On February 19, 2012, a group of sixteen of the nation’s top snowboarders and skiers slipped through the Stevens Pass ski area boundary gate and its “continue at your own risk” warning sign. Located in Washington’s Cascade Mountains, their ultimate destination was a backcountry run called Tunnel Creek, which is renowned for its open meadows, smooth powder, and exhilarating 3,000-foot vertical drop, but also for its regular avalanches. The conditions that day were worrisome for an already vulnerable area: the forecast rated the avalanche danger as “considerable to high” with “human-triggered avalanches likely.” But a storm had just dropped a ton of new, deep powder on the mountain, and members of the group did not want to miss out on the thrills of both making the run and doing it with a bunch of experts who rarely found themselves all together.
Still, as the skiers and snowboarders assembled at the top of Tunnel Creek, many were apprehensive. As John Branch wrote in a special feature for The New York Times:
“Unspoken anxiety spread among those unfamiliar with the descent. The mere size of the group spooked some. Backcountry users of all types — skiers, snowboarders, snowmobilers and climbers — worry about how much of a load a slope can absorb before it gives way. They worry about people above them causing an avalanche. When it comes to the backcountry, there is usually not safety in large numbers.”
No one gave voice to their worry, however. “If it was up to me, I would never have gone backcountry skiing with 12 people [a few in the group had split off],” Megan Michelson, ESPN journalist and member of the Tunnel Creek group remembered. “That’s just way too many. But there were sort of the social dynamics of that — where I didn’t want to be the one to say, you know, ‘Hey, this is too big a group and we shouldn’t be doing this.’ I was invited by someone else, so I didn’t want to stand up and cause a fuss.” Other members of the group were uneasy too, but told themselves that the experts of the group (which included the director of marketing at Stevens Pass) wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t safe. Many in the group had been down the backcountry run dozens of times, and the new guys figured they’d just follow their lead. “There’s no way this entire group can make a decision that isn’t smart,” ski photographer Keith Carlsen said to himself. “Of course it’s fine, if we’re all going. It’s got to be fine.”
When high tech gunsmith group Defense Distributed test-fired the world’s first fully 3D-printed firearm earlier this month, some critics dismissed the demonstration as expensive and impractical, arguing it could only be done with a high-end industrial 3D printer and that the plastic weapon wouldn’t last more than a single shot. Now a couple of hobbyists have proven them wrong on both counts.
One evening late last week, a Wisconsin engineer who calls himself “Joe” test-fired a new version of that handgun printed on a $1,725 Lulzbot A0-101 consumer-grade 3D printer, far cheaper than the one used by Defense Distributed. Joe, who asked that I not reveal his full name, loaded the weapon with .380 caliber rounds and fired it nine times, using a string to pull its trigger for safety.
The weapon survived all nine shots over the course of an evening, as you can see in the YouTube video below. (The clip was filmed by Michael Guslick, a fellow Wisconsin engineer who helped Joe with his tests and who is known for printing one of the first working lower receivers for AR-15 semi-automatic rifles.)
The 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule has been a popular buzz phrase in the business and self-help realms for many years. But what if I told you that understanding this rule could actually save your life?
A quick history …
In the 1800s an Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto, noted that 80 percent of the land in Italy was owned by 20 percent of the population. Ironically, he also observed that 20 percent of the pea plants in his garden produced 80 percent of the peas (anyone feel like the 20% of pea plants right now?). This universal ratio ultimately became known as the Pareto Principle and simply states that “80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes.” It’s also been dubbed as “the law of the critical few and the trivial many.”
I’ll leave the business and self-help application of the 80/20 rule to those who have gone before me. Many people have written and spoken about how this principle can improve your performance and effectiveness in life and business. Today, I will discuss how it can actually save your life.
In a survival scenario, prioritizing your time and resources is critical. You must make the absolute best use of the resources both inside of you (like energy and thoughts) and around you (like natural tools and gear). Understanding and applying the 80/20 rule to survival skills and resources not only helps one prepare and train, but also perform. It all starts with mentally identifying 80/20 patterns. Below are a few of the more prominent patterns that I’ve noticed in my years of practicing and teaching survival skills.
Twenty percent of all survival skills offer 80 percent of the life-saving value
There are literally just a handful of skills that can determine whether someone triumphs over a survival scenario. Then, there are hundreds that are nice to know. There are the critical few and the trivial many.
The ability to provide shelter, source water, make fire, signal for rescue and stay mentally motivated are among the critical few.
Oftentimes, people focus on learning the skills they want to know before the ones they need to know. It’s not always the easy and fun activities that produce the most rewarding results. In fact, successful people (in life and survival) typically do what others don’t want to or aren’t willing to do. Understanding the concept of sacrifice will pay survival dividends.
Every infantryman and Army leader knows the acronym OCOKA, pronounced OH-coke-A. It’s a mnemonic that helps soldiers survive on the battlefield and dominate the enemy by evaluating their terrain. OCOKA is also a key survival acronym for preppers and survivalists. You should use OCOKA to evaluate the terrain around your workplace and home (and your retreat if you have one) but you should also use it to evaluate temporary locations or positions you occupy even for a few minutes if you live or are operating in a degraded security environment. Today’s article will introduce some concepts that we will return to in more detail in future articles.
The acronym stands for Observation and Fields of Fire, Cover and Concealment, Obstacles (man made and natural), Key or Decisive Terrain, and Avenues of Approach. This acronym reminds you of the terrain factors you need to evaluate to assure that you have the strongest, most defensible position and helps soldiers assure that they maximize their terrain advantage when on the offense. I’m going to explain the full measure of OCOKA considerations in case you ever find yourself in a lawless environment, but only the defensive considerations should be used where rule of law exists.
A friend of mine recently asked me for some advice about a tactical situation. I’ve been asked the same question numerous times from concerned friends and acquaintances. Here’s the question:
“As well all know, windbreakers and hats with “POLICE” written across them are readily available, as are generic badges.
If one’s door gets kicked in, and those coming in are wearing such gear as they yell “Police!”, one could find himself way behind the curve if he took things at face value, only to then learn it’s a ruse. Conversely, I’d never want to draw on a cop mistakenly, as that would end badly.
Do you have any thoughts about how we armed homeowners might deal with such a sucked-up scenario?”
This is a very legitimate concern. Home invading criminals do use ruses such as this to gain access to your house. They will show up wearing raid jackets (which can be easily bought online), kick in your door, and hold you at gunpoint as they steal all your stuff. If you doubt that this occurs, do a quick internet search on the terms “fake SWAT raid robbery”. You’ll find dozens of news stories reporting similar tactics. Check this one out if you don’t believe me:
The legally armed homeowner is placed in a serious predicament here. He doesn’t want to get in a shootout with a legitimate SWAT team (which could be raiding the wrong house by mistake…it’s really bad, but it does happen) nor does he want to instantly surrender and be at the mercy of a bunch of thugs who bought some “police” jackets on eBay. What can he do?
Before I get into some specific recommendations, a little general education about warrants and warrant service is in order….
With a few exceptions (fresh pursuit, imminent destruction of evidence, a threat to public safety) police need a warrant to search your house. When they go to the judge to detail the probable cause for getting the warrant, they must specify whether the warrant is to be a “knock and announce” warrant or a “no knock” warrant. No knock warrants are reserved for serious crimes where officers have reason to believe that evidence will be destroyed or they will be in danger if they take the time to knock. On a “knock and announce” warrant, police must give “reasonable” time for you to answer the door before kicking it in. What constitutes “reasonable” depends on the circumstances and the court jurisdiction.
- Return fire
- Take Cover
- Return Appropriate Fire.
What does this mean? It means that once you come under fire, or see the enemy, you immediately bring reactive fire onto the target in an attempt to kill, disable or at the very least distract the enemies aim at you (if you miss close!) You then take cover. You then adopt a fire position and bring accurate fire onto the enemy. This is the first part of your reaction to contact and will be followed up depending if you are alone, or with others, and whether you are in an offensive or break contact mode. So, basically, what you do next all follows from your initial reaction of RTR.
There’s a story about Chris Kyle: on a cold January morning in 2010, he pulled into a gas station somewhere along Highway 67, south of Dallas. He was driving his supercharged black Ford F350 outfitted with black rims and oversize knobby mudding tires. Kyle had replaced the Ford logo on the grill with a small chrome skull, similar to the Punisher emblem from the Marvel Comics series, and added a riot-ready aftermarket grill guard bearing the words ROAD ARMOR. He had just left the Navy and moved back to Texas.
Two guys approached him with pistols and demanded his money and the keys to his truck. With his hands in the air, he sized up which man seemed most confident with his gun.
Kyle knew what confidence with a gun looked like. He was the deadliest sniper in American history. He had at least 160 confirmed kills by the Pentagon’s count, but by his own count—and the accounts of his Navy SEAL teammates—the number was closer to twice that. In his four tours of duty in Iraq, Kyle earned two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars with Valor. He survived six IED attacks, three gunshot wounds, two helicopter crashes, and more surgeries than he could remember. He was known among his SEAL brethren as The Legend and to his enemies as al-Shaitan, “the devil.”
He told the robbers that he just needed to reach back into the truck to get the keys. He turned around and reached under his winter coat instead, into his waistband. With his right hand, he grabbed his Colt 1911. He fired two shots under his left armpit, hitting the first man twice in the chest. Then he turned slightly and fired two more times, hitting the second man twice in the chest. Both men fell dead.
Kyle leaned on his truck and waited for the police.
When they arrived, they detained him while they ran his driver’s license. But instead of his name, address, and date of birth, what came up was a phone number at the Department of Defense. At the other end of the line was someone who explained that the police were in the presence of one of the most skilled fighters in U.S. military history. When they reviewed the surveillance footage, the officers found the incident had happened just as Kyle had described it. They were very understanding, and they didn’t want to drag a just-home, highly decorated veteran into a messy legal situation.
Kyle wasn’t unnerved or bothered. Quite the opposite. He’d been feeling depressed since he left the service, struggling to adjust to civilian life. This was an exciting reminder of the action he missed.
Building an emergency bag is not enough. You have to test it, walk with it, and make sure it works with your everyday carry!
DEMCAD discusses a few things to consider regarding your bug out bag, starting with the bag you use…
New Orleans, LA: Detectives are asking the public’s assistance in identifying a suspect wanted for an attempted armed robbery which occurred this past Saturday, around 5:05AM, 1900 block of Burgundy Street.
On Saturday, 4/27/13 at or about 5:05AM, the victim was walking in the 1900 block of Burgundy when he was approached by an unknown black male. The subject pointed a shotgun at the victim’s face and stated give me your money. The victim disarmed the gunman and then chased him.
Moments later the victim was approached by two black males in the black four door sedan (possibly a Honda Accord). The driver of the vehicle said to the victim “give me my gun back and I’ll give you your phone that you dropped”. The victim then used the shotgun to strike the rear windshield of the vehicle causing it to break. The two subjects then fled on Frenchmen to St. Claude and then unknown. The incident was captured on nearby video surveillance.
In February, the techie gun-rights group Defense Distributed unveiled a 3D-printed lower receiver for an AR-15 rifle that withstood hundreds of rounds of fire. A YouTube video of the component in action was accompanied by the terse statement, “Does not fail from firing stresses. 600+ rounds.”
This impressive development came just months after the group earned some ribbing for its first attempt at a homebrewed plastic receiver (the core of the AR-15 and the component that is technically regulated by law), which disintegrated after six shots. But success followed failure, as Defense Distributed unveiled a high-capacity rifle magazine that could be manufactured in a home workshop on a 3D printer. They named it Cuomo after New York’s governor, who recently pushed a new, stricter magazine limit through the state legislature.
This practical and fast holster design has been featured on the hit TV show NCIS Los Angeles! It is designed for bra carry for women.