Category Archives: Op-Ed

Intermittent Posting…..Depending on How the Fish are Biting

Gone fishing – might put up a post or two between now and the first week of June.  Time to recharge batteries and take some time with family and friends.

In other news, a reader has asked for a review of a great pistol that’s been in service quite awhile.  Not so popular anymore, but still a great piece!

More to follow, but for now, I have to go pack my fishing tackle.

 

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PSA for the DTG Readership – The Definition of ‘Free Speech’ Applied to Blog Commentary

With my motivation to save myself, as well as others, time when they might be inclined to ‘flame’ any post here or any member of the DTG staff, I offer this Public Service Announcement:

I have noticed that many proponents of ‘free speech’ conflate that to mean ‘license to say anything anywhere without consequence.’   That is a patently false perspective on the part of those who like to take license and spew venom in the comments section of any blog while claiming, “First Amendment, free speech!”

For the slow ones, the First Amendment applies to a citizen’s right to speak freely on or about political subjects with no interference from the federal government.  It does not mean ‘free rein’ to say anything that comes to mind without having oneself bounced from a site.

So, here’s the cornerstone of the rules here:  This is my blog.  It is not a government entity.  Therefore, I have no obligation to allow rude, denigrating statements by any commenter on any subject.  And, I won’t.

The requirements for comments to be posted are in plain sight at the comment block.

Anyone who violates those rules are blocked from further comment.  In fact, I reserve the right to not give ‘do overs.’  This ain’t kindergarten.  Let your conscience be your guide.

Have a very DTG day.

Addendum:  I truly appreciate those who provide thoughtful commentary even when disagreeing, most especially when it’s done with objectivity, lack of rancor, and mutual respect and courtesy.  Most commenters do that – it’s the small percentage that this post is aimed at, simply because I don’t want to waste the time bouncing them or deleting their comments.

What Specific Goals has the Communist Party NOT Achieved in the USA?

Posted at AP on 15 May 18.

Here’s a list compiled in 1958 by W. Cleon Skousen, in his book, “The Naked Communist”  and revisited in the book, “The Naked Truth: The Naked Communist – Revisited,” by James C. Bowers, of 45 communist goals that must be accomplished before the US government could be overthrown from a free state and transfigured into a communist state.

Examine it.  And once done, please describe any of these that have not yet been accomplished.  Then judge as where we are as a people and nation. I’ll be interested to read any comments on this post.

  1.  U.S. acceptance of co-existence as the only alternative to atomic war.
  2. U.S. willingness to capitulate in preference to engaging in atomic war.
  3. Develop the illusion that total disarmament by the United States would be a demonstration of moral strength.
  4. Permit free trade between all nations regardless of Communist affiliation and regardless of whether or not items could be used for war.
  5. Extension of long-term loans to Russia and Soviet satellites.
  6. Provide American aid to all nations regardless of Communist domination.
  7. Grant recognition of Red China.  Admission of Red China to the UN.
  8. Set up East and West Germany as separate states in spite of Khrushchev’s promise in 1955 to settle the Germany question by free elections under supervision of the UN.
  9. Prolong the Conferences to ban atomic tests, because the U.S. has agreed to suspend tests as long as negotiations are in progress.
  10. Allow all Soviet satellites individual representation in the UN.
  11. Promote the UN as the only hope for mankind. If its charter is rewritten, demand that it be set up as one-world government with its own independent armed forces. (Some Communist leaders believe the world can be taken over as easily by the UN as by Moscow. Sometimes these two centers compete with each other.)
  12. Resist any attempt to outlaw the Communist Party.
  13. Do away with all loyalty oaths.
  14. Continue giving Russia access to the U.S. Patent Office.
  15. Capture one or both of the political parties in the U.S.
  16. Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights.
  17. Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum.  Get control of teachers’ associations. Put the party line in text-books.
  18. Gain control of all student newspapers.
  19. Use student riots to foment public protests against programs or organizations which are under Communist attack.
  20. Infiltrate the press.  Get control of book-review assignments, editorial writing, policy-making positions.
  21. Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures.
  22. Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. An American Communist cell was told to “eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings; substitute shapeless, awkward, and meaningless forms.”
  23. Control art critics and directors of art museums. “Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaning-less art.”
  24. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them “censorship” and a violation of free speech and free press.
  25. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.
  26. Present homo-sexuality, degeneracy, and promiscuity as “normal, natural, healthy.”
  27. Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with “social religion.”  Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a “religious crutch.”
  28. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of “separation of church and state.”
  29. Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to co-operation between nations on a worldwide basis.
  30. Discredit the American founding fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the “common man.”
  31. Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of “the big picture.”   Give more emphasis to Russian history since the Communists took over.
  32. Support any Socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture — education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc.
  33. Eliminate all laws or procedures which interfere with the operation of the Communist apparatus.
  34. Eliminate the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
  35. Discredit and eventually dismantle the FBI.
  36. Infiltrate and gain control of more unions.
  37. Infiltrate and gain control of big business.
  38. Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies.   Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand or treat.
  39. Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.
  40. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce.
  41. Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents.   Attribute prejudices, mental blocks, and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents.
  42. Create the impression that violence and insurrection are legitimate aspects of the American tradition; that students and special-interest groups should rise up and use “united force” to solve economic, political or social problems.
  43. Overthrow all colonial governments before native populations are ready for self-government.
  44. Internationalize the Panama Canal.
  45. Repeal the Connally Reservation so the United States cannot prevent the World Court from seizing jurisdiction over domestic problems.  Give the World Court jurisdiction over nations and individuals alike.

Happy Wednesday….

 

Comparision / Contrast: Old v New AR Platforms – Pt 2

Posted at AP on 11 Oct 18.

Before we get into this installment, I freely acknowledge that there are as many people out there who simply loathe the M16/AR15/M4/M4gery platform and would rather throw rocks at an enemy than use one, as recently evidenced by comments not making the cut here (I don’t do vitriol) or seen at other sites posting the first installment of the series.

There are also those who really, ‘don’t know what they don’t know’ about continuous product improvement, and honestly don’t care to compare/contrast older versions with newer versions of anything, and operate on what is known as, “The Law of Primacy,” which basically means, “first learned, longest remembered, revered, trusted, etc (put in your own descriptor..)  I actually was in this category for 20 years after retiring from active duty, so much so that I moved to the 7.62NATO round in a M14 type rifle and didn’t consider an AR until about 6 or 7 years ago.  Of course, a lot has changed for the better since even then.

 

 

So, if you’re one of those who reacts in an unhealthy way at the mention of ‘AR’, don’t bother reading on, as all this will most likely do is raise your BP, your ire, and possibly cause you to violate our comment standards when/if you comment.

For the rest of the readership, as you saw in Part 1, the M-16 and its civilian cousin, the AR15 (exception to the designation was the fully automatic USAF AR15) started out with a whimper instead of a bang.  It took some time for Colt to clear up the problems being faced on the battle field due to poor powder replacements in the round, no cleaning equipment, no solvents, and extreme malfunctions solely due to those reasons.

However, once Colt got on the ball, the problems were fixed and the rifle and carbine kept being put through Continuous Product Improvement evolutions to became the most loved/hated platform in the US.  I was weaned on the USAF AR15 slab side (my first issue rifle had the 3 prong flash suppressor on it).  We had no forward assist available, but the thing was, we didn’t need it.  Colt had fixed the issue, so we were fine with what we were given, not that we actually knew what had been improved (E-2’s and 3’s aren’t the most informed people in the military….just sayin’), we just knew it fired when we pulled the trigger and hit what we were aiming at to the maximum range we were allowed to shoot (usually 200 meters or less, most often 100 meters).  Most of us, including me, hated it though, because we were trained by men who’d used the first generation in Vietnam that had problems.  We all lusted for the M-14, which we would NEVER see as a general issue rifle.

My personal dislike for the AR carried over throughout my career, even though I used another variant or two, specifically, the GAU-5A and the ‘Colt Commando.’  Those were, at least, more maneuverable and as we were always getting in and out of vehicles (trucks, jeeps, cars (armored and standard), a lot easier to use and control, especially if you were a dog handler (like I was for 3 years) or were working a support weapons crew, such as the 81mm Mortar (also like I was for 5 years).  Great also for vehicle patrols and other tasks.  The pic below also shows how we adapted the slings in order to carry in more of a ready position.  We taped our unused sling swivels, though….noise and all that.

When I retired from active service, I decided to go with .30 caliber weapons for my personal use and for competition.  So, in a short time, I had an ’03A3, a nice Garand, and a really nice pre-ban Springfield M1A (later sold and replaced with a Fulton Armory refurbed Norinco with all TRW parts except for the receiver).  Used them for 20 years.  Below photo of yours truly with his Fulton Armory reworked Norinco.

Then, age started to catch up to me, and I knew my days of running around with a 10 pound rifle and 13 magazines of 7.62NATO were numbered.  So, all the .30’s eventually got sold, and I listened to some folks talk about how much more improved the AR was.  I was hearing things about 600 meter capabilities, super-stiff barrels in 16, 18 & 20 inch lengths, double-chrome lining, Nickel Boron coated BCG’s, and some superb triggers.

Usually, what sounds to good to be true actually is too good to be true.

In this case, the upgrades and improvements were, in fact, true, and the AR’s I own now run circles around what I was issued, and, in the case of the Colt SP-1 still out there for sale for collectors when they can find one.  I like the SP-1 for nostalgia’s sake; the one I’ve fired hits where it should hit, but it is limited by the barrel twist, the sights, bullet weight, and issue trigger.  But it is the closest thing to what I used during my first couple tours on active duty, save for the lack of select fire.  In comparison, the AR below is an earlier iteration I had for a couple years; bought it right before the first panic in ’09 for about $1300 and watched it go up in value to over $3,000 almost over night.  I decided to go with the ‘Canadian’ influence of a retractable stock but a full length 20 inch barrel.  I wanted to squeeze the most performance possible out of the 5.56NATO round.  It had a Nickel Boron upper, NiB BCG and bolt, 20 in chrome lined FN barrel in a 1:8 twist (it ate everything pretty well), Gisele trigger, Magpul everything, Vortex flash suppressor, fold down BUIS, and an ACOG.  I regret selling that one.  That particular rifle is shown in the feature image at the top of this post.

What’s available for purchase now?  Almost endless accouterments as well as configurations.  I’ll list just a few of the improvements.  Yes, some of them are expensive, but I figure you get what you pay for, and I know my AR’s are pretty much bomb proof.  They also fall into the definition of ‘practical combat carbine.’  Also available is the very popular AR ‘pistol.’  They’re kinda neat for carry in a car, so long as you have a CPL.  Most states won’t allow a rifle to be carried loaded in your vehicle, but, and AR pistol may be, so long as you have your CPL.  Laws vary, so check out your own state’s requirements.

Here’s some of the upgrades available that I’ve chosen for my latest iteration, one that I’ve had for about 3 years:

  • FN manufactured, double chrome lined barrel.  Very stiff; basically a cut down machine gun barrel.  Able to stay very rigid during long firing periods (equates to a smaller cone of fire).
  • Barrel Twist – 1:7 takes the 62gr, both OTM and M855.  Personally, I’d prefer a 1:8, as it’ll eat everything ranging from 55gr to 77 gr, but I’m not quite ready to re-barrel my ‘go to.’
  • Vortex Flash Suppressor – Nothing says ‘no flash signature’ like a Vortex.  You can still see flash signature with the ‘Bird Cage,’ let alone the 3 prong.
  • Folding BUIS w/chevron sight post to replace the standard – Great for snap shooting and back up should my optics go Tango Uniform.
  • Battery Assist Device (BAD) by MagPul – HUGE debate out there in ‘subject matter expert’ land as to what one might do if they train with a BAD and have to use a ‘battlefield pick up.’  I am not in that camp.  I’ve been using the AR system long enough that if a BAD isn’t there, it’ll take about 3 nano-seconds to revert back to activating the standard bolt release.
  • Nickel Boron Bolt and Bolt Carrier Group – Carbon doesn’t adhere nearly as bad as it does on the standard issue or chrome BCG or bolts.
  • Bravo Company Bolt Upgrades – Rubber donuts, stronger ejector springs, and superb gas rings that last longer.
  • Better ergonomics on the pistol grip, adjustable stock, and fore-grip.
  • 200 lumen mounted light on foregrip; safety bail operated.
  • Geissele trigger.  ‘Nuff said.
  • Vortex Strike Eagle variable scope.  Not top line, but is superb and takes enough of a beating to make it balance out on the ROI scale.
  • American Defense Industries quick release scope base – If the vortex goes ‘kaput,’ I can remove it with a flip of the levers and employ my back up iron sights that are pre-zeroed.
  • Heavier buffer/stronger buffer spring – It’s for the carbine, of course, but it does help keep things non-maniacal during follow up shots.
  • Magazines – Mix between MagPul window and stainless steel magazines.  I like both; both take rattle can camo very well.  The MagPuls are thicker at the base, and therefore don’t fit as well into USGI type double mag bandoleers (which I like for ‘extra comfort’).

All in all, the newest iteration I own, and the ones available from quality manufacturers have long outdistanced what was originally issued and available to the civilian market.

Are there better platforms out there?  Sure, but you’d be hard pressed to find a more versatile platform with as many different configurations, optics, furniture, ammo choices, not to mention cost reductions and availability.  Nicely appointed AR’s are going for $500, sometimes less, and the quality isn’t half bad.

Well, that about does it.  Hope you enjoyed the series.

General Purpose Gear Load Outs – Pt II

Updated at AP on 21 July 18.

Gear Layering

What is gear layering? As described in other posts here and on other sites, such as Mason Dixon Tactical, American Partisan, and WRSA, gear layering is arranging equipment in lines, layers, and levels, to achieve the same thing. It is a technique for prioritizing the carriage of the most essential gear for the specific job over gear that may still be important, but not as high on the priority list as other items. Many sources divided their levels of gear into 3 or 4 layers. DTG recommends and uses the 3 layer approach.  Why address it again?  Because it works!

A quick description:

Level 1: Gear that is essential to survival and ALWAYS on your person, even when you’re sleeping (remember, you will fight like you train, and if a SHTF situation presents itself, you no longer have the luxury of ‘total comfort’.) If all else fails and an individual loses their harness and ruck, they still will have their level one items with them to help them survive until they can reach support.

Level 2: Gear is for NPT security tasks and is on your person the significant majority of the time. Only items that are needed for conducting continuing security tasks are carried on this level with respect to the SMOLES packing concept. Following this methodology, the NPT member stays light and has the freedom of movement essential to do their job.

Level 3: Gear is comprised of sustainment items, which serves as one’s “home away from home.” Usually, this is a “patrol pack”, ruck or combination of both. Items at this level are needed for task completion while on a job, or for long term survivability in the field. If in contact with a threat, more than likely this level is shed so that the NPT member can maneuver more easily to counteract the threat. So, there is a possibility that items in this layer may be lost in contact. On the other hand, if the NPT is successful in its task, the NPT members can always retrieve their Level 3 gear.

Here are a few visual examples of gear that layered for an NPT member:

Example Level 1: Here you can see a NPT member wearing a big knife, a pistol, (and the bulge in the pocket is a survival kit).  He’s always got these on.

ImageImage

 

Example Level 2: Here you can see a NPT team member’s Load Bearing Harness. It contains all the necessary items to conduct security tasks in a SHTF/WROL situation. The harness weighs about 25 pounds complete with all equipment.

ImageImage

Example Level 3: Option 1: As you can see here, the level 3 gear is a “patrol pack” or small ruck, dedicated to sustainment items for a short trip in the field. The pack weighs about 22 lbs loaded with the items we recommend for general purpose carry.

ImageImage

Example Level 3 – Option 2: And lastly we have a large ruck in combination with the small ruck as the full load out for one’s home away from home in the field. Together they weigh about 65 lbs.

ImageImage

So there you have it, an overview for gear layering. It’s not a complicated concept, but it does help one prioritize their gear for the purpose it was intended. The layer concept also makes sure you have your “oh crap” tools always on hand.

In the next post we will take a look at general NPT security member kit contents in each layer.

General Purpose Gear Load Outs

Updated at AP on 9 July 18.

Part 1: Load Bearing Equipment (LBE) Selection

There are many gear options out there today for one’s fighting load and sustainment ruck. As our overall goal is to show the NPT how to protect their neighborhood in the event of disaster, we want to do this as efficiently as possible.  One way to achieve efficiency is to provide information that equates to much less time needs to be spent worrying over which LBE set up or ruck is better and using that time instead for training and study.

As you most likely know,  a person can spend anywhere from a few hundred bucks setting up LBE and rucks with military surplus items to upwards of several thousand on the latest and greatest ‘special-ops’ equipment in the latest and greatest camouflage pattern.  It’s safe to say that American preppers virtually have the greatest availability and choices of military/paramilitary gear in the world, and as neat as that is, it does tend to complicate gear selection for people who are new to the point of becoming overwhelming.  Even when asking, “expert” advice, the tendency is to see the advice given based upon personal tastes versus objective analysis based upon the specified purpose for the selection.

So, when you’re helping the new NPT member to get equipped, you, as the NPT leader, must be able to quickly outline the best return on investment of potential gear selections so the new member can get focused on training as soon as possible.

With that said, DTG recommends a “general purpose” approach when selecting gear.  The definition is offered for clarity, as we try to stick to the definition closely in 98% of all circumstances.

gen•er•al-pur•pose / adjective
general-purpose

1. Having a range of potential uses; not specialized in function or design.  “a general-purpose detergent”

For the requirements of the NPT, general purpose load bearing equipment should facilitate “normal” (that is, ‘routine’) NPT security tasks.   To be considered ‘General Purpose, the LBE you choose should have the following attributes:

  • Capable of mounting all necessary pouches/equipment holders without being so front loaded so that one cannot get very low to the ground, (think H-harness / Battle-belt).  Chest rigs are great for the right circumstances, but they really don’t fit the GP parameters.
  • Comfortable enough to be worn to complete daily grid down chores without extra fatigue.
  • Capable of being put on and taken off without any discernable noise (think of the loud “SKWAAAAP!!!” sound that some Velcro pouches, plate carriers or chest rigs make).  Buckles and snaps are your friend when it comes to quiet.
  • Capable of being put on with or without the use of a low profile plate carrier (the H-harness/battle belt set up work very well in this regard), should that be one of your choices to augment your equipment.

Remember, what works for elite soldiers doing specialized missions might be different than the day to day gear needs of Mom and Pop providing security in their NPA while going about daily chores.  Available cash may also be a constraining factor when it comes to choosing gear.  To preclude the loss of precious time and money when NPT members experiment through trial and error what works best in most situations, and for what cost, the NPT leader should provide all the lessons learned possible so the ‘noobs’ don’t have to go through all the things the veteran NPT leader or member did.   Remember, unless Mom and Pop are in superb physical shape, they might have a hard time with 12 mags hanging off their tummy trying to get into a prone firing position, or low crawling to cover after being encouraged to get a chest rig or plate carrier set up.  (An aside, helping Mom and Pop do reasonable PT helps, too, but you, NPT Leader, need to be busting your ass on PT.)

How do you get the ‘most bang for your buck’ in relation to time saved when learning about gear?

Have new NPT members get some training in SUT with one of the trainers or schools offered by writers on this site.  Their courses are structured to show students, through the performance, if gear is incorrectly set up or can be tweaked a bit.

When you’re home, if appropriate to your AO (meaning you won’t bring a stack down on you after a terrified neighbor calls the local PD on 911) wear your LBE around the house doing normal tasks, yard work, etc. Nothing teaches you how to wear your gear like performing daily chores or the occasional SUT drill!

Any time you attend the training, check out how the instructors set up their gear.  If it seems to work, and it’s possible for you to mimic their set up, test it when you train with your group or family.  If you don’t understand why something is set up a particular way, ask!  Remember, the instructors have tailored their LBE set ups used during their experience in the military to that of citizens training to defend their families. Pick their brains; they know what works and what doesn’t work so well. If you have a question, drop them a line.

DTG’s LBE and Ruck Suggestions:

General Purpose Option 1: “I have an extremely limited budget, but need all the quality I can find!”:

Get an ALICE H-harness/web belt and an Enhanced ALICE Large Ruck. My good friend JC Dodge provides some great advice on modernizing the ALICE:  Get a CFP-90 patrol pack to add to the top of the ruck. With mag pouches and canteen’s, etc, you’re looking at about $200 give or take, maybe less depending on what you find or where you shop. Example: In the not too distant past, I was at a flea market and found 4 M1956 canvas M-14 pouches for a buck each. ALICE frames for $20 (US, not knock offs.)  Below you can see two typical ‘old school’ examples that still work very, very well.

LBE

ALICE Pack

General Purpose Option 2: “I’ve got some cash” option:

Get an Eagle Industries RLCS harness (ebay $100 new, $50 to $75 used) with molle pouches ($15 ea) and a USMC FILBE ruck with attachable small patrol pack ($325 new). You’re looking at about $400 to $600 after pouches for your LBE, if you want to go the surplus route.  I’ve had a set up very similar to the one below for the last 5 years – haven’t had an issue with it, and I routinely ruck.  The harness is bomb proof, and it will accommodate flotation pads if you think you’ll need to cross a river.

Eagle Ind. H Harness

Eagle Industries H Harness

 

USMC FILBE Pack

USMC FILBE Pack

*Note these estimations do not include the cost to fill your LBE or Ruck with actual field gear.

The next post will be on gear layering. The idea is not to get into all the supporting theory behind layering as much as it is to give a good example for general purpose gear placement so that (if you like it), you can show an example to new people how/where to wear their gear for security tasks.

The Foxfire Series – An Introduction

Posted at AP on 8 June 18.

While many in the prepper world have heard of this amazing book series, many times more folks have not!  In fact, I’d venture that there are literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people who are concerned about possible hard times on the horizon who haven’t heard about this treasure trove of information!  This post is offered in that light – to raise awareness of what treasure of knowledge can be obtained for small cost in dollars.

These wonderful books contain priceless information that anyone, of any age, anywhere, can use to increase their knowledge of, ‘the old ways’ for that will see them through harsh times, off-grid living, or learning and teaching the ‘old’ traditions.

The book began as an English class project published in a magazine, and eventually morphed into a series of encyclopedic paper bound ‘manuals’ with it’s own website and organization, which, if you have a mind, you can become a member.  Foxfire’s mission is to preserve the traditions and practices of Southern Appalachia, however virtually all the information can be adapted to anywhere in the world, as the practices are time tested and proven and will work anywhere.

The history below is taken directly from the foxfire website:

“In 1966, a new teacher at the Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School was struggling to engage students in his high school English class. In frustration, he asked them what they thought would make the curriculum interesting. They decided to create a magazine, honing their writing skills on stories gathered from their families and neighbors, and producing articles about the pioneer era of southern Appalachia as well as living traditions still thriving in the region.

They called it “Foxfire” after the glowing fungus that clings to rotted wood in the local hills. This spark of an idea, and the work that followed, has turned into a phenomenon of education and living history, teaching readers, writers, visitors, and students how our past contributes to who we are and what we can become – how the past illuminates our present and inspires imagination.”

The good news is that for those who bargain hunt, older copies can be found for almost the original price (about $4 per volume) at flea markets, old book stores, and, of course, on line auction sites, such as ebay.   The older the copy and the better shape it’s in, the price will be higher of course.  You can also go to on-line sellers such as Amazon and buy single copies, partial sets, and the entire set if you prefer.  It’s all there for you.   I started with the single book, and after reading a few chapters, quickly went out hunting the other volumes!  My first is an original 1972 copy in ‘like new’ shape (at least it was when I bought it – now it’s well-read and a bit worn).

The first volume covers many subjects.  This is from the front overleaf, but is also on the cover as the image at the top of the post shows:  “The Foxfire Book – Hog dressing; log cabin building; mountain crafts and foods; planting by the signs; snake lore; hunting tales; faith healing; moon shining; and other affairs of plain living.”

The books are not dry, either.  They’re written exactly as the words were spoken and/or written by the people being interviewed, and keep your attention, and transport your mind into their world.  Plain speaking; they tell you why and wherefore with no pretense:  “this is the way I was raised up.”

Get the first volume, “The Foxfire Book,” and judge from there.  As you increase your interest, and decide to buy the second, third, and subsequent volumes, consider passing the ones you’ve read to someone who is of like mind….but you’ll want to make sure they return it and get their own!

 

Essential Skills: Converting Grid and Magnetic Azimuths – How and Why

Posted at AP on 5 Apr 19.

In the last post on Magnetic Declination, the impact it has on azimuth/bearing accuracy was described.  In this post, we’re going to look at the ‘how and why’ of converting grid (or map) azimuths/bearings to magnetic azimuths/bearings and vice versa.

First, a word about grid maps.  They’re not essential for ‘shooting’ an azimuth or bearing (from here on out referred to as either a Grid Azimuth (GAZ) or Magnetic Azimuth (MAZ)), but they are essential to plotting (determining & marking) positions on a map to within various levels of accuracy (meaning actual distance from the object or location being plotted).  That’ll be covered in one of the next posts on this subject.

For your convenience, you can use a ‘UTM’ ‘Universal Transverse Mercator’ AKA USGS 7.5 minute map.  They’ll either have ‘tick’ marks on them that you can use to provide your own grid (as I have done and commenters have suggested (Tip:  Use very thin map marking pens and don’t use red ink – red disappears when using a red light) or complete grid lines.  They’re ok to use; they’re typically in 1:24,000 scale, and you need to ensure your map tools correspond in scale.  More on that in the future.  Personally, I prefer and recommend maps that use the MGRS (Military Grid Reference System) which is similar to the UTM, but scaled in 1:25,000 & 1:50,000, which is what I learned land navigation with during active duty.  It’s a familiarity thing for me.  YMMV.  In either case, the listed Declination, or ‘GM Angle’ on the map (which may or may not be correct due to Magnetic North Pole movement) is for the center of the map, and depending on the what’s under or on top of the surface, the Declination degree may be distorted during your trip.  So, it’s good to check the on line or other sources for up to the date declination numbers.

The simplest way available to man right now is to get a compass that has an declination adjustable feature, such as the Sunnto MC-3 as pictured below.  Basically, once you determine what your Magnetic Declination is, you simply use the provided tool, adjust the declination reading to correspond with that number (either East or West) and use your compass on the map as well as when shooting your azimuth.  No mathematical equation is necessary because the compass itself has the declination already accounted for by your adjustment.  In the compass image below, you can see the declination window at 6 o’clock on the compass, or specifically, at Zero degrees.  It’s the little black pincer looking thing.  Underneath the compass is a small standard screw slot that an accompanying tool will adjust to whatever your declination is, East or West.  Once the degree is in the center of the indicator, you’re set.  None of your azimuths need conversion until such time as you use a different compass – one that can’t be adjusted similarly.

If you’re not using that type of compass, you’ll always have to use the mathematical equation to convert both Grid and Magnetic Azimuths back and forth when navigating.

When you’re figuring out the azimuth to get from your start point to a mid or end point on your course, you really need one of these things to determine your GAZ.

 

It’s called a ‘protractor’ and using it is pretty simple:  Place the center over the point on the map you’re using to determine which azimuth you’re going to travel on, square the protractor to the map’s grid, place a small tick mark in the center of the protractor (they usually have a hole for that purpose), and use some sort of straight edge to line up the center point and the azimuth (use the INNER RING of degrees, not the outer ring), place a tick mark, move the protractor out of the way, and draw a straight line from the origin point to the azimuth line.   You should have written down your Grid Azimuth (GAZ).

Now on to GAZ to MAZ conversion.

For now let’s say you’re using a USGI Lensatic or other compass that does not have the Declination Adjustment feature. The graphic below demonstrates for both East & West Declination.   You need to know that if your declination is East, it means that Magnetic North is East of your location.  Conversely, if it’s West, Magnetic North is West of your location.

 

If you plot your grid azimuth on a map and it reads (for example), 180 degrees (GAZ), and you know your local declination is 15 degrees East, and you wish to convert your GAZ to a MAZ, simply subtract the Declination of 15 degrees and you’ll have a 165 MAZ, or ‘magnetic’ azimuth that you can use with your compass.

Now, if you want to convert a MAZ to GAZ using the example above (in that you have a MAZ of 180, simply add the 15 degrees declination to the 180, and you have a correct GAZ.

This equation must be memorized if you don’t have a declination adjustable compass in order to stay accurate and end up on or near the coordinate you’re aiming for on the last leg of your navigation.  The consequence of not converting or adjusting for declination is not reaching your objective…..or worse, getting hopelessly lost, which might be terminal, depending on your location and the scenario you find yourself in.

And really, that’s all there is to it.

Next time:  Plotting Coordinates – Why and How

 

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