Chance favors the prepared!

James L

A former outdoor survival instructor, James currently works as a police officer in a suburb of Oklahoma City. James has over 20 years experience in law enforcement, and is also a certified police trainer.

6 things to consider when buying a rifle optic

From time to time I get emails asking about rifle optics. It’s a great question I enjoy discussing. To answer that question, there are several different factors that need to go into the decision-making process. I thought I’d take a look 6 factors that you need to consider when purchasing an optic for your rifle.

1. What type of rifle do you have? What’s the purpose of the rifle?

Because there are so many rifles out there that can serve multiple functions, you need to decide what the primary purpose of your rifle is. Is it for hunting? For self-defense? Truck gun?

Having the right optic on the right rifle for the right mission will be critical. A 1x reflex site won’t be very effective for hunting. Hence you won’t ever see one on a bolt-action rifle. On the flip side, a 3×15 scope is not your best choice for home defense and close quarter combat situations (CQB). Once you decide what your rifle’s primary function will be, then deciding what sort of optic you need becomes easier.

2. What reticle is right for you?

There are a wide range of reticles on the market these days. So when shopping for an optic, you should think about what reticle will best serve your needs.

Optics have grown from simple crosshairs to much more complex designs to meet user demands. Some optics will still have fairly simple patterns. Others offer more complex options to help with windage and elevation. Some of the higher end optics will have reticles that will aid with things such as bullet drop. (See video below)

You’ll need to consider whether you want hash marks for holdover or illumination in your reticle as well. A lot of this comes down to personal preference. So certainly review and test the various reticles on the market. Find the one you like and fits your needs before dropping your hard-earned cash on an optic.
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6 everyday things you can do to stay prepared

When it comes to being prepared, you will find so many great articles on things like bugging out, food and water storage, 72 hour kits, etc. All of it is very pertinent information. But often times, I see the little, everyday things that people can do to be more prepared get overlooked. While these things may not be as “sexy” as bug out bags and ammo storage, they can be just as crucial (if not more so).

So with that in mind, here are 6 things you can do every day to make you more prepared.

Always keep your phone charged.

In my 8 Lessons Learned from Disaster article, I mentioned an officer whose battery died while working in Moore, Oklahoma after a tornado, and was unable to communicate with anyone.

Imagine if you are caught in a quickly developing emergency, and your primary source of communication and up to the minute information is dying because your battery is not charged. Not smart!

Having knowledge about what is going on around you is vital to your ability to survive a disaster. Being able to communicate is equally important. With today’s technology, a smart phone allows you to do both.

When a tornado recently hit my area, I used my cell phone to live stream the weather, and to text my family to keep them apprised of the situation. During that storm, my phone battery had plenty of life in it should I have had to make a speedy exit. I stayed up to the minute with news and information during the entire storm.

Not only do I keep my cell phone charged, I have several ways of ensuring it stays charged. I keep a car charger in my truck and an extra wall charger in my EDC bag. I also have a Goal Zero solar panel charger and a hand crank emergency radio that will charge cell phones.

With today’s smart phones, a lot of the old myths about battery life no longer apply. You no longer need to let batteries drain all the way to zero before charging them. In fact, experts now say that if you let your lithium-ion batteries continually drain to 0%, they could become unstable.
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What you need to know about prepper physical fitness

When it comes to prepper equipment, the absolute most important tool every prepper owns is the one between their ears! However, that soft, squishy grey matter is very fragile, and MUST be protected at all times! Fortunately, we have a self propelled, self repairing protective cover for our brain.

Capable of great feats, our bodies are very adaptable to many different situations and environments. The bounds of human endurance have been pushed beyond measure. For example, the name Aron Ralston may not be familiar with you. But I’m pretty sure his story is. The movie 127 Hours starting James Franco is based upon his story.

Google the name Colin Armstrong (of the SAS) and read his (and his team’s) story of endurance. It is an amazing story. The book Bravo Two Zero is based upon his story. (It’s a good read!)

Despite our body’s ability to adapt and persevere in times of danger and turmoil, we must still take care of it.  And unfortunately, that is something that so many preppers do not do. Too many of us lead a sedentary lifestyle. It has become so bad that according to the CDC, 1 out of 3 Americans are now considered obese. Not just overweight, but obese!

It should go without saying that all the gear and supplies in the world won’t be of much good if you are so out of shape and overweight that you cannot use them.

Why preppers need to be in shape

So many preppers plan for a long-term, grid down scenario and do not realize just how hard and strenuous on their bodies it would be. At the beginning of this year, I took a part-time job as a mail carrier. There were days that I walked 16 to 18 miles in weather conditions that were less than ideal…ie cold, icy, and rainy. I did this while carrying a mail sack that was probably 25 to 30 pounds.

I’m here to tell you, it was an eye opening experience for me. I thought I was in ok shape, but I learned I have a ways to go. The first few days I came home completely exhausted and went straight to bed. My feet would be killing me! My arms and shoulders ached. But after a few days my body was beginning to adapt. And I was happy that I was pushing myself physically.
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9 firearm training tips to help you survive a deadly encounter

A while back, I received an email from a guy asking me my opinions on various firearms. The guy had some money to spend, and wanted to know what sort of rifle he should buy. He said he was new to rifles and was asking for my insight. His budget was on the higher end, between $1500 to $2000 according to his email. My response may have caught him off guard.

I told the man NOT to spend more than $1000 on the rifle. I talked about a few solid rifles that were under $1000. Then I told him to take the rest of the money, and spend it on training. (Getting several magazines and ammo as well is something I stressed.) I explained that a $1000 (or less) rifle in the hands of a trained shooter is head and shoulders better than a $2000 rifle in the hands of a novice. The shooter makes the rifle, the rifle doesn’t make the shooter!

When it comes to firearm training, there are many reputable instructors out there. They can give you a one day, two-day, or even longer classes to teach you more than just the fundamentals of shooting. However, many of these classes can be pretty pricey….costing hundreds of dollars or more. (That doesn’t include any travel expenses, the cost of providing your own ammo, etc.) So for many people, the ability to take classes like these may be cost prohibitive.

However, that does not mean you cannot train on your own. I have advocated multiple times on this site the importance of firearm training. Unlike riding a bike, firearms skills can go rusty if you do not do it regularly. In addition, simply shooting at paper targets 3 to 7 yards away is great for beginners. But just like any other skill, you need to push yourself for that skill to improve.

So with that in mind, I thought I would take a look at some training tips that can help you be more prepared should you ever have an encounter where you have to use lethal force to protect yourself/your family.
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What you NEED to know about body armor for preppers

Upon occasion, I have received questions asking about body armor for a SHTF scenario. That got me to thinking that the topic of body armor might make an interesting article for the site. So I decided that I would break down the different types of body armor (bullet resistant) and their ratings. I also thought I’d give a little insight into my thoughts on having some as a prepper.

Body Armor Rating

Body armor is rated based upon its effectiveness against different types of ammo. These ratings are compiled by the NIJ (National Institute of Justice.) The NIJ frequently tests armor against the type of rounds listed below. These standards are the only nationally accepted standards for body armor worn by law enforcement. For this reason, I am most familiar with them and will be using them in this article.

There are a few things that you should be aware of when it comes to the NIJ standard. I will go into this in more detail in just a moment.

Bullet resistant armor breaks down into 5 categories according to the NIJ:

  • Level IIA – Designed to stop 9mm (124 grn FMJ) at a velocity up to 1225 fps and 40 S&W (180 grn FMJ) at a velocity up to 1155 fps
  • Level II – Designed to stop 9mm (up to and including from a sub gun) and .357 mag (158 grn JSP) at a velocity up to 1340 fps
  • Level IIIA- Designed to stop .357 Sig (125 FMJ) at a velocity up to 1410 fps and .44 mag (240 grn) at a velocity up to 1340 fps
  • Level III – Designed to stop 7.62mm FMJ lead core rifle ammunition – hard armor
  • Level IV – Designed to stop .30cal steel core armor-piercing rifle ammunition – hard armor

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7 things to remember about cooking in SHTF scenario

Just about every prepper has stored some food and water in case of a major disaster. That’s one of the first things you began to stockpile right? But did you ever stop to consider ways and means of cooking your food in a serious SHTF scenario? Unless you have a month’s (or more) worth of MREs, food preparation is going to become a very important part of your survival.

In a long-term, grid down situation, your ability to cook will be restricted. No more microwaves or electric stoves. Even with something like a gas grill, your fuel source won’t be infinite. And as such, you might need to consider what you would do in that type of situation.

So when making your contingency cooking plans, here are some things you might want to consider:

Be careful what you burn as a heat source

I think that if we experience a long-term, grid down situation there are going to be A LOT of people who are going to have all kinds of problems because they do not know what they can and cannot burn for fuel. There is a long list of things you absolutely should NOT burn. (This is even more important if you are using something like a fireplace or wood stove inside your home.)

Treated wood should not be burned. Doing so will release chemicals like chromium and arsenic into the air that you breath and into the food you are cooking. Treated wood is typically green, though as it ages it turns grey. But wooden structures such as decks, exterior trim, siding, railings, etc are almost always treated. So don’t use them!

Things like particle board and plywood are also no good. The chemicals used to make these produces can be very toxic when burned. Other things in it like glues can cause the fire to burn a lot hotter…which might exceed the temperature setting of your wood stove or fireplace.

Don’t burn wood that has been painted or stained. Until the late 1970s, paint contained lead. And until 1990, most paints contained mercury. ‘Nuff said! Even with paint or stain from today, burning this wood will release toxic chemicals into the air. This is of course NO BUENO!

Burning things like colored paper can also be dangerous. The same goes for items that have colored ink on them. Things like magazines, empty pizza boxes, styrofoam cups etc can release harmful carcinogens.

A majority of wood pallets today have been treated with a flame retardant chemical. Burning this will release these chemicals, and could cause problems. So I’d skip wooden pallets as well.
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Preparedness tips from a veteran police officer
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