Resilience and adaptability

Being someone of a preparedness mindset in today's day and age is to walk a careful balance of societal norms. On one extreme we have the individual was essentially turned their house to a private survival bunker. Upon entering friends and loved ones become concerned with how they have changed their livable space into storage and preparedness functionality. You also have a particular type of individual who in true American fashion buys all the latest and greatest gear but has no practical skill or has even used the products to see if they perform as they should.

To me, the true nature of being prepared is self-sufficiency the only difference between individuals is the timeline.

It's always interesting to me the people who take on the castle defense. Anyone who's studied military history knows that point system defense is tough to maintain. Defenses that were thought to be impregnable of been defeated over and over again. From Moats to ten-foot-thick walls, boiling oil, mountainsides, all other defense strategies they mastered over the years. It amazes me that people still think they can defend their plywood house. In this ignorance, they decide not to have contingency plans or alternative locations in case the fort is compromised.

There are animals that can live almost anywhere due to two qualities: resilience and adaptability. Resilience essentially is the ability to withstand environmental hazards for prolonged periods of time. Adaptability is being able to change to meet the requirements of your environment.

What we think about the tools, the strategy, and the skills we acquire with those two things in mind. As the saying goes “tough times don't last, but tough men do.”

Is it because Americans to accumulate stuff, consumerism is in our blood because the free market is also in our veins. There is a razor's thin edge between prepping and hoarding. Do not confuse having a house full of food and ammo as being prepared. The actual test of preparedness is how you would handle a situation without those things. 

Seek out the skills and put yourself in uncomfortable circumstances to build resilience and grit. As Musashi said in The Book of the Five Rings, “Do not sleep under a roof. Carry no money or food. Go alone to places frightening to the common brand of men. Become a criminal of purpose. Be put in jail, and extricate yourself by your own wisdom.” In this way, by you being the instrument to your situation you have developed both resilience and adaptation, but most of all you are cultivating your confidence in your abilities to survive. 

Go out, train, and select your tools as if they are the last thing you can carry. As you eliminate the unnecessary, all that is left is the necessary.

Tools don't need to be perfect, they just need to work.

Tools don't need to be perfect, they just need to work.

Being thrifty + Capability and application –

Gear is the first thing that comes to mind, but these two words can cover a vast spectrum of the preparedness world. The tactical business is pumping out new products that people can’t seem to see the forest for the trees. I’m a recovering gear addict, there, I said it. And as such whenever I see a new shiny thing hit the market and all the cool kids are jumping on it like a Tamagotchi in 1995. The newest thing to catch my eye is aftermarket slide modification for Glock’s. Nothing like taking the old blaster for a tune up and making some mods… until I saw the price tag. To upgrade you’re looking at 1200$+, and you have to send in your blaster for up to 6 weeks +. I had to stop the inner 12-year-old in me and say those two little words…

 

Capability and application

 

Which modifications out of this entire pistol package are going to increase the pistols capabilities and have the most effect on how its performance. It seemed that a trigger upgrade, mag well base plate for faster reloads, and better sights would be the best options for increasing accuracy and speed all around for the lowest price. These three upgrades would increase both capability and application for a fraction of the overall cost, and I could do them myself.

 

I did my research, but I didn’t jump on the laptop and start unloading the credit card. I’m a firm believer if you wait a little bit and search around that usually a good deal will come your way.

 

Enter armslist.com; this is the craigslist of the US gun world. Like craigslist your one gun away from being scammed or suckered, so like your grandpa used to say, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. But, every so often a deal comes by that is too good to pass up.

So, I shoot him an email asking how much all the magazines plus the phlster holster because I’ve heard good things. He hits me back saying 160$ which is half the retail. So, I’m think, sold! He then also replies with this.

It just turned into one of those deals, and he threw in a for Ghost EVO Elite trigger connector for free when I got there.   For 260$ I received about 600$ worth of gear not including what shipping and taxes would have cost me.

 

Am I saying this to gloat, not at all. I’m saying this because you never know what deals are going to pop up, so it’s good to have to go to resources to check to find that “once a year” deal. Before I buy anything, I stop a give myself at least a month to see if a sale or someone is selling one for cheaper. When it comes to items over 500$, I’ll sometimes wait up to a year to wait out a solid year. It's also good to have a list of what necessary and items that aren't crucial.

 

Remember, being thrifty isn’t the same as being cheap. Being cheap is buying a knockoff brand from China and being pissed off when it doesn’t perform as well as its American made counterpart. Thrifty, is paying less for an item that performs as well as it should. Improving capability and application.

 

Remember when looking at gear ask is this the new hotness/trend? Or does it truly add value to my setup? If so, where could I purchase this at a lower cost?

So make your list and check your sites regularly.

Favorite sites for good deals:

Armslist.com

Slickguns.com

Gunbot.com

Gunbroker.com

Ebay.com

Various forums and Facebook groups will have group sales.

 

Now get out and get training.

What is every day carry?

Everyday Carry - Mindset begins before you walk out the door

Everyday Carry (commonly known throughout the preparedness community as E.D.C.) is the items you have on you at all times. I see a lot of E.D.C. pictures and videos with expensive (and appearing unused) pistols, pristine 100$+ knives, and a whole multitude of other gear in perfect condition. A lot take it even further classifying bags full of gear as every day carry. 

The philosophy I follow is that if you’re at work or away from home and it isn’t in your possession at all times, then it’s not every day carry. A perfect example is in an office setting if you go to use the restroom and a fire alarm goes off are those items with you?

95% of the time if I’m out of the house somewhere I will have these items unless I’m going somewhere that prevents me from carrying some of them.

My EDC list:
•    Money clip aka “my wallet” – Includes an ID, Driver’s License, Concealed Carry Permit, Credit Card, and cash. (Always have cash)
•    Pen – Whatever your preference is
•    Small Pocket Notepad – To do lists, Ideas, Notes, etc. Before cellphones every successful person I knew carried one of these. Jefferson, Hemingway, Picasso, etc. Field Notes notebooks, Moleskine, and plenty of others out there. 
•    Knife – I used to carry a Benchmade or Emerson but I would either lose them, mess them up with everyday tasks, or get them confiscated by TSA because I forgot I had them on me. I now carry some generic knife I bought from amazon for 10$ five months ago. It has both a window punch and a seatbelt cutter. These two lifesaving tools that can be used in self-rescue or in rescuing someone else in an emergency. Out of the box its wicked sharp and use it all the time now. Five months of use probably every day and it still has an edge.
•    Cellphone- Iphone 6s
•    Keys – House keys, bike lock key, gym pass, and a SOG Crosscut. As a student now, the crosscut has come in handy all the time. Mostly the scissors but I used every tool in a pinch. Might switch over to a leatherman squirt eventually to have pliers on hand. All held together by a small black clip.
•    Pistol and extra magazine- Usually my Glock 19 or Ruger LCP if what I’m wearing will not conceal the Glock 19. I do not recommend this unless you have a concealed carry permit (sounds obvious but I know people who carry and don’t) and regularly train with the pistol you carry. Training meaning in both shooting and defending yourself (two different things). A lot of CCW training works on the shooting aspect but not on what happens if someone grabs the pistol, or the fight goes to the ground. What most people don’t realize is that pulling a pistol in an altercation means that your life is threatened and it’s kill or be killed. They aren’t prepared to pull the trigger, and the aggressor ends up taking the pistol. Usually resulting in them being shot and killed. Skill always beat gear so always be training for the fight.

REMEMBER – Nothing on your person is worth losing your life over. I would happily give someone my wallet and phone to avoid a confrontation involving a shootout. Unless you carry over $10,000 in cash on you and want to get tied up in court for years plus paying lawyer fees. Or just flat out losing your life.

•    Sunglasses – Rule #1 always look cool
•    A lighter – Bottle opener and having a way to always start a fire is a tenet of survival. 

That’s it for my E.D.C., and I use this stuff all the time. The lighter is probably the only exception to the rule because I don’t smoke. But it has come in handy often enough to have it there.

As you can see most of my stuff is used looking because it is.

Adapting is all about having the items you need in day to day life but to also assist you in any situation or to survive. Eliminate that which is unnecessary, and all you have left are your essentials.

Until next time,
Ronin 

 

My Everyday Carry

You can only bring so much

Urban survival is a tricky thing. Resources and the ability to gather from the natural environment is difficult in the traditional sense. Water and sanitation become huge issues quickly due to population and infrastructure reliance. Far more predators who present real threats to both security and supplies. 

I never pictured myself coming back to live in a city. Now that I’m here solving problems that were once simple in a small town or rural setting are increasingly more challenging. Space alone presents the largest barrier to keeping supplies on hand. Situation awareness is always high due to people always being around. You must find creative ways to bring supplies in and out with it leading to inquiries or questioned looks. 

You learn to maximize space and use it in more innovative ways. Gear collecting was border lining a hobby into an obsession with a quest for the perfect pack or backpacking stove. Leading to bins and storage spaces with items that didn't make the cut.

Now I find myself selling or giving away what I won’t use. A minimalist approach to exactly what gear I keep and getting rid of the rest. As American's not many of us have been hit with the "you got 10 minutes to grab everything you can take before we (insert disaster) gets here." If something happened tonight at 1 am, what would you take? These are the tough choices you have to decide upon.

“The things you own end up owning you.” -Tyler Durden

One of the excuses I told myself was “Oh I’ll keep this in case SHTF, and my buddy needs a vest” or “3 of these isn’t that much… I’ll just throw the spares in the shed.” Now my mentality has become if I had 1 hour what could I take… What about 10 minutes… What about 2 minutes? What if a mob is at the end of the street burning houses and kicking in doors? I don’t say this to scare you, but rather make you think critically. The key question you need to ask yourself is, “what key critical items can I take to maximize my survivability in my current environment?” The second question is “Where am I going if I leave?” 

If you leave home, you better have some place to go. 

And now you should factor in distance, time, supplies, fuel, communication, navigation, defense, etc. This planning process is where most people fall apart. They usually have the buckets of food, guns, ammo, and no real course of action. And when there’s no plan in place something gets missed, essential items not accounted for, and now he’s contributing to the chaos. Preparedness is a tortoise and hare race. Slowly progressing and extending your ability to survive. I think of it in the same way as weight training. Maintaining key gains slowly and consistently. Trying to balance your preps accordingly, so that you don’t overbuild in one area and leave another weak. Focusing on fine tuning for greater results, tracking your progress, and building a plan for success. 

Easy things are often less satisfying and tend to be disappointing when they’re finished. People who I have taught in the past have often thrown money at the problem. Buying the best gear but never training with the item or learning how to use if efficiently. You can have the best gun, body armor, or anything else, but if you haven’t tested it and yourself you will fall short.

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training.” Archilochos

Skills beat gear. Ask any guerilla fighter in the world. As cheesy as it sounds that gray lump of matter between your ear is far more valuable than your fully upgraded SUV or that bug out location in the mountains. You just go to put it to work along with those muscles. The wolves are always at the door, be prepared to deal with them. 

Building your mindset and starting from the beginning

Building mindset and starting from the beginning.

A survival instructor once told me that your ability to survive should center on how you would survive if you were in a shipwreck. Can you survive off of what’s in your pockets and the skills you've developed?

Every day carry pictures are all over the internet and what people decide to have on them significantly depends on their personal situation and various skill levels. 

But the problem I see most often is people showcasing gear they have as a show and tell looking for approval or likes in social media. Custom pistols with no scratches and wear marks. UnusedKnives, notebooks without an earmark or crease to be seen and other custom equipment in near pristine condition.

Why would you carry gear that you’ve never tested in adverse conditions? 

Simple answer – you shouldn’t. 

But even taking a step back from what’s in your pockets every day the real question should be, “What purposes are these items serving?"

It is easy to listen to a YouTuber or proclaimed survivalist talk about why they have it, but if you don’t have training in that particular item or tool than should you even have it with you?

Mindset and training are far more important than the items you carry.

Having a pistol and a concealed weapons permit does not make someone a gunfighter or defender of the public. It is the equivalent of someone owning an acoustic guitar walking around in public with it. 

They own it, but that doesn’t mean they are capable of playing it, especially to the benefit of others.

As your situational awareness, critical thinking, and skill sets increase so does the knowledge and equipment you carry. If your 16-year-old son decides he wants to be a racecar driver but doesn’t have a license would you put him in a race car and toss him the keys?

I Didn’t think so. 

Education starts simply with what you’re doing now, reading and researching. Deciding what tools, courses, and equipment will be to the greatest benefit for where you are at now in your preparedness journey.  These educational tools might be to improve your everyday life or for being ready in case of an emergency.

There are numerous ways of building a core set of knowledge and skills. One way I typically recommend to those starting out is to volunteer with a C.E.R.T. group (Community Emergency Response Team). They usually have a certification program that will be free of charge and take a few weekends to complete. This program will typically get you Red Cross Certified in CPR and First Aid; they will go through different disaster scenarios, and you will join a volunteer team who assist first responders during a crisis. Most of these groups work directly with EMS and have liaisons that are at the meetings. Being a part of C.E.R.T. will give you access to training, resources, and people you wouldn't normally have access to for just a small time commitment. It is also a great place to network and meet like-minded individuals with a multitude of backgrounds. 

For those looking to jump into a more extensive program SAR (Search and Rescue) is a great program to check out. You will get more extensive training than C.E.R.T. along with a variety of outdoor training in mountaineering, survival, tracking, etc. SAR presents another amazing way to network and acquires knowledge that you might not have had previously.

Other training I recommend for those just starting:

•    Red Cross CPR and First Aid
•    Martial Arts/ Combative – Specifically Jujitsu, Krav Maga, or a combination of grappling and striking. Most fights end up on the ground, so ground grappling is crucial. Street predators rarely attack one on one. Being able to throw strikes and block them is critical to protecting yourself. A good program should have a substantial contact component to developing the body and teaching it to push it through impact shock and pain.
•    NOLS or Certified survival course
•    Professional firearms instruction with an Instructor that has been vetted. Meaning they carry recommendations from experts in their field.
•    REI – Take this with a grain of salt, but if very new to survival and the outdoors this an excellent way to get your toes wet and ease into these ideas. They have classes on backpacking, gear setup, navigation with map and compass, and a plethora of other courses usually for free or a small charge. It’s a great intro and perfect way to meet other people who are just getting started. They are going to push a lot of gear for purchase, but they also have a great return policy so if you do try something out you can always return in within a year. (I don’t receive any endorsement from REI or any other organizations)

These suggestions are great places to start and begin building skills and meeting others on their path of self-reliance and personal preparedness. 

Good luck and I’ll see you out there.

Until next time. 

-Ronin
 

Where to start?

Where to start?

For people interested in building the basics but aren’t quite on board with the zombie apocalypse.

Like any hobby, sport, or interest it is easy with preparedness to wander into the rabbit hole and find yourself with a list of "what if's". On TV we see people are planning for doomsday scenarios and specific disaster situations. The reality is classes I taught on preparedness were predominantly average people wanting an information and ideas for how to store be ready in case of a storm or a power outage. 

The first exercise I would have classes do was making a list of what they think they might need for a one week the power and water stopped.

This exercise is great at showing where your focus and priorities are in emergency preparedness. It will also provide some insight on some key areas you might need to think about. 

I’ve seen some interesting survival diagrams and formulas out there. But here is how I break down the essentials to keeping people alive.

•    Maintaining a consistent core temperature of 98.6 +/- (achieved through shelter/clothing)
•    Water and Food needed (meeting the daily needs for sustainability)
•    Security (keeping supplies and your family safe.) 

These are critical concepts to success in an emergency situation.

Other important ideas would include:

•    Communication/ information (radios, cell phones, the internet, etc.)
•    Sanitation / Medical (waste disposal, personal cleanliness, extra medicine, medical supplies etc.)
•    Entertainment (This is especially important if you have children with you.)

If you were to make a list of all the things you have now how long could you survive in one place without leaving? What would be the first category above that would run out?

Every survival class I’ve taken always has these two rules:

1.    Don’t Panic
2.   Take accountability of everything you have that you can use to improve your chances of survival and rescue.

By identifying what you have you also identify what you need. 
Having 30 day’s worth of freeze dry food is great, but have you taken into account the amount of water needed to use them and how to heat them? When we’re talking about the urban living, not many people have space to store 50+ gallons of water. 

Too many people think if I just purchase an item and check it off the list. 

Look at the problem critically and identifying the areas that are going to be the most difficult to achieve. Focus on those areas and develop a strategy to solve it. The key is to build all these areas equally and gradually expand your survival timeline as your plans develop. 

Maybe the plan is, “Well, we'll just jump in the car with the family and drive up to Uncle Joe's cabin on the lake.” If leaving the city is currently not an option or the cabin is 300 miles away what other steps have you taken to ensure your safety until you can leave? 

The key to preparedness is having plans that are adaptable and well thought out.