Planning Your Preps Using the Rule of 3s, by Last NJ Conservative

I have been an avid reader and novice practitioner of prepping for some time now and, like many, I have been bewildered by the vast amount of information and details available on the subject matter. One area in particular that I have found utterly confusing has been tying it all together to develop a start up, or a beginning plan, to guide us in a prioritized and scaled approach. Using some basic doctrine that is already available on the Internet and modifying some common sense tenets into it, I believe a generic footprint follows to assist you in your efforts. It has assisted me greatly.

The United States Rescue & Special Operations Group ( has in their “Six Ways In & Twelve Ways Out” manual a “Rule of 3’s” strategy that states: “A man/woman can go 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food.” This is also their building block for their “Survival and Evasion” course. I have paraphrased and added to their published concept, as the basis for this article.

The Rules of 3’s directly contribute to many parts of our lives, but most importantly they also shape how we should prepare for the worst. Before doing so, while doing so, and after doing so (in itself another Rule of 3), we must have religion and have already cultivated your relationship with God. Once established and continually nurtured, your spiritual foundation will provide the bedrock footing which we can build upon for our prepping.

Rephrasing and adding a few concepts brings us to our Rules of Three’s for your consideration:

Without individual or group security, you can be killed in three seconds by not having means to adequately protect yourself or defend your home. Without air, your life will expire in three minutes from suffocation. Without clothing or shelter, your life can be lost to exposure in three hours. Without water, your body will die from dehydration in three days. Without food, your body will die from starvation in three weeks. Without family or friendly mutual support, you could easily die within three months. Without community or government, instability and lack of communal protection against larger bands of marauders could easily enslave or kill you within three years.

Weapons for Defense and Hunting

You simply can’t go at it alone indefinitely so let’s start from the top with individual or group security. Humans can be horrific to each other under the best of circumstances. Put them in a survival situation in which the end of the world as we knew it has occurred and they will be even more cut throat, no pun intended. Additionally, they will be looking to take the things you prepared with for this eventuality. Sooner or later, you will need force to repel an assault and protect your loved ones; never mind your stores.

You need an individual firearms battery to meet this threat. Four simple firearms should see you through most sticky situations, if employed properly and you utilize basic tactics. They also can provide the “working” end for hunting to continue to put meat on the table. A center fire rifle is needed first. It should be bolt action with a fixed power telescopic sight. It should have an integral magazine that can hold a hand full of rounds in its reservoir. It should have a sling. The rifle’s barrel length is typically 20 to 24 inches in length. The recommended caliber is .308 Winchester or .30-06 Springfield, whichever is more prevalent in your area. This rifle, in the hands of a practiced rifleman owner, should allow you to deliver first round strikes on a human torso at 1,000 yards. The rifle should be used to engage targets at long range before the threat gets close to you and also to harvest medium and large game.

A 12-gauge pump action shotgun is needed next. It should have an 18-inch barrel for anti-personnel use and a 28-inch barrel, both with bead sights, for medium and small game, which includes waterfowl and the like. It should have an integral tubular magazine underneath the barrel assembly. It should have a sling. The shorter 18-inch barrel should have a “weaponlight” forend or attachment. It should be chambered for 3-inch magnum length shells and it should also accept 2¾ inch standard shot shells. A good mix of buck shot, bird shot, slugs, and other specialty rounds should be available for use. Generally, #4 buck is a “crowd pleaser” in riot situations for multiple pellet dispersion, while OOO buck has the largest and fewest pellets for medium game hunting up close. OO buck is the standard police round although #1 buck is the exact middle of the buck shot spectrum and finds its general purpose tactical usage increasing. BB size is a bird shot that could double in a .177 caliber air or BB gun. Then there are door breaching rounds, flare rounds, gas rounds, flechette rounds, and others that are available for designated situations that may or may not aid in your use or applications. Without a doubt the 12-gauge shotgun is an awesome close in defensive weapon, which is also capable of providing excellent varied hunting abilities.

Third should be a handgun for those most inopportune times when you placed your rifle or shotgun down and you have to fight your way back to it. It should also be on you person (typically a belt holster, although shoulder and chest and ankle carry is increasingly popular) at most all times thus available for employment. A revolver chambered for .357 Remington Magnum also allows .38 Special rounds to be utilized. The .357 Magnum is still the most popular handgun man stopping round in its 125 grain semi-jacketed hollow point version. The revolver should have a 4- to 6-inch barrel length, although a 3- or 8-inch barrel will suffice. It should have at least a 5-round integral rotary magazine. XS sights work unbelievably well. A rail or attached weapon light works wonders, as does an integral or attached laser designator. A handful of speed loaders should be available as well as a secure and sturdy holster. A military style lanyard is recommended for rugged outdoor use.

The fourth and last firearm rounding out your individual survival battery is the “Gator or Croc Gun”– a rim fire rifle. It too should be bolt action, with a barrel length of 16 to 20 inches, a fixed power telescopic sight, a sling, and an integral tubular magazine. This usually lends itself toward our survival situation. It can be used on small game and vermin as well as target practice and training. Thousands of rounds of .22 Long Rifle caliber are inexpensive and also can provide a source of “ballistic wampum” for barter and trade. If you every watched the cable channel show “Swamp People” you can see how effective a .22 rim fire round when properly employed with accuracy can make one shot kills to alligators and crocodiles weighing in over 1,000 pounds and being well over 10 feet long.

The rifle should dispatch threats around 100 yards distant and more. The shotgun should dispatch threats around 100 yards and closer, with buckshot out to 50 yards and slugs 50 to 100 yards. The handgun could be used as backup or actually employed with magnum loads out to 100 yards with skilled operators. The rim fire rifle, believe it or not, could be employed out to 100 yards with an experienced operator who is very accurate. Never discount this diminutive round as totally ineffective; see the above note on its stopping power. The key here is training and planning. Obviously a gang of two dozen could not be engaged at very close range with all four of the individual survival battery fully loaded. That is where your tactical training and emergency planning comes in. Here is the classic example of safety in numbers. One person with a survival battery should not expect a winning outcome against two dozen, armed, gang members. However, two or three or four similarly equipped people with basic tactical knowledge would make quick order against the same marauders under the same circumstances. Your mileage may vary. Nonetheless, this recommendation is a start in the right direction and should provide security and ample game harvesting when properly employed.

Others take a more militaristic approach, and in many cases it most certainly warrants your serious consideration. A semi-automatic “main battle rifle” with detachable box magazines are the standard for many Patriots throughout the country. An auto-loading “defensive pistol” with detachable box magazines similarly adorn the holsters of the military, police, and serious shooters everywhere, and a semi-automatic “combat shotgun” also works well with trained and experienced shooters. When expecting or preparing for fights against the two-legged upright walking creatures, that is what my personal survival battery resembles as well. Know what you are planning for, and be guided accordingly. The same gang of armed marauders noted above could be engaged with this battery and have a much better outcome than if going at it alone. The same group of two or three or four like-equipped allies would dispatch the entire gang in short order, provided basic tactics are properly employed. Be guided accordingly.

Clean Air

The second thing I want to address is air. The air you breathe is actually a gas comprised of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 1% combinations of a half dozen or so other gases. The human body needs 19.5% oxygen to sustain life through respiration. Emergency services personnel trained in pre-hospital care can usually administer 100% oxygen to persons experiencing illness or injury. Some fellow first responders have been known to breathe pure (100%) oxygen after a long night out of bar hopping to recover faster. Fire fighters bring compressed air, not oxygen, in their self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) in fire situations due to the immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH) atmospheres encountered. Oxygen in and of itself does not burn, but it is one-quarter of the fire tetrahedron that must be present for anything to burn, (the other three being: heat, fuel, and the chain reaction between all the afore noted); this means that oxygen supports combustion and accelerates it in most eventualities. We cannot run around forever with an SCBA on, because it runs out quickly (very generally figured at one minute of breathing air for each 100 pounds per square inch of compressed air with typical bottles having 4,500 pounds of compressed air inside, although there are other variants) and perhaps only a handful, if any, of us have an air cascade or compressor system suitable for refilling. Both the military and police, as well as the chemical industry, utilize air purifying respirators (APR) of one variety or another. Sometimes referred to as field protective masks or gas masks, they all generally do the same thing– filter out contaminated particles before it reaches your respiratory tract. There are also multiple “do it yourself” videos and instructions on the Internet to make your own improvised APR with charcoal and other items. The APR generally can be used for hours as opposed to the SCBA, which is typically used up within minutes. Regardless of what or how you plan, some sort of “clean” air could be needed, so either bring it with you or purify it there.

Clothing and Shelter

Both clothing and shelter are huge factors in your survival considerations. Exposure to the elements, even just rain on a windy 40 degree day without protection, can lead to your expiration in a matter of minutes or hours. Falling through the ice into freezing water or getting caught in the middle of a wildland fire are examples on the shorter end of the spectrum which reduces your survivability to mere minutes. Planning is the key. Know your climate at home and your bug out location. Have appropriate clothes for the season, and be prepared to make a shelter to aid in your travels to and from your bug out location. Have repair equipment and tools at both home and your bug out location. Have backup clothing at both places as well. Fire starting gear should be included in your bug out bag for your Get Out Of Dodge contingencies, because you can use heat to dry your wet clothes and provide warmth to keep from freezing.

Water and Fluids

After just a few hours of even slow or measured activity, you will need fluids to replenish your body and quench thirst. Some sort of water purification is needed. You can go the military tablet route, or use commercial filters, or you can also use good old fashioned boiling and sunlight. Whichever method(s) you choose, you should be knowledgeable in its use and application and have backups. Water is heavy. Know your area and bug out routes. Have stored water both home and at your bug out location. Carry two canteens, but anything more becomes very heavy, very quickly, so have purification means. Be flexible for when you run out of tablets or your filter breaks. Know traditional means, such as using sunlight and boiling. A bandana or towel can make a better-than-nothing strainer when on the run. Again, pre-planning is everything.


While you could go days, and possibly weeks, without food before dying, you will be reduced to a pile of skin and bones without nutrients, especially during increased physical activity times. You can carry MREs (meals ready to eat, in military-style), but they also are bulky and heavy. Stores should be kept at both home and your bug out location. To lessen the load, have enroute caches pre-positioned for all your evacuation routes. Can, jar, smoke, or otherwise preserve foods for long-term storage. There are entire manuals and books on various food storage methods, so pick something applicable to your situation and liking and use it long before the time it’s needed. The Latter Day Saints of Jesus Christ, also known as the Mormons, have an excellent manual that is referred to as the gold standard in this endeavor. That, coupled with their practices of every household stocking a year’s supply of food for their family’s use, makes a solid prepared community. JWR’s ”Rawles Gets You Ready“ plan is also another excellent resource to assist you.

Allied Support

While there is safety and strength in numbers, you will need some sort of assistance from family and/or friends and/or perhaps your community “inner circle”. Like-minded people who are similarly prepared would be the obvious choice, as this group can benefit from all uniting together. Unfortunately, that is the exception rather than the rule. Even getting some of my family and neighbors on board with prepping is a difficult task under the best of circumstances. You will be fighting for your lives with these people in your group, so if they aren’t on board with you now you can figure that into your plans. Realistically assess your status, and plan accordingly. Plan for when the manure hits the oscillator and your nuclear family members or neighbors aren’t prepared as they should have been. If you plan on keeping them away from your stores, then plan that, and discuss that with them to show how serious you are. Perhaps not telling them of your bug out location would be prudent if they don’t get on board. Plainly state you will use whatever means necessary to protect your family and your provisions from those who chose to ignore your warnings. Tell them not to come to your home, and don’t tell them where your bug out location is, so they don’t show up anyway. At least they will have been put on notice so your conscience can be clear.


I’m referring here to protection on a community or area scale. Eventually, bigger and “badder” groups will try to impose themselves upon you and your family and neighbors to enslave you; if you don’t comply, they will torture and kill you. You will need to have a robust community and perhaps a local government to meet these challenges. If there is a total government failure, some totalitarian or dictatorial jokers will try to impress their will upon you and enslave you by making you comply, with force if necessary. Be prepared. Don’t allow them the opportunity to subjugate you in any manner. If you try the pacifist conscientious objector mentality, it will lead to your torture and dying a slow and painful death, with family and friends ordered to watch so they can make an example of you. Stick to your convictions, and ally yourself and family and neighbors to like-minded community members who will resist encroachment upon your way of life. Rebuild a local government with constitutional republican roots and democratic voting principles. Rebuild your local government upon our Constitution and Bill of Rights and free market capitalism and those likes. We have the greatest government known to man, even though there are many shortcomings and problems. Build upon it in core libertarian principles. Liberty and freedom should be the hallmarks with as little government encroachment as possible. Have safeguards for runaway political pundits, so they don’t destroy everything you work hard for. Have the means to fight tyranny and preserve your way of life at all costs.

This primer is just a very generic blueprint touching upon the “Rules of 3’s”, which we all would benefit from taking into consideration. For those new or looking for organization in their venture, I have found this road map guides me to be organized and systematic in a prioritized approach.