Friday, January 30, 2009


Hard times are coming down the pike. I think most who read this blog realize that. Most of you take steps towards preparing for those times. Some take baby steps, some take great leaps. The vast majority of you take these steps alone or, if you are fortunate, with your spouse and children. Most realize they will need more than a BoB (bug out bag) to survive a long-term event. It is equally true that you will not be able to get through the coming hard times alone. You are going to need a Group.

If you are injured or sick, you will need someone to care for you. You have skills, you can do stuff – that’s wonderful. I bet you can’t do everything well. Even if you could, you couldn’t do these things simultaneously. You will need others to help secure your “retreat”. If you expect to get anything done, you will need at least three people for every guard/security position – one to guard, one to sleep, one to get work done around the place. You can rotate duties but someone has to be busy all the time. Humans have formed societies from the beginning of time – there is a reason for this.

So how does one join a group? This is easy – you won’t. If a group exists and they haven’t contacted you, they probably are not going to. Fear not, there is another, better option – form a group. Yes, this will mean you will have to talk to others. Yes, this means you will have to “share” a little information about yourself. You are going to have to risk rejection. So sad. But not as sad as going through an extended crisis alone.

Having been down this road a few times and having helped guide others as well I have some opinions on this. If your experience is different – I’d love to hear about it. If your ideas are different… well, tell me after you have put them into action for a year or so. Because this is a blog I’ll spare you the deep details and focus on the broad brush strokes – we can discuss details on the forum if you wish.

You want to keep this local to your likely “retreat” (which is likely your home). Having a Group (or primary retreat) hours away by vehicle is really a non-starter. You aren’t gonna get there. Belonging to an Internet “Group” is not gonna help you – you don’t KNOW them and they don’t KNOW you. Think about it – this is a group that will band together in a mutually beneficial way to pull through Interesting Times. Some ad hoc group (and that’s what it is if you’ve never met and gotten to know each other) is not going to work. Life is stressful enough – throw in societal chaos and you will experience significant social problems.

I suggest you spend some time and decide upon the Group Purpose. It’s no use deciding on who is going to be in the Group if you have not yet decided exactly what the group if FOR. You need to be fairly specific here. If I had a group, our purpose would be “To ensure and enhance the survival of member families.” We would define “family” as those who are currently living in the home. We would make some exceptions for relatives. So no one would get into the group who could not contribute to the purpose. Certainly no one would even be considered who would detract from the purpose. We would be exclusive. This irritates some folks.

You don’t have to be like me. You could open a survival shelter and welcome all comers; you could establish a group “To develop and practice survival strategies and techniques”; you could establish a coffee club that likes to get together and tell stories around a fire - whatever. This would be defined in your purpose statement and would be fine –for you. I suggest though, that if you are forming a group to help pull you and yours through hard times, that you be a bit selective. You certainly would not want to decrease your family’s chances of survival by hooking up with some folks, now would you?

You probably don’t have a former Special Forces dude married to an EMT as neighbors. You probably don’t live next door to hardcore survivalists. In fact your neighbors may be relatively clueless. But they are still your neighbors. And they will likely be there when the balloon goes up. You can either deal with them now or deal with them later. I suggest you try and educate them. Convert them to the way.

Call the Sherriff and ask how to start a neighborhood watch; host a barbeque at your place and announce something like, “the reason I asked you all over…”; or start working on them one at time. Whatever method you choose you are going to have to do a couple things: You will have to step outside of your home and actually meet your neighbors. Then you will have to strike up a conversation. You will have to figure out a way to have more conversations. You will have to do stuff with your neighbors. In short, you must consciously develop relationships. Once you get to know them, you can lead them around to preparedness issues. Once they understand and start working on that, you can lead them to the concept of a Group. Or not.

“But Joe, my neighbors are complete idiots and sheep!” I have heard this before. Sometimes it was true. Many times it was an excuse. Go try. If you fail, I’d encourage you to try again. If you fail again you may have to look outside a bit – but not too far. Keep it local – trust me on this. Look at folks you interact with on a weekly basis – at work, at school, at church, at the market. You are still going to have to work at developing a deeper relationship though. Cold pitching someone, “Hey, do ya wanna form a survival team?” is not a good idea.

You can have groups within groups. They don’t all have to know about each other. You could belong to a group of 50 who get together every other month to practice preparedness stuff. You could join with a handful of likely prospects from that group to form your core Group. Use the first group as a screening process to get to know others. There are other techniques as well – use your imagination.

Once you begin to form your Group you are going to have to develop plans and actions, perhaps build infrastructure, practice techniques, and get used to spending a lot of time together. This will require commitment from individual members. I don’t know about you, but I want to go through what is coming with committed people – half stepping is not impressive. It’s like everything else – the more you get out and do, the more you practice, the more you stretch yourself – the better off you will be. Same thing applies to groups.

There is so much more involved in designing, forming, and being a part of a group. For now though, sit down and define your Purpose. Assess what you have to work with and get out there and start talking to people.

I’ll see ya out there.

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. – Ecclesiastes 4:9 - 12


If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at Joe

You can also join us to discuss this and other issues at Viking Preparedness Forums

Prepared Americans for a Strong America

Sunday, January 25, 2009

5th Annual National Winter BoB Exercise

We joined with old friends and made new ones. We wore t-shirts and sweated and we donned polar fleece and shivered in the cold. We hiked down groomed trails and we stumbled through rocks and briars. We laughed around a large group blaze and we silently contemplated life around small personal campfires. We enjoyed sunshine and we put up with some light sleet. We had folks who have been doing this for decades and others who just became aware a few weeks ago. We had formal instruction, impromptu classes and we goofed around. We built shelters and we set up tents. We sat in chairs, on stools and on the ground. This all occurred as we joined with like minded individuals and participated as a group in the 5th Annual National Winter BoB Exercise.

Every year we pick a winter weekend months in advance and declare it the “National Winter BoB” weekend. Presumptuous of us, I know - but some friends and I came up with the idea 5 years ago so I reckon it’s okay. The idea is to take your BoB and head out to your own little slice of timber/desert/prairie/swamp/mountain and live for a couple days. Test your gear in winter conditions. Since we all “have lives” we have to plan this pretty far in advance and we do our best to pick a cold weekend. This year temps were far from cold – I think they ranged from the mid-sixties to the low 20s. Ah well, what can ya do?

The event grows larger every year from a humble beginning of just a few individuals to this year’s crew consisting of teams and individuals from various places and totaling 14 hearty souls in all. Some convoyed from hundreds of miles away while others arrived individually but all linked up within a small window of time and moved to our mountainous “bug out location”. Actually, the drill scenario was that we were enroute to our BOL when an EMP killed the BOVs so we all had to dismount, secure our BOBs and continue on foot (how’s that for acronym heavy?)

We rucked for less than a mile to an area selected for the event but it was enough for some folks to realize (as we do every year) that their BoBs were just too darn heavy. Everyone made it in good order though. In fact, we took the opportunity to move in a secure and efficient manner with the crew broken down into three sub units. Our point man encountered a hostile varmint during the patrol and quickly dispatched it so we all arrived safe and unharmed.

We took some time establishing camp and getting to know each other and then it was time to train. We had classes on trapping beavers and raccoons and rabbits. We hiked through the woods, up and down hills, over rocks and through brambles. We purified water and built fires. In fact, I had the great pleasure to see one of my former students teach an excellent bow drill fire class to the group. We had classes on firearms and we had some range time. We used gear that worked well and we used gear that failed. We talked about God, and politics, and movies, and kids, and critters and gear, and the economy and…well we talked late into the night (early in the morning) each evening around campfires that dotted the woods.

As it is every year, the time went by much too fast and we all had to pack up and get back to reality.
If you have not yet taken your BoB out for a rigorous test run I highly encourage you to do so. As the man who named the National Weekend puts it – “if you haven’t tested it, it doesn’t work”. Get out from behind your computer, strap on your BoB, and venture forth. I’ll see ya out there.

Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad: And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee: For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee. – Deuteronomy 23:12 - 14


If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at Joe

You can also join us to discuss this and other issues at Viking Preparedness Forums

Prepared Americans for a Strong America

Monday, January 19, 2009

Joe's Winter BoB

I cannot begin to count the number of times in the past two years I have been asked to describe what is in my BoB. My standard response was “just Google ‘bug out bag’ – mine’s nothing special”. That’s still good advice but since I was switching over my BoB from it’s former home in an ALICE large to a ruck I bought from Cabela’s I figured I’d take some pictures and let y’all see it and explain some of my thought processes behind what I do.

You can click on the photo and zoom in to see details if you need to. Okay starting at the top left. There is a stool. It weighs very little and every time I go to the field during wet weather I thank myself for bringing it. I spray painted it camo (I do that a lot.) Sitting on that are a 2 quart and 1 quart canteen. The 2 quart has a strap and inside the cover I keep a large trash bag, some chow and some matches – it is an emergency bug out kit all on it’s own in case I have to drop my ruck and run light. The one quart has a canteen cup to cook in inside its cover. Both have bottles of water purification tablets taped to the lids and are splashed with camo (Krylon) paint. There is also a sleeping pad – a must in extreme cold to insulate you from the ground. I only carry it in winter. Below that and a bit right is a Coleman stove – also a winter item. I carry it to make warming beverages quickly and without muss, fuss, or smell.

Next we have my food bag which contains what you see in the food picture. In that snap you can see my German mess kit – I like it because it has a cup on top and a pot with a bail (over the top handle) so I can hang it over a fire. That is my brew kit and contains coffee, tea, hot cocoa, soup base and a spoon and fork. Next to it you will see two packages that I think of as a day’s food and below one of those packages laid out. Each package contains about 1,700 calories – a bit light but far from starvation rations. A tube of peanut butter and a tube of honey –max calories in a tight package. The clips broke so I fixed it with duct tape. One can of pork and beans for when I have a fire and am feeling sorry for myself.

Two ponchos with cords attached to the grommets. I make a big hooch out of these (one would suffice but I like to spread out). Beneath is a ground cloth (really to protect my Gore-Tex sleeping bag cover. I used to use an old shower curtain but this is lighter. German Goretex pants and a Gore-Tex parka. If I could only take one shelter item this suit would be it. I have slept in it sitting back against my ruck against a tree. Not great – but I stayed dry. On top of that is my “Big Knife” it’s a parang and it has served me well especially when everything is wet and I need to get to the center of wood to find dry stuff for a fire.

Then we have gloves, a wool cap, a neck gaitor, long underwear (light and medium tops and bottoms) and a wool sweater. Layers are your friends in cold weather.

Back to the top is my new ruck. It certainly feels more comfortable and it holds more than my ALICE (so I don't have to stuff it) plus it has a place to attach my sleeping bag (not pictured but it’s a military 3 bag system with a goretex cover). It came with a 100 ounce water bladder and drinking tube so I won’t strap my old Camelback to this one. I had a piece of camo net in my ALICE to camo it when we dropped them temporarily. I’ll eventually spray paint the inside of my new ruck but I want to make sure I like it and it works (and I don’t have to return it) before I modify it. Below is a boonie hat – it breaks up the head/shoulder outline decently and it’s a good hat. Down is a Katadyn filter (it’s heavy and I need a lighter one). A five liter water bag for when/if we establish a campsite. Headlamp (hands free light – gotta love it) batteries, pocket knife with saw and a sharpener.

Two lighters with (here’s a secret I think I invented – watch someone will publish it now) bicycle inner tube – slice of a piece of rubber and you have a great tinder/fire starter. Heat tabs for getting wet wood going, candles, and a container of vaselined cotton balls (tinder).

A sling rope with snap link for when I need heavy duty rope. 550 cord and decoy line. Weapons cleaning kit because I don’t carry one on my combat harness. Compass, bible, AM/FM/shortwave/Wx radio – crank or solar powered plus it will charge a cell phone – haven’t used it yet (my daughter gave it to me for Christmas this year). Notebook, pencils 100mph and duct tape and a pocket Constitution.

Back to the top Those two bags are mini-BoBs I am working on – not part of the BoB proper. I may post about them later.

Pocket Litter
Fanny pack and a bunch of stuff I consider “Level One Gear” ( I keep it on my person) I store it in the fanny pack inside the BoB and at the first opportunity I transfer it to my person/pockets. .22 pistol and a box of ammo. A cammo head net, Power Bars, monocular, ear plugs, large pocket knife with sharpening stone in sheath, Vaseline cotton balls with flint rod attached, large flint rod, spoon, lensatic compass, Mini Maglite, anti fog for my glasses, camo stick, Leatherman super tool, lighter, 550 cord, large bandana, ziplock bag.

Trowel and toilet paper, foot powder, socks, underwear (shorts) t-shirt. Changing undergarments is important in a long term situation to prevent CRUD. I’m big on changing socks when needed also. Trash bags.

Clothing Bag
Everyone in my family has a clothing bag attached to the outside of their BoB. This is in case we must flee in our pajamas or immediately upon exiting the shower. If we are dressed appropriately already we can just jettison the bag. The clothing roll is a pair of pants, underwear, socks, t-shirt, long sleeved shirt – all in “earth tones”. It is rolled up and secured with a large bandanna and a belt. In winter we change the boots to heavy goretex boots and add a coat. We also have a bottle of water. This is to chug (as much as possible/needed) prior to moving out on foot.

Beneath that is a pair of glasses with a prescription in the case, a contact lens case (in case I start out wearing them) and lens fluid. A toiletry kit containing soap, tooth paste/brush comb and razor. Next to that is a first aid kit – heavy on the large dressings and ace bandages. Females add feminine hygiene items.

In the background is my poncho liner but I don’t think I’m going to pack it in my winter BoB anymore – I’ll switch it with the sleeping bag when warm weather comes. In the past years, this is what I carried (except for the ALICE) during our Winter BoB exercises and it works fine.

Do I need everything here? Probably not. Have I used everything here? At one time or another, I have – that’s why I chose it.

Okay so there you have it – Joe’s Winter BoB.

If you want to discuss it or have questions - stop by the forums.

And she said unto them, Get you to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers be returned: and afterward may ye go your way. – Joshua 2:16

If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at Joe

You can also join us to discuss this and other issues at Viking Preparedness Forums

Prepared Americans for a Strong America

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Security, Security, Security

Once, a long time ago, before I headed off on a dark and twisted path that led to a new job, a buddy of mine who had come from those regions told me, “Joe – never let anyone tell you they are too high-speed for security. Security, security, security – always think security.” So that’s where the title comes from. The idea comes from a discussion we are having on the forums concerning home security.

There are many things one can and should do to ensure one’s home is secure. Simple things like keeping doors and windows locked; keeping sheds and barns and garages secured; not putting valuables on display; getting a dog; trimming bushes around the home; exterior lighting and so on. Most know these things but many do not apply them. I will not dwell on these basic items; instead, I want to talk today about two principles of security – Threat Assessment and Layers. Once you understand the concepts, you can apply them to your unique situation.

Threat Assessment

As the economy continues to take hits, property crime will rise. If the world as we know it ever ends – it could get very interesting. Probably the first thing you should do is make an assessment – what are you securing and from whom? The reason we do this is because to loosely quote Sun Tzu, “He who defends everything defends nothing”. You don’t have the assets to defend everything against all possible contingencies – so you have to prioritize. How you prioritize is based largely on your assessments.

The What may seem easy at first blush – “I’m securing my DVD player, the jewelry and my guns”. Well today, you are. But who knows what tomorrow will bring? I was reading an article in a recent edition of Backwoods Home Magazine about the Great Depression and how folks had to secure their vegetable gardens. You may have to secure your livestock (remember movies about cattle rustlers?) You may have to secure your firewood. Who knows? But you do need to make an assessment.

So far the What was all property bad guys may wish to steal. Unfortunately the What doesn’t end there. You may have to secure your life and the lives of your loved ones and friends. In the Future Unknown there could be mobs or evil individuals just bent on destruction – of life. They could also, like rioting mobs the world over, be focused on destroying property instead of stealing anything. So you’ll have to make an assessment there.

If you live out in the sticks, your chances of facing a mob bent on burning stuff down are significantly less than if you live inside a city. But you may have to secure and defend your pond full of bass…

Take some time and list out what you have to secure.

Who do you have to secure your property and possibly life against? A crack head? Some gangbangers in SUVs and Caprice Classics? A motorcycle gang? Six rednecks on ATVs and in pickups? Pandemic flu vectors? Fallout? (Just to let you know, it’s not always people). Start with the most likely and work out from there.

Securing your property and self against a crack head is pretty easy – take basic precautions. Securing against organized criminals is tougher – much tougher, but not impossible. I would caution you however not to engage in “wishful assessments”. I would encourage you not to underestimate your potential Who?s based on a self limiting assessment of yourself and your own capabilities.

I’m talking about Todd. Regardless of your abilities - you must at least consider Todd. Unfortunately, if Todd wants it, Todd will likely take it. So maybe in the case of Todd, you need to make it so he doesn’t know it’s there or decides it’s just not worth the effort. Sorry, Todd is a bit of an inside deal and the original author won’t let me release details… suffice it to say, Todd is a bad mama jamma. The good news is – you probably won’t have to defend against Todd – most likely. But you should at least consider it.


Which brings us around to the concept of Layers.

The first layer of security is you and what you have within arm’s reach. First off, you need to be aware. Then you need to have plans – real plans – for what to do in various instances. Like, if while reading this, your front door was caved in. It is locked, right? Can your reach out and touch a useful weapon right now? I hope so. When you walk into your home, and start moving towards another room do you know where additional weapons and safe areas are located? Scroll down and read Intruder Drill for some more info along these lines.

Do you have safe or secure areas inside your home? A safe room, a safe or maybe a hidden drawer? This is an additional layer of security.

Alarm systems and the like fit in here – from electromagnetic or IR motion sensors in the home to seismic sensors out in the back pasture to police scanners, radio networks and the like. Layers within layers.

Walk around the outside of house and try to think like someone who just wants to make a quick buck. What would you steal? How would you get into your home? When you identify vulnerable areas – when you assess them – fix them.

Drive past your house. How does it compare to others in the neighborhood. Does anything stick out to make it more or less attractive as a target for crime? Think like your assessed threats. An outlaw motorcycle gang thinks and acts differently than a lone crack head. Who do you need to be concerned with?

I have heard some folks say, “I want to put razor wire around my house”. If I was a bad guy and I saw razor wire these days, I might think there was something pretty cool in there worth protecting. Instead of a deterrent, it might serve as an attractant. Your call.

A fenced yard with mean dogs and a locked gate does not stick out where I live. And while they are not “noteworthy”, the dogs and locked gate are definitely a deterrent around here. Much easier to go to some other similar house with an open gate and no dogs to steal stuff or do other evil.

But you must bear in mind what another great military leader (Patton) said: “Fixed fortifications are monuments to man’s stupidity.” It is entirely possible that you will fail if you limit your thinking to drawing the line at the edge of your yard – and in effect create a fixed fortification.

This is where you need to extend your layers outward. This is where you want to include your friends and neighbors. See, you really don’t want to be fighting off the Godless hordes by firing your Homeland Defense Rifle from behind your mailbox at the end of your driveway. No, no that just wouldn’t do. The first thing you want to do is keep the bad guys out of your entire neighborhood. Let them seek greener pastures elsewhere.

Like everything else, plans like this usually don’t come together over night. They also work out a lot better if you put some effort into it on the front side. Talk it over with the neighbors. Draw up some plans, rehearse them. “What if?” it to death. Then practice some more.

Maybe you want to establish some kind of checkpoint at the intersection with the main road. Not bad. Why not do a few practice runs to figure out what kind of logistic support you will need, how long the shifts will be, how you will communicate and what your contact (with bad guys, with good guys, with unknowns...) plan is?

Maybe you want to extend the ring further and maintain a roving scout patrol out beyond your checkpoint. Maybe you want to have someone inside the perimeter monitoring various electronic means of information sharing. These might be all good ideas. But they don’t end there. What happens if your scout vehicle becomes disabled? Is there a rescue plan? What about if your electronic monitor picks up information about a mob headed your way? What then?

My main points (beyond conducting a security assessment and setting up your security with layers) is, as always – to actually plan this stuff out and then get to work organizing people and practicing.

No excuses. The lives of you and your loved ones could be at stake – get busy.

I’ll see ya out there.

When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils. He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. – Luke 11:21 - 23


If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at Joe

You can also join us to discuss this and other issues at Viking Preparedness Forums

Prepared Americans for a Strong America