Preparing For a Concealed Carry Class


Whether new to training or a veteran to the discipline, there are a few simple things to do in order to improve your overall experience. They are three areas you need to focus on when preparing for class. Notice how I said focus, there are other areas you should put some attention to, but these are the big ones. The first is to review the course information, paying particular attention to the required gear list. Then, go over your logistics. The when and where are what I’m talking about. Last preparation for the class is to double check your gear and plan for some contingencies.

Know the Course Material

Drawing from concealed in the real world

Every school is a little different, but they will all usually have some type of course description. Some students will use this solely as their criterion for decision. Others will have “shopped around” through internet searches or word of mouth. I encourage you to know what you need, not what you want. For instance, if you need a better understanding on the drawstroke. Find an instructor who is known for doing an excellent job on the subject. You may find yourself in a situation where you don’t know what you need, you don’t know what you don’t know and that is perfectly acceptable. Have a broader goal in mind, to expand your knowledge base for example.

Review the Gear List

Read through the course description, all of the available material. If there is something you don’t understand, then do a little research. If there are terminal objectives or goals of the class, do they meet your needs. A good course will be well thought out and have an agenda or curriculum. The curriculum will guide the student towards the terminal objective through enabling objectives. All the information is important, but probably the most important is the required gear list and in this case the importance of your concealment carrying system. A lot of times, students will think of this as a suggestion. It is not, it is a list of required gear to ensure you have the best chance of doing well in the class. Don’t convince yourself you do or don’t need something. Read the list, even print the list out and check each item to make sure you are good to go. Think of this as an IQ test, can you follow simple instructions. Then at class, it is nice to be prepared and of course to not be “that guy.”

Do a Map Study and Plan Your Route

Logistics are a big thing to me. The old saying, “amateurs argue tactics and professionals argue logistics” is incredibly accurate. Start by knowing where you are going and how you will get there. Give yourself a little fudge factor on day one just to cover your basis. Don’t just know where you are going, but know the surrounding area. For instance, are there eateries near by or are you going to be packing a lunch or snacks. Something else to consider is how long is the commute. After a long day of training I suggest you consider the drive home. Be extra alert when going home since the fatigue of the day can affect your situational awareness as you drive home.

Get Your Eyes On Everything

The final preparation for your class will be to review your gear, like literally lay it all out and get your eyes on them. It is one thing to go over the required gear list and say to yourself I have that in my range bag. Only to realize you took it out to clean, replace or repair and failed to return it to your range bag. Some items are less important, a flashlight is not essential to a day light course. But a magazine pouch can make or break your experience in the class. Go over each item and ask yourself is this ‘thing” good to go. Has it been cleaned, or maintenance recently. Are there fresh batteries in use or am I running on empty. The devil is in the details so really go through the list.

Have a Plan and a Backup Plan

Think about the essential items. Your handgun for instance. Even though I have done a good job of picking a reliable model along with routine maintenance, things do break. Having a backup on standby has come to the rescue on more than one occasion. Spare magazines are another example. If you have the minimum as prescribed in the gear list that is great, but what if one of them goes down or you leave it in the hotel. There’s a myriad of reasons, so planning is key. Contingencies can go beyond your gear to your plan. Any physical activity will take its toll on your energy level. If you are planning to get lunch nearby, but all the local places are packed and you have to make a decision between being late or skipping lunch you might consider packing a lunch or some snacks.

Holsters, Be Prepared

Weak Side Carry 2
Be prepared with good, quality holsters

When it comes to our Concealed Carry classes there are three main failures from the gear list. The first is not having an “on the waistband” or OWB holster. You may try to justify you don’t need it because you have an IWB holster. That would be a mistake. The purpose behind the OWB holster is to start from a known and safe condition. Before we dive into the deep end of drawing and holstering from concealed, we have to ensure you have well developed and safe drawstroke from the lowest risk condition possible. That would be open carry, on the waistband.

Bring All The Required Clothing

The second mistake would be in failing to have all of the required clothing. In this class, you will be forced to work from a variety of cover garments. Not your favorite or go to, but a wide array to ensure you are prepared. It never fails, there is always that one person who thinks they know better. Trust me, you don’t. Bring all the clothing listed. Even if you don’t have something on the gear list for whatever reason you can probably borrow it from a family member or friend. Most of the items are pretty normal, but if you don’t have a rain jacket and you don’t want to buy one, they ask around to get a loaner.

Have an Open Mind

Last mistake we see often is when students fail to have an open mind. It doesn’t matter what you think or know, be open to new ideas. If you say to yourself while reading the gear list I don’t need this or that you would be demonstrating someone who has a closed mind. Don’t be that guy. Instead it should pique your curiosity. You should be wondering what are we going to be doing with that and why. Curiosity is your super power as a student. It is the single greatest characteristic that leads to expanded knowledge base. Back it up by understanding the why you are doing something a certain way or why you don’t do things a certain way.

If you take the time to review the course material paying attention to the required gear list, you have the best chance of succeeding in class. Or at least you won’t be held up because you don’t have this or forgot to bring that. Knowing the logistics will help you ensure you are not late or miss any course material. Some instructors will not allow you to participate if you miss the main emergency and medical plan brief so don’t be surprised if you have to sit down initially why the rest of the class trains. Double check and even triple check your gear. Have a system so you make sure you have all the gear you need and it is centrally located so when you load out early in the morning probably in the dark you don’t leave that one bag on the work bench. These are not just suggestions, they are observations over decades of training to help ensure you as the student have the best chance of success in our training classes.

They Are Playing You

Once again, we are lead to believe we must aggressively pursue reasonable gun control. That enough is enough, how we all need to come to gather to recognize this danger to our lives and livelihood.

Predictable As Always

It wasn’t even minutes before the left was foaming at the mouth for more gun control. As predictable as the sun rising, we heard it all once again. I saw it first hand while presenting at this year’s NRA Annual Meeting in Houston. I don’t need to make an obligatory statement about how terrible and tragic the event, as if I need to remind the public. I don’t need to be lectured or as was the case in Houston, screamed obscenities by people who only have one objective. To subjugate the armed citizenry.

Negotiating Terms Of Surrender

That’s it, that is all there is to the rapid almost psychotic rhetoric we are witnessing. And they are playing you! Here’s how and why. Every time a tragic event occurs that fits their narrative there is the immediate confrontation with those who wish to protect their freedoms. Rather than confrontation, think of it in terms of a negotiation. We are negotiating terms of our surrender. Any negotiation to be successful must have compromise from both parties and that is how they are playing you. By immediately taking to the airwaves and demanding more gun control they have the initiative, the proverbial high ground.

Understanding Lost Aversion

The logical outcome of their strategy is to achieve a compromise. Whatever the compromise, it further erodes or in some cases neuters our freedoms. When you enter into these negotiations, there is an implied agreement that will be reached. That agreement means that someone will lose. Because quite simply, a compromise is not a win, therefore it is a loss. Losses will always loom larger than gains. Meaning, lose aversion can be better understood by realizing that bad is stronger than good. It is an evolutionary outcome, we are predisposed to treat bad with a higher priority than good. Winning $10,000 is great, but loosing the same amount has a more devastating result.

The Rationalizing of Negotiations

If you want to safeguard your freedoms the first thing you need to do is not to engage in the existing negotiations since nothing will be gain, only lost. With this theory in mind you are far better to effectively safeguard our freedoms. The strategy should be simple, go on offense. Any negotiation has forced us to be defensive. We rationalize what we are willing to give up. To prioritize what we value more over what we value less. For example, if countries were negotiating the peaceful disarmament of offensive weapons they look at it from a strategic view. What do I not mind giving away as a way of ensuring I can keep what I really want, but still give something away.

Be Strategic In Your Outlook

Common ground if often cited as a solid approach towards achieving a better outcome. Find something both parties can agree to and agree to it hard. We can all agree the needless loss of life is a series issue. When both parties agree to this directive then we can start working towards achieving an effective strategy. In this case, that strategy would have almost nothing to do with gun control since needless loss of life related to firearms is infantile compared to other methods. We are not even talking about violent crimes, we are talking about life. Look up the current causes of death in our country and you will quickly realize the top five all have nothing to do with violence. You stand a higher chance of being struck by lightening than being in an active killer event.

With this in mind, why would we recklessly barter with our constitutional rights. There is no value, not any at all and there never will be. Which is why you are being played.

Keeping Safe In Turbulent Times With Jeff Gonzales – U.S. Navy SEAL

The Art of Self Reliance

In this episode I talk to Jeff Gonzales.

Jeff was a decorated and respected US Navy SEAL for 12 years. He graduated from BUDs class #155 and was immediately transferred to SEAL Team Four. He served at ST4 as an operator and trainer where he routinely participated in numerous combat operations that led to the successful and timely accomplishment of strategic operational objectives.

While at ST4 he was responsible for training fellow team mates in various combat related skills such as weapons, tactics and demolitions. Selected for the teams training cell he was instrumental in developing several blocks of instruction that increased the Teams overall combat effectiveness.

Ranked as one of the senior Petty Officers of his command he strived to not only improve upon himself, but his community at large. For his efforts he was recognized on several occasions and was presented with awards in appreciation of his service.

In this episode I explore with Jeff three main topics, namely,

  • Current events and safety
  • Deciding to be armed
  • Pro tips for concealed carry

You can find out more about Jeff at:

Jeff Gonzales | Can You Survive This Podcast? w/ Clint Emerson

There is more than meets the eye…

FULL AUIDEO EPISODES can be downloaded here: Jeff Gonzales, Can You Survive This Podcast

US Navy SEAL Jeff L. Gonzales is a nationally recognized weapons and tactics instructor. He serves as president of

Trident Concepts, LLC and former director of training for The Range at Austin. Jeff’s background comes from Naval Special Warfare; where he served as a decorated and respected operator and instructor. Participating in numerous combat operations throughout the globe, his duties involved a wide variety of operational and instructional assignments on both the East and West coasts.

On this episode Clint and Jeff discuss LTC vs. Constitutional Carry, the UFC vs. the NFL, and much more.




Podcast Network: Musicbed SyncID: MB01Y1Q8IQPDBIR

#ClintEmerson #CanYouSurviveThisPodcast #JeffGonzales


An Honest Look At Knives

The Untrained Knife Attacker

Do you understand the use of a knife from both the defensive and offensive side. Have you had an honest look at knives and how the are used against you in an attack.

A Better Understanding

There are many martial arts and specitilities within the edged weapon field. I’ve been fortunate and honored to have worked with many of them. Some to a simple familiarization and others to a more intimate understanding. The most valuable take away I can offer for all of them falls into two categories. How to implement the sharp edge of the blade in the most effective way and the human body’s vital anatomy relative to slashes and stabs. This mere knowledge has provided me with the means to select the best tool, the best method of carry and the best method of use to fit my needs. I enjoy carrying a knife, have since I was a young kid. I have been intrigued by them and their use, but it wasn’t until I was an adult I better understood them.

Safety Starts With You

Here is a major take away from all that knowledge, someone is going to get cut. If you play with knives enough you will probably get cut on accident or worse intentionally. It’s important you have a healthy respect for their damage the same you would with a firearm. Statistically, more people are injured or killed with an edged weapon of some sort than firearms. Some are accidents, others are not. Like firearms, safety begins with you. Don’t draw your knife unless you intend to use and don’t use a knife when another item will do a better job. Be mindful of your surroundings and familair with the knife, how it opens and closes or is sheathed.

The Typical Path Of The Blade

In a self-defense setting we will more than likely be in a reactionary mode. Meaning, we will be responding to our attacker and thus be behind the power curve. A drawn blade is going to be faster than trying to draw a blade or any other tool. You have to recognize the danger of this situation. What and how do you need to prepare. Simple things like how is your attacker holding the knife? Is it point up or point down? This can go a long way towards understanding how they will attack. The vast majority of knife attacks are stabs or thrusts, generally to the midsection. This is very valuable information  since it tells us the general direction the pointy end will be traveling. No matter how much knowledge you have with knife training if you try to exchange stabs for parries or blocks, you will eventually get cut or worse stabbed. Many stabs are quickly recocked and perfomed in rapid succession multiple times. Your best option is to be outside the range of the contact weapon or at the very least place an object between you and the attacker.

Signal Of Impending Attack

Another conern you must be aware of for the previous tactic to be valuable is a high percentage of attacks occur where the attacker will acquire a grip on you with their free hand. This grip, whether your arm, hair or clothing makes it hard to break contact, but it also gives us a heads up on their intentions. While the knife may be drawn, it is the grasping with the free hand that can signal the impending attack. All the more reason to stay out of range. An honest look at knives means not letting them grab you. It will go a long way to not getting stabbed. At some point you begin to apprecaite footwork and quick footwork at that. Moving is critical to your surviaval.

One And Done

What if you cannot move, what if you are channalized or in a confined space. Don’t let them grab you for one. Block all those attempts first and foremost. Eventualy, you will need to confront the live blade. It is by no means simple or easy. Any thrust or stab will come at you fast and if you cannot move your feet, then at the very least try to move your torso. At the same time consider the same side hand defenses. If they are using their right hand, then your left hand would be same hand. Inward parries combined with outboard movement of the torso can create empty space in the knife’s path. But, here is the kicker or small print. You will probably only get one attempt.

Incapacitation Is The Goal

All of those words to say this. An honest look at knives would be produce two options. Don’t be there, so if you can escape it would be your go to move. If not, then moving your vitals away from the blades path would be your next. So, how do you end the attack if you are not attacking, what is your secret weapon? Incapacitation. You have to get it in your mind you have to deliver rapid and accurate blows to soft targets. Injury is good, but incapacitation is the goal. If you parry with your left, then a cross with your right might be all you got. Where do you aim? The chin, the jaw, the throat? What will genearte the most likely outcome you are looking for – incapacitation?

It is going to be ugly, watch any of the hundreds of CCTv videos if you need convincing. Once you get past some of the first obstacles you quickly realize your best defense is not to be in that situation in the first place, but if you are then a few simple tips might make the difference.

Access To Your Firearm Under Pressure

Winston Churchill

The Bad Guy Gets A Say

There is a belief that all you need is a fast drawstroke to stop a threat at close range. There is truth in this view, but it is also less than half the story when you realize access to your firearm under pressure is not nearly as quick as you might think.

It’s All About Balance

One of the great fortunes of being involved in combatives from an early stage in my career was I didn’t have any illussions about what worked and what didn’t work. Playing both good guy and bad guy were almost required to truly understand the balance. The balance I’m referring to is when your opponent is off balance, they have very little success completing their origianl task. This didn’t matter what role you were playing, it was something equally experienced by both sides. This is a huge take away, it says that you must maintain your balance at all times and work to disrupt your oppenents balance with every move.

Action Versus Reaction

Most folks are thinking, how can knocking someone off balance be so valuable. What I’m referencing is not soley about your equilibrium, or the distribution of weight. The balance I’m referencig has a lot to do with your thought process. When we look at one of the most dangerous situations we could face, it would probably look like an ambush at close range. Even worse, would be extreme close range. Sometimes words don’t help paint the picture and we need to assign some measurements. Close range to me is defined as any conflict where the opponent(s) are within five yards. Extreme close range is within a double arms interval. That means if both the good guy and bad guy extended their arm forward the finger tips would touch. At this range it is not about how fast you can draw your gun. It might seem that way, but no matter the situation as a private citizen you will always be in a reactionary mode. Meaning, the bad guys is going to say when.

You Can Touch Them

Why is this important? Because no matter how fast your drawstroke, at this range it is a low probability outcome action when access to your firearm under pressure. Meaning, the liklihood you will be able to out draw his action of drawing a gun or thrusting a knife is often not realistic. Add to the equation, that each sitaution will be different and it makes it far less realistic. Instead, you need to consider how to disrupt the balance to shift the reactionary gap to your side. In my experience, the best way to do that is injury or incapacitation. At the extreme close quarters you as the good guy have one advantage, if they can touch you…you can touch them.

Further Disrupting Their Balance

Striking is not your only option of course. You can attempt to jam up their drawstroke, either through fouling their firing grip or locking the gun in the holster. Both of these are sensible options, but a lot of times to be effective you will need two hands. A natural reaction from your opponent is a reflexive counter. Nothing fancy or taught, just a recognition their action is being impeded and they must do something. That something is simple, use the other hand. So, while this action can sometimes open up a window it is not a guarantee. When both hands from your opponent are occupied trying to complete the original task, you now have the option of disrupting their balance through strikes. Think of it this way, you want your first strike to be effective. If it is effective, you have an even better chance of recocking and landing additional strikes, each further disrupting their balance.

Think of disrupting someones balance not the mere act of shifting their weight, that is a huge part. Disrupting their balance is also about knocking their cognitive weight out of alignment.

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of England

The Importance of Pressure Testing

Pressure Testing Your Gear

Take Care Of Your Gear & Your Gear Will Take Care Of You

Early in my Naval career it was impressed upon me to always evaluate your gear. It is my best method for assessing whether my gear will perform to my expectations. We don’t often appreciate the importance of pressure testing our gear.

Breaking It Down

A lot of times we don’t know how to pressure test our gear. Or, we don’t do a good job. For me, I start by defining what I  intend a specific piece of gear to accomplish. What is its mission. This has helped me keep my sanity since it is so easy to find yourself tumbling down the rabbit hole. When you have some left and right limits it helps you to stay focused on what is important. I have used a time tested method of asking myself three questions; does it work, is it necessary and will it work under stress. The first question is pretty easy. When I say work, this is code for performing to a minimum standard. Is it necessary means, do I have to use it or can I use soemthing else to accomplish the same goal. Will it work under stress is the one most often overlooked. I start by defining “stress”. What is stress to me and how does it help.

Feeling Stress Can Be Good

Stress is any type of change that causes a physical, emotional or physical strain. If I had to go from shooting indoors, to shooting outdoors in the Texas summer heat, that can cause me stress. That stress can manifest in many different ways so what is important is how I deal with that stress. I like feeling a little stress, it helps me evaluate not only my gear, but my techniques and a major reminder of the importance of pressure testing. If you had a little bit of stress to something, you may find it doesn’t work as well as without the stress. Being exposed to cold may make my hands less functional and operating a handheld light as I conduct a search of an area may be more challeing. Stress mostly is associated with a negative outcome, but in truth we should consider the positive.

It Is Good To Be Challenged

Meaning, what happens when I apply a little stress. Does my gear and technique handle the stress or am I left to adapt or modify. I like feeling stress, it helps me to also shut off a part of my brain. That part is normally responsible for overthinking and paralysis analysis syndrome. So, it is not all bad. Recently, I had the chance to attend the first ever Sig P365 EDC Championship held at the Sig Sauer Academy in New Hampshire. The premise was pretty simple, using a Sig P365 or variant and working from concealed navigate over a dozen different stages designed around every day tasks and activities. First, it was AWESOME! I haven’t shot a match like event in so long it is hard for me to remember. My loadout was simple, it was my default gear I carry on a regular basis. I carries not just my handgun, but my other gear such as knives and OC spray. I don’t normally carry a spare magazine, but due to the guidelines provided I opted to have one on me for every stage.

After Actions Review

What I did well. My training. Pure and simple, what I have been doing over the last 2-3 years speficically have really paid off. My focus has been on accuracy primarly. Then trying to be as fast as I can guarantee the hits for the courses of fire. This has allowed me to go fast, not just for the sake of going fast. I’ve seen consistent improvements and what I like is I’m not practicing a test, I’m developing a broad base of skills. When I got to one goal, such as a three round drill at a certain par time, I’d either add a 4th round, extend the distance, reduce the target or lower the par time. Then, I’d work to achieve that as my next goal etcetera. What I did poorly. My first shot. I was not happy with the varying degree of first shot par times. Granted, a lot of this had to do with defeating my cover garment or poor firing grip. These are two areas I see spending more time in the future. My cover garment was simple, but add a little time pressure and you can see the effects of stress in a poor grip. What I want to add. More work from other positions. While we started from a seated position on a couple of stages it reminded me that I’m not doing enough work firing from these positions. That will be added to my future skill development as I continue to value the importance on pressure testing my gear.

Overall, I could not be happier with my performance. I got out of it, exactly what I put into it.

Safety Vs. Preparedeness

Safety vs. Preparedness

Adapting To Your Enviornment Is The Key

As we start to come out of what I call the “great, big stupid” how will you adjust or adapt your carry loadout. Since most of us are creatures of habit, you probably adjusted your loadout with a view of safety vs. preparedness.

Downgrading For Comfort

In the beginning, things got pretty bad. It is not difficult to believe how a pandemic can bring out the worst in the human species. At the time my primary carry was a sub-compact pistol. I had evaluated my situation against potential risks and felt comfortable with this lighter loadout. Summer time in Texas can also have a reason for the frame downgrade. It is nice to carry something lighter when you are wearing less clothes and sweating more in general. I have discussed it before when it comes to selecting your primary carry firearm, the specific characteristics. One of those characteristics is a 10 round minimum magazine capacity. A huge bonus is many of today’s modern sub-compact pistols easily accommodate this requirement.

safety vs. preparedness Upgrading For Preparedness

So, from a preparedness point of view I felt ready to handle the most likely scenario I could face as a private citizen; aggravated assualt or robbery. The pandemic changed all that almost overnight. Or at least when consumables and supplies started to be in short supply. I opted to upgrade to a compact frame. My rationale was wanting to reduce the chances of having to reload along with hitting faster, further away. It was about a year I had been carrying the sub-compact so it was quite the change. I went back to a heavier loadout, literally and felt it every day for at least a month. Given the new situation, I felt I needed to up my preparedness to match. What I find is many people are creatures of habit. How many else found the situation evolving a reason to re-evaluate their carry loadout in order to be more prepared? Not as many as I thought as I discussed it with students in the classes we were running at the time.

Time Is Never On Your Side

Another way to look at safety vs. preparedness is from a safety or access point of view. It should go without saying that unauthorized access to firearms in the home should be a top priority. This is where safety was something to consider. Once the pandemic was in full swing, we see violent rioting in major cities. Still to this day in fact. When the threat of moving to the suburban areas was announced, many took it seriously. Investments in extra fire extinguishers and other fire retardation options became a top priority. Along with keeping a long arm handy. By handy, I mean at the ready. In my home I have no children or grandchildren, not yet at least. So, keeping firearms at the ready was an easy decision. On top of keeping them in strategic locations they were all in condition one. Should I have to defend my home from an organized group of violent rioters who intended to burn my dwelling time was of the essense. Hence, the upgrade from safety to preparedeness.

Back To A Lighter Loadout

These were a few examples of what I did over the last 16 months to adapt to the new situation of safety vs. preparedness. Those of you who carry a single loadout always, did you feel compelled to change. Those who carry on the lighter side might have, but what about those who carry on the heavier side always. Did you make any changes? Now the threat has somewhat diminished I plan to lower my level of preparedness at home. Preparedeness now is less important than safety. Time will always be an unknown, but at this point it doesn’t trump safety. As for my carry loadout, I have already dropped down to a sub-compact frame for about half the time I’m carrying. I imagine within a month or so, it will be the majority of time. Especially as we reach the peak of summertime.

Nothing should be set in stone when it comes to your personal safety plan. When necessary, you should be ready and able to adapt to new situations as you face them.


Lessons Learned From A Snowstorm, Part 1

Now Is The Time To Learn From Our Mistakes

As many of Texans emerge from a historic snowstorm there are a lot of questions to be answered. Questions might not be the best word, lessons learned is probably better.

A Big Lesson Is Being Prepared

Lessons Learned From A SnowstormOne of the most important values I pass down to my sons is independence. The importance of being independent across a broad set of subjects. Freedom is not free, it comes at a cost and in this case it is about being prepared. I have lived by the Boy Scout motto of “be prepared” ever since I was a Boy Scout. I’m deeply saddened I did not try harder to encourage my boys to join. Again, there is that freedom. I gave them the choice and tried to help them appreciate the values they would learn at an early age. It is hard to compete with the digital age these days so unfortunately they missed out on what I remember as a wonderful experience. Lessons learned for me at that early age was planning for an unknown or unknowable event.

Being Independent Means Being Prepared

When it comes to being prepared I find it to be the single most important survival skill you can develop. It is such a broad subject and rightfully so. There are many different needs, individual needs that must be taken into account. Over the years I have amassed an inventory of various emergency or survival provisions. I will admit, they are probably outdated compared to some of the new offerings, but something is better than nothing. The biggest lesson learned is how important it is for us ALL to be prepared. The best strategy to reduce the overall impact of any natural disaster, civil unrest and other calamities is to be prepared as a society. This level of independence is hugely liberating for sure, but it boils down to survival and keeping your family safe.

Maybe I Wasn’t As Well Prepared

I’m not going to say fortunately, but we have had a few rehearsals to get ready for this past event. The biggest being the pandemic we are still managing. It forced us to take a hard look at how we will survive. While there are several really good books on survival, what they all will probably say is you need to have food, water and shelter. Not necessarily in that order, but these represent the bare necessities to survive. I want to share some of my lessons learned on these three essential elements from this past snowstorm. How I learned I might not have been as prepared as I thought I was in my head. Part of this had to do with a degree of procrastination. I knew I should update some of our emergency supplies, but I really didn’t get around to it until we were knee deep, literally knee deep in snow. My biggest suggestion is don’t wait for a disaster to start preparing. Lessons to be learned is quite frankly to learn from the mistakes of others. Remember when Noah built the Ark.

Cooking Food Might Have A Different Meaning

When it came to food, we were pretty well stocked. Between dry goods, dehydrated foods and frozen foods I had a pretty good supply. The problem was more about how long the frozen foods would last. The silver lining of having freezing temperatures is storing your perishables in coolers outside. Luckily, we had two coolers for various types of foods to help ensure they stayed the coldest the longest. Food that didn’t need to stay frozen, just cold went into one and frozen food in the other. We would allow nature to defrost the food during the day to be cooked at night. Cooking the food was another huge lesson learned. While I have plenty of camping and backpacking supplies. Periodically function checking all your cookware and lighting options provided more lessons learned. I think it had been about 5 years or more since I powered them up. The lantern was a no joy, but the stove gave us a good day of cooking. It was later replaced with a smaller backpacker stove for the rest of the ordeal. I got lucky on the fuel, I had stored each of them with fuel along with a small supply bottle with fuel. It probably would have given us a couple of days of service. My propane bottle was low or close to it and there were none to be had so having an extra on hand will be a staple again. All the pots and pans I have for camping are great, but they are not ideal for cooking real meals. We had to adjust to the idea of maybe some burnt or over cooked items. Probably one of the most under valued survival skill is the ability to start a fire. I had plenty of lighters and matches. I fell in love with my old Zippo lighter again, but having enough fuel to refill them is something to consider.

Water Is Life

When it came to water, I keep a modest supply on hand. What I’m really glad to have on hand are water coolers and jugs. We filled those up the first time the power went out trying to plan for the worst. A lesson learned from the past was the importance of potable water. Things like purification tables or purifiers are another important staple in your survival gear. Bottled water is something I keep on hand in low volumes so clearly they would not have been enough and we used them more for personal hygiene. I have kept a water purifying pitcher on hand for years, but what I didn’t have in high supply were the replacement filters. All told, this gave us probably 15 gallons of drinkable water with the ability to boil and purify water for some time. One of the things I learned on a mountain expedition a long time ago is the importance of moral in tough times. If moral drops the survival rates can also drop. One of the best things you can do to boost moral is a tasty beverages. I had plenty of water tablets I use to give plain water a splash of flavor and they were a big hit. Probably the biggest hit came in the form of hot coffee. Do not underestimate the healing powers of a good cup of coffee.

Shelter And Staying Warm & Dry

Shelter is a bit misleading, but really it is about staying warm and dry. Our house did a good job, not the best, but still good enough. Little things like keeping doors shut, putting towels around window sills and external doors are great ways to keep some heat in, but you have to plan to be cold and dress appropriately. It is no secret we don’t get cold weather here often, like almost never. Naturally many were unprepared for those cold temperatures. Again, my camping gear really paid off. Sleeping bags are a great addition to the linens and sheets. The problem is you are not always in bed, or at least you shouldn’t be in bed too much. Part of surviving is keeping busy, finding work. You don’t have to go to the extreme of cutting down a neighbor’s tree for firewood, but you need to keep a little bit of activity going. It is good for the mind and body. I also had a very deep inventory of expedition level cold weather gear. It brought me great joy to see everyone in the house toasty warm during some of the coldest hours. A lesson learned was I have so much. I finally had a reason to go through it all and I’m going to be getting rid of almost half. If this happens again, I know my household will be well prepared with half of that loadout.

There you have, some initial thoughts on surviving this past snowstorm. In part two, I’m going to go over some observations about being in the the thick of it with little to know preparation.

Proactive Planning and Preparing

Planning and preparing

Planning and Preparing Like a Professional

Even the worst plan executed in a timely manner with conviction is more than likely enough to resolve a real world problem. Don’t discount the importance of proactive planning and preparing.

Holiday Shopping Planning & Preparation
(Photo by Getty Images)

Planning At The Last Minute

When I talk about planning and preparing it comes across as a complicated event. It really isn’t as complicated as you might think. It becomes easier the more you practice. Your planning doesn’t half to be as if you plan on storming the castle gates. What is more important is the practice of planning on the fly. Yes, you probably will sit down and lay out a bold and detailed plan about how you will go shopping during the Christmas rush. You take the time to study where you will park, what stores you will avoid, the route you take to your objective and how much time you will spend on target. But, once you get there, you need to adapt and adjust your plan in real time.

Full Dress Rehearsals 

Preparation is the right hand to planning. All the planning in the world will do you little good if you don’t put the time to prepare. Your preparation is where you learn how well you planned. One of the biggest lessons I learned in my Naval career was the importance of rehearsals. How we would spend hours, sometimes days planning. We would conduct a full dress rehearsal then return and debrief. Before I knew it, the original plan was barely recognizable. It had been altered as a result of the rehearsal. Without these dirt dives as we called them you fail to account for the obvious that were overlooked in your planning.

Failing To Plan Is Planning to Fail

During our planning we would come up with contingencies for just about everything. Every stage of the operation would have a multitude of backup and redundant actions. There were always three options that were related to the mission; minor, major and catastrophic. As we reviewed our plan, we would discuss a minor problem and how to react. Then a major problem that might require additional resources and lastly a catastrophic issue that could result in mission failure. You probably don’t need to go that in-depth into your planning and preparation for Christmas shopping. You should still consider three options. There are a lot of different outcomes and it is impossible to plan for everything. The least you can do is anticipate some of the more obvious ones.

Movement Is Life

Running is a natural survival instinct. It has served our species for a very long time. However, running for the sake of running is not often ideal. On top of that, how good a shape are you in and what is your responsible cargo. You may find running is not your best option, but it is still an option. Better to think of running as moving, we want to move and preferable move with a purpose. I’m moving to get out of sight, or moving to get to cover.

The Reasons To Move

There are a lot of reasons to move, one of the big reasons is to move out of site. When we discuss the difference between cover and concealment a lot of times we over emphasize cover. We also forget cover is always temporary. If you can find a way to obscure your location it might be the best option whether it will stop bullets or not. If they cannot see you, they may not know to shoot in that direction. Whenever possible, always be looking for your next piece of cover. Where can I move to next that will help me get further from danger.

Fighting Is Not Always The Last Option

Your movement and your cover may have only bought you time. The hope is it allowed you to shift the balance in your favor. Maybe you are in a better position to defend, maybe you have extended the distance making it less effective. Whatever the case, you are always trying to make your situation better. However, there may come a time when your movement and cover no longer increase your survival. Now it is time to fight. While seemingly a last resort, fighting can be utilized during movement and from cover. The hope is when all of your options have been exhausted you have a better position to fight from to increase your survival.

As I move through this world, I’m creating hasty plans at every turn. Whether behind the wheel, walking the dog or in my own home. I have a hasty plan that considers movement, cover and fighting as the most likely options.

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