I write about apocalyptic situations, so why not be ready for them as well? In the process, I learn I really can rely on myself.
When I’m not writing for the Good Men Project I am busy writing post-apocalyptic fiction. Currently I have two books out, After the Day and Red Tide, and I have three more in line for the series. Ever since the great non-event of the Mayan doomsday and Y2K, the notion of an end time has been on people’s minds. It’s strange really that these ideas have grown after all the disappointing doomsdays that have come and gone, but for some reason the idea persists. I meet people all the time that talk about storing extra food and ask me what kind of gun they should get “just in case.”
The more I have learned and the longer I have been studying in preparation for the apocalypse, I have come to realize that no matter what, you have to learn how to use the world around you. You can store years worth of food, but do you know how to grow more in case you run out? You can shoot a gun, but what do you do when you run out of bullets? The lessons I have learned over the years and have put in my books are the hard truths that many don’t want to face. Prepared or not, eventually we have to learn to be a part of the planet.
My backyard is one organic garden. I have good crops and bad amid the diverse types I grow. Tomatoes did not do well this year, but I did have a nice harvest of onions and potatoes. Gardening is a constant task of learning to take care of the soil and learning what grows best where you live. Growing your own food is a constant effort in trial and error. While I do have failures, there are those plants that flourish and I’m able to store away through canning or in a root cellar.
This spring I looked for fishing gear at local garage sales. Fishing was a fun activity I enjoyed as a kid and wanted to try again. While I didn’t pick up waders, I did learn about the times of year it was best to catch blue gill and bass out of my local lake from the shore. Reading the environment and the weather is something that many people have lost in modern times. I spent many hours at the lake to only catch one fish and toss it back, not worth taking it home to clean it. It wasn’t lost time if there was a lesson learned.
Two weeks ago I bought my first compound bow. This is a new skill I’m excited to learn. My sore shoulders say otherwise. Unlike a gun, a bow takes more concentration then aiming and squeezing a trigger. You have to use your full body with a bow and remain focused. A tired body can shoot a gun, a weak body cannot pull a bow. I spent an hour my first day at the local range learning how to sight my bow. Once I had things where I needed them I was able to make my shots come together. At the shooting range with my bow I quickly learned a few things from a teenage boy that was in the lane next to me. Arrows are expensive. Don’t break them. Like anything it takes time. When you get good is when you start breaking arrows because they hit each other in the target. It wasn’t very encouraging, the last part. I was still eager to place a lot of arrows in one spot. If I could hit a target where I wanted to I should be able to do the same with a deer. That’s how the logic goes.
This highlights another fact about the apocalypse–you won’t be able to simply pick up a weapon and become a warrior. If you are not trained already you are not the hunter, you are the meal. I haven’t gone after game yet with my bow, and deer season is around the corner. I still have a few hours of practice to get in before I tread out into the woods. Even then I will feel like I did last year with my gun, unsure of myself and nervous every time I hike out.
This weekend appears to be a personal retreat of research. In my two days off I will be turkey hunting, shooting my bow at the range, and participating in my first air soft escapade.
Turkey hunting is something I wanted to do last year and had an interest in. By the time I tried to buy a license they were sold out. This year I was able to get one. Half the battle is over. Now I have to get my turkey. This is not as easy as it sounds. Turkeys can see all the way around them. They have great hearing and are spooked easily. My first solo venture out into the woods, I spotted three turkeys at different times. I was able to get one shot off, but I was too far away. Since then I have tried hiding behind blinds and using turkey calls with little success.
The air soft place I’m going to is right down the street from where I live. I have seen men and boys running around that place on the weekends I drive or walk by. It always looked like fun but I had a fear of walking into something I knew little about. After being invited by a friend I decided I would go for it and see what could happen. My fear is that I will have a new hobby that drains my savings and leaves little time for all of my other activities. While it is a sport like paint ball I would like to see how well air soft works for learning about a fire fight. I know it’s not the same. It doesn’t prepare you for bleeding out, watching your friends die, or actually killing somebody in combat. I hope to never go through anything like that. My hope is that it is like the martial arts and I can learn muscle memory of what to do. I received my concealed carry permit last year and have been looking for something besides the shooting range to practice my gun work. Maybe I will get that adrenaline rush and move like I need to. It won’t be perfect, but it’s better than nothing.
So what is the benefit of learning all of these things? Sure I save money on food by growing my own and I could save more money if I ever get a deer. The point is, by learning I feel more confident. I don’t feel like situations are out of my control. If I am by myself or I have people with me that don’t have a clue I can, in several ways, make sure they are safe. There are few survival stories that end with “I sat around and waited for help.”
I don’t have a fear of the Apocalypse. I don’t think that there will be an “end of time.” I do know from history that societies change, times change, and change can be a very violent force. When money no longer has value and you can’t call for help, who do you have to fall back on? If the answer isn’t yourself, than you are not doing yourself any favors.
I started this quest because the more I learned about our food supply, our dependence on oil, our immoral banking system, the old broken down infrastructure, and our fragile power grid, I realized that the only person I could count on was me. There is comfort to take in that. How many people will break down and shoot that squirrel in their yard if times became desperate? A skill like gardening takes years to learn and can give a person great value when others are looking for help. The more I learn, the better I feel. It is an insurance policy that only gets better over time.
I’m not going to sit here and say I’m ready for the collapse, apocalypse, or end times. You can never be fully prepared. You can only be better prepared than the guy that isn’t. Much like the camping fable, you only have to run faster than the slowest camper to get away from the bear.
Image credit: VinothChandar/flickr