Gasoline and the ability to travel didn’t effect me as much as it did most people. I didn’t have a lot of friends or relatives that I needed to visit and most of my interests could be done online, but eventually we all felt the pinch and even surfing the internet had to be limited.
Seems like a pretty reasonable idea but it was one most people had a lot of trouble accepting. If it was daytime, you didn’t really need to have lights on to do most things yet people who could barely afford to feed themselves weren’t too bothered leaving lights on all day or keeping their desktops going round the clock.
I’d like to say that I saw all these changes coming and was the prophet that lead my small band of people through the hard times, but that’d be a straight up lie. I saw the changes sure enough and did what I could to prepare for them, cutting the excesses (as few as they were) out of my budget. I gave up on tv since I could provide my own entertainment most times, living by a quote from Anne Herbert that says “libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries”.
This was one of the things that ticked me off the most about American society. My local library had dvd’s and internet access which was what most people came for. Their actual supply of books probably wouldn’t have filled my small garage, which couldn’t even accommodate a subcompact car.
The things I spent money on that weren’t absolute necessities were things like a solar charger for my e-reader and books and manuals to fill it. I can’t claim that I was a survivalist and spent every spare moment making snares and walking through the woods without leaving footprints or making a noise, but I could–and did–read. I devoured everything I could about bushcraft, weapons and tactics, gardening and identifying edible plants.
Folks have asked me in the days since the United States became an entirely failed enterprise that sent us all scurrying for cover, how it was I managed to survive. Truth is there’s nothing special about me. My gods didn’t endow me with any special powers. I can’t see in the dark and as best I know I can’t fly. And if what I hear from my body is to be believed, I can experience pain.
If anything set me apart from the other survivors –and from those that didn’t — it had to be my grandfather. From an early age I went hunting and fishing with my grandfather and learned to appreciate and respect nature. One of my earliest memories is shooting one of his rifles at a public range. I only had my grandfather for 6 years before cancer took him, but apparently those years helped form everything I would become.
I had a natural affinity for the bow, though unlike others in my family I tended to prefer recurve and long bows instead of compounds. I was an instinctive shooter and early on I discovered I knew before my arrows landed whether or not my aim had been true. Something similar occurred with the guns. While I wasn’t quite an instinctive shooter with a hand gun or rifle, I knew as soon as I pulled the trigger if my shot was good.
I learned how to be accurate with pretty much anything that launched a projectile. Atlatl’s, slingshots, blow guns, even the good old sling–though I wouldn’t have bet my life or my dinner on its use.
During the high times I had stocked up on ammunition; enough to see me through a crisis–I thought–or enough that I could defend my home in case of a bug in scenario.
As money got tighter I stuck to shooting mostly .22’s since I hadn’t thought ahead to buy reloading equipment. I always figured I could rely on my arrows and slingshot to hunt with if the worst came to pass. I was deadly accurate with a slingshot up to about 35 feet, and if I pushed it I might be able to take a deer at 75 yards with the bow if the cover wasn’t too dense.
So I practiced. I practiced shooting on the move and on the wing. I went to a little undeveloped wooded area near my house and built shelters and would spend the night in them to see what I would need to make myself the most comfortable. I learned how to make a fire with a bow drill and a few alternate means and probably most importantly, I ate the plants I was able to identify. And yes, I practiced making snares to catch the rabbits that ruled the evening and pre dawn hours of my neighborhood.
I heard a lot from tv shows about end times “prepper” families that thought they were prepared for everything. I could only shake my head and wish them the best. I knew there was no way to be prepared for every eventuality, just ways to make it through to the next day.
Unfortunately, even with all this I was still overweight and pushing 40. I was strong, but carrying too much excess gut that my day job wasn’t helping with and between reading and practicing my bushcraft I just never found time to get in shape and I was paying for it.
Most days I walked with a limp that got worse because my job had me sitting down all day and I developed back problems. Because of this I began to modify my ruck so that Iwas carrying only the essentials. this meant that if I had to bug out, I was going to have to leave most of my guns and the ammo for them behind.