Prepping From the Ground Up, by N.V.

As a newcomer to the survivalist game (and by newcomer, I mean that I haven’t planned for anything bad to happen in the future except for my daughter reaching dating age), I thought it would be interesting to detail how I came to be reading this web site at this point in my life and the steps I have taken so far as a “virgin” survivalist.
I became interested in it recently due to several factors. The first is I have always found literature regarding end of the world scenarios to be fascinating.  I have read everything from On the Beach to The Last Ship to science fiction stories about the end of times such as the Daybreak series. Second, while I am not politically active, I am politically observant, and there are telling signs in the global economy and in politics within the United States that are quite troubling.  The third, and perhaps most important, is that I am a planner and worrier by nature (both at home, and as my job) and I found myself thinking of various scenarios that could happen.  I then realized that, while many bad things could happen, I (and my family) was really prepared for none of it. Starting out I didn’t even know how much I didn’t know.
The final straw was my impending 40th birthday and the slight mid-life crisis I was experiencing.  As I don’t like fast cars and still like my wife (which rules out a girlfriend), I was in search of a hobby to occupy my time, and seeing the intersection of the necessity of survival preparation and my interest in scenarios for TEOTWAWKI I decided it was the perfect match.
My first baby steps towards worst case scenario planning involved reading.  As a voracious reader, I found, and have ordered numerous books on the subject.  After having read the books, I then performed a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis.  As recently mentioned in SurvivalBlog, it is a method to analyze a certain subject (in this case my ability to survive given scenarios) to understand where you are at internally (strengths and weaknesses) and to predict what might happen externally (threats and opportunities).
My SWOT analysis for strengths was somewhat limited, as might be expected.  I listed overall health (I exercise 5 or 6 days / week, doing both cardio and weights), general intelligence (I have an engineering degree), available resources (while not rich I have a pretty good job and some disposable income) and childhood (I grew up on a farm, hunting, fishing and being outside).
My weakness list was obviously very long.  While I consider myself pretty healthy, I have an eye disease requiring the use of custom made hard contacts, as well as asthma.  I had no specific survival skills, no weapons, no tools, no medical training and no contingency plans.  One of my biggest weaknesses (as I saw it) was a general lack of useful knowledge on how to survive when the balloon goes up.  I mean, I can buy lots of stuff, but all that stuff can be taken away by somebody who is bigger / faster / better armed than me.  If I have a desirable skill then I would be “marketable” as they say in today’s world.
One of main opportunities I listed my older brother.  A “prepper” himself, he is a licensed gun dealer and owns a small business selling survivalist equipment.  Many of the items I would need he can obtain for wholesale pricing, and he is willing to sell them to me without any mark up.  Another opportunity that I saw was that my asthma was well under control, allowing me to take my medicine on alternate days and thus allowing me to create some safety stock.
For threats, I listed my proximity to a major city (I live about 40 miles from downtown Detroit), and my travel schedule (I am on the road for work about one week / month, and overseas twice / year).
I established a priority list as follows based on my current finances and knowledge.  I have decided first to concentrate on short term situations (natural disasters, terrorist attacks), and then once my short term needs are settled then begin planning for some longer term potentials (it didn’t make much sense to me to buy a grain mill when I didn’t have any food socked away in the first place to eat while waiting for my wheat to grow).  The list is as follows:

  • Survivalist resources (books)
  • Water purification
  • Medicine / contact lenses
  • Fire starting tools
  • First Aid kid
  • Food (short term/backpacking)
  • Miscellaneous tools (knives, compass, rain gear, etc)
  • Weapons / ammo
  • Food storage / preparation
  • Power generation / storage
  • Silver

To date I have purchased supplies for two different methods of water purification (tablets and filter straws) and three methods of starting fires.  Thanks to my wife’s obsession with buying bottled water (and then drinking diet coke instead) I have about 30 gallons of bottled water available as well (don’t ask, I don’t understand it either).  I have purchased supplies to start my own (somewhat limited) first aid kit. As mentioned I have begun alternating the days on which I take my medicine and have ordered extra contacts for an emergency reserve.  I have started bug out bags for me and my family, with various items (in addition to the ones above), and also including a hatchet, knife, cable saw, Gerber multi-tool, rope, energy bars, compass, fishing line, emergency blanket, and spare clothes) and stored 10 gallons of gasoline. (This is a trifling quantity, but the extra 150 miles could get me some places that other people might not make it to.
The next steps for me (in the next three months) are to begin the research and purchase of weapons and food storage / water filtration, and to begin categorizing the supplies and budget I will need for longer term situations.  Based on the research on have seen so far I am planning on purchasing a Remington 870, a Ruger 10/22 (the rimfire rifle from my youth), and some type of pistol (I have not yet determined the type yet.)  To help with my research I have scheduled firing sessions with my brother, where I will test an AR-15, a .308 battle rifle, and various pistols.   If I have additional money available I will later go big for some type of assault weapon.
I also want to do some research into the area I am in (while somewhat close to Detroit, I am surrounded by lakes and farmlands) to determine if I should plan on staying in my current house, or if I should head somewhere else if the stuff hits the fan.  I will also get a minimum of 30 days of food on hand for my family and me.
In the long term (six months to a year) my main goal is to become better prepared for long term survival situations.  This will require upgrading my house or finding a suitable bug out location, obtaining more “bean, bullets and band-aids” and developing a skill that would be essential in a post-apocalyptic scenario. I am smart enough to realize that I don’t everything that I will need to know or to own everything I will need to own to survive if something major happens.  Therefore the best chance for me and my family is to somehow be taken on by a more organized group by having a skill that would be desirable.  After some research the main thing I am considering is blacksmithing (every book I read mentions the need for these) and at 225 pounds I am probably big enough to do it.
My biggest open question is what to do with my pop up camper. While at first the idea of using a pop up camper in the event of an emergency seems ludicrous (and maybe it is), if I do have to bug out I will likely (hopefully) be driving, and if I am driving why would I not take a self contained, waterproof, heated tent, which allows me to carry more gear farther (including mounts for bicycles)?  It has the added advantage in that I already keep all of my essential supplies locked in the camper, so theoretically we can hook up and be on the road in a matter of minutes. 
Of course, a pop up camper limits where you can go (no off road routes would be possible), is totally indefensible, and supplies to live without it (tents, sleeping bags, etc) are still required but for my given scenario (short term emergencies) I am currently planning on utilizing it.
In all just thinking about things and taking baby-steps so far has made me feel a little better as far as my preparation and the next steps required.