I read a lot because I
am always learning. I'm a fan of
because it is entertaining, instructive and an excellent
method of bringing non-preppers into the fold. But there
comes a time when you need to get down to the brass
fit the bill.
I was honored to
review The Survival Group Handbook by our friend
Charley Hogwood whose
resume as an expert
in survival and preparedness is extensive. I can
consume Prepper Fiction in a day, or two (I read fiction
fast, like watching a spell-binding movie). Survival
Guides take a little longer due to my extensive note
The Survival Group
Handbook is of particular personal interest to me
because this is the single biggest issue of concern for
Prepper Group or
Lone Wolf Prepper
I have read dozens of
survival guides. All stress the same point:
You can't go it
alone ... There's strength in numbers ...
The lone wolf dies,
but the pack survives.
Okay, I get it. Blah, Blah, Blah. But
what about the Prepper who has inherent trust issues.
Whether it's dystopian fiction, or real life experience,
we have all been "stabbed in the back" (and many times
in the front). Well, after TEOTWAWKI, "stabbed in the
back" will take on a whole new meaning. If you associate
yourself with a group that is untrustworthy, or has
ulterior motives, you could lose all your preps, or die.
Charley Hogwood deals with this subject
in great detail in The Survival Group Handbook
through his detailed analysis of concerns to Preppers
and his concept of MAG's, a Mutual Assistance Group for
P.R.E.P., the Personal Readiness Education Programs, of
which Charley is Chief Instructor, the team focuses on
these seven critical aspects of survival: Food, Water,
Shelter, Safety/First Aid, Security, Energy and
Communication. The concept of a Mutual Assistance Group
is carefully intertwined with these basic elements of
prepping. He shares these concepts with us in The
Survival Group Handbook.
The question of Preppers Group versus
Lone Wolf Prepper may be the single most important
preparedness issue we address, but it doesn't seem to
get the same attention as Preppers checklists. So what's
The Survival Group
Handbook provides a detailed
discussion. It's all about trade-offs, and trust. A
properly created Prepper Group provides you security and
resources that you may not have.
Are you willing to
make sacrifices to gain the benefit of "strength in
If you are the alpha
male, king of your castle, are you willing to step aside
and allow group leadership by someone else? What will be
your role within the group?
What processes are required for the
introduction of new members, or the eviction of unsavory
sharing preps with others? Who takes the lead on
these issues, and more, are contained in The
Survival Group Handbook. In addition, I was
fortunate enough to catch Charley before he went off the
grid for the winter and asked him a few questions that I
believe will be instructive to my fellow Preppers.
Q: What’s the best advice that you can give
to a prepper family who simply cannot bring
themselves to “trust” their neighbors when
it comes to forming a MAG?
Trust is developed over time
and is often hard earned. The other thing
about trust, once it is damaged or lost it
is nearly impossible to regain. Especially
when it comes to leadership and the best
interests of the people. When it comes to
neighbors we need to keep in mind the normal
situation. The vast majority of people do
not move near each other with survival in
mind, it has more to do with a nice house in
an affordable neighborhood. We have little
choice in who lives next door.
When it comes to forming a MAG in this situation it will be very
important to frame the discussion to the
crowd you are dealing with. You are not
seeking members for a survival group per se,
you are attempting to organize neighbors in
such a way that if disaster happens in your
community, your neighborhood will pull
Maybe not all of them, maybe
not even most of them but some will and
those will reveal themselves as your core
group. This is where you begin the trust
process. Knowing whom you cannot trust is
just as important as knowing whom you can
trust. I recommend you begin by
framing your discussion as forming a
disaster resistant neighborhood and avoiding
all survival group terminology.
hear the words survival or preppers they
think Doomsday Preppers or militia. These
words often scare average people away and
may even make you a target.
Those that think being
prepared in a group already know and will be
open to the disaster initiative.
Those that have no idea about
this stuff but seem like ideal MAG partners
will need to be escorted gently through the
process until they come to accept it on
Those that think this is all a
waste of time will also let you know or they
won’t show up at all until something bad happens.In the end, try to make
friends at house parties or weekend picnics
on the patio to form relationships but dole
out your trust carefully and incrementally.
Don’t share your private family information.
You wouldn’t share your bank account data
and thus you don’t share your private
preparedness information. How much food and
survival gear you have is your business. The
idea of being prepared and working together
should be advertised loud and clear.
Q: Charley, while
you were asleep, the SHTF. After waking to
the news, what are your first thoughts?
First I would want to know what happened and
to what extent. Different scenarios shape my
first actions. Ideally the event was not a
total surprise and was picked up in my
hazard analysis so I could be ready.
answer your question I would say that the
best prep to have in any event is a plan.
Let’s say the event was a levy break and
floodwaters are rushing through the
neighborhood consuming houses as in Katrina.
My first actions are immediate safety for
the family. Can we bug out in time or do we
climb on the roof? If we live in such an
area the plan and supporting equipment are
the critical prep.
If we awoke to a power outage that may have
turned out to be a total grid down or EMP,
our first prep is security and then a way to
preserve or cook the foods in our
refrigerator and freezer.
If we woke up to a running street fight by
rioters and police we would be thinking self
defense against anyone crashing through the
door and a plan to fight fire while we made
ready to bug out when the window of
Response to all SHTF scenarios begins with
situational awareness, a pre-conceived plan
and the ability to evacuate the area very
quickly if necessary or possibly shelter in
place until you can’t stay there anymore.
Security and life sustaining actions and
equipment are always preps number one.
Q: What TEOTWAWKI collapse event concerns
you the most?
Technically any event that goes full on
TEOTWAWKI will have the same results. There
are a couple of things that have been on our
radar for years.
Initially we felt as if a
contagion may go pandemic which would in
turn cause our globalized society to sputter
resulting in supply and logistics systems to
fail at critical junctions. I don’t think
Ebola has that ability unless it actually
goes air transmissible, which it may have
based on the recent CIDRAP report (Oct. 14,
2014). This was just discussed on our video
show with our good friends Dr. Bones and
The other TEOTWAWKI event we see may not be
so cataclysmic but still a major threat is
another depression. It may or may not begin
with a fast dollar collapse it may be a
slower devolving of our standard of living
until all of a sudden people realize
something bad has been happening. If we see
bank holidays in this country that’s a clue
trouble is brewing. Otherwise if our dollar
loses reserve status we are in for a rough
ride. Other currencies are already chipping
away at that. If we lose that status and our
ability and will to project power globally
among other challenges the pressure may
shift inward on our population.
here is to become more self reliant as a
family and depend less on the system to
reduce the potential impact.
Q: As you advise
your new preppers, especially those that are
budget conscious, what steps do you advise
taking to start prepping?
The first thing you always want to do,
especially if resources are limited is to
get a realistic view of what hazards could
affect you and plan for those first. Resist
the temptation to panic over hyped stories
you see on TV or web. Most of those doomsday
events have never or rarely happened, but
there are many thousands of people who
perish and become homeless due to other
events every year. Learn about and prepare
for those hazards first.
As far as preps, food, food, and food. You
don’t need a pallet of bucket style
manufactured freeze dry food. Store what you
already eat and rotate it into your diet.
You will save at least 50% on your annual
food bill and save countless hours by
shopping tactically, it’s actually easy and
we do it all the time. Remember that stores
are designed physically and psychologically
to make you spend money.
Use Mylar bags of
high quality to repack your dry goods and
save major dollars. We offer classes and
materials to help with that. Work on a water
plan depending on where you live and what
water is available. Learn medical skills and
collect a lot more medical supplies than you
think you’ll need. They go faster than you
Also think security, you may not need
your own armory but you will need a way to
protect what you have. Most of all learn and
practice basic survival skills.
knowledge are cheap and lightweight and you
always have them when you have nothing else.
Q: Five quick
picks, and explain your
choices/recommendations if you’d like:
I prefer mobility always
first and homesteading/bugging in second but
still critical. You can prepare your home
all you want but if it catches on fire or
gets taken away it’s all gone. Also,
homesteading gear is not as easily
transportable as bug out gear. If you can
evacuate quickly with skills and supplies
you can carry, you can survive in other
places or on the go until you find a place
to settle down.
Depends on your ability
and what you are comfortable with. In
survival there is one constant and that is
called “trade off.” .45 has more stopping
power but 9mm has more bullets. Skill vs.
luck, have you practiced your skill or is
your plan to spray and pray? Personally I
would take the .45 because I want to
mechanically disable the attacker sooner
I’m partial to the AR platform because of my
military service. I think they are generally
more accurate and modifiable to my desires
and the ammo is more available.
Again, “trade off” I know I need to stay on
top of my maintenance to keep the AR running
smoothly whereas the more powerful AK will
almost always work even with a bent barrel
and filthy and it makes a good club when the
ammo is gone.
meals in buckets or food stored in mylar
I avoid freeze dry
buckets like the plague. They usually have
little to no real protein, which is why they
are able to keep costs down, (and your
muscle mass too). The serving sizes would
make me cranky in a real survival situation
and I don’t ever see a time when I say to
the wife, “That bucket food has been sitting
in storage for 20 years, we better start
eating it so it wasn’t a waste of money.”
Mylar is definitely the
way to go. I store the foods I already eat
for just as long as a bucket. I can even
make my own buckets. The foods will be
complete in nutrition and far tastier. I can
also store Mylar foods a lot cheaper than
buying the pre-made buckets. The high
quality bags we use are even reusable many
times over and I happily rotate Mylar foods
through my diet so they are never wasted.
The keys to food
storage are shelf life and rotation.
5. Who’s more
bad-ass, Army or Marines?
Army. next question ...
Q: Who is your
favorite author and/or book?
For fiction adventure, Clive Cussler hands
down, the Dirk Pitt series. For general
wilderness survival I gotta say I really
like Mykel Hawke’s Green Beret Survival
It’s big but just fun to read. I have
hundreds of books but The Survival Medicine
Handbook is exceptional, Jim Cobb’s books
are a great starting point for new preppers,
Dr. Prepper’s Back to Basics is very
comprehensive and I also like everything
that Arthur Bradley writes. The Survival
Group Handbook is also a personal favorite
but I may be biased on that one.
Q: What question
should I have asked, but didn’t? And, what
is the answer to that question?
What is the area of
survival that we should focus our preps on?
Establish incremental time line goals
such as 3 months, 6 month, 1 year, etc. of
survival time and scale all of your preps evenly for the
set period of time before moving one area to the next
level. Don’t prep lopsided by storing 10,000 rounds of
ammo and only 1-week’s worth of food. Also, if you buy
grains for food storage, know how to use them and have
the tools to prepare them such as a grain mill, etc.
Look for gaps and blind spots such as this in all areas
of your plans and have skills and redundancies several
levels deep in critical areas. This means learn some
alternate methods and even drill down to primitive in
the basic areas of survival such as making fire and
preparing water, etc.
This is a
long book, extensive in its analysis, and extremely well
written. It starts with an excellent preface by
Dr. Joe Alton, a/k/a Dr. Bones. It is directed
toward all Preppers, regardless of their levels of
skill. It is useful to those who have already
established a Preppers Group, and it's especially useful
to those who have apprehensions about sharing their
preps, skills and knowledge with others.
A note about format. My iPad has
become a physical part of me. I love reading
Prepper Fiction on it. Many of you
have Kindle Readers or other tablet devices for reading. However, I
suggest that you purchase the paperback edition of The Survival Group
recommend that you build a Prepper Resources Library in the event of a
grid down scenario that prevents you from having access to your beloved
electronic devices. You might as well get used to reading "old school"
because when the SHTF, we'll be living like it's 1899!
That said, without question, if you want
a better chance of survival after TEOTWAWKI, read The
Survival Group Handbook and by all means encourage
the members of your Prepper Group to do the same.
When dealing with others, it helps to "be on the same
never know when the day before ... is the day before.
Prepare for tomorrow.