Letter Re: The Most Overlooked Preparations

Hi Jake,
Thanks for the info. Most of the things described (in your Special Report) were actually on my lists but in a slightly different order. I think this is due to a different focus. Given a total TEOTWAWKI when the supplies run out, they’ll be out for good, so I’ve focused on the required knowledge you need to be able to re-make/replace them.
For example in my basic survival kit (for bushwalking) I have a small high quality water filter but for the long term stuff I am focusing on learning how to ‘make’ a water filter.
Also my 4WD is kitted out with Solar panels and Chargers for the various Radios, Torches and Night Vision kit, all requiring ‘AAA’ batteries but I’m also learning how to make Wind & Hydro generators from wood, wire and neodymium magnets. When the fuel is gone and the solar panels quit, that’ll be that.
Regarding salt: THAT is definitely relevant but I have added Sugar, Herbs and Spices. Not because you need them physically but to soften the psychological blow in the beginning.
Same for hand sanitizer, I have toiletries in general high on my list for health reasons but again also to soften the psychological blow in the
beginning. Gees, life without dunny paper! What a bear! Figuring out how to replace them is next . . . (I’m working on food at the moment).
You know the strangest part of all this is that I’m finding that what I need to know comes either from the third world or new simplified technologies being developed for them. How ironic is that?
For me this is mostly an intellectual exercise as I don’t believe that a collapse is very likely even allowing for the troubled times we live in,
nor do I think it will be that sudden – at least here in Oz. While I do like to ‘be prepared’ for the unexpected, sadly I can’t afford the cost of a fully set up retreat – or even a retreat – so I guess the best I can do is acquire the knowledge and help others out. Thanks again for the info. Kind Regards, – Ross F. in Australia

Poll Responses Re: Best Places for Retreats in the Eastern U.S. and Overseas?

For those of us stuck in the Northeast due to family and or business reasons, I suggest the the area in New Hampshire north of the White Mountains and east of the Connecticut river. Generally from Woodsville, NH to Lancaster, NH. Including the area around Lisbon, Littleton and Whitefield in the Ammonoosuc River valley. Distance to Boston is approximately 150 miles, and Montreal 170 miles. – Art


Dear Jim,
For retreat sites east of the Mississippi, one of the most uninhabited areas is in West Virginia south of the WV Turnpike down through the eastern corner of Kentucky and the south west corner of Virginia. It’s a hard land and the people living there are probably some of the best survivalists living today because they have to be.
If anyone decides on this area, they must establish themselves before hand because after a national collapse people from “off” will not be welcome and it may well be a fatal error to try to settle there.
Always treat the local people there with the utmost respect. They never forget a kindness or forgive an insult. The feud is still a time honored tradition. – v/r John


I live in western North Carolina. However I am close to Asheville but west and northwest of me is places that are suitable for retreats. Plenty of water, game, fishing, firewood, and lots of prime area for gardens. We are in the mountains and in case I have to bug out I can be in the wilderness within one mile of where I live. Either by vehicle or walking. My plan is to bug in but in the event I have to leave I have several places and routes to take. So they are places in western NC, northeast Georgia, and eastern Tennessee one could live with not many people around. I live about 60 miles from Murphy and extreme wilderness areas. That is the same area that Eric Rudolph evaded the FBI for so long. In my area they are plenty of hiking trails that a person if they wanted to could “get lost” easily. But if someone bugged out in this area you must have excellent survival skills i.e. trapping, use of snares, camping, hunting, fishing, etc or you would not last very long.
Thanks for your web site and for all that you do to help people prepare. – R.H. in Asheville, NC


I would recommend the Southern Central area of Alabama. This area is called the “Black Belt” region. This phrase does not reference martial arts nor does it reference any racial class of people. It references the soil. The soil is a dark rich soil that is from fresh water deposits from many many years past. The soil is great for gardens and wildlife. This is deer country. The deer love the vegetation that grows due to the soil. There are still large tracts of farm land for sale. However, the poverty in this area can be high, depending on which part you choose to live . I was driving through Tuscaloosa last week and saw a sign that stated if someone would build in the Black Belt region, south of Tuscaloosa, either the State, county or city would give you land. This is of course a way to end the poverty in this region.
In north Alabama, the City of Huntsville has Redstone Arsenal, an Army installation. I do not think I would want to live there. In Anniston, Alabama, they have an Army weapons incinerator. The [state] Emergency Management Agency has been giving out [chemical warfare] “survival kits” [to local residents] and they have a warning system in place to tell you when to take cover and shelter. I do not think I would live too close to either of these facilities. However, south of Birmingham in the “Black Belt” region may be good. Respectfully, – Happy Howie


I wish I could tell you that I had extensively researched this particular problem and had a nice tidy answer for you. I have looked into it but the current loose plans of my wife and I have us staying a few more years in one of the worst places outside of a major city on the East Coast. That being Long Island, New York. Close to the South unfortunately as well. As our ‘escape’ gets closer to becoming a reality I’ll be doing further and more extensive research. I have done some preliminary work though and for us personally it’s looking like either the mountains of Western North Carolina or somewhere in central to Northern Vermont. Based on population central Maine, West Virginia may be worth looking into and I believe the Shenandoah River Valley area of Virginia holds some promise as well but it’s far too close and accessible to the D.C. area for my tastes.
A lot of the issues involved are centered around family, friends and work in regards to staying on the East Coast. I would think some may like upper NY in the Adirondacks but the gun laws here in NY have crossed the entire state off our list.
I like to think the key to pulling off long term survival in the Eastern portion of the country will being able to lay low and completely disappear when needed. The channelized areas are extremely annoying as far as selecting retreat locations. The network of highways is simply too extensive and I would expect something along the lines of a ‘Christopher’s Response’ as in [Niven and Pournelle’s novel] Lucifer’s Hammer to take care of some of that. Granted I also suspect plenty of traffic will be tied up in car accidents and disabled vehicles. We recently had the displeasure of driving from Long Island (LI), up across the Throgs Neck bridge and across the lower section of the Bronx, through upper Manhattan across the George Washington bridge and finally to I80 in New Jersey. It was roughly 15 or 16 miles from leaving the LI Expressway to getting clear on I80, took us around 3 hours. That was between 2:00 and 5:00, about a half hour for the first four miles to actually get off LI, the rest was sitting in the Bronx because of a minor accident that we never actually saw any sign of. Normal traffic, if the Schumer hits the fan it’ll be much, much worse and many people if not most will not escape where ever they’re starting from.
One of the reasons I like Vermont is that the hordes fleeing Boston would likely take route 93 to get to Vermont and I suspect some enterprising Free Staters in New Hampshire will use the Christopher Response. Although that is not something that can be counted on. I think Adirondack park would also be a big attraction for vast numbers of the Golden Horde or MZBs, including those from Boston and many will head into the ‘wilds’ of Maine in the Summer and those that can will do everything in their power to head South in the Winter. I suspect there are plenty of good locations in Vermont that would be bypassed by many trying to get to places they perceive to be better. I also like that areas of Vermont enjoy good prospects for wind and hydro power generation. I feel in many situations hydro power is a superior choice since it is far easier to conceal. Although Vermont gets a big down check for solar. In fact the prospects of colder winters is a plus in my book since being able to lay low for a years time will harshly thin things out. I’m sure things will be difficult but I’m reasonably certain once we start setting up a ‘retreat’ or rather our home if we choose Vermont we’ll be able to make it seem that we are most certainly ‘not home’ for that first critical year.
North Carolina is on the list more for family reasons than any other. There’s a lot about NC I don’t care for. One of the biggest being the potential for racial conflict. No matter what your race may be for all practical purposes you simply can’t hide your race from people of other races. So even if you have zero desire to be involved in something along those lines and I most certainly do not, simply being there adds one more and in my opinion unneeded additional survival challenge. Oddly enough (or maybe not) another big down check is some of my family already living there.
Another thing to look at when scouting a potential retreat area is how welcoming it is to new people. I’m getting the feeling that time is short on many fronts so being able to become part of a community quickly is likely going to be a necessity. From my visits and talks to friends in Maine it seems that there are vast areas of Maine that would be otherwise promising if it weren’t for the vibe that families living in an area for three generations are looked at as ‘the new people’. I suspect the areas I’ve looked at in NC may have something similar but I haven’t spent any time in those areas yet. From my limited travels in Vermont, mostly in the Burlington area and talking to friends who moved there from LI, I haven’t quite gotten that same vibe that the areas of Maine I’ve been to (Kennebunkport and Hollis) seem to have. For this reason alone I think it is extremely important for someone to visit their potential retreats before committing to putting money down and moving. This definitely one of those ‘the more the merrier’ type of things.
We also have a potential bug out location in PA that may work out for us but overall is too close to NYC and a major highway but it’s a gathering point for many friends and better yet we would be welcome there.
Anyway, sorry to ramble on and I feel that all of this even though it’s sums up my own assessments so far, merely scratches the surface. Thanks for the work you put into the “Rawles Gets You Ready” preparedness course, it has been some enlightening reading. – T.J.

Hi Jim,
Here’s an Eastern US area that you might not be aware of …it is Floyd County, about a one hour drive west of Roanoke, Virginia. It fits the categories of lightly populated, agricultural, and away from “lines of drift. – G.S.



We picked SW Tennessee. Halfway between Memphis and Nashville and 25 miles north of the Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee border


Two tremendous water sources The Tennessee and Mississippi rivers.

Water tables are close to the surface with many springs and artesian wells. Supplies all of Memphis with water.

Enough rolling hills to dig in.

Plenty of forest to hide in.

Land cost $ 1,000 – $2,500 per acre in outlying areas.

Memphis and Nashville are large, both 120 miles from our home and, Jackson, TN is 50 miles north. Much smaller population 600,000.
Nothing to the South until Birmingham Alabama.

Country folk who very seldom go to Nashville or Memphis except for medical appointment at Vanderbilt or U of Tennessee.
Everything grows here.
Usually only two snow days a year.
Coldest average temp is 10 degrees.
Three planting seasons, Feb – (Spring), May- June (Summer), and August (Fall). Tomato and beans grow up until the time change in Oct. Cabbage and potatoes until November. Zone 7 Tremendous hunting turkey, deer, squirrel and rabbit. Good fishing TN and MS rivers. Perry County boast of NOT having any four lane highways in the whole county. Property taxes on 42 acres is $175 per year. No building or code inspectors. No codes! You can build anything you want. Except, to have electric hookup you have to have a septic tank. Reception is good and poor on cell phone, (good and bad) depending on where you are standing. To work, you go into Jackson, TN, a one hour drive. Takes the same amt of time driving 18 miles in rush hour on the expressway. Yes we are down wind but outside of the yellowstone supervolcano fallout Well this is our motivation. Have a good day. And peace be with you and your family. – Rus

Odds ‘n Sods:

SurvivalBlog reader JCS suggested the Lindsay Books site. It has something for everyone from Aircraft Welding to Hide Tanning. They have lots of books that belong on the survivalist reference bookshelf.

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Blog reader S.H. mentioned that our friend Noah over at the DefenseTech blog ran an article about a dune buggie/powered parafoil combo, for the ultimate in high mobility.

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From the Washington Post: DOE Report Identifies Areas of U.S. Power Grid Congestion Here is a brief excerpt from the story: “This study identifies the most critical areas of congestion,” said Kevin Kolevar, director of the Energy Department’s office dealing with electricity reliability issues. Kolevar said that while there are congestion problems of varying degree across the country the Northeast metropolitan areas and southern California “face unparalleled problems” meeting electricity demand — as shown in recent weeks when temperatures soared.
While the grid did not fail during the recent hot spells in both California and the Northeast, rolling blackouts were avoided only by utilities and grid managers cutting off some customers and by utilities getting people to conserve temporarily, he said.
The report identifies four other areas where emerging grid congestion problems are of serious concern and new power lines will be needed: New England, the Phoenix-Tucson area in Arizona; the Seattle-Portland area in the Pacific Northwest; and the San Francisco Bay area. These areas are expected to need new electricity transmission corridors, said the report.”

Five Letters Re: M1911 Pistol Modifications

Dear Jim,
Consider getting a copy of Tiger Mckee’s The Book of Two Guns. You won’t be disappointed. (I happened on it quite by chance and it’s been on my what-to-get-for-the-shooter-who-has-everything list since.)
With respect to “injured shooter drills”: The slide on a 1911 may be racked using the rear sight and your belt, provided you’re not equipped with Novaks. Hook the rear sight on the upper edge of your belt, strong side, and you’ll find you can actuate the slide very rapidly and without difficulty.
Novaks are, IMAO, a nice fashion feature, but little else. (Heresy!) If you consider how you draw a pistol, and the manner in which you’re likely to snag it, you’ll immediately see that Novak sights are designed backwards. If ramping the rear sight is to have utility, it should be inclined from the rear toward the muzzle. As it is, Novaks provide a bit more surface area for slapping the slide shut with the heel of your hand, but contribute little more. Add to this the confusing “3-dot” pattern and you can see why I don’t like them.
I much prefer XS Express Sights. They are robust, intuitive and highly visible. If tritium isn’t your thing or cash is an issue consider a set of King-Tappan sights. (BTW, the “Tappan” in the name is the survivalist gun writer Mel Tappan.) They have a simple yellow dot front and a white “block” rear (for a “dot the i” sight picture.) They also feature a handy 100-yard index line that aids in long-distance shooting with the 1911.
In sum, it remains as Jeff Cooper pointed out long ago: “…all the 1911 really needs is a trigger that you can manage, sights that you can see and a dehorning job.” K.I.S.S.!. Regards, – Moriarty


On the subject of the 1911, I consider it the finest pistol a survivalist can own, as it is accurate, reliable and easy to repair PROVIDED on has the knowledge and parts. Too often however people spend a lot of cash getting custom fitted parts which make it impossible to use replacement parts without hand fitting them. If you use a 1911 you must have one which accepts mil spec parts, even if you have to have the guts replaced. When mil spec parts are used, you can carry just about all the replacement parts you will need in a life time in a medium-sized pill bottle. If your weapon is a custom fitted super gun, then you had better be a gunsmith or all the parts in the world won’t do you a bit of good.

As for the Glocks (and the Steyrs, H&Ks, Taurus and a bizillion other polymer pistols), they are fine for what they are, inexpensive, disposable firearms developed for modern military organizations. You have to understand, militaries don’t buy one or a dozen handguns, they buy thousands and tens of thousands. Nor do they buy them with the idea that they are to last for (more or less) a lifetime, but for twenty or twenty-five years. The military wants a huge number of bullet-throwers, they don’t really care if they are not particularly accurate or if they don’t fit the average hand well, or whether they can be easily repaired by the average grunt. A Glock to me is like a Bic lighter, it will start a fire and it’s easier to deal with than a Zippo but a Zippo won’t explode if it get too hot, nor can you replace the flint in a Bic. I’ve seen a Glock whose frame was warped by sitting in a car (admittedly in a desert area, and I suspect there was more to the story, like something heavy laying on it), I’ve seen cracked frames on Glocks, and I’ve seen more than a few that were damaged in incidents that a 1911 would have shrugged off. Once the polymer frame is damaged it is nearly impossible to repair, while steel can be repaired and is a heck of a lot harder to significantly damage in the first place.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t see the advantages of polymer weapons, I’m planning to get a Taurus 24/7 soon myself, but I’m willing to bet that 50 years from now my 1911s will be going strong in the hands of my grandkids, will the Taurus (or a Glock)? I’m not willing to bet on it. – Warhawke


Dear Jim:
Beach mentioned the Clint Smith / Thunder Ranch doctrine that you should ALWAYS rack your pistol slide to chamber a round because:
(a) you get an extra .25″ of spring energy, to chamber a dirty round or in a dirty gun
(b) it works on all guns, e.g., battlefield pickups , or after disarming an opponent
(c) it is a gross motor movement less likely to degrade under stress
Thunder Ranch is a great school (I have taken a lot of their training) and the 3 points are valid as insofar as they go – but this portion of their doctrine really loses sight of the big picture…
If your pistol is set up that you can easily release the slide lock lever with your thumb, you should train that way because it is significantly faster than racking by hand. Shooting your gun empty in a gunfight is an extremely HIGH probability – and that extra time to rack the slide with the support hand will be one of the longest moments of your life! Don’t sacrifice your speed of reloading – that you need almost all the time – for hypothetical what-ifs that are a very low probability.
I wholeheartedly agree that you should also train extensively to “Tap the Mag / Rack the Slide / Trigger – Bang” to clear malfunctions, and ingrain the support hand slide racking motor movement. In fact I even recommend you seed your practice mags with dummy rounds so you get surprise chances to practice, and see if Tap / Rack / Bang really is an automatic reflex for you. If you are really serious, put dummy rounds in your mags for competition, and see what happens under competitive stress and time pressure.
So, in the very low probability event of a dirty gun about to malfunction, or a battlefield pickup, the correct movement to make it work will be ingrained in you. But don’t sacrifice your standard reloading speed for low probability what-ifs. (And if your pistol actually needs the extra .25″ of spring compression to chamber reliably, well, it’s time for a barrel with a looser chamber, as is standard on Glocks.)
What about the theory of your fine motor movements degrading under stress? A great theory – but think about it… To empty the gun you first had to perform 6 to 15 fine motor movements of your trigger finger! Then to get the empty mag out, you had to use the SAME slide release thumb to hit a small button to drop the empty mag! So this theory says you are good to drop the mag with your dominant hand thumb – but then you can’t handle hitting the slide release with the same thumb?!?! Yeah, I guess an overwhelming adrenaline dump could hit you, in the second between dropping the mag and hitting the slide release – but what are the odds? 😉
Funnily enough, the same “fine motor skills” argument is NOT made when it comes to hitting the bolt release button on an AR-15, vs. racking the bolt from the charging handle. Again – the best bet is to practice both ways – but make the SOP method the one that is faster and more reliable for YOU.
To top it off, as you pointed out – what if your support hand is injured? That is a very common place to get hit when you do Force on Force Training. In that what-if scenario, the racking the slide method may not work, but the thumb release of the slide will.
A bigger moral to the story is: always learn from different schools, as no one instructor is right 100% of the time. They all have strengths and weaknesses in what they teach. Furthermore what is taught as “best” is appropriate in some situations, but not in others. Always remain flexible and adaptable, and focus your training so you have SIMPLE tools and procedures that work under pressure, And now we are right back to the previous martial arts discussion! 😉
I agree with all the writers that you never want to reduce equipment reliability for a speed advantage. And I can’t speak for 1911s, but for Glocks the unobtrusive EXTENDED slide lock lever (to release the slide with your thumb) is standard on Glock 34s and 35s, and has caused me no malfunctions in many thousands of rounds of training, tactical schools, and competition. Very inexpensive and simple to install, see: Glockmeister.com Regards, – OSOM – “Out of Sight, Out of Mind”

Dear Jim,
The point, ( as it was explained to our class by Clint Smith,) in using the non-dominant hand cupped over the rear of the slide to put the weapon back in battery, is to train with a UNIVERSAL method of handgun function. Chances are, in an emergency situation that you will end up with a sidearm other than your favorite “baby” . So…..you run it dry, or there is a failure to fire or feed……WHAT NOW? Those who have spent many hours training with the universal methods of TAP, RACK, ETC. will be back in the game a lot faster, no matter what weapon is in their hands. A favorite drill that will illustrate this point is one that is standard at many fine shooting schools: With several students at the firing line, have each student set up their weapon with a malfunction (stovepipe, double feed, etc) and then set down on the ground in front of the line. Then announce that all on the line should move two spaces the the right , or one space to the left. On signal , the shooters are expected to pick up the unfamiliar weapon, clear the malfunction and shoot at the target. Once everyone is comfortable with this drill, you can up the ante by replicating it in low light or NO light situations. The simplicity of universal technique will produce both speed AND confidence….and as it has been stated here before, you WILL fight how you train. – Tom M.

P.S.: I love the “Rawles Gets You Ready” preparedness course. Good Job!

I could spend quite some time discussing the failings of the Glock series of pistols I have seen here at the shop but I won’t. The Glock is a fine pistol but it is far from perfect. I have a strong preference for single action autos for a whole host of reasons and I have found the Browning Hi Power fits me better than anything I have ever tried. If someone out there feels that is an antiquated piece then fine, I too intend to have my heirs fight over who gets to keep mine when I have passed. Find what works for you and stick with it.

Now, on to my intent with this letter, one hand drills. I have trained a few people to shoot with one hand, some because they saw the need and some because they only have use of one hand and I too believe it is an important skill to master. If you look at the data of the FBI shooting in Miami on 11 Apr 86, more than one agent was shot in the hand/forearm and one had his pistol struck by fire. In any fight that lasts more than a few rounds it is likely that someone may well be struck in the hand or arm. If a shooter is using a two hand grip he has both hands and arms between his opponent and the center mass of his own body so it makes sense that they are likely to be hit. I will not try to explain the mechanics of one hand drills in a short letter, only to explain the importance of training for it. I will leave with one last thought and that is my hatred, yes absolute hatred, of the Novak style sights and all they have inspired. A rear sight needs to have a vertical front face to allow for many one hand drills. To charge the weapon my preferred one hand drill is to catch the rear sight on my belt and push, works quite well. I simply refuse to own gear that works against me and the Novak style sights do just that.
– Jake at The Armory www.dominionshootingrange.com

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

"The preacher man says it’s the end of time
And the Mississippi River she’s a goin’ dry
The interest is up and the Stock Markets down
And you only get mugged
If you go down town

I live back in the woods, you see
A woman and the kids, and the dogs and me
I got a shotgun rifle and a 4-wheel drive
And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive

I can plow a field all day long
I can catch catfish from dusk till dawn
We make our own whiskey and our own smoke too
Ain’t too many things these ole boys can’t do
We grow good ole tomatoes and homemade wine
And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive…" – Excerpt from the lyrics to Country Boy Can Survive, by Hank Williams, Jr.

Note From JWR:

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Polling the Blog Readership: Best Places for Retreats in the Eastern U.S. and Overseas?

I’m in the final stages of writing my upcoming nonfiction book, “Rawles on Retreats and Relocation”. In it, I give my recommendations on retreat locales in 19 western states. As you know, I am not a proponent of retreats east of the Mississippi River, due to the higher population density of the eastern states and their downwind location. That would make them vulnerable to a full scale nuclear attack. And I’m the first to admit that I’m biased toward the Western U.S., since I like my “elbow room.” But for those of you that do choose to stay in the East, what areas do you think are best suited for retreats? I’ve heard eastern Tennessee recommended, as well as parts of Georgia and the Carolinas. Surely there must be some lightly populated predominately agricultural counties that are outside of “looter commute distance” from the big cities, or that are situated in terrain that is geographically isolated. (Away from channelized areas or refugee lines of drift.) I value your opinions. Please e-mail me your list of recommended towns and/or counties, and I will both post them to the blog and include them in the book. BTW, if any of our overseas readers would care to do likewise, I will also post their lists. (We have a large readership in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and throughout Europe.) Thanks!

Letter Re: RFID Chip Hacking and RFID Chip Skimmer Technology


Dear Jim,
Here’s a link on RFID that you might find interesting. I think the implications for NAIS are obvious.

Here are plans for a low-cost RFID “skimmer” that can read chips surreptitiously. The clear implication is that it would be a simple matter to capture codes and clone fake RFID chips.

Also, an RFID “blocker” chip that floods the interrogating transmitter with garbage.

Of note, current RFID transmitter software is likely to be vulnerable to malicious code (“viruses”) transmitted by altered chips. I submit it’s only a matter of (a very short) time before we see security disasters due to a lack of understanding and unjustified faith in RFID.
I’ve long suspected that NAIS has been brain-dead from the moment of conception, at least with respect to its stated purpose. As usual, the people who contrived it appear to have little or no understanding of the technology involved, especially with respect to vulnerabilities and limitations. Regards, – Moriarty

Odds ‘n Sods:

Rourke recommends this great site for NBC preparedness. It has a lot of useful maps, target structure data, and details on how to survive a nuclear attack.

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Jake Stafford mentioned that copies of the “Rawles Gets You Ready” preparedness course currently at a special sale price are starting to fly off the shelf. The sale ends August 11th.

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AK in Costa Rica mentioned this article about safety and security for ex-pats living n Panama. AK notes: “This guy may not be a security expert, but his article presents some interesting issues about security and living overseas.”

Letter Re: Purifying Water with Bleach

Mr. Rawles,
I’ve received and read the “Rawles Gets You Ready” preparedness course package. It made me think twice about a few things, since I do most of my prepping at Costco. I notice that someone has already mentioned the vitamin thing. Thanks for the tip about bear liver!

I also noticed that you recommended having bleach on hand, and in the storage life section, bleach is listed as having an indefinite shelf life. I’m sure you already know that is not the case. Regular liquid bleach is not stable, it breaks down gradually and eventually becomes just salt water over a period of 2 years, it’s still usable at 1 year but you must use twice as much. We think dry swimming pool shock is better than liquid bleach because calcium hypochlorite will store in dry form nearly indefinitely (10 years), whereas liquid chlorine bleach loses half of it’s potency after a year (use twice as much for the same effect) and is next to worthless after two years. Using dry swimming pool shock (calcium hypochlorite) you can mix your own liquid bleach on an as-needed basis and have it fresh and fully active. Its very much like the difference in storage life between whole kernel wheat versus ground flour. Dry shock (get the plain variety, with no algaecides or fungicides) is very inexpensive and can be gotten at any pool supply store. Here are some links with details:
The Epicenter
The relevant portion from the second site above: “Dry chlorine, also called calcium hypochlorite has the added benefit of extended shelf life. Providing it is kept dry, cool and in an airtight container, it may be stored up to 10 years with minimal degradation. If you want to keep chlorine in larger quantities, this is the item to store (according to Bingo1). It must be ONLY 65% calcium hypochlorite, no additional anti-fungals or clarifiers. In an EXTREMELY well ventilated area, (Hint: OUTSIDE!) add and dissolve one heaping teaspoon of high-test granular calcium hypochlorite (approximately 1/4 ounce) for each two gallons of water. Five pounds of dry pool bleach costs about $10-15, which will make about 92 gallons of bleach, which will sterilize 706,560 gallons of clear water, or 353,280 gallons of cloudy water.”

Here are some additional tips on using calcium hypochlorite (swimming pool shock) for water purification:
From the EPA site:
“Granular Calcium Hypochlorite. Add and dissolve one heaping teaspoon of high-test granular calcium hypochlorite (approximately 1/4 ounce) for each two gallons of water. The mixture will produce a stock chlorine solution of approximately 500 mg/L, since the calcium hypochlorite has an available chlorine equal to 70 percent of its weight. To disinfect water, add the chlorine solution in the ratio of one part of chlorine solution to each 100 parts of water to be treated. This is roughly equal to adding 1 pint (16 oz.) of stock chlorine to each 12.5 gallons of water to be disinfected. To remove any objectionable chlorine odor, aerate the water as described below.
The treated water should be mixed thoroughly and allowed to stand, preferably covered, for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight
chlorine odor; if not, repeat the dosage and allow the water to stand for an additional 15 minutes. If the treated water has too strong a chlorine taste, it can be made more pleasing by allowing the water to stand exposed to the air for a few hours or by pouring it from one clean container to another several times”

Okay, a lot of people don’t have a 12.5 gallon container laying around, so let’s break it down. To make two gallons of the bleach, one heaping teaspoon of the calcium hypochlorite goes into 2 gallons of water. To make drinkable water, 2.5 tablespoons of the bleach goes into 1 gallon of water. Let stand covered 30 minutes, aerate to taste. Thought you would want to know. – J.W.

Letter Re: Selecting a Martial Art and a Dojo

I’d like to suggest yet another art for you to consider: Arnis. (often referred to as FMA, or Filipino Martial Arts.) It is also referred to as Escrima or Kali.
It is a predominately stick and knife based art, with open hand techniques following.
Most Eastern arts I have been exposed to stress the empty hand and move towards weapons, Arnis is exactly the opposite, the thought being a stick is easier to defend one’s self with than bare hands, and it is more logical to begin as such.
Another fundamental difference between Arnis and other arts is the assumption your opponent is armed. I’ve seen many techniques taught in my study of ju-jitsu that work well against a punch, but would end very badly if used against a knife. As you may not have the luxury of knowing what you’re being attacked with before hand, I prefer a technique that will work well against either, rather than having to choose.
As Mr. Williamson astutely noted, a walking stick or cane is very acceptable to carry with you everywhere (even places you cannot carry a knife, much less a gun), and the techniques transfer well to other “weapons” (an umbrella or rolled up newspaper, for example) as well as a knife.
FMA has been criticized as being too “complex” (you do this, then I do that, etc), and perhaps correctly. As with any art, the important thing is your choice of instructor is as important if not more so than your choice of art. An instructor who stresses the basics over increasingly fancy techniques is crucial, in my opinion. I specifically study Modern Arnis and Sayoc Kali, I have been very happy with both.
It may be worth mentioning that these arts evolved from a predominately Christian culture, so the Eastern religion components that were of concern to some of your readers would not apply. Best of luck with your search and your studies. – Patrick R.