This site does not promote or endorse visions of apocalypse, doomsday scenarios or catastrophe beyond that which human
beings bring upon themselves or that which nature brings upon humanity. It does however acknowledge the fact that catastrophic
events involving large populations have happened in the past and will continue to occur. This page is offered to promote
preparedness, particularly as it applies to shooting and in regards to how shooting contributes to the practice of being prepared.
“TEOTWAWKI” is an acronym well-known to preppers. “Preppers,” if you are one of the few who have not seen the National
Geographic series on cable, are folk who ‘prepare’—more to the point, they live a lifestyle that prepares—for (T)he (E)nd (O)f
(T)he (W)orld (A)s (W)e (K)now (I)t. Thus, the acronym.
Preppers have been around for decades, perhaps even centuries—known by other monikers more commonly recognized, i.e.,
Mormons, Rapturists, Baptists, Pre-Millenialists, Worst-Casers, Runners, Cachers, Hoarders, soothsayers, Apocalyptics and many
Some governments even qualify under one or more of these monikers.
The US Government, for example, has stockpiled enough nuclear, biological and radiological weapons to kill every living
organism on the planet a thousand times over under the auspices of a ‘worst-case scenario’—‘worst-casers’ you think? Or, is
there a better name for it? In addition, in recent months the US Government has purchased millions of rounds each of .40 caliber
hollow points, match-grade sniper ammo, heavy-for-caliber 9mm, and other cartridges—none of which is approved by the
Geneva Convention and therefore (theoretically) cannot be used by the military. Government agencies that do not even issue small
arms of any kind—the IRS, FEMA, HUD among others—are listed as end users/buyers. Is this preparation for government
action? Just a ploy to keep the ammo out of civilian hands without draining the coffers and budgets of any one agency? An
attempt to mask or hide government intentions?
Who knows? Certainly it is fodder for conspiracy theories and inspiration to preppers. There is in fact, at any given moment in
history, enough ‘urban legend’ and malcontentment to fuel perpetual prepper activity; it is a natural consequence of a survival
instinct enhanced by supreme intelligence and self-awareness, exacerbated by the naturally increasing complexity of societal
That does not mean the threat is not real—certainly not that we should not be prepared for catastrophe should it come. What it
all does point to is a certain remedy that will help put one’s mind at ease.
There simply is no better remedy for the collapse of society as we know it than total self-sufficiency.
These days, the hottest fuel for doomsday pepper activity is the economic news. The various theories to explain the ‘worst
economic news since the Great Depression (circa 1930’s; the ‘other one’ that affected not only the US but the world)’ run the
gamut from a ‘housing bubble’ to the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency. And, every time the Fed (Federal Reserve)
announces another effort to ‘stabilize the dollar’ or print us out of debt, the gold sellers come out in force with sales on precious
metals as a means of staving off inflation and maintaining personal wealth. Mostly, their advice is on target and sound; but, if
there is one glaring weakness to the buying of gold, it is that it presumes the presence of a functioning economic system as we
know it in good times—in short, a plagued but intact formal economic system with all its rules and laws, etc.
In a worst case scenario, gold will be every bit as worthless as paper money in the absence of government control. One can
neither eat gold nor carry much of it with him unnoticed in a lawless land, much less hope to keep large quantities of it until
normalization occurs. And it is a safe bet that long before any total loss of government control, gold will either be confiscated or
bought by government for pennies on the dollar—in a last ditch effort to shore up its finances.
The same may be said of hoarding food and supplies. To be prepared, one must devote both money and space to items that far
outstrip daily need and use. He must not allow his neighbors to know he has such a cache for fear of creating an extraordinary
incentive for home invasion by friends and neighbors who did not plan ahead, becoming mindless zombies in search of
sustenance. He must prepare to defend his stored goods—to the death—a thing which demands even more preparation and
storage space for small arms and ammunition and other implements of violence.
The characteristic all these things—gold, food, caches of dry goods, etc.—have in common is that they are tangible and anything
tangible can be taken away from you by willing and able practitioners of violence such as government, roving hordes of lawless
gangsters—even desperate neighbors, driven by an over-excited sense of survival.
The only thing one has that cannot be taken away from him are the intangibles—his knowledge and skill.
“Old Age and Treachery will overcome Youth and Skill”
Attributed variously to an ancient Greek adage, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and other sources from antiquity, the old saying about
‘old age and treachery’ prevailing over ‘youth and skill’ essentially pits cleverness gained through experience against skillful, able-
bodied youth and brute force. The conclusion then of centuries of wisdom is that you will prevail when you out-think any
adversary, that cleverness is superior to physical ability, treachery (a skill in its own right) superior to training.
The adage then, along with its long history, is essentially a discussion of various skills and abilities, and their relative values in
times of confrontation and enmity. The saying does not argue that youth and skill are not necessary, valued qualities but simply
that experience and cleverness (planning, foresight, etc.) will prevail. Indeed, everyone who has reached old age likely started out
as a skillful youth and was clever enough to forego (or survive) confrontation to reach old age. Of youthful skill then, one might
ask, which are most likely to enable one to reach old age?
If we are to consider the most superior single skill one could have in any TEOTWAWKI scenario, for example, what might it
Hoarding gold and food certainly qualify as good planning strategies but depending on these practices as your sole survival plan
has an inherent flaw. Another saying comes to mind:
“Fixed fortifications are monuments to the stupidity of man.”
George S. Patton was speaking of the Maginot Line, in particular, Germany’s effort to protect the Normandy Coast, in general, as
well as his strategy to blitz around German fortified areas like Hitler blew through the fixed fortification of France. But the
principle applies equally to any strategy depending solely on weathering TEOTWAWKI in place and hoarding food and gold until
order is restored.
Although they are prudent initial tactics crucial to any survival scenario, there has to be an overall strategy of adaptability and
fluidity—with the up-front and honest admission that, without a personal army at your disposal, you may not be able to hold on to
anything tangible that you have accumulated. Ultimately, that which contributes most to ‘fluidity’ is that which is most portable.
You may in fact be unable to take anything with you but what you can carry—maybe not even that. The ultimate survival
strategy, under the worst case imaginable, will reside in hoarding the things that cannot be taken away—your knowledge and skill
and the cleverness to put them to use, for example.
Such thinking brings to mind other aphorisms and wise sayings—many of the wisest of which arose in times of disaster and
It is also said, “If you want to feed a man for a day, give him a fish. If you want to feed him for a lifetime, teach him how to
fish.” Such wisdoms endure not because they constitute a clever sounding accumulation of words but because they are timeless
in application as practical principles.
Fishing is certainly one skill that will provide food, one that, like swimming, any survivalist should cultivate in anticipation of
self-reliance. But there are many other very basic skills necessary for survival and self-sufficiency.
The more you know the less you have to take with you. (an old mountain saying)
The uncertainty of timing drives the need to prioritize any set of skills. In short, not knowing the exact hour of any impending
catastrophe necessitates acquiring knowledge and skill in the order of importance from highest to lowest. The highest order of
priority should be given to those skills which provide for basic needs both immediately and in perpetuity. Practical necessity
predicts (or demands) the order—and it is an order unaltered by empirical circumstance.
1. Potable water—water pure enough to drink is the first priority. Stored water will take care of immediate needs but a
permanent water supply is the highest priority—particularly a permanent source and the means to insure that it is potable. Any
skill or equipment associated with clean drinking water is first priority.
2. Shelter—the fact that one can go days without food puts shelter into second place. While one can go almost a month
without food, a person can die of exposure in a matter of minutes in the worst conditions and in a matter of hours in moderate
conditions. Maintaining core body temperature is the key principle of understanding the strategy for sheltering. Other strategies
include having a base of operations and storage, maintaining a defensive base and weathering in. The skill to build a useful shelter
from available materials, to identify and take possession of available shelter, to maintain core body temperature under any and all
circumstances and to shelter and remain hidden from opponents of good will and civility comprise a skill set essential to survival.
Attention to small details like making your home look as though it has already been looted is a plus, given the right circumstances.
3. Food—a steady source of food is the ultimate goal. Even if you have done a superb job of planning and are sitting on years
of food stores, you must consider that it can be taken away from you and that, without the ability to replace it, any food cache
will eventually run out. And it is a mistake to place your trust in any single means of procurement. Gardening is a necessary skill
but is plagued by natural interferences and subject to human intervention. A garden is stationary and vulnerable to plunder. It is
therefore not a standalone method of food production. Foraging on the other hand is a portable skill fit for any environment and
circumstance. Hunting is another skill many place in high priority and plan to use as a primary means of obtaining food. But, in
competition with other hunters and in a dwindling population of game animals hunting can become an inefficient method of
obtaining food—not to mention a primary source of enmity when confronted by other hunters who’ve already claimed the
territory. If the game animals are scarce or not moving, you come home empty-handed and still hungry. Trapping, on the other
hand, is more efficient, less time-consuming and more productive. The trap hunts while you sleep and you can employ many of
them and cover more territory than by hunting. Therefore, plant identification, trapping principles and foraging skills have an even
higher priority than much touted skills like gardening and hunting. Together these skills form an invaluable skill set essential for
4. Fire—there is no higher order of skill that is not in some way dependent on the ability to make fire. To boil water for
cooking or to purify it for drinking, one must be able to start a fire under any and all circumstances, with or without a high-tech
means of doing it. This requires a basic knowledge of the principles of primitive fire-starting and/or field expedient methods using
retro-technology. Tool-making is directly dependent on the ability to heat and shape raw materials. The whole industry of the
survivalist depends on his ability to make fire.
5. Tool-making—tools are necessary to almost any human endeavor. Having the right tools is important but the skill to make
your own tools is an even greater asset to self-sufficiency and survival. Recognizing field-expedient tools or using available
materials to produce your own tools are priceless skills.
6. Movement—movement in a hostile environment, if one is to do it successfully either avoiding discovery or prevailing in
conflict, requires a specific skill set that can only be cultivated in times of normalcy. One simply cannot wait until it is imperative
that he move to obtain the skills necessary to do it. Roving gangs, depleted resources, the rise of feudal states, genocide—one and
all imperatives to ‘bug out’ each present their own unique hazards to movement (see also, “Moving by Vehicle in High Threat
Environments” by MV at TheSurvivalistBlog.net). Knowing which mode of transportation is best, how to move without being
seen, using cover and concealment, bounding, armed egress and other skills are essential to survival in the worst times.
7. Personal Defense—few if any other skills matter if you are taken hostage or killed. The ability to make sure neither of
these happen to you is of primary importance. Ultimately, you may be called on to take another life to preserve yours or that of
others in your family. The first sub-skills that always seem to come to mind are close quarters combat training and the use of
firearms. But, if you ask a Navy SEAL what his most valuable skill is, he will more than likely tell you it is evasion—how to avoid
the enemy. The first order of priority in personal defense is—hands down—how to avoid enemy contact and/or avert direct
confrontation. Situational awareness, local intelligence and an acute understanding of human psychology are more valuable skills
than martial ability.
8. Barter—as a skill bartering is as essential as any except the first four basic skills. You simply will not be able to supply all
your own needs. What is more—you may have to barter (perhaps unwillingly) to keep the peace. Learning to reassess the ‘value’
of necessities is an essential skill and understanding the principles of bartering—the many reasons you should or should not barter
with certain people, how to barter under duress, how to plan a secure barter, the psychology of barter, etc.—is a priceless skill
9. Clothing—making your own clothing is time consuming and may be better served by barter. Sewing, tanning and other
means of producing clothing are valuable skills that not only allow you to provide for your own needs but also enhance your
bartering power. But, there are many other things about proper attire to consider. Choosing the proper clothing for the occasion is
an essential skill. Brightly colored clothing can make you stand out in a crowd. In the wild, it can be used to signal aircraft
overhead or alert an enemy of your whereabouts miles away. The right clothing is essential to maintaining and regulating your
body’s core temperature. Your choice in sizes should, for example, always default to loose rather than tight. Loose clothing can
be tightened and manipulated, it facilitates layering, can mask body size and shape or hide weapons; tight clothing cannot.
Conservative, natural colors—browns, grays, greens, etc. of neutral tones—are less conspicuous in crowds and blend with any
natural surroundings. These are just a few considerations for clothing choices.
10. Maintaining sanity—to say that TEOTWAWKI would be a time of high passion and enmity and chaos and confusion is
the ultimate in understatement. But, conceivably, there will come a time even in total chaos in which things will settle into a kind
of sustained status quo. At that time, it will be essential to have (and this will sound simplistic to some) a good reason for living.
Without some kind of self-sustaining ontology, it is understatement indeed to say that maintaining one’s sanity will be a challenge.
Survivors generally rise to this occasion by realizing that every catastrophe is an opportunity to reshape reality.
The list does not have to end here. Your list can be as long as you see fit. Aside from the first four items, which are first in any
list of essential skills, you may add as many skills as you think important, in any order you see fit.
It is best to concentrate on those skills which provide the most with the least effort and raw materials. Simple is better.
Primitives, for example, rarely built elaborate traps—just a few stones stacked up in proper configuration or a fallen log leaned
against a shrub with a simple tripping device as a deadfall. Understanding underlying principles of primitive skills, along with a bit
of modern imagination, is more valuable than any tangible possession.
Concentrate your efforts on understanding these principles, on seeing more than one use for common items, on the ability to
retrofit available material for present needs and on accomplishing objectives with the least amount of effort. Recent studies show,
for example, that—contrary to common belief—American Indians did not spend every minute of every day searching for food but
hunted, trapped and foraged only a few hours a day; the rest was leisure time.
In the TEOTWAWKI setting, prioritizing your leisure time may present the greatest challenge of all.
The Truth about Zombies
With the recent ‘Zombie Craze’ in which Hollywood and even European film makers are churning out one movie or series
installment per week starring hordes of the undead one has to wonder just what the attraction is, what all the hoopla is about. The
consensus in the field of psychology is that fads and fetishes fulfill unrequited pathological needs—in the case of zombies,
perhaps some non-specific fear of apocalypse or impending doom.
The pathological mechanism works like this: a person assesses his future by how he views his present. His assessment of the
present is based on what he knows about his present condition and the condition of the world around him. In this day and age,
that knowledge generally comes from information sources like the broadcast or cable news—agencies that make their living
largely by reporting ‘bad news’ with a smattering ‘feel-good fluff-pieces’ in a vain effort to appear ‘balanced.’ All that bad news
is reinforced by the ‘theater-effect’ of peer pressure and coffee-break gossip which creates interest in apocalyptic subjectivism,
which spawns more movie/documentary production (i.e. Nat-Geo: Dooms Day Preppers), which creates more news…eh; it’s a
vicious, never-ending circle of bootstrap causality.
This self-sustaining chaos works its psychotic magic on the collective societal conscience and all that pent-up anguish needs
someplace to go. The human psyche can take most anything you want to throw at it, provided of course you couch it in the
proper terms. When we talk about killing unborn babies we like to speak of it as either ‘pro-choice’ or ‘pro-life.’ Instead of
‘inflation’ when referring to the deliberate printing of money, we call it ‘quantitative easing.’ ‘Sallie Mae (before 1995), Fannie
Mae and Freddy Mac are not government run; they are ‘government sponsored entities.’ Innocent non-combatants killed in war
are ‘collateral damage.’ You get the picture: we help ourselves accept the unacceptable by simply referring to it with more
comfortable terminology. The practice is widely known as ‘political correctness.’
There is perhaps no better term to describe exactly what is happening: for political reasons, due to circumstances created by
our political decisions, it has become necessary to either call a thing something it is not or rename it in terms more correct and
acceptable to the minions of political power. Such practices have the tacit agreement of the societies that allow such political
power to exist.
Today, facing national and global riots, an uncertain economic and political future, with pressure on world governments to
become more totalitarian in the face of growing populations, and more and more complexity in the necessities of governance
world society seems destined for anarchy as never before. This portends almost any catastrophic effect one can imagine for
society—food riots, starvation, war, brigandage, genocide, rising feudal states, militias, the dissolution of governments—all of
which will happen under the auspices of those once felt to be friends, neighbors and countrymen.
For those making an effort at political correctness, who wouldn’t want to make the neighbors nervous or hurt someone’s
feelings, there is the earnest search for proper terminology. We would not want to think about ‘shooting our neighbors over the
food in the pantry.’ Even though we know it has happened before and may be necessary again, we simply cannot talk about it in
those terms. But, the fact is we have an inherent need to talk about what we will do come the apocalypse. It is therefore more
politically correct and socially acceptable to refer to those mindless creatures who may show up on the front stoop either to eat us
or our food as ‘zombies,’ as ‘ex-human beings who are already dead.’ We can even go so far as to think we are really doing them
a favor by saving them from a fate worse than death in what is perhaps the greatest irony of all—by killing them.
In this respect then the term becomes a metaphor for what we can’t really talk about. It is the politically correct term for the
unconscionable, for that which we may be forced to do that we find unimaginable and dare not discuss openly: ‘zombies’ and
‘the walking dead’ are simply metaphors for the extreme survival measures one may have to take as a result of government failure.