I became interested in prepping and survival 12 years ago. It wasn’t so much an event or reading about survival, it was what I believe was a message from God. I was 49 years old and had just finished leading a Bible study in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota. On the way home, my wife and I stopped at a Dairy Queen for our usual weekend treat. It was a beautiful, summer day with lots of white summer clouds floating by. As we finished and were sitting there enjoying the beautiful downtown skyline off in the distance, I thought to myself how perfect of a day it had been. At that moment a voice I could not only hear but feel throughout my body said, “Enjoy the time and prepare; storm clouds are coming!” It shook me for a few moments and the impact of it never left. I tried to push it aside and rationalize it, but it was embedded in me more as the summer went on. I read everything I could find on prepping and survival as well as DVDs and websites, such as this one. I bought gear, trained, and taught classes on self-protection, prepping, and survival. I helped people who had built retreats evaluate their effectiveness, and over the years I have learned how many of my beliefs on survival were wrong. I still see many ways of training being promoted that I think are wrong or misguided. I looked critically at survival and prepping and these are my current conclusions. First, let me say I’m a Christian, but I look at what I must defend against from a perspective of someone who is ruthless with no morals. As I write this, I am preparing to flee the inner city of Minneapolis, where I have lived for thirty years. When I first moved here, it was a quiet, friendly neighborhood with almost everyone in our area being a home owner. Now, it’s mostly low-income housing. The value of my house has dropped over seventy percent in the last ten years. My house is an armed fortress to keep out the thugs and neighbors, who watch and wait for an opportune time to rob and steal. We have beggars on every corner shaking down foolish motorists. The response from city hall is always about their freedom of speech. The police are never able or willing to protect. Instead, they collect information after the damage is done. If this is what goes on during the so called “good times”, I shudder to think of what will happen when TEOTWAWKI  hits.
This is a much bigger problem than most people think it will be. It’s a very likely scenario that if you don’t live in the country or see trouble coming in advance, you may well only get out with your backpack. Here is my list of the challenges:
- Can you carry your backpack for a long distance over unfamiliar terrain and under duress? If someone is after you, could you carry the load while on the run?
- Do you train with your pack on and loaded, as it would be in if you needed it? When I teach classes and have people bring their backpacks, it amazes me how many out-of-shape people bring in 80- to 100-pound backpacks and think they will be able to carry these all day. The other thing I see is the packs have everything but water. So even if you can squeeze the water you need in your pack, plan on carrying considerably more weight. Add to that the weight of any weapons and ammo you would have to carry. If I was perusing many of these people, I would be able to survive and overtake them just by collecting the items they would have to dump and leave behind. Anything you can’t carry should not be in your pack, if you go on foot.
- Do you know what’s in your pack and where it’s located? Is it still usable? If the answer is “no”, it’s useless.
- If you’re with family or a group, what do you do with the people who are disabled in some way and unable to help or keep up? What do you do with the seniors in your family or group? What about the small children and babies? When I first started prepping, I was 50 years old and a competitive athlete. Now at 62 I find the health issues more challenging than ever before, and I find my training more difficult every year. I urge you to consider this point very carefully. Will you leave the weak, children, and elderly behind? Will you leave your spouse, child, mom, dad, grandchildren, or grandparents? As this becomes more of a reality in my life, my perspectives have changed as well as the way I prep and plan. Surviving is not enough without a certain quality and love in our lives.
So you decide to spend the money to buy or build a bunker to wait out whatever crises have fallen on America. The first problem I see in most bunkers is keeping the bad guys out. Very few that I see on the various television shows have independent ventilating capability. So, if I find your air intake, I can just block it off and wait, or if there is water available, I can flood you out. However, the biggest problem I see is being cooped up in a small area for a long period, especially if not all of your family is on board for this kind of existence. I would urge anyone thinking about this to set up a two-week period of time to move your family and anyone you plan on living with in your bunker into a secluded part of your home, such as a basement or garage. Close off all outdoor light 24/7, only eating and doing things you would do in your bunker. Use none of the amenities that you won’t have in your bunker. No one goes outside for the duration. I have found in this kind of situation that people will get on each other’s nerves very quickly. Some will get claustrophobic and mentally start breaking down. Some might revolt or challenge authority. As food becomes bland, compared to how you ate before going into seclusion, there will be a difficult adjustment for some family members. Playing survival is fun for a short time; then it becomes a hard way to live, and the stress can become overwhelming. Adding to that stress is the fact that having to go out of the bunker for any reason makes you vulnerable to attacker’s waiting to ambush your bunker.
Most of the people I have worked with prefer this form of survival. Although I feel it’s better than a bunker, it still has many potential weaknesses. The first is the same as a bunker. People being close together for a long period of time will present many problems. During a home renovation, my family was limited to three small rooms for a week. Even being able to go outside within a few days, we were all showing signs of aggravation, and harsh words were exchanged many times. Now, add to that people we don’t know as well as we think we do, habits as well as ways of living we find annoying, members of the group who are not pulling their weight or challenging how things are done in the group, people who are of different religious backgrounds or moral beliefs than yours, and/or people who become negative and critical of others.
What do you do if it’s a true violent survival situation and someone wants to leave? What would you let them take with them? Can you trust them to not give away your security setup to someone plotting to attack you? What happens if someone gets a virus infection? Is everyone who is old enough in the group capable of firing weapons and using other protective devices? Who’s in charge of what in your compound? What is the authority breakdown? Who is in charge of each different area needed to keep the compound functioning? How do you deal with someone or a group of people sabotaging or trying to take control of the group? What is the procedure for challenging or removing someone not fulfilling their duties? Is everyone willing to be cross-trained in case someone dies or is severely injured? Has everyone simulated a combat scenario and the stress that comes with defending the compound and possibly taking a life? Are the members of your group prepared to deal with seeing someone they love or care about killed or wounded? These are real threats to survival and when people start breaking down mentally or physically, bad things happen.
If I was leading a gang of thugs and had no morals, I could take most of the compounds I have visited with little trouble; I’ll give you one way I would do it. My group would consist of twenty to twenty-five members. We would be mobile and live off what we take from anyone or anything available, staying only long enough to use up what resources are there and then moving on. My group would have one, and if possible two, good snipers. After doing a day and night of surveillance, I would launch the first attack on your compound in the late afternoon, if the weather conditions were to my advantage. I would put a sniper and four of my group in a spread out attack position. My sniper’s job would be to shoot the first person he has a good shot at. Then I’d launch an assault with the four attackers and the sniper doing as much damage possible for twenty to 30 minutes; then I’d pull back. We would wait a couple of hours for the adrenalin rush and the accompanying headache and fatigue to set in, always being prepared for a counter attack if one comes. Then another five would begin another attack, setting up in different positions from the first attack. I would keep this attack up for an hour, if possible, and pull back again looking for any counter attack. One important thing to remember is, unlike the television shows, unless you have a stone house, the walls will offer little protection from the attack; also, if you stay put and patterns of how you return fire are learned, surviving will be extremely difficult. If the people inside are not combat tested and ready, my third attack should be the one that finishes the job. The mental distress should weaken most of the resistance, and if not I have the time to wait.
So how do you survive this scenario? Practice and train for real life situations, and take it seriously. Doing paintball outdoors is a great way to get a feel for combat. Getting shot at and shooting at a human target is a great way to begin the process of self- protection. Find someone who teaches self–protection, using actual fighting techniques rather than sport fighting. In a life or death setting, you don’t need self-defense, you need self-protection, and in my experience it’s not defending against your opponents attack, it’s making them try to defend your attack. Have procedures in place to deal with every problem I have presented. Always have an escape route. Have supplies buried in the ground around your property and be prepared to live on the move. This is an extremely hard way to live, but it offers the best chance in my opinion of surviving, if you train to live this way. Much of my gear is set up for living on the run if needed. I train to be able to withstand the physical and mental demands that life will require. The one intangible in every person’s training is that until the time comes we will not know for sure how we will respond to the threat. The more you practice and prepare, the better your chance of surviving.
I hope and pray that the time will never come to live this way, and may God guide your path always..