Thursday, October 23, 2014

Concealed Carry: Practice Pefectly

When I was 14 I begged my parents for piano lessons. I love music of a variety and wanted to learn the correct way to play a piano. I already could play by ear pretty well (thanks Dad!). They finally gave in and I went to a member of our Ward who taught piano. She was a good teacher but I wanted to play different songs than the “kid” music she was assigning. I have a really good ear and can play almost anything if I hear it and especially if I see someone play it. So, I would ignore the piano, or play what I wanted, during the week, and then ask my teacher to play the song. She would play it and I would watch. I then would repeat back to her what she just showed me. Worked well for quite a while, then she caught me. My parents were paying for lessons and I was not practicing because I didn’t like the songs. They put a stop to that. The old saying is so true, “Practice makes perfect.” In the case of shooting, “Perfect practice, makes perfect.” Shooting a pistol well is not too easy. It takes learning the basics, and then practicing the basics. I have a co-worker who is a great hunter. He’s been doing it most of his life. He’s very good with a bow. He wanted to get his concealed carry license so he borrowed a pistol and went out to a field and shot it. He said to me, “Shooting a pistol is not very easy.” Yes, he is correct. It takes practice. That’s one of the first thing a person learns when they buy a home defense gun. Regardless of what it looks like in the movies it’s pretty darn tough to shoot a pistol well. Personally, I’ve always been amazed at how fast handgun skill falls off without constant maintenance. For most of my adult life I’ve been fortunate enough to practice with a pistol weekly. Even with this, when I’ve had to stop for a week or so, it’s always a challenge to get back to the level I was in the past. So what are we supposed to do if we can’t get to the range enough?
To start, you need to make sure you are getting the maximum amount of benefit from the time you have available. Some of this doesn’t even have to be range time. Dry firing is a fantastic way to learn trigger control and the technical qualities of your grip. These are two items that should be beat into you muscle memory with repetition. Squeezing a trigger and holding a gun are two things you don’t want to have to think about. A near reflex-like quality is what you’re trying for and a half-hour or so a night of dry-firing will build this up in a hurry. You can also practice your draw.
When it comes to concealed carry guns the draw is just as important as trigger control or grip. There are a few models of gun on the market these days with owner’s manuals that tell you that they can be dry-fired as much as you like without damage. In my experience this is more or less wishful thinking on the part of gun manufacturers. My advice is to buy some snap caps regardless of handgun model and use them. It’s a small expense compared with getting the pistol repaired.
Live fire practice is another area you want to milk for everything it’s worth. You may have noticed that marathon runners don’t tend to spend a lot of time doing pushups. Runners run to get better at running; if you want to be good at something you should practice that specific skill as well. A lot of shooting ranges don’t allow drawing. If you’re trying to get a feel for your self-defense rig, banging away with it from a perfect Weaver stance without practicing your draw isn’t going to teach you what you need to know. It’s absolutely essential to find some place to practice where you can learn a smooth draw, reloads, shooting from funny angles and off-hand draws. If this means leaving a legitimate range for a gravel pit, it’s worth it.
Regardless of how much time you spend with dry-fire practice, live fire time is always going to be the heart and soul of shooting practice. An unloaded gun will never command the same respect from its user that a loaded gun does. Whether we like to admit it or not, live fire practice is different from dry-firing. We’re all a little slower and more cautious when there is a round in the chamber. This is why live fire is so important.
A shooter needs to practice at short range with the weapon in odd positions to discover where their brass flies. Magazines or speed loaders with live rounds have a different feel to them, at least in the mind, and all the fumbling with them must be ironed out. Perhaps the biggest difference between live fire and dry-firing is recoil. That pistol that sits in your hand like a brick in the living room bounces around like a jackrabbit out on the range. A shooter can always learn to deal with this, but live fire is always going to be the method for this learning.
Commit to this type of practice from the very beginning. Many people do things backward. They get their concealed carry license, then buy a pistol, then learn to shoot. I think you should find the best gun for you, learn to shoot it, then get your license. Then PRACTICE!
In all things be legal and safe. Dry fire can be dangerous so learn to do this safely. Be safe at the range too.

Semper Paratus
Check 6

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Concealed Carry: Non Permissive Environments

I’m thinking if you are reading this, you are probably pro-gun. If you are not, then welcome and I hope we can convince you of a need for self defense.
I want to talk about non permissive environments (NPE). A non permissive environment is a place where you are not allowed to carry your legally carried weapon. There are many types out there and you should be aware of them all, and also you must decide what to do about them.
Let me give you my disclaimer here. I have strong opinions about this. How idiotic is it to give you a license to do something and then start restricting it. As if I want to defend myself in just a few places! In getting that license you must go through training, pay fees, and be subject to a back ground check. That doesn’t seem to be enough for the government. As usual, they want more.
I categorize these NPE’s into 3 different categories. Level 1, 2, and 3.
Level 1 Policy
This would be a place that does not want anyone to carry. Perhaps it’s the employees of a business or a residence. They have made it clear they do not want anyone to carry a gun in their business or residence.
Level 2 Policy and Law
Level 2 is the same as 1 but can be enforced by law through signage
Category 3 Law
Level 3 is usually a federal law. For instance, carrying in government buildings, Just don't. Most .gov buildings have metal detectors and security anyway, and the ones that don't, like post offices, aren't worth it. I’ve come to the conclusion the government wants me disarmed when dealing with them. Perhaps they know that dealing with the government will bring on rage…
You must decide with level 1 what you will do. I carry everywhere I legally can. Should I ignore policy and wishes? I had to decide and I say that my security supersedes someone’s politically correct ideas. The Constitution says that I can defend myself, so I will. Now level 2 is a little different. One thing I’ve noticed is that in states where a proper sign is required many places do not put up the right sign. They have not bothered to find out what is required and just put up a sign they think will be sufficient. I carry in these places. If they do not have the proper sign that is required by law and have not bothered to find out what is required, I feel no obligation to follow their policy. If they have a proper sign, I follow it. Yes I know, I’m asking to be compelled by law. You must weigh the consequences. If you carry and are made and the only consequence is they ask you to leave, I’ll take that chance.
The best thing you can do as a concealed carry participant is learn your local and state laws. You should know what your state has decided about guns in schools. Most people think that schools are gun free zones, find out what your law is. Many laws are not entirely clear. You need to know this and act accordingly. Public schools and I don’t mix well. Before I say more you should know that my Father taught in public school for 30 years. I am also a product of the public school system. I mean no disrespect to any public school teacher because I think those teachers are thankless. Most work really hard to care for and teach the children of this country. But they are good people overwhelmed by a hopeless system. It is failing miserably in spite of good teaching. The reason is administrators and the federal government. Administrators must bow down to politicians. Some school boards think they know better than parents what is best for children. And I have yet to find a school board who do not bow down to the federal government. The federal government does nothing very well. I would like to see a school district thumb their nose at the feds and tell them where to put their “fed” money. I wish the districts would just run their own school district. I wish state governments would also keep their nose out it. I also wish that books were not just a money making scheme. Do textbooks really need to change every year? Ok, I’m done with my rant.
Find out what your laws are and don’t interpret those laws liberally. Be very conservative because you may have to convince a judge of your interpretation. You don’t have to be a lawyer to understand most gun laws.
Use your best judgment with levels 1 and 2. Follow the law but don’t be caught unarmed in a place where you could and should have been. There is a risk/reward risk in many instances. If you can live with the consequence of carrying in a NPE then do so. If you cannot then be very careful about going to those type places. The only reason I want to be in a federal building is because I work there as a federal law enforcement officer, in which case I will be armed.
And just a word to you law enforcement officers, you too need to learn and know the law concerning guns so that you won’t harass someone legally exercising their rights. Don’t clog up the court system because you don’t know.
I think you have no business carrying a gun if you don’t know the law concerning what you’re doing. So learn a choose wisely.
Carry on!
Semper Paratus
Check 6

Friday, October 17, 2014

5 Weapons Everyone Should Have

5 (Potentially) Non lethal Weapons everyone should have

1. Tactical pen – Tactical pens are good as a weapon because, depending on your choice, it looks just like a pen. All of them are functional pens (I write with mine all the time). Most have a dull end that is either flat or rounded, and the other end in pointed. Most of these pens can be taken on a plane but make sure before you let your luggage go. You may need to pack it or lose it.
2. Paracord Monkey Fist – The Monkey Fist is one of my favorite knots. I’ve made them for years. Put a steel ball in this knot and a tail to swing it with and you have a formidable weapon. Like the tac pen it looks innocent enough. It makes a great key chain. It may look like a toy, but it most certainly is not. The Monkey Fist would most certainly inflict serious damage if swung at a perpetrator’s head or body.
3. MACE, Pepper Spray, (or the hottest) Bear Spray – This has been around for a long time. Most everyone is aware of this spray. It is one of the most popular self defense items that people purchase because it is non-lethal and you do not have to have direct contact with your assailant. When purchasing mace/pepper spray, make sure you get a good law enforcement or military grade. There are a few states that restrict mace/pepper spray and you can usually find the restrictions on any website that sells it. Hit someone in the eyes with this and you will magically disappear from their view. Find the strongest percentage of Capsaicinoids you can. The strongest being 2.0%
4. Hairbrush and comb – These are a stealth way to carry a weapon. The brush that I’ve seen is made of Zytel which is a fiberglass/nylon composite. The comb I’ve seen was made of ABS plastic. Both have a handle that detaches from the head of the brush or comb and is a dagger. Keep in mind that this is a dagger meant for stabbing, not a knife used for slashing so you have to have enough strength to thrust this into an attacker. Be careful about local laws and trying to take this on a plane.
5.Open Assist Knife – This weapon is probably the most lethal of these 5, but it is by far the most popular. This knife will open easily with a quick movement of your thumb as opposed to a two handed open pocket knife. The ease of only having to use one hand is extremely important should you find yourself in an emergency situation. Making this a good choice for an EDC (everyday carry ) This is not a switchblade, as switchblades are illegal in some states. Most states allow you to carry a knife with a blade up to 3 to 5 inches.
Check with laws on owning, carrying, or flying with any of these items. Be sure they are legal in your state or municipal area. Ignorance is never an excuse.
Also get training by someone competent in using these weapons. All of these weapons can potentially kill so learning how to use them correctly and efficiently is extremely important.
My recommendation for self defense is being armed, but I also believe in redundancy, these 5 weapons can help in that area. If you prefer a less than lethal self defense then I would suggest a combination of these. There are also tasers, and batons that are not on this list that require a little more training.

Semper Paratus
Check 6

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Being Followed in a Car: Losing A Tail

I was driving in a city where I don’t live. I knew the city a little bit, enough to not get too lost, but not real well. I was driving on the freeway on my way to a hotel where I was staying. It was late at night and I was alone. Traffic was not real busy, but there were some cars on the road. I had just come up an on-ramp and was merging onto the freeway when I realized I had just cut off a pickup that I did not see. He had to stow down significantly but not really slam on his brakes to keep from hitting me. I cringed and hoped he could stop and then had that feeling we have all had when we do something wrong. I hit the gas to try and “drive” out of the situation. The next thing I knew there was someone on my tail following a little too close. I did the trick you should do if you think you’re being followed, I slowed down.. When I did, the car slowed down too, a sure sign I was probably being followed. Needless to say, I lost him and went on my merry way, chiding myself for not being a better driver.
There are many different situations in which you may be followed. Could be a jealous ex or a private investigator (PI) hired by someone. Or it might just be that nut you cut off in traffic.
First you must identify if you really are being followed. I mentioned above just slow down. When you do this, most cars will simply go around you, unless they want to follow you.
Another way to ensure you’re not being followed is to run a surveillance detection route. This can be as elaborate or simple as you deem it should be. Try driving around the block. Or you could drive to 3 different locations. Drive to the gas station. Then to the hardware store. Then to Dairy Queen. If you see the same vehicle at each location you’re more than likely being followed, or you live in a very small town. But 3 locations should be the magic number. The likelihood of you seeing the same vehicle at all three places is pretty slim even for a small town.
So you’re being followed. No need to panic, there are some things you can do. Here are some. One is not better than the other, you need to decide which fits your situation.
Ambush. The worst case scenario. You need to keep the location secret and you work for the CIA. Go to a parking garage, get out of your vehicle quickly and lay in ambush to “neutralize the target.” You will probably never have to go to this extreme but there is the extreme solution.
If someone is following you they probably don’t want you to know it. Let them know you’re on to them. Make eye contact, point at them, most will stop following because they wanted to be secretive about it. A PI will leave if he’s been made. If a criminal was following you to your home for a home invasion, he too will not want to get caught and will leave to find another victim. This seems like it wouldn’t be what you want to do, but having their cover blown often will result in the termination of the operation. They’ll often stop following you.
Shoot the gap. This is risky but effective. In case you don’t know, here’s how shooting the gap works: you’re the first car in line sitting in traffic and getting ready to take a left hand turn. The light turns green, but you do not get a green arrow, which normally means you would have to yield to the other cars before making your left hand turn. However, as soon as the light turns green you “shoot the gap” and take your left hand turn before the other cars get moving and now you don’t have to wait for the break in cars to take your left hand turn. This is an excellent (but riskier) way to lose a tail because by the time the tail reaches the intersection there isn’t an opening for them to cross the intersection any longer.
Shoot the semi gap. If you’re on the highway there’s likely numerous big rigs. Wait for the right moment and you can weave in and out of the big rigs not leaving any space for your tail to follow. Once you’re free you could get off at the next exit (as long as your tail can’t see you do this.)
Call the police. If you’re truly afraid and you know you’re being followed, don’t try and be a hero. Call the police and give them your location and keep driving along the same highway or road until the police arrive. As soon as your tail sees the police car there’s a very good chance they’ll stop following you to instead worry about the new set of problems they have.
If you are being followed stay on main arteries. Don’t go off to secluded side roads. Stay on busy roads where there are plenty of people. Stay calm and keep moving. If you are moving you are safe. Don’t get blocked in with no escape route out from a stop light o other traffic.
If you must stop, make sure there are lots of people around or go to a police station.
Usually if you are being followed it will not be by someone who has done this before or has been taught surveillance skills. Unless they are a PI. Just remember the above information and that should take care of most problems you will have with a tail. Use your head and listen to the Spirit.
Semper Paratus
Check 6

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Moroni's Training and You

Alma 51:31 reads:
“But behold he met with a disappointment by being repulsed by Teancum and his men, for they were great warriors; for every man of Teancum did exceed the Lamanites in their strength and in their skill of war, insomuch that they did gain advantage over the Lamanites.”
This simply says that the Lamanites lost battles because they were not as skilled as the Nephites. It always helps when you are righteous and God is with you. As we as members try to defend our homes and families, we can learn from this verse. We must have advantage over the adversary.
Many years ago there was the original Star Trek series. In one of the episodes the landing party is trying to get back to their ship but is stopped by a powerful being. He wants to use the Star Trek crew in his arena to fight other aliens. Captain Kirk is supposed to fight an alien to the death. Something is said about Kirk defeating the alien because of good conquering evil. Dr. McCoy has a line that I’ve always remembered. He says to Kirk, “It’s been my experience that good conquers evil only if good is very, very good.” In other words, training and skill is important for good to win over evil.
How is your training program? Do you have one? Are you under the impression that when the time comes, you’ll remember everything the instructor said in the one shooting class you took 3 years ago? Or are you under the impression that going to the range once every 3 months will give you the muscle memory you need to instinctively draw, determine your target, determine if you really need to shoot, aim, shoot, and then look for any other threats that may be there? As President Monson so aptly put it several times, “When the time for decision arrives, the time for preparation is past.”
I’ve been fortunate in my life. I’ve had experiences and training that many people do not have the opportunity to learn. From the military I learned to shoot, security, survival, and many other things. From the Scouting program I learned emergency prep, wilderness survival, fire starting, using rope, and many other things. I’m sure most of you have similar experiences to look back on with gratitude. But there is much I do not know. I’d like to know how to weld. I’d like to know how trap. I’d like to know how ride motorcycles. And the list goes on. My list of skills I need, far overshadows my list of what I know.
But many of these things I have in my “skills plan”. Yes, I have a plan for everything! Drives my wife nuts. But it’s something I learned on my mission. In my missionary handbook there was a saying that said, “A goal not written is only a wish.” So I have a preparation plan with mini plans within the big plan to be prepared in all things.
Here is a sample.
Burn’s Prep Plan
A. Food storage plan
B. Water storage plan
C. Other item storage plan
D. Security plan
E. Bug out plan
F. Medical plan
G. Skill/Education plan
H. Financial plan
Each of these plans has the plan spelled out in detail. As we complete our action items we move to the next or find new items to add. Sometimes it’s hard to prioritize and items in the plan change. Our Bug out plan for instance, it has been set for some time. We haven’t had to change it for years. Our Bug out bags however have had many changes to it.
So what would your Skill/education plan consist of? There are many ways to attain education. Books and manuals can teach much. I love the Scouting program because of it’s teaching of skills. Merit badge pamphlets have taught me much of basic skills. This is a good source. The internet is a good place to learn, but be careful about the information there, try to confirm it with other sources. You tube has helped me out of many problems working on vehicles. We learned to build our pallet raised bed gardens from You tube. Find someone who may do the skill you want to learn and ask for a basic class in this skill. College’s will often give single classes in a variety of things. Other organizations like community centers and the Red Cross, or hospitals may offer free or low cost classes.
Once you learn the basics of the skill you are looking for, you must practice. Many years ago I went to a Jump school ran by the Army from Fort Benning. I jumped a total of 23 times. But I haven’t jumped in at least 20 years. Do you think I’d want to do this skill again by strapping on a chute and saying “I got this!?” I don’t think so. I’d like a refresher at least.
Defending yourself in any way requires good training and lots of practice. However you decide to defend yourself, have continuous training and practice. Don’t just dabble in your family’s defense. I like redundancy in my planning. 2 is 1 and 1 is none. I use a gun, pepper spray, a knife, and a tac pen for defense. These are the things I train in constantly. I was a weapons instructor in the military. I did this for many years. I’ve hunted since I was 10. Do you think I know how to safely shoot and handle a weapon? Yes I do. Do I need more practice and training? Always! Shooting is a perishable skill. I played basketball in High school. I don’t think I’ve touched a basketball in 10 years, do you think I can still shoot? Not really. Most skills have a shelf life. The longer they are shelved, the more need there is for additional training and practice.
Be on the lookout for training programs. There is always something to learn.
Captain Moroni knew his men needed to be better than the Lamanites. I’m sure they practiced and trained and did all they could so the Lord could bless them. We should learn from and follow the example of the Nephites in their preparation.
Semper Paratus
Check 6

Friday, October 10, 2014

Pocket Survival

I’ve been called a lot of things in my life time. I’ve been called husband, father, missionary, military member, instructor, teacher, idiot, nutcase, and crazy. Most of them have applied. I was buying some items at a Walmart one time when the clerk asked if I was a survivalist. I said yes I would like to survive being a Scout leader. I’ve also been called a prepper for doing something that I’ve done my whole life before the word “prepper” ever existed. Yes I want to be prepared for just about anything, does that make me a prepper? Yes, I would like to survive anything that comes my way, does that make me a survivalist? I don’t know. If it does mean those two “titles”, then I guess I am both of those things. I’m not sure of the criteria for being those things, but if I fit the bill I’d accept it. I used to be called an extremist, so I think the verbiage has improved.
I want to talk to you about a survival kit. If you look on line for a pocket survival kit you will see many for sale and many ideas for making your own. I was intrigued about 6 years ago when one of my Boy Scouts showed me their Altoids mint tin survival kit. I liked the idea. So I looked at Altoids tins and felt I would like something different. I found a plastic Tupperware kind of container and made my own. Let me say this first about the container. A tin has different uses than my plastic container. You can probably cook in it. Probably not very many times, but it’s possible to put it in a flame and it will not melt. By the same token, you can’t submerge the tin in water and be assured everything inside will remain dry. You probably can’t carry a little water in the tin without a leak. So the container you choose will be what you feel is important. The tin will probably need rubber bands to keep it from opening even in your pocket. The plastic container I chose is a little bigger than the tin so you can carry more stuff, but it’s bulkier and possibly heavier because of the extra stuff.
Our survival kits have several things in them:
Fish hooks, Fishing sinkers, Mini flashlight, Book of matches, Snare wire, Paracord, Fishing line, A condom, A nail, 2 small zip ties, A button compass, A whistle, Fire steel and scraper, 2 Bandaids, Small multi-tool, Lighter, 2 Needles, Water purification tabs, Gorilla tape, Aluminum foil, Large trash bag, Razor blade, Hacksaw blade in sheath, Waterproof/windproof matches, Cotton ball with Vasaline fire starters, Birthday candle in small Ziploc bag, Safety pins, Small mirror.
This is only a sample of what you might fit in yours. I’ve seen hundreds of these lists and each is just a little different. What I did was take a list I liked and changed some things to come up with my own unique list. I would suggest taking several lists and then adding or taking away what you feel you will need or not need. As you look and find smaller items you will make room for more.
There have been many incidents when people have really needed just a few items to help them survive but did not have them. More than items, skills should be acquired. I can start a fire with a bow and drill but if I had a knife and paracord life would be so much easier. I think I could improvise and make cordage but with just a little fore thought I can take care of myself and others. Most of all I need to have those items on my person to be really effective. Having a kit in your bag or in your car is good. My friend plunged his car into a river and was able to get out but with nothing in his hands just what was on him. Luckily he had a lot of things on him. He was able to build a fire, acquire and purify water, and was munching on a fish when he was found by a State Trooper. It was because of his skills but also the fact that he had some great everyday carry (EDC). So you need to make sure that your EDC is adequate. After talking with my friend I changed some of my EDC. You must make sure you have our EDC with you always. It does you no good at home on a shelf.
When putting together your kit, remember my training acronym ASWiFFS. The basics of survival are Air, Shelter, Water, Food, Fire, and Security. If you can base your kit off of these elements you’l cover the basics. Then add tools to aid in making shelter and obtaining food and water.
I like one of these kits in my bug out bag in case I lose my bag. Make sure when you bug out that you remove the survival kit from the bag and carry it. Put one of these kits in each vehicle and bug out bag.
Like any other gear learn how to use it. Take one with you camping or in your backyard. Take a few hours and test everything in your kit. Make sure you don’t use anything not in the kit. Be honest with it and don’t sluff. Give it a real test to determine what works and also what skills you need to work on or learn. This will give you confidence in your skill and gear and some real security to know what to do if the time ever comes that you must use what you prepare. Too many “preppers” have food and gear but have never really put themselves and their preparations to the test. Don’t be that person.
Being prepared takes more than just the desire and buying “stuff”. Being prepared, like carrying a gun, requires a mindset and commitment that is life long. Gone are the days of putting wheat bags under your bed and forgetting about it. Taking your Grandfather’s .22 Marlin out twice a year and blowing through 50 rounds won’t prepare you for hunting or self defense. A commitment of time, effort, and resources must be made to be prepared. Eventually it won’t be as much effort or resources. It will be a way of life that can serve you and others for the duration of your time here on earth.
Semper Paratus
Check 6

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Security: Determining Your Own Threat Matrix

I was asked by someone once how much ammo I carry. Seems like an easy enough question doesn’t it? My usual answer is a vague “As much as can carry!” I don’t like compromising my OPSEC so I am usually vague about such questions. But here I can address such information about my loadout. If you’re wondering, the military term “loadout” could be replaced by every day carry items or EDC. I’ve always separated my EDC items from my load out, or guns and ammo. For the sake of this article know that I am referring to loadout as guns and ammo carry. Most people have not put a lot of thought into why they carry what they carry. I asked a friend why he carried two guns? He didn’t have a real answer except that it made him feel more secure. Sometimes that is enough. But I suggest there be some thought into your loadout.
When I was in the military we were never trained to be an individual, but a team. So if you were going into harm’s way you had 3 options: To not go, which is usually not an option, Bring a rifle, and last but not least, Bring friend’s with rifles.
So barring any military operation, determine your threat.
In the military we have threatcons or threat conditions. We actually had a criteria for each threatcon but for the sake of your sanity (it’s impossible REMEMBER all this stuff!), we’ll stick with threatcons as Low, Medium, and High.
Low is what we live in almost always every day. In this threatcon you are only preparing for the off chance something may happen. This is also being in condition Yellow that we’ve talked about in previous posts (See blog Yellow to Orange 3/8/2014).
Medium threat would have to do with location or situation. Going into a known high crime area or an isolated area or even at night might be enough to make the threat medium. This is not a directed threat against you.
High is imminent danger. A direct focused threat of loss of life or limb. You have verifiable evidence of a threat against you. A verbal, written threat through personal encounter, internet, phone, or letter.
There is also one more category of threat, that is without rule of law. WROL is an extreme that we can plan for, but is less likely to happen. That would be one of many things such as a Katrina disaster, a EMP (electromagnetic pulse), an attack by a foreign power, etc.
What exactly do you carry? That all depends on the threatcon. So naturally the loadout is put into three categories like the threatcons. Light, standard, and heavy.
Light is mostly what I carry every day. A Sub-compact, a spare magazine, a tactical knife, a flashlight, and a tactical pen.
Standard would be Light armament with the sub-compact becoming a backup gun to the compact. I will have a spare magazine for both weapons and 50 rounds extra.
Heavy would be the standard but a with 4 additional magazines. And 100 extra rounds.
There is also Extreme heavy which is directly linked to WROL. That would be basically a combat loadout, tac vest, fully loaded. Battle rifle, large fixed blade knife, grenades, which I DO NOT have, but would like to have in this situation. And all the heavy armament with as much ammo as I can carry for each weapon. As I said above, this is a unlikely situation, but plan for it anyway.
Heavy and of course extreme heavy are very hard to conceal. You may conceal part of what you are carrying, but at least make it not so obvious. Sort of like the difference between cover and concealment. Cover is ideal, concealment is sometimes reality.
I have seen these thoughts put down into a graph. I tried it and it’s a good exercise for preparing and planning.
It follows the 3 threatcons and 3 loadouts, minus the extreme and WROL.
It has a graph of 9 squares, 3 columns and 3 rows. On the left of the graph is Loadout, the top is for Threatcons. Then you fill in each square with what you think you should have under each situation. You may end up eliminating some squares, but the graph would give you an idea of where you need to prepare, and maybe even show some holes in your security plan. This will give you a chance to prepare accordingly, and maybe even get resources you may not have now but feel you’ll need later. This is called the Threat Matrix and it’s a good exercise in security prep. This is not my idea but I think it is a good tool use for your security plan.
Semper Paratus
Check 6

Vehicle Security: Situtional Awareness

Driving in the United States is just about an everyday thing. I started driving on my Uncle’s ranch at the tender age of 14. By the time 16 came around, I pretty much knew what I was doing. Driver’s Ed was a breeze. Even parallel parking! So driving is almost like breathing for me. As I’ve said before, I took a combat driving course back in the 80’s in the military. So when I get on a busy freeway I feel like I’m as comfortable as the country road in front of our house. But I’ve never experienced road rage. I don’t think I’ve ticked someone off enough for them to want to pound my head. It’s kind of crazy when you watch it. Is it really worth being 10 feet down the road further because of that lane change? We all have done it. I think most of us need to chill out when it comes to driving. But how do you keep yourself safe from a security stand point out in public in a vehicle? Usually, driving is not a big security issue. It’s when you stop or are entering or exiting your vehicle where you are most vulnerable (see blog Avoiding a carjacking, 5/28/2014).
First, just leave a little earlier. Something this simple can change everything. When you’re in a hurry you take more chances and may do some stupid things that may enrage those around you. Your mindset is different when you’re early. Change your timeline by just leaving earlier. Some may debate how much time, but at least 10 minutes would be good. I like 15 myself.
Your situational awareness should be elevated during driving. This is something that can be forgotten because we drive so much. Not only for safety sake, but for security sake. Cars are safer than any other time in history but that doesn’t mean we should be lax in our attention. With speeds faster than when we had the national “55 mph” mess, things are coming at you pretty fast. Look for an exit. I don’t mean an exit from the freeway, an exit from where you are driving. If you have a place to drive that is drivable, you will be able to maneuver and possible drive yourself out of an accident.
You should know your vehicle. Does your car or truck lock automatically? What features make you more or less vulnerable sitting there in a parked vehicle? So, locking your doors immediately is a good practice. Is there an weapon you can improvise if needed? Can you get to your weapon? (see blog Improv weapons, 5/6/2014) Make sure it’s time to put on your seat belt. Look around at what is going on around you. Will you have to exit the vehicle and run? Know this intel before you buckle up. There are some vehicles that will automatically unlock your doors when the vehicle is put in park. Disable this feature! Youtube or the dealer can show you how.
Remember you are out there in public when you are driving. It’s usually not a good idea to get out of your vehicle. Even if you are mad, don’t get out. If you are followed or someone tries to block you in, do what you can to keep moving and go to a public place or a police station. If you feel threatened move to get off the “X”. If you finally decide that exiting is the right course, find a safe place to do this. Have a plan and be in the Orange mindset (see blog Yellow to Orange, 3/8/2014). Have an escape planned before you exit the vehicle. Leave all the doors locked except what you just got out of. You may have to egress the situation quickly. Make sure you have your self defense items with you. You cell phone is a minimum. Don’t let anger run this confrontation.
The best thing you can do is to ignore road rage and keep you vehicle moving. That is where your safety and security is. Drive smart.
Semper Paratus
Check 6

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Family Communications Code

Communication during a crisis is extremely important. During a disaster you are most concerned about your loved ones, people, more than things. Survival becomes job 1. We do not have little children anymore. We have married and younger kids. We no longer need a code word so that our kids will know that they can go with someone. If you have small children, devise a word where only your family knows that it is your security word. When someone other than you is sent to pick your child up, the child will only go with them if they know the security word. This a safe way to care for your children.
For our family we have code words to let each other know if there is trouble at home or all is well. We have code words to leave on our front door if we have to bug out telling who, where, and when we left.
I work on a federal installation. We often have exercises and sometimes “real world” crisis that happen. I want to be able to tell my wife what is happening without compromising any security measures. So we have a code that only the two of us know so I can communicate quickly to her what is going on. Even it’s a real world event, I want her to be able to know and act accordingly to protect my family.
We have also devised a code for all communication. It is called a book cipher. It goes like this:
A book cipher is a cipher in which the key is some aspect of a book or other text. Books are common and widely available. Coders use books because the details of the key are hidden from anyone even if they had a copy of the key. This is an example of security by obscurity. It’s essential that both coders not only have the same book, but the same edition.
Traditionally book ciphers work by replacing words in the text of a message with the location of words from the book key being used.
Use common books and make sure they are the same edition. Bibles and other scripture would work. We use a dictionary. You can find duplicate books at dollar stores.
Most of these codes we use occasionally for fun and practice. I use the code for what is happening at work all the time with my wife.
When you develop a family code make it as simple as possible. But remember, the less elaborate the code, the easier it is to break it. The use of keys like the book cipher will ensure a level of difficulty that would require more than just intelligence to crack. The problem with key codes is that if the key is obtained by your enemy, they will have your code.
Be creative when you choose code words or develop a key. Guard your key. Also don’t lose it because you never use it. Put it with your preparedness gear.
Communication security is important if you want to keep operations (what you do) private. A family code is like many other parts of preparation, something you may never need, but it’s good to have it in place.
Semper Paratus
Check 6

Friday, October 3, 2014

Evacuation, Bugout, or Get Out of Dodge

I grew up in the West in a predominantly LDS city. It still has many members but I wouldn’t call it predominant LDS anymore. Anyway, I was in a city but the suburbs. It was a good place to grow up. After I was married we joined the military. The military exposes you to many places, people, and things. The military taught me many things and it was a good experience for us. Half of our many kids were born on a military base. I like many things about the city. We now live outside of a small town. I tell you all this vague information just so I can ask you to get out of the city.
Out of the city? That is a strange request. Yes it is. Let me explain why.
I’ve said many times that I am a prepper. To be honest, I was preparing before “preppers” even existed! I think we were called “nuts” or “extremists” back then. Anyway, in my experience I would not want to be near a city in any kind of preparedness scenario you can think of. Being in a city only makes whatever preparedness scenario worse. There are maybe a few exceptions to this. More people can mean more like-minded people to ban together. You may have better access to training and resources. But all these things are pre-preparedness scenario. During a prep-scenario all those people can make things pretty bad.
Cities are harder to evacuate. There is more crime and more criminals. If you do not have an evacuation plan from a city, you could find yourself in a lot of trouble. Even with a plan, cities give you different challenges than a smaller town.
I’m not meaning to make this an anti-city rant, I just want you who are there to understand your challenges.
In reading an article written by a sociology professor who studies natural disasters and human reactions to them I learned something.
“Something happened in New Orleans the week of Aug. 29, 2005, that Dennis Mileti had never seen before in his more than three decades of studying natural disasters and human reactions to them: People were left behind during a mass evacuation.”

He had considered it a waste of time to plan for mass transportation to help evacuate a city. His understanding of human nature led him to count on the idea that neighbors would not leave neighbors behind. That’s what happened in evacuations prior to Katrina.

The breakdown in society has made people uncaring and selfish. There are a lot of good people out there but many are only looking out for themselves.

You should not depend on the kindness of others to get you out of a city.

Sometimes you receive an evacuation suggestion (voluntary) or order.
There’s one major problem, however: human nature. Social scientists know that every evacuation involves a period of hesitancy when people mill about. For example, say the fire alarm goes off at work. Chances are people will gather to discuss what they should do, sometimes shouting over the din of evacuation alarms. Large groups tend to mill longer than small groups.

Studies of the World Trade Center evacuation showed that people in large work groups took longer to evacuate than people in smaller work groups.

Knowing when to leave is very important. That is where information the Spirit is something that you should have in making this decision. Remember, if you are wrong and evacuate, coming back to a job, school, and anything else in your life is not that difficult after only a few days. I’d rather be safe than sorry. Be wise in your choice to leave, but the longer you wait, the more difficult it can become. As far as natural disasters are concerned scientists are debating whether global warming is to blame for the seemingly more intense and frequent storms, or if this is part of a more predictable cycle of heightened hurricane activity. Science will not find the answers because science is man’s limited knowledge. As you learn more about the signs of the second coming, you will know why nature seems to be more violent. I guess there probably is a scientific reason, but knowing that reason won’t stop the weather.

I’ve included a very basic evacuation plan for you to start your own.

Preparing an Emergency Evacuation Plan
An emergency evacuation plan has two parts: evacuation from your house, and evacuation from your neighborhood. An evacuation plan for your home is useful not only for disasters, but also for fires or other incidents in your home.
Important points to remember when creating an evacuation plan for your home are:
 You should have at least two (2) escape routes from each room.
 You should mark the locations of any escape ladders, or other special equipment.
 You should mark the locations of fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, first aid kits, disaster 72 hour kit.
 You should mark the locations of the shutoffs for gas, water, and electricity.
 For people with medical conditions or disabilities, mark their location as well as the location of any special equipment they will immediately need.
Emergency Evacuation Inventory
If you have to evacuate your house, you may have as little as 10 minutes. Under these circumstances, trying to think of what to save is very difficult. Take some time now to think about what items you would try to take with you. Write down a list of the high priority items you would take if you only had 10 minutes to evacuate your house. Remember, you may have to carry everything.
Evacuation Steps
If you have time during an evacuation, you may want to take steps to secure your house. Give some thought to what things you need to do to secure your house. Write down your plans and keep the paper in a safe and accessible location.
Household Emergency Evacuation Plan
 Draw your building’s floorplan, then draw your evacuation routes and a meeting place.
 Make one drawing for each story of the building. Keep in a safe place and review often with your family.
 Have maps ready for the following:
 Closest evacuation centers.
 Main and Alternative routes for leaving the city in North, South, East and West directions.
 Meetup spots outside the affected areas. For example: I live approximately 50 miles east of a nuclear power plant. Should there be an accident or an attack and the wind is blowing in an Easterly direction, our plan is to head north and meet up in a town approximately 60 miles north of my home.
Choosing An Out-of-Area Contact:
During an emergency local phone service may be limited, so you should arrange with someone outside your area to be your family contact.
Your contact person should have voice mail or an answering machine.
Ensure that every family member knows that they should listen to the radio or TV for telephone use instructions, then phone your out-of-area contact person to say how and where they are and what their plans are.
Keep calls short, and if possible, arrange to call the contact person back at a specified time for another check-in.
Choosing A Place to Meet:
At the time of an emergency, your family may not be together. It is important to choose family meeting places.
Remember that bridges may be out and roads may be blocked by debris, so choose your meeting places carefully with access in mind.
Pick places that are easy to identify, that can be reached on foot if necessary, and that are in an accessible, open area.
Take into account where each of you will likely be at different times and on different days.
The emergency evacuation plan for your neighborhood can be handy in a large disaster. By plotting out potential routes on a city map before the disaster, you will save yourself from having to figure something out while in a hurry.
Things to think about when crafting your neighborhood evacuation plan include:
You should plan two (2) routes for each direction. (North, South, East, West.)
You should avoid routes with obvious hazards, or routes which are likely to be impassible in a disaster. (You probably will want to drive the routes before deciding.) And avoid common routes that may be congested during an emergency.
Establish plans with other family members for meeting up outside of the evacuated area. Make sure each member knows the location of the established meeting points.
You should have a phone list of 3 contacts, outside of your area. Each family member should carry a personal copy of this list. In an emergency, communications may be down in your area. Family members can contact the persons out of the emergency area to pass along messages and to check on the welfare of other family members.
Be sure that each family member has a copy of the evacuation plan, maps and telephone numbers.
You should also allow for an evacuation scenario, while at work.
Keep your emergency evacuation plans in a safe location with your 72 hour kit.

I can tell you from experience that bugging out is a stressful time. Make it easier by planning and preparing every needful thing.
Semper Paratus
Check 6

Evacuating can be a smooth, relatively painless event if you plan. But you must prepare and plan.
Living in a city has its challenges, think of what you may have to deal with and plan accordingly. Write down your plans and review them and practice them. Find out if your city or town has an evacuation plan and get a copy of it.

Happiness is Combat Zero at 50

It’s that time of year. The time when hunting rifles are sighted in all over this country because the season is starting. Every hunter will have his favorite “zero” distance. If you hunt big game like Elk, you will probably want to zero at a greater distance than say, Texas deer. Everyone has their own ideas and you should find what suits you, your rifle, your caliber, and your bullet load. I haven’t hunted in several years and the older I get, the less I want to. I have nothing at all against hunting, I think it’s great sport and useful for wildlife management and just putting meat on the table. Many years ago I hunted with a 30-06. I took deer every year, would field dress it, haul it out, dress it, ¼ it, blah, blah, blah. I hate the processing part but I’m too cheap to pay someone to do it. We used to hunt dove every year, and Javalina too. Now days I think I’d like a .308 for hunting. Anyway, zero for hunting is different than zero for defense. Many people go by the old military standby of zeroing for 100 yards. But I learned that zero for 50 is the best defense because of several things. I’ll go through what I was taught by an Air Force special forces operator who I’ve known for years. I like the way he explained it to me.
This method is for open sights or red dot only, not scopes.
As I said above, 50 yards is the ideal zero for defense and here’s why. Shooting a deer is not the same as a man.
When you first sight in a rifle or new sights, set up your target at 25 yards. Sight for dead center bullseye. This way you will know if the rifle is at least on your target before you try it at a greater distance. If the rifle is way off, you’ll catch it here. Fire more than one shot to make sure there is a group on paper. As usual for any sight in, use a stand. Then when you’ve got it sighted on 25 yards bullseye, adjust the sights to 1 inch under the bullseye. Because the bullet has yet to cross the line of sight at a close 25, so 50 will be a little lower.
Then move the target out to 50 yards. You want this to be adjusted to dead center. Once you’ve done this you will be ready to engage a man size target at 250 yards. How can that be? Because of bullet drop (this is a 0.224 caliber, 55 grain .223 bullet). A .223 bullet will hit dead center at 50 yards, 1.4” high at 100 yards, 1.5” at 200 yards, and 7.2” low at 250 yards. So if you aim for center of mass, you will hit a man’s body from close quarters out to 250 yards.
Why not just zero at 100 yards? The bullet drop is similar at 100 yards but you get a significant drop at 250 or 300 yards. It would be in the dirt. The 50 yard dial in for that bullet clearly is the one to use at all those ranges as a defensive round ballistically speaking.
7.62x39 can use this method but past 200 yards the .30 caliber Russian round does not do very well because of bullet drop. The 5.45x39 is similar to the 5.56 so you can use this method with that round.
Zeroing a rifle is important and essential. Anyone who owns a rifle needs to know how to zero it. Experiment and find out if the above will work for you.
Semper Paratus
Check 6

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Trigger Check

I was at the range the other day. There was a guy there shooting his Glock. He asked me some questions (guess I’m starting to look old…and wise). We got to talking. I’m careful about what I say at a gun range to people I don’t know. He asked a couple of questions that I could answer vaguely. I pointed out something that he did that could be dangerous. After he was done emptying his magazine, He would keep his finger on the trigger, turn the gun, and drop the magazine. I noticed he did this every time. His muzzle control was fine, he didn’t point the gun at himself or anyone else. It was still pointed downrange. I told him I taught military members that had the same habit. I told him about one particular guy who had been in the military for quite some time. He had the “expert” ribbon, which meant he knew how to shoot and had some experience. He had the same habit. He was used to gun up, press the trigger. Basically aim/shoot. I kept at him about how dangerous that was. He couldn’t understand even though I warned him that any amount of stress could cause him to trigger check, or worse aim/shoot. When you train yourself to aim/shoot that’s what you end up doing. Some of those who compete may have some similar habits. So what if they draw their weapon in a real life combat situation and see that they SHOULDN’T shoot? In the fraction of a second (or longer) it takes to bring a gun up to a target, the situation can suddenly change. You can recognize the target as a friendly. An attacker can drop their weapon. An innocent person can jump in front of your target. You can become aware of a greater threat elsewhere. My student was deployed. I forgot about his habit and life continued. After about 18 months I recognized my student once again in a qualifying class. After his qualifying run I welcomed him back. He asked if I noticed he no longer had the habit. I had forgotten he had it to begin with because he obviously no longer had it. He told me what had happened in his first combat experience. He was at a checkpoint and a suspicious vehicle drove up. Without warning 3 guys jumped out and were looking suspicious hiding their hands. Eventually it turned into a firefight where the insurgents came out on the losing end. Not two days later another vehicle drove up to their checkpoint and also without warning the driver jumped out. My student had his weapon up and was expecting another firefight. The driver was a young teenager who was not armed with anything but a black cell phone. My student said he saw his hand go up with something black in it. At the last second he adjusted his fire shooting the young man’s vehicle instead of him. He said he had not meant to shoot, but because of his habit, he had. I asked how he changed that. He said it took a conscious effort and many hours at the range, and the better part of a year to change those habits. The guy at the range looked at me and then said “Can you help me change this habit?” We talked about some things he could do to work on it.
Everyone knows rule 3 of the gun safety rules: Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
This includes when you’re “finished”. Often you may not know there is one left in the chamber. My advice is to put your finger as high on the gun as you can. But the real training is to train yourself not to shoot. You must train yourself to bring the weapon up to the target with your finger off the trigger and then not touch the trigger until you decide to shoot. This way you have an option to not shoot. Sometimes you need that option in the half second it takes to acquire and identify a target. If you have that muscle memory of point/shoot and your finger is already on the trigger, you may commit what we call “friendly fire”. That is not something you want to deal with. It’s difficult enough dealing with a correct assessment of threat, and a defensive shoot, especially if death is involved.
Checking the trigger is a similar action to a new concealed carry participant who is constantly touching his weapon. The difference is the danger in the trigger check. It is noted that we lose fine motor skills when faced with a high stress situation, especially a life and death situation. Pressing a trigger or not is a fine motor skill that if lost may turn into a reaction squeeze. This is not a good thing but it is a natural thing. That's why we have to train so carefully to stop it from happening. One of the things that also can happen in a stressful situation is that we tend to be thinking of other things other than where our finger is, or much of anything else.
If you have watched tactical shooting training you will notice that often it is taught that once you have engaged your primary target that you look to the right and left. This is to break your tunnel vision and check for other targets. The same should be said for going into a stressful situation. Try to glance to the sides of what you perceive is your target. Don’t get distracted, but make sure you are not experiencing tunnel vision and that you can concentrate on taking care of yourself and those you might be working with. If you can manage the stress and avoid tunnel vision you will have better experience and more success.
Surviving a life or death experience usually changes people. I’ve noticed that the change can be for good for those who handle the stress better. This could happen to you or me. So we should focus and ingrain proper handling habits to ensure that it doesn't.
Stay safe!
Semper Paratus
Check 6