Top 10 Tips for Buying Your First Gun, Part 1


Today’s post is in response to a question from my brother-in-law (sister’s husband) who is considering the purchase of his first firearm for self and home defense.  I’ve taken my brother-in-law shooting at the farm and he’s a great shot with a rifle… and has demonstrated an understanding of basic firearms safety.  Unfortunately, he and my sister live several states away and his firearms experience is primarily limited to structured rifle ranges from summer camps he attended and worked for…so I’m limited to providing him advice instead of stepping through the process with him.  Reviewing the advice I provide my brother-in-law may help you develop your own steps to responsible defensive firearms ownership.

Top 10 Tips for Buying Your First Gun

  1. Before purchasing a firearm for self defense you must determine for yourself whether you are capable of using it to protect yourself and your loved ones.  In the parlance of Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Dave Grossman in his essay On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs…you should only arm yourself if you are willing to become a ‘sheepdog.’  According to Grossman ‘sheepdogs’ and ‘wolves’ are both capable of violence but the ‘sheepdog’ uses violence only to protect the ‘sheep’ and his/her fellow ‘sheepdogs.’  If you are not willing to use violence to protect yourself and your family then your firearms are nothing but an opportunity waiting for the right ‘wolf’ to come along and turn them against you and your neighbor.  If, after careful reflection you are willing to become a ‘sheepdog’ then proceed to Step 2.
  2. (more…)

Stop The Bleeding Infographic

Digital pressure points can often be used to slow or stop bleeding.  Apply pressure with fingers, thumbs or hands as indicated in the figure below:

Infographic:  Digital Pressure Points To Slow or Stop Bleeding

Source:  (more…)

Top 10 Free Steps to Preparedness

Preparedness discussions often seem to devolve into what another preparedness writer describes as “beans, bullets & bandaids”…the ‘stuff’ of preparedness.  However, your most important preparedness resources are the knowledge, skills, readiness and the confidence you develop as you become more self-reliant.  You can enhance and develop these traits without spending any money if you are a little creative and put your mind to it.

The Top 10 Free Steps to Preparedness are:

  1. Leverage training you receive or can volunteer for at work.  For example: as a soldier I’m fortunate enough to receive regular training in first aid; my father attended Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training as a Naval Aviator; Abigail (daughter #2) received Cardiopulmonary Respiration (CPR) training as part of her training for an after school job at a daycare; Sparky (daughter #3) received trained in food safety by her summer job at a restaurant; and a good friend received training from his police department in order to assist homeowners with improving household security.  Not only is this training that’s free (to you), but it may make you more valuable to your employer.
  2. Leverage training you receive through your volunteer activities.  For example: a friend from church received training in how to respond to active shooter situations; a ham (amateur radio operator) friend participated in a disaster preparedness exercise supplying emergency communication;  a number of friends and relatives have become volunteer firemen and received training in first aid (including EMT training), equipment operation, extractions, and of course…firefighting.  Seek ways to give back to your community and connect with like-minded people while developing your knowledge and skills.
  3. Couponing.  Using coupons to build your preparedness supplies isn’t just free…it pays you in the money you saved (assuming you were going to prepare anyway).  For those of you who don’t think this is a skill…trust me…when Rachel (my better half) gets into her couponing groove she can reduce the cost of a cart of groceries by 30%-50%…and I’ve seen her walk out of Walgreen and CVS stores with sacks of goods and money in her pocket.  A note of couponing food…it’s almost always for heavily processed foodstuffs…not the healthy stuff but it keeps.
  4. Exercise.  You don’t have to join a gym or buy fancy home workout gear.  Start with going for a walk, doing that yard work yourself instead of paying someone to do it (see more money in your pocket) or helping a friend move.  At one of my old military units the junior officers were all into CrossfitCrossfit replicates a lot of the types of exercise human beings used to do as a part of daily living like chopping wood…or you could just go chop wood.  A side benefit of regular exercise is that it enables you to deal more effectively with stressful events.
  5. Rediscover a preparedness related hobby.  I used to enjoy fishing but haven’t done it in years.  I already have all the gear and plenty of places to fish…all I’ve got to do is get started again.  Yes, you may need…a fishing license (maybe not if you’re military or a senior citizen) or bait if you don’t use flies and lures… but you can recover that in the fish you put on the dinner table.  There are other benefits of hobbies as well…they’ll connect you with like-minded folks if you put a little effort into it.  Think about what you used to enjoy and make time for it again. (more…)

Waterbath Canning, First Attempt

Dad, are you conducting some kind of science experiment in the kitchen?

Sparky (Daughter #3)

I should have realized that I was over my head when when my daughter said this after walking into the kitchen when I was less than halfway through my first attempt at waterbath canning…first attempt at any canning really.  First off you should know that I come from a family of avid canners.  My grandparents, God rest their souls, survived the depression and always had a large garden and a deep larder in a root cellar under the house even after they moved to town.  My uncle, whom I’m quite close with lives the same way and my father (who married the city girl) doesnt’ practice canning every year but will show up with a jar of the most incredible jam every now and then.

With all this experience in the family…how did I learn to can?  I chose to learn from a hand scribbled recipe, the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and a YouTube video.  I won’t cover canning in this post because I certainly don’t know what I’m doing after my first attempt and there are lot’s of great references (like family), but I will tell you a few of the things I learned from my first attempt.

  1. Start with a clean kitchen.  At least I did this one right
  2. You’ll get about 1 quart jar of pickled beets per pound
  3. A 33 Quart Waterbath Canner is huge and may not sit level on your stove burners
  4. If your 33 Quart Waterbath Canner doesn’t sit level on your stove than you will have a lot of water condensing off the lid and running all over your stove
  5. Did I mention not overfilling the Waterbath Canner?
  6. Lots of water on a 220v electric stove is not a good thing
  7. Ladling water out of the Canner won’t help because it’s condensed water coming off the lid
  8. Taking the lid off might mean that you can’t keep the water boiling…did I mention it takes a lot of heat to keep a 33 Quart Waterbath Canner boiling.
  9. An upside down Canner lid can solve wet stove problems caused by dripping condensation (the water drops back into the center of the pot from the handle)
  10. Plan to eat cold meals while canning to keep your stove area clean
  11. Don’t trust recipes to leave you with enough liquid to get the right headspace…make extra…still not sure how I screwed this one up but I’ll hedge my bet next time
  12. That microwave that’s so conveniently placed over the stove…isn’t… for canning with a 33 Quart Waterbath Canner

Storing food takes a lot of work…and heat…and space…and gear.  I think I understand the concept of a summer kitchen for the first time.  I’ll let you know how the beets turn out…I’m not hoping for perfection with this first batch…just hoping not to get food poisoning.


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