15 November 2015

Before you freak out and buy a gun

Lately, even before the attacks in France more and more people are asking me advice on things related to personal protection and preparedness.  Today at church I was bombarded.  When people realize they are playing catch up with these things the first thing they want is to buy a gun.  Of course I believe all Citizens should be armed at all times, but new shooters are naturally nervous, scared ones are even worse, and jumpy people make me nervous...so pump the brakes.

Here is my analogy, after years of refusing to believe that there are bears where you live, despite seeing it on the news and hearing it from all your neighbors you decide that you nee to get a gun to protect yourself from bears, even though you have never seen one.  So now you got your bear gun, and with your new found confidence you decide to start hiking in areas frequented by bears.  So on your very first hike you walk through some bear shit but you don't recognize it because you have never seen it before.  Your head is on a swivel looking for bears, so much so that you fail to realize that the sunlight is fading.  Pretty soon it is dark.  You begin to get scared as you walk back towards your vehicle, not just because the bears are there an you now realize that you can't see them in the dark.  It dawns on you that you should have brought a flashlight.

After few more dark minutes you realize you took a wrong turn on the trail and you are lost.  You remember hearing as a kid that the best thing to do in this situation is to stay put and try to signal others to come to you.  A whistle would come in handy right now.  Not having a whistle or a light you decide to walk a little bit farther.

Just as you begin to think that you might be headed in the right direction you trip and fall.  A branch from a downed pine tree goes into your upper thigh, and your leg starts pumping blood.  The first thing that goes through your mind is that a bandana would come in handy right now.  You could apply direct pressure, or even use it to make an improvised tourniquet.  But you don't so you die and they find you the next day with your new bear gun in the holster.  Even though it is bear country, none have fed on your body, and none are seeing by the hikers who rescued you or the first responders.  In the end it was not a bear that killed you, it was worrying so much about what could possibly happen that you failed to plan for things that would likely happen.

Before you buy that bear gun, or if you already have a bear gun but realize that is all you are prepared for, here are some things you need to have on your person every time you leave the house no matter what.  They can all be carried anywhere you go without attracting any attention.  They are not sexy like a shiny new bear gun but they are way more likely to come in handy or maybe save your life.

Flashlight- the one I carry in my pocket all the time is the Streamlight Micro .  My "tactical" light is an Olight T25 .  I also always have a headlamp in my bag of evil.  Lights help you navigate as well as inspect injuries in low light conditions.

Whistle- there are many out there but my go to is the Fox 40 Micro .  Three short blasts are the international signal for distress.   Unlike yelling and other noises they attract attention because you don't hear them all the time.

Orange bandanna -   can be used for a myriad of uses, but at the top of the list is a dust mask, to apply direct pressure to stop bleeding, and with the addition of a windlass (something to wind it with) a tourniquet.

For about $20-$30 you can equip a person to deal with many different situations and get them thinking about being prepared for anything that could happen, not just bear attacks.

Step two would be to find out all you can about bears and stay away form areas where they are known to congregate.

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