Update 2

Continuing on from my previous post, Update 1. I learned a great deal about myself at that class, and I advise everyone to attend it if possible. I plan on attending further classes at the Pathfinder School as time and finances permit.

So, since I was on the subject of personal skills, what others have I been trying to improve on? Land navigation, comms as well as first aid round out the list. Shooting is a constant for me and was the focus of my biggest endeavor to network. If it wasn’t for guns there would be no “right wing”, conservatives, libertarians, or probably even red necks. What else would people really have to rally around? Taxes? Immigration? Government debt? Invasion of privacy? Deep state pedophiles? Nobody cares about those things nearly as much as their guns. So, I started a shooting club. No, not a sporty spice shooting club with jersey’s and magnetic holsters, but a practical shooting club, practicing practical shooting skills. The kind where your typical gun guy can grab his regular gear and come out and use it in a realistic manner.

It’s a lot of fun, and I’ve met a lot of great people through it, but it’s a shit load of work. So much so, that I’m burnt out on it. I got permission from a local land owner, who is very pro-gun, to build a range there just for this practical shooting. I built a 10’ tall tower, as well as a 20×20 shoot house. Complete with steel pistol targets, and rifle targets from 300-600 yards, and about 50 paper target stands. It’s about as close to a real fire and movement range as I could possibly hope to have. The problem I currently face is I have no time or energy to network and organize things for it anymore.

One thing, as cynical as it sounds, I have learned through it is that people or more than happy to take, but rarely want to give. I’m not necessarily talking about money, but more about time. I’m sure somehow this is mainly my fault. Perhaps if I was a stronger, more convincing leader, I might have been able to motivate them to help more. Or maybe I really am just a good-intentioned arrogant prick. It just seems like when it’s time to play, suddenly there’s a bunch of people coming out of the wood work, but when it’s time to work, not so much. That’s not to say I haven’t had any help, but honestly there should have been a lot of people helping that just didn’t.

All I’ve tried to do, is put a friendly, fun face to tactical training. I made a game of it, with rules requiring the use of cover and requiring good solid hits. I made a course that was physically demanding, much like a real combat training range. I even disregarded all use of weapons classes, instead allowing individual shooters to use the equipment they would most likely want to use in a real life and death situation. But still, I’m faced with less than ideal results.

The ironic thing is that the most enthusiastic shooters are mostly former combat arms guys. I even had a 65 year old 101st Airborne vet come watch, and comment on how fun it looked and how he wished he could take part. Quite a few Marines and Soldiers have traveled hours to come shoot, all with nothing more than word of mouth advertising. The bad thing is that none of them are local, and so it’s the civilians that I have the hardest time getting to commit.

Granted, these aren’t Elmer Fudd’s, they have more money tied up in tactical gear and firearms than I do. Some have even been to a few 2-3 day classes. I’ve thought a lot about why this is the way that it is. I’ve got a few theories.

One is that there is a distinct difference between a collector and a player/user. Some people collect cars, guns, or tools to simply look at them and feel good that they have one. Maybe put some pictures on Instagram and feel good about the fact that they own an item with a particular image or idea attached to it, that so many other people desire.

I think this same psychology is even being used by companies like Black Rifle Coffee Company to make the tactical beard guy meme marketable and more attainable to people who haven’t really earned it. Cool SF guy with hot chick and beard says something is cool, check. Grow a beard, check. Get a coffee subscription, check. Wear the T-shirt, check. Put them together on Instagram, check. Never volunteered to go fight in a global war on terror and now feeling regret, but feel better that I look like I did, check.

Standby for incoming rant: By the way, I love their coffee, and support them fully with a 2 bag a month habit, and I applaud every other veteran who finds a way to be successful in today’s world. It just pisses me off when I see guys my age, who could have volunteered to go to Iraq or the Stan, but didn’t, now middle-aged and buying into an image and then strutting around the local range with their toys, putting Instagram photos up with their plate carriers and III% patches; it’s borderline stolen valor in my book…I digress. Fuck that, no I don’t. Go play golf with all the other overweight former class of 200_ who dicked off in college and ignored two wars. I don’t even do that photo op shit out of respect for the ones who didn’t make it back who really deserve all the glory. Hell, I didn’t even go to the VA to cash in on disability because I felt guilty, I’m damn sure not going to do it for social media….Now I digress. Rant over.

Other people buy cars, guns, or tools to use them, and use them hard. You either idolize the tool, or you idolize the creative process that the tool is a part of. In the case of practical shooting, this creative process results in a better understanding of yourself, your gear and your weapon, and how to use them more effectively. You don’t get that with Instagram likes. Imagine a master wood worker being more concerned with taking selfies with his new saw blade instead of building something…

Another reason, is that I’ve built a mirror of sorts. Something that reflects the truth. Or maybe more like I’ve established a bar or standard, and many egos have been shattered on its rocky shores – including my own. It’s easy to look over one’s arsenal or assortment of weapons and equipment and think that it somehow makes them a more effective or dangerous man. Walter Mitty anyone? I’ve blown up weapons caches with more firepower than most of these people have ever seen.

Having a bunch of stuff by no means makes any personal change in you, nor does it automatically imbue you with magical powers and +10 Damage Per Second, and I think that hard slap of reality is very hard for a lot of people. Maybe deep down, that’s what I was trying to do all along. Get these people out of their comfort zones so they will quit being delusional. Guess it backfired. You’re not a hard-dicked bad ass because you bought a bunch of shit, and if you don’t change your ways a real hard dicked bad ass is going to show you that the painful way if this thing ever goes T.U. Better start learning to sit while you pee in other words.

Maybe that’s the real problem. Maybe that’s why the F.A.G.’s get it, and the civvies don’t. They’ve seen collapsed societies already and know damn well it isn’t something to take lightly. They’ve learned that the only law in WROL is a strong man with a gun. But the arrogance of the modern American male won’t allow the idea to creep in that maybe, just maybe, they might not be as big and bad as they think, and they could use some help and more training.

And even then, if the training isn’t popular on social media, it may as well not exist. I mean, why do something if it doesn’t get you likes on Facegram or Instabook from complete strangers, right? I’ve busted my ass to try and organize some of the best training, from reputable F.A.G.’s, at prices that you’d have to be a mental midget to not take. Nope, no takers. But we’ll make videos of doing up drills with ‘so and so’ from Instagram/youtube/facebook. $1,500 for a new toy that goes bang like the last toy? No problem. $400 for valuable life lessons learned by blood and sweat and years of dedication? Sorry, no can do.

I’m not particularly religious, but I can imagine Noah must have felt some of the same things when he was building the Ark. Did he ever just throw up his hands and say “Fuck it, drown you dumbasses”?

Update 2

Update 1

After a not so brief break from writing, I’ve decided to take it up again. I’ve been pretty busy, and I’ve got a lot to write about. Most of this will be somewhat random, but I think there is knowledge within. I didn’t quit writing because I quit caring just because of the way the election turned out, I just decided to focus more on “doing things locally”. Mr. Finnicum’s premature demise had a major impact on my thinking, as it forced me to quit focusing on the latest national level “rage porn” of the week, and start focusing more on improving personal skills, and networking.

But at the request of some friends and to help contribute back to a community that I have learned so much from, I have decided to start blogging again. I do this mostly as a record of my own training and thoughts so that others might learn from my mistakes or ideas. There are a great number of better qualified and excellent resources to learn from besides myself, but if something here helps you I am glad to hear it.

So, what have I been doing to improve personal skills and networking? Let’s start with the personal skills. It started with identifying all the potential jobs or “missions” I might need to do. I basically wrote these out on a big dry erase board as they popped into my head, with no real order of priority. I then tried to order these from most probable, to least probable.

I’m just going to take a second to rant: you must be very honest with yourself on this. If you are 65 pounds overweight or have never trained in any small unit tactics, the odds that you are going to be successfully playing ‘sniper’ or ‘operator’ just because you’ve bought all the gear is probably 0%. I shouldn’t attack the overweight folks here, it’s just there’s so damn many of you running around with gear on, blissfully unaware of reality. So anyways, be honest. Rant over.

So, as I was saying, I had to be honest with myself. I had to narrow it down to things that I would have the highest probability of doing on a daily or weekly basis. Not what I thought sounded cool. After I identified these tasks, I then started to break these tasks down into the individual skills that I would need to be proficient at in order to complete the task. That’s really what a task is – a combination of skills that you use to achieve a desired objective. And once I identified the skills, I then looked at the equipment or other logistical requirements needed to support those skills.

What I found kind of was a gut check. I had a lot of gear, but very little idea. Sure, I’m a former grunt with a tour in Iraq and a Combat Action Ribbon but this may come as a surprise to some, Uncle Sam only trained me for the missions he expected me to perform while in theater, not turn me into a survival guru. My wilderness skills were sorely lacking. As in, without a logistical train following me around, I wasn’t quite sure how to survive out in the bush. Of course, I’ve hiked and camped and was in Scouts, but it’s hard to be some hard charging freedomista when you die of hypothermia or are compromised on the first night in the bush because you can’t camp stealthily. So, point number one is you must be able to survive the environment you are supposed to be fighting in. But muh binary trigger! Nay! Spend that cash on good equipment to keep you alive! Remember, “the enemy always gets a vote” but Ma Nature is the judge, jury and executioner.

Now that I had identified a skill set that applied to a lot of missions, that I sucked at, I completely focused on it. Hell, I even quit reading the Brushbeater blog for a while as I quite literally immersed myself in just wilderness survival. I know, hard to believe.

I’m a creature of patterns, routines, and sets. Maybe we all are, but if I can’t be organized I get messed up. One of the reasons I think I never learned much in the form of wilderness survival was because there was so much information out there and I wasn’t coming across much that was organized in a way to help the end user remember it. Lord help the lost soul who walks into a Barnes and Noble book store to buy wilderness survival books! After spending $100 on 5 or 6 different books, and actually reading them, you might come away with $10 worth of retained knowledge. That’s the problem with so many things in life, a lot of static designed to separate a well meaning person from their hard earned money.

But then, out of the blue, I stumble across this guy on youtube who looks like an ex-con telling me I should stuff a small garbage can into my ALICE pack, and that it doubles as a “container”. I’ll be honest, my first ignorant thought was “Who the hell is this clown?”. Man was I wrong. The man in the video was Dave Canterbury and his “10 C’s”, and I quickly learned to shut up when he was speaking. I started off watching literally hours upon hours of his videos, studying them repeatedly, and then going out to the woods to practice what I had seen. Often, I failed. Not because Dave’s methods or ideas were bad, but because my skills were so raw.

Things that I thought were so elementary, such as starting a fire, or putting up shelter, I had never really paid attention to because my arrogance told me “I already knew that”. Once I learned to quiet my ego, I learned a great many things that most barely understand, let alone can physically do. I spent a long, cold, wet winter learning to make fire with materials off the landscape. Literally wandering around the woods, learning how to convert wet, soggy materials into a warm fire. I didn’t always get a fire, and the thought that my family could one day be relying on me to do just that was a sobering reminder of what my arrogance could have cost me.

After months of studying Dave’s writings and videos, and practicing the methods described therein, I attended his Pathfinder School in Ohio. I expected to be tested on skills, and I was. I was tested in many of the skills that I had already studied, and I didn’t fail one. Not to brag, but I did very well at the fire portion especially. My practice certainly had paid off. Of course we tested with a Bic lighter, the AK-47 of fire making tools, but also a ferrocerium rod, flint and steel and using a magnification lens as well.

But most importantly, I was tested in a way I never anticipated or could have studied for. I was tested in a way that was sorely needed, and I am so grateful for the opportunity. I was pushed to the point of failure, to the point of giving up. Sleep and chow are continuous in the field, as in get them when you can, and there weren’t a lot of opportunities for either during the class. This, combined with a night land nav course that a sadist could appreciate, added up to me nearly giving up, something I’ve never done before. No, I wasn’t going to sit down and cry, but I was ready to chalk up the task at hand as “impossible”.

But I never quit. I had no faith, but I didn’t quit either. I just put my head down, crashed through the brush and the mud, and plowed from one land nav point to the next. Some were harder, and some were easier, but somehow, I found the “impossible”. I was bleeding from multiple gouges from thorns and branches and had a bleeding welt on my shin the size of an egg, and I thought surely my favorite smock was ripped to shreds, but I finished it. There were no youtube videos to prepare for this, or gear to buy to make it easier. It was all internal. Just me, myself, and I alone in the darkness trying to burn out the weak, lazy, rotten bastard that had taken up roost in me. He was hiding there the whole time, completely invisible and waiting to spring his ambush until the moment I was weakest. This was the unspoken point of the whole class, to get this guy to come out so I could identify and kill him. There were people who quit that night. There were people who, having seen the land nav courses during the day, quit and left before the night one. Surely that stains their souls to this day. There were also people who I never would have thought would pass it, pass it. More arrogance clouding my judgement I suppose.

At daylight, after the graduation ceremony, and after voicing to my particular instructor about how much of a co**sucker the night land nav was, he gave me some advice that I think about often. It’s simple, easier to remember that way I suppose: “The best way through a shit sandwich is to just start chewing and swallowing.” Not exactly eloquent, but the man’s background is the sort that I’m sure he’s digested more excrement than just about anyone. It sticks with me, and I think about the situations we are likely to be facing in the future, and I wonder who I might have to pass this knowledge on to one day, or when I might need it myself.

Update 1

Matt Bracken on Alex Jones today

Quick heads up,  Matt Bracken will be on the Alex Jones show today. It will be very interesting to hear his perspective after the election. I know Alex probably has a spotted reputation with some people because he does seem a little far out once in awhile but one of the best parts about his shows are the guests. I’ve followed his show off and on since the Sandy Hook shooting, which was when I really started to pay attention to the events in this country. And while I’ve never been a 100% devotee of his, over the last 4 years he has earned some credibility with me. Matt Bracken is a writer and Navy SEAL who has  written a number of very good essays and fiction books, that while still fiction,  do base themselves in fact and serve to tie together a lot of the information that people like Alex present. Check it out if you want to learn something.

Matt Bracken on Alex Jones today

The latest Badland’s Dispatch

While I haven’t had much time to work on blogging or the dispatch lately, with work, training and family obligations needing to be tended to, I thought this year’s election was worth taking the time to produce and distribute a dispatch. I’m sure most of you have probably already read the article’s I chose to put into it, but feel free to print some off and distribute yourselves. Let me know what you think of the 11×17 format as well. I think it makes for a nice flyer, and really sticks out from the other papers usually posted on bulletin boards. If I need to, I could also make an 8 1/2 x 11 version for easier printing. bd-3-10

The latest Badland’s Dispatch