Note – this is a longer than normal report. I’m getting lots of calls, emails, texts and messages asking about taking a LTC class, about where to get pepper spray, and what we should be doing about coronavirus. See below.
LTC/OC/STB ON SUNDAY, MARCH 29 AT KR TRAINING
Get three certifications in one day – this is a unique way to learn emergency and self defense skills in an efficient setting:
License to Carry – This is the course you will need to obtain your Texas License to Carry.
Pepper Spray Essentials – There are times where you need something more than a forceful word but something less than lethal force to stop a threat. More self defense experts are regularly carrying pepper spray (OC) as part of their self defense plan. For those who are not inclined to carry a firearm or work in environments where it’s not permissible, OC spray should be a part of their plan. Come learn what sprays work best and how to use them. You will get an opportunity to use inert (no OC) training canisters as part of the class. Please note: You will not be sprayed with pepper spray in this course.
Stop the Bleed – we lose over 30,000 people a year in the U.S. due to external loss of blood. It is the number one cause of preventable death from trauma in the U.S. The Stop the Bleed class will teach you how to use pressure bandages, tourniquets, and hemostatic gauze to reduce bleeding and increase the chances of survival.
It's rare these three classes are offered in one location on the same day. This is a great opportunity to get a lot of safety training in a very short period of time. Sign up for all of them or just the ones you need.
VIOLENT JANUARY IN AUSTIN COMES TO A CLOSE
What a month. From KVUE:
Earlier this month, an APD study showed that gun violence is on the rise in Austin. Just a few days later, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley stated while Austin is still the fifth safest major city when it comes to violent crime, "We are seeing changes, we are seeing increases in violent crime." A week later, Manley said there isn't an easy explanation for the spike in crime for January but police are paying attention to it.
That APD study on gun violence mentioned above?
According to the report, gun use in the city’s most serious crimes – murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault – went from 631 in 2014 to 996 in 2018, a 57.8% increase.
The report noted that violent crime increased overall during that period, but that one in five serious crimes involved a gun in 2014, compared to one in four in 2018.
Interestingly, APD seems to be blaming many of you for this increase in violent crime:
But the report also noted that the number of stolen guns was 4,241 during that five-year period and that the number of cases increased from 2014 to 2018. Analysts think many of those guns were used to carry out crimes in other parts of the city.
This seems to be a tacit admission by APD that despite the incessant complaints from former Austin PD chief Art Acevedo, more gun laws won’t keep criminals from buying guns.
What should we be doing in response to this trend?
1. Light up your Austin City Council member. Tell them:
a. Crime is out of control.
b. Fund our professional responders to ensure we have more police, fire fighters, and EMS medics.
c. Fund these responders so they can have adequate equipment.
2. Carry your gun, individual first aid kit (IFAK – tourniquet, chest seals, hemostatic gauze), OC spray and other safety devices when out and about.
3. Practice good situational awareness. Look around your car via side and rear view mirrors before getting out. Pay attention in parking lots. Call 911 when you see something suspicious.
4. Get training. From me or anyone else who regularly takes continuing education from other reputable trainers.
5. Get involved in your community. Find a charity that resonates with you that is going good work to improve the lives of our more vulnerable citizens. Mobile Loaves and Fishes, Central Texas Food Bank, various animal shelters….there are a lot of great organizations that need you and your generous contributions. Don’t be that guy (or gal) who sits at home, watches the news, and complains that the nebulous “they” should be fixing this unless you are actively taking a hand to improve the community. Our civic organizations need people like YOU – people who believe in the right of self defense, who believe we all have a role to play to help others, and who believe our current predicament is solved best not by politicians but by ordinary citizens helping others.
ECONOMIC CONCERNS BECOMING MORE VISIBLE
In other news, I regularly have a number of people tell me:
• There are no problems in the economy
• We will not have another financial crisis
• Everything is fine
We thought the same thing in 2006. And yet there is some concerning data out there. Consider this:
CNBC: 1 in 3 American workers run out of money before payday “About 31% of respondents earning over $100,000 also regularly experience a budget shortfall before payday….Almost half of working Americans surveyed by Salary Finance, 48%, say they don’t have any money specifically set aside for emergencies.”
Yahoo Finance: Household Debt Exceeds $14 Trillion for First Time “Total U.S. household debt rose by $601 billion in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, or 1.4%, surpassing $14 trillion for the first time….. That’s $1.5 trillion above the previous peak in the third quarter of 2008….Almost 5% of auto loans are 90 days of more delinquent. This is the highest percentage since the third quarter of 2011.,,,,Credit card delinquencies rose to 8.36% an 18-month high.”
Wall Street Journal: Credit-Card Debt in America Rises to Record 930 Billion “Total credit-card balances increased by $46 billion to $930 billion, well above the previous peak seen before the 2008 financial crisis….The proportion of credit-card debt in serious delinquency, meaning payments were late by 90 days or more, rose to 5.32% in the fourth quarter, the highest level in almost eight years, from 5.16% in the third quarter. The serious-delinquency rate for borrowers from 18 to 29 years old rose to 9.36%, the highest level since the fourth quarter of 2010, from 8.91%.”
The Hill: Fed chief issues stark warning to Congress on deficits “Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell called on Congress to reduce the U.S. federal budget deficit to ensure the central bank could adequately respond to a financial crisis or recession….With rates well below the historic average of 5 percent, some economists fear that interest rates are currently too low for a swift rate cut to stave off a recession. That would likely boost pressure on Congress to pass a massive stimulus bill akin to the 2009 measure enacted by former President Obama.”
MSN: Might lack ammo to combat next recession “Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell came close to acknowledging that the central bank may not have the firepower to fight the next recession and called on Congress to get ready to help.”
Please do not let this escape your attention. I know the stock market is roaring right now and unemployment is at record lows. That’s great for a lot of people…the problem is that we are becoming overextended again. We know how that ended in 2008.
If you thought we’d have another financial crisis, what would you start doing to prepare for it? Do those things. I am. Which includes:
• Saving more
• Spending less
• Paying off debts
• Devising a plan on what to do with my investments should things turn south
• Having more cash in your emergency fund
We cannot have extremely low interest rates and high employment forever. The stock market will roll over eventually. What is your plan for that?
WHAT I AM DOING ABOUT THE COVID ONE NINER
First things first – the Coronavirus has a new name, effective tonight: COVID-19, according to NPR. I’ll be calling it “COVID One-Niner.” You should feel free to call it whatever you’d like.
In any event, COVID One-Niner is getting a lot of attention from a lot of smart people. Despite their best efforts to be politically correct and alarm people without alarming people, these experts are saying things like:
VIRUSES LIKE CORONAVIRUS CAN WREAK MORE 'HAVOC' THAN A TERRORIST ATTACK AND MUST BE ADDRESSED NOW, HEALTH OFFICIAL WARNS – Newsweek
Coronavirus Expert Warns 60% of Earth’s Population Could Get It – The Guardian
U.S. Officials Worried About Chinese Control of American Drug Supply – NBC News.
Forget Coronavirus – World Isn’t Ready for Next Global Outbreak – Bloomberg
Here are my takeaways:
• The numbers from China are highly, highly suspect. There are many more people infected than we know.
• This disease has the potential to spread rapidly to a lot of people. There are now concerns in Hong Kong that it spreads through the plumbing system.
• The lethality rate of this disease is around 2 percent. That was the same rate as the Spanish Flu of 1918. While that rate sounds low, if a lot of people get it, 2 percent of a lot of people could be a significant number.
• For the 98 percent of people who don’t die of it, their illness creates intense demand on medical resources.
• The secondary and tertiary effects of the virus – the disruptions to the economy and society - will be felt everywhere. See this article from this afternoon in the LA Times - Coronavirus outbreak spurs hoarding in Asia.
“In Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, shoppers are stockpiling toilet paper, hand sanitizers, rice, instant noodles, cured meats, sanitary napkins and other products as fears over the new strain of coronavirus from China continue to ripple across Asia….On Friday evening, supermarkets in Taipei put out their usual stocks of toilet paper, stacked floor-to-ceiling in brick-sized packets stuffed into bags decorated with colorful cartoon characters. By Monday, just barren racks — and bewildered shoppers — were left.”
• We are due another large pandemic. The last “big” one was 1918. COVID One-Niner may or may not be it.
What I am doing about it:
• Here’s what I posted a couple of weeks ago. I continue to do these things. (Stop reading right now….click on that link….there’s a lot of info there for you to consider.)
• Hibiclens. Get some. Don’t need to use it now, but you may need to in the future. Available on Amazon.
• Get more non-latex gloves. Extremely long shelf life and still available. Cheap to buy in quantity.
• Plan to stock up on more masks when the prices come out of the stratosphere. There’s much debate over whether non-sick people need to be buying and/or wearing masks. It won’t hurt to wear one, and if you have someone in your house who is sick, make them put one on to keep their cooties to themselves. You may want to place your order even before prices come down. Having a few N95 masks isn’t a bad idea.
I am no infectious disease expert. But this seems to be alarming a lot of people who are.
LONG TERM WEATHER OUTLOOK
The Climatic Prediction Center expects us to see above averages chances for a warmer than normal spring and summer. Their precipitation outlook for those months show that we should expect equal chances for average rainfall.
Wildfire risk remains a concern, especially in Central Texas.
Texas Drought Monitor shows much of the state in varying levels of drought. This week’s rain will hopefully make a significant dent in that.
Needless to say, there’s a lot going on right now. Take steps now to mitigate the risk.
Not sharing this to alarm anyone - I am concerned, but I am not taking any out of the ordinary steps. Granted, my "out of the ordinary" is likely different than other people's out of the ordinary. It's my hope something here will give you a sense of self-efficacy in dealing with the news we are getting on this subject.
There's a significant uptick on the discussions about this topic. I'd like to provide you some resources and ideas. Use what you like; disregard the rest.
"What do you think about the coronavirus?"
I have gotten this question several times over the last few days. I'm not an expert on diseases. So I don't know what the "right" thing is to think about it. I think a better question should be:
Should we be taking precautions for the coronoavirus, and if so, what should we be doing?
Let's take the first part of that question. I subscribe to the theory that a prepared person is always taking precautions for the possibility of communicable diseases. Regular vaccinations, good hygiene practices and regular check ups are part of this. Don't be dismissive of the efficacy of such protocols; there are a lot of Americans who don't do these things to their detriment.
In addition to the best practices described above, I keep supplies on hand useful should a family member become ill with a highly contagious disease. These include:
These are relatively inexpensive things you can keep on hand. The hand soap, alcohol, masks, gloves and thermometers have a long shelf life. The other items need to be rotated. None of this is expensive.
As for the what should we be doing now, here's what I am doing:
If you are wanting to "do something" meaningful and not extreme, I would:
Want to get prepared for storms and other emergencies, but don’t know how?
Do you wish someone would just tell you what you need to purchase and what you need to do?
Do want to get reasonably prepared in as little as a weekend?
We have the answer – attend the FREE presentation of the Rapid Preparedness Program offered by the Austin Preparedness Meet Up. Attendees will receive valuable handouts and spread sheets to help them get quickly prepared for extended emergencies. By the time you leave this training, you will have a blueprint on what you need to do and how to get it done quickly!
Our goal is to take out all of the guesswork and provide you with proven recommendations and suggestions you can quickly implement over a weekend to get your family ready.
Date: Saturday, February 8
Time: 9 AM to 3:30 PM
Location: Riverbend Church, 4214 N Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin, TX 78746
Student Center - See map linked below
What to bring: Lunch, drinks and snacks, along with a notepad and pen to take notes.
Who should attend: concerned citizens, preppers, church leadership, community volunteers, first responders
For more information, please contact Paul Martin at email@example.com.
I received a text this evening seeking suggestions on preparedness gifts for a spouse. After I shared a few, the inquiring party suggested I post a list for those people looking to buy preparedness gifts for others.
I hope this helps some of you. Here are some ideas:
Champion Generators. These are highly rated and available at Home Depot. I recommend getting a dual fuel version that allows you to run the generator or either gasoline or propane.
GMRS Radios. I own these. Do not be deterred from the less than stellar Amazon reviews; most of these reviews complain about the lack of range of these radios by people who apparently don't understand how they work. These are much better than the less expensive FRS models you buy at big box retailers.
These GMRS radios do require a license from the FCC, which costs $70 for ten years. No test required - just fill out the license app, pay the fee, and in about a day you'll get your license. Read more about the licensing and rules here. Read more about why preppers should consider getting GMRS radios here.
Knives. These are on sale today on Amazon. Great stocking stuffers and highly rated. (Thanks to Greg Ellifritz for the tip.) Great stocking stuffers. A great deal even when they are not on sale. And they come in a variety of colors.
Registration Fees for CPR/First Aid Classes. Many people value experiences more than things, and this is a fantastic experience you can give. Google "CPR training in my city" and choose an option offered by the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross.
Flashlights. I have soured on Fenix as of late and have switched pretty much exclusively to SureFire and Streamlight for serious flashlights. The prices run the spectrum. I have yet to meet a man that tires of gifts of flashlights and knives. You can give them every year to the same guy.
Tarps from Harbor Freight. Yes, that Harbor Freight. Get the cheap ones. Lots of uses. Essentially disposable. I have nice tarps for certain applications, and then I have cheap ones from The Harbor. This particular one runs $2.99 and has a 4.6/5.0 rating from over 5,500 reviews. Buy several. Give them to your kids and tell them to build practice shelters with them, offering them Disaster Dollars when they do. Give a pack of them to the prepper in your life. They will find a lot of ways to use them.
Emergency Food Sample Packs. Emergency food can be an acquired taste. I highly - HIGHLY - recommend buying sample packs from the various vendors to see what you like and don't like before spending lots of money on a food supply from a particular vendor. Amazon has a wide choice from various vendors.
THE OCHO: THE EIGHTH ANNUAL PREPAREDNESS CONFERENCE JANUARY 3-5, 2020
Current events serve as a very good reminder of the need to be prepared for a variety of things that can go wrong. As political rhetoric heats up on both the local and national level, how will you deal with potential outbursts of anger and frustration that seem to become more pronounced as we approach national elections?
For the last eight years, I have steered the topics of previous conferences away from talk of civil unrest and riots. I felt like people needed to focus on the more common perils of severe weather, fire, medical emergencies and violent crime. Discussions of civil unrest and civil war are unsettling – more so than conversations of floods, hurricanes and wildfires.
But in 2019, we no longer have that luxury.
Earlier today on Townhall.com, an article entitled “Are We Headed Toward a Second Civil War?” appeared. From the article:
Yet, in today’s polarized age, most people now genuinely believe civil war to be a very real possibility. An October Georgetown Institute poll found that the average American believes we are “two-thirds of the way to the edge of a civil war,” while a solid majority believes that “political, racial, and class divisions are getting worse.”
Regarding that same Georgetown study – here’s what New York Magazine had to say about it:
That division is leading to a dark place, respondents said. Asked how close the country is to the “edge of a civil war” — with 0 being not close at all and 100 being time to get the “go” bag — Americans say we’re at 67.23. So, two-thirds of the way to internecine bloodshed. Could be better. Could be worse.
From the New York Times, just two days ago:
A sense of disbelief seemed to take hold of the room when Lilliana Mason, a government and politics professor at the University of Maryland, began to show the results of a survey she had conducted among voters on the issue of political violence around the 2018 midterms. While 77 percent had said they were against violence of any sort, around 20 percent appeared willing to tolerate some kind of violence in politics.
She flipped to another survey. Twenty-five percent of respondents had said they favored the country being broken up along party lines into separate nations.
Even commentator/comedians are speaking about it. Bill Maher on his HBO show “Real Time with Bill Maher” last Friday:
“Lately we’ve been hearing more and more about a second Civil War, which sounds impossible in this modern affluent country. It is not.”
This year’s conference will include extended analysis of the factors and actors in the conversation surrounding the potential for a Second Civil War. You need to know what is being said, how to evaluate the inflammatory rhetoric, and prepare your family for further tensions in our country.
We’ll also be covering using pepper spray as a less than lethal means to deter violent crime, along with a presentation on electrical generators and night vision equipment. On Sunday, we’ll focus on self defense skills, such as managing and de-escalating conflict in public spaces, as well as some Defensive Long Gun training with the long gun of your choice.
Click here to get read more and get signed up.
AUSTIN POLICE: APD RESPONSE TIMES ARE GOING UP. THE TREND WILL CONTINUE.
At last week’s Preparedness Meet Up, we invited the Greater Austin Crime Commission and the Austin Police Department to come discuss crime trends in Austin. Here’s some of the data they provided:
Take a look at those numbers. APD response times for calls requiring “lights and sirens” – the really big ones – now averages 8 minutes. Note that’s a 10.3% increase from last year.
Eight minutes. That’s 480 seconds on average. Which means some calls, depending on a wide variety of factors, can take much longer.
What can happen to you in 8 minutes? What can happen to your family in 8 minutes?
What if your call takes 10 minutes instead of 8 minutes? What if someone is attempting to break in to your home at 3 AM or hurt your family in a parking lot of a grocery store?
What is your plan to deal with that?
The Greater Austin Crime Commission reports that the combination of increased population, coupled with the failure of the Austin City Council to adequately staff the street officer ranks of APD, are driving up response times.
These trends will not end any time soon. Plan accordingly.
ARMED CITIZEN STOPS WALMART SHOOTING IN OKLAHOMA TODAY
A key detail being omitted from many news reports about today’s shooting at an Oklahoma Walmart is that the shooter took his own life after being confronted by an armed citizen.
Carry your gun. Get training to do so safely and effectively. The life you save may be your own.
SPEAKING OF BEING AN ARMED CITIZEN, I AM TRANSITIONING TO A NEW EVERY DAY CARRY GUN
I’ve alternated between two extremes in size over the last 7 years – a Glock 34 (large frame gun) and Glock 26 (a subcompact), both of which are 9mm.
However, I’ve been quite impressed with the reviews on the Glock 48 – a single stack 9mm. I’m in the process of switching to that as my everyday carry (EDC) gun. The Glock 34 was simply too long and the Glock 26, while shorter, is a “fat” gun making it a challenge to carry concealed with nicer clothes (suits and dress slacks). I’ll keep you posted on my progress.
Q1 2020 SEASONAL WEATHER OUTLOOK – WARMER, DRIER
The official seasonal forecast for the first three months of 2020 doesn’t bode well for our current drought situation:
That’s all for now. Stay safe out there. And get signed up for The Ocho.
We’re pleased the Preparedness Conference is in its eighth year. To sign up, click here.
The theme for this conference is “Austin in Crisis.” We will look at the recent problems in the Austin area and what a prepared citizenry needs to know heading into 2020, focusing on:
Friday, January 3
OC spray/less-lethal weapons for Civilians Instructor Course – Chuck Haggard, a nationally respected self defense instructor in a number of disciplines, will be teaching attendees how to train others in the use of OC spray and less than lethal weapon systems. OC spray (aka pepper spray) and other systems provide the preparedness community a viable option when confronted with a dangerous situation requiring force that is less than deadly force. This is a great option for those who wish to help prepare their families, houses of worship and workplaces with self defense skills that don’t involve firearms. This is an all day class. Tuition is $300.
HALF DAY WEEKEND SESSIONS
Each of the half day sessions is $100. Attend two sessions for $180, three sessions for $240, and all four for the package discount price of $280, a savings of $120.
Saturday morning, January 4
OC spray/less-lethal weapons for Civilians – Chuck Haggard will make another appearance on the second day of The OCHO to teach a half day class for those just wanting the actual course content. This is a great option for family members and others who want to learn how to use less than lethal self defense systems but do not want to train others in how to use them.
Saturday afternoon, January 4
Generators 101 – More people are wanting to purchase generators for power outages caused by storms and cyber attacks on the grid. Kurt Summers of Austin Generator will be on hand to explain the basics of generators and help you make decisions as to whether you need a generator and, if so, what kind of generator you should acquire.
Paul Martin will be leading the discussion on the following topics:
The Second American Civil War – The Deep Dive – The mainstream media and major policy publications have published articles and stories on the likelihood of a Second American Civil War, or CW2. We will do a deep dive into the material to see what is driving this, whether it’s something we should actually be concerned about, and how prepared citizens should respond and react to the increased attention to this subject.
Austin in Crisis – The past 24 months in Austin have been challenging for the city, including a serial bomber, a massive boil water order for the city, an escalating level of violence downtown, increased response times for first responders, and a massive shift in public policy priorities creating health and safety hazards throughout the city. We are going to spend some time focusing on the public safety and health challenges facing the Austin area.
Preparing for Civil Unrest – As we head into 2020, political tensions will undoubtedly escalate creating a very tense election year which may go beyond November 3, 2020. Add to these growing tensions the increased attacks on our power grid and extended response times by first responders. What should prepared citizens anticipate in the event of a civil unrest event, and how can they prepare for it in 2020? We will be offering a number of ideas to help get you ready for this possibility.
Night Vision Equipment Demonstration – Once it gets dark outside on Saturday, Cliff Cheadle of Third Coast Thermal will be on hand to demonstrate the newest night vision equipment and how best to deploy it in a suburban and urban setting.
Sunday morning, January 5
Potential Threat Management – KR Training Instructor Dave Reichek will provide hands on training in managing communication, position, movement and body language when interacting with unknown individuals in public places. This block will include simulations where students will practice evading, avoiding, deterring and physically interacting with potential threats. Some drills will incorporate instructors wearing protective headgear so that students can practice unarmed techniques.
Sunday afternoon, January 5
Defensive Long Gun – Karl Rehn and Wendell Joost will be teaching the 4 hour Defensive Long Gun Essentials course that is a staple in the KR Training curriculum. We encourage attendees for this particular offering to use any type of long gun of their choosing, especially one that they may not be their primary defensive long gun. This includes rifles chambered in 22, pump and semi auto shotguns, lever guns and bolt action guns.
Today is the first day of National Preparedness Month! Use the holiday weekend to assess your readiness for power outages, severe weather, medical emergencies and criminal activity.
LTC AT KR TRAINING ON SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 29
I’ll be hosting another LTC class on Sunday, September 29 at KR Training. This will run from 1 PM to 6 PM. Get your church on that morning and then come out and learn to defend yourself and family from evil the way the Lord intended.
If you need some training before the class, Karl is teaching a Basic Pistol 1 class that morning from 9 AM to Noon. This is a great opportunity to get some basic training and practice if you need it before you take the LTC class.
Current turnaround time at DPS for licenses is around 3 weeks, which is about as fast as I’ve ever seen it. Get signed up. Get friends to do it as well.
Click here to register for classes, and click here to pay for them. Note – your registration is not confirmed until you’ve paid the class fees.
YOU CAN NOW GET YOUR LTC FEES WAIVED EFFECTIVE SEPTEMBER 1
HB 1078 will take effect on September 1. You can read it here. If you have a valid CPR certification card, your application and renewal fees for both driver’s licenses and LTCs are waived.
HOMELESS SITUATION + DOWNTOWN VIOLENCE IN AUSTIN = NO-GO ZONES
I don’t use the term “no-go zone” lightly; in fact, I’m effectively borrowing it from Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday:
Until the department can get this under control, I would recommend that people don’t go to East Sixth Street or a six-block area around the ARCH.
You can call it whatever you want. Sounds like the very definition of a no-go zone to me.
Lest you need further proof of this, I encourage you to follow the TX Street Fights channel on YouTube. Much of this was filmed in Austin, and much of that Austin footage was filmed downtown.
Look at your property tax bill and think about your sales tax bill. This is what you’re getting for your investment.
I’ve had conversations with the staff of my city Council Member as to the wisdom of this policy. Like the rest of you, I also believe we should look for effective ways to end homelessness. Creating an environment that encourages them to camp wherever they please isn’t a sustainable one.
What can you do to protect yourself? What can you do to help address these issues?
PREPAREDNESS MEET UP SEPTEMBER 12: CREATING A BASIC FOOD AND WATER STORAGE PLAN
Our Preparedness Meet Ups continue to grow in size. Our next one will be Thursday, September 12 from 7 PM to 9 PM at Riverbend Church, where I will be previewing a new training program I created for ADRN. We’ll talk about how to create a basic food and water storage program for emergencies that allow you to get prepared quickly, effectively and inexpensively. Email me if you’re not already getting my Meet Up emails for more information.
EL OCHO ES AQUI!
The OCHO – the Eighth Annual Disaster Preparedness Conference, sponsored by myself and KR Training – will be January 3-5, 2020. I will have more information out in the next week or so, but for now, get it on your calendar.
Those of you of a certain age will recall LL Cool J's "Going Back to Cali" video from the 80s.
Later this week, I will be heading to California myself for a work conference, just days after large earthquakes rocked Southern California.
My preparedness plans for this trip are a little different than my usual work trip. The L.A Times reported yesterday there is an "11 percent chance of another huge earthquake in Southern California." The Sacramento Bee reported today that some experts say Southern California is overdue for "the big one" along the San Andreas fault.
I am not particularly worried about a big earthquake hitting the area while we are there. That's in large part because I am taking additional precautions. These include:
Meanwhile, my wife says my plans are not as solid as I believe they are, citing The Rock's definitive work on surviving a major quake in SoCal:
My wife will likely be trying to purchase life insurance on me should this unfold live on cable news while I am there.
More posts to follow as this adventure unfolds.
Although I am an NRA certified instructor for basic shotgun, I am not a "shotgun guy." I've shot plenty of them, but most of my shooting in my adult life has taken the form of self defense training. As a result, most of my range time has been devoted to handguns and AR rifle platforms.
I have a number of License to Carry (LTC) students who do rely upon a shotgun as a home defense weapon. I'll be honest: until Saturday, I had not spent much time learning about the utility of shotguns for such applications. I suspect that's in large part because the rifle and, to a lesser extent, the pistol, provide sufficient means for self defense.
But as an instructor, I really owe to my students to learn more about shotguns and their self defense utility. Many of them may own a shotgun but not be in a position to buy another firearm. If a shotgun is all you have, what's the best way to get as much defensive utility out of it?
Nationally recognized firearm instructors like Tom Givens have been teaching defensive shotgun classes for quite some time, and so my recent interest in this doesn't put me on the cutting edge. In fact, I freely admit I am always one of the last people to migrate to whatever is the "it" thing within the firearm instructor community. I carried a .40 S&W until 7 years ago this month when I migrated back to 9mm for my carry gun caliber choice, long after most instructors had gone back to 9mm. I'm no pioneer.
A few other factors increased my interest in taking a defensive shotgun class, including:
Lee Weems of First Person Safety provided his Social Shotgun/Levergun Manipulations course this weekend at Karl Rehn's KR Training. Although you had to pick whether you were going to run the class with a shotgun or lever action gun, you got the benefit of learning about how to use these guns in defensive situations.
The obvious limitation on shotguns and lever action guns - limited ammo capacity - can largely be addressed in the following ways, according to Lee:
The class had a relatively low round count for an all day class - 110 rounds - but after firing 110 rounds of 12 gauge, that's sufficient for all but those who are gluttons for punishment.
We spent much of the morning learning rapid reload techniques and practicing that on the range. After the morning session, I was pretty convinced that while I appreciated what I was learning, the AR platform would remain my go-to choice for a defensive long gun.
After the lunch break, Lee went through the classroom portion of the class. This is where my attitude started to shift as he filled in the knowledge gaps and answered the questions I and others had about the wisdom of relying on a shotgun or lever action gun over a modern sporting rifle like the AR-15. Unlike many firearms instructors who will insist their way is the best way and everyone who disagrees with them is an idiot, Lee was quite objective about the pros and cons of using such guns for self defense.
One of those cons stems from the fact most shotguns and lever action guns were not designed for self defense usage. Most of them serve as either hunting guns or sporting clays (trap and skeet) shotguns. They are not as ergonomic as an AR, nor do most of them have the ability to add accessories such as lights or high speed optics. Yet for the citizen who does not own a modern sporting rifle but who does own a shotgun or lever action gun, they can utilize that firearm as a solid home defense tool.
The highlight of the class for me - and the thing that continues to challenge my preconceived notions the most - was when Lee had us take our shotguns out to 25 yards and fire three rounds at a small target using Federal brand Low Recoil 00 buckshot with FLITECONTROL wads. From my brand new, off the shelf Mossberg 590a1 with no mechanical modifications, I was able to keep every pellet within a 12 inch by 24 inch box at 25 yards. Since I was using 9 pellet shells, that meant 27 pellets - each of which is roughly the same size as a 9mm round - within the box. I had heard this ammo was good, but I had no idea it was capable of holding such a tight pattern at that distance. I became a big believer in FLITECONTROL wadding and the viability of a shotgun in home defense applications.
A side note: many believe the "you don't have to aim a shotgun" mantra that so many others have said over the years. You most certainly have to aim a shotgun. And it's not as easy as aiming an AR-15, given the additional recoil of the shotgun. Using any type of firearm for self defense requires training. Shotguns are not magical boom sticks that you point in the general direction of the bad guy and pull the trigger. This is especially true if you want to get the full benefit of the high quality defensive shotgun ammo now available.
Is the shotgun (and the lever action gun) the future of self defense? As ammo technology gets better and as political pressures mount to restrict access to modern sporting rifles, we may likely see more people turning to them as their primary defensive long guns moving forward. While shotguns make up a smaller portion of the overall number of firearms sales in America these days, the total number of shotguns sold in the U.S. continues to increase.
If you own a shotgun or lever action gun, plan on learning more about how to most effectively use these guns for self defense. As always, seek out the help of a qualified professional like the ones listed above.
Seven years ago, Karl Rehn of KR Training and I began an experiment of hosting a preparedness conference in the Central Texas area the first full weekend of January after New Year's Day. I don't think we envisioned this going beyond two or three years, but last weekend we punched the ticket for a seventh time.
Our conference has morphed over the years, with the biggest change coming last year with a move from the conference room at Cabela's and the one day format to a two day event at Karl's facility near Giddings, TX. This move allowed us to add a firearms component which has really increased the utility of the conference.
Speakers and Presentations - Day One
We led off with Ben Weger, M.D. and a bunch of other letters behind his name I'm omitting. One of the reasons Ben is such a draw to the prepper community is that not only does he get the need to be prepared, he has also worked as a paramedic and nurse before becoming a doctor. From scraping people off the sidewalk and loading them into an ambulance to making the big decisions as a physician, he has seen it all. It's not just theory to him - he provides a full spectrum analysis of the medical challenges preppers face.
Dr. Weger spoke for two hours on both medical (illnesses) and trauma (injury) issues we are likely to see post disaster. Preppers tend to fixate on exotic pandemics and trauma caused by gunshot wounds; the reality is that the more common medical issues stem from infections we often see working in a post-disaster environment (tetanus and hepatitis from puncture wounds; gastrointestinal upset from lack of hygiene and sanitation).
Some of my takeaways from this include:
Dr. Weger has previously done two day seminars on medical issues for preppers. We hope to have him come back for another round of similar training.
I gave the lunch time presentation on the 2019 Outlook. This is a presentation I started doing at the conference a few years ago during the lunch break to help provide more information to attendees during our limited time with them.
I covered a number of things, although not surprisingly the topics in the outlook briefings have not varied much from year to year.
We continue to see the debt issue - both government held debt as well as corporate debt - growing and becoming a bigger concern as time goes on. I quoted from Porter Stansberry in one of his latest missives on the markets:
"And it's not just the amount of corporate debt that's concerning... It's also the quality. Today, $3 trillion of debt is rated at the lowest level of investment-grade debt – by far the most than at any other time in history. These companies are teetering on the edge of becoming junk credits. By taking on more debt to buy back their own stock, they risk a credit rating downgrade and much higher interest costs."
In addition, experts warn we should be preparing ourselves for the possibility of a cyber attack on the grid, affecting water, gas and electrical transmission to our homes.
We also looked at growing first responder response times in various cities. Here in Austin, we continue to see response times get longer, in part due to our growing population and under staffing of first responder jobs.
I outlined a seven point action plan for 2019:
Tracy Thronburg gave us an introduction into the use of the kubotan, a self defense method relying upon a short rod or stick. It can be very effective and is capable of being used in situations where other self defense techniques cannot be used.
The nice weather allowed us to get outside and practice strikes using trainer kubotans (graciously made by her husband, Scott, who is in the far right of the picture below). The trainers are mouse pads rolled up tightly and rubber banded together.
A kubotan can be a tactical flashlight, a wooden stick, or just a metal rod.
At the end of the day, I had Tracy go faster and with more power on me with the kubotan. I found out quickly it's a quite effective way of defending yourself.
John and Kelli Kochan then led a discussion on best practices for chainsaw safety in a post-disaster environment. Unlike the typical use of a chainsaw - in daylight and fair weather conditions, in a yard or forest away from other hazards - using a saw after a disaster might mean doing so in the dark, with flashlights, in the middle of the road during a heavy rain. It's a much different environment than most expect.
The Kochans never disappoint, and this was no exception.
The presentation covered necessary safety apparel and chainsaw accessories to make the job easier. The Kochans report they regularly have to use saws after a big storm to cut their way in or out of their driveway or on the country road they live on; they regularly carry their saws with them to work if there is a chance of severe weather before they get home.
Unfortunately, while there are plenty of places to buy a chainsaw, there are precious few ways to actually learn how to use them safely. YouTube videos are good, but they are no substitute to getting your saw out and practicing with the gear and the techniques to fell trees and process them once they are on the ground. John and Kelli's presentation help fill some of those knowledge gaps.
Karl summed it up nicely on the KR Training Facebook Page:
Chainsaws are like guns - a lot of people own them, very few use them as safely or correctly as they should, and they sit unused most of the year with the expectation the user will be good at using that tool in an emergency situation.
But if flooding or high winds cause a fallen tree to land on your house or car or blocking your road, the chainsaw could become important - and the likelihood someone might use a chainsaw is probably higher than the likelihood they'll need to shoot someone.
John "Hsoi" Daub - a man of many talents - shared his thoughts on nutrition and exercise issues for those in the preparedness community. This is an area where many preppers fall down - it's tempting to buy a bunch of gear and declare yourself "prepared" without taking any effort to get yourself into shape for the physical demands that accompany a disaster.
Daub will admit he's tried a lot of different forms of exercise and activities to stay in shape. But one of his all time favorites is lifting weights. He quickly pointed out that we should all find some form of exercise we like and get started.
What I really appreciated about John's presentation was his candor about the challenges he faces with exercise and diet. He's a very fit guy with good nutritional habits; he will tell you that it takes effort on his part to make that happen. It's not something that comes natural to him, and thus we shouldn't expect it to come natural to us.
I also appreciated his encouragement for preppers to take up walking. It's a great form of exercise that has a low risk of injury. It's also practical - depending on the crisis affecting a community, a prepper may be doing a lot of walking after a disaster.
Nutrition and exercise should be a top priority for preppers going into 2019.
I finished the day with two different presentations.
I spoke on the need to Become Your Own First Responder. This is a tag line used by many in the firearms training community; I'm thinking we need to get trainers and leaders beyond the gun culture to start using it as well.
Here in Austin, for a priority one call for Austin/Travis County EMS, the stated response time goal is under ten minutes. Put another way, for the first ten minutes of a priority one medical emergency (think CPR in progress), you are on your own.
Being your own first responder can mean different things to different people. For me, it means helping to stabilize a situation by providing security, basic first aid and scene management until professional first responders arrive.
First, a bit of good news: skills are easier than obtain than ever. You can become an EMT by taking classes on line, get a ham radio license without learning Morse code, take several FEMA classes on line for free, and take Stop the Bleed classes.
It's important that people tailor their skills and training to their lifestyle. For example, a parent of two young kids may want to focus on medical emergencies pertaining to children. Meanwhile, an empty nester may want to focus on medical issues pertaining to middle age and elderly people.
Look for ways to better prepare yourself to provide basic security, first aid and scene management. What skills do you need? What training do you need? A good CPR/First Aid class, some Stop the Bleed training and exercising your License to Carry privileges will enable you to be better able to be a first responder until help arrives.
We closed with my final presentation on Checklists for Preppers. I was inspired by the book by Atul Gawande, M.D., entitled "The Checklist Manifesto." Checklists do four things for preppers:
I provided my checklists for hurricanes (thanks to Hurricane Harvey) and winter storms (thanks to the ice storm we had in January 2018) to the attendees to help jump start their efforts. But perhaps the most critical part of our discussion came we talked about how to decide prioritization between:
For example, which should you do first? Recharge the GoalZero lights (takes a long time to do) or secure the pool furniture (doesn't take long but is critical to keeping the furniture from becoming projectiles)?
When creating your checklist, ask yourself:
Speakers and Presentations - Day Two
Karl led off the Sunday morning discussion with a presentations on Firearms Preparedness, which covered such things as:
Many preppers tend to focus on firearms and knives, at time to the exclusion of other supplies and skills they need. But as Karl pointed out in one of of his PowerPoint slides, the odds of needing to use force is less than the need to have food, water, shelter, power and heat.
At the conclusion of his presentation, we undertook a Get Home Bag exercise. This required attendees to walk with their actual get home bag 0.6 miles so they can experience what it is like to actually use their bag. About half of the attendees indicated they had never gone on a walk before while wearing their bag.
Just for fun, we weighed everyone's bag prior to the start. A few data points:
During our short walk, we undertook a number of activities, including:
This was by far our best conference yet. We really struck a good balance between classroom and hands on, along with firearm and non-firearm training.
I told attendees at the end of the first day that what I find really remarkable is how speakers, with no collaboration with each other, are able to create presentations with similar messages and congruent narratives with the other speakers. I think it shows the preparedness movement is continuing to develop and mature.
We are already working on the Eighth Annual Preparedness Conference - which I am calling THE OCHO - tentatively set for January 4-5, 2020.
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