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My situation is not yours, and what works for me may not necessarily work for you. Only you can decide the best course of action for yourself. This article contains my opinions, which you may find useful. You may also find them bizarre or even shocking. Luckily, in accordance with natural law, you are under no obligation to accept my opinions. All that said, there are several prepper ideas that are held so dearly they are treated like fundamental laws of the universe. I find some of them to be very puzzling and would like to share why I think these ideas must be reconsidered.
Prepper Axiom 1: Eat what you store, and store what you eat.
I find this to be troubling. On the surface it sounds great. Store the foods you like to eat, and then when the SHTF you won’t have too much of a shock. I agree the idea is sound in theory, but in practice I think it is unrealistic.
- After a major disaster, your diet is going to change. This is an unavoidable fact. I would guess that currently you eat few dandelions or raccoons; afterwards, you will be eating these sorts of things out of necessity. No matter how secure your food preps are, you will always want to supplement them if you can, and that means eating foods you’re not used to.
- Some foods lend themselves very well to storage and are very nutritious, but I don’t eat them regularly. A great example is oats. Properly stored, they stay good essentially forever, are loaded with nutrients, and are cheap. I do not dislike them, but I don’t eat them day to day, because I think they take too much time to make in the mornings. That said, I have hundreds of pounds in buckets.
- Possibly the worst reason to not stock certain foods is because you do not like them. Food is food. If it nourishes, it is good. In a survival situation, being a picky eater is dangerous and arrogant. There is an exercise you can do, which I myself have done: pick some particular dish you hate. For me, it’s cottage cheese. Then, tell yourselves for the next five days you will eat only that dish for lunch, or else go hungry. It takes some discipline, but it works, and sooner or later you will eat the food you hate simply to avoid another skipped meal. I know this practice sounds barbaric, but it really does help to desensitize your taste buds. Being picky about food is a learned behavior and can be unlearned.
- Note: Do not attempt this procedure if you have a genuine food allergy, as you can’t simply will that away. Obviously, you must structure your food preps to minimize any physical harm.
- Let’s say you have a carefully determined food plan for one year. Every meal is planned out to the smallest detail, with every molecule of ingredients carefully cataloged. I find this approach to be dangerous, because it is inflexible. Such a plan would work if everything went right, but by definition in a survival situation things are not going right. Let’s say you have a flood, infestation, or other calamity and lose part of your store. Having everything planned out is inflexible, and flexibility is what will keep you alive. For me, I store basic ingredients in their most simple form and plan to combine as needed to produce meals. I do not have a single meal planned out in advance.
- Worry less about expiration dates. Due to liability, these are incredibly conservative. For example, with canned goods, as long as the seal is intact the contents will be safe to eat forever. The interior of the can is sterile. Bacteria do not simply appear out of nowhere; they will have to work their way in from a flaw in the seal. If you open a can and the food looks alright, smells alright, and tastes alright, then you’ll be fine. As an exercise, I obtained some Beenie Weenies that were six years out of date and ate them. Why would I do that? To train myself to get over my fear of expired food and to accept that the situation wasn’t ideal.
- Many people do not store nearly enough calories. I have sufficient food stored to feed seven adults and four children for one year. Given that a child needs about half as much food as an adult, that is a total of nine full size rations. I stock 3,000 calories per person per day, bringing the total for the year to approximately 10 million calories. I actually consider this to be woefully inadequate. To my mind, 3,000 calories per day is the absolute bare minimum for an adult in a survival situation. A caloric count of 4,500 would be better, plus a buffer in case some of the food store is lost. Given how important food is, I would store at least 5,000 calories per adult per day.
- Lastly, in a survival situation, you’re going to get food poisoning. It can’t be avoided. While you can and should take steps to minimize the risk, a better solution would be to store the supplies to treat it and to learn to accept it.
Prepper Axiom #2: Obsessing about how to protect yourself.
I see this a lot, particularly with new preppers. They will ask “is a .45 better than a 9mm? Should I get a shotgun or a rifle?” Or, they’ll say, “All I need to do is buy an AR-15 and stick it in the safe until TEOTWAWKI.” I have some thoughts about this as well.
- Any pistol caliber is only ever going to be, at best, adequate. A pistol is no substitute for a shotgun or rifle. If you think you are going to be in a violent altercation, bring a long gun. Now, obviously we do not know when we might be accosted, not to mention we might not always be able to carry a long gun. The pistol is useful because it is easily carried. You can holster one, carry it all day, and go about your business while always remaining armed. Pistols are good. However, don’t get caught up in the minutia of which caliber is “the best”. Some may or may not be better than others, but none of them will ever be more than adequate. My advice is to find someone who has a bunch of pistols in several calibers, and try them all out. Pick the one you think is the best for you. I personally shoot 9mm. Now, there is not a pistol round on earth I can’t shoot well, so I have many options. However, the most my wife can handle is 9mm, so I shoot it too. It makes zero sense to outfit the different members of your tribe with different calibers, as it is a logistical nightmare. Standardize as much as possible.
- I have a love/hate relationship with the AR-15. It has its pros: lightweight, relatively inexpensive, relatively reliable, and easy to use. My wife uses one. However, simply because many people use it does not always mean it is best for you. You may be better suited with a different caliber, such as .308 or 7.62×39, depending on your situation. Possibly you would need a scoped bolt action rifle more. My advice, again, is to try out as many rifles as you can before buying one. If you do that and decide the AR-15 is the one you want, great. However, don’t rush out to buy one simply because everyone else does. Pick what’s right for you.
- Whatever gun you decide to buy, get at least 2,500 rounds of practice ammo and work your way through it. There is absolutely no substitute for trigger time.
- Get training. Plinking at the range is great, but it is not enough. Buy the very best training you can afford. If all you can get is a couple weekends with an Iraq vet, then so be it. Too many people purchase guns and don’t learn how to use them.
- The gun itself doesn’t matter so much. Being willing to shoot is always going to be more important than what you’re shooting with. Any gun that goes bang when you tell it to is better than throwing rocks. Custom rifles with match grade triggers and top quality glass are nice, but a rifle is only as good as the man shooting it. If you are skilled at shooting, you will be more effective with a crappy gun than an amateur will be with a great one.
- I am a big believer in martial arts training. I personally take Krav Maga lessons. I usually do six hours a week, but that may be excessive. Want to learn how to face multiple attackers while your hands are tied and there’s a bag over your head? Krav will teach you. You can learn how to disarm a person pointing a rifle in your face, how to defend against and attack with a knife, how to escape when there’s a guy straddling you punching you in the face, and more. Of course, you can also learn how to punch and kick.
- I chose Krav because I think it’s “cool” and has a lot of real world application. In truth, any style will do. If you have a shred of competence at any martial arts style you will be greatly ahead of most people.
- The value of martial arts training is threefold. The third most important thing is learning how to hit. The second is learning how to take a hit. The most important thing is learning how act when attacked. If you are ever the recipient of violence, doing the wrong thing is almost always better than doing nothing.
- Body armor is great stuff. Get at least level 3, which will stop common rifle calibers. I recommend steel armor, which is usually an alloy called AR500. It is inexpensive and very effective. The downside is it is heavy. Ceramic armors are much lighter. However, ceramic armor only really works if it can be replaced often, as it is susceptible to fracturing. That’s fine for the military but less useful for preppers, as resupply won’t be possible. The steel armor will withstand multiple hits and last essentially forever in storage. For the same price as a set of ceramic plates, you can get two or three sets of steel plates, which should last you quite awhile. Many people complain about the weight of the steel plates, but in most cases they simply need more PT. If you can’t walk a mile wearing armor plates, water, and magazines, then I seriously question whether you are in good enough shape to survive a disaster.
- Should you find yourself in a battle and are faced with enemy wounded, you will have to decide if you will treat them, dispose of them, or leave them to their own devices. Decide before the battle.
- If attacked, you will be afraid. That is very natural. Turn fear into anger. Inside every person is a predator ready to tear into the opponent with teeth and claws. Unleash it, but be aware that it is hard to put it back inside.
- Lastly, consider the following. There are many strong, capable people who think they’re afraid of nothing. Put them against a pissed off opossum, and few will be able to stand their ground. Though the opossum has a great disadvantage, he is so fierce and so oblivious to his own danger that he can make a much larger opponent back off. He fights even when he has no chance of victory, and that can turn the tide.