A Great Infographic from the Minuteman Review
In March we wrote a blog about the “4 Rules for Handling a Firearm” which covered two main points: 1) the number of firearm purchases had skyrocketed in the US in January (2,702,702 NICS checks) and February (2,802,467 NICS checks) 2020 and 2) all these new gun owners need to learn the critical rules related to safety.
Well, since that time the unsettled nature of the world has driven even more people to purchase firearms - as see by the latest FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) data:
If you want to see more of the FBI’s NICS data here are the direct links:
So, in the first 5 months of 2020 there have been 15,248,440 NICS checks; an average of 3,049,688 checks per month.
What’s driving these purchases? Where are the purchases being made? Who’s making the purchases? Why? Like you we had lots of questions.
Luckily, James Miller from the Minuteman Review put together a great infographic and contacted us to see if we wanted to help spread the word. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the Minuteman review they’re a website “dedicated to supporting the 2nd Amendment and promoting firearms safety and education” that tries to “provide every gun owner—and prospective gun owner—the information they need to get the firearms and gear that are most relevant to their needs”. One of the things that we like about their website is that they have lots of articles, guides and reviews about gear related to the shooting sports.
Rather than trying to summarize all of the information in their infographic – we’ll just let it speak for itself:
Paul Harrell’s Great Videos for New Shooters
Given the number of new gun owners out there it’s probably a good idea to review how to accurately shoot a handgun. As always two of the greatest sources of information are internet websites and YouTube – assuming that you read articles and watch videos made by someone that actually knows what they’re doing.
For our money one of the best online video sources for firearm and shooting technique information is Paul Harrell – who we like to think of as the “Bob Ross of firearms”- informative, descriptive, humorous and calming. Paul's YouTube channel has lots of great videos that are always filled with actual methodical shooting demonstrations.
With regards to accurate handgun shooting, back in January/February 2017 Paul posted three videos on what he believes are the key points and the proper techniques.
Part One focuses on handgun “Grip and Stance” and makes the following key points:
Part Two focuses on handgun “Sight Alignment/Sight Picture” and makes the following key points:
Part Three focuses on handgun “Trigger Control” and makes the following key points:
If you’re a new shooter, or an experienced shooter looking to improve, you should really spend 20 minutes and watch these three videos from Paul.
For a more detailed look at stances here’s a good article from Pew Pew Tactical:
“Shooting Stances & Grip: Isosceles vs Weaver vs Chapman”
If you want additional details on how to improve your accuracy with a handgun - then you should also checkout our previous blog post on "The Secret to Mastering the Handgun" which features a 19 minute video by Alex Hommes, the Operations Manager for the Silverado Shooting Academy.
Another Piece of Gear for Your Disaster Preparedness Kit
Aside from the canned vegetable and fruit additions mentioned in our previous blog, there was only one other piece of gear that we thought we should add to our Disaster Preparedness gear to assist in a situation that lasted longer than 2 weeks; an Emergency Dental Kit (EDK).
According to the American Dental Association, there are more than 2.1 million visits to the emergency room for dental related cases each year. Of these 80% (1.65 million) don’t actually require emergency treatment and could probably be diverted to the dental office on a semi-urgent basis (“Majority of Dental-Related Emergency Department Visits Lack Urgency and Can Be Diverted to Dental Offices”).
But accidents do happen and dental issues need to be taken care of expeditiously to prevent problems like:
Because of this you need to include dental health in your emergency preparedness plans. Especially since, in a disaster you may not be able to get to a dentist, or a dentist may not be available – and no one wants to be like Tom Hanks in the movie “Castaway”. So, for emergencies involving your teeth, you should have the essentials for treating minor dental pain and injuries in your Disaster Preparedness kit.
When looking for, or making, an EDK you should look for a kit that includes the following items:
Rather than build a kit on our own we searched the internet and found Dr. Stahl's Emergency Dental Kit. It contains the almost all of the items we were looking for to include:
In our opinion the Dr. Stahl Dental Kit has all the essentials for temporarily treating minor dental pain and injuries. Adding this EDK to the rest of our First Aid Supplies ensures that we’re prepared for any small dental issues during a short duration disaster. The kit even comes with an order form that you can use to purchase refills if you use an item or just want additional supplies.
It's imperative to take care of your teeth – even in a disaster. Since you never know when a dental emergency will come up and you won't be able to get to a dentist quickly, you should have an EDK on hand. You can buy the Dr. Stahl EDK at CampingSurvival.com.
If you want more details on EDKs, here are a couple of good articles to read:
How to Build a Dental Emergency Kit
How to Make a First Aid Kit for Dental Emergencies
What Do You Need if a Disaster Lasts More Than 2 Weeks
If you look through our previous blog posts discussing Disaster Preparedness, or review the gear that we list on our Disaster Preparedness page, you’ll notice that we advocate planning for a 3 day to 2 week period where you need to be self-sufficient.
Obviously this overarching timeline drives what you need to plan for and what kind of gear you need to have stored away to support your plans. However, because of the recent COVID-19 impacts on “non-essential businesses”, we relooked our gear list to see if there were any other items that you might want to purchase ahead of time to allow for events lasting last longer than 2 weeks.
If you already have all of the gear on our Disaster Preparedness list, then what you need most to be self-sufficient for more than 2 weeks is more food. However, this is a slippery slope since you then have to decide how much more food and what kinds of food to add to your 2-week supply. Short of becoming a full-blown “prepper” the best answer is to probably purchase more freeze dried meals (we like the Mountain House Classic bucket and Breakfast bucket), purchase more of the same non-perishable food items that we already recommend, and augment this supply with some canned vegetables and canned fruits.
You might ask why we didn’t originally advocate storing canned vegetables or fruits for a disaster. Well, we didn’t put them on our 3 day to 2 week list because their dietary necessity is low in a short duration emergency (when compared to your body’s need or protein), because most people already have either enough fresh vegetables/fruits in their refrigerator, frozen items in their freezer, or canned items in their pantry to last for a few days, and because the stable shelf life of canned vegetables/fruits is shorter than other foods. But, if you need to plan to be self-sufficient for longer than 2 weeks you’re going to need vegetables and fruits – both for a healthy diet and for taste variety.
Consequently, to prepare for a disaster that lasts more than two weeks, we would add some of the following foods – in quantities that support whatever duration we thought was prudent – to our Disaster Preparedness supplies:
Canned Vegetables (generally have a shelf life of 3 to 5 years)
- Artichoke Hearts
- Carrots (dehydrated)
- Diced Tomatoes (shelf life of ~2 years due to its acidic nature)
- Green Beans
- Green and Chili Peppers
- Sweet Potatoes
- Vegetable Medley
Canned Fruits (generally have a shelf life of ~18 months)
- Applesauce (like Go-Go Squeez)
- Fruit Cocktail
- Fruit Slices (dehydrated)
- Mandarin Oranges
- Pie Filling
Here’s a good article from Happy Preppers on “37 Foods to Hoard: Survival food storage you can get from the grocery store”:
And, if you want to find out how long food will last, here’s a great website for that: Still Tasty – Your Ultimate Shelf Life Guide:
Aside from these food additions there was only one other piece of gear that we identified which would be useful in a disaster situation that lasted longer than 2 weeks; a Dental First Aid kit. So we’ll talk about that in our next blog.
…….and the Wild Flowers Know It
These days most of us have lots of free time on our hands – however, for many people the ability to productively use that free time has been constrained by the closure of all of their favorite places; including the outdoor ones.
Luckily for us, we are surrounded by nature and currently the State Parks, Town Parks and most of the privately owned Conservation Reservations and Nature Preserves are still open for hiking.
Since the Spring flowers have started to bloom, this weekend we took a day hike to get out of the house, breath some fresh air and enjoy the beauty of Nature. Here are some of the sights that we saw during our hike. Spring is definitely on its way! (click on any photo to start the slideshow):
How Beautiful Are These Night Sky Photos?
Last night, 7 April 2020, was the night of the “Pink Super Moon”.
What’s a Pink Super Moon you ask? Well there are two components – the “pink moon” and the “super moon”.
A “pink moon” is the name given to the April full moon – even though it isn’t pink in color. This historic name comes from the fact that the April moon coincided with the Spring blooming of the ground phlox, a pink flower common in North America. When the pink moon appeared people knew that it was time to start planting their crops for the year.
The second component of the phrase is “Super Moon”. This term refers to the position of the Moon with respect to the Earth – specifically perigee; when the Moon makes its closest approach to the Earth. At perigee, because of its proximity to the Earth, the moon appears bigger and brighter in the night sky. In terms of astronomical measurement the diameter of a Super Moon can appear 7% larger than an average-size full moon and 14% larger than the diameter of a mini-moon - the year’s most distant and smallest full moon. With respect to their brightness, Super Moons can be up to 15% brighter than an average-size full moon and 30% brighter than a mini-moon. To have a Super Moon the moon's perigee must coincide with the phase of the moon being “Full”. On average, a Super Moon only occurs 3 or 4 times each year.
Last night’s Pink Super Moon is the closest that the Moon will get to the Earth all year - 221,851 miles (357,035 km). In an interesting calendar event, the three Super Moons of 2020 all fall in consecutive months: on 9 March, 8 April and 7 May.
Here are a few of the photos that we took last night of the beautiful sights that we saw as the moon transited through the sky and local clouds rolled by. Note that the photos were taken using a variety of camera settings, and in a variety of light conditions throughout the night, so there’s some intentional color variation across the photos. (click on any photo to start the slideshow):
How to Keep Yourself, and Those Around You, Safe
Given everyone’s ongoing concerns about the COVID-19 virus, and its impacts on our daily lives, one interesting phenomena that we are seeing is a lot of people that have never owned a firearm heading to their local gun store to purchase either a handgun, shotgun or rifle. Some of these individuals have never considered owning a gun before, and some of them seem to be anti-gun people that have had a change of heart given the social turbulence that they see around them. Whatever the cause, we are glad to see people exercising their 2nd Amendment rights and rethinking their gun ownership positions.
Based on the FBI statistics what we are seeing locally is happening all across the United States. In fact, January 2020 had the fourth-highest number of National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) background checks ever for a month - totaling 2,702,707 checks. February exceeded that number recording 2,802,467 background checks, with 797,221 of these checks occurring between 21 February and 1 March 2020 - the third-highest level since 1998.
In total 338,509,235 NICS background checks have been completed since the system started operations in November 1998; approximately 8 million background checks more than the entire population of the United States of 330 million people.
Here’s the FBI’s data from November 1998 through February 2020.
Here’s the FBI’s data for January and February 2020 – broken down by State
If you want to see more of the FBI’s NICS data here are the direct links:
As with most things in life, this explosion of people realizing that they need to be able to defend themselves (and taking actions to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights to purchase firearms to do so), has both pros and cons.
Biggest Pro – People understand that they are responsible for their own protection - especially since the average response time in the United States for the Police to arrive after being called is 9 minutes and 35 seconds – even in the best of circumstances.
Biggest Con – There are a whole lot of new gun owners out there with firearms that they haven’t trained with and, in many cases, really don’t know how to effectively use safely.
So that brings us to today’s real blog topic: The 4 Rules of Gun Safety. Initially developed by Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper in 1976 at “Gunsite”, his ranch in northern Arizona dedicated to teaching and advancing the knowledge that Cooper had developed as his “Modern Technique” approach to effectively using firearms. Cooper’s initial version of the 4 Rules of Gun Safety was:
Rule One: All guns are always loaded.
Rule Two: Never let the muzzle cover anything which you are not willing to destroy.
Rule Three: Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
Rule Four: Always be sure of your target.
For safety’s sake every gun owner should commit these 4 rules to memory, and should follow them 100% of the time to maximize safety and minimize accidents. Responsible gun ownership means learning and practicing the behaviors that help prevent needless accidental injury and/or death – in all situations.
Over the past 40 years numerous variations to the wording of Cooper’s original 4 Rules have proliferated – mostly to provide additional clarity. The version of the 4 Rules of Gun Safety that we prefer are:
Based on these four rules some key points that we like emphasize to other shooters (both new – and yes – sometimes old timers too) are:
One last note. Over the past several years, as gun safety has been highlighted, a new rule seems to be emerging:
We like this rule since you should obviously store your guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized people; including your children, friends, and other people that might have access to your home and/or firearms - wherever they are located.
For more details and opinions about the 4 Rules of Gun Safety here are some other great online reference sources:
- A Girl & A Gun: “4 Rules of Gun Safety”
- Keepgunssafe.com – “The Four Primary Rules of Firearm Safety”
- Cheaper Than Dirt Blog – “4 Rules of Gun Safety”
To really drive the point home, here's a great video from Colion Noir discussing the same topic for new gun owners: "7 Things You Should Do After Buying Your First Gun":
In addition, here are two videos from Paul Harrell where he gives his "tips on how non-firearms enthusiasts can make good decisions in buying firearms" during today's situation:
So, whether you are a new gun owner or an old hand, play it safe and follow The 4 Rules of Gun Safety whenever you are around firearms.
The Hierarchy of Survival Actions
Since everyone is currently focused on surviving the COVID-19 (e.g. coronavirus) pandemic we thought that this would be a good time to discuss the hierarchy of survival actions – as dictated by the “Rule of Three”.
For those of you not familiar with the “Rule of Three” it states that you can survive for 3 minutes without air/oxygen or in icy water. You can survive for 3 hours without shelter in a harsh environment. You can survive for 3 days without water (if sheltered from a harsh environment). You can survive for 3 weeks without food (if you have water and shelter).
So what does the “Rule of Three” really mean? Well it’s pretty straightforward in directing what you need to focus on and how quickly you need to focus on it. After all, if you can’t breathe - you don’t need shelter. If you get hypothermia from the rain, heatstroke from the sun, or freeze from the cold - you don’t need water. If you are incapacitated or die from dehydration – you don’t need food. And, if you have a shelter and water, then knowing that you have 3 weeks to either improve your wilderness living situation, find a way to trek back to civilization, or help rescuers locate you, should greatly improve your mental condition – while you hunt and gather food.
As a specific example of this survival hierarchy, if you watch the TV “survival” shows (e.g. Naked and Afraid, Alone, Man vs. Wild, Dual Survival, etc.,) you can see that there is often a great difference between the initial actions that the experts and the novices take when dropped into the wilderness. Many of the novices start by trying to build a fire – something that may be important – but can take a significant amount of time and effort – and can prove to be very frustrating; a bad emotion to encounter on your first day in a survival situation. In contrast, you’ll notice that the experts normally try to find a good site for their shelter (near water if possible, sheltered from the wind, away from any flood plain and safe from any “widow maker” trees). Once they have located a good site they immediately try to build the best shelter that they can in the available time that they have before nightfall; knowing that they can always improve their shelter on Day #2 if they survive Day #1. As they collect materials for their shelter they might simultaneously gather materials to make a fire, but the fire is of secondary importance (especially since having a shelter will allow them to more easily build, light and protect a fire and any firewood they gather). Only once they have a shelter do they begin to focus in earnest on their needs for fire, a longer term water supply and how to acquire food.
Rather than write a very long blog that still only superficially covers the vast amount of detail required to really prepare you for a survival situation, here’s a listing of six books that you might want to own so that you have access to the knowledge that the survival experts have honed over the years:
For more information on survival, especially what you might want to do to prepare for a potential short term disaster, you should check out our website’s “Camping/Maps and Books” and “Disaster Preparedness” pages. But, whatever else you do, please remember the “Rule of Three” - since it could save your life.
How to Enjoy the Outback and Leave it in a Condition for the Next Adventurers to do the Same
Last week we received an email from Troop 325 of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) - a troop located near San Diego, California - thanking us for all the camping and hiking tips on our HCS website. It turns out that when the Scouts from Troop 325 were writing their “Outdoor Code” principles they found a lot of ideas and helpful links on our site. As an Eagle Scout, and Philmont ranger, I’m always glad to receive positive feedback from Scouts – especially since the main reason we built our website was to pass on some of the knowledge, research, links, and tips that we’ve gathered over the years. Their email also got us to thinking that the “Outdoor Code”, and the ethos that it embodies, would make a great blog post. So that’s our topic for today.
For those of you not familiar with the “Outdoor Code” it first showed up in Boys' Life magazine’s March 1954 issue, which featured "An Outdoor Code for Americans" and "BSA's Conservation Good Turn". The Good Turn was prompted by a request from President Eisenhower, challenging the Boy Scouts to raise public awareness about the importance of caring for our natural resources.
Now, 66 years later, the Outdoor Code is probably even more relevant to all of our outback activities since there are more people out there enjoying the beauty and challenges that Nature has to offer. Since its initial publication in 1954 the wording of the Outdoor Code has changed slightly to keep up with the times. Here’s the latest version:
As an American, I will do my best to…
For those of you not familiar with the Outdoor Code, you may have seen similar outback principles under the title of “Leave No Trace” – a movement that began in the 1960’s and 70’s when there was a significant increase in the number of visits to US National Parks. This movement eventually drove the United States Forest Service, in conjunction with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), to develop a national education program on “Leave No Trace” in 1990. Today one of the main drivers of the Leave No Trace activities is the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics with their “The Leave No Trace Seven Principles” (© 1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org). Their 7 Principles are:
The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics has even refined their principles into 7 Principles for the Frontcountry:
Obviously, both the Outdoor Code and the Leave No Trace Seven Principles are great guidance for how everyone should act during their activities in the outback; with education hopefully more people will.
So, back to Troop 325 - in addition to suggesting this whole blog topic, as a way of helping spread their knowledge they also sent us the link to an article that we hadn’t seen: "Leave No Trace: Low-Impact Campgrounds" from www.wristband.com, written by Michele Wheat. This article has some great information about “Low-Impact Camping Tips” and “How to Hike and Leave No Trace”. The article also has links to over 20 other websites with additional resources. You should give it a read.
If you want more information on the Outdoor Code, or Leave No Trace, here are several links to other websites that you should check out:
“The Outdoor Code”
“Outdoor Ethics Guide”
“BSA Leave No Trace”
ScoutSmarts – “The Outdoor Code (My Ultimate Guide For Any Scout or Troop)”
“The Outdoor Code”
Leave No Trace
“The 7 Principles”
“The LNT Seven Principles – Principle 1: Plan Ahead and Prepare”
“The LNT Seven Principles – Principle 2: Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces”
“The LNT Seven Principles – Principle 3: Dispose of Waste Properly”
“The LNT Seven Principles – Principle 4: Leave What You Find”
“The LNT Seven Principles – Principle 5: Minimize Campfire Impacts”
“The LNT Seven Principles – Principle 6: Respect Wildlife”
“The LNT Seven Principles – Principle 7: Be Considerate of Other Visitors”
“Leave No Trace for Frontcountry”
Leave No Trace Seven Principles
wristband.com - "Leave No Trace: Low-Impact Campgrounds"
We Have Readers from All Over the World
Like most websites, ever since we launched our Hiking, Camping and Shooting website we’ve tracked the statistics to see who our readers are and where they’re located. Recently we’ve had a few people ask who reads our site – so we thought that we would share some of our statistics with all of you.
We have readers from all 50 States - with the largest concentrations being in the following 15 States:
We have readers from over 90 Countries around the world - with the largest concentrations being in the following 20 Countries:
The 20 pages and blog posts that people have read the most over the past 3 years are:
Most of our readers find us either by searching on Google (52.3%) or by previously having been to our website and coming directly to us (31.2%). A much smaller percentage (4.8%) find us through our Hiking, Camping and Shooting Facebook page:
The majority of our users view our website on either Chrome (49.8%) or Safari (27.5%) browsers:
Hopefully this data shows you that you’re in good company as you read through our Hiking, Camping and Shooting gear write-ups and blog posts. Our wish is that they give you some information that will make all your adventures a little more fun. Wherever you’re from, we’re glad that you stopped by to look over our HCS website!
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Here's where we post reviews, questions, answers, thoughts and other information that's of general interest to our followers in a blog format.