Looking Back Over COVID – Part 2, by N.C.

(Continued from Part 1. This concludes the article.)

The Jury Is out:
  1. A CO2 rifle to practice transitions between targets and follow-up shots

I’m a big fan of training marksmanship with an air rifle. 10m shooting with air rifle taught me more about follow through than my .22 did. It’s also easy to incorporate a daily routine of even just 5 good precise shots. However if you want to practice multiple shots you’re mainly in CO2 territory. Your only other options are Airsoft or the relatively new PCP semi-automatic world. I bought an expensive (for me) clone of the ruger 10/22 from Umarex that runs on CO2 to practice multiple shots on a single and transitions between targets.

It works, even shooting as fast as I can, I haven’t noticed any issues with freezing or shots dropping as the temperature lowers. The weight is about right though center of gravity isn’t the same as the real ruger. It’s accurate enough for me to practice what I want to practice with it.

The jury is still out because I have only used it a handful of times. It’s a bit of a hassle to load. You don’t have fast magazine changes or large magazines. And because it doesn’t hold charge well, once you puncture the CO2 canister you’re kind of committed for an hour to use it all. Overall it’s not convenient though it is more convenient than a range trip and air pellets and CO2 canisters didn’t disappear the same way that 22lr did. I’m conflicted still. I need more trigger time on it.

  1. Fermenting experiments

The biggest experiment I tried was using my wife’s sourdough starter to ferment ginger beer. It worked. There was plenty of carbonation but it quickly developed a bitter and sour aftertaste. The window of goodness was pretty tight. I also tried using baker’s yeast to ferment ginger beer and included some black pepper in the fermentation and that worked very well. It’s fun, it’s not hugely useful but it is good. The fact that you can use regular bread yeast and it freezes for years and still works is useful. Fermentation helps keep things safe to drink as well as adding variety. I need more experiments with things that are naturally obtainable in my zone, hard cider, mead, and the like. It is good to know that in a pinch sourdough works.

  1. It’s a slow burn. Get’s slower when the Internet goes out. I know, I said earlier there’s never enough time, so how can it be both? Two ways I think.

The first is that you can feel something building. You are smack dab in the middle of the unknown and are powerless to affect that. The herd might stampede any moment. Organized force may manifest at any moment. I remember seeing freedom of movement letters passed out and hearing serious discussions about shutting down internal movement in the US. That’s there. It’s never not there. You’ll have to react somehow to an entirely new situation. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe next week. Maybe next month. You’ll find out. Maybe too late. Oh and by the way, try not to scare your kids.

The second thing is that the downtime comes in tiny little snatches that are hard to put to good use at the same time that your priorities are ambiguous. If you’ve got 15 minutes, you can do something in 15 minutes. My kids tend to give me 5 minutes, unless I’m using television more than I want to use it. Hard to make 5 minutes useful. It may add up over the day to 45 minutes or an hour but it’s not the same as having an hour to work.

The upshot is that the slow burn is emotionally exhausting. I ain’t a touchy-feely guy and it wasn’t as bad as clinical depression but it’s getting there. It wearies the soul to be strong for your family, to do your best to provide, protect, and prepare while knowing you have the power of an ant on a freight train. Where is the line between obsessing over things you can’t control and keeping a weather eye on the horizon? I don’t know. I found reading ancient wisdom helped, religious and nonreligious both. Exercise helps but as I had less time that fell by the wayside.

  1. You are going to spend your health. It’s an odd way to think but your health is a resource. As you lose time to exercise, as that gets trumped, you start decline. The more fit you are the bigger your stockpile and better off you will be. You’ll be able to spend for longer. Make no mistake, it’s a resource you’ll be spending.

Somewhat related to that is how much our diets rely on fresh fruit and vegetables. Canned fruit and dried fruit are good but not the same. I found menu planning helped, during the initial lockdown I planned out meals for 2 weeks in case I couldn’t go to the store. It was nutritionally adequate but fruit and veg were the weak link. Luckily, some our favorite types of vegetables (cabbages, carrots, rutabeggas) were ignored in the initial runs. At least in our neck of the woods.

  1. It changed my idea of the main danger I’m looking at in the US. Rather than a discrete TEOTWAWKI moment, I foresee ongoing and unpredictable shortages with a background of semi-organized sporadic violence. You may disagree and that’s entirely fine. But that thought changes my thoughts in a lot of directions. It made me do more research into PCP large bore rifles (9mm +) and air bows as a replacement for a farmer’s shotgun. A raccoon or a fox may not be worth spending a primer on during a shortage but still needs dispatching when he’s at the henhouse. It made me experiment with reusable canning lids. It encouraged me look into pickles to try this spring and adding more pickles to the diet (peanut butter and pickle sandwiches are actually pretty good). And more than just cucumbers and beets, beans asparagus radishes and more have all been pickled. It’s time to experiment.

It also made me think that legality alongside propaganda are going to be normative for the foreseeable future. Legal self-defense is a huge part of whatever we in the US are heading into and it’s going to be messier (which is saying something) than it was five years ago. Rifles and shotguns have their place but the popular saying in the US that “I use my pistol to fight to my long gun” is likely misleading. “All I will have to protect my family is what is on me” is more to the point. Lawyers, lawsuits, and criminal justice proceedings are going to factor more not less as things get worse.

Going Forward

One of the things I came to realize was that I’ve neglected some of the basics. First aid kit for instance is adequate probably but not ideal. The house upkeep is basic and staying safe at home starts there really. Updating with regard to smoke detectors/ carbon monoxide detectors is important. Various handyman stuff that’s slipped. Even the simple deep cleaning has slipped. The first year of the pandemic I got things “grandma clean” but not the second. Those are some things I should be better about in general.

We all have things that keep us busy. Maybe as an essential worker your hours doubled. Maybe your childcare fell through. Maybe… Maybe a lot of things. But at the end of the day I wish I had done more. I wish I had followed through with more things that I’ve got partially done or prepared to do. I will spend more time looking for my errors and what I can do to improve. What it boils down to though is simple:

  1. Start with the basics.
  2. Do more with what you have.
  3. Build up your physical and mental health