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<<<

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