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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Survivalism: Why Are You Preparing?

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What is survivalism really all about?
Here’s how Wikipedia defines as “survivalism”; a very well written article:
Survivalism is a movement of individuals or groups (called survivalists or sometimes preppers) who are actively preparing for future possible disruptions in local, regional, national, or international social or political order. Survivalists often prepare for this anticipated disruption by having emergency medical training, stockpiling food and water, preparing for self-defense and self-sufficiency, and/or building structures that will help them survive or "disappear" (e.g., a survival retreat or underground shelter).
Anticipated disruptions include the following:
I watched this movement gain a footing in the early eighties, and then morph into what we see these days. Along this journey I have also watched certain elements within the movement change as well. Whereas people used to join community based survival groups; the trend these days has edged towards a more “lone wolf” brand of survivalists.

The biggest transformation that I have seen; is the all consuming efforts that many survivalists put into killing-off each other. The over-reliance on high-tech devices, and the spiraling downfall of long-term food storage strategies, suggest to me that many [so called] survivalists aren’t really into survivalism itself; but more focused on anarchistic fantasies of running-amok on the streets that are devoid of societal control. I am of the firm belief that this type of "survivalist" has spent (way) too much time playing violent video games; and hasn't really taken the steps necessary to establish a real survival plan.

Over the years I have interviewed and spoken with potential candidates that wanted to join The Alaska Watchmen Group. I'll admit that I am "picky" when it comes to who is allowed into the group; but that's part of my job as the Commander--to weed out those malcontents that due to their anarchistic nature, pose a risk to the group members, and might in some way pose a risk to our well laid plan and strategies. I'm also looking for "Team Players" that have the ability to integrate their skills and knowledge into the overall scope and objectives of the group.

It would surprise you to hear the things that I've heard, when asking a very simple, and very direct question: "What are your biggest concerns regarding survivalism?"

It's during this stage of the interview that I listen for certain "keywords" that might give me some insight about the candidate that I am sharing a cup of coffee with. It's uncanny, but I always hear the same thing; perhaps in a different way, but nonetheless, it's like hearing the same song on the radio--over, and over, and over...

I listen intently, (and oftentimes amused) as the candidate outlines their plans, ideas, and preparations that he or she has undertaken. I smile and nod my head politely when they delve into the New World Order conspiracies theories; or the endless equations that have already pre-determined the fate of the human race. Or how they intend to be the last hope of mankind--singlehandedly staving off the hordes of brigands with accurate and devastating machinegun fire--thereby winning the affections of several well-endowed females left to repopulate the world.

What I find most distressing, is the fact that many of the people that I have interviewed, are already so far gone; that to bring them back into The Real World of survivalism would become a monumental task. It's not that I'm unwilling; it's just that I'm actually tired of trying to convince, or at least make them understand that it's not illegal to be a survivalist, and that hiding out in the woods isn't such a good idea after all.

I do my very best to make them understand that our survival strategies are based on group consensus, as well as sound and strategic plans that encompass a wide variety of stratagems, rather than some tyrannical War-Lord fantasies of grabbing the Bug Out Bag and heading for the nearest exit ramp into the woods.

I explain that our group members consist of men, women, children and elderly--that living in a tent while sustaining ourselves on MRE's when a bad-ass-blizzard is howling outside, or the temperature drops down to -50 below zero--isn't an option unless the worst of the worst situations were to occur.

I lay it all out in the most polite way that I am able to muster--that our group is a tight knit group that plans, prepares, and trains together for all eventualities; whether these events are man-made, or natural disasters.

Sometimes I see the light go-on behind their eyes. Other times they look away--and that tells me what I need to know about the candidates mindset. That no matter what I say, or what I attempt to explain--their "lone wolf" mind will not allow them to see the truth of reality.

For example; I interviewed a candidate a few months ago. We arrived at a local coffee shop, and before we even had the chance to get to know each other, he's begins the interview by telling me about the cabin that he built for himself on a bluff overlooking the ocean. For another hour I hear about how he's building a sustainable community, a magnetic-motor that uses magnets to generate electricity, and how he intends to grow his own vegetables, raise meat animals, and live the life of an Off-Gridder.

I brought my Executive Officer to the meeting because I wanted him to get a feel for the candidate. The candidate made an instant hit with my XO. Against my better judgment, I allowed the candidate to get past my strict criteria. You see; I already knew that this guy wouldn't be a good fit for the group. So I invited him to the next meeting, and also made him understand that he would have to sit in front of the group members and explain himself, answer questions from the membership; and afterward we would have a group vote to either allow him into our group, or send him packing.

For two hours the group interviewed him. Pointed questions were asked, and he answered each one directly. I'm here to tell you--I've got some members that are very serious about survivalism They asked direct questions, and expected nothing but direct answer. I sat on the side-lines remembering that these are the people that have wives, husbands, and children. That their questions weren't out of line--it is after all a matter of trust, and a matter of life and death for them.

I've got some really good members. Even though they ALL had some reservation about him-he was voted into the group under a probationary status. But each member confided to me that the candidate wouldn't last more than one month, if that long. I agreed to give him a chance.

Over the next few weeks I detailed certain members to help the "new guy" get squared away with supplies. We began a series of training sessions to bring him up to speed on our communications network, and trained him how our Tactical Alert Call Tree Systems works.

Within a few weeks the guy quits the group. I asked him why, and he told me that he was already a year ahead of the group, and that since we hadn't helped him finish building his little compound--that we were not welcome to share in its bounty. (Okay By ME!)

The reality is this: the candidate wasn't really about survival--he was all about sustainability AFTER a crisis event. He was wanting our group to come help him build-up his compound, perform as a security detachment, and to provide him with a ready-made harem of female group members.

He was focused on living out whatever SHTF event in his little cabin on the ocean; and no matter what happens in the future—that’s where he was going. I did my best to make him understand that he really needed to explore a Plan-B option. That if something were to occur in the southern part of Alaska, our group would be heading to one of our Northern Safe Area. He wanted no part of that plan—no matter what happens, this guy was going to ride it out in the south.

I didn't even bother to say anything; just wished him well and deleted his membership from the rolls. The sad thing is this: he's not the only person that I have interviewed that thinks along these lines. It's an all too common mindset these days.

My mantra is; "All The Beans And Bullets That You Have; Don't Mean Squat--Unless You Got Somebody Watching Yer' Back !"

So that brings us back to square one: what is survivalism really all about?

It’s about getting ready for crisis and disasters; as opposed to conspiracy theories that are a “dime a dozen”. It’s about insuring the perpetuity of our families, our neighbors, and our community during times of crisis. It’s also about understanding the monumental task and responsibility that comes with carrying the title “survivalist”.

The job also entails doing your very best to make other  [so called] survivalists understand that living out of a Bug Out Bag in the State Park; while trying to protect the family and kids—is for the foolish and unprepared. Come to Alaska sometime in January and let me show you what I mean…

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[ 62 Below Zero ]


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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Survival Firearms: Is enough ever enough?

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Firearms play an important role in the scope of survivalism. There is no doubt that having a firearm for self-protection and hunting is a prerequisite. But it shouldn’t be the over-laying factor when it comes to survival planning.
Everyone seems to have an opinion as to what is the best weapon, as well as the number of weapons the survival armory should contain. The problem is; “can you ever have enough weapons?”
If I were to make a list of all the guns that I want; the list would be huge, and I would certainly run out of storage areas to keep them all. So I’ve had to narrow my desires to a few well chosen guns that I can rely upon. That doesn’t mean I won’t ever add additional guns to the pile, just that at some point I had to wake-up and make some serious decisions to what is practical.
Ruger Mini-14 .223 cal:This fine little rifle serves well for plinking, hunting, and protection. It’s very lightweight compared to other rifles like it; and they can be purchased for less then $500.00 just about everywhere.The downside is that magazines for this rifle are getting hard to find, or the costs are through the roof.
Mossberg #500 12-Gauge Tactical Shotgun:No decent survivalist would be caught dead without a tactical shotgun. The variety of rounds make this a decent all-around weapon choice for the survivalist.
Ruger #1022 .22 cal: This is a nifty little rifle that takes down small game with relative ease. Ammunition is still pretty cheap these days. My children “cut their teeth” on this rifle, and has provided many fond memories throughout those special times that we shared on the range.
Mosin-Naggant 7.62x54R: This old and proven battle rifle has earned its place in my survival armory. Sometimes referred to as a “Russian .308”; the Mosin is a decent all around survival rifle. I keep mine strapped to my ATV, and have taken it out on several hunting trips as a backup rifle. You can abuse this rifle, and it will function without flaw. Its design makes it a hardy rifle that can be used for almost every survival situation. Back in the early 1980’s I bought my first Mosin for a whopping $59.00. These days expect to pay a little more than $120.00 for the same rifle. Ammunition is plentiful, but I have watched the prices creep ever upwards. Surplus Armor Piercing ammunition is becoming increasingly more difficult to find out there.
Ruger #77 .338 Winchester Magnum: Another main-stay firearm that has proven its worth. The .338 caliber bullet is widely used here in Alaska for hunting and predator control. I recently had the barrel cut down to 24 inches to make it more maneuverable out in the bush country.
Remington #870 12-Gauge: What can I say about the fabled Remington 870? This shotgun is favored by law enforcement and hunters alike. It’s a little heavier than other shotguns, but reliability is the real factor when it comes to a Remington shotgun.
I have friends whose survival armory contain enough guns to equip a small army. I laugh when I think about how much they spend on ammunition. The prices for ammo is going through the roof these days. I think it will continue to creep upwards throughout the next year, because more and more people are stocking up their ammo locker. The increased demand for ammunition has driven the prices sky-high. For me—that means it’s time to learn how to re-load my own ammunition.
For years I’ve been teaching other people tactical survival skills. Firearms is the one subject that I spend considerable time on. It’s important to understand that a real survivalist cannot carry every gun that is needed, nor enough ammunition to ward of the Zombies during the apocalypse. The fact is that our frail bodies can only carry so much weight on our backs. Humping around three guns and a few thousand round of ammo—is pure fantasy. It comes down to choosing a decent all around survival gun; and then learning to shoot with it like it’s an extension of your body.
Choose one long-gun, and one handgun—then spend a lot of time at the range getting comfortable with the characteristics of each weapon. Shooting at night, when it’s raining, when it’s freezing outside, and while running—are some of the methods of learning your guns. It’s one thing to shoot at paper targets; but it’s a whole different creature when the targets are shooting back.

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Taurus “Raging Bull” .454-Casull Magnum Review

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Now THIS is a ear-banging hard-hitting handgun that will knock down refrigerators, and leave you pumping the trigger for more of the same!

Earlier this summer I was doing some exploring out in the bush country. It was a beautiful afternoon, the air was cool but not chilly, and I was glad to be away from all of the hustle-bustle of life in the big city of Anchorage Alaska.

Tromping through the Alaska jungle is one of my favorite past-times. It gives me a sense of peace, and I think that it also allows me to explore those primal urges and feelings that my ancestors have endowed me with; the love of the outdoors, and the sense of adventure that comes with living in Alaska.

One this particular day I had just stepped out of the tree line, and taken about forty steps onto the prevalent muskeg that is so common around the Talkeetna mountains. With the muck squishing underneath my boots, and my eyes picking out a trail across the muddy waters; I didn’t see the very large grizzly bear and her four cubs at first. What got my attention was her movement on two feet. She was standing up and having a hard look right at me.

I froze; reaching for my trusty 44-Magnum handgun, I wondered if the six shots would be enough to take out four attacking bears, and wondering how fast the bear could get to me. There was no place for me to go—I was out in the open, and exposed.

Luckily for me the bear decided that I probably wouldn’t taste good—either that or the “laser-beam-signal” that I was consciously sending to her warned her away. I’m not sure what happened, but she huffed and took her kids back into the woods.

 

Later that day as I replayed that event in my mind, I came to the conclusion that a .44-Magnum just didn’t have the knock-down power that I wanted. I’d been slobbering over a .454-Casull Magnum for a few months; and the next weekend I made it mine.

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This gun feels right when held in my hands. The balance is correct, and the rubber grip fits comfortably. It’s a little heavier than what I am used to, but for the huge caliber that rockets out of the barrel—it’s what I expect from a large caliber handgun like this.

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As you can see from the picture above; the .454-Casull Magnum is a large cartridge. There are other bigger handgun cartridges out there, but for these purposes the cartridge is sufficient for what I require it to do—Protection!

 

 

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Ballistics Source

What is astounding about the .45-Casull, is the tremendous knock-down power that this bullet has downrange.

Look at the table above—a 400 Grain bullet whizzes down-range at 1400 Feet per Second, and slams into the target at 1741 foot pounds of energy. That’s close enough for me and the reason that I made the handgun mine.

The next time that I am faced with a bear encounter; perhaps the potency of this cartridge will bring an added element to the situation. I hope that it never arrives to that point; but as a survivalist; it’s always a good idea to plan ahead.

 

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Alaska Survival: The .375 H&H Magnum Review

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For most survivalist living down in the Lower-48 States, the threats faced when things go south are completely different than what we Alaskan’s face—almost on a daily basis.

Alaska is surrounded on three sides by oceans. We have more active and dormant volcanoes than any place on the face of the globe, and our state gets rocked with 5,000 earthquakes every month.

The primary threats that we face are due largely to the antiquated transportation system that we rely upon for all of our food and critical supplies such as fuel, vegetables, and other consumer commodities.

The railroad hauls a lot of stuff into our cities, followed closely by the various airlines that fly in priority shipments. Sadly though; most of what we have, is brought in by marine barge service. These barges are oftentimes delayed because of bad weather. Whenever that happens, the prices seem to go up a little, and our transportation and distribution network comes to a near standstill until the barges finally make it into port. Maybe that’s why Alaskan's are paying about 60% more for things, as opposed to people living down in America.

Alaska has seen it’s share of natural disasters; but I think that the new generation has completely forgotten the little fact that Mother Nature can wreck our lives quicker than a flashbulb going off. Everyday I see young couples shopping for their evening meal with no through given to next week, or the consequences of how their lives would be affected if something BIG were to happen while they slept.

The one good thing about surviving in this Great State, is the simple fact that there aren’t that many people living up here. Most big states down in the States have more people living in them, than the population of Alaska has altogether. That’s a definite bonus when the zombie-apocalypse occurs…

With the current trend of survival firearms becoming more militaristic in nature ; the fact remains that an assault rifle just doesn’t work up here. The caliber is too small to stop large predators, and to ineffective to be useful for hunting our game.

Most of us carry and use heavy caliber rifles and handguns, for both self-protection, and hunting. That doesn’t mean that the assault rifles aren’t present, just that they aren’t the primary weapons that the average Alaskan survivalists considers worthwhile.

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The Remington #700 “Classic” .375 H&H Magnum stands out as one of the better survival guns up here. The rifle is lightweight, easy to maneuver in the bush, and the ballistics of the heavy-hitting slug will perform under the extreme conditions found up here.

 

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I tend to use the 300 Grain cartridge for both hunting and predator protection. This particular bullet comes roaring out of the barrel at 2645 feet per second—and is devastating with its 4661 pounds of pure energy. Whether it’s a bull moose that will put meat in the smoker, or to stop a charging Grizzly Bear; the .375 Holland & Holland Magnum is up for the job.

I’m always asked why I choose a caliber that costs nearly $85.00 for a box of 20-Rounds. The answer is pretty simple; When that 1000 Pound Pissed-Off Grizzly Bear is coming at you at the speed of light, and the only thing between you and certain death is a $4.25 bullet—how much would you be willing to spend at that “exact” moment to save your life?

“Everything in my wallet and everything in my bank account !”

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Over the years I’ve talked with many other people that like to roam the bush-country about what type of weapon that they carry for bear protection. I've heard everything from shotguns, to handguns, to little .22 caliber pistols; but I’ve never heard of anyone humping an assault rifle as a bear gun. For some reason that just doesn’t jive up here.

I’ve been told that “shot placement” is the key to dangerous bears encounters. But I look at it in a funny way; When that bear is coming at me, I want the first shot to stop it—or kill it in its tracks. If I have to shoot a second time then it’s only to put the bear out of its misery. I want maximum firepower, maximum bang for my buck, and live to tell about it—thankful for having spent $85.00 on the box of shells.

as with anything related to survivalist, my ideas are my own, and I’m sure that not everyone will agree with me on this subject, or my choice of calibers and firearms. But you see; that’s my choice, and my way of doing things. When the chips are down the only thing that you have to fall back onto—is yourself and what you have learned.

I learned that big game, and big critters require a big bullet—sho nuff”---

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Survival Communication

 

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Having a decent communications system is paramount to survivalists, and survival groups. Without an adequate means to reach out across the miles, will severely hinder even the most well-prepared.

Most survivalists tend to use Citizen’s Band radios; though these radios will do the job, they are restricted to less than 5-miles, and inclement weather will reduce their transmission range exponentially. It’s much better to invest in a commercial UHF or VHF band radio, or as a minimum, a hand-held radio in the same band. There are several models available; but the two criteria that are necessary, is the frequency range and transmission power of the radio.

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The Alaska Watchmen Group uses both hand-held, and mobile radios as the primary communications system in case things go south. Our radios were purchased with portability, and frequency range in mind. It’s important that we have the ability to communicate with each other in an emergency.

Our Wide Area Radio Network [ WARN ] was set-up to allow group members to stay in touch, and to receive emergency information during an event that disrupts the normal communications system. Having this network in place gives each of us the ability to establish and maintain communications; receive important information, and reach out across the miles while everybody else is left in the dark.

We are presently expanding the radio network to include other survivalists and survival groups around the country. If you have long-range radio capability, then please click HERE to access our webpage about setting-up an emergency radio communications network.

This network will be activated during an emergency.

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