The Power of Fear

Most of the questions from people who do not know too much about war is about fighting and shooting of course, man to man fighting.

Some of the worst expiriences are from street fighting with stable (more or less) lines of separation between enemy groups. Fighting where there is no real chain of command, real information on positions of enemy, or even real information on positions of your comrades. Not to talk about some kind of support, like logistic, or artillery or air back up.

survival fear

So if man holds position with rifle in basement of abandoned apartment building of some 6 – 8 stores, and enemy is at distance of some 20 meters, same like you, hidden in basement of abandoned and burned building, or even watching trough some small hole in wall from third floor in some destroyed apartment, and every sound is maybe sound of your death, that can change a man.

Some people literally lose their mind in situation like that, watching, scouting, every second alert.

Most of the folks in some period even did not had real sleep, it was more like some kind of half awake state, delirium, like in trance, after some time folks just shoot on any kind of suspicious thing, without too much checking. Being scared for long time does that to humans.

Funny thing that i realize, folks today basing their ammo stock on fact that they calculate possible chances for shooting at enemy, in real life folks shooted all the time, to shoot someone, to relive stress, to make someone aware that they still alive, to scare someone…

Yes you need a lot of ammo because you won’t be only shooting at someone, shooting becomes a sort of communication as well.

In some places and in some locations, people shooted regulary following their own schedule, of course with pattern changing, it was a way to keep people away.

Usually during the night and bad weather all things would become even more confused, so people would just go into the enemy territory because taking stuff from other group, using holes in walls between apartments or even sometimes ropes to climb on some other building and attack some positions, not in order to conquer it, but in order to aquire things like food, ammo, weapon, cigarettes etc.

Like in nature when the night comes predators become active. Hungry man can be evil beast.

At the beginning when most of the folks did not know too much about any weapon it was pretty usual to use some kind of “false” weapon. It is for example when 3-4 men held position in some destroyed house with one rifle and one pistol, they would use some pipe, or even piece of exhaust thing of wood stove, disguise it in window, cover it with something, so when someone look from 100 meters distance it looked like big weapon, sometimes like RPG, sometimes like sniper position, it depends on imagination of looker and ability of folks to decorate and of course also depends on peoples knowledge about weapon.

I know, sounds stupid, but it works (so i guess it is not stupid any more).

When you approach some building and you spot on third floor something that looks like rifle barrel pointed in your direction, you are not going to think about philosophy or agriculture, you are going to switch your survival mode and play safe. You do not want to find out if this thing can blast you to pieces or not the hard way.

It is easy to laugh about man who sought dirty water pipe from 100 meters distance, pointed in his direction, smartly placed on some sand bags and think it is m48 rifle.

In reality it is scary.

So again even “stupid” things work. In a dangerous situation even harmless things can look threatening, use that to your advantage.

34 responses to “The Power of Fear”

  1. azurevirus says:

    Another good article, keep them coming.

  2. Tommy says:

    Your comment about the fake weapon reminded me of when I was a kid. Me and a friend were driving down the highway when a car load of hoodlums pulled up alongside of us. They were swerving near our car, cursing and swearing. Trying to start a fight with us.

    We were out numbered by 5 to 2 , not really looking to get our asses beat. My friend pulled a 2 foot long piece of black iron pipe out from the back seat. I kept it there for knocking heads if I did get into a fight. He picked it up, leaned it out the window and said “Watch this.” When the other car made another run at our car they saw him looking down what looked like the barrel of a 12 gauge shotgun. They locked up the brakes so hard they almost crashed. We never saw them again.

    It was a risky move on my friends part to be sure, but it worked. When times are tough you have to make do with what you have on hand.

    Thanks to you and Selco for all the great information.


  3. deniswolpert says:

    I recommended your blog for many people here in Brazil, because it is fantastic. Congratulations! And keep on!

  4. Susan says:

    Selco’s readers will have him to thank for their sanity should we experience the horrors he went through. These things are inconcievable to us and truly would have broken our minds. Could still break our minds, but we will better know what we are up against and have a better chance to survive. Thank you Selco.

  5. Wills says:

    The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.

    Sun Tzu

  6. newprepr says:

    Another great article Selco.

    I have a question about weapons and ammo. After a firefight were you able to retrieve any weapons, ammo or supplies from the fallen to add to your cache?

    • Selco says:

      Thank you all for your comments. In normal times you do not take from the dead. Different in SHTF times. You always took what you could and things like ammo and supplies were always welcome no matter how. Shoes were in high demand as well because many shoes broke quickly because of all the rubble on the streets. Go with no proper shoes just plastic bags and socks for a few weeks and then see corpse with good shoes lying around…

      • The Exorcist says:

        It’s only a stupid idea if does NOT work.

        An idea I recently had was to take an old cannon from the town park and set it up outside town as a dummy position to back up a roadblock.
        It’s a little 75mm trophy from WW2, not terribly intimidating on its own unless;
        Remove the gunshield, you don’t want to make it too easy for some wonk to identify it as an antique. To make it look larger, build a bunker around it using logs of 12″ or less in diameter. If you have any, set up some child-size mannequins in para-military garb, the kind of stuff you find in surplus stores. Do a good enough job and you can make it look like a 155mm to anyone less than expert-level in observation.
        For a Dummy position to work, it has to be visible, but not too obvious. And it’s best use is to buy time for you to get some real heavy weapons set up. After that, its just a distraction.

        About ammo; I’m a veteran so I know how to control my shooting. Even so, I’d like to have more ammo. You will be shocked by how fast it gets eaten up in a firefight… they don’t call it a “mad minute” for nothing. It is possible to burn up all you can carry in just a couple of minutes, Green troops do it all the time.
        Just wait till dark to go out and scrounge some off the guys you shot down, their buddies could be lurking around for a while and won’t pass up a chance to get revenge.

  7. Ghost says:

    “Hungry man can be evil beast.” – That is the truth. Please keep posting. You give insight that can only be taught in SHTF School!

  8. I’ve got a few stories like “Tommy’s” from my misspent youth…

    One more recent: I was in a situation where I am 100% sure I was about to be carjacked.

    It was late at night, in a bad neighborhood.
    The roads were blocked in such a way that a left or U-turn were impossible – you were forced to make a right into a neighborhood then 2 more right-turns to get to a light where a left could put you back the way you came.

    When I turned into the ‘hood, a loitering person perked up and spoke into a radio or cell-phone.
    This happened again at each of my next 2 turns.
    Midway up the last block, a child walked into the road with a bicycle, forcing me to stop.
    2 adult males came off porches on either side of the road, heading straight for me.

    NO QUESTION what was coming!

    I flipped on my dome-light and stuck my hand into my briefcase, as if reaching for a weapon.

    One of the males spoke and both aborted their approach – the child hopped on the bike and hurried away

    I gunned my engine and got clear.

    No question what I escaped, or why – I’m just glad they didn’t call my bluff.

    It was the LAST time such would have BEEN a bluff too — of THIS you can be sure!

  9. Being a “lone wolf” will eventually get you worn down. You need at least two, so one can get a good sleep while the other watches. More than two is even better.

    As for ammo, you have to control the desire to shoot just for the sake of shooting. Make sure you have a target. Even so, you’ll miss more often than hit, so you do need a lot of ammo.

    • Selco says:

      I understand, easy to imagine things are easier.

      I talk about groups but you wouldn’t go with big group because it causes too much attention and if enemy can come from all sides even four people have to be on watch most of time.

      Sound of fighting was constant so you had to pay attention if it was closer or not or if that crunching sound is enemy sneaking up on you or just some stone from ceiling falling down. I don’t know anyone who had good sleep in this scenario, in fact rarely anyone slept.

      Shooting was not because of the desire to shoot it was better to waste a bullet than die. As I said it was often used to signal people to stay away as well.

  10. me says:

    I had some messing with me in SoCal traffic, I was on a motorcycle, a souped-up SR500 that went into a wobble at about 70, for a rider at my bodyweight (light).

    The traffic wasn’t thick enough to hide in, so that was out. Normally it was gas it and go, but – the wobble.

    So, I slowed down, got right beside the car and grinned with pure delight while I reached into my jacket for the pistol…. and, they pull off quick at the next exit.

    Of course, no pistol was there! But the Stanislavski Method can be useful.

    Good times, good times.

  11. Shawn says:

    The best way to survive a fight is to “not be there when it happens. Everyone of us could move to a safer rural location if our lives depended on it for health reasons! Well quite possibly our lives in the near future could depend on where we happen to be WTSHTF.We have control over that in the “calm before the storm” but may not if it becomes dangerous to be out and about.
    I’m leaving Los Angeles by the end of the year for a small rural town of farms and ranchs where people live close to the land and are 100X more self reliant than here in the city… Not a guarantee to avoid the troubles but definately better odds than having 17,000,000 neighbors and gang bangers fighting for the same resources – oh and probably 100X less stress and better air, fishing out the back door, people who wave back when you wave, churches full on weekends, American Flags and 4th of July Parades…. on and on!

  12. craig says:

    Shawn, we did the same thing about 4 years ago. We bought 15 acres and started working the land (gardening didn’t come easy), started raising chickens, a few horses, working on goats and a couple of slaughter steers.

    Friendly neighbors, people will stop to say “Hi”, offer to lend a hand, etc…

    We have never missed the rat race of the city.

  13. Robert says:

    The main thing to ask yourself about bluffing in your situation is, “Does the other person (people) have more to gain by calling my bluff than if they don’t?”

    If I were on the reverse side and my children were starving and you were in the last place that I knew of to get food to feed them, I would certainly be willing to take my chances that I could over-run your defenses and get something to eat.

    Certainly might be desperate, but I have seen a few desperate people in my day (certainly not as many as Selco) and they do things that boggle the mind.

    • Selco says:

      Sure if your place is last place but usually there are alternatives for these desparate people. They will go to house without what looks like heavy caliber machine gun instead of the one with. But yes, you are right. I saw extremely desparate actions when people thought there is no alternative.

  14. J Stuart says:

    Great site. These ideas are superb.

  15. warner says:

    Selco: An interview with you was posted on a US site called SHTFplan dot com a day or so ago. Now that site is down. As in, Gone.

    • warner says:

      They’re back now but they had a hell of an attack.

      I’ve used some crazy things to get out of a situation, knife-hand when they thought I might have a knife, a Charlie Chaplain routine to pacify a group – despite a language barrier – that was gonna beat my ass.

      And this is in good times!

  16. Wills says:

    And then there are times when nothing but a big ugly ruckus will stop an attack.
    I had three thugs accost me in Moscow in the street. One got in my face while two
    moved behind me. I shoved the one in front, moved to a wall where my back was covered
    and drew my knife. They said “You are crazy man” and walked away. If there had been
    no bystanders or traffic, blood would have flowed. They knew it and I knew it but they knew enough
    to not mess with a cornered crazy man.

    • Wayne Wilson says:

      I defiantly agree with you there, sometimes fluffing up your feathers bigger than the other guy tells them your not a target. There is a difference between people, bluffing and trying to frighten you and people who are defiantly intending you harm. When a group of guys tries to surround you , they are not trying to frighten you away. I always find that a situation of “you stand as much a chance of dieing as I do” seems to settle things down.
      I understand that any conflict that I get into could result in my death, most people don’t seem to until you point it out to them and most aren’t prepared for that.

  17. Sem says:

    I have a question Selco,

    Was the ammunition that you used corrosive and if it was how did you clean the gun after firing it? Did you just rinse it with water?

    Your articles are great by the way.

    • Bosko says:

      The yugoslavian M70AB2 Rifles (AKM47) are very good quality AK47 but made of corrosive steel – so is the military surplus ammo.
      You cannot rins a corrosive gun just with water – it simple will rust!

      You have to use oil to clean and conserve it – simple motoroil and a piece of rag will do the job!

    • Bosko says:

      You can rinse it with water after use – this will get the salts from the primers out of the barrel – but you have immediatly conserve it with oil…….or you have lots of guns – then you can use them and throw them away after using…(;-)))

  18. Mike says:

    A problem that I see here in America is that most houses can be easily burned, and they will burn quickly. Care must be exercised in choosing a location to defend.

  19. Wayne Wilson says:

    You are right, fear is very powerful and can be used to manipulate peoples behavior. It doesn’t even have to be big, just convincing. Several years ago I was waiting for a bus in a bad neighborhood a little after midnight.As i waited a small gang of youths slowly wandered up to the booth and the group pushed a very nervous looking fellow with a gun in his hand in with me. I heard the biggest one say “go ahead, shoot him” to the guy. I spun around, slid my knife out and stepped forward saying “OK LET’S DO IT”, with a look of complete bloodthirstiness on my face. They turned and ran down the street and I ended up chasing them for 4 blocks and screaming at them from the top of a car in a lot as they ran in diff directions to get away.
    The young guy was nervous and didn’t really want to shoot me I think. The rest just seemed to run cause the young fella, I think he saw that I wasn’t bluffing.

  20. Acropolis says:

    A good bluff may indeed save your life. My experience, years ago, on a blustery winter morning. I, older, city bred, with a younger, oblivious suburban rat. We, in suits, top coats, waiting for the light to cross a four lane boulevard, headed into the courthouse to argue a case. Suddenly, we are casually bracketed by four teens, trying not to stare at us, but constantly glancing at the “leader”. I notice, my associate does not. Fighting them is not a viable option and running is impossible. I undo the top button of my coat, reach in half way as if I’m wearing a shoulder holster, which I am not! I face the leader, impassively staring directly at him. He looks back and I can just imagine his thoughts… “ is this old guy bluffing or is he armed”. Thankfully, he turns and starts to walk away,. The other three follow him. My colleague and I, go to court. My oblivious associate didn’t think to ask me what had happened until lunch.

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