Five Letters Re: Four Great Preparedness Myths

I enjoyed the letter by Dan B. on preparedness myths. I couldn’t agree more with his opinions and in particular with Myth #1 “You can defend yourself against the horde” I have no combat experience but I am a student of Sun Tzu’s military treatise “The Art of War” The principals and logic therein demonstrate that a wise prepper will be as prepared as possible to defend oneself but will use all means available of avoiding the direct conflict with so vast a number of enemies (other than surrender of course) One would employ deception, concealment, positioning etc.

I would like to add another common myth “The golden horde will be your biggest problem.” This assumes that the government will quickly and completely collapse. This is not likely. Sure all services and infrastructure will collapse but the government will retain it’s military power and will commandeer resources people and anything else it needs to retain power. The golden horde will be a huge problem but government pillaging, martial law, disarming of citizens and so on will be as big if not a bigger problem. History bears out the fact the governments do not die easily which leads me to agree whole heartedly with Dan’s Myth #4. TEOTWAWKI will not be fun. It will be horrendous. – Mark S.


I couldn’t agree with Dan B. more. He hit the nail on the head and identified the weak spot in most people’s preparations. I have been in hundreds of training firefights using MILES gear and two real firefights. Real firefights are characterized by an eerie feeling of being alone. Everyone takes cover and essentially becomes invisible. Nobody is shooting because that gives away your position. It’s like a lethal game of hide-and-seek. Targets are fleeting and rare.

Real fire fights rarely last more than a couple of magazines because you don’t have any targets to engage. In the military, If you ever actually see an enemy and give away your position by firing at him, your chances of surviving the next few minutes are low. If you engage an enemy, his buddies will know your position and kill you. The odds of a single survivor holding off hoards of hungry people are effectively zero.

The basic load for soldiers carrying M16 rifle or M4 carbine is seven magazines or 210 rounds. This is as much ammunition as most people can carry and still maneuver. The only way you are going to use up that much ammo in a single engagement is if you and your enemy are at extreme range and can’t see each other. This isn’t combat, it’s a demonstration or at best [fire] suppression. At effective combat range, somebody is going to die within seconds, not minutes. If your position is known, you will be dead very soon. If you are defending your house from inside it, your position is known from the start.

Bunkering up can give you some advantage since you can fire from behind cover. But a lot of preppers seem to overestimate the effectiveness of fixed defenses. If you consider your defenses a “last ditch defense” that’s exactly what they will become. In the Army, we call this “Custering.” or “Die in place” (DIP). Fortifications will only buy you time. Your enemy will take more casualties until they determine where your defenses are and your fields of fire. But make no mistake, they probably won’t just give up and go away. They will besiege you and form a plan. Given time to plan, any fixed defense can be breached. They will use suppression fire or smoke to mask movement. They may use explosives or tear gas. They may have an armored vehicle or heavy weapons. The point is, once you are located, you are doomed unless you bug out and abandon your fortress. If you are under siege, you can’t bug out. Rule number one for snipers is: ” Always have an egress route”.

If you have a good reliable weapon and two basic loads (just in case you survive a firefight or two) you are probably overstocked on ammo. If you ever allow yourself to be put in a position where you actually have to use that weapon, you probably won’t survive it. – JIR


Dear Mr. Rawles,
Thank you very much for your great site.

Dan B. is right- defending yourself against the hordes is a fool’ s errand. “This is why experienced preppers either live in the middle of nowhere or conceal that they are preppers.” Might I suggest a third option, that there may still be time to work towards preventing the starving hordes, and that this effort will directly improve one’s family’s survival odds? I am referring to large scale survival planning (formerly known as civil defense efforts), say on the state and county wide level. Basically, having communities providing insurance for failures in the just-in-time inventory delivery of essentials in case of natural or man-made disasters.

For example, counties should have distributed reserves (with redundant
layers of civil authority to distribute in case of emergency):
1) Food supply for every resident in county
2) Temporary foldable shelters
3) Water purification equipment and fuel store to run
4) Fuel stores for trucks to distribute water/food/shelter
5) EMP-hardened comm equipment
6) Earth moving equipment and fuel store
7) Field hospital supplies

This reserve system could have been put in place for less than the cost of the “stimulus”. If there are hordes, they would head to the protected reserve sites and be provided with essentials in an orderly fashion.

What is lacking is political leadership which understands the fragile systems we live in, and the political will to spend money on something which hopefully will never be needed. Perhaps some readers of SurvivalBlog have the political talents which could be put to use in the public arena and increase everyone’s chances of survival? Sincerely Yours, – N.F.

Hi Jim,
Regarding “Four Great Preparedness Myths, by Dan B.” I feel I must offer some counter thoughts to Dan’s opinions: As a first point Dan makes the case that you can’t defend yourself forever against a numerically superior and determined horde. This is absolutely true. A superior force, completely determined, can and will eventually overwhelm any defense you can put up in front of them. The point that I believe Dan is not considering is that this force that you may have to contend with, probably won’t be quite as determined as Dan believes. The countryside will be littered with “soft targets”. People and places with significant resources that will offer very little in the way of resistance to the hungry hordes. After the first two or three people that are scaling your wall get shot, the hordes are very likely to abandon the “assault” on your property and go looking for easier pickings. Remember, these are not going to be ideologically self sacrificing people, willing to die so that the crowd behind them may live. These are people trying to survive for themselves and as soon as they see that this seeming path to life is getting everybody that tries it, “dead”. They will leave you alone and head for easier targets.

I keep a “Club” on the steering wheel of my car. A determined thief could certainly defeat it. I could defeat it myself in about 30 seconds with an angle grinder and a cutting wheel. But nevertheless, it works amazingly well. Why? Because there are 40 other cars in the parking lot at least as desirable as mine, and on these, the thief doesn’t have to deal with the “Club”. Your defenses don’t have to be impenetrable, they can’t be. All they have to be is better than most.

Dan’s second point on the futility of stocking up on ammo for defense has some insight in it. Personally, I figure that before I have to fire 1,000 rounds in defense of my families life and property, somebody will have gotten me. It’s not because I’m a bad shot… On the contrary, I used to be on the 25th Infantry division rifle team. It’s just because of statistics. You are not likely to be able to shoot at hostile targets 1,000 times before one of them successfully shoots you back. But the ammo storage is for more than this. It’s a force multiplier. You can give it to your friends, (trusted friends) and have them helping to fight your battles with you. It’s a commodity. You can trade it to other people who need it to fight off the nere-do-wells in protection of their own families. It is also utilitarian as a means for securing food. I suspect that even the most ardent of the PETA crowd will have procured a rifle and be out looking for Bambi by this time. Dan: Ammo is good.

Now lets take a look at Dan’s Myth #3. Dan makes the point that you need to store copious quantities of food. This is great! It is absolutely best practice! If you can do it, go for it. It is a hugely worthwhile pursuit. But some people can’t. They don’t have the money or perhaps they don’t have the storage space. Perhaps they are in a place like I am, where outside temperatures in the Summer routinely reach 115 degrees and they may not have the money to air condition a large storage area for the food. It’s really difficult to rotate through any of this scale of quantity of food quickly enough to make this work at these temperatures. So do you really need enough food to hold out for years? Maybe… but maybe not too… I would like to address some statements Dan made that I respectfully don’t agree with. Dan stated, “Some people who’ve never been without food for a couple of days will point out correctly that the human body can go for weeks without food, but I suggest that you fast for just four days and then try to engage in any kind of real physical activity – it’s a nonstarter.” There are two reasons why your energy level will be low on a fast. The first is that your blood sugar will be going very low. Once your body figures out what is going on and stops producing large amounts of insulin, your blood sugar will normalize and you will feel better. The second reason is that your body will begin to purge accumulated toxins. These poisons go into your blood stream to be eliminated and they make you feel terrible and weak. Nobody likes the feeling of being poisoned. But this too will pass. It’s interesting that Dan picked out day of a fast because this is usually the day that people feel the worst. Come around day 8 to 10, you are likely to be feeling much better and stronger. I ran a 10K road race on day 8 of a water fast. I felt great. My thoughts are, “if you have enough food to hold out for a few months, you are likely going to be in much better shape than 99.5% of the people out there. At that point, they are going to have very little energy with which to cause you problems. Yes, I know about the organized, well fed biker gangs that have raped and pillaged their way to get to you–but then I go back to point #1.

As to Dan’s Myth #4: ” TEOTWAWKI will be fun!” No arguments there…at all… It will be miserable. It will face us with hardships we can’t even imagine or begin to truly understand at this point in time. Don’t look forward to it folks… It’s going to stink! Now that doesn’t mean we won’t find moments of joy and happiness in it. We will. We will still work, love, play, plan, dream and learn. I have a pile of board games like Monopoly, Risk, Stratego, Life, Clue and Cribbage that I occasionally play with my kids. I suspect I will be doing a lot more of that should SHTF time come rolling around. The apostle Paul, who spent a goodly amount of time chained to a wall in prison said, “I have learned, in whatever situation I am found, to be content.” I hope I can be like him. – R.J.M.

Hello Mr. Rawles,
While I agree completely with myths #3 and #4 in Dan B.’s recent letter (Four Great Preparedness Myths, by Dan B.), I would like to point out that myths #1 and #2 are really only myths if you were planning to hold off the horde all by yourself or with just your own family or small group. Other scenarios in which you could have a significant chance to hold your own against the horde would include neighborhoods, subdivisions, or other communities with sufficient like-minded, prepared folks that could form a reasonably well-organized and well-equipped army. Geographic advantages such as limited access, good lines of fire, and easily defended borders would also help. David Crawford’s online book “Lights Out” presents a fictional account of how such a scenario might play out, as does William R. Forstchen’s book “One Second After“. In all such scenarios, having sufficient weapons and ammunition for yourself and all your neighbors will be very important not only for the attacks themselves but also for the necessary training to prepare for them. Again, I believe that whether or not Dan B.’s first two points are myths or not really depends on your perspective, so you should think carefully before deciding that extra ammunition would have little value. That is, after you’ve got your water and food squared away! – Mike in Virginia