The reality of combat

When SHTF nobody told me how hard is gonna be and what things I will have to do to survive, there was no training or simulations, through most of the stuff I was going for the first time in my life, and I was hoping it is only temporary situation, it is not going to last for whole year.

Few events opened my eyes, and somehow make me survivor right at the beginning, and I can say I have luck to understand in very early stage how hard it is, and what it takes.

During one of the first bigger events of killing in the streets, I was out together with my friend who also was medical professional.

Fire from machine guns was on people who were standing in front of the main city bread factory, and people started to scream and run over each other.

My first impulse was to run to nearest cover but my friend got down to help some lady, so I stayed one meter next to him.

I was confused about my decision and not sure to stay with him or run. Bullets from machine gun hit him over his legs, and I saw how his knee cap exploded, it looked like some bad movie special effect.

He just looked at his legs, then at me, in silence. Even that was just seconds moments like this feel very long.

I took him by the hands and drag him some 20 or 30 meters to safety. Only there I saw that he was missing his leg under the knee. It stayed with dead lady on the street.

And only then he started to scream.

I used belt to stop bleeding, ambulance still worked in that period. He went to hospital and then evacuated from the city. He survived but never came back.

Lessons learned?

In moments of chaos always listen to your instincts and do not hesitate. Especially if you are involved in situation when someone is shooting at you with high caliber machine gun. Just accept that people will die, and you have to survive. To help others is great thing, to survive is even better, also I realized that human being is so fragile and easy to destroy.

Later I learned some things about weapons and how to use them, so I realize that more firepower does not necessary mean more dangerous and better chance to kill.

Owning a weapon is just absolutely necessary in preparing for a survival scenario, even more in urban survival. You just need to go and get as close as you can to the real stuff while you are doing the preparing and training for the SHTF, so it makes sense to go out and check your preps, to check your gear and yourself.

For example pair of boots that you bought and store for bad days will not be used for walking only, it will be use for running, squatting, jumping, in mud, junk, blood, guts maybe or just running trough a shallow river.

Everything that you have prepared and stored for SHTF will be pushed to the limits.

One thing is to go out into woods nearby and do recording of your weapon testing on some beer bottles with your friends, and after that concluding that particular gun or rifle is best for SHTF, and that you are dangerous dude because your accuracy rules. Some people gonna put that clip on you tube and go home convinced that they are ready and prepared.

In reality you do not know if you are prepared.

A lot of survival stores that sell things sell idea of buy this and you are safe. No you are not. Also you learn more about real urban survival scenario in my survival course and this helps you to mentally be better prepared but real deal when SHTF always comes as surprise.

When time comes again it gonna hit everyone like a hammer. Good news is that when you know you will get hit like that you can recover fast and use your skills, knowledge and preps to make best out of situation.

Using weapon in real life, in real survival situation is something absolutely different from shooting bear bottles, and if you could do some real training that is realistic that would be maybe going to camping with trash bag as a tent, being on camping for 10 days with 10 small cans of food, and 10 liters of water, walking every day for 10 km.

And then on 11th day run few kilometers and then shoot and see how accurate you are when your body is wasting away.

And still the most important thing is missing. While you are shooting at the beer bottles they do not shoot back at you in order to kill you.

During some of the first battles in city I was moving trough the building behind a guy, we both had rifles. He was sweeping the rooms and shooting, it was the closest urban combat as it can be. In the moment when he run out of ammo he used his rifle as something between spear and bat.

Now someone could say why he did not just switch to pistol? He did not have one, also he did not have time to look for ammo. But there I learned how it is useful to have folded stock of rifle when shooting and moving in very confined spaces.

Also I learned that rifle with pretty sharp parts at the barrel can be very handy. He stabbed guy to the cheek, ripping his face down and finishing him on ground.

One of the biggest misconception at the people who do not have fighting experience is what they need to practice.

It is all about pressure. You need to learn:

1. What your weapon can take

In terms of kicking, throwing, how often and when will it malfunction, and what the most common malfunctions are, and how to fix it, of course how to fix it in middle of fight. If you find yourself in the middle of fighting, and your weapon „jams“ do not be as we called “zblesavljen” or in English is probably looking like idiot.

I have seen that: guy is shooting and in the middle of fighting his weapon jammed, and he surprisingly look at the weapon in a „what the f#ck?“ state. And of course in two seconds he ends up dead.

You absolutely need to know how to manage small weapon jams without looking at the weapon, you need to look at the target while you are „repairing“ weapon (clearing the bullet, switching to other magazine etc.)

Other option would be to MOVE immediately when your weapon jams, move to cover in same second, or to dropping it on ground, or on your back, and switching to your other weapon. But you need to learn to do all of above without thinking. You need to train that this becomes automatic.

Small things like how quickly you can put your rifle on your back and a switch to pistol can be difference between life and death, if you somehow „trip“ yourself while you are trying to put rifle on your back in order to take pistol you can end up dead.

2. What you can take

Remember this: while you are shooting at the bad guys, those bad guys will be SHOOTING AT YOU TOO.

So shooting at the beer bottles in the woods with your buddies will not really do all the training you need. I am doing it often, but it just not covering everything.

Fighting and surviving combat means constant moving and outsmarting the guys on the other side, you gonna need to run, squat, throw yourself in the ditch, lay down in all kinds of sh!t and shoot at the same time, and probably fix your rifle from jams, or switch to another weapon.

Do some basic weapon training and learn about line of sight and how to get out off it.

Very great percentage of shooting is done without aiming, just spraying bullets.

It makes sense to do some airsoft or paintball in the woods to check how constant moving change whole game, and what kind of moving makes sense in order to survive gunfight.

For example how often you shoot from your weapon with both hands, dominant and not dominant? In urban fighting you will need switch weapon around very often (moving through the apartments, rooms, around the corners etc.). When you are shooting behind corner, and you are having rifle in your right hand and corner is on your left side it make sense to transfer weapon to left hand. otherwise it is dangerous to stick your left part of body out in order to shoot form right hand.

For all you who have some military experience this all is basic stuff, but I have seen many guys who were killed in stupid ways.

Real gunfight is dynamic thing. Adrenaline is weird thing too, so people can do tremendous things while adrenaline is pumping, but also with lack of training and common sense guy can do tremendously stupid things. I have seen man who was pointing to something and he stood up from the cover, and got shot.

3. How to train yourself

Training is the key. You can not do anything else today except to train very hard.

You can not experience real stuff today of course, but you can take it as close to real stuff as you can. Go out with your friends and think about all possible scenarios. But think about worst case scenarios. SHTF is not gonna wait for nice and sunny weather, you gonna be maybe hungry, dirty. Maybe have to give up your shelter and food storage on second day of SHTF.

Or you gonna be forced to use other weapon that you are not used to. Maybe you gonna be forced to hide for hours hidden under a pile of rubble and then you are gonna be forced to jump out and „kill“ ten beer bottles. Sounds like fun? This is why resilience and mental strength is so important.

Maybe you are gonna be cold and thirsty and in the middle of the battle. One thing is sure – very rarely it goes the way that you planned. So just be ready for many options and do not panic when things go other way. Want to get some funny sounding advice?

Get good at suffering while still being able to work towards a goal.

4. What weapon, caliber, stopping power etc?

It is very hard question (that I get asked a lot). But think about fact that everything today is about mainstream and commercial. And somehow it is more about what other people say is good and not necessarily about what you need and what is good for YOU.

You and your hand kill, weapon is only tool. I have seen fight when man with knife is killing the guy with rifle. He had mastered fighting with knife and had will to kill. Other guy had a rifle only, and he ends up dead. I also seen more than once people shot with rifle bullets still fighting, running for good amount of time. Some of them were not even aware that they are wounded before someone else pointed that out to them.

What I am trying to say, do not expect miracles if you own weapon that is at the moment most popular, having great stopping power, cool reviews. It is about practicing , weapon mastering and correct bullets placement.

I said bullets for a reason, I have seen many things, but I did not see someone survive multiple shots in correct place at the body. Have weapon that is best for your case, and achieve perfection in using it. Do not expect that people will fly back if you shoot them with one bullet from some widely popular weapon and caliber (not talking about shotguns).

So I am not gonna tell you what is the best weapon because what works for me maybe does not work for you or others.

Having a weapon that is too rare, too good or too bad does not make too much sense for me. Do not find yourself in situation when you lose your weapon and pick someone else and then find out that you do not have clue about it, because your weapon was special and rare.

Just have what everyone else around you has, because of gun parts, ammo and you look like everyone else.

Your weapon is only tool to survive, be ready to lose it if you need to lose it, and pick some other from ground in the middle of fight.

I knew a guy who did some scary stuff with rusty shortened M48. He was old and poor looking dude, he played that part good, until he would take out this old gun from under his coat and rob and kill people. Simple strategy but it worked for him. So look around and think what works for you.

If you have experienced combat or heard what matters from veterans please share in comments.

Three typical reactions to survival scenarios

Dealing with everyday problems when SHTF meant that you have to face whole new set of situations, from how to „take shower“ with few liters of water to how to use pure violence when violence was not part of your life before.

As I mentioned many times people used to find all kind of solutions for that problems, actually some people found solutions, those who did not disappeared.

People mostly learned „on the job (of surviving)“ how to deal with that problems, instead of promotion or fancy certificate they got more time on this planet.

In reality lot of survivors did not solve all problems, some of the things and problems were „pushed under the carpet“. People have different ways to deal with situations.

When you wake up one morning in world where everything that you took for granted stopped to exist, just that can blow your mind almost like bullet in head, so people reacted in different ways. Here are most common reactions of people, divided in three groups.

1. King of the playground

SHTF, and there are no rules anymore, and you can go out and do whatever you want. You can use force in order to do whatever you want. You can fulfill your dreams. Everyone is gonna be scared but you are powerful and dangerous, you are the king of the playground. Something like character from your favorite movies, Mad Max maybe.

There were people like this of course, not too many but yea, and they ended up in two main ways:

A.) they ended with their head smashed in first week of SHTF, usually in some very stupid way, real example is they stole some cool car in first days of chaos, and went driving crazy and shooting at everybody till some group got them, pulled them out from the car and tore them apart.

B.) they had charisma, luck and brain. They formed group (gang), become leaders, very powerful people, masters of life and death. They could take or give (forgive) life with one hand move. If other powerful people did not kill them (mostly) they become rich, and they are still rich.

Example would be small time thief who suddenly realized that by showing big amount of guts / courage and will to do atrocities in front of the rioting mob can give him leadership over the people who want leader.

Those of them who survived everything years later very often committed suicide. PTSD catches up with folks, also those who “play hard”. Very important thing is that while I am reading different blogs and forums I can see and recognize lot of „survivalists“ and „preppers“ who are gonna belong to this first group when SHTF. World is gonna be playground for them when SHTF. Most of them gonna end up with heads smashed in first few days. Those few of them who survive beginning of collapse gonna be dangerous bastards. But calm hand and steady aim regulates things.

2. SHTF and what the f… am I going to do?

You wake up one morning and SHTF, you are devastated, waiting for electricity to come back to see on TV what is going on, while people outside demolishing local mall and taking home whatever is useful.

You are believing in government, law and order, „common sense“ and you simple do not understand preppers and all „conspiracy theorists“. Off course you do not believe in guns too, you think that everything can be solved in nice and civilized way. We are humans not animals and do not fight for food and survival with violence like animals do…

People from this group were in great numbers when SHTF in my time, and they will be in great numbers again when SHTF. No matter how much good information is on web, no matter how many bad things are happening around the world, and no matter how much proof is everywhere around us that everything is going to sh!t.

And people from this group ended up:

A.) dead and gone (mostly)

B.) as „soldiers“ of some gang, because they were easiest to „mobilize“ because this kind of folks always need someone to guide them and protect them. Today it is government and system, when SHTF it is gonna be local gang leader who is gonna give them protection, guidance in exchange for their loyalty.

Or they gonna be solo predators, killers and thieves, kinda like „shadowy“ enemy, guy who is gonna stab you in a back for bag of potatoes.

Important thing here is that for us preppers guys from this group (B) are problems because guys from this group are your first neighbor maybe, or your dentist, or your job colleague, or even your good friend. They stab you and then cry and say sorry while robbing you. Remember this: guys from this group are not gonna fall from the sky, they are all around us. They are „good decent and normal folks“ and they do not want to do what they do. So again think about what you are saying to who these days.

C.) they gonna join group of people or family in order to survive. They do whatever they need to protect their home, but they gonna try to stay good.

3. People who are prepared (preppers, survivalists…)

You know that great majority of stuff on TV and internet is fake and there only to form public opinion. You are preparing for bad days but also you are living your life as best as you can, because S. is going to hit the fan for sure. You do not want to belong to herd of consumers, and you want truth all the time, no matter how ugly can be. You are looking for people who think like you, it is hard to find them, but they are there. You are not wishing SHTF, but you are definitely not gonna be scared once when it comes.

You are ready.

Now do not get me wrong, but this is very very small group, because great majority of people who call themselves preppers are not actually. Some are gun nuts, some are gear junkies and some are just scared by media and try to buy their peace of mind in form of canned food.

When SHTF real preppers gonna recognize themselves, and I see them as real leaders of groups of people that gonna do some change in big chaos, people who gonna „carry light“ by that I mean they do their best to be good if situation makes being good a choice and not only have the goods and full storage but also skills and mindset that it takes to live under bad conditions.

Survivalists who do not only talk the talk. No Internet only warriors who believe world ends when running out of blueberry muffins.

Who else?

Now not everyone is covered by these groups of people, and as I said it can be dangerous to generalize people, but also it is good to recognize and understand.

There is a whole bunch of people who gonna belong to big „grey“ area. They not gonna choose anything, they will be driven by big chain of events, and they just gonna do whatever is needed to survive. Good and wrong is completely gone for them. Only survival is left to worry about. Kind of people that are not people any more, more like animals.

I belonged to the group that were surprised when SHTF, but on the other side I had brain and luck to join-form group and family and I survived. I am prepper and survivalist now and became that during time in war.

I too pushed problems „under the carpet“ somehow in order to stay sane. Somehow I adopted the philosophy that it is not really matter what you gonna do, it is written how you gonna end up. It was not some religious thing, but as soon as you realize how easily you can end up dead you must form some kind of philosophy or you just go crazy.

I survived thanks to my skills, my thinking, yeah. But many times I survived by pure luck. I speak about numerous situations like that in my course. When you looking over the wall with your friend, and one single bullet from sniper blow his brain all over your face you must ask your self „why him and not me?“

So I learned to live and do whatever I can in order to survive, but other than that I learned to stop to worry for things outsider of my circle of control, because what must happen is gonna happen. And I survived.

It is very important that in very dangerous moments and situations you have clear and sharp mind, and not to worry about things that are out of your control anyway. Few days ago I was asked if survivalists are just people who are scared. No, real survivalists worry much less because they are prepared and they do not worry about what comes.

Types of real survivalists: 4. The good boss

Just quick reminder in this series of posts I write about typical types of survivalists I came across during my time in war. I speak in detail about complete time in my online course.

Today is about typical leader who knew how to handle our survival situation during war.

He was police officer, we called him “boss” because his look and stand, he had 30 years of service and I do not think that he used a gun too much, but he had a palm like a shovel and he used that a lot dealing with problematic teenagers.

Grumpy guy with who you do not want to have too much business, and if you get caught for some minor thing, theft or whatever, he did not talk to much with you, but his look talked stories, and his hands too. He gave people justice on spot and got respect for that too. He made difference for our neighborhood and was type of police officer that in my opinion does not exist today anymore.

He and his colleagues had a patrol in better part of the city when SHTF, and in the beginning they tried to make some sense in all that, restore order, but when they saw that ambulance vehicle on call gets shredded with shots they realized that a new time had come.

They did not discuss too much but they were sure that law and order is something that is gone now, and to act like law keepers just does not make sense anymore.

They went back to the police station and took more weapons and equipment and then they used police van and went to army storage and took more weapons.

They took that to their homes, and separated. His colleague shook his hand and left, each fighting their own fight, he pushed police van out of the street and went home.

He lived alone for many years before SHTF, and also being the police officer for years gave him advantage of knowing something about mob mentality and power over people, so he did not had too much problems in dealing with problems in that beginning days, but he was alone and that was a problem. But he was smart and that made difference.

In these days everything fell apart in the city, all that makes life normal, so institutions were falling apart too.

Local correction youth center, something like open type jail for teenagers was falling apart too, so young folks were going out from there.

He went there and took 7 guys from there. He used to be something like their “watcher” in normal times, he arrested them for small time burglaries, cons etc. He also kept eye on them when they were out of the correction facility and on streets again. Because of how he did things he was like father who gave them slaps here and then.

They all were kids without family, that correction center was their home or the streets. Anyway he took them to his home, and took care of them in that chaos, and after some time they took care of him too. They all were around 16-17 years old at that time when all hell broke lose.

He taught them to shoot, to defend, to trade, to recognize problematic people, fact that they been that problematic people once only helped in process of teaching. Those kids were street smart. And he was not too soft in process of teaching, in other words he used his “shovel” a lot in process of “making people of them” as he called that.

But he also teach them never to take from someone else. He was still police man and kept his ideals. They never turned against him. I saw many times that real sons turn against fathers in that time, or brother against brother, but they were perfectly loyal to each other, real family. I guess it was because they know that only in this group they can survive.

They did pretty well because starting “capital” he took from the army barracks, so they stand for people that you could visit and get rifle in fair trade, without danger that you could be shot in the back. Also they stand for the people that you do not want to f… with because violence is not problem for them at all.

“Boss” died few months before peace came, from wound infection. All seven of his “boys” survived and I never heard that they did something bad in that time. OK, bad in little bit different terms maybe. Not atrocities, noting about unnecessary violence. What was necessary is different question of course but all we who survived were not most gentle folks at that time.

One of them later in peace went to organized crime and ended shot dead, but all rest 6 of them grow up and became proud and strong family people. Type of man that you want to have for friend.

They all refer to Boss as their father. They live today in different cities and countries, some of them even on another continent, but once in two years they have meeting, all together in his memory.

And that guy from the beginning of the story, colleague of the Boss? He used his share of loot from the barracks to form gang, and they did lot of stuff to the people, he finished dead, stabbed more than 30 times. Nobody remembers him, or wants to remember him, like he did not exist at all. More about “bad bosses” in next article.

So what to make out of this? In survival scenario you want people around you who know why group matters. Just like early humans who knew not to fight each other or cause problems for survival of whole group. In case of boss the street kids already knew about survival and he was perfect leader for them who also knew what kind of leadership style worked with them.

Now I could say nice things about how to choose your group and of course include that annoying drama person that maybe your brother or sister married because “he/she is part of family”. But I speak from my experience and if you want to survive like in any other “team” your group has to work. Having strong leader like boss helps a lot.

Normal laws and norms of society are gone in long term survival situation so people who still do things because it looks good are at disadvantage compared to people who make what works and makes team stronger and not weaker. If someone makes my team weaker on purpose (not because of sickness or age) he is not part of it.

When you think about your survival group, think about who makes best boss? How to lead the people? What works? Prepare for that too and you are far ahead of many other preppers who think they can buy safety with money and having the most preps and gear.