Monthly Archives: July 2015

REPOST: Another Call for Physical Conditioning

Ruck March 2

Originally posted 26 March 2014.

As Spring Summer is FINALLY here, folks might want to again consider getting out and do some road work so they can actually carry their packs or do a multitude of basic tasks when practicing for WROL or grid down scenarios.

A few articles over at Mosby’s blog demonstrates how a SHTF load can get heavy, for example, our recommended load out at DTG for self-sufficient long term GOOD foot movement weighs in at about 60 – 70 pounds, give or take.  Sure, some folks will scream, ‘too much!’, but based upon our contingency requirements, it’s about right.  And yes, we consistently review what we’ve got stuffed in the ruck and adapt to changing situations, conditions, and so forth.  The important thing here is that whatever you plan for, you should practice carrying it.  After all, you know your own physical capabilities, area concerns and topography better than anyone, so use that to your advantage and build your pack list and adapt your PT program to meet those conditions.

Practicing ‘ruck’ or road marches means that besides your normal PT program that you’re doing (right? RIGHT!??!?), you must add varying lengths of ruck marches with your pack regularly if you wish to be able to do more than fall to the ground exhausted when you stop during a real crisis.

You can do your ruck marching in your neighborhood, too.  Sure, being out in a rural area for a nice, long day trip rucking is ideal, but if you live in the ‘burbs or in a city, you can still work it into your program.  Now, so as not to alarm the residents that may see you passing by, common sense would dictate that you take anything off your ruck that looks like it could be lethal or ‘too military’ to help ensure you don’t have to waste time being checked out by the local LEO called by a nervous neighbor to check you out.  Be friendly, smile and say, ‘hello’ when you pass people.  Being friendly goes a long way in setting people at ease.  You’d be surprised at the regularity I see guys walking with an old school ALICE or more modern pack through the city!  I’ve never seen one bothered; I’ve almost always seen them be polite and engaging when passing by.

You won’t be humping your LBE or Personal Protection Rifle (PPR) with you, either.  You could wear a slick plate carrier with plates under a coat or light jacket if it was cool enough, but if not, don’t sweat it.  The important thing is to get out and ‘hump’ the ruck!  You can replace items you take off the outside of your ruck with canned food inside the pack if you don’t like the thought of making your pack lighter.  Many ways to filet this fish; just a little imagination is in order.

As with everything physical, don’t over do it and start out slow.  Especially if you’re North of 40 or have not done any long distance walking in a good long time, let alone with a 50 pound pack (or heavier).  You may have to start out just by building up to be able to walk at a 15 minute mile pace in your sneakers.  You may have to start with short walks to get ot that point.  Don’t think you need to do this all at once.  Consistency does pay off, though.

If the day ever comes (and many think it will sooner than a lot of people think), you’ll be glad you made the sacrifice and put the time in.

Essential Skills: The ‘Basics’

It’s interesting that we get asked from time to time, “besides the ‘basics’, what other classes do you offer?” from prospective students who readily admit they don’t have a good grasp of what we consider ‘basic’ to performing as an effective member of a NPT or on their own in a routine situation where at least the electricity is on and there is a modicum of ‘Rule of Law’.

Basics that are inadvertently ignored include but are not limited to:

  • Consistent, effective physical conditioning among team members.
  • Capability to effectively communicate between team members in VHF/UHF/CB/FRS/MURS spectrums.
  • Capability to evaluate and select general purpose equipment.
  • Commonality of equipment/defensive carbines between team/group members.
  • Capability to maintain daily routine without ‘normal’ amenities (water pressure, electricity, hygiene, shelter)
  • Capability to achieve fundamental marksmanship skill mastery.
  • Capability to perform effective/quiet individual & team movement.
  • Capability to effectively camouflage & conceal individual/team in any environment.
  • Capability to conduct a security patrol as a team effectively.
  • Capability to read/plot topographical maps of local area.
  • Comprehension and application of Effective Concepts of Area Defense.

There are more, but these are foundational skills, and are either boring to learn and practice, or overlooked because they are so very basic.

And that’s where many folks who truly desire to set up an effective NPT go ‘high and right’.  The basics must be dealt with prior to going a bit more ‘high speed’, because it’s literally the foundation upon which your team will learn and perform.  A solid foundation helps ensure solid performance when it counts.  Take marksmanship for example:  Before you start to move while you shoot, or shoot while your team member is moving, it would be prudent to ensure that on a reasonably safe range, you can effectively hit the ‘x’ ring under varying conditions, such as after running in place and assuming a prone position.

A very simple and effective method to achieve this is to shoot the AQT at 25 meters, albeit with a twist:  On a 100 meter range, move the shooting line to 25 meters – now there is 75 meters behind all shooters of clear space.  All shooters have clear rifles with their magazines loaded and in their mag pouches.  On the command, ‘Run!’, the shooter turns  180 degrees and sprints to the 0 meter line and back.  The clock measuring the time allowed for shooting starts when the first shooter arrives back on line.  All other shooters lose whatever time it takes them to get back to the line.  Continue this through the entire AQT.  Watch what happens as your team struggles to keep their rifles on target while their heart rate is high and they’re trying to breathe.  It’s very effective in familiarizing shooters with stress in a pretty safe manner, and prepares them for live fire shoot and move training.

 

 

marskmaship stress training

For example, if you’re going to train for security patrolling in a realistic manner, in which you might be on a security patrol, for say, 3 days, something that you and your team must be able to do first is live in the woods or whatever environment you’re going to be performing the patrol in without causing issues to the patrol objective.

 

Patrolling 1

 

Tasks like establishing a patrol base that stands a good chance of not being detected by marauders and employs effective defensive and sustainment positioning (depending on the length of time in the patrol base).  Or performing routine tasks without discovery:  Hygiene, bowel/bladder voiding, eating cold (fires aren’t used on a security patrol), sleep/watch shifts; unpacking necessary items for use in the patrol base, repacking, and moving in/out of the location silently/unnoticed.  If establishing an observation post, well-camouflaged shelters to allow sleep shifts for maximized rest periods.

 

patrolling survival shelter

Another example of a foundational skill necessary for an effective security patrol is communicating silently, that is, no talking on the patrol, except in extreme circumstances, and then only by whispering right next to the ear of the person needing the communication.  That’s easier said than done by many; mostly because it’s not practiced much in the various school houses that teach skills along these lines.

 

Royal Thai Marines, US Marines train in jungle

The bottom line is that when you bring on new members to your NPT, they’re going to be very anxious to learn and get doing the things you’re doing.  Having them learn the basics well initially will translate to higher quality performance during more advanced training later.  For example, high encouragement of increased fitness will translate in higher levels of energy and stamina during training sessions, which will result in an increase of overall performance when the team is training on one skill or another.

 

Prone Shooting Practice – Much Ignored; Essentially Important

ABGD prone

Much is made of, ‘running and gunning’ throughout the blogosphere for good reason:  When you’re in close, you need to be able to do that, and do it well.  No question.

What’s not made much of, however, is the foundational skill of getting into a prone quickly and firing accurately from the position you’ve chosen as well as moving to another position using any individual movement technique other than the 3 second rush and firing again, accurately, on the target.

Could also be that it’s not very, ‘sexy’….don’t know.

Sometimes folks forget that the safest, most effective way to get to a different firing position is to crawl as low as possible using micro terrain because, depending on the situation, a 3 second rush might be your last if you choose to use it at the wrong time.

Admittedly, it does take a fairly high level of aerobic and anaerobic conditioning to do firing practice when getting to cover, shooting, moving, and shooting again, all while communicating with your NPT leader/buddy/other members, so there’s a need for consistent PT to get it right (yes, PT again).  It’s also one of those mundane, boring, repetitious tasks that takes about 10,000 repetitions with the team to get right in terms of lanes, keeping clear of others’ muzzles, etc.  Team work and field practice have to be a priority.  Even if you go to a school that teaches the skill well, you have to practice it routinely when you get home with your NPT, because it’s a perishable skill.  What I do know from my own experience is that the prone position provides the best all around platform for practical accuracy at most distances (save for when you’re right on top of the bad guys) especially when you’re getting winded.

So, consider getting to a place where you can practice this necessary skill.  Or inquire about setting up a NPT Patrolling class.  We can help.

Priorities: Everyone Has Them

Priorities

Can’t find the time to do PT?  What are you doing during the time you could be doing PT?

Can’t find the time to do dry fire?  What are you doing during the time you could be doing 10 minutes daily of dry fire?

Can’t find the time to schedule your NPT training, meetings, discussions in meat space?  What are you doing during the time you could be doing your NPT things?

Can’t find the money to finance your preps, weapons, ammo, communications, training attendance?  What are you spending your money on?  What do you have to sell that you don’t use/need that could help you out?

It’s all about your priorities.  Full stop.

Got Faraday Capability?

Routine storage in a Faraday Cage for your H/T, batteries, solar charger, a spare watch, battery powered optics, spare batteries, etc, might be prudent.  Especially when the advice coming from our government is, “…prepare yourself for a solar event just as you would for any other natural hazards like floods and storms. “

Story, here.

solar storm

Earth Will Only Have 12 Hours To Prepare For Massive Solar Storm

Trains will be disrupted, power will go out, satellite signals will go wonky – that’s what we have to look forward to when the sun next has a melt down, and we’re unlikely to get more than 12 hours warning. 

In a new government document, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has laid out its Space Weather Preparedness Strategy, outlining the risks of unsettled space weather as well as what it plans to do about them.

The document explains that the worst case scenario is a ‘coronal mass ejection’ – huge eruptions on the sun which cause parts of its corona to detach. The corona is the pearly glow around the sun that you can only usually see during a total solar eclipse, made up of plasma and rarefied gases. 

The worst case scenario is based on the Carrington event of 1859, which caused solar-flare related x-rays and radiation storms. In 2015, a similar event could cause the national grid to fail, satellite operations to shut down, increased radiation on flights and upset to electronic systems.

The report suggests that there are three things the country needs to do to prepare for such an event: improve alerts and warnings, update power and communication infrastructure with failsafe backups and have a plan in place to deal with the effects should they come to pass. 

As for you: the advice from the government is to prepare yourself for a solar event just as you would for any other natural hazards like floods and storms. 

Preparedness: The Money Side

Money You Don't Touch!

Money You Don’t Touch!

Part of your preparations needs to be the establishment and growth of an ’emergency fund’ consisting of various options such as cash on hand, pre-64 ‘junk’ silver (90% pure), or gold semi-numismatic coins.  Tess Pennington provides below a very good plan to increase your disposable cash as well as how to establish or increase your emergency fund.  Once you get your cash flow increased by some of the simple things she talks about doing for others or similar ways and your emergency fund growing, you can take a percentage of that and increase your equipment and supplies necessary for grid-down situations.

Emergency Fund

Emergency Fund

5 Simple Ways to Grow an Emergency Fund

My husband and I decided that we wanted to do something special with our family for summer and started saving money right after Christmas was over. We scrimped and saved and were able to come up with the money for a small vacation, plus a little extra that we put away in our emergency fund. When our vacation day finally arrived, we packed our bags and got on the road. At the last minute, my husband ran into Wal-Mart to grab some last minute items. As I sat in the car waiting for my husband to come out, I noticed the car running erratically and the temperature gauge started fluctuating. We decided not to chance it and headed home and switched cars. When we got back from our vacation, we took the car into the shop and they estimated it was going to cost us $1,800. As shocking as that figure was, we prepared for life going awry and had an emergency fund just for that reason. If we hadn’t of been saving money, we would have been in a world of hurt.

Out of the Blue Emergencies Can Be Costly

With a majority of our population living paycheck to paycheck, one minor emergency could send them into major debt. Having an emergency fund is your own personal safety net and a common sense approach to dealing with life’s unexpected issues. Minor emergencies such as job loss, car repairs, medical expenses and home fixes come out of the blue and can be costly if you aren’t prepared.

Keep in mind that an emergency fund is different from your savings account. Of course, both take a lot of restraint and sacrifice to build up; but the underlying reason to use an emergency fund is strictly for … you guessed it, emergencies.

Start Modestly and Gradually Build It Up

The goal for our emergency fund is to carry us for six months of job loss and we set aside a small percentage of our monthly budget to slowly grow this fund. After we pay our monthly expenses and bills, we normally break up twenty-five percent of our remaining income down in the following manner:

15% – savings/retirement

7% – emergency fund

3% – movies and family activities

As with all budgets, sometimes this figure fluctuates, so if we are able to put more or less in our emergency fund and savings, we have to adjust. But we try and always put something in. That said, what works for my family may not work for yours. Many financial experts suggest saving up to ten percent of your monthly budget to really get ahead in your emergency fund. Check out the steps below to get some ideas on how to build your family’s emergency fund.

Build Your Financial Freedom With These Easy Steps

1. Get out of debt. Your primary goal is to have financial freedom. Paying off your debt is the best way to free up extra money. After all, who wants to be paying interest on something you purchased two years ago? Organize and list you debts from the smallest to the largest and start paying the smallest debts first. Once the small debts are paid off, move on to the next largest debts on this list and snowball the payments. Essentially, you are creating a snowball effect with your payments and freeing up additional money in your budget for other uses – like an emergency fund.

2. Have a monetary goal set. Starting small and building upon your initial investments for your emergency fund is an easy way to start and not get overwhelmed. (i.e., I want to have an emergency fund to pay for car repairs). Some people start with saving $1,000 and many can find this amount hiding in their budgets. Once you reach your goal, move on to another one. Read more below on how to slash the budget.

3. Make it easy on yourself. One way to easily begin building your emergency fund is to create a separate account in your bank and set up automatic monthly transfers to easily move money into your account. There are some who prefer to have multiple accounts in order to organize their income better. Some have accounts strictly for emergency funds, savings, vacations, etc. This will help you organize your budget and steadily build your emergency fund.

On the other hand, there are some who do not prefer to keep their money in the bank due to concerns of economic uncertainty. In that case, you can hold your money in a safe or, consider taking your saved money and investing into precious metals. This ties the money up into a tangible investment and keeps you from spending it. It also makes it a little more difficult to cash in and spend it. That said, if the day came and you needed your money, all you needed to do is run down to the precious metals store in your area. Who knows, you could be getting more money than you started out with! As well, by using this method of saving, you could easily begin a very lucrative long-term savings method.

4. Start slashing the budget. Start eliminating the budget busters and non-essentials. Do you really have to get a four dollar coffee at the high end coffee house on your way to work? By cutting this small indulgence, you will save over a thousand dollars a year! In an article by The Organic Prepper, she explains how cutting the budget down to the essentials can save you lots of cash.

Now, let’s look at a bigger example. Let’s take the average 10 hour workday (including commute, lunch breaks, etc.)  Now spend that day productively at home.  Here are some things you might do that other people pay for:

  • Growing food $20
  • Yard work $40
  • Cleaning house $50
  • Preparing food from scratch $30
  • Mending clothes and doing laundry $20
  • Childcare – all day, simultaneous with other tasks $75 for 2 kids
  • Bathing and grooming the dog $65
  • Walk the dog at lunchtime $10
  • Make your own cleaning products and health and beauty aids $20

If you add all of those things up, you are talking about a LOT of money.  I based my totals on the prices of those services and goods in my area,  and on an average day, I could “earn” $330.  Tax free.  On an annual basis of a 5 day work week, that is the equivalent of just over $85,000 per year. Again, let me reiterate: tax free, which can save you another 15-30%.

As well, you can research more gas efficient ways to drive to work or run errand and make goals to cut your gas budget by $50 a month. Moreover, finding a co-worker that lives in the area and carpooling to work can also save you lots of money. If you live close to work consider riding your bike to work or public transportation.

5. Don’t stop saving! What happens when you meet your financial goal? Keep going! Don’t take the extra money out and splurge. Start saving for another type of emergency. There are some who get hit with double whammies and have multiple emergencies at once. Let’s say you saved money for the car repairs example listed in the the second tip. When you hit your goal, move on to another one. You could start saving for an even loftier goal like saving six months worth of salary for a job loss.

To conclude, in this day and age, it is paramount to have an emergency fund to fall back on. Life happens and sometimes it doesn’t work out in our favor. Organizing your finances and finding ways to free up some of your money for an emergency will help you create a personal safety net. These are ones steps that anyone can do. When you have amassed enough money to make your financial goal, you will sleep better at night knowing that you can take care of life’s unexpected events.

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published July 28th, 2015

Product Review UPDATE: SOLE Softec Ultra Footbed

Sole Insoles

See paragraph regarding Danner Combat Hikers.

In a previous post regarding the importance of getting the best boots you can afford, here, two commenters were very positive on the addition of SOLE brand insoles to replace those that came with whatever brand boots (typically Danner in the post).  Here’s what they had to say:

“Added some SOLE insoles, lots of BodyGlide and Leukotape for the heels, and not one blister in 110 miles of training rucks to break them in. ” 

“SOLE foot beds are the best.”

After reading them, and reinspecting the manufacturer’s supplied foot beds in my Danner Acadias and ‘Combat Hikers’, I decided to try them out, at least on one pair of boots, as they’re a tad expensive at $40 a pair.  I went to the SOLE web site, here, and looked for the best insole for combat boots or heavy walking/work.  The site recommended the ones above, and that’s what I ended up purchasing.  I thought getting a pair might take care of a couple of ‘hot spots’ my feet would experience when doing long walks with a heavy ruck.  An aside, hot spots are really a pain, because it makes taking every step after they develop highly unpleasant.  So, having good boots, Vermont Darn Tough socks, and moleskin wasn’t proving enough to kill the hot spots in the Acadias.

Danner GTX

The product itself comes well made with instructions on how to heat mold them in the oven or by plain old walking in them.  I tried the walking routine first, and decided later to do the oven routine, and I’m glad I did.  It takes a few long walks to generate enough heat and pressure to form the foot bed to your specific unique foot shape.  The oven routine takes about 3 minutes to heat them up to 160 degrees and about a minute or so standing in the boots after immediate insertion after removing them from the oven.  Makes a HUGE difference in how they feel.

Hot spot wise, coating the area with body glide helps with the friction that causes the hot spot, and a single package will last one user a long, long time.

bodyglide-37

leukotape

Because the new footbeds are a tad thicker and much more rigid than the manufacturers supplied version, they’re going to snug up your boot a bit, but not so much that they don’t fit anymore, at least in my case.  The difference is evident to me when I lace up — the laces have more space between them (about 3/16 of an inch).  I also tape my heels with Leukotape and body glide that area (on top of the tape) as a precaution against friction.

So far I’ve walked about 25 miles total (5 to 8 miles at a time) in the Acadias with rucks weighing 65 to 80 pounds on pavement, gravel roads, and grassy lanes.  My feet aren’t near as exhausted as they were, and don’t have the tendency to cramp like they sometimes would in the past.  I’ll know more in the next couple months when I log in another 100 miles or so.

The ‘Combat Hikers’ are my ‘get home’ shoes kept in my car along with necessary kit/clothing, and I just custom fitted them to my feet yesterday, so I can’t comment on anything other than initial feel, which is superb!  I won’t be carrying a heavy ruck with them, but will test them nevertheless in the next few weeks doing a ruck walk or two.  UPDATE:  Initial test with a 70# ruck, 5 miles, 88f, 86% humidity on the afternoon the original post was published.  Outstanding performance from both the SOLE Softec Ultra Footbed and the Danner hikers.  No hot spots (that’s right), no blisters, no discomfort whatsoever or anything other than a bit of heat build up to the point my Vermont USMC temperate socks were soaked through with sweat when I finished.  I always do the walk with no significant rest (more than 30 seconds or so) no matter what distance I’m going up to 10 miles, so the sweat build up would be expected.  If I were on a 20 or 30 mile jaunt, I’d change socks at the 10 and 20 mile marks and rest for 20 minutes or so while hydrating.

 

combat hiker

Right now, today, DTG gives the SOLE Softec Ultra Footbed 4.8 stars out of 5 (have to do more walking to get a complete 5…).  The instructions for oven heating and fitting are easy to follow, and using your oven won’t make a mess and piss off your wife, so that’s a plus, too!

Thanks for the advice, guys!  Looks like I’m going to be able to increase the length of my walks now, to realistic distances for getting home and moving during a SHTF situation.

It’s Wrong and it’s a Dirty, Low Down, Stinking Shame – We are Through the Looking Glass….

recruiting guard

American citizens, law abiding (openly carrying legal weapons and concealed pistol licensed, in many cases) citizens, who’ve taken their own time to stand guard outside of recruiting centers, are being looked at by the US Army as a ‘Security Threat’….

http://www.stripes.com/news/us/army-to-recruiters-treat-armed-citizens-as-security-threat-1.359134

The headline, in “Stars and Stripes,” the military’s newspaper, reads:

Army to recruiters: Treat armed citizens as security threat

The mind boggles…