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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Survival Slingshots, by Brian W.

When one thinks of a slingshot, the image of the forked stick and rubber band hanging out of the back pocket of Dennis the Menace is usually what comes to mind. Often overlooked in the survival community, the slingshot can be a valuable addition to any survival kit or day pack.
For all intents and purposes, the best tool for taking small game that a survivalist can have, in my opinion, is a .22 pistol. Until very recently, though, it was illegal to carry them into state parks. To those who are not up to date on local and state ordinances, it can be extremely confusing where you are allowed to posses a firearm. In Colorado, a hiker can unknowingly cross land owned by three different agencies in less than half an hour while on a trail. Knowing if you can or cannot carry a survival pistol, and the consequences of getting it wrong, cause many hikers to just leave them at home. With the threat of a felony conviction, fines, jail time, confiscation of your weapon, and future headache associated, it just doesn’t seem worth the trouble.
Slingshots bridge the gap between small but possibly illegal .22 handguns and snares for catching dinner in the wild. Other primitive weapons have limitations that often leave them in the back of the pickup when you need them. Bows and arrows are unwieldy and not usually taken on simple nature hikes. The atlatl is difficult to master for even the most ardent of survivalists, let alone carrying around a 5 foot arrow. Weapons such as the boomerang and bolo take skill and are not designed for small game. Blow guns are fine but are limited to the number of darts you have brought along. Making darts by hand takes time and patience, little of which you have in a survival situation.
Today’s slingshots are lightweight, collapsible, and reliable weapons that can be utilized to kill small furbearing game and birds. Whereas traps and snares are good for catching game that might come by in a few hours; they are useless for getting that squirrel staring at you from the tree branch 30 feet away. This is where the slingshot comes into its own. It offers you the ability to silently take an accurate thirty foot shot with the option of a rapid follow up shot. Ammo for your slingshot can be anything that fits into the pouch. Steel ball bearings, marbles, lead fishing weights, and spent bullets all make good ammo. The added bonus is that if you run out, you can always pick up a stone. The more round the stone is, the better it will fly. This means you never have to worry about running out of ammo. You can shoot at anything that moves and improve your odds at getting lucky.
Mastering the slingshot is as simple as taking an empty cardboard box in the back yard and drawing a bulls-eye in magic marker. After about an hour of plinking, with a wide array of ammo and at various distances, you should have a firm grasp of the abilities and limitations of his or her slingshot. Aiming is a simple affair. The two most common methods deal with whether or not you have a forearm support. For those who do have a forearm support, hold the slingshot upright with a strong grip, pull back the sling, center your target between the tops of the braces, and let fly. For the older “Dennis the Menace” style, hold the slingshot sideways with your thumb in the notch of the supports. Draw back like a mini-bow, aim, and fire. This position allows you to get a stronger draw without putting too much tension on your wrist.
Modern slingshots are widely available at almost any big box store, costing anywhere from $10 to $25 dollars, depending on quality and accessories. Although I find sighting systems on slingshots to be unnecessary, I do recommend a slingshot with a folding wrist/forearm support. The forearm support redistributes the tension from the sling away from the shooters wrist, saving the shooter the pain and embarrassment of having the sling shot ripped from your hand and hitting you in the face. A majority of the slingshots I have seen sold at army surplus stores and Wal-Mart have a hollow handle for storage. I find this extremely useful for storing the most basic of survival kits. I have a small ziploc-style bag containing three strike anywhere matches, a cotton ball, and a X-Acto knife blade. With this, I can skin my kill, start a fire, and whittle a skewer to cook it on.
Should you feel so inclined, a simple X brace can be tied onto the supports of slingshot in order to fire arrows for larger game. After some fiddling to get the height right, simply lay the arrow into the notch made by the X brace and seat it in the pouch. Now you will be able to aim down the shaft and fire it in same manner as a horizontal bow. This method is good if larger mammals come by, such as marmot or raccoon. I find that modern arrows work best, but feel free to try and whittle yourself one out of a straight tree branch.

Slingshots can also be used to distract and defend yourself while on the trail. Not many people think about attacks that happen in national parks, but they do happen. The IRA has famously used slingshots as weapons, during the war in Northern Ireland. Although it has no guarantee of a lethal shot, a strong strike to the face, neck or groin from a hefty lead fishing sinker or ball bearing will put the breaks on any attacker looking for an easy target. Granted, you will need to be alert to possible danger in order to utilize it, but if you weren’t paying attention to your surroundings, your going to get owned no matter what your packing.

Another great thing about slingshots is the multiple uses for there parts. The surgical tubing scavenged off a slingshot can be uses as; a drinking straw, a tourniquet, or a strong a fast engine for holding or spring traps. If in the event your supports break, but the rubber sling is still good, you can make a hand spear out of it. Simply tie your band in a loop, and then loop it around your thumb and index finger. Take whatever thin stick you are using as a spear and seat in the pouch of your band. Pull back and hold the spear with the same thumb and index finger your band is looped around, aim and let go.
For those of you who want to make your own, a decent sling shot can be made in about ten minutes. First find a stout stick roughly the width of your thumb with a fairly even fork in it. Trim the handle length to suit your preferences. Next, make two small notches on either side of what is to be your supports. This is where the rubber will be seated so that it doesn’t slide off the end. If it is green wood, allow it to dry out in the sun or by your campfire overnight. This will make the wood more rigid, allowing you to get more power behind your projectile. The type of rubber you use will make all the difference. Latex sheeting, surgical tubing, and layered rubber bands make good slingshot material, but improvised elastics can be taken out of the waistband of your underwear. Prison inmates have been doing it for years. Get two lengths about a foot long and tie one end to your supports, one for each side. After that, you will need to make a pouch. This can be any square sheet of material you can cut off, from an old nylon bag or t-shirt. Make two small holes about a quarter inch from the edge and tie your rubber slings through them. That’s it. Test and modify as needed. Understand though, despite how good your whittling skills are, anything you make can be matched or beaten by a cheap commercial slingshot in most instances.
My last point I want to cover is the difference between modern slingshots with rubber tubing, and biblical slingshots like the one that David used to slay Goliath. The biblical slingshot is nothing more than a strip of rawhide about 5 feet long, with a pouch in the middle. One in had a loop that went over the middle finger while the other end was pinched between the thumb and index finger. You spun it either beside you or over your head to build up momentum and then let fly. For those who are interested in a more primitive way of hunting, the biblical slingshot is worth a look. Keep in mind though, that it requires much more skill than the modern sling shot, does not allow for a quick follow up shot, and is not as quiet.

In the end, anybody that walks into the woods should have multiple means of procuring food. Relying on only one method to catch and kill game is a recipe for hunger. The tragic fact of the matter is that most hikers rarely if ever think about what they will need if things go wrong and they find themselves hungry, cold, and tired in the middle of nowhere. A few lightweight items in the bottom of their day pack can mean all the difference. In that regard, a slingshot can be justified as a necessary survival item.

11 Must Have Items For Your Bug Out Bag

Level III Lv3 Molle Assault Pack Backpack--TANBy Gerald Thomson

First you're probably wondering just what exactly a "Bug Out Bag" is. This is a military term used to describe to gear a soldier keeps packed and ready at all times. In the event that soldier needs to be rapidly deployed the soldiers kit is pre packed and ready to go. While this usually refers to all of a soldiers kit, you only need one bag. This bag will contain only essential items to keep you alive.
Depending on your location and the time of year will determine what exactly you will have in your bug out bag. Despite this there is some kit that is essential and should be in everyone's kit. Here are 11 items every bug out bag should include.

1. First Aid Kit
Of all items this is your most important, remember in the event of a collapse or natural disaster you have to rely on yourself, there won't be any 9-11 service, no paramedics, and no clean hospital beds if you are injured. Make sure your first aid kit whatever type has a few pocket CPR masks. These masks will keep you from getting an infectious disease or from having to eat a casualties vomit.

2. Flashlight
I recommend using a flashlight that doesn't require batteries such as a wind up with LED lights. I keep two in my bug out bag in case one is lost or breaks. Some models also have the ability to be used as a charger for items like cell phones, radio's or even iPod's. Another option is getting a head lamp which will allow you to go hands free. While these use batteries they tend to have longer battery life then their hand held counterparts.

3. Radio
Having a radio provides two things, information to the outside world, to safe zones or evacuation centers, and a distraction. While I don't recommend blasting music where ever you go (If there are any radio stations left that are playing music) as this can give away your position to others. Like flashlights try to find one that doesn't require batteries.

4. Knife and Multi-tool
Both are excellent choices and I recommend having both. For a knife you don't require a massive blade, a six inch blade is more then enough to be used as a tool and weapon. For multitools you can go the cheap route and purchase one for as little as 20 bucks, however I recommend spending a little more, say in the 80 to 100 range as these offer better quality which in turn means longer life and more resilient to abuse.

5. Fire Starter
Fire is vital to ones survival, so carry a few different types of fire starters with you. The obvious first choice would be either a lighter or matches which I recommend having several with you. Also carry a couple magnesium fire starters which are excellent at starting fires. Another option is to use steel wool and a battery, simply spread apart the steel wool and rub the top of a battery on it. Make sure that these two items are stored separately, the last thing you want is to have your backpack burst into flames, especially if it's still on your back.

6. Water Purification
In the post apocalypse chances are good that much of the fresh water will be contaminated. Also carrying several days worth of water is heavy, noisy, and unpractical. To keep from becoming sick keep a few bottles of water purification tablets with you and a few clean bottles (Any type will work). Simply add a couple tablets to your water and in about half an hour your water should be safe to drink. It's important to remember that these tablets won't remove all forms of bacteria, virus' or other contaminants.

7. Rope
Rope is necessary for a number of tasks such as building a shelter, climbing, repairing clothing and equipment, and building traps and snares to catch animals. I have three types that I carry in my bug our bag, the first is para-cord an extremely strong and lightweight cord that can be used for everything. The second is nylon cord to be used as general purpose rope such as tying up objects and building shelters with. The third is a heavy duty climbing rope for climbing and to be used as an improvised harness or "Swiss Seat"

8. Foot-powder
In the wasteland your feet will probably be your only form of transportation, you must take care of them. If your feet are injured your mobility is compromised and you become a target.

9. Shelter
I keep two large tarps with my bug out bag, rather then a tent which can only be set up one way and requires multiple parts, a tarp can be rigged up any way you need with the resources you have at hand. Tarps can also be used to collect rain water.

10. Compass
While a GPS (Global Positioning System) is easy to use and can provide your location within a few feet depending on model, they also rely on batteries and satellite's. Batteries will only last so long before needing to be recharged, and even though there are thousands of satellite's in orbit, they will start to breakdown quickly. A compass on the other hand if kept in working condition can provide your location for as long as you need it.

11. Food
Like water food is important to keep yourself going. With food you can go two directions either buy military style or inspired rations or canned food. Both have long shelf life, but canned food has one advantage it has water used to package the food which can be consumed adding extra nourishment. Remember with canned goods to check for air leakage. This can be done by simply pressing on the top of the can. If the can's top is rigid and doesn't move or moves very little it should be fine. If the top can be pushed down a lot then there is a air leak in the can and the food has most likely gone bad.

Like I mentioned earlier these are what I consider must haves for any bug out bag. Your location, budget, and other factors like time of the year will determine what other items you have in your bug out bag. For more ideas of what you can use to make your own bug out bag or to look for supplies for own visit my website The Razors Edge a post apocalypse survival guide. My website also have other tips and information, and videos on the post apocalypse to help you prepare.

A little about me
I am a former Canadian Forces soldier who has served the military honourably for 7 years. My website http://www.therazors-edge.com is a collection of that military experience mixed with my fascination for the apocalypse and end of the world related topics. I wanted to create a practical real life guide that can help you survive if our civilization collapses.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Gerald_Thomson


The Multitalented EDC Bandana

I've never carried a bandana, and didn't quite "get it." I've scene them posted occasionally in EDC pocket dump threads, and wilderness survival guru Dave Canterbury considers them a "must have" item. But I'd never given it a try as a part of my on-person EDC--until this past week.

I'm constantly refining and tweaking the gear that I carry. I'll switch things up for a week or two and see if I like/use an added item. If it's too bulky and I don't use it, I'll give it the heave-ho. So, I decided to give the ol' bandana a shot and shoved one in my back pocket.

The bandanas that I have are about 2 ft by 2 ft--some came from REI, some came from Wal-Mart. They are 100% cotton.

The first thing I noticed about carrying a bandana was how it disappeared and became totally unnoticeable in my pocket. Definitely no burden to carry.

Have I used it? Yep. Mostly to clean off reading glasses, sun glasses, screens of devices, as a towel/napkin, and to protect delicate objects when they're riding in my pocket. For example, I went through a car was the other day, and the dryers didn't get the side mirrors. Voila--bandana dried it up. While not exactly a "critical" use, it's been useful.

I've also been racking my brain and trying to come up with creative uses for bandanas. Some are boring, mundane uses, others are more survival-related. Here are a few ideas:

1. Towel
2. Sponge (soak up dew, moisture and squeeze into your mouth)
3. Napkin when eating
4. Padding for sensitive items (sunglasses, electronics)
5. Head covering
6. Covering your eyes during a nap
7. Blindfold
8. Cowboy-style for protection from breathing in dust
9. If soaked with water and worn over your mouth, provides some protection from smoke inhalation
10. Tourniquet
11. Bandage
12. Sling
14. For making char cloth
15. Hobo-style bindle
16. Keeping small things (nuts, bolts, spent brass, etc.) organized
17. Cleaning rag
18. Improvised weapon (tie a weight onto one corner and presto--flail--or use as any other flexible weapon)
19. Gag
20. Soak with water and wrap around your neck/head to cool you down on a hot day
21. Pre-filter for water filtration
22. Signal (wave to attract attention)
23. Concealment - many people who pocket carry their CCW will place a bandana on top of the gun to further cover it and disguise the outline.
24. Snot rag
25. A wick for a molotov cocktail
26. Cover and protect your hand when climbing or if you need to say, punch through a window.
27. A pot holder
28. Write notes on it you have a sharpie or other permanent marker
29. Entertain young children and toddlers - my boy can be pretty easily distracted and entertained with a bandana.
30. Pack it with ice and use it as a cold pack.
31. Some basic cordage/tying needs--tie something to your pack or belt.
32. Shining cloth for shoes, chrome, etc.
33. Show your gangsta style
34. Sweat band
35. A patch for torn clothes or packs

And of course there are a bajilliion more uses. For the versatility, price ($1-$3 or so) and weight, a bandana is a no-brainer. After a week of carrying, it's made it into my EDC rotation. If you haven't tried out carrying one, give it a shot. You'll like it.

Amazon sells them by the dozen for $12.95. Not bad. Dave Canterbury/Pathfinder School recommends using a 3ft x 3ft bandana, but I haven't been able to find that size. The biggest size that I can find is are called "trainmen" style bandanas, which are 27" by 27"--they are $3 from Amazon. Bigger is better with bandanas, and they pack down to nothing, so no worries about excess bulk.