Category Archives: Training and Leadership

Some Skills NEVER Go Out of Style!

Posted on AP 27 Nov 18.

In relation directly to this news post over at American Partisan, this two year old, short article, from the Defensive Training Group blog, on why one might want to know Land Navigation and have the requisite equipment is very apropos.




GPS Operation


So, you say, you don’t need to know how to use a map or compass, figure declination, or plot coordinates because you’ve got your handy-dandy palm-sized GPS that goes 5 years on a set of batteries, and is accurate to within 1 meter, huh?  If that’s you, you might want to consider that the old story regarding GPS signals being subject to random programmable errors (meaning that your super-accurate GPS can purposely be fed signals to take you off target as far as the programmer wishes) is true.  What’s more, the increased dependency of our society to have our navigation done for us by mini-computers makes us dependent upon that technology, and puts us at the mercy of the machine and people running it.  Add to that mix our national enemies that already have our communications & GPS satellites targeted for best case, jamming, and worst case, physical destruction.  Makes ya feel all warm and fuzzy on getting from point A to B, now don’t it?

The GPS system is now being purposefully jammed in tests by the US Navy [and refer to the link above for another successful GPS jamming exercise, this time by the Russians] to test a new device used specifically for jamming GPS signals.  Remember, if you’re dependent upon GPS and someone jams the signals, you’re screwed.

Read the full story, here.  Below are some key quotes:

“Starting today, it appears the US military will be testing a device or devices that will potentially jam GPS signals for six hours each day. We say “appears” because officially the tests were announced by the FAA but are centered near the US Navy’s largest installation in the Mojave Desert. And the Navy won’t tell us much about what’s going on.

The FAA issued an advisory warning pilots on Saturday that global positioning systems (GPS) could be unreliable during six different days this month, primarily in the Southwestern United States. On June 7, 9, 21, 23, 28, and 30th [2018] the GPS interference testing will be taking place between 9:30am and 3:30pm Pacific time. But if you’re on the ground, you probably won’t notice interference.”


“GPS technology has become so ubiquitous that cheap jamming technology has become a real concern for both military and civilian aircraft [and anyone else using the technology on the ground].”

map and compass 1

The nice thing is that Land Navigation Skills – Old School – work ALL the time!   If you don’t know how, you might want to move it up a bit on your priority list – it’s not that difficult to learn.  I’ll be reposting some older ‘how to’ and ‘why’ pieces in the next couple weeks.

Additionally, if you’re local to my AO, and you want to set up a training class, drop me a line.

Stay tuned!


Book Review: The Naked Truth: The Naked Communist Revisited, by J.C. Bowers, Sc. D.

Updated and Posted at AP 29 March 19.

This ‘must have’ book was written in 2012, and is an analysis of the section in W. Cleon Skousen’s book, ‘The Naked Communist,’ who, in 1958, documented the top 45 goals of the communist party for the United States as of that year.  You can get it on Amazon for less than $3, if you don’t mind used, and about $13 new.   I would suggest, though, getting the original, “The Naked Communist,” by W. Cleon Skousen and read it first, if you really want to see the whole picture.  You can get it for under $15, new.  So, all told, less than $30 invested.  Worth. Every. Penny.

The two works explain exactly why our country is in the state it’s in today, and that it’s no accident.  It has been by design.  It should also prove to the doubter that Joe McCarthy was right.  There were communists in the government; some up to some very, very high levels.

As background, Skousen had a long stint of service in the FBI, and back then, post WWII, the US was very (and rightfully so) concerned with communist infiltration of the US culture and government.  Some folks, unlike FDR, actually saw the danger of getting all cuddly with Stalin.  He analyzed what he saw and came up with 45 goals of the communists when it came to the US before it could become a communist state.  Unlike others, though, he didn’t see a Marxist invasion or outright take over; he saw our federal republic and our enshrined freedoms from government infringement as listed in our Bill of Rights being slowly chipped away by radicals (aka communist sympathizers, agents, or useful idiots) employing Antonio Gramsci’s theory of, “cultural hegemony” that has been very, very effective.  Basically, Gramsci’s theory said that communism could not win against a religious-based (read Christian), Western style country unless that country first had its culture and behavioral mores (morality) undermined and destroyed.  This had to be accomplished by intellectuals and elites working from inside the country’s institutions and culture to change the way people thought about culture and morals to more easily erode those same foundations of society.

The original goals were written in 1958, and looking back, as Bowers does in his analysis of what has happened since, it’s easy to see that Skousen knew exactly what he was about and provided a clear clarion call for the real, ‘cold war,’ which was waged on campuses, in churches both Protestant and Catholic, work places, and especially the home, with the, ‘new permissiveness’ of the 60’s (which was nothing compared to today!).

When reading Skousen and Bowers, you may find yourself thinking (correctly so, in my opinion) that we are witnessing the pre-victory mop up operation fueled and assisted by ‘big tech,’ the conquered democratic party (that happened in Chicago in 1968, in this writer’s opinion), the societal acceptance of Bill Ayers, Bernadette Dorn, and the election of an unvetted candidate for president in 2008, and the license perceived in 1973 to murder a child in utero that’s only crime was the parent(s) didn’t want the child.  46 years later, children can now be born and left to die on a table.  We are also witnessing the congressional acceptance of known communists as representatives of various districts as well as initiatives to destroy our national boundaries, dismantle the electoral college, and reduce the voting age so minor children of 16 years may vote in elections.  This ‘mop up’ is also why we see the meltdowns of ‘the Left’ when anything, and I mean, anything, is put forward to reverse the process and restore American culture, morals, and constitutional governance.

Here are the 45 goals that were written in 1958:

  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.

Bowers describes each goal’s progress; some grouped, some singly, throughout the 27 chapters in his book.  Most interesting is his ‘Conclusions’ chapter where he singles out Barack Obama as someone who should be known by the company he kept and still keeps:  Hard leftists.  He also identifies that most Americans cannot fathom that an actual Marxist was in the White House for (4 years, then; all told 8) and, who also was extremely sympathetic to Muslim extremism (“I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.” The quote comes from page 261 of the paperback edition of “The Audacity of Hope) over American constitutional or cultural issues.

He finishes up nicely by identifying why American society has allowed, albeit unknowingly, itself to go along with these communist initiatives.  The sad fact is that the communists are united by the common goal of destroying the American Constitution and liberty that comes with living in a free country.  Interestingly enough, he also discusses Obama’s campaign pledge to, “…fundamentally change America,” which, when I personally saw the applause, I was in disbelief, simply because it seemed nobody listening understood the context of the word, ‘fundamentally.’

Bowers is also very transparent in his own background, a Goldwater supporter and conservative, he discloses that his parents were card carrying communists that referred to themselves as ‘progressives,’ which also fits:  Liberals = Progressives = Socialists = Communists.  It just works that way.

I’ll conclude by quoting Bowers as to why these books are important, and why I did this review:  “…an informed people are the only danger to their long term Socialist dreams.”  Can we pull out?  Only God in Heaven knows; will we try?  That’s up to each of us.

Reading this book, and Skousen’s, is a major step to accepting how far this war against the US has gone, and how little time we really have left to stem the tide.

Range Time: What’s a Good Frequency?

To determine what might work for you when it comes to going to the range to practice the fundamentals with live fire, a presumption must be made that you’re doing dry fire a couple times a week for at least 10 minutes a session.  Yes, boring, repetitious, and tedious, but you need to accept this as a minimum if you want to master your weapon of choice and become very, very good at applying the fundamentals you practice in live fire.  And truly, that’s all renowned shooters are doing when you see them performing very fast and very accurately on the range:

They are simply applying the fundamentals in a quick, effective manner.  Nothing more, nothing less.  No secret techniques, just mastery of the fundamentals.

So, how much range time?  I’ve found that for me to ensure personal proficiency, I’m expending at least 50 to 100 rounds of whatever I’m primarily carrying every 4 to 6 weeks.  If it’s monthly, a box of 50 is fine, if it’s every 6 weeks, 2 boxes of 50.  I might even go as often as every 3 weeks, but that’s because I’m stoked, but it’s not all the time, and no matter what, I do the dry fire as often as I can.  It’s all based on balancing my schedule (personal and professional obligations) and checkbook (even bought by the 1K round case, ammo gets expensive!), and need for simple relaxation.

So, what’s the take away here?  Simply this:  Make the practice of handling/shooting your weapons part of your normal routine.  The skills you pick up are perishable by nature, and if you aren’t careful, life has a way of overcoming your practice, and the next thing you know, you haven’t touched a pistol, rifle, or shotgun in months!  Do not let that happen!

Minimally, if you dry fire routinely (twice a week, 10 minutes each session), you can get away with every 6 weeks.  For self-evaluation, every other range session put yourself through a 50 round ‘qualification’ course.  With a pistol, at 25 yards/meters; with a rifle, do an AQT or NRA High Power type course.  Doing so will have you ‘qualifying’ every quarter, which is much, much better than 95% of all shooters will do.  Your skill mastery will show it, too!

Discipline is key here, because if you’re like me, dry fire gets to be very monotonous.  However, without it, those perishable skills you’ve picked up will deteriorate to one degree or another.  I’d prefer disciplined monotony to suffering regret when or if I need to employ those skills.  Just sayin’.  One way I keep it interesting is only doing dry fire with one platform a session.  One day I might be using my M-Forgery; another a pistol; another, a bolt gun.  I also add different miniature targets any time I can.

One thing in my dry fire that is not negotiable is the application of safety practices:

  • NEVER MIX ALCOHOL WITH DRY OR LIVE FIRE!  It should go without saying that if you’re going to drink, do it after your practice or live fire shooting.
  • ALWAYS remove any magazine before dry firing to ensure it’s empty.
  • ALWAYS check the chamber to ensure there isn’t a round hiding in it (Remember, ALL weapons are ALWAYS loaded until you ensure they’re not!!)
  • NEVER point your weapon at another human being you don’t intend to shoot, even in dry fire practice (tv/movie characters are different – it’s a projection).

See you on the range.

Rediscovering the Beretta M9 – Range Update

Old School becomes ‘New School’ after a fashion.

I carried & qualified with issue M9’s on active duty when our S&W M-15’s were replaced in the late 80’s (the Smith was a great revolver, but not up to tactical employment…just sayin’).  We immediately liked the M9 it a lot – had a lot more rounds, more powerful than the .38 Special the USAF seemed to be enthralled with for so many years, was magazine fed, could be field stripped in about 3 seconds, and was accurate as the Smith (which was very accurate) give or take (the M9 has fixed sites; the Smith had adjustable) for qualification to 25 meters, and if you were serious, you could practice and hit to 50 meters on a human silhouette target to 50 meters.  The decocking lever caused us a bit of anxiousness until we found out it worked, and the safety lever was easy to learn, though  reversed from a 1911 (the 1911 safety is pushed down to go to ‘fire’ and the M9 is pushed up).

Liked it so much I had a Beretta 92C (Compact) POW (Personally Owned Weapon) from 85 until I sold it before I returned home in 92.  I didn’t want to go through the paperwork to have it added to my orders, and then stuck in my ‘hold baggage.’  In hindsight, it was a bad decision, but I digress.

Years flew, and then I started looking at them again a couple of months ago.  Mostly because the M9 is being phased out of the service, and I’m thinking ‘CHEAP MAGAZINES and PARTS.’

Found a safe queen with a purported use of less than 2 boxes of ammo on gunbroker almost new for about $200 less than retail, and it was a M9, not the 92FS.  Basically, the civilian M9 is a military copy (because it’s not property of the US Government) though everything else down to the lanyard loop, (including the markings) are the same, and was sold around the 20th anniversary of the pistol’s service use.  Came with 4 original mags to boot, so how could I lose?  The only thing Beretta did that really isn’t good is the op rod is now plastic (steel replacement already on the way).

After inspection, the round count was probably right; not a bit of wear internally.  It was like taking a new pistol out and looking it over.  It is really sweet, too, except for that famous looooooooooong first trigger pull if shooting double action.  But I can get used to that again.

So, the first thing is to break it down and clean it (and that’s where I was able to see the lack of wear internally).  Especially if it’s a used gun, even though it was a safe queen.  Then, after about an hour of refamiliarization with dry fire, mag change outs, and such, made sure it was lubricated to specs, and ready for the range.  Everything is functional, so it’s off to the range this morning to wring it out with a couple hundred rounds.

That’ll be part 2 of this post.  Until then, here’s what she looks like:

Now, don’t think for a second I’m giving up my Glocks or Kimbers; just adding this to the stable of proven ‘go to’ sidearms.

Get yourself some range time.


Ok, didn’t have a lot of time today, but in 45 minutes I was able to check the inherent accuracy of this pistol pretty well with both deliberate aimed fire as well as some 1 & 2 shot drills.  I fired at 10 meters, indoor range, Winchester 124gr FMJ finishing up with some Federal 124gr HST.  The first two pictures are to simply show the distance and the first 15 rounds.  The pistol is worth having, especially if you’re just getting started and want a reliable pistol.  The offset group to the left of center is not the weapon; it’s my poor vision.  The last picture demonstrates why the M9 eats anything.  The magazine puts the rounds almost perfectly in line with the chamber, so there’s no worry about ‘bullet bump’ that can cause failure to feed.

The indoor range – 10 meters, 50 ft small bore target augmented with a 3 inch Shootnc target.

The inaugural magazine – 15 rounds, aimed, deliberate fire at 10 meters.  My eyes suck, but the pistol is top notch!

Why the Beretta M9 eats any kind of ammo, and yes, that’s Federal 124gr HST getting ready for a trip downrange.

High Holy Day: Lexington and Concord 1775 by Bill Buppert

April 19th, 1775.  A day that shouted, “We will NOT go gently into that dark night!!”  This account by the author should be read by every single American deserving of the title.  Original, here.


It’s that time again.

High Holy Day.

Today is the 253rd anniversary of the “shot heard ‘round the world” at Lexington and Concord. The British regulars who started the fracas were following an age old government tradition of seizing powder, munitions and property for a pretentious King who had assumed such wide distribution of the tools of resistance should be available only to the government approved groups such as soldiers despite the danger on the frontier. We celebrate that time of defiance against tyranny when for sixteen years (1775-1791), all thirteen colonial provinces and the thousands of rural polities that exited outside or alongside the framework enjoyed a freedom they had not previously had and after 1791 would become enslaved once again under the totalitarian doomsday machine known as the Constitution.

The lobster-backs and British taxing regime would be replaced by a domestic variety of even more extreme virulence whose sole safety mechanism was a constant western diaspora trying to escape the clutches of the “Republic”.

The whitewashed history since then has lionized the inauguration of the divorce from the United Kingdom on this day and mistakenly links these events to all the “freedom” enjoyed under the Constitution. The Federalist coup in 1787 that reestablished an English-style yoke of central planning, national taxation and slight tinkering with indentured servitude to a kinder and gentler tax and regulatory apparatus did no more grant individual freedom than the Romans gave to conquered lands.

The Declaration of Independence, whether penned by Thomas Jefferson or Thomas Paine, is as elegant a jeremiad against tyranny as has been written. The relationship between the Declaration and the Constitution is the same as the one between the crucifix and the vampire. They stand as opposite documents embracing wholly different visions of freedom. One cannot be consonant with the other because their aspirations are antithetical to the other. As the brilliant Lysander Spooner would opine:

But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.”

CPT Parker commanded the militia this day for an idea that was smothered and crushed by the Federalist coup in 1787 culminating in the creation of the ratification of the most clever slave document of the age.

When you look around on this day in this time in the minimum security (for now) Club Fed that is America, ask yourself what Parker would think. Everything you see (and don’t see in the surveillance state that surrounds you) is a product of the glorious Constitutional Republic that Spooner described so splendidly.

As an Appleseed Instructor and Shoot Boss on extended sabbatical, part of the instruction in this extraordinary marksmanship program was a gripping retelling of the Three Strikes of the Match that led to the divorce proceedings with George III and started the First American Revolution. While I don’t share all the goals of the program hence the extended leave of absence, the telling of this ripping yarn has no match. I regret you can’t hear this from a seasoned instructor but the reading can be compelling.

For those who wish further elucidation, I recommend Rothbard’s Conceived in Libertyand Fischer’s Paul Revere’s Ride. The two books will lead to many more books to better understand the hoodwinking you have suffered through government schooling and the attendant media apparatchiks who reinforce the mewlings of the mind laundries. These books will lead to better understanding the modest but brilliant interregnum when the North American Confederation was free excepting the large number of indentured servants and chattel slaves. But the Constitution would remedy this by nationalizing the former and codifying the latter. The destruction of individual liberty would begin apace.

Please attend an Appleseed marksmanship weekend seminar if at all possible at your local range.

You can make sure Parker’s sacrifice, he would die in September of that year, was not in vain.

Reflect and remember this day should force you to think on the state of your chains, whether you acknowledge them or not. –BB

The First Strike of the Match

It’s 19 April, 1775. In Massachusetts Colony, the times were hard. The Colonial government had been abolished, and a military governor, General Thomas Gage, controlled Boston under martial law. Boston was practically a ghost town. The Port Act had seen to that, as the port had been closed to all traffic for months. The town slowly died without commerce, and many of those remaining in town relied on the kindness of outsiders to acquire food and necessities. Troops destroyed buildings and their contents for fire wood. Disease was rampant. The King was bent on breaking the radicals and bringing the colonies back in line, where they would pay dearly in taxes and subjugation to the motherland, and he was close to doing it.

The precedent had been set. In order to subjugate the colonies, England would have to disarm them. The colonies had a long standing custom for militia, and the militia was armed. The most expedient method of disarmament was to take their ammunition. Gunpowder was typically stored in a specially built powder house for safety and security and drawn for the militia when needed.

It was a simple matter to march in and take the colonists powder supply, and they had indeed done it before. In September of 1774, they had marched swiftly into Cambridge and carted off 250 half barrels of powder, hauling them back triumphantly to Boston.

This had so alarmed the colonist that with 24 hours there were nearly 30,000 men on the march to Boston, hearing rumors that the Brits intended to burn and shell the town. The incident ended without bloodshed, but General gage, penned up in Boston with barely 3,000 troops had been so frightened that he asked the crown for an additional 20,000 men.

Paul Revere swore that this would never happen again, that they would not be taken by surprise, and instituted the Committee of Observation, an elaborate spy network throughout the colony. Then they began to smuggle arms and powder and hide them in various remote locations. They had even stolen four brass cannon right out from under Gage’s nose, a theft not taken lightly by General Gage.

Then in December, Paul Revere had ridden more than 20 hours straight, through a blinding blizzard, to warn the colonist in Portsmouth, New Hampshire that a British patrol was on the way by ship to confiscate their powder and ball. The Redcoats were met by a band of militia who raised the drawbridge across the river and simply taunted them. After a short skirmish, the Brits marched back to their ships empty handed this time. But the failure stung the pride of the British, and they yearned for revenge.

Now the stage was set for another such raid. This time to Concord where they would have the added honor of capturing not only the provincial government, which had been meeting there, illegally, but also perhaps the traitorous Sam Adams and John Hancock, who were destined, they thought, to swing from the gallows in England. There was also rumored to be quite a stockpile of war materiel stored there.

The Colonist had been forming an army, but as yet, it was only an “Army of Observation”, which was mostly sent out to shadow the British Regulars when they made forays into the countryside. This “Army” consisted of three groups: The main body was the Militia, mostly men from 16 to over 60 and able to fight. The second body was formed by taking 25% of the young men best suited from the militia to serve as “minute men”, who would drop what they were doing and report with musket and ammunition on a minute notice. Those not falling into either category made up the Alarm List, and were tasked with spreading the alarm and supporting the militia.

General Gage knew he had to operate in total secrecy, for the colonist had an early warning system in place, with spies in Boston and alarm companies throughout the countryside. He told no one of his plans to raid Concord, save his trusted General Smith, and of course, his American born wife. This was to be his undoing.

Preparations began early on 18 April as mounted officers and men began to fan out about the countryside to gather intelligence and later to pick up anyone suspected of trying to warn the colonists of the impending raid.

The townspeople at many places noticed something was afoot. First of all, the cavalry was dressed in uniform, so this wasn’t just a Sunday ride in the country. Then there was the fact that high-ranking officers were present and they were not needed for a typical ride either. Also, the soldiers were armed, and this was typically forbidden. Sealing the deal was the fact that they remained in place or even rode away from Boston, even as darkness fell, when normally they would want to be in Boston well before dark to prevent their being attacked by radicals.

In Boston, about 2200 the soldiers were rousted from their bunks and began to assemble quietly in small parties on the green, down by the water, where long boats had been placed to row them across the Back Bay. By 2300, they were standing shoulder to shoulder in the shallow flatboats and heading into the night, not knowing what their mission was.

The Committee of Observation was very active all this time too. They noticed that a few days before, the British war ships anchored in the harbor had lowered their flat boats to the water and had tied them all together as if ready to be deployed.

This brought up and interesting problem for the Colonists. Would the army march out of Boston by the narrow strip of land known as Boston Neck, then north and west? Or would they simply row across the Back Bay and start their march five miles closer?   They would need a way to get the word out as soon as the answer was known.

Dr. Joseph Warren, a prominent physician, was still in Boston, (Even though he risked arrest at any moment), and was a leader of the Committee of Observation. He tried hard to divine the intent of the British that day, but could not. At last, he played his trump card.

He went on a very dangerous mission to what he called “an unimpeachable source” for the information. Most historians believe he was referring to General Gage’s wife, who was known to have American sympathies. Indeed, after the disaster on the 19th, she would be packed up and sent to England, never to see her native country again. The secret target would be Concord.

They decided to send a rider out the Boston Neck, another from Charlestown. Paul Revere, would row across from Boston to Charlestown and ride from there.

The signal for the riders was to be by lanterns in the steeple of the North Church. One lantern if the troops left Boston by land, the longer route, and two lanterns if they were to cross the Back Bay. At 2200, it was obvious it would be two lanterns, and shortly thereafter, the famous signal was given.

By this time, Paul Revere had made his way down to the north shore and was on his way across the harbor to Charlestown, under the very guns of the British Man O’ War, “Somerset”. Dressed in his long coat and riding gear, he had thought to leave his pistol at home, thinking it would not be prudent to be armed if he was captured .

As a full moon rose, they were concealed in the shadow of the skyline of Boston and made it undetected to the other side, where Revere was given a powerful and swift horse named Brown Beauty.

William Dawes had departed Boston about 30 minutes before Revere, but riding a slower horse and taking the longer route, arrived 30 minutes after Revere in Lexington, and as such is awarded the usual reward for second place finishers in history: obscurity.

While Revere was riding toward Concord, the British Regulars were up to their knees in the cold mud of the tidal flats and swamps of Lechmere’s point, struggling in that mud which swallowed up their shoes. At one point they had to wade across an icy stream, in some places up to their waists, while holding cartridge boxes and muskets over their heads. The wool uniforms were wet, itchy, and no longer white.

They had assembled and waited for over an hour for the navy to deliver rations, but when they arrived, they were rotting and worm infested, and quickly discarded. All this combined to make the Regulars, normally in a surly mood, only that much more surly. After much delay, finally, around 0200, Major Pitcairn led his 300 troops, the advance guard for the rest of the army, 800 to 900 men strong, and the march to Concord began.

Revere made good time, but quickly ran into a British mounted patrol and having the better mount, reversed course and quickly lost them. He made a circuitous route to the north to avoid the sentries placed to capture such riders and was making good time

He arrived at the house of the Rev. Jonas Clarke, where Adams and Hancock slept, about midnight but the house was guarded by a detail placed there by the local tavern owner. Sgt. Munroe confronted Revere, telling him that he was making too much noise and he’d surely wake the sleeping parties inside. Revere replied “You’ll have enough noise before long! The Regulars are coming out!”

Upstairs, the windows were thrown open and figures appeared trying to find out what was going on. Finally, Sam Adams recognized Revere and called him inside, where he gave them the warning that the Regulars were out and that they should be on their way. Shortly afterward, William Dawes arrived and he and Revere set off for Concord.

Soon after leaving Lexington, they encountered Dr. Samuel Prescott. He had been courting his girl, Lydia Mulliken, in Lexington and had in fact proposed marriage to her that very night. He was also a staunch Whig and radical in a family of doctors and radicals. He was happy to ride along and help spread the alarm, since he knew the people and the countryside very well.

They soon ran into another mounted patrol and in the encounter Dawes was unhorsed, but escaped, and Prescott escaped on horseback, while Revere was captured. The British officer held a pistol to Revere’s head; threatening death if he did not get the answers he wanted. (Revere’s thought to leave his pistol behind likely saved his life for had he been armed, he would likely have been shot)

He told the British officer that 500 militia awaited them in Lexington, and to go there would surely mean death. The skeptical officer was swayed immediately when he heard the report of a volley of muskets going off in the town. (This was only the militia clearing their muskets before entering the tavern to wait for word of the arrival of the Brits)

Deciding he should warn his commanding officer, the officer relieved Revere of his horse and set out into the night. Revere began his walk to back to Lexington. When he arrived, he was startled to find that Sam Adams and John Hancock were still there. They hurried to escape, leaving in Hancock’s gilded carriage. After Revere saw them safely on their way, he returned to the Jonas Clark house to rest, when some time later, a man named John Lowell arrived and told Revere that Adams had left a large trunk upstairs in Buckman’s tavern.

Inside the trunk were papers of the proceedings of the Continental Congress, with names, dates, and places incriminating those men, all for the taking of the coming British. They had to get that trunk out and away from the British, who were nearly there. Both men struggled to lift the heavy trunk and made their way across the green at Lexington, even as the militia was assembling there to meet the Regulars.

Mean while, Dr. Prescott made good his escape and rode into Concord, sounding the alarm; the Regulars are out!

All along the way the Redcoats could hear the alarm bells ringing, muskets and alarm guns being fired far ahead. They knew there was no chance of surprise, but this did not bother them. Only a few months before, Major Pitcairn had boasted that with two companies of Grenadiers, he could march the length and breadth of the continent, completely subduing the colonies. General Gage had said that there was not a man among the colonies that was capable of taking command or directing the motions of an army. They said that the colonist were fit only to be beasts of burden, hauling the baggage of the army or clearing the woods and building fortifications.

Major Pitcairn led the column with 300 soldiers. He had heard the report of 500 militia at Lexington, and after hearing the volley of musketry, ordered his men to halt, load muskets, and fix bayonets. He expected a fight.

In the town, the militia waited. John Parker, a thin sickly man of 46, struggling in the latter stages of tuberculosis, led them. He would not live six more months. But Captain Parker was a soldier, experienced in fighting from his days with the army in the French and Indian wars. He commanded what was called a “training band” in Lexington. Neither militia, nor minutemen, they had remained independent. They ranged in age from pre-teens to men in their 60’s. Only the older men had any combat experience.

Parker had sent out two riders to find the Brits and return with word. One had come back and said there was nobody on the road, that it was all just a false alarm. This had caused them to stand down, discharge their muskets before entering the tavern, and that was the volley the Brits heard. But shortly thereafter, the second rider galloped up shouting that the Regulars were indeed on the road, and in fact were just a half mile outside of town, and coming at a fast pace!

Parker had his drummer; a boy named William Diamond sound the muster, and quickly had his men streaming back onto the green. It was about 0530, and the first rays of light were lighting up the countryside around them. They soon assembled in two lines, some 70 men, all locals, many related, brothers, cousins, uncles, fathers and sons.

They were formed up in the green, facing the fork of the road, in an aggressive military manner so that there was no doubt to the oncoming troops that they were standing their ground and that to pass, the Brits would have to deal with them directly. Parker told them to stand their ground, and not to fire unless the regulars fired first,” But if they mean to have a war”, he said, “Let it begin here!”

Behind them, Lowell and Revere labored with the large trunk, heading for the woods west of town.

Soon, the Redcoats came into view, bayonets gleaming in the dawn’s light. It must have been a sight for those 70 or so men standing in the green while 300 of the Kings best troops bore down on them.

Major Pitcairn arrived at the head of the column, ordered them to divide and surround the militia on three sides, then rode up to the men and shouted “Disperse ye villains! Ye rebels!”. “Lay down your arms and disperse, ye damned rebels!”

At this, Parker ordered his men to disperse, and they had begun to do just that, when a shot was fired. To this day, we don’t know who fired that famous shot. Some say it was the accidental discharge of an officer’s pistol. Others say it was a musket from behind a hedge or stonewall. The result was carnage. The soldiers opened fire on the dispersing militia, shooting some in the back. Others, the older men who had experience, stood their ground and fired back. Two were shot down and bayoneted there on the green. The soldiers began to run amok, entering houses and shooting.

Paul Revere heard the first shots and also the balls whistling over his head. He and Lowell continued on their mission as the fight raged behind them.

Finally, Col. Smith rushed to the green, called for his drummer to beat “Down Arms”, and got his men back into formation and under control. On the green, eight Colonist lay mortally wounded, nine more wounded would survive. Of the eight pairs of fathers and sons on that green, five were separated by death that day.

Casualties on the British side consisted of one slightly wounded horse and one unlucky private Johnson, shot through the thigh. His luck would run out for good in a couple of months at a place called Bunker’s Hill where he would be mortally wounded.

Col. Smith told the men of their mission, and for the first time they understood the enormity of the task ahead. They tried to persuade him to return to Boston. They had lost the element of surprise, and they knew they had to run the gauntlet of militia for another five miles to Concord, and then the 18 miles back to Boston.

They had not the ammunition for a sustained fight, and they knew from experience how many men the colonists could muster at a moments notice. Smith prevailed and allowed them a victory volley, three “huzzahs!” and they began their march to Concord.

Had nothing else happened, the regulars would have most likely marched into Concord, done their duty, and returned to Boston in triumph. There would have been inquiries, hearings, and they would have hanged a few traitors. And that would have been the end of the “revolution”.

The first attempt to strike the match which lit the fuse of revolution had been made. There was a brilliant, momentary flash, a little smoke, and then the match extinguished.

But five miles away, in Concord, armed men were stirring and the match was being readied to strike again.

The Second Strike of the Match

It’s now 0645 in Lexington, and the sun is low, but bright. In Concord, Dr. Prescott has sounded the alarm, and more riders have gone out to spread the alarm from there. Prescott continued on to Acton, where he called on the local leader of the minutemen, Isaac Davis.

Davis was a 30-year-old farmer with a wife and two sick kids. They had a rash that was usually fatal back then and he and his wife were very distraught. But when he heard the alarm, he set out for Concord with his minutemen, telling his wife to “take good care of the children”.

In the town, a man came rushing from Lexington with the news of the fight on the green there. The men of Concord wanted to know if the British soldiers were firing ball or just powder, as a warning. The messenger couldn’t be sure, and this only added to the confusion at hand.

By now men from area militias were streaming in from all parts of the country to Concord, their forms silhouetted against the rising sun on the tops of the hills above the road to Concord. The British soldiers took note of this, one writing later that they moved along with a curious half walk, half run. And although the five mile march went without a hitch, nervousness prevailed among the green regulars.

In the town, the militia leaders took stock of the situation and debated what to do. The younger minute men wanted to intercept the Redcoats outside of town, and the older, experienced men of the militia wanted to stand their ground in Concord. The town elders wanted to wait for more men to arrive before committing.

On the British came, banners were flying and fifes and drums playing, soldiers marched in perfect cadence, making for quite an impressive display of military might. The younger minutemen marched out to intercept the yet unseen army, but just as quickly about faced when they saw them, just outside of the town. Witnesses said that it looked like a parade, with the militia just in front of the Regulars, marching back to town.

The militia continued through town and across the North Bridge until they concentrated on their muster field about a mile north town, a place called Punkatasset Hill. There they stood in formation, waiting, and for what they did not know. Other militia began to assemble with them, until their numbers grew to over 500.

In the town below, Col. Smith had his men separate to search for contraband. He divided his troops up, Grenadiers to search the town, one company to guard the South Bridge, seven more would go to the North Bridge where two would guard that bridge while the other five went to the Buttrick and Barret Farms in search of weapons.

In town, the troops began to break open houses and search for war materiel, but weren’t having much luck. They had found a few hundred musket balls, some flour, a couple of gun carriage wheels, and some trenchers, (which were what we’d call a wooded plate) They also cut down the town’s “Liberty Pole” and piled it with the contraband in the common and began to burn it.

Major Pitcairn had reason to suspect that the owner of the inn and town jailer had hidden a pair of cannon somewhere in the area and meant to find them. He kicked in the door of the inn and when the man refused to speak, placed a pistol to his head and demanded the whereabouts of the guns. The man then led them to the guns, two 24-pound guns that were too large to hide, and the soldiers knocked the trunions off the pieces, rendering them useless.

Col. Smith had, aside from the cannon, come up dry for all his efforts. Even out at the Barrett Farm the soldiers found nothing. This was because the day and night prior, the locals had plowed fields and placed the muskets into the furrows, and covered them over. The unsuspecting Brits had marched past the freshly plowed fields never knowing what a valuable crop they held.

Up on Punkatasset Hill, the militia watched all this and waited. When they saw the smoke rising from the town, they thought the Brits had put it to the torch. At last one man asked, “Will we stand here while they burn our homes?” Col. Barrett at last decided to march to the bridge, and placed the Acton Minute Men in front because they were the best equipped, having both cartridge boxes and bayonets. When asked if his unit would lead the march, Isaac Davis replied “I have not a man who is afraid to go”.

Down below, in front of the bridge, the British soldiers watched as the militia, outnumbering them four to one, began to move down the hill toward them with much military precision.

The green regulars were ordered back across the bridge, where they formed up again, using a formation meant for street fighting. This was not a much-practiced formation, and caused a lot of confusion among the men. The formation was very narrow and deep, intended for clearing mobs on narrow streets. They would have the front ranks fire, then peel off to the rear to reload while the next three ranks would fire. This continued, allowing a constant fire in a narrow area, but it was not suited for open warfare and made a very nice target..

Col. Buttrick told his men the same thing Captain Parker had only a couple of hours earlier in Lexington: They should not fire unless fired upon, but should stand their ground. They marched down the hill in line of battle, and when they got close some of the Redcoats began to fire without orders, then a ragged volley was fired. Isaac Davis went down immediately, a ball piercing his heart.

For once, the order of the Americans was better than that of the British and they held their formation gaining ground all the while until finally arriving only about 50 yards in front of the bridge.

Major Buttrick shouted, “Fire men! For Gods sake, fire as fast as you can!” and with the first volley, half the British officers went down. Shortly, the line broke in confusion and the Redcoats ran back down the road toward Concord, the wounded streaming slowly back as they could manage.

This left the Americans a bit stunned and wondering what to do next. Buttrick divided his men, placing half on the Concord side of the bridge, behind a stonewall, while the rest remained on the other side. Col. Smith was shocked to see his men running back into town pell-mell and upon advancing and seeing the large number of militia in strong positions, withdrew his men to town.

A young man named Ammi White who was mentally unfit for duty with the militia walked down to the wounded British soldiers, and taking his hatchet, split a soldier’s skull, leaving him to die there, partly scalped with his brains exposed.

The raiding party came back from the Barrett Farm at the sound of the fight and was terrified at what they found. Between them and the rest of the army was a large band of militia controlling the only way home: The North Bridge. They rapidly ran across the bridge, and were allowed to pass unharmed by the militia, who were still operating under the long-standing requirement of having to be fired on first before returning fire.

Many of the Redcoats took notice of their dead and wounded comrades lying on the field, most especially, the man brained by Ammi White. They were angry at the atrocity and rumors ran as fast as they did, and soon the story went that 4 men had been butchered, eyes gouged out, noses and ears cut off. This was to change to tone of the fight and cause many atrocities that day and scandal as far away as England.

Still the various militias were streaming into the area by the thousands, many looking down at the British troops from the hills above the town.

In town, Col. Smith was reforming and resting his troops and forming them up for the long march ahead. Those officers who were wounded were placed in “borrowed” carriages, while the walking wounded were to go behind them. Then the army would proceed.

The entire operation in Concord had lasted barely four hours, and finally, around noon, the British began their return to Boston under the watchful eye of the Americans who were spoiling for revenge. At first, the militia simply shadowed them, watching and waiting for an opportunity. Many were swept up along the way by the flankers Col. Smith had placed in advance to keep the militia beyond musket range.

Again, the match to light the fuse of revolution had been struck. Again, there was a bright flash, a little smoke, and nothing as the match extinguished.

Had nothing else occurred that day, there would have been inquiries, hearing, hangings and promotions, and the revolution would likely have died then and there.

But about a mile outside of Concord, at a place called Meriam’s Corner, American militia was pouring in, and the match was again readied to strike.


The Third Strike of the Match

It is now shortly after mid day, and the British have begun retracing their steps out of Concord and back to Boston while the Americans watched from hilltops and behind stone walls along the way.

British soldiers were spoiling for revenge for their fellow soldiers allegedly butchered at the North Bridge. The Americans sought revenge for the “massacre” at the green in Lexington. Many had walked all night, and they didn’t do so just to observe. The stage was set for a fight, and a long one at that.

Hundreds of men lined the hilltops above the road back to Boston, muskets loaded, ready for a fight. Col. Smith and his men saw them there and knew they faced an 18-mile long gauntlet with sparse ammunition. He sent out flankers to keep the Americans back out of musket range from the main body. They had already cleared one hilltop and a few farm fields and things were going well for about a mile. But then they came to Meriam’s Corner.

Meriam’s corner:

About a mile east of Concord, the road turned slightly and crossed a stream by narrow bridge. The flankers were forced to come down from the hills and walk along the stream to the bridge, which allowed the Americans to get within musket range. By now they outnumbered the Redcoats by over 1000 men.

The British Rear guard took notice of all this, and when pressed closely and seeing a few Militiamen raising their rifles towards them, they turned to fire a volley and immediately the militia opened fire. Balls rained down on the Redcoats with fury.

The third attempted strike of the revolutionary match was made, and this time it blazed forth and burned brightly, lighting the fuse on a war of independence that would last eight long years and cost thousands of lives.

It was near 1300 now, and the running fight to Boston had begun.

From here on the British would be forced to fight their way out of one American ambush after another, often in deadly crossfire. In the smoke and confusion, Col. Smith had no way of knowing that the Americans had grown in number to the thousands. As the Brits marched along they continued to encounter fresh men with full cartridge boxes while they could find no rest or shelter or even water, and each round wasted was precious.

At Brook’s hills and The Bloody Angle the Brits took more casualties but on they marched.

Parker’s Revenge:

It’s now about 1345. The men of Lexington had not retired after their fight, but had regrouped and marched toward Concord also. Now they stood behind a stone wall, some in the bloody bandages they had worn since daylight, waiting for the British and revenge for their fallen comrades. Captain Parker had his men wait until they were well within range then gave the order to fire.

They rose and gave a volley two times before the stunned British could effectively react, and the road was littered with dead and dying Redcoats. Before the flankers swept them from the field, Captain Parker and the men of Lexington had their revenge.

Col. Smith was shot through the thigh as he rode on his horse and Major Pitcairn was unhorsed but unharmed. (His luck would run out in a couple of months at a place called Bunker’s Hill, shot in the head by a “negro militiaman” as he entered the fortifications there, just minutes before the battle was over)

The Brits were running low on ammunition and water. Some of the fiercest fighting occurred around wells, streams and even puddles of water. The road was filled with dead and wounded men and horses and the accouterments of war; knapsacks, cartridge boxes, muskets, hats, jackets, bayonets, and even the items looted from the homes of Concord.

It was beginning to look like the end for the British and the men discarded equipment and ran toward Boston. The officers could not maintain order, even at the point of their swords. They hadn’t even made the five miles back to Lexington, and surrender seemed likely, and ironically, most likely on the green in Lexington where they had attacked less than ten hours earlier.

General Percy:

Then, as they stumbled into Lexington it was as if a miracle had happened. Before them was the relief column led by General Hugh Earl Percy arranged in line of battle and with two cannon trained on the advancing Rebels.

Percy could not believe his eyes. A formerly proud British army stumbled bleeding and beaten through his ranks, exhausted and spent. Percy placed his cannon, one on each side of the road, on hills overlooking the approach to town. The Colonials had never faced big guns before and were halted immediately.

But Percy was still in a precarious position. He had left Boston about 0900 with his column and two guns with only the ammunition stored in the boxes on the carriage and no reserve. This meant he would have to keep up enough fire to keep the Rebels at bay, yet ration it for the long trek back to Boston. His men had carried the same 36 rounds of musket ammunition that Smith’s troops had brought and so his men were short of ammunition also.

Percy took stock of his situation. He realized that he was not facing bumpkins in small numbers fighting from behind trees, but very large and well regulated militia which was acting in concert and fighting in coordination with other units.

He burned three houses in Lexington to prevent their being used for sniping by riflemen of the militia. One of these houses being that of Lydia Mulliken, the new fiancé of Samuel Prescott.

What he didn’t know was that there was a man arriving on the field about that time to command the colonist who hadn’t spent a day in combat, but had devised a means of fighting a moving column of Regulars.

William Heath:

Brig. General William Heath was a self-described “corpulent, balding gentleman farmer” who had a passion for military tactics. He saw the coming conflict as inevitable for years before and had studied on his own at Henry Knox’s book store in Boston and even engaged British Officers in conversations on tactics and had come up with a plan to fight under just such a situation as now presented itself.

He called it the “Circle of Fire” and it entailed a constant streaming of fresh men and supplies ahead of a moving column to keep them under constant unrelenting fire from all sides. It was a difficult tactic to pull off; keeping militia units coordinated and constantly in motion with ammunition, food, water, and supplies arriving at the right places at the right time, especially with inexperienced troops, but it would prove very successful this day.

Percy’s cannon had held the Colonist off long enough to give Col. Smith’s troops a much needed rest before they resumed the 13 mile trek back to Boston.

It is now 1515 and the first units of British soldiers move out for Boston, now reinforced and about 1600 strong under the capable General Percy and sporting two very dangerous cannon bringing up the rear. Flankers were put out to sweep the Rebels from the flanks and keep them out of musket range. Still, the Circle of Fire took its toll and all along the road the Regulars fell with regularity, (no pun intended).

By 1630 the Brits had reached Menotomy, (Present day Arlington), and the fighting became less open, and more house-to-house. The fighting reached a murderous pitch, with the Regulars seething to get at the rebels who would not stand and fight and also to revenge their fallen comrades who had been savagely butchered at the North Bridge. The militia wanted revenge for the killings at Lexington and Concord and the burning and looting of those towns.

When the Regulars received fire from a house, they rushed the house, killing all those within, sometimes even non-combatants. The fighting in Menotomy was terrible, as told by the numbers: 40 Redcoats dead, and over 80 wounded.

Heath’s Circle of Fire ensured that fresh men with full cartridge boxes kept a constant fire on the Brits who had no chance of re-supply and were nearly out of ammunition.

Percy’s intended route took him through the town of Cambridge, where there stood a bridge across the Charles River, their last obstacle before Boston Neck. Past that bridge was a very large contingent of militia with full cartridge boxes, freshly fed, watered, and spoiling for a fight.

It is now about 1730.

Advanced units of the Regulars found that the militia had pulled up the planks of the bridge, and neatly stacked them on the near side. They replaced the planks. The militia discovered this and pulled up the planks again, this time throwing them into the river.

Percy was now caught between the anvil of the bridge and fresh militia and the hammer of Heaths moving Circle of Fire. He had to do something fast.

Percy turned north just out of Cambridge and headed for Charlestown breaking through the Circle of Fire by shear desperation. This caused a momentary shift in the balance of power there, as the Circle of Fire had to be adjusted for the unforeseen turn. In the confusion, Percy’s column broke through and made for the Charlestown Neck, a narrow strip of land connecting that near island to the mainland.

The Americans had one last chance. To the north was militia under the command of Timothy Pickering, and if he moved out as ordered, they could stop the British escape and the entire retreating column would be captured.

Unfortunately, Pickering chose not to move out, against the protests of his own men, and the British escaped to Charlestown under the protection of the guns of the war ship “Somerset”. General Gages battered troops at last collapsed in exhaustion on a knoll known as Bunker’s Hill. General Percy noted the time as just past 1900.

The raw numbers showed that Gage’s 1800 men had suffered 73 killed, 174 wounded and 26 missing, nearly a ten percent rate. About 3500 militia were actually engaged and suffered 49 dead, 39 wounded, and 4 missing for a rate of less than 2%.

But what the statistics didn’t show was that one of the world’s best fighting units had been beaten and decimated by a bunch of determined New England farmers. It was this determination that would see them through the long years ahead of war and want.

General Percy, who had boasted that he could subdue the entire continent with 2 companies of Grenadiers, later wrote: “Whoever looks upon them as an irregular mob will find himself very much mistaken. They have men among them who know very well what they are about”.

Training Opportunity!

How To Develop A Safe And Effective Armed Security Team For Your School

Tue, Mar 6, 2018 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM EST

Distributed Security, Inc. offers armed security training programs for teachers, administrators, and staff. They have helped develop state legislation allowing teachers and administrators to carry weapons in class. Bill Tallen, Executive Vice President of DSI said this about the webinar:
“There is lot of confusion and misinformation surrounding the issue of armed staff in our schools.  The purpose of this webinar is to give school officials, teachers, and staff a clear and concise road map to set up a their owned armed security team.“
Bill Rogers (former State Representative and Chairman – House Appropriations Subcommittee On School Aid and House Appropriations Subcommittee On Education) will be speaking at the webinar and had this to add: “Safe and secure schools are paramount to Michigan’s future. I have teamed up with the DSI organization because of their innovative approach to offering distributed security solutions not only to schools, but also businesses, churches and communities.”
Details for the webinar are:
DATE: Tuesday, March 6, 2018  TIME: 5:30 – 6:30 PM EDT
COST: This is a FREE webinar. This 1-hour webinar will discuss:
1. Training requirements for concealed carry in schools.
2. Smart planning for school security: site surveys and vulnerability analysis.
3. Selecting and managing armed school staff.
4. Michigan law relative to school defense.
Here’s the link.  Sign up now!

Re-Post – Essential Skills: Land Navigation – Get the Best Map You Can Find

topographic map

Originally posted on 12 Dec 2014.


Today, NPT members learning or practicing land navigation have so much more going for them in the way of map accuracy than those of us who learned some years back (like in 1974 for some folks….).  Back then you took what they issued you, and dealt with it.  Declination off?  Oh, well, deal with it.  Contour lines deceptive?  Too bad, deal with it.  Symbols inaccurate?  Ditto previous answers.

No, the snow wasn’t deeper, and we didn’t have to walk the entire route up hill.  However, unless you really paid attention, you could find yourself disoriented very quickly, because of the quality of maps needed wasn’t always there.

Thankfully, today map quality is a quantum leap better than they used to be.  Map studies done before taking to a route or a land nav course can save the navigator a lot of time because what he or she sees on the map will more likely reflect what is being traversed.  Especially if one gets themselves one of the more expensive, up to date satellite maps with MGRS grid and contour lines superimposed on it.  The declination is always the latest available, symbols match what you see on the ground, and the terrain features and contour lines are accurate.

Sure, it costs much more than the basic topographic maps on hand, which are fine for practice, but if you’re serious about your AO, you might consider saving your pennies for an up to date satellite map in 1:25,000 scale.  You can also choose the size of map you wish, which equates to how much territory is covered.  Again, you can get whatever you want to pay for.

My personal, ‘go to’ place for maps is,  I’m sure there are other places out there just as good, but I’ve been very satisfied with mytopo’s offerings, so I stick with them.  So much so that when I teach land nav, the maps I get for the class are from there.  I don’t recommend the satellite version for a beginning class, because the student will be plotting coordinates and azimuths on it, and that’s a lot of cash for practice.  But, to each his own.  You have the scratch?  Go for it.  Otherwise, for a beginner or even an intermediate skilled land navigator, the topographic maps with or without relief shading will do you fine.  Just make sure you get the MGRS lines (option available).

An aside, if you’re watching videos from you tube, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you don’t need to attend a good course or join an orienteering club to learn land nav well.  All the on-line courses or blog posts in the world can only do one thing:  Familiarize you with the concepts, principles, and techniques.  You need time under an experienced instructor to make sure you really gain the skill.  I highly recommend reading/learning everything you can before attending a course.  Doing so makes the class much more enjoyable for the participant, and learning kicks into high gear.

Re-Post: Essential Skills: Field Craft 1 – Land Navigation

Originally posted on 25 March 2016

Original definition, here; our modification immediately below.

Fieldcraft is a set of tactical skills and methods each NPT member requires to operate stealthily, which may be applied in various ways in hours of darkness or inclement weather throughout the year.

For NPT members, fieldcraft skills include camouflage, land navigation, knowing and being able to apply the difference between concealment from view and cover from small arms’ fire when choosing fighting positions, using the terrain and its features to mask NPT movement, obstacle crossing, selecting good firing positions, patrol base positions, effective observation, detecting enemy-fire direction and range, survival, evasion, and escape techniques.  Expertise in fieldcraft is only possible by spending the time, effort, and attention to detail in long hours of training and practice on a consistent basis.

That said the first skill in the fieldcraft family we’re going to address is Land Navigation.  It’s a popular subject right now on various blogs, such as ‘Weapons Man’ (former SF soldier – you might consider making his site a daily stop), here, and for good reason:  Your expertise as a navigator will have a direct and relational impact on your life expectancy in a SHTF/WROL situation.  Further, learning to use a map and compass in and of itself will not suffice:  you will need to learn how to travel by terrain association.  This skill involves map study and interpretation, and the ability to use the features of the geography you’re in to provide your navigational guide.  In essence, your map and compass will become your ‘go to’ reference when you need to verify your location.  You’ll have to know the map and compass inside and out before you can effectively terrain associate.  Understanding declination adjustments, grid, magnetic, and back azimuth conversions, plotting 8 digit grid coordinates, intersection, and resection in addition to understanding the symbolism used on a map to illustrate various terrain features that will impact your travel are all essential before learning terrain association.

Also understand that learning land navigation is not a daunting task that will take months or years to get the basics.  You can learn general land navigation in a two day course (like those we and others offer) over a weekend.  The rest of the time is on you – how much you may or may not devote to practice, especially if you’re just starting out on your path to learn this vital skill.  Sure, you can go to YouTube and find hundreds of videos on ‘how to’ do land navigation.  They’re really great ‘ice breakers’ and overviews.  3 of them are embedded below.  The bad news is that, with very, very few exceptions, you’re not going to be able to learn the skill without the guidance of an instructor.  So, get a cup of coffee, and watch the below 10 to 12 minute videos for a superb introduction to land navigation, even if you’re familiar with the subject, these are great refreshers and will most likely bring to mind things you may have forgotten over time.




Then, once you’ve done that, if you don’t own one, choose a good compass.   If you choose the USGI Lensatic, great!  Get the tritium model; you won’t be sorry.  Or, if you don’t want to spend nearly $100, get either the Brunton TruArc 20, SUNNTO MC-2 or MC-3.  All are superb land nav compasses and won’t break the bank.  The Brunton is a bit less expensive than the SUUNTO, and comes with a few advantages you can read about here.  In our classes, we teach all three.  To be truthful, the USGI Lensatic is the most accurate (1 degree or less) best, but it requires the most expertise and practice to use effectively when attempting precision.  The other two are geared more to orienteering, but fit the NPT navigating requirement very, very well.  The advantages over the USGI Lensatic is the built in declination adjustment which makes them faster to use for map work because the user isn’t required to convert magnetic azimuths to grid and vice versa.  All azimuths are measure on the map as magnetic (again, this is ONLY because of the built in declination adjustment capability – if you don’t adjust the declination to what is on the map, you MUST do the conversion!)  We haven’t found any better when it comes to function and price points.  Your mileage may vary.

RE-REPOST: Essential Skills: Impact of Magnetic Declination on Accuracy

land nav map 1

Thought I’d put this back up as there was a comment at WRSA on the impact of not having a correct declination adjustment.

Originally posted 12 Mar 2016


Comments on the last post on Magnetic Declination disagree with, or at least minimized the importance of magnetic declination with the general feeling that, ” …’15 degrees’ isn’t that much of an error” or, “15 degrees will only result in a little bit of extra walking..,” or “I can get where I’m going…”

Now, I’m sure that guys and gals out there who’ve been hunting in one area or another (no matter how large) all their lives and have well used topographical 7.5 minute maps can get from point A to point B and so on with a cursory look at their map and shooting a general bearing with their compass.  The primary tool they use is familiarity with the AO (a good thing) and terrain association with the compass used as a back up.  Ergo, they may not think they need to worry about declination.  And, in that particular scenario, those making claims like that are most likely  100% correct.

USMC Land Nav

For discussion’s sake, let’s get into a SHTF scenario or some other situation where the person is using a new map and is unfamiliar with the territory.  Say running a security patrol with your NPT with the task of linking up with a neighboring NPT at a particular location at a particular time.  If the NPT’s in the scenario don’t concern themselves with accurate grid azimuth conversion to magnetic conversion, lives could be at stake, and the link up will most likely not occur.

Experienced navigators backed up by the facts regarding magnetic compasses and the magnetic ‘North Pole’ will quickly tell you that if you don’t account for the local declination, you stand a great chance of not reaching your objective (which may be getting back to your truck or home or reaching and injured person or whatever you can think of) or becoming lost yourself.

US Magnetic Declination Map

US Magnetic Declination Map

If you’re looking on your map and  figure you need to take a 78 degree azimuth, and set your compass accordingly, and you haven’t either adjusted the compass for the local declination (difference between Magnetic North and True North, either East or West), you have a proportionate error when you shoot your azimuth (bearing)  to start your navigation.  Here’s the error factor of being off by various degrees computed to distance from the target:

1 degree of error at 1,000 meters from start point = 17.5 meters off target (or 19 yards)

5 degrees of error at 1,000 meters from start point = 87.5 meters off target (95 yards)

8 degrees of error at 1,000 meters (my AO) start point = 140 meters off target (153 yards)

10 degrees of error at 1,000 meters start point = 175 meters off target (191 yards)

16 degrees of error at 1,000 meters start point = 280 meters off target (306 yards)

21 degrees of error at 1,000 meters start point = 367.5 meters off target (401 yards)

That’s for a 1 click leg (1,093 yards).  Now, let’s multiply that to, say, a 7 click straight line walk.   Drum roll:  2,572.5 meters off target at the end of that little 7 click jaunt from the start point, not taking into account any additional anomalies you may encounter while trying to walk that perfectly straight 7 kilometer line you drew on your map.

Now, for discussion’s sake, let’s make our walk shorter.  We’ll use the maximum variation in the US – 21 degrees East (Washington State) for a short, 3 click walk.  Drum roll:  1,102.5 meters/1,205 yards (even backing it down to the declination in my AO, 8 degrees, it comes out to 420 meters/459 yards – almost half a click – which is a LOT in a rural/wilderness environment).  Over a click off your target from the get go; drift, deviation, and pace count error haven’t been factored in yet.

That’s where you are; imagine where you will be when you think you’re at the end of your first leg.  The mind boggles.  For fun in this mental exercise, add a little thing called, “night” to the equation.  Now, for added flavor, consider when the map isn’t matching up to the terrain and you’re positive that your on the right azimuth, the disorientation (something that occurs with little notice) that can add to all the things you’re dealing with, and oh yes, human error in our calculations.

Good luck.

So, if you’re serious about learning or improving your land navigation skills, find a good course and go to it.  Or join a local orienteering club.  If you want to attend ours, here’s the link.  It’s going to be in April 2015.  One day will be spent on the academics; one day will be spent in the field getting some, “dirt time,” rain or shine.

declination map