samedi 30 novembre 2019

Reading: "Street Survival Skills" part 2/2,204,203,200_.jpg

The first five chapters have been reviewed in my previous blog post >>>here<<<.

Chapter 6: Bare Hand and Knife Fighting

There will be blood, and it better be your opponent's. Bare hand fighting is covered on six page. Judo, Brasilian Ju Jitsu or boxing are cited as best for self-defense. Basic tricks like holding your guard, throwing elbows or palm strikes give you the essential theory to survive but it's in no means a full course on how to beat your opponent.
Then you'll be introduced to self-defense with a knife on four pages: how to hold the bloody blade so that you make massive damage and how to effectively counter a knife attack with a jacket. Anyways, you don't want to be disarmed by your enemy !
Following is the description of best places to strike on a human body: liver, kidneys, carotid etc. You want to read this chapter well after meal time... In a survival situation, you'll have to deal the maximum damage in the shortest time possible, and finish the enemy by stomping on him or her.
Knowing how to attack with a knife is good but you'll also need to know how to  defend against it. Putting distance and obstacles between you and the attacker, slap the hand holding the blade with a jacket or distract and close in to get hold of the wrist... Just don't get cut !
The chapter closes on the handgun disarm technique. This is hairy for sure, you'll need to quickly twist the attacker's wrist while blocking the hammer if it's a revolver or the slide of the pistol to avoid several shots to be fired, the idea being to avoid the line of fire. That would demand much practices in my opinion to master this technique so my advice would be to find a sparing partner and to train with a fake gun !

Chapter 7: Improvised Weapons and Armor

There are countries or circumstances that don't allow wearing weapons or body armor and you'll have to make with whatever's at hand. Reams of paper can block handgun ammunition, put two in a back pack and you'll be ready to go. You can also plan in advance and put a SAPI plate in a backpack designed for this purpose, that may be much more efficient !
The author then describes improvised weapons such as broken bottles, sharpened sticks, metal pens, keys or even umbrellas. The idea here is to use whatever you can find to damage your attacker, be imaginative ! Sulfuric acid in a spray bottle seems quite nasty...
A focus is made on the belt, the flashlight, the umbrella and the chair as a weapon. You'll need a strong belt with a heavy buckle that can be quickly remove from your pants, so not too wide. Concerning flashlights, tactical models with a pointy crown are preferred. You'll obviously hold it in a reverse grip and aim for the head or the knuckles when getting a punch. Umbrellas give you distance and you'll be able to use it both in thrust or swing strikes, the former being the best according to FerFAL. A chair used correctly can be very handy in a fight, hold it by the seat with the backrest on your shoulder to shield you from attacks.
The last topic is the making of a leather coin pouch. You can simply buy one I suppose but it makes good practice to make things yourself. Use the pouch full of coins as a sap, but be warned, it's can crack skulls !

Chapter 8: Defensive Driving

20 pages are dedicated to defensive driving or the art of getting out of dodge when you're behind the wheel. This starts like the whole book with the awareness you must have while driving. Keep an eye on all sides of the vehicle, leave some room in front so that you can anticipate, drive around a block if you suspect a potential follower, park your car so that you can leave quickly, keep your doors locked and much more.
If you have to ram a vehicle blocking your way, aim for the rear as it's lighter than the front where the motor sits. You need to ram at a speed lower than 15 mph to avoid the deployment of the airbags.
You'll also get tips to make emergency turns with the handbrake or the J-turn. Reminds me of GTA San Andreas driving lessons ! Especially the PIT (Pursuit Intervention Technique) maneuver that allows you to make the car in front of you turn 180 degrees.
The author gives advice on how to deal with armed attackers when driving, the main idea being to roll the bad guy between your car and another one parked on the roadside. How to deal with a car ambush is also included, that surely could happen in a collapsing country. You must stop and turn around as soon as you smell the ambush, but then if you can't, just stop the car and get out to try to flank the bandits.
Finally, you'll learn how to use a car for cover when you're caught in a shooting incident. It's all about the difference between cover and concealment. The hard piece in a car is the motor, so you need to put it between you and the enemy, while staying out of sight.

Chapter 9: Moving, Barricade and Gaining Entry

Beginning at page 182, the ninth chapter gives tips on how to move, barricade yourself and enter closed buildings. If you're into parkour, then you can step over a few pages as moves like the safety roll, the step vault jump landing, dropping in an orderly manner or going over a wall are described in details. As for defensive driving, I suppose it requires practice to be performed well in a stressful situation. It helps if you're athletic, a lot of readers may just not have the physical fitness to perform these moves...
In a survival situation, you may need to open a closed door and two options are proposed here: lock picking and door breaching. The first technique requires small dedicated or makeshift tools while the second is done with your foot (or with a shotgun if available). I think lock picking videos are best when you want to learn this trade, but you'll find enough details to try it on your own. I've tried some years ago to lock pick a padlock and it worked in the end ! Practicing door breaching is a bit more complicated hey... You'll also learn how to use a paint roller to open exit doors from the exterior or busting a padlock with two wrenches !
Also included are many techniques to barricade a door, which may be required in case of a mass shooting for example, using chairs, screwdrivers, belts or furniture. I'm eager to try the one with the belt to jam an automatic door closer !

Chapter 10: Food and Cooking

A book about survival will necessarily give you tips on how to start a fire or to filter and purify water. No difference in this book: you'll learn how to make a firestarter with napkins and vegetable oil, how to start a fire with any battery and gum wraps, how to obtain clean water with bleach and makeshift filters, etc.
Regarding food storage, FerFAL advises the use of oxygen absorbers with soda bottles or mylar bags stored in plastic buckets. The illustration for the soda bottles indicates a shelf life of 20 years but I'm really doubtful about it ! I'd rather trust well sealed mylar bags. I do have such bags which I made almost 9 years ago: Vidéo : Stock de nourriture longue durée - Mylar bags food storage
There's also four pages on recipes for eating on the cheap. I like the combination rice/lentils that I used a lot when I was cash-strapped. Crepes, banana pancakes, dulce de leche are detailed too. Illustrations are a bit useless and could have been replaced by a more relevant content...
Then we learn how to make a can stove that burns alcohol. Okay now, it could help you in certain situations but in my humble opinion, it would be wiser to store camping gas stove and cans ! I bought this morning such a can at a 75% rebate in a thrift store !
Finally, the author talks about the wonderful technique of thermos cooking (that I learned from Kurt Saxon if I remember well, and used for oat meal) and the use of a shopping cart to grill meat for a small street burger business. This latter part is a bit far fetched but who knows what you may have to do to earn a living post-collapse...

Chapter 11: First Aid and Sanitation

Did you know gargling with warm salty water can treat a sore throat ? I didn't before I read this book. If you're a first-aid geek, you may not learn much in this chapter but I'm not sure that the average Joe knows how to improvise butterfly strips with medical tape or how to correctly strap a tourniquet. I think you need a dedicated book for first aid matters because you can't really go deep on a dozen pages.
A tutorial on the Fireman's Carry is included and walk assistance is also explained. It's good to know how to move an injured person as the environment may not be safe: think demonstrations for example. If you're pretty sure the person has no spine damage, you can try the ranger roll detailed by the author. Either techniques must be practiced as always.
If you don't have hand sanitizer on hand (pun intended), you can make your own with the recipe given here, though you need to find some aloe vera gel which may be harder to find than hand sanitizer ! I'm not convinced this recipe can be of any use...
The end of the chapter gives tips to wash and dry clothes. You may need to know this in case you washing machine / drier is broken or the electricity is out, but why not going to the laundromat ? Imagine it's hell out there, civil war / pandemic / zombie outbreak, you'll be happy to know how to efficiently wash your clothes. I did wash by hand on regular occasions when I was a poor child, it's not funny... Use a toilet plunger and a bucket or a hand-powered washing machine. Roll humid clothes in a towel to dry them. Easy fix !

Chapter 12: Improvisation and Practical Skills

In a collapsing country, you'll have to deal with daily power outages. FerFAL gives here different tips to turn flashlights into tabletop lanterns. He advises to buy a solar charger, as I did, it's a convenient way to face a long power outage. He also describes the use of plastic water bottles in the freezer that you place in the fridge when the power is out.
He then writes about homemade insecticide based on Borax or homemade body armor based on fiberglass and resin. Of course, it's better to buy the real thing, but that could help when you're out of it.
FerFAL gives detailed directions on how to correctly sharpen a knife when you don't have the right tools at hand. The illustrations come handy as they help to understand the movements needed to sharpen the blade.
We then have tips on gun cleaning (e.g.: Ed's Red recipe) but also gun and ammunition mods: sawed-off shotgun, wax/cut/glue slugs. As the author puts it, removing the stock of a shotgun makes it much less ergonomic and I can only concur on that one as I had the occasion to test such a gun once.
The chapter ends on the detection of counterfeit dollar bills and silver coins. Bills have many anti-counterfeiting features that you may not be aware, though the risk of ending with a fake bill is quite small as FerFAL tells you: one in 10000, so no worries in my opinion. Fake silver coins from China are making their way to Europe and USA, so it's important to know how to spot them and the author gives several solid tips on this.
The book ends on a page about reality based preparedness which sums up as: "Enjoy the good time while happily preparing for the bad ones".

My conclusion

I didn't read all the survival-related books in the world but I can tell this one's good enough to deserve a place in my library. I won't be able to test every tip given inside but the notes dedicated page at the end of each chapter invites me to make my own experience and write down the result for further use. Illustrator is a job in itself and like many authors, FerFAL fell in the trap of creating illustrations by himself so this could be improved in the next edition. Thumbs up for this new book anyway, that's a lot of good info !

jeudi 31 octobre 2019

Reading: 'Street Survival Skills' by FerFAL - part 1/2,204,203,200_.jpg

 At the beginning of September, I ordered the latest book from FerFAL, the 'Modern Survivalist' from Argentina available on Amazon:
>>>Street Survival Skills: Tips, Tricks and Tactics for Modern Survival.<<<

What decided me to read it was the teaser he posted on >>>his blog<<<:

This review is both aimed at you, readers, and at me, as while writing it, I'll be able to remember details even better.

 A little less than half of the 258 pages are drawings illustrating the different topics. Most of the time, the text is on the left and the illustrations on the right, which is quite convenient even if I found it sometimes a bit difficult to go back and forth because the typography is very simple, every line looks the same. But in general that was a good idea to fill the book with illustrations. At the end of every chapter, there's a page designed to take notes.

Here's a shortened version of the table of contents:
  • Chapter 1: Survival Basics
  • Chapter 2: Awareness
  • Chapter 3: Gear
  • Chapter 4: Security
  • Chapter 5: Firearms and Self-Defense
  • Chapter 6: Bare Hand and Knife Fighting
  • Chapter 7: Improvised Weapons and Armor
  • Chapter 8: Defensive Driving
  • Chapter 9: Moving, Barricade and Gaining Entry
  • Chapter 10: Food and Cooking
  • Chapter 11: First Aid and Sanitation
  • Chapter 12: Improvisation and Practical Skills

The 5-page introduction sets the stage: the modern survivalism is about being prepared to survive X, Y or Z events, be it a storm, an economic crisis or violent crime. The latter is especially prevalent in a collapsing country, and there are many signs the First World countries are heading that way. Self-defense, security and awareness are at the core of this book for that reason.
Let's review the chapters one by one and list the different points of interest !

Chapter 1: Survival Basics

The author exposes the well-known survival rule of three's death factors: 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without temperature regulation etc. He gives you priorities in survival conditions, but concludes that regarding your likelihood of dying of thirst, for example, it's far lower than the probability to die of cancer or heart attack. He speaks about 3 seconds without a bullet in your head, I'd rather speak about general awareness in this case !

Secondly, he presents another priority-setting framework, the "Seven Circles of Preparedness": it spans from your mindset to the whole world surrounding you. I wasn't familiar with this tool. It gives you guidelines to focus your energy & resources on the most important topics before having to face a survival situation.

He then follows by a page on mind and body. Healthy diet and physical exercise are necessarily the fundamentals of survival, but you also need to forge yourself a strong mind to be able to not give up when things go south.

He exposes in another page the concept of bugging out, what it is and what it's not. If I remember well, his grand-parents had to flee Spain in a hurry for an Atlantic hop to Argentina so he knows what he's talking about.

He ends this chapter with a caution note on the potential manipulation perpetuated by politics or media. You need to be careful of fake news, false promises and puppets.

Chapter 2: Awareness

This chapter begins with the Colonel Jeff Cooper's four levels of awareness, spanning from white to red, which gives you a scale to evaluate your need for awareness. The author suggest to stay in a strong yellow / light orange level of awareness but I'm not sure it's good for your health to be in a constant state of mild stress.

He then insists on the importance of being able to control your emotions and your body language, to work on your "poker face". It may be more enjoyable to watch the n-th knife review but standing your ground when the time comes is far more important !

Thirdly, FerFAL talks about the need for observation and he lists different things you need to pay attention to in your environment, be it a potential danger or resource which could come handy in a survival situation. I do it naturally and so should you !

He lists also different suspicious behaviors to look for when there's people around. I learned it the bad way once, when I was traveling in a tramway through a not so friendly area and listening to music while wearing a hoody that limited my field of view...

He gives you some tips on ways to behave indoors in order to avoid being trapped in case of a robbery or mass shooting, but also to protect your belongings. Finding ways to escape a building is indeed a very good thing to practice, you never know when you'll need it.

He concludes this chapter with methods used to evaluate distances and crowd numbers. His illustrations for distances above 600 yards are pretty useless in my humble opinion, because they simply lack details. His crowd estimation technique seems okay though.

Chapter 3: Gear

This chapter starts with 6 pages on the EDC with an ordered listing of must-haves like cash, multi-tool and flashlight but also some overlooked items like a hidden handcuff key in your belt. I found that last one a bit overkill but in a collapsing society, the risk of being kidnapped for ransom rises.

Next we find 6 pages on clothing, both on the material and on the look characteristics to best blend in the environment and to have tactical capabilities.
There are two pages on things that go around your neck like ties, and it's full of tips to avoid being strangled and make the most out of a scarf.

After that, FerFAL describes the Home Survival Kit alongside the Bug Out Bag and the Very Important Papers bag, but it's quite short in my opinion and the lists on the left aren't titled so we don't know exactly if it's the BOB or the Home kit.

A car survival kit split between a Get Home Bag and a vehicle emergency kit is described next. Although the latter has a list of suggested items, the former is just conceptualized. I would like to know more about what to put in a GHB. According to the description, it's like a light version of the BOB.

The remaining 4 pages of this chapter are focused on the different firearms a survivalist would need to cover most scenarios. Revolvers, pistols, conversion kits, assault rifles, shotguns, rifles and carbines... The author gives hints on calibers and brands, and from what I gathered, he knows what he's talking about.

Chapter 4: Security

The first topic is security at home. You'll find tips to make your house a hard target, like changing the door for a sturdier one or placing safety films on your windows, but also notions about opsec: loose lips think ships as the saying goes, beware of people listening to your conversation about your next dinner out etc.

Another topic is the avoidance of scams and frauds, like unknown people asking for stuff through the intercom or fake prizes on your smart-phone that could deliver in fact Trojan horses. I would rather put this subject in the chapter on awareness, though I think it's an important aspect of your security, especially in a collapsed country where people try everything they can to get money.

Third part of the chapter is about how to walk safely in the street. The hardest target, for example the man in a family, should walk nearest to the road while the softest target walks along the wall. It also covers how to correctly wear bags to avoid pickpockets. The itineraries are also important, it's better to go the longer and safer way. The author gives to women tips on how to deal with stalkers, as lawlessness can increase these attitudes a lot.

Finally, we can read good advices on how to safely use ATMs e.g.: don't use them when there are suspiciously acting people around. Actually, I know somebody who got robbed of her credit card by a guy how pretended to help her in South Africa...

Chapter 5: Firearms and Self-Defense

This is probably the longest chapter of the book with a bit more than 40 pages: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum ! I won't be able to get into too many details but I'll get you an idea of all the subjects covered here. I learned a good deal with this chapter !

It begins with the famous four rules of gun safety: all guns are always loaded, finger off the trigger, gun pointed in a safe direction, identify your target before shooting. It's essential to put safety first, thumbs up to FerFAL.

You'll then learn how to draw from concealment and hold a gun when shooting or standing. I discovered here the "Position Sul" which consists of holding the gun in your dominant hand pointing downward and resting over the other hand.

I wasn't familiar either with point shooting: in essence, you shoot like if you're pointing your finger at the target. I think it requires some practice before becoming efficient at this ! It reminds me of instinctive bow hunting.

CQC stances are detailed alongside room clearing techniques (cutting the pie). I already got briefed on this with the Thunder Ranch videos but it's a good introduction.

8 pages give hints on how to shoot while moving, how to use cover and the dynamics of a gunfight. I would have liked to hear the clear difference between cover and concealment as an introductory paragraph, even if the author talks a bit about penetration in the ballistics topic in the following pages.

An important topic is dealing with the aftermath of a gunfight. Hint: don't burn corpses ! Knowing a lawyer beforehand, taking pictures and witnesses' contact information. In case of a disaster situation where police is not responding, be sure to document the event and your calls to the police but don't leave the corpse to rot in the street.

We also find details on obvious force multipliers that seem a bit overkill for the average Joe. I do want body armor, night vision or a sniper rifle but I'm not sure it's money well invested for those of us who aren't bathing in gold coins. We're talking about many thousand dollars for good quality equipment ! I'd rather pay for training first.
Something overlooked is the reality of punches/gun wounds vs what you see in movies. Having your face beaten makes it swell like hell for example, something which is a bit difficult to fake in a movie. I'm not sure this bit gives you any advantage over your fellow citizens though.

Toward the end of the chapter, we learn how to use a handgun as an impact weapon in case we run out of ammo or if it gets jammed. This is very useful IMHO as you can never be sure your gun will fire as expected. A gun makes your fist that much heavier that your enemy will feel it real bad !

Finally, we get tips on firearms training, e.g. how to reload single handedly or gun modifications like the "poor man's holosight". The author stresses the need to train like you fight because the situation may not be in your favor when the bullets begin to fly. He also talks about the advantages of dry firing on a regular basis: it's inexpensive and train your muscular memory.

Did I say this chapter was the main dish ? :-)

We're right in the middle of this 250-page book. Here's the second part: >>>Street Survival Skills part 2/2<<<

dimanche 22 septembre 2019

Kit de survie - Survival kit


Depuis des années, ce kit de survie fait partie de mon BOB et fort heureusement je n'en ai jamais eu besoin mais il est toujours intéressant de se replonger dedans pour en faire un audit et procéder à d'éventuels changements. Il est librement inspiré du kit de survie BCB Ultimate.

Contenantboîte aluminium étanche Highlander.
Cette boîte relativement étanche (dépend de l'état du joint en sortie d'usine) peut être utilisée en cas de besoin comme popote de fortune en retirant simplement le joint d'étanchéité. Sa taille lui permet de rentrer dans les poches latérales de la banane Snugpak ResponsePak verte (clone entrée de gamme du Maxpedition Proteus Versipack) qui me sert de sous-BOB avec l'essentiel de survie. L'idée est d'avoir cette banane toujours sur soi et de pouvoir survivre sans le sac à dos du BOB. On peut la porter en bandouillère si besoin.

Contenu :
- couverture de survie (accrochée à l'extérieur de la boîte l'aide d'un élastique)
- miroir en verre 2"x3"
- mini-lampe à dynamo Frendo (je l'ai préféré à la lampe Photon que je possède aussi qui, bien que petite et puissante, risque de ne pas tenir la longueur d'un épisode de survie)
- sifflet à roulette Elless (très puissant)
- bougie
- cordelette
- deux collets en laiton
- crayon 6B (très gras donc facile à utiliser)
- kit couture
- pansement et pansement 8x12cm à découper
- 2 lames de scalpel (pour du travail de précision ou une pointe de flèche)
- filtre à café (pour filtrer de l'eau)
- sac zippé Albal (divers usages dont le transport d'eau)
- allumettes toute surface
- papier toilette
- 8 bas de ligne de pêche avec hameçon de tailles diverses et un gros hameçon pour la mer
- 3 émerillons et des plombs de pêche
- 8 pastilles Micropur Forte
- clé USB 64Gb avec copie des papiers importants et documentation de survie
- un ballon de baudruche

- capsule de sel
- grande épingle à nourrice

- couteau suisse Excelsior vintage >>> couteau suisse Spartan (avec pince à épiler)
- boussole Recta >>> boussole Silva (plus précise) 
- partie étincelle d'un briquet muni d'une pierre Zippo qui fait de grosses étincelles >>> briquet (plus encombrant mais plus pratique)
- tresse de pêche >>> 5m de fil de pêche Trilene 16,2kg
- coton hydrophile >>> tampon hygiénique (plus de matière dans un plus petit espace)

- duct tape kaki
- lame de cutter
- scie à métaux (oubliée sur la photo)
- scie-fil
- compresse 20x20cm
- cachet Doliprane

Poids : 370g
Taille : 13,5 x 9,5 x 4,5cm

For years, this survival kit has been part of my Bug Out Bag and fortunately I never needed it but it is always interesting to dive back in, to make an audit and potentially make some changes. It's freely inspired by the BCB Ultimate Survival Kit.

Container: Highlander waterproof aluminum box

This relatively tight box (depends on the state of the seal when it comes out of the factory) can be used when needed as a makeshift mess tin by simply removing the seal. Its size allows it to fit well in the side pockets of the green Snugpak ResponsePak fanny bag (entry-level clone of the Maxpedition Proteus Versipack) which serves as a sub-BOB with the minimum stuff required to survive. The idea is to wear this fanny bag at all time and to be able to get the hell out of dodge without the heavy backpack. It can be worn as a messenger bag if necessary though it's not made for this use.


- survival blanket (tied on the outside of the box with a rubber band)
- 2"x3" glass mirror
- mini Frendo dynamo lamp (I preferred it to the Photon lamp - I do own one of these - which, although small and powerful, may not stand the length of a survival episode)
- Elless roulette whistle (very powerful)
- candle
- cord
- two brass collars
- 6B pencil (very greasy so easy to use)
- sewing kit
- band-aids and 8x12cm sticking-plaster
- 2 scalpel blades (for precision work or a makeshift arrowhead)
- coffee filter (for water filtering)
- Ziplock bag (various uses including water transport)
- strike-anywhere matches
- toilet paper
- 8 fishing lines with hooks of various sizes and a big hook for sea fish
- 3 swivels and fishing leads
- 8 Micropur water purification tabs
- 64Gb USB key with copy of important papers and documentation on survival
- a balloon

- salt capsule
- large safety pin

- vintage Excelsior Swiss army knife >>> Spartan Swiss army knife (with tweezers)
- Recta compass >>> Silva compass (more precise)
- spark part of a lighter with a Zippo stone that makes big sparks >>> a simple lighter (more bulky but more practical)
- fishing braid >>> 5m of strong Trilene fishing line (up to 16,2kg)
- hydrophilic cotton >>> hygienic tampon (more material in a smaller space)

- khaki duct tape
- cutter blade
- metal saw
- wire saw
- 20x20cm compress
- Doliprane stamp

Weight: 370g
Size: 13,5x9,5x4,5cm