hurt when you stand back up and start walking again.  Let your feet air out in the open every chance you get.

  5. HYDRATION:  Water is good for you anyway, but you will need a lot if you are humping.  You may have to plan your route around watering spots.  Try and hump as much water as possible.  Don’t forget to consider the weight though.  Get a camelback or similar hydration system.  These work great while humping since you don’t have to mess with screw caps or bottle tops.  If you can wear the hydration system under your pack it’s beneficial in case you have to drop your pack you don’t loose your water.  Always keep some kind of water on your body with your personal gear.  I recommend filling the hydration bladder on each stop to prevent running out between scheduled stops.  Some type of sports drinks or powder are good to have on hand as you will loose a lot of electrolytes while humping and these are good sources for replenishing those and will do so faster than plain water. 
Now I know that a lot of this information may not apply to everyone since a lot of you will only be moving so far to a retreat or cache.  And you will all be moving at your own pace, or as fast as the slowest person in your group.  A lot of you may not even be going anywhere.  But if a time comes when you have to "Ruck Up” then this may come in handy.  I may have some more points to add later. 

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