Category Archives: Hunting Fishing & Gathering

Attracting Swarms to Get Free Bees

“We have told the story before about how we stumbled into beekeeping. Our first year as beekeepers we were able to attract a swarm directly into a hive without much effort. Last season we got 4 the same way (although one entered the owl box) and even caught one on video. So this year we have our method pretty much figured out and are hoping last year wasn’t a fluke. Here’s what we do…”


About The Author: RSOP is the co-founder & Executive Editor of Radical Survivalism Webzine, as well as a Family Preparedness Consultant with nearly five years of personal experience in the self-reliance game. RSOP's many preparedness roles within his own group include team mechanic, head of security, electrician, and project designer/engineer.

How Much Land Would It Take To Feed Your Family?

From | On Thursday, Nov 21st, 2013

“The classic question asked by nearly all newbies to self reliance is: “How much space do I need to feed my family from my own land?”

The problem with the food GURUs is that NONE of them really like to answer this question. They tell you, “It depends on your soil type, climate zone, number of people, tools available, length of growing season, etc.” While this advice is true…”


About The Author: RSOP is the co-founder & Executive Editor of Radical Survivalism Webzine, as well as a Family Preparedness Consultant with nearly five years of personal experience in the self-reliance game. RSOP's many preparedness roles within his own group include team mechanic, head of security, electrician, and project designer/engineer.

Guns ‘R Us

By Jeanne Marie Laskas | Photographs by David Graham | From | On September 2012

Fast and Furious. Conceal and carry. The Dark Knight theater shootings. In America these days, it seems like everyone is packing heat. In fact, we’re the most heavily armed populace on the planet. So where do most of us go when we need a shiny new Glock or a convenient AK-47? Increasingly to mega-shops like Sprague’s Sports in Yuma, Arizona. That’s where Jeanne Marie Laskas ventured recently, spending a few shifts behind the counter and seeing for herself how we shop, sell, justify, and even come to love the deadliest things among us…

Out-of-state residents can purchase firearms in Arizona read the sign behind the counter at Sprague’s Sports in Yuma. ASK US HOW. I asked a clerk named Ron for details. He was short, packed solid as a ham, with a crew cut and a genial demeanor. He pointed to the cavalcade of hunting rifles lined up on the long wall behind him. “Any of these you can get today—or these over here,” he said, leading me to a corner of the store where two young men in ball caps and a woman with a sparkly purse were admiring a selection of AK-47’s.

“You have to admit this is pretty badass,” the one man was saying. He had a carbine shorty perched on his hip, Stallone-style.

“I don’t know,” the woman said. “To me, it looks mean.”

“It’s supposed to look mean.”

“They should make it in pink,” she said. “Wouldn’t that be cute?”

“You’re shitting me.”

“They should make it in Hello Kitty!” she said. “I would totally buy it if it was Hello Kitty.”

Sweet holy crap,” the other man said. “That would be the worst possible death. Can you imagine? Shot dead by a Hello Kitty semiauto.”

It was difficult to tell if Ron was listening in on any of this; both of us had our lips pulled back in pretend smiles. “Now, what can I show you?” he asked me while the one guy went on faking his bad death and the woman continued her torture with something about rainbow-colored bullets.

I didn’t really want to buy an assault rifle, or even a handgun, but I was curious to know what buying one felt like, how the purchase worked, what-all was involved. Nobody in my circle back east had guns, nobody wanted them, and if anybody talked about them, it was in cartoon terms: Guns are bad things owned by bad people who want to do bad things. About the only time the people where I come from thought about guns was when something terrible happened. A lunatic sprays into a crowd and we have the same conversation we always have: those damn guns and those damn people who insist on having them.

I had come to Arizona, the most gun-friendly state, to listen to the conversation the rest of America was apparently having. One in three Americans owns a gun. About 59 million handguns, 46 million rifles, and 28 million shotguns—nearly 135 million new firearms for sale in the U.S. since 1986. We are the most heavily armed society in the world. If an armed citizenry is a piece of our national identity, how is it that I’d never even met it?

In Arizona, anyone over 18 can buy an assault rifle, at 21 you can get a pistol, and you can carry your gun, loaded or unloaded, concealed or openly, just about anywhere. The IHOP was said to be the only restaurant in Yuma that prohibited you from bringing your gun in. “Needless to say, most of us won’t eat there,” Ron said. On the rack behind him, assault rifles stood stupid as pool cues, black and blocky, with long magazines protruding erotically this way and that.

“I’m kind of surprised you carry assault rifles,” I said to Ron.

“There’s no such thing as an assault rifle,” he said. “These are ‘military-style rifles’ or ‘modern sporting rifles.’ ”

“But they’re assault rifles,” I noted. I knew that much from TV.

Assault is one of the worst things the media has ever done to us,” he said. “Have any of these rifles ever assaulted anyone?”

He went on to say I could buy as many of them as I wanted and walk out with my arsenal today. “These guns have helped our industry tremendously,” he said. “They’ve attracted a whole new generation…. Is there one you want to try?” He brought down a Colt AR15-A3 tactical carbine, slammed in an empty magazine, and handed it to me. It felt disappointingly fake, an awesome water pistol, perhaps, or a Halloween prop. I asked if I would need to tell him why I wanted to buy a gun like that or what I intended to do with it. He squinted and smiled and appeared politely speechless. “Would you have to do what, now?” he asked.

It was difficult for us to find a comfortable, common starting place, but the reach was certainly genuine.

Among the things I wanted to talk to Ron and the people at Sprague’s about were killing sprees. America has had a bad run of large-scale gun violence, including the theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado, and, closer to home, Arizona’s infamous 2011 Tucson massacre. I wondered when would be an appropriate time to bring up the subject; a massacre is, well, a massacre, and I feared it would dampen the mood.

A few reported details from the Tucson incident always stuck with me. Before Jared Loughner shot Gabby Giffords, he ran some errands first. He stopped at the Circle K on Ina Road to get something to eat. He went down to the Walgreens to pick up some photos he’d gotten developed. Then he went to the Walmart Supercenter at the Foothills Mall to buy some ammo for his Glock. Something happened there. A snag in the plan. The clerk at the register, who was never identified and whom Walmart officials refused to talk about, said no. He, or she, denied the sale to Loughner, who left and went to a different Walmart six miles away, where he bought enough ammunition to fill two fifteen-round magazines and the thirty-three-round extended magazine he would unload a few hours later into the crowd over at Safeway, killing six and injuring another thirteen, including Giffords.

Why did the first Walmart clerk refuse the sale, and how? What did that person see in Loughner, and where does a private citizen get the authority, or the gumption, to refuse to sell ammo to someone? These questions were never answered, if they were even asked by media providing day and night coverage in the bloody aftermath. The mysterious clerk at the Foothills Mall Walmart dropped out of the headlines almost as soon as he, or she, appeared. What may have lingered then for some, or at least it did for me, was a nagging sense of unfinished business. So these are the people who stand at the front lines, guarding America against its lunatic mass murderers? Clerks at Walmart. Clerks at sporting-goods stores. Minimum-wage cashiers busily scanning soccer balls, fishing tackle, and boxes of Tide.

Ron grew up in Yuma and had worked at Sprague’s for twenty-seven years; several of his co-workers had put in at least twenty. All the clerks milling about the store were clean-cut, dressed in crisp button-down shirts with their names embroidered on the pockets, and the respect they showed the merchandise reminded me of department-store shoe salesmen in the old days who wore suits and used shoehorns. The store was brightly lit and impeccably clean—no dust or cobwebs on the hundreds of bobcat, coyote, elk, and other taxidermy mounted on high. Stray scraps of paper were instantly swept up, Disneyland-style. The merchandise was arranged in boutique fashion: colorful boxes of ammo stacked like candy by the register, a library of gun books and magazines near the restrooms. There was a holster department, a gun-safe department, and an optical-equipment department—OVER 75 MODELS of Binoculars in stock. OVER 100 MODELS of Rifle Scopes in stock. The guns were in the back of the store, and this is where most of the customers hung out.

Handguns like the Glock, top left, are best-sellers at Sprague's, and customers can try out almost any gun at the store's twenty-five-yard indoor range, bottom right.

“I have six handguns—bought five of them here,” an old man said to me. I was waiting for Ron, who’d gone to the back room to find a gun he thought I might like. “I have five rifles, got all of them here,” the man said. “I spend most of my time reloading shells. All my friends are dead.” He had thin white hair and a long, sagging face dotted with age spots. “Do you know what the biggest problem with divorce is? It’s the bedroom. And a lot of it’s the man’s fault. Like a damn rabbit, on and off.”

It felt like we should have had rocking chairs, perhaps a set of checkers between us. This was one of the things I liked most about Sprague’s: the general-store feel. Groups would form, strangers becoming neighbors, sharing stories. “I lost my wife in November,” the man said. “Sixty years. Now my kids keep trying to get me to go live with them in California. My doctor said, ‘What’s your lifestyle?’ I told him guns. He said, ‘Stay in Yuma.’ ”

Ron came back carrying two assault rifles. “Hey there,” he said, greeting the old man. “What brings you in today?”

“Same as yesterday.”

Gently, Ron placed the rifles on the counter. He told me one was a Smith & Wesson M&P15 and the other a Heckler & Koch 416. They looked every bit as formidable as the first one I held, but these were .22s, and Ron said they’d be easier to shoot.

“So more like beginner assault rifles?” I asked.

“There-is-no-such-thing-as-an-assault-rifle,” Ron said.

The Smith M&P15 sold for $425 and had a snazzy bright orange cardboard wrapper on its fat barrel that read “Kick Brass.” “I’ll go with this one,” I said.

“Okay, you’ll need to fill this out.” He handed me a six-page government-issued form, told me not to make any mistakes or else I’d have to start all over. “No cross-outs,” he said.

Anyone in America who wants to buy a gun has to fill out ATF Form 4473, with thirty-six questions in all, and hand it in to the dealer selling the gun. The clerk takes the form and contacts NICS, the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (open every day of the year except Christmas), where an examiner runs your answers through a series of databases to make sure you haven’t lied and, within minutes, tells the clerk what to do: proceed with the sale, deny it, or delay it for three days while NICS does some deeper digging and decides later.


Are you a fugitive from justice?

Have you ever been adjudicated mentally defective?

Are you subject to a court order restraining you from harassing, stalking, or threatening your child or an intimate partner or child of such partner?

I stood there puzzling through the form when a guy walked up, replacing the old man beside me, and he, too, struck up a conversation. He was a man of some heft in a red T-shirt and sunglasses wrapped behind his neck, as was the fashion in Yuma. “You say you’re just starting out?” he said. “You picked a good one. With the HK, you would have just been paying for extra steel you don’t need.”

“That’s sort of what I thought,” I lied.

“I just got that same Smith for my kid,” he said.

I looked at him. He appeared far too young to have a grown son.

“Wait, how old is your kid?” I asked.

“Six,” he said.

···Richard Sprague, the owner of Sprague’s Sports, is a slender man in his fifties with a tapered face, coarse graying hair, and an easy smile. Other Arizona gun stores would not even entertain my request to visit and ask questions about selling guns and ammunition, but Richard without hesitation invited me to spend as much time as I wanted at Sprague’s—behind the counter, in the back room, at the shooting range, anywhere I wished. I thought it a somewhat courageous offer, especially given that a 2010 Washington Post investigation spectacularly put Sprague’s eleventh on a list of top U.S. stores that sold guns traced to crime scenes in Mexico. Attempts to stem the flow of arms south of the border began intensifying during the last Bush administration and have continued with the ATF’s infamous Fast and Furious operation.

In response to the hoopla about his store, Richard said that he and his employees were always on the lookout for straw purchasers: a person buying a gun for someone who hadn’t passed the background check. “Unfortunately,” he said, “some people do break the law once they leave our store.” The Mexican border was just eight miles away, and so proximity, rather than reckless selling, was the truer though far less titillating explanation of the ranking. And the number-crunching behind the headline was misleading: The actual number traced to Sprague’s was just fifty-five out of a spectacular 60,000 guns smuggled to Mexico.

Richard was a busy man, with quick eyes, and he spoke of “firearms” and “the industry” in the dry, responsible way a man might discuss flood insurance. Still, he talked more about his family than he did guns. He spoke proudly of the long line of Spragues (his father opened the store in 1956), and the raw weirdness of being the last of his generation left. He toured me around Yuma, a cozy town of 93,000 with parks stretching along the river where families picnicked under the ironwood trees. He took me to the Yuma county fair. He was proud of Yuma and wanted me to like it, and I told him I did. He was proud of the firearms industry and wanted me to like that, too, and I was working on it.

“What’s the most surprising thing about your trip so far?” Richard asked me one morning. We were driving back from a daybreak session at the outdoor range where he had given me some lessons on my new M&P15. Learning to shoot it wasn’t hard. Virtually no recoil, just as Ron had promised, and while in that way I was satisfied with my purchase, I found that I could not let go of a feeling of disappointment, of some kind of tangled shame that had nothing to do with shooting guns, or gun ownership, but that somehow I had wimped out and bought an assault rifle a 6-year-old could use.

“The most surprising thing?” I said to Richard. He was backlit against a morning sky exploding with red and pink and orange. “That’s going to be hard to summarize.”

Sprague's specializes in "politically incorrect black guns with extended magazines

“There must be something,” he said.

“I guess the most surprising thing is that everyone thinks guns are so normal,” I said. I told him it wasn’t like that where I come from, not like that at all.

He nodded in consideration, and I wondered if he understood. I offered him a piece of gum, and he took it, and for a while we just chewed and admired the passing mesquite. “Think of just the hunters,” he said. “Thirteen million in this country. That’s 13 million Americans trained with firearms—the equivalent of the largest army in the world.” He flipped his visor down to cut the sky. “Anyone thinking of invading this country has to take that into consideration.”

Well, wow. Hunters? Hunters rising up? It took me a moment to conjure the image. I wondered whom Richard imagined an army of guys dressed in orange rising up against. Al Qaeda? The Chinese?

I asked him who. Who?

He shrugged, said it could be anyone, another country, anyone. He said the whole point of guns was personal responsibility: taking care of yourself, your family, your neighborhood, your country. The more people there are with guns, the safer the society. “That’s part of what has made this country great,” he said. “That we have the freedom to make sure we’re safe, that we have the means to protect ourselves, to be ready for the occasional wackos out there.”

I hadn’t come here to discuss the Second Amendment, but it kept coming up, as pervasive as the constant hot sunshine. People wanted to talk about it, explain it.

“The largest army in the world,” Richard said again. “Bigger than China’s. And if you think Afghanistan and their populace is well armed, wait till they try to come into this country. It should give you some cause for comfort.”

He looked at me. I had my head jutted forward, my thumbnail between my teeth.

“That’s just how I look at it,” he said, and continued driving. The heat on the horizon was already visible in wobbles and waves.

···Nearly all the shoppers I met at Sprague’s came in asking for something for self-protection. They wanted guns for their nightstands, guns for their purses, guns for their pickups, guns for holsters on waistbands, ankles, and bras.

“The people I hang out with back east don’t talk about shooting bad guys as much as you folks do,” I said one day to a gathering of customers and clerks.

“You depend on the government to protect you,” said a middle-aged woman dry-firing a Ruger. She was admiring the smooth trigger action and regretting her clunkier Glock. “We depend on ourselves.”

“It’s an entirely different mind-set back east,” said Kevin, a slim clerk with thinning black hair who had sold me a ticket for the Yuma Catholic High School 125 Gun Raffle. “You can get a permit in New York City to own a gun,” he said. “That’s the thing. They’ll permit you. In Arizona we don’t care. Our government doesn’t allow us; our government stays out of our ability to protect ourselves.”

But—from what? I’d never been attacked by anyone; I hardly know anyone who has been attacked. I follow the news, of course, and I see violence enacted all the time on TV. But I didn’t walk around in fear of getting mugged or worse. Was this simply naive? The people shopping at Sprague’s were saying yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Anyone without a gun was inviting disaster.

Standing at the counter with Kevin, I asked him to show me something small, for my purse. It is difficult for me to say what exactly was prompting me, or what kind of corner I was turning. Perhaps buying an assault rifle—even as a joke or an experiment—puts you over some sort of threshold. Or it could be something about anyone’s capacity to get caught up in a shopping frenzy: Hang around people buying stuff long enough and pretty soon you want to buy the stuff, too. I do know the gadgetry of guns appealed to me. The clicking and the clacking, the feel of steel so expertly shaped to fit a human grip.

“Women always come in saying they want something small,” he said. “Then they find out how much harder a small gun is to shoot. Save yourself the time and get something big.”

He unfolded a felt pad and put it on top of the glass case, then brought out a Glock nine-millimeter semiauto. It felt solid and serious. I asked to see an alloy Smith & Wesson on the top shelf of the case. It was wearing a little tag about being featherlight. Kevin said it was too small for me and the caliber was worthless.

“You’re not going to stop anybody with a .22. It’s going to poke little holes in the guy.”

“He’ll run off after that,” I said. “Anybody would.”

He’s on meth,” Kevin said. “He’s got your kid by the throat. It’s the middle of the night, and he’s going to take your whole family out. He’s coming after you. He’s dragging your kid. He’s on meth! He’s not feeling your little .22s hitting him, I promise you. Those bullets are going right through him, and the ones that miss are going through the drywall right into the baby’s room—”

I put the Smith down on the counter and shifted my weight in consideration. If anything like that happened to me or my kid, I definitely would want something capable of blowing a guy’s face off.

I paid $450 for the Glock, a used one—a bargain. Normally a gun like that would go for $100 more. Kevin said he would ship it to a licensed dealer near my home in Pennsylvania, in accordance with federal law, and that I could pick it up there. I could then go to my local sheriff’s office, and in the time it would take to snap my picture, print it out, and laminate it, I would be able to get a license to carry my new Glock concealed.

All of it was so easy, and that really was the only confusing part about buying guns. So easy. And yet why should it be difficult? I wasn’t a criminal. I wasn’t going to commit a heinous act—not unless I had to defend myself or my family. Defending yourself and your family is what good people do. Getting a gun should be easy for good people and impossible for bad people. The only trick is telling the difference.

···Working in a gun store is hard on your feet and your back. There was a stool behind the counter at Sprague’s, and I was trying not to hog it. I sat and watched customer after customer feel and fondle and dry-fire guns, and I thought about the burden on the clerks whose job it was to dole out firepower.

Family night at Yuma's outdoor range.

I saw customers get turned down, most commonly teenagers getting carded when they tried to buy bullets. You have to be at least 18 to buy rifle or shotgun ammo, 21 to buy rounds for a handgun. “Sorry, man,” the cashier would say.

Sergio, one of the clerks, had some thoughts about what it felt like to work behind the counter and size up people like Jared Loughner. Sergio was quiet, small, with a broad swarthy face and a big, rugged nose. He’d been in the business for twenty-five years, and he often sat on the stool.

“You get suspicious,” he said. “A woman yesterday. She was with a guy holding a baby. She said she wanted three guns, but he did all the talking. He kept saying ‘me’ and ‘mine’ and ‘my money.’ They were just bad actors. I don’t mean bad people. I mean they couldn’t act. I said to the guy, ‘I think you’re trying to get her to buy guns for you,’ and he said, ‘Oh, er, ehhh,’ and he shoved the baby back at her and flew out the door.”

Looking out for Loughners and other lunatics was part of the job, he said, and he didn’t like that part of the job. “I remember years ago going to an ATF seminar. The agent was talking to us, the counter people, and he said, ‘I need you as a front line of defense. To watch out for criminals.’ And I remember thinking he was out of his mind. How can I tell who’s a criminal? And I don’t have any rights as far as enforcing anything, I don’t have a badge, you know, what can I do?”

He could refuse a sale. That’s what he’s supposed to do, according to the ATF agents I spoke to, and according to the YouTube “ATF Channel,” where you can watch informational skits featuring clerks doing the right thing. If a clerk feels iffy about selling a gun to someone, he or she should simply say, “No.”

The ATF has little else to say on the matter, because the ATF is busy. A network of twenty-five ATF field divisions, essentially one for every two states, oversees America’s 57,500 licensed dealers. About 650 inspectors monitor how the large-scale gun stores, like Sprague’s and Walmart, conduct business. Inspectors are supposed to go into each store once every three years but are lucky if they make the rounds in six or seven, given the paltry manpower (thanks at least in part to gun lobbyists, who have worked hard to keep the ATF small).

Meanwhile, NICS, the FBI’s background check, is designed to weed out the criminals and the wackos so the clerks don’t have to. In 2010, NICS did not flag Jared Loughner’s application to buy a gun: He’d never been legally declared mentally ill, and so there was no official record of his lunacy. Nor did NICS object to the paperwork submitted by Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter. He had been ordered by a court to receive involuntary outpatient treatment in 2005, and yet there was not an official record of his lunacy, either. The Commonwealth of Virginia didn’t report it to NICS because, at the time, Virginia only flagged inpatient treatment, and anyway, nobody really has to report anything to anybody, because NICS is a voluntary system.

The system is only as good as its databases. And critics say the databases suck.

Beyond NICS, and discounting an impotent ATF, refusing a sale was typically an in-house matter, according to Richard: “It’s not unheard-of for a salesperson to come upstairs and talk to management. We’ll take a look at it, and we can refuse the sale—and we do. I don’t know if it happens more than a few times a year, but it does happen.”

I asked him if there was any specific training regimen for his clerks, teaching them how to spot people with bad intentions. What would the threatening person look like? Was there some manual or something somewhere with pictures?

“We deal with a lot of people who would scare you,” Richard said. “They’re tatted up, they wear their hair different than you do, they dress different than you. It’s quite a responsibility to see through that. Because you know, they could be good people.”

I spent the better part of the day with Sergio, offering him the stool, him giving it back, both of us sharing sore-feet stories. I saw a guy checking out an AK-47 who had a tattoo that said there is only one god and his name is death, and I wondered if I should say something.

Later, when I got up to stretch my legs, a guy walked up to me. He had a military haircut and a wrestler’s build, and he showed me the SIG Sauer P226 nine-millimeter, a tactical semiauto he was buying. “Finally,” he said. “Do you know how long I’ve been wanting a good practice gun?” He brought the gun up to one eye and aimed it at the wall behind me.

“I don’t know if you ever heard of the term pressure cooker?” he asked. “I’m one of those people. I help everyone else. Never help myself. I don’t know why I do that, because then I get mad at everyone.” He put the gun down and went on to recall a time when he got handcuffed in a hospital after hurling a nurse who had tried to sedate him. “But the SIG is just for practice,” he said. “I have a .380 auto at home. That’s a sexy gun. I wanted a body stopper, so I got a Smith & Wesson 1911 .45-caliber. I’m a pretty good shot. I can empty an entire clip into six inches. Consecutively. Head, throat, heart, gut. If you’re within fifty feet of me, I’m going to take you out.”

He gave me a little salute, and then he went up to the front register to pay for his new SIG, and he was out the door.

···One day I got into a productive discussion with some clerks and customers about shooting sprees. We were gathered on a quiet Thursday, chatting beneath the $4,500 Barrett Model 99 “Big Shot” sniper rifle. It was the most powerful gun in the store, capable of firing .50-caliber armor-piercing rounds—gigantic bullets as long as a human hand. The gun was perched on a display stand so you could walk all the way around and admire it, like any work of art.

“So how about the Tucson shootings?” I asked our little group, two clerks and four shoppers, all male. “I imagine that was a difficult day around here.” I thought it an obvious statement that translated roughly to: Surely Loughner’s killing spree must have given you pause and forced you to face the dark side of an America that allows its citizens to own guns. But that’s not what anybody heard.

Zombie targets are a big hit at the store's range.

“The lines were out the door.”

“Well, not out the door, but I remember this place was packed.”

“Not as bad as the day after the election.”

“Oh God, no!”

“Ha, ha, ha!”

“Ha, ha, ha!”

In fact, one-day sales of handguns in Arizona jumped 60 percent on the day after the Tucson shootings. It was not a time to reevaluate a blithe attitude toward anything, but rather a time to hurry and stock up in case the government made its next move to take privately owned firearms away, leaving law-abiding citizens defenseless against the criminals and the lunatics.

“Mostly it was people wanting Glocks. The 19, like Loughner had, but really all the Glocks.”

“A story like that just gives the liberals more fuel.”

“The problem is, liberals are more feel than think. They don’t understand logic, and so what the hell can you even do with that?”

“It’s so ridiculous. It’s sad, really.”

“It’s so scary.”

Everyone in the group agreed on the stupid, scary liberals in the most casual and obvious way, like people at a grocery store railing about the rising price of beef. I asked them about a more recent event, right there in Yuma, when Carey Dyess, 73, drove his silver Mazda to the home of his ex-wife’s best friend and shot her in the face. Then he killed his ex-wife at her home. Then he drove over to some other houses and shot three more of her friends. Then he drove into downtown Yuma, where he walked into his ex-wife’s attorney’s office, shot him dead. Then he drove off to the desert and killed himself.

“Oh man, that guy was running around and I didn’t even have a gun in my shop!” someone said. “I got so scared I went home and got my Judge. A .410 pistol. It was all so unexpected. He didn’t announce himself. Walked in, shot people, walked out. He must have had tiny bullets—did you see her neck?”

“Had to be a .380.”

Nobody talked about the shooting victims, and the only mention of the neighbors shot by Dyess was the size of the bullet holes in a woman’s neck. If there were any victims at all to be singled out in the discussion, it was these people here, threatened by tighter gun laws and a government determined to impose them.

“Everywhere now, it’s all an anti-gun maneuver. These liberals think, ‘Well, if we get all the guns away, there will be no crime, no one will get shot, everybody will live in harmony.’ That’s how stupid they are.”

“It’s so scary.”

I was surprised to hear them use the word scary to describe those who, back home, tend to describe them as “scary.”

The conversation was interrupted when a young guy in Bermuda shorts walked up and said he was interested in the Barrett.

“The Barrett!” one of the clerks said, while the rest fell silent as if to take in the words, and we all looked up at the magnificent black sniper rifle.

···In the end, I went over to the indoor range to blow off some steam and to release my mind from the endless loop of stupid-scary.

The range was sort of like a bowling alley, only instead of renting shoes you rented a gun. You had to have a friend with you. This was a precaution against suicide, the thinking being a friend would talk you out of it. You could also bring your own gun, no friend required. Whole families came to shoot, Friday night was ladies’ night, and people had birthday parties here.

A young guy came out of the lanes, carrying the target he had just shot up. “Ahhh, that feels better,” he said, taking off his ear-and-eye protection. “Whew! Re-lax-ing!” He had sweat on his brow, and he grinned up at the zombie targets hanging on the wall that I was quietly admiring. You could buy one of those targets to shoot at instead of the same old boring concentric circles or classic bad-guy silhouettes.

“Oh God, aren’t those awesome?” the guy said. “Me and my boys came and shot the hell out of the Paris Hilton zombie.” Paris was wearing big pink sunglasses and a pink miniskirt and was carrying a zombie Chihuahua. “We just have fun with it. Shoot out her earrings. Take out her dog. Me and my boys having a good time.”

“Boys?” I said. “You have boys?” He did not look old enough to have any sons at all, and I was not prepared to handle the image of one more armed 6-year-old.

“My boys!” he said. “My friends.”

“Oh, okay,” I said.

I kept thinking about neighbors. You have this crazy family living next door. One day you go over with a pie, figuring if you just confronted the crazy, you’d understand it and find acceptance. Then you discover that all this time they think you’re the crazy family. The more you try to explain yourself, the crazier you sound, and if you stay long enough, you probably will be.

These were burdensome thoughts, and I wanted to get rid of them. I rented an Uzi, fully automatic. I chose the male zombie. I think he was supposed to be a lawyer. He had a briefcase. I aimed for his left eyeball and pulled the trigger. The patter of thirty-two bullets lasted maybe three seconds, and then the eyeball was gone. The release felt like one gorgeous, fantastic sneeze, and the satisfaction reminded me of cold beer.

This article was originally posted at

About The Author: RSOP is the co-founder & Executive Editor of Radical Survivalism Webzine, as well as a Family Preparedness Consultant with nearly five years of personal experience in the self-reliance game. RSOP's many preparedness roles within his own group include team mechanic, head of security, electrician, and project designer/engineer.

Raising Chickens: A Serious Consideration For Any Prepper

From | On Thursday, July 12th, 2012

raising chickensWhen the SHTF, you had better be able to provide food for yourself as stores will be empty in no time. Options are available for just about anyone with a yard. Aside from learning to garden and having a supply of heirloom seeds on hand, you will need to have a source of protein.

Aside from meat, eggs are also a super source of protein. The chicken is fast becoming the most popular option for preppers and for good reason; they produce eggs and meat! Raising chickens is easy and fun. Anyone can do it.

A few other benefits to raising chickens is that they are great at keeping the insect population down and produce organic fertilizer for the garden.

It’s easy and inexpensive to get into raising chickens. All you need is a chicken coop and a back yard big enough for them to roam or a moveable run. Certain heritage breeds of chickens are very good at reproducing and the flock can replenish itself as you harvest older birds. Chicks are available through numerous chicken hatcheries around the country. Another great place to find chicks or full grown chickens is Craigslist.

A few dozen hens can produce a large amount of eggs, which if not used by you, can be sold or bartered. I believe that every prepper needs to have a flock of backyard chickens as an essential preparedness item.

This article was originally posted at

About The Author: RSOP is the co-founder & Executive Editor of Radical Survivalism Webzine, as well as a Family Preparedness Consultant with nearly five years of personal experience in the self-reliance game. RSOP's many preparedness roles within his own group include team mechanic, head of security, electrician, and project designer/engineer.

The Outdoors: Where to Hide During a Lightning Storm

By Keith McCafferty of Field & Stream | From

A lightning bolt is like a snakebite. Either can occur without warning, but most often the strike, whether it carries 100 million volts of electricity or a few drops of paralyzing venom, is preceded by ample signs of danger. By noting these and taking prompt action, hunters and fishermen can avoid becoming victim to a weather hazard that claims upwards of 100 fatalities each year in the United States.


Most lightning strikes occur at the beginning and end of afternoon storms. This is when positive and negative charges, which collide to produce the flash between clouds and the ground, build up the most electricity. Thunder (see sidebar), the sound waves produced by the explosive heating of air in the lightning channel, is the obvious omen we need to heed, but there are many other warning signs.

Darkening skies, the buildup of anvil-shaped cumulonimbus clouds, and a sudden drop in temperature and increase in wind often presage the storms that are most likely to produce lightning. Immediately preceding a bolt, low levels of electricity fill the air, causing phenomena such as the hair on your body standing on end, a tingling sensation on the skin, or a metallic taste in your mouth. If you experience any of these, a strike is imminent.


Because the positive charge in the ground seeks the shortest route to the negative charge of the cloud, lightning is most likely to strike the highest objects. Getting down from the ridge-line or off the water if you’re boating is the most important safety measure you can take to avoid a strike.

If you’re caught in a lightning storm, immediately discard metal and graphite objects such as backpacks and fishing rods, which conduct electricity. Leave open ground and seek shelter among bushes or rocks of uniform size. Avoid tall, tapering trees or damp depressions, which can conduct ground electricity from a strike that may land hundreds of feet away.

Squat like a catcher with your feet together and bend forward to keep your head low; don’t touch the ground with any other part of your body. Because lightning travels around the outside of vehicles and metal sheds, stay away from them unless you can safely get inside. The same goes for fencelines and tents with metal poles. If you’re in a group, split up but don’t separate so far that you lose eye contact. That way, the lightning is less likely to strike the entire party, leaving the uninjured to attend any who are struck.


Victims of lightning strikes don’t retain an electrical charge and are safe to touch. Those who are breathing on their own and have a pulse are likely to survive. Unlike most emergencies, treat the apparently dead first. Administer rescue breathing if the victim is not breathing on his own but has a pulse. If you can’t feel a pulse either, proceed to full cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Do not be discouraged by the ashen visage of the victim. Send a member of your party for help and don’t give up until it arrives. Lightning victims have been revived after showing no signs of life for more than an hour. Despite lightning’s power, humans have an amazing ability to survive, especially when we use our heads and avoid getting struck in the first place.


Boating anglers are the sportsmen most likely to be struck by lightning. To avoid getting hit, follow these guidelines.

  1. Heed radio reports from the National Weather Service and get off the water at the first sign of a storm. Don’t delay—lightning storms move at 20 mph.
  2. Tying up under tall trees or rocky cliffs at the water’s edge can be more dangerous than staying on open water. Get away from your boat and take cover in low shrubs.
  3. If you are caught by a storm, sit low in the boat or in its cabin. Keep arms and legs inside the boat.
  4. Disconnect and then do not touch electrical equipment.
  5. Lay down protruding objects like masts, rods, or antennae.
  6. Lightning protection systems are built into many larger boats. Smaller craft can be protected with a portable system, consisting of a mast, a flexible copper cable, and a metal ground plate that you drop overboard when the storm approaches.


Use the “Flash-Bang System” to estimate lightning’s distance. Each five-second count between a flash of lightning and a peal of thunder indicates 1 mile. Because sequential lightning strikes can be 6 to 8 miles apart, seek shelter without delay when the interval between flash and thunder is 30 seconds or less.

This article was originally posted on

About The Author: RSOP is the co-founder & Executive Editor of Radical Survivalism Webzine, as well as a Family Preparedness Consultant with nearly five years of personal experience in the self-reliance game. RSOP's many preparedness roles within his own group include team mechanic, head of security, electrician, and project designer/engineer.

Cyber-Monday Sale At Shelf Reliance

Shelf Reliance Cansolidator Pantry

Shelf Reliance Cansolidator Pantry

For all those interested in food storage as part of their prepping activies, Shelf Reliance is currently running a Cyber-Monday sale that includes some surprisingly deep discounts. Of interest in the sale flyer is the Shelf Reliance Cansolidator Pantry on sale for $18.99  which is 58% off the normal price of $44.99!

To view the entire Cyber-Monday sale flyer in PDF format, click here. You must have a PDF document viewer installed on your computer to view the flyer.

The sale ends tomorrow morning at 2AM Eastern Standard Time, so if you want to take advantage of the discounts, you’ll have to act fast.

About The Author: RSOP is the co-founder & Executive Editor of Radical Survivalism Webzine, as well as a Family Preparedness Consultant with nearly five years of personal experience in the self-reliance game. RSOP's many preparedness roles within his own group include team mechanic, head of security, electrician, and project designer/engineer.

Adventures In Butter

By: yycbusymom

Making Butter

Making Butter

Making butter is surprisingly easy! I literally shocked myself the first time, as I had that little nagging voice in the back of my head saying “you have at least got to try this, and if you fail DON’T tell anyone!” I mean, how could I lose? I had frozen some whipping cream and had no idea what to do with it! So, it sat in my freezer. Then,  I came across youtube videos and thought: “ let’s do this!”

So I pulled out my frozen whipping cream (note: 33% by Dairyland, nothing special, just grocery store whipping cream,) sat it in the fridge to defrost for 1-2 days until completely thawed (or so I thought.) I then pulled out my food processor and poured in just enough cream to cover the blades and turn it on (yes, I had the lid on.)  In less than 10 minutes the cream “broke” and I had butter and butter milk!!

I was so amazed my family thought I had lost it! After explaining what I had accomplished they wanted to see proof! So I did another batch and voila! Again, perfect! The third batch, not so much, as my whipping cream still had frozen chunks it it and wouldn’t “break” entirely. I transferred this to a bowl and left it to thaw a little more.

I started another batch, this time, a little too much cream! To my embarrassment, even though the lid was on, it leaked. After draining some of the cream to a proper level, I set it to mix, and much better! After the “half broke” batch was thawed enough I returned it to the food processor and it was saved- it did separate.

After all butter was separated, I put the buttermilk into a mason jar. Then I began the washing process. Now this is where I couldn’t find details, so I did what I thought I should. I squished and rinsed the butter in ice cold water, until the water ran clear. Then placed the butter into a tea towel and wrung out as much liquid as I could. I then put the butter into a container, washed my hands of the greasy goo, and dealt with the kids.

When I came back to the butter, I noticed it was sweating milky liquid, which told me I didn’t get all the buttermilk out. Leaving the buttermilk in the butter will cause the butter to quickly go rancid. So I washed it again, not gently this time, but literally squished it between my fingers like play-doh until the water baths were clean. It took three good ‘washes.’

I then filled the sink ½ the height of the bowl. I had the butter in the bowl and drained off any excess water. I then started flattening and mashing the butter against the side of the bowl, draining off the water. This process went on until I couldn’t squish out anymore water. It was done!

I then divided the butter into three separate containers: a salted one, one plain, and added garlic seasoning to the third.

OMG! I’ve never loved butter until that very moment.

For more tips on creating butter from cream, read the Making Butter From Cream: Tips post in the Radical Survivalism Message Boards!

Special thanks to yycbusymom for the guest-post!

About The Author: RSOP is the co-founder & Executive Editor of Radical Survivalism Webzine, as well as a Family Preparedness Consultant with nearly five years of personal experience in the self-reliance game. RSOP's many preparedness roles within his own group include team mechanic, head of security, electrician, and project designer/engineer.

Shelf Reliance Announces Thanksgiving Sale

Shelf Reliance

Shelf Reliance

I was just informed Shelf Reliance will be conducting a Thanksgiving sale beginning November 25th and lasting through the 28th. They will be cutting prices of some of their food storage and preparedness products to the lowest point of the year.

Also of interest are the sale prices on three of their best selling 72 hour survival packs.

Shelf Reliance Ohio has provided a link to view the sale flyer. It is available in PDF format only, so you will need a PDF viewer installed on your computer to view the document.

Here’s the link to the Shelf Reliance Thanksgiving Sale Flyer.

Judging by the contents of the flyer, this particular sale looks to be the perfect time to order and take advantage of some very deep discounts.

About The Author: RSOP is the co-founder & Executive Editor of Radical Survivalism Webzine, as well as a Family Preparedness Consultant with nearly five years of personal experience in the self-reliance game. RSOP's many preparedness roles within his own group include team mechanic, head of security, electrician, and project designer/engineer.

Locally Produced Honey Now Available!



We have just acquired a source for both small and large quantities of locally produced (as in made in the U.S.A.) honey in several varieties.

The product is packaged in containers sized from 1 pint all the way up to 5 gallon buckets!

Visitors who are interested in storing honey are welcome to contact me for further details including information on how to order and have your purchase shipped right to your door.

We will be posting more information on the subject soon!

About The Author: RSOP is the co-founder & Executive Editor of Radical Survivalism Webzine, as well as a Family Preparedness Consultant with nearly five years of personal experience in the self-reliance game. RSOP's many preparedness roles within his own group include team mechanic, head of security, electrician, and project designer/engineer.

Food Review: Thrive 6 Grain Pancake Mix

Thrive 6 Grain Pancake Mix
Thrive 6 Grain Pancake Mix

By: RSOPerator

Thrive 6 Grain Pancake Mix is ideal for making healthier pancakes and waffles when compared to store-bought box mixes. The variety of grains used in creating the mix provides an extra boost of added nutrition to the most important meal of the day. For the adventurous cooks out there, you can tap your creativity by using Thrive 6 Grain Pancake Mix as a base for pie crusts, crepes, and many types of bread.

Directions for use as follows: Mix 3 1/3 cups Thrive 6 Grain Pancake Mix with 2 ½ cups water (use less for thicker pancakes) and stir gradually. Do not over mix. Cook on a hot griddle. This recipe yields 18 4-inch round pancakes.

For waffles or crepes: Mix 2 ¼ cup of mix with 2 cups of cold water. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and mix in slightly, do not over mix. Cook as desired.

I’ve tried mixing milk into the recipe to make fluffier and even richer tasting pancakes, but, unlike common box mixes, the Thrive mix seems to reject the milk, leaving a lumpy mass instead of an evenly mixed batter. Sticking to water for preparing the batter is clearly the way to go.

I found that the taste of the Thrive 6 Grain Pancake Mix is a significant improvement over any store-bought brand I’ve ever used, including Bisquick. Now, when I prepare pancakes, I use the Thrive mix exclusively.

To create some variety in our pancake breakfasts, I often mix in semi-sweet chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, or Thrive Blueberries, and the family loves my pancakes regardless of which of these I add.

Thrive 6 Grain Pancake Mix is available directly from Shelf Reliance (, or any of their Independent Consultants, packaged in a pouch, pantry can, #10 can, pantry can case, and #10 can case.

I give Thrive 6 Grain Pancake Mix 5 out of a possible 5 stars. It also holds a perfect 5 star customer rating on the Shelf Reliance website.

This one is a definite winner, and we are acquainted with several other families who enjoy it so much over store-bought brands that they order it by the case! Yes, it is that good.

Review sample courtesy of Shelf Reliance Ohio.

Would you like your survival or preparedness product reviewed here? If so, please contact us at:

About The Author: RSOP is the co-founder & Executive Editor of Radical Survivalism Webzine, as well as a Family Preparedness Consultant with nearly five years of personal experience in the self-reliance game. RSOP's many preparedness roles within his own group include team mechanic, head of security, electrician, and project designer/engineer.