I first became fascinated with the art of preparedness in my youth during the days and months leading up to Y2K. The thought societal meltdown and global collapse seemed almost too much to bear, hard to wrap my head around. I was 17years old, just starting my life — now faced with a potential situation that I had little training or experience to deal with. But my parents had instilled in me a valuable lesson early in childhood; fear is derived from the unknown and the lack of preparedness. With knowledge, preparation, a “never quit” attitude and maybe a little luck, any situation can be overcome. Granted, the Y2K scenario came and went without incident, but I swore never to carry the same fears again. Ten years later the same feeling has swept over our country, a feeling of loss, impending doom, fear and a myriad of other things is accompanying this New Year. I started my journey all those years ago with an “Armed Services Survival Manual” given to me by my father. Reading every word, memorizing every picture, I studied it tirelessly. It just didn’t seem enough. By knowing a little, I really knew nothing at all. The potential scenarios that we face are larger in scope than anything covered in a typical survival manual. So what should we do?
The military taught me several things, but most importantly it taught me to fight the enemy that lies within before I ever face an external adversary. Start from scratch to combat your fear.
Step 1: Analyze Your Life
You know better than anyone what you are capable of, whether you have had extensive military or law enforcement training, or are a highly trained civilian. The greatest lies are those we tell to ourselves, don’t lie to yourself. By being truthful with your self assessment you will achieve more than if you are not. Determine what areas are strengths and weaknesses; increase the balance by becoming a well-rounded person. Increase your knowledge in weak areas, while maintaining your strengths.
Step 2: Location
Just like in real estate, “location, location, location.” Where you live is so very important. It dictates many of your needs and precautions. Do you live in a house? An apartment? The city? The country? Are you close to a major interstate? What is your climate? Do you have a local food source? Do you have room to store equipment? Land to grow food? How far away is your closest neighbor? Do you have a close fallback point? A secondary? A tertiary fallback point? Do you have an out-of-state fall back point? If you must evac quickly, will there be others around you with similar needs? What is the local population? State population? All of these questions have roots in different scenarios, application of preparation techniques and above all, pure survival. This is just the start, challenge yourself to continue your list of questions, learn why these things are important how to use your location to benefit you.
Step 3: Visualization
In the martial arts I learned the technique of visualization. Really it is a continuation of using your childhood imagination. Develop that skill and it will provide you answers to questions that you never even knew to even ask. Start by picking a scenario an EMP attack, economic meltdown, a nuclear surface detonation; go through your day such as that event took place. By imagining what would be changed in your lifestyle you will be able to determine what holes need to be plugged. You don’t have to even tell a soul what you are doing, but it will remove the “rose colored glasses” that sit upon your face. Life takes a turn for the worse when there is no available food, water, medicines. The possibility of having to leave your home makes it even more challenging.
Step 4: Equipment
Weapons. Some people shy away from this, but defense is always necessary. Don’t make this complicated, you don’t need a tricked out $4,000 battle rifle, you do need something battle proven. It also needs to use a cartridge that can always be replenished. Stick with NATO standard calibers: 5.56×45, 7.62×51, 9mm Parabellum or other very common cartridges like .45 ACP, 40 S&W, 12ga. I prefer the 7.62×51 (somewhat interchangeable with .308 Winchester) over the 5.56×45 (somewhat interchangeable with .223 Remington) due to its increased range and power. Same goes with the 40 S&W over the 9mm. I try to stay away from Soviet cartridges; once that supply is dried up it will be gone forever. Most importantly go get professionally trained. Clothing and other gear, make sure it is good quality. Nothing is more demoralizing than when your equipment fails when you most need it. Test it, train with it, and make the equipment prove its worth to you before you stake your life on it. You will figure out what you need through research and training.
Step 5: Medical Concerns
Learn basic first aid. This should go without saying; we should all know basic first aid. Get some medical supplies on hand, Israeli bandages, a one-hand tourniquet, clotting agent (if trained), sutures (if trained), antibiotics, your daily meds. Again, learn how to use these things correctly. If you don’t, you could cause more harm than good. Staying healthy is of great concern. Dying from something as simple as an infection is very possible in a survival situation. Knowing basic things such as what antiseptics work best or complex techniques like wound debridement are invaluable.
Step 6: Physical Fitness
An old SEAL once told me, “Guys need to push themselves away from the desk, put down the ‘tactical wannabe gear,’ and run!” There is incredible amount of truth to this statement. You need to be physically fit to handle the stress encountered in a survival situation. Start working out regularly! All of the gear in the world can’t help you if you are not physically able to use it.
Step 7: What’s Next?
I don’t know, that is for you to decide. Pick your scenario, study it, live it through visualization, prepare for it, get the necessary knowledge, visualize it again and again, over and over until your fear is gone. Make checklists for each scenario, to remind you of tasks that need to be completed or gear that needs to be packed. By training hard you will have overcome the event before it even happens. Your mind is the most powerful tool you have at your disposal; don’t be afraid to use it. How deep you want to dive into this is your choice, but don’t take shortcuts with your level of training, equipment or the quality of information; it could be the difference between life and death.
These are basic areas to start with, expand upon them, and add too. Remember, this is a journey, a lifestyle; not of sacrifice, but of increased knowledge and security. God forbid you encounter a life threatening scenario, but if you do, you can take comfort in knowing that it is a mountain you can climb without hesitation. One that you can guide others to the top of if need be. Carry the weight of knowledge and leadership instead of being weighted down by fear.
Louis Pasteur said: “Chance favors the prepared mind.” Good luck and Godspeed.