Welcome to the Hump Day Reading List! Here are what I believe to be the three most important articles you can read this week to enhance your personal and family safety:
This week in Defense and Training:
Birdshot, self defense, and you
Last week I received a request for information on the use of birdshot for self defense. Rather than writing a whole missive, I elected to share this article with the person. Then I thought I should share it with you, too!
Greg does a good job of explaining why it’s a bad idea. And yet we have credible reports of people using birdshot to effectively defend themselves (and resulting in the death of their attackers.) So why does it “seem” to work for some, while not for others?
I think I can explain. As Greg points out, the integrity of the birdshot column deteriorates very rapidly with distance. If the bad guy were, say, ten feet away from you, birdshot might in fact work — and you’d be one of those who sing its praises. As the distance increases even a little bit, however, birdshot becomes dramatically less effective.
The people who recommend it have probably seen or heard of those cases where the distances were very short (and clothing was very light). As Greg shows, the result beyond conversational range usually isn’t good.
My recommendation has always been, and will continue to be, for defensive shotguns to be loaded with buckshot. (It’s also important that the buckshot load you’re using be patterned at various plausible defensive distances so you know, without doubt, exactly what you can expect from it.)
This week in Safety and Security:
Planning for home defense
Many years ago, someone told me that “without a plan, you can’t deviate”. While that sounds silly on its face, in reality there’s some sound psychology behind it: without some sort of framework for evaluating an unfolding incident, the mind tends to get stuck trying to weigh all of the chaotic inputs. This is where the “freeze” response comes from.
The person who’s thought ahead of time about the conditions under which they’d need to make decisions is in far better shape to adapt to changing circumstances than the person who’s given it no thought whatsoever. (I’ll also add that “negative outcomes” seem to come overwhelmingly from those people who’ve apparently never thought seriously about their responses ahead of time.)
Jim Wilson wrote an article about the need for planning your in-home defense. If you’ve not thought about these things before, now’s the time to start. Where might an attacker make entry? What would be your response if that happened — and how does your response change depending on which room you’re in when it happens? How should the rest of the family respond if you’re not there?
Write your plan down; look at it critically. Perhaps even put together some drills for the family to test the response to the various plausible scenarios you’ve come up with. Then revisit the plan from time to time, as your understanding of personal defense changes.
This week in Preparedness and Health:
Work-life balance? How about prepping-life balance?
A major theme of my book Prepping For Life was that of balance — of preparing rationally so that you’re confident in your ability to deal with crises small and large, but at the same time not overwhelmed by preparedness itself.
I think maintaining a proper balance in preparedness is important. That includes not allowing one area of prepping (such as guns and defensive shooting) to overwhelm other areas. I’ve seen a lot of people who overspent on guns and ammo, but had no way of keeping themselves warm during a power outage. I’ve seen people who attend multiple shooting classes a year, but can’t remember the last time they took a class on emergency medical response — let alone a class on something mundane like food storage!
Here’s a heartfelt article about the need to maintain preparedness balance, both internally and externally. I think it’s worth reading and contemplating; is there some part of preparedness where you’ve gone a little overboard?
– Grant Cunningham
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