GSL Appleseed 2012 40 770
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At Guns Save Life meetings across Illinois, we welcome subject matter experts as our guest speakers. Sometimes the presentations make history come to life with people who were there such as the Korean First Marine Division Breakout or the Iranian Hostage “Crisis.”  Other times, we hear from insiders and experts.

Last week at the Pontiac GSL meeting, we heard from a man with 30 years of experience in America’s Special Operations Command. Terry Riccolo shared his thoughts on family preparedness for emergencies.

“Forget the super shelter,” he said. Instead, got together with a group of like-minded people with skill sets you will need in a location that allows for the safety and security of the inhabitants. This might be in Small Town, USA or it might be on a farm with enough shelter for a large group.

Either way, you want to join up with people with diverse skill sets. For example, you probably want medical professionals as well as those skilled in animal husbandry, agriculture, communications, dentistry, canning, marksmanship, tracking, security and so forth. (Odd how he didn’t mention lawyers on that list, isn’t it?)

Have one or more places you can go if things get bad. And if there are major natural barriers like large rivers between you and where you’re going, you better have a plan to navigate those waterways that doesn’t involve bridges which may be blocked by the government or bad guys. In fact, as far as you’re concerned, they might well both be one and the same if they won’t let you through unmolested.

Alternatively, if you’re holed up by yourself as a family unit and conditions don’t improve, Mr. Riccolo doesn’t think you will have a positive outcome for very long. Why? “Because everyone has got to sleep sometime.”

Even if you’re living well, what are your neighbors going to do when they smell you cooking sausage and eggs and their kids are begging them for something to eat after a week of little or no food? Unless you have food and fuel to feed the entire neighborhood, your position will soon be untenable.

How long can you last in your residence remained a common theme in his remarks.

Do you have what you need for the short term, including backup power for a well pump if you live in a rural setting? Do you have heat, food and water for that short term? Food that you (and your spouse/kids/grandkids) are already accustomed to preparing and eating?

While it might seem obvious to those of us who have practiced preparedness for some time, you must prepare for the most critical necessities (heat, water, food) first.  Everything else comes after that. All the guns and ammo (or precious metals) in the world won’t help you if you stepped or fell into near-freezing water and you don’t have a way to dry off and get warm.

From a practical standpoint, what’s the point of storing a year’s worth of food for you and a dozen others if your neighborhood (or apartment building) won’t remain stable and relatively orderly after a week or two of no water or electricity?

If you’re really into prudent preparing, you will pre-position some limited food and supplies into one or more of those trusted places you would likely fall back to in a serious emergency. Fortunately in America, those sorts of emergencies are very rare and typically fairly localized (think Hurricane Katrina) and short-lived. So plan accordingly.

Two or maybe weeks of food and supplies might be all that’s needed. Or if the New Madrid tears loose or the Yellowstone Caldera burps, you might need to plan for a little longer, but you get the idea. Both of those dystopian disasters are far less likely than Joe Biden getting us into a shooting war.

Worried about the government? Don’t be, Riccolo says. They have bigger fish to fry than even a large, well-run group in Small Town, USA. Unless you’re stepping on their toes in some way, the government has limited resources and you won’t be in their crosshairs.

Their priorities will be to first keep their facilities secure and safe from looters and other bad guys. Secondly, they’ll tackle the really big issues at hand impacting hundreds of thousands or even millions of people, not what’s happening in Smallville, population 4,423.

At the same time, if you live in a big city, Riccolo suggests your plans might involve getting out at the first opportunity.

Emergency management people have plans to keep city dwellers penned up in the big cities if something really bad happens. “For their own good,” of course. You would be wise to make sure you’re not one of those stuck there if those plans are implemented.

If those plans are implemented, those kept inside the big cities will probably want a whole lot more government-provided security, but it will likely be scarce at best and heavy-handed at worst. Meanwhile, small towns and rural areas will likely remain relatively unmolested by the .gov.

At the same time, Terry noted, if you have 400 head of cattle and everyone for fifty miles around has nothing to eat, you’re going to need quite a security operation to protect those animals. (Anyone else watching Yellowstone lately?)

How can I find other people with useful skills?

“I don’t have a farm or a medical degree. I can’t shoot well. Or worse yet, I don’t own a gun. What can I do? Where can I find these people to help navigate an emergency?” Well . . .

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Riccolo advised that you can increase your survivability and meet some good people at the same time by learning some basic life-skills. Indeed, while learning you will meet others who are similarly situated.

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Embracing gun ownership is an obvious one, but you’ll also need to learn skills with those guns, including how to shoot to the Rifleman’s standard and how to handle your defensive handgun effectively. The “man card” alone doesn’t imbue man skills in using a gun, and neither does Hollywood.

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If your state still issues concealed carry licenses, get yours if you don’t already have one.  If your state doesn’t require a permit to carry, you can start carrying now and get accustomed to it.

Either way, consider taking a defensive shooting class to boost your skill sets and confidence (and meet some good people). If you choose a class well, you’ll have a great time, too.

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Other skills, like basic hand-to-hand fighting skills can also save your bacon. We’re not talking super-ninja stuff, but simple things like how to throw a strike…and how to block one.

It might surprise you that most men today don’t even know how to throw a proper punch. Many hit like a proverbial schoolgirl. Learn how (and where) to strike most effectively. And yes, you can strike and block even if you’re an old-timer or in a wheelchair.

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You’ll also want to add in other abilities with knives (how to use them without cutting yourself, first and foremost) and first aid. How to defend against a knife attack might come in handy, too.

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Outdoor skills help, too, like how to build a basic shelter, start a fire, and navigate (with a compass, not Google Maps!) all are great life-saving skill sets everyone should have.

While you and your family are learning, engage your social skills and work on making new friends while enjoying lunch. Those relationships may prove priceless.

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At the same time, you can also work on building relationships among those in your existing circle of friends, to the point where you can present yourself and your family (and what you bring to the table in knowledge, skills, attitudes and abilities) as an asset in an emergency.

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Where do you find friends like these? Again, start at your local gun club, grassroots gun rights organization, or events like Appleseed shoots or other “life skills” classes.

Your church may also have some good people to build relationships with as well. Unfortunately you can get all manner of philosophical perspectives as well as varying levels of reliability from members of any given church’s congregation.

On the other hand, Riccolo noted that you can spend all your weekends golfing, and that’s okay, too. Terry noted, however, that golfing has little to no practical survival value.

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59 COMMENTS

  1. “What’s the first rule of [Prep] Club? Don’t talk about [Prep] Club!”.

    Strategically, your point is valid. Tactically? I’d prefer as few people as possible knew anything about any preps I may or may not have, other than people I REALLY trust.

    Not an invalid topic, but . . . hard to generalize about something like this.

    • Agree…1st rule of fight club! My gats are for me & mine. We have some close friends included. Best advice is get out of that big city. I am likely to bug in.

      • It’s ok….. people in the city are waiting for you in-breeds to “bug in”….. we got large caliber cans of Raid ….

        • There will be plenty of long pig meat in the big cities following the collapse. The government should print handbooks for butchering it in the best manner. How to best preserve it, too.

    • Imagine how terrible it is to live life as Lamp the glorified Notary Public and contemptible wife beater. After all, she’s in the bottom 1% in every measurable category, including but not limited to intellect. On that score she’s really at the bottom of the barrel lol.

      • The View From The Top Is Excellent

        I am sure you know all about wife beating. Your IQ is commensurate with your shoe size. I did not realize how small someone’s shoe size can be.

        • Lol. WEB III you’re trying to play an MIT level game with Trump University skills. Sit this one out to avoid taking the ‘L’. 🖕🤡.

          Also, guns are great as long as they’re not in the hands of dangerously stupid people such as Lamp the wife beater or WEB III the shameless 🥾 👅.

        • The View From The Top Is Excellent I seriously doubt that you could pass the entry exam to get into kindergarten let alone Trump University.

          Do you even know which end of the gun the bullet comes out?

          You are living proof that abortion lives and afterbirth can survive!

      • Hey, nameless, brainless troll!

        I see your witless, drive-by pathetic attempts at insults have not improved in the slightest. You are a pathetic, semi-human POS.

        You are too stupid to insult. Go visit the cable.

  2. I’ve always preached that survival is a group activity. The lone wolf winds up with his hide tacked to the barn door. Small towns are preferred to big cities. But be careful. Small towns can breed tyrants, also. When big brother isn’t watching the jealous little brother may take advantage.

  3. Looking at some of the people in these photos, perhaps the author should have suggested losing weight and getting in to some semblance of physical shape. Maybe some diet tips are in order.

  4. I have always found it interesting that the most vital skills needed for a society to survive are often the least appreciated. People with construction and mechanical expertise, agriculture, etc, are FAR more valuable when SHTF than anyone with a business degree. Your Six Sigma black belt won’t feed a single person.

    • Good luck explaining this to these self important educated idiot types that frequent here….
      I’ve even seen the cockroach of the human breed, a “lawyer” (whatever the eff that really means) here talking their filthy tongue twisted bs…..
      When the SHTF I’m actively avoiding these people…. well I already do that now, but when the SHTF they best gt-fo of my way….

  5. Well, the development will be useful in organizing a people’s militia, but…..the snoops will know who is who, and who is where. Can’t outrun the signal.

      • ‘Maybe, but prepping is relevant whether militia-specific or otherwise.”

        Not opposed to “prepping”, just cautioning.

        Had a small stash of emergency food, and decided to test the units for taste. After a few rounds of testing, turned out the supply was exhausted.

        I wasn’t prepared for that.

  6. The smaller the group, the better. Yes, you may be missing some skills, but the more people the more there will be arguments. Several people will have different ideas on how to solve a problem. Egos will get involved, and factions will form. There will inevitably be free riders, those who don’t want to lift a finger to help, but are first in line at meal times. What do you do with them?

    Americans have been living independent lives for decades. We’re raised with it. Everybody is used to doing their own thing. Everything runs smoothly as long as there’s plenty of cheddar, but once resources start to dry up, conflict will emerge. Many families, blood relations, can’t even get along anymore, because of the influence of the wider culture. If there is any sort of nation or world wide calamity, it will be your friends and family you need to worry about the most, at first.

  7. I always look back at the Korean shop keepers during the 1992 Los Angeles riots as an example of the necessity of having allies in a SHTF scenario. Especially in an urban environment.

    Individual survival skills are important, and I practice mine as best I can and do prep as well. But I tend to look at solo survival primarily as a short duration activity to keep Mother Nature from killing me until I can find help or get out of the bad spot/area I’m in.

  8. I can do plumbung, carpentry, and electric.

    Not sure how things are gonna shake out, but the biggest threats are man-made. Bio-weapons. Chemtrails. Rampant inflation. Energy shortages. Carcinogenic chemicals in the food supply.

    Diverse threats. Unpredictable.
    Readiness ain’t easy.

  9. @hawkeye
    “*chuckle*
    Well Sam, next time get more than a 3 day supply. There’s no accounting for taste.”

    Was thinking of buying surplus MREs at the local commissary. There are two categories: issue, and training. Puzzled that the military thinks soldiers need to be trained to eat.

    • Forget the MREs. Well, maybe get a few as a plan B. Plan A should be having a buddy like Gomer Pyle. Paired up and out on survival bivouac for several days with no food, Carter was “stuck” with Pyle. All were weighed after, and Carter actually gained weight because of Pyle’s prowess as an outdoorsman. MREs are for if Pyle gets hurt.

      • “Plan A should be having a buddy like Gomer Pyle.”

        Had a buddy (my absolute best friend) I would go anywhere with. That ended last March. Now just an army of 1.

    • Sam,
      MRE’s are only rated to last 5 years in storage.
      While they are certainly good for another few years, you would be far better off with a product like Wise freeze dried food.
      And some water stored in “water bricks” with preservative to reconstitute it.
      The Wise food comes in a bucket and will last 20 years.
      The bucket and lid can be used as an emergency toilet.
      One bucket will sustain one person for 90 days
      Comes with a fire source to heat them.
      One bucket per family member and you can shelter in place for 3 months.

      • “…you would be far better off with a product like Wise freeze dried food.”

        Thanx for the info. Been thinking I could just add another crate of popcorn, and martini fixin’s, and be doin’ fine.

        • “Been thinking I could just add another crate of popcorn, and martini fixin’s, and be doin’ fine.”

          Canned tomato juice for bloody marys covers the vegetables, so that and popcorn covers 2 of the 4 groups… 🙂

  10. I’ve taken a direct hit from two hurricanes. Kate and Michael. A Cat I and V. As well as several tropical storms. I’ve also worked the aftermath of several hurricanes. Katrina being the last. That was the wild west. Preparedness is the key. Have your long term supplies laid in well in advance. Like yesterday. Vehicles should never have less than 1/2 a tank of gas. Ever. Fresh generator gas a couple of times a year. You do have a generator don’t you? As for the right friends with the right skills and a safe place to go if it were a long term crisis. I can’t help you. I have those things but it was luck and happenstance.

    • “I’ve taken a direct hit from two hurricanes. Kate and Michael.”

      I caught 3 in 2004, I think it was. 2 were glancing, but I had no power for a total of 9 days, and that sucked.

      I’d rather sweat than have to deal with Katrina and all that bullshit…

  11. Everybody should have a supply of food and other preps. Snow storms. tornados. earthquakes are all a fact of life. I’ve encountered all and more. A car kit with at least 3 days of food is a must. I also have 3 wool blankets in my car and a gym bag with a complete set of clothes and boots.

    A lot of folks eat the majority of their meals at the drive through and usually have little to no food at home.

    • I just looked, and if I had to, I could go for 2-3 weeks with what’s on hand, dry and canned.

      The first 2 days with no power, and the neighborhood will be enjoying some serious grilling, all the meat I have frozen.

      I really oughtta up the dry, though…

  12. I’m pushing 78. I live alone in the woods. I quit worrying about this kind of crap a long time ago. I won’t be around much longer anyway, so y’all do whatever you want. Or not. I don’t care.

    • I’ll be 75 next month. Live on a homestead farm. Miles from town and more miles from a city of any size. Not much we need beyond a few things like coffee and a few other items. Likely we’ll survive almost anything that happens short of nuclear war or Armageddon. While we are willing and able to care for ourselves, and help those in the area, we, family, friends, and neighbors will band together to cover our own needs and defend ourselves if needs be.
      Not much we can do about what others do , and don’t worry about much beyond the needs of those around us nearby. Of course, being prepared and well supplied is just everyday life out here.

  13. Finding like minded folks is generally pretty difficult. Finding people of similar politics is easy. Finding people who enjoy guns is pretty easy. Finding folks who are actually working on the rest of the preps is a lot harder. Cue the “I’m coming to your house if this happens” responses. Sorry gang, I’ve got a short guest list for that.

    I’m located in a pretty good spot – could be better by being even more remote but for a balance of all factors much better. Still outside the big cities and while Smallville here is double the population of the hypothetical example, we aren’t in the town limits and it’s a lot smaller than those big metro sprawls they’ll be more interested in. There’s also an awful lot of “room to destroy” by the looters before they get anywhere near here.

  14. Not very worried about large city types bugging out. Within an hour of a critical incident the highways will look like a parking lot. Traffic will be gridlocked, and vehicles will run out of fuel even further clogging up the exodus. Just imagine the electrical grid going down. Who do you know who actually has lived without electricity for an extended period? The other issue is clean fresh water, you need to have a well or another fresh water source. Just think how much water the average person uses per day. And firearms? If you are prepping without firearms, well you are prepping for someone else. Believe me, if you think the police will be there to help you, well you are delusional, they will be home protecting their families. You are on your own.

    • Wally1,

      If you are prepping without firearms, well you are prepping for someone else.

      I have to admit that made me chuckle. Sadly, your comment is spot-on.

      • I’m heaviest in .22lr, ammo-wise, and with a few pistols with threaded barrels that fire it, I can be sub-sonic for a good long while…

  15. From the article:

    Have one or more places you can go if things get bad. And if there are … large rivers between you and where you’re going, you better have a plan … that doesn’t involve bridges which may be blocked by the government or bad guys.

    This is a PARAMOUNT consideration in my humble opinion. If things get really ugly, I figure there is a 97% probability that raiders will assemble at bridges and ambush anyone who gets to the bridge. The only question is how little or how much they will take from you and your party. As you might imagine, that spans the entire gambit from taking a little bit of your stuff all the way to rape/kidnapping and/or murder of your entire party.

    The sad truth of the matter is this: your travel plans absolutely must avoid “pinch points” where you will be totally vulnerable. Either that or have the ability to neutralize pinch points without any significant probability of suffering any losses. (I expect that exceedingly few people will have that capability in their travel plans.)

    • Rail road crossings. And a page from the Ranger Handbook. Send a recon to the other side of the danger area before you cross. Don’t forget your left, right and rear security.

  16. When we think about or review training for emergency preparedness, the classical mindset is to think about “food, shelter, and clothing”. While that made a lot of sense back in the day, I think that is a sub-optimal way of summarizing survival.

    When I think of survival, I believe urgency dictates your priorities:

    1st priority: personal security
    If a human or animal attack happens, you may not even have two seconds to act and ensure your survival. And facing a dangerous animal or human attack without a firearm virtually guarantees your demise. Thus you must have a firearm.

    2nd priority: maintain body temperature
    If icy-cold water (due to a downpour or immersion) suddenly drenches you, you may not even have 60 seconds to act and ensure your survival. And if survival demands extreme exertion in high heat, you could succumb to fatal heat exhaustion in as little as, what, 30 minutes? Thus your survival strategy must include measures to avoid or immediately recover from extreme cold and heat.

    3rd priority: clothing and shelter
    These augment maintaining body temperature. If you have insufficient clothing or shelter, you may only have minutes to act and ensure your survival. And both can also augment security as well. (Proper clothing and shelter can significantly reduce the chances of animal or human attackers from finding you, or improve your ability to respond.)

    4th priority: water
    As little as 24 hours without water can seriously degrade your ability to function in a survival situation. And just three days without water could weaken you to the point that you will perish in short order. An extreme heat situation could cut those times in half.

    5th priority: food
    Almost everyone should be able to survive at least 10 days (and likely twice that) without food. However, your level of function (both physical energy level and mental abilities) will begin declining in a few days. After 14 days without food, you may be weakened to the point that you basically cannot recover on your own and will perish days later.

    6th priority: general health and prevention
    Your general health and prevention becomes very important in a long term survival situation. This is where maintaining good physical health is vital. Contaminated water isn’t helpful. Unhealthy food will take a toll on you. Unsanitary conditions raise your risk of infection.

  17. These articles do ok but nearly every one I have read misses a huge point.

    If there is some sort of reason you need to leave your area and go looking for food and shelter I highly recommend against “bugging out”.

    Unless you’re really darn familiar with where you’re going and know the people there, the chances of you doing better are pretty poor.
    For one, I’m already tired of hearing people say they are going to rush out to the country side and shoot deer to survive.
    First problem is that its not as easy as grocery shopping, shooting one is the easiest part, making use of what you shot is a lot more work.
    Second, if food is scarce and you think you’ll just run out and pop a few deer, expect to be met with some very upset locals who also use that as a food source and have carefully managed the area and population for years and now some dummy is out murdering all your food. No.

    Besides that. “Rush to a farm”
    HUH!
    Farming is hard work, it’s also not like the boob tube shows everyone where you just walk out into a field and carrots grow wild and fully mature ready to eat 24/7.
    There are seasons, not all farms grow everything, or even anything! Good chance if the farmer doesn’t make you disappear you and him will both starve.
    If you’re lucky, you’ll learn what hard work is really fast and be doing lots of it. Enjoy.

    The rural countryside is a harsh and unforgiving land.

    I don’t recommend running off to it with visions of the land of milk and honey in your head.

    The more north you go, well good luck, its brutal. Example, stealing my firewood could cost me my life, or yours…..

    If you’re gonna be dumb, ya gotta be tough.

  18. Of course, if there’s no RR bridges nearby there is the old poncho raft. Don’t forget the sling rope so you can make a Swiss seat on the other side if you need to rapel down a gorge on the other side. Haven’t thought about that shit in decades. Seriously, if the shit hits the fan stay off the roads. Even short term disasters. Shelter in place. Travel is extremely dangerous.

  19. “…you probably want medical professionals as well as those skilled in animal husbandry, agriculture, communications, dentistry, canning, marksmanship, tracking, security and so forth.”

    So… call me an asshole if you like but this seems like another way of saying “Assemble a town’s worth of people and then… start a town”. I suppose you can call it a “hamlet” if you’re feeling bucolic but you’re building a fuckin’ town.

    Seems like moving to a rural area accomplishes all of this without the whole secret squirrel bit.

    Just sayin’.

    • Exactly!

      If you’re planning on coming out and raping the country folks of all their hard work you should just move you and become one, be vested in the community you want to rely on to keep you alive.
      Also if someone thinks they can move out into the country and nobody notice they fled the city to escape and blend right in, they’re only fooling themselves. We can pick out burb folks who’ve been out here for decades.
      Spoiler alert, not being related to anyone or knowing how things used to be is a huge giveaway.

  20. @Geoff “I’m getting too old for this shit” PR
    “Canned tomato juice for bloody marys covers the vegetables, so that and popcorn covers 2 of the 4 groups…”

    Definitely something to consider. Kinda new and clueless about this prepper business.

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