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Cold Hands Effects on Shooting

by Erich on October 7th, 2016

Hello folks, we have been to the high desert in Northern Utah to do a bit of shooting today. So like all stories there is a good side and a bad side to this, first the good – we were shooting; now the bad – slow moving fingers and shaky hands.

While my fingers were thawing, this article came to mind. I am going to focus strictly on the local effects of cold on the hands in relation to shooting performance. I won’t get into hypothermia or frostbite; I have an idea swimming in my head for another article regarding hidden dangers (over dressing, cold weather dehydration, etc.) of cold weather where I will discuss those issues.

To “set the stage” of this subject we will quickly discuss the term “normal” in regards to hand/finger temperatures. We will call “normal” what people experience in everyday life under comfortable, often indoor conditions. With normal established, let’s look at “cold”, and just to keep it simple, the only terminology we will use is cold.

Cold Stress and Work in the Cold

Cold stress may be present in many different forms, affecting the whole-body heat balance as well as the local heat balance of extremities. Cooling of the whole body or in this case, parts of the body, results in discomfort, impaired sensory and neuro-muscular function and, ultimately, cold injury.

The most obvious and direct effect of cold stress for this subject is the immediate cooling of the skin. The type and magnitude of reaction are determined primarily by the type and severity of cooling. Local cold exposure may cause systemic arousal, what that means is that the increased stress level increases sympathetic nervous activity and, thereby, preparedness for action. When our bodies prepare for action and respond to the cold stimulus, our fight or flight nervous system function kicks in, and the adrenalin begins to dump. This function will work to fight the cold stimulus by giving the muscles stimulation to shiver AND cause the blood vessels in the extremities to begin to squeeze, which results in a reduction of blood flow to muscles and skin. This reduces fine motor skills and makes the “feel” for the trigger much less. That is not a welcome effect when trying to hit the target; great when trying to out run a bear or survive a blizzard, but we are not in those situations.

How do we fix this, the simple answer is to keep our hands warm or wear gloves. Prevention of cooling by means of donning cold-protective clothing, footwear, gloves and headgear interferes with the mobility and dexterity of the shooter. There is a “cost of protection” in the sense that movements and motions can become restricted and more exhausting.

Manual (hands) dexterity performance

Hand function is very susceptible to cold exposure. Due to their small mass and large surface area, hands and fingers lose heat while maintaining high tissue temperatures (86 to 95ºF).

Accordingly, such high temperatures can be maintained only with a high level of internal heat production, allowing for sustained high blood flow to the extremities. The most expedient way to tell if your hands are beginning to suffer from the cold exposure, and may result in decreased performance is to check for the “White Knuckle Grip.” If your hands look like you are holding the steering wheel of a truck on ice, headed down the hill, you will know the tissues are suffering from a lack of perfusion or blood bringing oxygen to the tissues, and hand grip, finger pull and support hand functions will be affected.

Hand and finger function is directly affected by the temperature of the skin (that is the only way to measure in the field). Fine, delicate and fast finger movements deteriorate when tissue temperature drops by only a few degrees. With more profound temperature drops in the tissues, gross hand functions will also be impaired, eventually, your hands will turn to “clubs” and the fine skill and gross skills will not be possible. You may get to a point where you cannot truly FEEL the gun in your hands.

Significant impairment in hand function is found at hand skin temperatures around 59ºF, and severe impairments occur at skin temperatures about 42 to 46ºF due to the blocking of the function of sensory and thermal skin receptors. The temperature of your fingertips may be more than ten degrees lower than on the back of your hand under certain exposure conditions.

In addition, the viscosity of tissues increases (meaning that instead of everything flowing like oil, it is now moving like sludge), resulting in higher internal friction during motion. With an increase of internal or muscular/tendon friction, smooth is not possible, and jerky motions will be the normal. Isometric (pulling) force output is reduced by 2% per ºF of lowered muscle temperature. Dynamic (general smooth movement) force output is reduced by 2 to 4% per ºF of lowered muscle temperature. In other words, cooling reduces the force output of muscles and has an even greater effect on dynamic contractions. This will have an effect of overall gun handling, and very dramatic effects on trigger pull, and proper grip functions.


There is evidence for different types of acclimatization to long-term cold exposure. Manual (hand dexterity) performance is better maintained after repeated cold exposures of the hand, as we discussed later with the cold water bath and dry fire drills.

Improved hand and finger circulation allows for the maintenance of a higher tissue temperature and produces a stronger cold-induced vasodilatation. What this over the top science geek talk means is – warm up – flex the fingers, shake the hands, get them ready to operate the gun in cold temperatures. Due to the many complex factors that influence human heat balance, and the considerable individual variations, it is difficult to define critical temperatures for sustained work.

There is a simple way to test the effects of cold on your hands and performance, and train yourself to adapt to this environmental issue and improve your performance as much as possible. This simple and free or nearly free acclimatization method will make you less susceptible to cold hand issues. By exposure to cold water from the sink then maybe move to ice water in a bowl, etc., and dry fire drills, make sure to include shooting (dry fire) and gun manipulations, failure drills, etc.

These drills need to be practiced for all shooters, not just for the hand gunners, but hunters with long guns as well. Just to state the obvious – check then recheck that the gun is unloaded, and no ammo is in the room – OK, now we can move forward. Get ahold of a simple and inexpensive surface thermometer from the drug store, the type that just reads the skin temperature, then put your hands in the cold water, use the thermometer and take the skin temperature, run your dry fire drills. You can check your performance differences between warm and cold hands dry fire, use a stopwatch to test speed or function. Eventually, you will see if your acclimatization efforts are giving any value to your shooting and watch for improvement as you proactively train to beat the cold.

If precautions are followed, and a simple warm up can be performed your shooting should not suffer dramatically, it will a little, that is the way it is in cold weather shooting. If you find that you do a lot of cold weather shooting, and exact precision is needed. Try these simple steps to train your body to acclimate to that style of shooting. This combined with simple warm-ups, and you will be less affected and maybe even reach the “golden ring” of the only guy in the group that can shoot as well cold as everyone else does in the warm.

Good luck, and stay safe

96.8 – 90*F Optimal hand and finger dexterity Good Shooting
90 – 81*F Effects on finger dexterity, precision, and speed OK Shooting
81-68*F Impacted work with small details, reduced endurance Weak Shooting
68 – 59*F Impaired gross hand and finger work Poor Shooting
59 – 50*F Reduced gross muscle strength and coordination Very Poor Shooting
46 – 43*F Blocking sensory and thermal receptors of superficial skin Dangerous Shooting
<50*F Numbness, manual performance reduced to simple gripping, pushing, etc. Impossible Shooting
<32*F Freezing of tissues

Copyright © 2016 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved

Eating the Backyard Harvest you Never Knew Existed

by Erich on September 8th, 2016

If you’ve been a reader of this blog for some time now you know that I’m a BIG proponent of learning to identify and use wild edible and medicinal plants found all around you. Here’s just a small listing of the articles I’ve written on the subject:

The team over at Fix.com have created a great infographic that I wanted to share with you guys that provides a nice introduction into some common plants you should know that are probably sitting just outside your home right now…

Eating Wild Plants in Your Yard - Edible Backyard Wild Greens
Source: Fix.com Blog

Copyright © 2016 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved

Surviving the Summer without Air Conditioning

by Erich on August 23rd, 2016

This article has been contributed by Anne Marie Duhon. Anne Marie is a wife, mother of six and a full time off-gridder. She and her husband currently live in a totally off grid 200 sq foot “tiny home” and are in search of (again) that elusive perfect spot to call home. Besides being a wife and mother she, and her family, have raised many different animals on their various homesteads and have lived and loved being off the grid and many miles from the nearest paved road. She would like to share her first hand experiences and help others to learn to live and love living off grid and being as self reliant as possible.

keeping cool in summer without acYes, believe it or not, it can be done.

No, it won’t be an easy thing but it has and is being done all over the world for a lot longer than air conditions have been around.

I remember when I was a very young girl my parents putting in our first air conditioner and us kids laying on the living room floor basking in the cool air. Air conditioning as we know it now has only been around for like 40 years or so. Man has always looked for a way to stay cool in the summer.

Low-Tech Tips on Keeping Cool in the Summer

Here are some ideas and tips to make your air conditioner less summer more bearable:

  • If you can switch up your work schedule. Put the outside chores for early in the morning or later in the evening and leave the hottest part of the day for inside the house or just sitting around.
  • Wear cool clothes but do cover up. I find I am cooler in my skirts than in my shorts! Always wear a hat or a bonnet when working outside. Clothes make shade for your body and protect it from the direct rays of the sun.
  • Drink a lot! Water or Gatorade is better than soda for you but really it is all about the cool drink cooling you off from the inside.
  • Don’t eat a heavy meal during the hottest part of the day. The body creates heat digesting food and will just make you hotter.
  • Seek shade just like animals do. Find the coolest place in the house; a basement, the north side of the house, the part of the house that is under a tree and shaded things like that.
  • Try getting wet if only your feet (I’m soaking my piggy’s in a bucket of cool water right now as I write this and it helps!) Dampen your head/hair and put a cool wet rag on your neck. You will be surprised at how much that really does help.
  • If it is really hot hit the library and enjoy their air conditioning! Or go to the city pool (not me I’m WAY too shy!) or walk the mall.

And Some More Involved Tips…

Those ideas are low tech and cheap! Here are a few that are a little more involved:

  • Fans! The moving air will help dissipate your sweat making you feel much cooler. Try putting a big block of ice (like what you would get for a cooler) behind the fan so the air gets sucked over the ice and it will drop the temp in a small room noticeably.
  • If you live in a dry hot climate try “swamp coolers” or evaporative fans. These are fans that have little hoses and nozzles on them that spray a fine mist in the air.
  • Cover south facing windows during the day to keep out the sun and open windows on the cooler north side or ones that are located under trees. This is just the reverse of what you would want to do in the winter.
  • Open windows at night to bring the cooler night air in and close them during the day to retain the cool air for as long as possible.

Tips on Building a “Summer-Proof” Home

If you know in advance of building your home that you are not going to be having air conditioning here are some ideas that you can incorporate into the build:

  • Make for sure that there are large deciduous trees shading the south and west sides of the house. Trees release water vapor from their leaves when they “breathe” and it is much cooler under a tree!
  • Build your house out of rock, stone or concrete. Works great for both winter and summer by storing heat in the walls and keeping the inside cooler/warmer.
  • Heck build your house underground! Even just the depth of a normal home deep will keep the house cooler in the summer because of the mass of earth around it on all sides. Go real crazy and build your home in a cave!
  • If you are building a “normal” stud frame home bulk up on insulation in the walls and ceiling and situate the windows and doors for maximum air flow throughout the home.
  • Put awnings over the very necessary south windows to shade out the high hot summer sun but allow the lower cooler winter sun in to passively warm the house in the winter. Make all windows insulated or double-paned.

Summer is not an easy time for man or beast but we all can make it as long as we think and take precautions.

That and you will become accustomed to not having air conditioning it is called acclimating and when you go to an air conditioned place you will find it uncomfortably cold! It usually takes about two weeks of dealing with the heat and sweating like a horse before you are acclimated but after that you will see your spoiled friends gasping and sweating while you just motor on!

Enjoy the summer it does not last forever!

Copyright © 2016 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved

Infographic: The Survivors Guide to Lockpicking

by Erich on July 13th, 2016

We’ve all thought about the vast array of things that we can to in order to be prepared for a real life survival situation. Clean water, food rations, tools and a diversity of skill sets are all a great start. However, one thing that many of us overlook is how we are going to keep getting water and food when our rations have run dry.

Since most of us live in cities, towns or near cities and towns – there is one vital skill that you should have in your back pocket. That’s where the skill of urban lock picking comes in. Knowing how to pick a lock can save you and your family in an urban survival situation. Imagine being starving, with a food truck right in front of you, full of Twinkies and other delicious and life saving treats but you have no tools to breach it… That would be one sad day with a lot of extra energy being spent trying to figure out how to get inside.

The infographic below shows you the basic steps to breach almost any lock out there with enough practice. Padlocks are notoriously easy to pick with this method although it can also be implemented with standard knob locks, deadbolts and others. Our friends at Picker Of Locks
made this east 4 Step Guide to get you started on your lock picking skill training. If you want to check out more in-depth articles on how to pick all different types of locks, lock pick set reviews and more – head over to pickeroflocks.com.


Copyright © 2016 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved

Back to Basics: How to Start Prepping Before the SHTF

by Erich on June 24th, 2016

This article has been contributed by Anne Marie Duhon. Anne Marie is a wife, mother of six and a full time off-gridder. She and her husband currently live in a totally off grid 200 sq foot “tiny home” and are in search of (again) that elusive perfect spot to call home. Besides being a wife and mother she, and her family, have raised many different animals on their various homesteads and have lived and loved being off the grid and many miles from the nearest paved road. She would like to share her first hand experiences and help others to learn to live and love living off grid and being as self reliant as possible.

What is a prepper?

preppingA prepper is someone who spends their time preparing for what is commonly called “doomsday” or a SHTF situation. People from all walks of life are feeling a sense of urgency to prepare for some form of a doomsday type event that is bound to happen sooner or later. Whether it will be a catastrophic natural disaster, an economic crisis caused by hyperinflation, or some other kind of major event, one thing is certain, those who are prepared will have a much better chance of weathering the storm than those who do not take the time to prepare.

This doomsday does not have to be a large event. It could be a personal one that would be for those involved just as catastrophic. Anyone can prepare for “doomsday” even those that are living pay check to pay check.

Read on for some tips and tricks that you can use to save money while prepping but you’ll also find useful advice to help you understand the kinds of things you should be doing and the types of things you should be stockpiling.

The First Step in Prepping Is the Most Important

The single most important step to prepping is to just start doing it.

This may seem easier said than done if you are on a tight budget but it’s true. The most important and difficult thing for people to do is to just get started doing something.

Do not let yourself get overwhelmed with a huge list of things that you need. Break down that list into manageable bits and take it in small steps.

It’s very easy to get overwhelmed with all the things that need to be done to successfully prepare for doomsday. Being overwhelmed will either lead to frantic unorganized prepping or doing nothing at all to prepare. Neither of which are good paths to take.

You have already taken the first most important step by realizing the need to prep in the first place. Just by that you are ahead of many people.

Have a Good Plan in Place

Pull out a notebook or a word pad doc on your computer and make a list of stuff you want/need like you just won the lotto. This will help make sure that you’re not leaving out important stuff because you are worried about cost. Break this list down into things that you can do right now and things that will be mid-term and long term goals.

There are TONS of things that you can do to prep that will not cost a lot or any money at all. Just making a list and writing it all down will give you the boost to continue to prep. While you are feeling inspired, go out and do some of the inexpensive things right now and check them off your list.

You’re going to want to have a few different types of plans in place.

The first is the plan that includes the list of tangible items that you’ll need to collect to put back in your emergency supplies cache. The second type of plan includes the intangible things that you should be doing to prepare for doomsday. These include increasing your knowledge, skills, and physical fitness so that when you eventually find yourself having to survive in a crisis, you’ll be up for the challenge. The third plan will be a “bug out or bug in” plan.

In these plans you will also have to take into consideration the following things: how will you replace your food once your stockpiles run low, how will you get around once gas is unavailable, how will you heat or power your home without electricity/gas? How will you cook food? How will you communicate with the outside world? How will you get rid of waste both personal and household? How will you stay clean?

Once you come up with the answers for those questions mak e lists of supplies and skills you need. Having these plans in place will help you move forward and achieve your goals one by one.

Start With the Easy Things First


A great example of an easy way to get started is storing water.

As a matter of fact, one of the most important elements of any peppers’ stockpile should be their water supply. Ironically enough, storing water is one of the least expensive and easiest things a prepper can do. Take a few empty jugs or 2 liter soda bottles to your tap and fill them up. Voilà! You are actively prepping! And it does not really cost much money!

Money Saving Tip: If you already drink soda, you can switch to buying it in 2 liter bottles instead of cans and start stocking up on water by filling the empty bottles. If you don’t drink soda, you can probably find some friends or co-workers who will save their empty bottles and give them to you. This is a great way to acquire empty bottles for storing water and it won’t cost you a single penny!

Skill Development

The next inexpensive easy thing to do is to go online and find a few skills that you need to learn.

Some of those skills you should learn are making fire without matches, learning to hunt or fish, learning to store food besides in a freezer, learning first aid, and, gardening.

Get back to basics! It is so much better to learn and practice these skills long before your life or your family’s lives depend on them. There are many skills that our grandparents knew but are forgotten today. In this case practice makes for a more comfortable life!

Improve your Fitness

One vitally important thing you can start doing right away is get in shape!

Get off your butt and walk around your neighborhood! When doomsday finally does arrive, many of the tasks that we used to be able to rely on machines for will have to be done by hand or by foot. In preparation for such a time, most serious preppers feel that becoming physically fit is very important. The fitter you are, the better prepared you’ll be to cope with the manual labor that you’ll be forced to endure.

Fortunately, getting fit is something that can be done without spending a lot of money. Of course, you can get a gym membership but you can also get fit by hitting the streets and starting a walking or running regimen.

The bottom line is that the better shape you’re in physically before doomsday hits, the easier surviving will be for you.

You’ll be kicking yourself if one day you end up having to try to survive while you’re still overweight and out of shape. The best advice that anyone can give you regarding this matter is to start getting in shape now.

Make a plan for your animals!

Many preppers include animals as a valuable source of meat, milk and eggs in their plans for providing for their human families. Those animals need to be taken care of so that they can take care of you.

It’s very important to remember that these animals will require a lot more water per day than a person requires. If you are keeping livestock or if you have pets to care for, be sure and plan accordingly and store plenty of food and water for them as well.

Research how to feed and raise animals more naturally without depending on stores for sacks of feed. Look around your homestead and see if there is a natural source of water for the animals to drink. Storing enough water for many animals would be virtually impossible.

Stocking up on food without breaking the bank

The “One Extra” Method

Here is a useful tip. Use the “one extra” (or copy-canning) method of stocking up. This way you know you have food in your stockpile that your family likes and will eat.

Take advantage of sales or buy one get one frees and buy an extra can/bag or two while you are shopping. If you’ll get into the habit of buying one extra whenever you find the right deal, you’ll be surprised how quickly your emergency stockpile will build up.

Become a Master Couponer

You can also learn how to coupon and save a lot of money.

With the help of coupons that can be collected and printed from the Internet, it’s now possible to find coupons for just about everything you want to buy. It takes a bit of time and effort to learn how to get the best deals when using coupons but it’s definitely worth putting in the work to master this skillset.

Some of the most prolific preppers are master couponers and they are amazing at stretching their prepping dollar to get the most from their money.

Decide on how far you are willing to go to defend yourself and your family

This is a MAJOR decision for many people.

Most preppers rightly believe that the defense of their homes, families, and stockpiles will lie solely on their shoulders. In the world that we live in today, most people give very little thought to preparing to defend themselves, their family, or their property. We live in a world where you can just grab your cell phone and call 911 whenever you feel threatened. In most cases, within minutes of calling for help, the police will arrive and come to your rescue. (hopefully!)

During a major emergency that leads to the breakdown of civilized society, this won’t likely be the case. If you don’t believe this, take a minute and remember back to what became of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina caused all of the devastating flooding. We lived through Katrina and Rita. It was NOT pretty and one of the major reasons we stepped up our preps!

Weapon Acquisition and Training

As a family, it needs to be decided on now exactly what types of weapons will be used and for what reasons.

Most people who are seriously into prepping would consider their guns to be one of the most important elements of their plan to survive doomsday. Guns can provide many benefits for preppers. In the hands of a skilled outdoorsman, they can help to put food on the table. They can protect life, virtue, and property from those who would threaten to take it. They can also provide a sense of comfort during times of turmoil.

Without guns, you and all you have worked for is nothing but a sitting duck waiting for someone to just come and take it. If you have no intention of defending your stuff and yourself why even bother? Once the decision is made, acquire the weapons and learn how to use it and care for it. Your very life may depend on it one day.

Self Defense Training

The second category preppers should be concerned about when it comes to self-defense preparation is close contact hand-to-hand combat.

Getting the proper training in some kind of hand to hand style of fighting can mean the difference between life and death in certain circumstances.

When it comes to up close and personal self-defense training, this is a skill that takes years to master. Don’t think for a minute that you can attend a weekend seminar and you’ll magically have all the training you need to defend yourself in a real world struggle. No matter how good the instructors were or how comprehensive the seminar was, it takes a lot of time and practice to be able to develop the skills well enough that when you actually need to rely on them they won’t let you down.

While it’s true that it takes a lot of work to master hand to hand combat training, it’s important that you not let this overwhelm you to the point that you don’t get started right away. Remember, as with anything that has to do with prepping, you have to start somewhere and the best place to start is at the beginning.


As a prepper you’re main goal is to stock up on the items that will make it possible for you and your family to survive when things get really bad.

As a responsible adult it is your job to get started! If you do the things outlined in this article you have made a great start and are better prepared than most people.

This is just basic stuff. Get online and research prepping and step-by-step continue your adventure in prepping. There are many awesome sites like Tactical Intelligence that have tons of great information and lists of skills you could learn. It is really cool to learn how to do things the “old fashioned” way and know your family will do well in a SHTF situation.

We personally get a kick out of being looked down on most the time and then laughing at those that look down on us when the power
goes out in a winter storm and we are sitting warm, dry, fed and entertained while they go without.

Just get started and each and every thing that you do is one more thing checked off your list and one little bit more you are prepared more than mainstream America!

Editor’s Note: If you’re struggling with getting started, and would like a step-by-step process (checklists and all) that takes you by the hand through the entire prepping journey, I highly recommend you taking a look at Prepper Academy here.

Copyright © 2016 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved

Flint and Steel Kit Review (and How to Make Charcloth from Nature)

by Erich on June 23rd, 2016

In this latest post on the TI website I’m going to be reviewing another flint and steel fire-making kit created by Mikhail Maletkin of flint-and-steel.com. I will also be showing you how to make your own natural charcloth that takes a spark just as easy as — but creates a longer-lasting coal than — traditional cotton or linen charcloth.


A few months ago I had the opportunity to review a flint and steel fire-making kit made by Mikhail Maletkin of flint-and-steel.com. If you’re at all interested in primitive and ancient forms of fire making and have never seen his kits before, they are truly a work of art. Mikhail comes from a long line of artisan blackmiths, so the skills and methods used in the manufacture of these kits has been preserved and passed down from generation to generation. The latest kit he sent me is no exception…

Flint & Steel Kit Review

This kit, which is described as “Set No. 3”, is housed in a circular fabric cloth (it feels like linen) that is embroidered with a tasteful design, adding to the overall quality and attention to detail that Mikhail puts in all his kits.

firesteel ki laid out

Similar to the leather kit I reviewed, this one also contains two rolls of natural jute twine, two chunks of flint, a tin of linen charcloth, a firesteel striker, and easy-to-follow directions. You can watch me demonstrate how to make a fire with one of his kits in this video:

If you’re at all interested in primitive or ancient firemaking methods, and would like to learn a firemaking method that has been used for literally thousands of years, then I highly recommend you pick up a kit from Mikhail. There’s something special about making fire with the same tools our ancestors relied upon to warm their homes and cook their food, that the modern ferro rod and lighter can’t quite reproduce.

If you’d like to pick up one of Mikhail’s kits, be sure to head on over to flint-and-steel.com and pick one up.

How to Make a Long-Lasting Natural “Charcloth”

I thought in addition to providing a review of the kit, I’d take a moment to show you a natural material that makes an incredible “charcloth” you can produce when you run out of the charcloth included in the kit. When converted to char it will take a spark just as easy as — but creates a longer-lasting coal than — traditional cotton or linen charcloth.

The material you’ll use is called is amadou. It’s taken from a bracket fungus found on sweet-sapped trees like birch, maple and beech.

Here’s the process for gathering and preparing this material:

Step 1: Gather “horse hoof” fungus. This bracket can be found on different sweet-sapped trees like birch, maple and beech. In my area, they’re mostly on birch trees that are just starting to die. You’ll want to gather these either on standing dead trees or live trees:


By the time the tree falls, these are usually too rotten to process. Here’s a look at the rotten (black) and fresh (grey) kind:

birch braken old birch braken fresh

Step 2: Cut off the hard outer shell. Once gathered, the next step is to shave off the hard top crusty layer with a knife. Here’s the finished fungus after shaving:

processing amadou

Step 3: Slice away the spongy, flexible, soft outler layer. You’ll find this between outer shell and the inner woody pores.


Here’s what the slices look like:

amadou slices

Traditional amadou is processed by placing the slices made above in a mixture that is half wood ash, half water and letting it boil for about an hour. After the boil, you flatten it and let it dry out and what your left with is a very effective tinder that will catch a small spark and smolder, very much like charcloth. While this process is very effective, I find it a bit time consuming so what I prefer to do is simply convert the slices into char by following the steps below:

Step 1: Step one is just to prepare your heat source if necessary. If this is an open flame than make sure it has burned down to a decent amount of coals for a coal bed. Other wise you can just use your grill or stove.

Step 2: Punch a hole in the top cover of the tin with a small nail

Step 3: Fill your tin with your amadou and cover it up.

Step 4: Place your tin on top of the heat source

Step 5: After placing your tin on the heat source you’ll notice smoke starting to come out of the top hole. This smoke will continue until it stops at which time you’ll know the charcloth is complete.

Here’s a video of this process using cotton cloth (the process is exactly the same):

Once your amadou char is created, it can be used like any other piece of charcloth, with the added benefit of the coal lasting much longer than normal charcloth. Here’s a video showing how quick it catches a spark:

Copyright © 2016 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved

How to Make Humanure: Recycling Human Waste

by Erich on May 17th, 2016

This article has been contributed by Anne Marie Duhon. Anne Marie is a wife, mother of six and a full time off-gridder. She and her husband currently live in a totally off grid 200 sq foot “tiny home” and are in search of (again) that elusive perfect spot to call home. Besides being a wife and mother she, and her family, have raised many different animals on their various homesteads and have lived and loved being off the grid and many miles from the nearest paved road. She would like to share her first hand experiences and help others to learn to live and love living off grid and being as self reliant as possible.

What is humanure?

humanureHumanure is our urine and feces in a nutshell.

We see it as waste Nature sees it as a good by-product of human existence. Our manure contains many nutrients that enhance plant growth. Human excrement could be a major source of soil fertility if properly recycled. When discarded into the environment as a waste material (“human waste”), it creates pollution and threatens public health. When recycled by composting, the pollution and health threats can be eliminated.

It is well known that humanure contains the potential to harbor disease-causing microorganisms or pathogens. This potential is directly related to the health of the population which is producing the excrement. If a family is composting its own humanure, for example, and it is a healthy family, the danger in the production and use of the compost will be very low. If one is composting the humanure from orphanages in Haiti where intestinal parasites are wide spread, then extra precautions must be taken to ensure maximum pathogen death.

Compost temperatures must rise significantly above the temperature of the human body (98.6F) in order to begin eliminating disease-causing organisms, as human pathogens thrive at temperatures similar to that of their hosts. On the other hand, most pathogens only have a limited viability outside the human body, and given enough time, will die even in low-temperature compost.

How Can Humanure Be Recycled?

Humanure can be recycled in two basic ways. First, it can be applied raw to agricultural land. But this method can cause pollution and spread disease if the same plot of land is used over and over again. The second way is by composting. This is the process described in this article and the method my family has been using for years.

Compost microorganisms will digest and convert humanure into a safe and pleasant soil-like material when the humanure is combined with carbon-rich organic materials such as grass, leaves, sawdust, hay, sugar cane bagasse, rice hulls, straw, and other animal manures.

A compost pile allows us to combine various organic materials above ground, thereby providing oxygen to the aerobic microorganisms inside the pile. It also allows us to keep the organic materials quarantined inside an enclosed area away from people, dogs, goats, chickens and other creatures that should not be disturbing the pile.

How to Make a Composting Systems On The Cheap

There are three componets to a humanure composting system. They are 1/ The toilet 2) the compost bin and 3) the organic material containers.

The Toilet

composting-toiletThe toilet is basically a 5 gal bucket hidden in a box with a toilet seat on top. The toilet is used only to hold “deposits” covered in organic material (more on that in a minute) until someone takes the toilet to the compost bin and dumps it. Here is how to make a toilet box (feel free to just use this as a rough idea and tweak it to fit whatever materials you have laying around):

A hinged humanure toilet box will be 18″ wide and 21″ long. You’ll need:

  • two boards 3/4″X10″X18″
  • two 3/4″X10″X19.5″
  • two hinges
  • one piece of 3/4″X18″X18″ plywood
  • one piece of 3/4″X3″X18″ plywood
  • standard toilet seat

Assembly Instructions

Hinge the two pieces of plywood together. Cut a hole in the larger piece of plywood to fit the top of the 5 gallon toilet receptacle. Make sure the hole is only 1.5″ back from the front edge of the plywood. Always use identical receptacles in a humanure toilet so they will all fit correctly.

Screw boards together making a box 18” x 21” x10”. Screw 3” x 18” board to top of box. Leave the 18”x 18” plywood top loose on the hinges.

When screwing the legs to the inside of the box, make sure the top edge of the box will sit about 1/2″ below the top edge of the toilet bucket (the top of the toilet bucket rim will stick up through the box by about 1/2″). Screw down the toilet seat to the top of the box over the hole. Voilà a toilet!

How to Build a Compost Bin


A simple compost bin is four pallets set on edge and tied together in a square. More permanent bins involve posts and boards.

If the top of the compost is accessible to chickens, dogs, etc., it can be covered with wire mesh to prevent the compost from being disturbed. A square piece of loose wire fence works well and is easily removed when adding compost to the pile.

The compost bin itself can be built from pallets, scrap wood, wire mesh, stacked bales of hay or straw, other recycled materials, or even masonry materials such as block, brick or stone. Do not use lumber that is treated with chemicals.

Organic materials or Cover

Without proper cover materials in large enough quantities, the humanure compost toilet will not work.

A family can usually find cover materials by locating local sawmills or sawdust sources, purchasing peat moss in compressed bags, buying hay or straw from a farm or farm supply store, scavenging materials from the local environment such as leaves, grasses and weeds, or getting leaves from the city after they’ve been raked up in the fall.

Some cities sweep up leaves then dump them into piles where they’re left to rot. Rotted leaves are ideal for humanure toilets. Contact your city to see if such a source of organic material is available to you. Or you could drive around during the fall and ask people if you could have (or offer to rake up) their leaves.

Avoid wood chips or wood shavings as the larger particles do not compost well. Cover materials should not be wet. They should have basic carbon content from stems and leaves and other plant cellulose byproducts. Again, the simple rule when using cover material is if the compost that is covered smells unpleasant, it needs more cover material. Cover until there is no bad odor.

How to Use Your Humanure Composting System

Once you have all the parts put together and where they belong, using your system is no harder than using a flush toilet and is a lot less wasteful of water! Here’s the process…

Make a deposit. Thoroughly cover all deposits with clean cover material. You should have on hand near the toilet a container full of cover materials at all times. Add all urine, fecal material and toilet paper into toilet. If the toilet is full, lift plywood lid, remove toilet, put on plastic lid, and set the toilet aside to be taken to the compost bin. Insert empty bucket into toilet box. Make sure empty toilet bucket has 2-3 inches of clean cover material in bottom before use.


Empty the toilet contents into a compost bin constructed for this purpose. Never discard the toilet contents into the environment.

Erect the compost bin on a soil base dished out like a shallow bowl, starting the bottom of the bin with an 18”-24” thick, dense layer of organic material such as hay, straw and/or weeds.

Dig a depression into the top center of the bin contents and deposit the toilet materials into the depression when emptying a container, then always cover new deposits with clean cover material. Collect the toilet material in an active bin for at least a year, and then allow the material to age in that bin, now passive, for another year while the next active bin is filling. In any case, allow the compost bin contents to age for approximately one year after collection before applying to soil.

If the temperature of the compost is monitored and consistent thermophilic (hot) conditions are observed, the finished compost may be used for food production. If in doubt, use the finished compost for horticultural purposes. Wash the toilet containers before returning them to the toilet room and deposit the wash water into the active compost bin. Add all food scraps and other organic materials to the active bin. A good mix of organic materials makes for better finished compost.


And there you have it!

An easy way to take care of human excrement that is safe, effective and environmentally friendly!

A low-cost composting toilet system can be very useful as a back-up toilet in an emergency situation when electrical or water services are disrupted, or when the water supply is diminished as during a drought, when flushing drinking water down toilets becomes especially ridiculous.

It can also be very useful in any area where water or electricity is scarce or non-existent.

Finally, a simple, low-cost composting toilet system is attractive to anyone seeking a low-impact lifestyle, and who is willing to make the minimal effort to compost their organic residues

Additional Resources

Copyright © 2016 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved

The Non-Preppers ‘Go Bag’

by Erich on May 11th, 2016


The following article has been contributed by Matt, a preparedness expert currently residing down under in the beautiful country of Australia.

I want to start off this article by explaining my thought process behind it.
I want to explain why I think this is a good idea.
I want to explain why i think this is important.

I see bad people doing bad things in cities, cinemas, schools.
I see news reports of natural disasters.

I thought about all those people affected by terrible things that shouldn’t happen but are becoming increasingly common or possible.
I began thinking about someone sitting in an office building reviewing documents, typing on a computer at some desk in some cubicle or office.
I began thinking about the taxi driver driving the streets.

I thought about what would I do or need that might give me another chance to survive if I was in those situations.

The Scenario

I’m sitting at my desk on the fifth floor of some inner city office building.
BANG! Boom! The lights go out, the emergency lights come on, some alarm is going off, there’s dust and smoke everywhere. You realize your arm is bleeding quite profusely from some injury; the office floor looks intact from what you can see from the dust and smoke.
What do you do?

Most likely you will follow your company’s emergency procedures and evacuate?

But doing so from the fifth floor will be difficult as every other floor below you are smoke and dust filled with people everywhere coughing and rubbing their eyes.

In the end you make it outside to the awaiting emergency personnel. It took a while but you’re outside.

Is there anything I could’ve done to increase my chances of survival in this type of situation? What could possibly get me through the next minute or hour at its most relatively basic of levels if some sort of small, large or SHTF scenario takes place?

If this was me, my go to item would be a plain old little ‘bum bag’.

They’re referred to as fanny packs in the U.S. if I’m not mistaken. In Australia we call em’ bum bags!

In it would be the most basic of items that would be beneficial if the SHTF and I found myself clambering over rubble from an earthquake damaged building or bomb or some other SHTF scenario.

Take into consideration this is designed to be as simple as possible. Its deigned for those who might not know where to start in this thing we call prepping or who might find all the gear gizmos gadgets and articles confusing or too much.

Putting Together the Go Bag

Choosing your Bag

  • The point of this bum bag that I’m suggesting is that even if you wear a suit and have absolutely never thought about prepping before, something as unobtrusive and small as a bum bag won’t detract from your office décor or work clothes. It’s not a camouflaged 40lt hiking backpack sitting at the bottom of your mahogany bookshelf.
  • It sits in your desk drawer.
  • It sits in your locker.
  • It sits in the well of your car door or middle console or glove compartment.
  • If your employer is reasonably casual with your uniform and you can find use to wear it for your job you might as well get away with wearing it as part of your uniform.
  • A small waist pack, fanny pack or bum bag. It’s small. Its readily accessible being at the front and you do not have to swing it around like a backpack. Can’t get it around your waist? Try to find one that has the longest strap you can and sling it over your shoulder across the chest. We’re all different.
  • Space will be of an absolute premium so pack light, pack minimal, pack necessity. If you can fit more of one item then by all means go for it. I would try to include multiple first aid items.
  • If the SHTF and your typing away at your computer or driving a taxi, bang, SHTF!, you open your drawer or glove compartment and away you go with an increased chance of survival strapped to your waist hands free
  • One pocket two pocket, it doesn’t matter. So long as it has a big main compartment

First Aid

  • Either a secondary pouch in the main compartment or simply loose whatever works for you and the size of your bag
  • If the SHTF in an emergency I’m not going to worry about tweezering little splinters, in fact, with all the ruckus going on around me I’d probably realize I have something in my finger, hand or foot long after the incident so items like this will be left out. If you have room then include it.
  • My reasoning in having these specific items is based on quick, fast, go go go, I’m injured lets pad it stop the bleeding, dress it and keep moving, or doing the same for someone as I pass them, pad it stop the bleeding, dress it, pick them up and keep moving. Not let me remove the wood splinter from your finger while your arm has a hole in it.
  • 1 x bandages/pads for padding and pressure. Make the focus with this kit on stopping bleeding and perhaps burns, as more than likely splinters, mosquito bites, and grazed knuckles will be a distant second to open wounds, gunshot wounds, crush injuries and burns
  • 1 x bandages for dressing
  • 1 x triangle (sling) bandages, for putting arms in a sling amongst the numerous other uses they have or keep folded and use as a wound dressing as well
  • 1 x type of burn-aid or burn treatment gel or dressing
  • Several x Band-Aids
  • Several x steriswabs/Alco-swabs/antiseptic wipes
  • 1 x chap stick – these have a variety of uses
  • 1 x pair of rubbers gloves
  • backup personal medication
  • 2 x aspirin, anti-histamine or over the counter pain medications
  • 1 x shock blanket/emergency blanket/foil blanket


  • 1 x small roll of duct tape – you never know what this will save you from until you have it
  • 1 x dust mask: rubble, dust, allergens, burning materials giving off toxic smoke, a simple dust mask is better than no dust mask. Plain white masks usually sold in packs of 10 or more will do. Once again if space permits and you can fit something more quality perhaps with some sort of respirator then include it. If not fit as many dust masks in your pack as you can. Handing these out in emergency situations that may require this piece of equipment will be a benefit to peoples lungs
  • 1 x pair of clear safety goggles, preferably wrap around that will also prevent dust from getting into your eyes
  • 1 x torch – something small yet comfortable to hold, preferably a wrist strap
  • 1 x signal whistle, preferably with a lanyard
  • 1 x small roll of duct tape – you never know what this will save you from until you have it


  • Food? You want to put food in your bum bag with everything else? Say I get trapped in an elevator or the stairwell. Or I’ve jumped out of my taxi to assist the people trapped by rubble and I’m slugging away for hours and have to sit down to recoup some energy. Or I find myself trapped by rubble.The point here is to keep it small and have at least one item.
  • 1 x muesli bar/energy bar/oat bar: something to give you just that little bit of sustenance to keep you going.
  • 1 x electrolyte pouches or tabs
  • some small candies, mints, jelly beans, something sugary
  • 1 x the smallest container of water you can find can be included. They make pouches of water, canned water, whatever is small enough to fit. If you cannot fit in your pouch then clip it to the pack. It might not be a bottle. It might be only a little tiny food grade container that is too small to actually quench your thirst.
    But you can wet your lips, moisten your throat, splash a little on your face, or face cloth. It’s there for you to survive that little bit longer

Assorted Contents: Room Permitting

(although bum bags are small you may be able to squeeze one or two extra items but in the end the size of the bag will dictate)

  • hi-vis vest or reflectors
  • tourniquets, if your first aid associations allow these
  • a bandana: you can wet it to put over your mouth for a fire, wipe your face down, clean an area, wipe away sweat, use as a wound dressing if you have nothing else
  • deck of cards
  • portable Powerbank: to recharge a phone if necessary
  • a couple of small glow sticks
  • small Multitool
  • seatbelt cutter
  • glass breaker/window punch
  • CPR face shield
  • 1-2 x Ziploc bags: great for carrying water, water/splash proofing items, storing severed fingers etc. (well that escalated quickly!)


Remember every quarter (three months) check the contents. So many people prep so hard yet fail to consistently check the contents until it’s too late. Oops the flashlight is flat and doesn’t work. The water tastes off. The energy bar has expired.
Check check check!

This article is for those who don’t know what paracord is, or what ‘prepping’ means.
This is for those who don’t own a single piece of camouflaged clothing or gear.
This is geared towards those people who want WIFI on holiday or those who simply say “whatever happens happens”.
I apologize if any of what I have written sounds a little insulting or degrading but in no way is that my intention.
For those that say “whatever will happen – will happen” that’s fine. You’re entitled to say that.

But are you the sort of person that when the SHTF and you’re driving past a collapsed building or working in an office and someone else needs help, are you the sort of person that stops what you’re doing, digs deep and rushes to help those in need? Do you pull over; get out of your taxi and rush to pull people out?
Do you manage to evacuate your building and are relatively unharmed but around you there are colleagues or others in need of help?
You may not need the contents of your ‘go bag’ in these sorts of situations but someone else might.

You may only have one wound dressing to pad and stop the bleeding of you or someone else.
You may only have one triangle bandage to sling the broken arm of you or someone else.
You may only have one shock thermal blanket for you or someone else.
You may only have one burn-aid or burn dressing for you or someone else.
You may only have a couple of antiseptic wipes or swabs for you or someone else, you’ve used the bandage on someone else, but a cleaned wound may be something so small a thing to do but you’ve decreased the risk of infection.

But you’ve made a difference. You’ve increased your chance of survival. You’ve given at least one other person a fighting chance.

I know there are people out there who don’t think about these things and yes, absolutely, we cannot go through our lives constantly thinking about all the possible bad things that could happen. We need to enjoy the life we are given either by ourselves or with loved ones.

But something so small, so unobtrusive, so easy to put in a desk drawer or car glove compartment, that you know is there, could actually save your life or someone else’s.

If you don’t need to help yourself, use it to help someone else.


Copyright © 2016 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved

My New EDC Knife: Review of the Benchmade 551BK-1 Folder

by Erich on April 22nd, 2016

Before I get into the actual review of the knife I really wanted to quickly provide some context and background about what knives I currently carry as an every-day carry knife and where this knife fits into that.

When it comes to daily carry there are two knives that I will choose on a regular basis, and depending on where I go that day determines which knife I ultimately carry with me.

The two knives are the Doug Ritter RSK MK1 (made by Benchmade) or the Hissatsu folder that I reviewed in a prior article that you can find here.

Why I switch off between these two knives is because of their differences in terms of utility. The Doug Ritter knife I used primarily for every-day carry in the rural town that I live in and if I visit the surrounding areas. It’s an excellent survival type knife and if you notice the blade profile pictured below (with it’s wide blade and drop point) it’s perfectly suited for survival types of activities like making bow drill sets, skinning animals, making primitive traps or simple carvings and even light splitting of smaller pieces of wood using the baton technique. All in all it’s very strong and is an excellent every-day carry survival knife.


The downside to the Doug Ritter knife is that due to its wide profile, using it as a self-defense knife would be not ideal because it would be difficult to penetrate into someone — especially when encountering ribs or a threat who’s wearing heavy winter clothing or a leather jacket.

Compare that with the profile of the Hissatsu Folder whose primary purpose is for self defense and is clearly intended to for stabbing and penetration as seen by the blade profile in the following photo (As a side note, I was able to easily penetrate this knife into and through a wood board as you can see at the end of this video I put together):


However, it functions poorly as a survival tool because of its steep blade angle, lack of drop point, and thick spine which prevents it from easily slicing into wood and overall, making bushcraft activities a difficult process.

Up until now, anytime I’m local or head into the bush, I have the Doug Ritter, and those times I’m heading into the city, or a strictly urban area, I will primarily carry the Hissatsu folder with me, which brings me to today’s review…

For the longest time now, I’ve been looking for a knife that could really serve both purposes — it would work great as a survival knife but at the same time you would have the proper blade profile to function as a self-defense tool.

Enter the Benchmade Griptilian 551BK-1 knife…

Review of the Benchmade Griptilian 551BK-1


Benchmade 551BK-1 Review

The Benchmade Griptilian 551BK-1 knife was designed by custom knife maker Mel Pardue.

Mel has been around the knife making seen for over 25 years now and is well known for his elegant style and his simplicity in design. He’s collaborated here with Benchmade to offer an excellent knife I’m happy to review for you guys.

Locking Mechanism

The locking mechanism of this folder leverages the proprietary Benchmade Axis Lock System.

You might be asking what the big deal about the Axis Lock System is and why you should care so let me just explain here for a little bit:

The fact is, locking mechanisms for folding knives have been and still are in many cases far from reliable.

Older designs like the lock back or the liner lock designs are some very common ones where the mechanisms don’t always keep the blade in the lock position. This can inadvertently lead the knife to fold back into one’s fingers as you’re gripping the knife’s handle

Bench made’s axis lock is a proprietary mechanism that is probably my favorite locking mechanism. It’s easy to use with one hand but also it’s completely ambidextrous if you happen to lose the functionality in one hand and are required to use the other.

Axis_Lock-System Benchmade

Here’s how it works: The lock is really a bar that’s under spring tension that slides back-and-forth along the track that is cut into the handles of the knife.

The butt end of the folding blade itself has a flat spot that allows the spring tension bar to lock into place when the knife is open.

To close the blade all you have to do is pull the bar backwards and then using one of the thumb studs (again these are on both sides allowing for ambidexterity) to fold the blade shut.

Opening the blade does not require any manipulation of the locking mechanism. All you need to do is manipulate the thumb studs like many other folders and open it that way.

See the following video for an example of closing and opening the 551BK-1 knife:

The Blade


The blade is premier stainless steel that is been coated with a black non-reflective coating and a plain edge that lends itself to a large variety of every-day uses.

For you steel hounds out there who care about the details (like me), the steel has been upgraded from Benchmade’s current M390 steel to this CPM–20CV steel. The upgrade in steel offers better edge retention but it is not quite as tough to resharpen as the M390.

In all honesty I prefer the S30V steel that the Doug Ritter survival knife has over the 20CV steel because it has less carbon, is less prone to chipping and it’s all-around just a little bit tougher.

Still, with that being said, the blade profile ultimately what won me over to this knife.

If you compare the picture below between the Doug Ritter and the 551BK-1 you can see that it will perform a lot better as a self-defense tool due to it’s narrower profile but at the same time, still still work well as a survival tool.

Again now comparing it with the Hassatsu Folder, while it doesn’t have the extreme self-defense profile it is nonetheless a great midpoint between the two.


The Handle

While the blade profile design is enough to sell me on this knife, the excellent handle was just icing on the cake which lead me to want this to be my every-day carry.

The handle features the well-known Griptilian diamond texturing for grip and comfort. Gray G10 forms the basis of the outer handle with blue G10 accidents inside. In addition there’s some partial stainless steel liner is to support and house the locking mechanism.


As with other Benchmade knives, the construction will provide for easy disassembly, cleaning, and overall maintenance.

As a side note, the combination of the handle size and locking mechanism lends itself well to working with gloves on during colder temperatures.

Price and Where to Buy

The retail price for this knife goes for $225 and can be found in most knife stores online. If you’d like to get a discounted price for this be sure to check out this knife at KnifeArt.com where you can purchase it currently for around $40 off the list price (these knives are popular and sell out quickly so be sure to get them while they’re still in stock).

Copyright © 2016 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved

Mental Games to Improve Your Survivability

by Erich on April 20th, 2016

The following post has been contributed by Jake Roberts


You have prepared your food, water, shelter, and security, but have you prepared your mind?

There are many people who may have taken the time and effort to prepare all the “stuff” but when the SHTF they will freeze or fall apart because they haven’t taken the time to prepare the most important thing. Their mind.

Resilience is basically a persons ability to bounce back or to handle the stressful situations in their life. The clinical reason that has been discovered for why some people have great resilience and others don’t has to do with brain connections. People who do not have good resilience are those who have weak or few connections between the prefrontal cortex, that part of the brain responsible for higher functions and the Amygdala or the part responsible for the visceral emotions of fear and aggression.

The Importance of the Mind in Improving Survivability

The main factors that determine a persons ability to bounce back are several. One factor is that of your environment, the family you were born into, where and when you grew up. How many resources were available to your family? These environmental factors do seem to play a part in a persons ability to bounce back. These are what I believe the more important factors of Psychological and emotional factors.

I tell my kids all the time, you don’t get to choose often what happens to you, or what people may do or say, you do have control over how you respond and the attitude you have. People with a positive attitude and optimistic outlook tend to have better resilience than those with a cynical attitude or those plagued by depression.

Other things researchers have identified as negatively affecting a persons ability to cope or bounce back are things like experiencing consistent loss and failure, an unwillingness to ask for help, and a lack of problem solving skills.

So I am doomed you say.

No the great thing about this is there are things you can do to increase your resilience. This is where we answer the question of mentally preparing for SHTF. Doing mental exercises can help you to prepare for TEOTWAWKI, or smaller things like the loss of a job, loved one, or being in an airport when bad people do bad things.

How to Improve Mental Strength

Spiritual Meditation

The first thing I do to develop mental strength is I spend some time everyday in meditation. For me this is thinking about the Word of God as given in the Jewish and Christian scriptures. I spend time reading and thinking about these things for about 30-60 minutes in the morning and evening. The majority of humans spend very little time thinking. When you engage in thinking you begin to flex and work the greatest resource you have, your brain.

Mental Games to Improve Survivability

The next thing that I do to help develop the mental ability and thinking skills of my family is to play games. Yes we play games. But not just any games, we play games that force the players to grapple with the “What if”. This is the same thing that military and intelligence community do all the time. And there is a reason they do it. By playing “war games” it fosters the critical and creative thinking needed by our military people to win a complex campaign or our IC to give us advance warning of imminent attack.

Scenario-Based Games

You can purchase some games like Persian Incursion which is a game used for these purposes. Playing these games is like receiving an intelligence briefing and will help you to gain the skills you need and are better in my opinion than the wildly unrealistic zombie games out there.

Most in the prepper community are aware of the card game Conflicted. This is a game that helps you to begin to think ahead of time what you will do in a given situation. While you may never face the given scenarios what I feel the real benefit of this game is in the building of descion making muscles, using your brain to come up with real answers to questions quickly, and also reveals to you your real values and beliefs.


To combine mental and physical preparing my boys and I play paintball. Paintball is a great way to teach team tactics, quick decision making skills, It allows us to practice what we might do in a given scenario. When we play we have different objectives for each team, designed to present real possibilities on our property. It also helps us learn where weakness in our security may be, and it the real world application of the board games we play putting to use the critical and creative thinking we have been fostering.

Situational Awareness (Kim’s) Games

The final area that will help you in SHTF or everyday is situational awareness. We hear a lot lately about situational awareness in the preparedness community. But how do you develop it? Are there things we can do to? I will never forget the time a guy that spends time around my kids school comes up to me and says what are you teaching your kids? I’m like, huh? He then proceeds to tell me that my 12 year old son had said to him earlier that day, “I can see your gun” This guy did not believe my son, who then told him where he had his concealed weapon.

“So what are you teaching your kids?” he asks. I tell you I was proud of my boy. He had learned how to see the print of a concealed weapon. We did have a conversation later about this, fortunately this guy is someone who I trust and know. He Later came to me and seriously asked how I was training my kids.

I told him about another game we play called “the Play of the Jewels” or Kims game. Taken from the 1901 book KIM by Kipling it is a great game that can be played anywhere. See the following 3 minute clip from the movie “Kim”:

The basic way to play the game is to take a group of items, observe the items for a set time, then after covering the items or removing them from the players sight, try to list more observations about those items than your opponent can.

The great thing is you determine what counts as an observation and how the points are determined. As you increase in your ability you can do things like increase the amount of items, reduce the time to observe the items.

You can play this game anywhere because we spend a lot of time in our car, a hazard of living 30-45 minutes from anything, we play this game while driving. We might say okay look out the drivers side of the car for the next minute, then describe anything you have observed. 1 point for each observation made.

Or sitting in the car waiting for my wife at the store, we will say okay look out the window observe the next ten people who walk out of the store. Then state back the observations. You can pass a lot of otherwise lost time playing this game and at the same time teach your children how to be aware of their surroundings.

My kids now play this game without my prompting. A similar twist on this is the old, find the letters of the alphabet game, where you have to find the letter of the alphabet in order on various signs, license plates etc.

Sometimes I will test the kids when they don’t know they are playing. I will say give me your observations of the last five people you saw walk past us. Or while walking in our neighborhood I will have them to tell me the things they observed about the house we just walked past.

Body Language

As the kids have grown I have begun to teach them about body language, we will watch videos of crimes just to see how people act before they commit crime. I remember about a year ago flying out of Africa from a trip, I said to my wife, “that couple is up to something” She said how do you know? I began to point out behaviors all the way from Africa through Europe and into the US. Obviously someone else had noticed because as we arrived in the US waiting at the bottom of the stairs were a couple of guys with a list of names, you’ll never guess who I saw pulled aside.

Given the recent events in Europe and the amount of travel I do, I am increasingly aware of how important this skill set is for me and my family.

I hope you might take sometime and play some games with your family. It might just save your life!

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