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Mel Tappan’s Personal Survival Letter # 28

Issue No. 28- February, 1982

Buying for Barter- (Stocking up Now for Trading Later)

by Eric and Anne Teller

Editor’s note: Barter is difficult to write about because it is so personal and informal. In fact, the minute you
attempt to structure it by forming barter clubs, co-ops, etc., you destroy the advantages of privacy and flexibility
that it offers.

For the survivalist, there are really two aspects of the subject to consider: the first is the bartering that you do
today to supply your present needs, the second is the acquisition of goods that you intend to use as barter items as
the economy deteriorates further.

For example, I trade milk for homemade bread now because the five gallons that Robin bestows on me per day are
far more than I can consume and I don’t have the time at present to bake. On the other hand, I will put two boxes of
nails that I found at a good price the other day away against the day when hard-to-manufacture items are at a

Eric and Anne Teller are by now accomplished “horse traders” for they’ve been bartering since they moved to
their homestead in the mid-seventies. In a forthcoming issue, Karl Hess, editor of Survival Tomorrow, will give us
some insights into the subject from a different perspective. N.T.

Many knowledgeable people believe barter is going to be the prevailing mode of economic exchange in the
foreseeable future.

Barter is the exchange of real, tangible goods, services, or labor for other real, tangible goods, services, or labor. It
is one of the simplest, most direct ways to obtain something in fair trade.

History teaches us that for centuries barter has been a basic means of exchange that works when the monetary
system fails. Bartering is typically born as a consequence of the fiscal irresponsibility of government. It is the style
of exchange that becomes popular when the prevailing currency begins losing its value. We are now facing a
situation in which our monetary unit, the US dollar, is being steadily inflated as more and more money without any
secure backing is being printed.
Once again the skill of bartering is becoming a critical part of the basic survival strategy.

Advantages of Barter

Traditionally, bartering has been a part of our American rural lifestyle. In preparing this article, Anne and I came to
realize that ever since moving to our rural area, we ourselves have fallen into the habit of frequently using barter as
the best approach for many exchanges or acquisitions. Barter does have numerous advantages, many of which are
unique to barter and barter alone.

For instance, both in today’s world and especially in the trading world of the future, many people may look askance
at the trader with a bag full of silver or gold coins. Your neighbors and mine are going to be interested in dealing in
the everyday basics of life, like food, clothing, lighting and shelter materials, and equipment.

Bartering puts you in direct contact with your trading partner; there’s no middleman charge involved. Both parties
get the full worth of items exchanged.

Having a large inventory of barter goods puts you in the driver’s seat. Hard, real goods represent real wealth.
Nothing artificial is being dealt with.

Another advantage of being prepared to barter is the financial hedge it provides. With our present inflationary
trends, you simply can’t lose by investing in items for trading. Your barter inventory will represent hard goods, the
value of which will at least keep up with inflation and, in most cases, increase in direct proportion to their scarcity
or uniqueness.

If you purchase wisely and carefully, it is just about impossible to experience a financial loss on barter items. At the
very least, you can use many of these items yourself in regular everyday living instead of having to purchase them
at possibly outrageously inflated prices.

The imposition of special monetary controls which are commonly imposed by all governments in times of financial
distress will have little effect on bartering since it is “outside” the realm of typical financial transactions and, as
such, is difficult to monitor. Also, the simplicity and directness of bartering tend to “simplify” tax complications
usually involved in most money dealings.

Many times bartering is the only way to get something that you want. People become much more flexible and
willing to deal when you can offer them something tangible that they want or need. In times of economic upheaval,
you will have real trading goods to offer rather than worthless paper money or potentially counterfeit coins. This
further enhances your bartering advantage.
Disadvantages of Barter

There are some decided disadvantages and problems associated with barter and we don’t want to gloss over these.
As with everything else in survival planning, these must be considered and taken into account and dealt with. This
is the only approach that insures a high chance for success in any endeavor.

A large problem involved with bartering is the physical storage of your barter inventory. The things that you buy
for later bartering have to be stored in a suitable place in such a way that the items stay in prime condition and
maintain their value.

Another problem associated with building up an inventory of items for future trading is that it is easy to get carried
away and make some unwise purchases. Some years ago I made a pretty stupid purchase when I came across a
contractor who was retiring. Among the items he had for sale was a massive vise with 8” jaws, mounted on a heavy
steel beam frame.

It seemed like just the perfect thing for someone’s workshop. If you’ve ever had experience moving and storing
400+ pounds of steel and cast iron, you can imagine the impracticality of this “bargain”. From this painful lesson,
we quickly learned to keep all barter purchases practical and sensible.

Another difficulty is that you will sometimes encounter people with undesirable barter offerings. We had this
problem when we advertised a generator for sale or trade. The fellow who responded wanted to trade some of his
homemade pot pipes plus ample smoking material for the power plant. It was with some difficulty that we
discouraged him and ushered him off the homestead and on his way. He really wanted the power plant, but was
lacking the proper barter inventory!

Yet another disadvantage for some personalities involves the nature of barter “haggling”. Some of us enjoy the
mental stimulation and challenge of the barter exchange process. Others find bartering difficult at first. Part of the
problem in acquiring this skill is related to being unfamiliar with the items involved.

It may be hard for Anne to assess the value of a piece of machinery. On the other hand, however, she is keenly
aware of the value of a hand grinder or box of detergent. If the “give and take” inherent in barter conversation does
not appeal to you, please remember that bartering, like any skill, is one which can be acquired and developed with
practice and patience.

Finally, the major limitation and problem with buying and storing for barter involves security. It is sensible to be
discreet when storing goods unless you want to become the local supply store when people start running out of
It’s extremely important to be close-mouthed about your storage loft or pantry full of barter goods unless you want
some real difficulties later on down the road. For these reasons, keep a low profile in your trading exchanges.
Rather than allow yourself to be considered a “horse trader”, it’s much wiser to approach barter from the prudent “I
happen to have an extra…” approach.

There’s also the reality of a need for inventory control. This can be a simple booklet or card file listing the items as
they are accumulated, traded, or used up.

Building the Barter Inventory

At this point one should consider what barter items to acquire. Any barter inventory is bound to reflect the different
interests and geographical needs of different homestead retreaters. At the same time, there are certain items that
have universal utility and appeal. Below are the barter supply guidelines Anne and I have followed:

Consumable Goods
Our first category is composed of supplies that fit into our own personal use plans. To this end we have taken a
listing of all of our “necessary” basic supplies, and bought extras of these consumable items. A cross-section of
these extra supplies includes food, fuel, toiletry items, birth control and medical supplies, household cleaning
supplies, matches, needles and thread, ammunition, stove pipe, etc.

Non-consumable, Durable, and Reproducible Trade Goods

This second category includes such items as duplicate hand and household tools, hardware and building supplies,
extra books, weapons, clothing, and even livestock. Again, the idea to keep in mind is that these are all duplicates
or triplicates of our basic supply inventory.

Regarding the importance of livestock as an item of inestimable barter value, I’d like to share with you a story
recounted to us by a survivalist friend who spent her childhood years in northern Europe during World War II. She
told of the severe meat shortages and explained how “well off” the rabbit raisers were. We’ve all heard jokes about
the rapid reproductive abilities of the domestic rabbit. Apparently, the people fortunate enough to have breeding
stock had a self-perpetuating commodity which was zealously guarded as prime trading stock.

Thus, the development of a small, efficient rabbit-raising operation could provide one with a self-sustaining
inventory of desirable trade items, if and when meat becomes scarce. The same principle holds true for chickens
and goats, which could provide a steady source of eggs and milk. Even today, fresh meat, eggs, and milk have
significant bartering value.
One thought to consider when stocking items like clothing, boots, and such, is that it’s important to stock only items
that are appropriate to your situation and that fit you or a family member. The chances of matching someone else’s
needs or sizes are out of proportion to the valuable storage space that those items would take up.

Luxury Goods

This third category of barter supplies consists of items like cigarettes, tobacco, coffee, and liquor. The perspective
of history reminds us that these items are often the key ingredient for untold numbers of successful barter
transactions. During times of scarcity these items have a potential value way out of proportion to their original cost.

As you’re developing a barter inventory, strive for a balance among the types of goods you store. This will not only
broaden the range of people with whom you can successfully deal, but it will provide more insurance for your own
unforeseen personal needs. An extra case of ammo or an extra dozen knives, but no extra wheat doesn’t make much
sense. On the other hand, a room-full of wheat and no extra hand grinder doesn’t make much sense either.

Too, it’s wise to have a wide assortment of goods because often that extra small item is the one that can clinch the
deal that otherwise you would be unable to complete. By having varied trade goods, you’ll always be in a better
position to barter successfully. Be sure every item you purchase for your barter inventory is something that you can
really use or is something someone else in your near vicinity may need.

Stock Up On Skills

When building your barter inventory, you will likely want to obtain supplies to enhance any specialized skills you
may have. But “stocking up” for bartering means more than just accumulating hard, physical goods. It also includes
expanding your skills in areas of perceived need, interest, or aptitude.

Whether this entails merely buying a how-to-do-it book, or taking a correspondence course, or hiring an expert to
teach you, take the time now to learn new specialized skills. Such valuable crafts as shoemaking, reloading,
horseshoeing, etc. are full of future barter potential.

A friend of ours had a successful real estate business in a large metropolitan area. Two years prior to making the
move to his homestead retreat, this savvy fellow started up a part-time handyman business for the express purpose
of improving and expanding his basic skills.
He realized that although he was a capable hobby craftsman, he would need the wide range of experience such a
business would give him in order to successfully develop his own homestead retreat. He now has a wide inventory
of fix-it type skills which place him in an enviable barter position.

When you move to your homestead retreat, you may consider a new trade or business. If you do, consider also the
barter potential that your new profession may have. The small farmer, saw mill operator, or greenhouse grower has
a decided built-in advantage in the barter system. Their skill produces a commodity which is in continual demand.

Think Barter

To help you get started, we’d like to recommend that you acquire the necessary barter philosophy. It’s best to
develop and cultivate the general outlook of being open to opportunities which will assist you in stocking your
barter inventory. Get in the habit of stopping at garage and auction sales when they are nearby. Acquire the habit of
reading classified ads and assessing household and moving ads carefully.

It was last summer that I read an ad offering a used water heater for a very reasonable price. It turned out that the
couple running the ad were getting ready to move and had many things besides the water heater to sell. We came
home with the water heater plus two rifles, three large boxes of nails and assorted hardware, several hand tools, four
cartons of books, and a corn popper we wouldn’t part with for any amount! The total price for this barterable
treasure was less than half the cost of a new water heater.

Looking at yesterday’s paper, I find many items listed which have potential for barter, as well as for extending our
own supplies. There are hand tools, grinders, a sausage maker, a Colt Commander, a Remington Model 870, and
case lots of nails at a fraction of the usual price.

It would be nice if we could purchase and store away every item that we are ever going to need for every
conceivable situation in our uncertain future. It would also be nice if we were able to acquire every skill necessary
to make it through any and all survival situations and future crises which could likely descend upon us. Such a
situation, however, is impossible.

None of us can know at what point a vital piece of equipment might become inoperable. Or when a basic food item
could become damaged or depleted. There is no way any of us can have enough spares put by to cover all
possibilities. It becomes an exercise in simple logic, therefore, to conclude that at some point in time, under almost
any survival situation, it will be necessary to obtain from someone else actual goods or certain skills. This brings us
back to barter.

In order to get the potential value from this article, one has to be committed to the understanding that barter is going
to be a necessary part of life under any sort of future social or economic breakdown. In fact barter is now a viable
and highly useful skill enabling one to obtain both monetary and practical advantages which are unobtainable with
money exchange.
Medical Book Reviews
You should buy ​Wilderness Medicine​ and add it to your medical kit so that you will have it when you need it.

While there are many books available on first-aid and emergency health care that are valuable texts and references,
only a few are compact enough to carry and provide sufficient information to make adequate injury management
possible. ​Wilderness Medicine​, written by Wm. Forgey, MD, is such a text. Additionally, it is written in a clear but
concise style that presents easily understood descriptions of diseases and their treatment.

This book was written with backpackers and campers in mind, so the text is predominantly concerned with injuries
of the “active and healthy” (i.e. sprains, fractures, animal bites​1​, lacerations, etc.). It does not address the treatment
of more chronic diseases (i.e. diabetes, congestive heart failure, etc.). However, it does give explicit instructions for
cardiopulmonary resuscitation, basic suturing techniques, and the preparation of a reliable medical kit.​2

As a quick-to-use, practical handbook for field carry, ​Wilderness Medicine is excellent. It cannot replace your
medical references​3 ​or professional medical services, but it does provide you with enough medical information to
get you home. Available from Indiana Camp Supply Books, P.O. Box 344, Pittsboro, IN 46167, $5.95 in US, $6.95
in Canada.

While the cut and suction technique is presented for treatment of venomous snakebite, the present accepted
emergency treatment for snakebite is presented in PS Letter No. 11.
See PS Letter Nos. 4, 5, and 19.
See PS Letter No. 20 for up-to-date information on medicines.

For those of you who have specific medical problems and want to learn more about a given disease, I suggest you
order ​Medical Books for the Layperson,​ an annotated bibliography, and its supplement, compiled by Marilyn
McLean Philbrook.

The books listed are not medical texts, but if you want to learn about current thinking on everything from
brain-damaged children and diabetes to strokes and ulcers, I know of no better place to start. The author includes
books using a traditional approach as well as those written from the holistic viewpoint. The nice thing about an
annotated bibliography is, of course, that you can pick and choose, deciding from the descriptions, which books
best suit your needs.

Available from the Trustees of the Boston Public Library, The Publications Office, 666 Boylston, Boston, MA
02117, $2.00 each plus $.50 postage.
Survival Gunsmithing- Remington Model 870 Shotgun
by J.B. Wood

In its riot gun configuration, the Remington Model 870 shotgun is used by more police agencies than any other
slide-action. This speaks well of its reliability. From the standpoint of the Police Armorer or Weapons Maintenance
Officer, it also has the virtue of being relatively easy to repair in case of minor breakage, as most of its replacement
parts require no fitting. For the survivalist, the significance of both of these points is obvious.

A basic parts list for the Model 870 would include the following: firing pin, firing pin return spring, extractor,
extractor plunger, extractor spring, right shell stop, and left shell stop.

Firing pin breakage is not common, but it does happen, as with any gun. The return spring can be damaged if not
properly seated in its front recess during reassembly, and it is also subject to age-weakening. A broken extractor is
easily replaced, but a slip during reassembly or disassembly can lose the plunger and spring. This spring can also
weaken with age.

The right and left shell stops are long pieces of sheet steel, formed to shape and then spring-tempered. While
breakage of their oddly-shaped forward ends is not a chronic ailment, it is also not unusual, especially after long
and frequent use. Removal and installation of the shell stops (Remington calls them “latches”) is one of the few
semi-difficult jobs in maintenance of the Model 870.

Here is the comprehensive list for the Model 870, including the previously listed items: firing pin, firing pin return
spring, extractor, extractor plunger, extractor spring, right shell stop, left shell stop, ejector, ejector spring, ejector
rivets (2), carrier assembly, trigger housing pins (two sizes), trigger housing pin detent springs (two sizes),
magazine spring, and magazine spring retainer.

The ejector rarely breaks, but its spring will occasionally fracture at its forward end, where it is secured by the front
ejector mounting rivet. The ejector itself is subject to wear after long usage. If the spring alone is broken, it’s
possible to remove only the front rivet (it is driven out toward the left), and install the new spring by replacing the

When clenching the inside tip of the new rivet, the outside head of the rivet must have firm support, and the spring
must be held firmly in place. It’s not an easy job, and if a gunsmith is available, it would be better to let him do it.

The carrier and carrier dog are both subject to breakage, but this is quite rare. Since the dog and its spacer are
mounted on the right rear arm of the carrier by a riveted pivot-pin, replacement is much easier if you have the
complete assembly, and it is not expensive.
The cross-pins that retain the trigger group are practically immune to damage, but their essential function puts them
on the list in case of loss. This also applies to the small spring-clips which retain the pins. If these are lost, or break,
or lose tension, the pins will be loose in the receiver, with eventual loss a certainty. Considering the low price of
these little spring clips, several spares would be a good idea.

A survival shotgun is likely to be left fully-loaded for long periods of time, with the magazine spring compressed.
An eventual “set” of the spring is possible, and this can result in feeding problems. The spare spring is insurance
against this. The spring retainer is included because of possible loss during disassembly or reassembly. One slip and
the spring will propel the retainer quite a distance, sometimes never to be seen again.

One way to prevent this is to insert the shaft of a screwdriver through the center of the retainer, then tap the handle
of the screwdriver to seat the spring retainer in place. You have to “start” one edge of it into the magazine tube first,
of course.

For the Ultimate Worrier, there are several parts in the trigger group which have been known to need replacement,
but the instance of this is so infrequent that the parts would seldom be needed. A spare sear and the coil spring
which powers both the sear and the trigger could be added, and they are easily installed. The same applies to the
trigger and its attached upper arms, or “connectors”, but this assembly may require fitting, and is sold only to

If there is wear or damage to the hammer or the slide latch (“action bar lock”), or their springs, you have a real
problem. The hammer pivot retains all of these parts, and the right tip of the pivot is riveted over a washer.
Removal of this system without damage to the alloy trigger housing or the slide latch can be quite difficult for the
non-gunsmith. Grinding away the riveted tip of the pivot can make it easier, but this will also require replacement
of the pivot and probably the washer, in addition to any needed parts in the hammer/slide latch system.

The complete trigger group is available as an assembly, and while it is comparatively expensive (around $30), this
would be the most expedient way to repair any malfunction in this area. With a spare trigger group assembly on
hand, simple removal and replacement of the entire unit will be the only “gunsmithing” required. It should be noted
that the trigger group assembly is ​not​ a restricted part, so it can be purchased directly by non-gunsmiths.

The only other part of the Model 870 that I have seen broken is the breech lock, or “bolt”. The bolt is hollow at its
center to accommodate the locking block, and I have encountered two bolts that had cracked on one side at the rear.
In both cases, there was a strong suspicion that extra-heavy handloads had been fired, so I believe we can view
these as isolated instances.
In case of extreme wear or peening of the locking block recess in the barrel tail, it’s worth noting that the factory
can supply an oversize locking block piece, to compensate for this condition. The part is not restricted, and it is
relatively inexpensive. It would, however, take many years of hard use to produce conditions in which an oversize
block would be needed. Some fitting would probably be required.

In ​The Gun Digest Book of Exploded Firearms Drawings​, Second Edition, the Model 870 is shown on page 97. For
some odd reason, the one shown is the left-hand version. Except for the reversal, though, the parts relationship is
the same. Complete takedown and reassembly are on pages 208 through 216 in ​Volume V: Shotguns,​ in my
Firearms Assembly/Disassembly series of books. Both books are available at your local gun shop or bookstore, or
direct from DBI Books, Inc., One Northfield Plaza, Northfield, IL 60093.

Notes from Jeff Cooper

Editor’s note: I thought you should see the following comments that Jeff sent me on the Springfield Armory version
of the BM-59 and BM-62. N. T.

We have run complete tests on the new issue of Beretta modifications of the Garand rifle. As you know this piece
was originally termed the BM-59, and then modified in various ways into the BM-62. It is essentially a shortened
Garand, reworked to take the .308 cartridge from 20-round box magazines. The concept is superb; the execution is
evidently difficult. I have one which I purchased back in the dark ages which is a delight. I have won two open,
unlimited rifle matches with it and I find no fault with it whatever.

It is something of a rarity however, since the new versions of this weapon, now available in this country (for about
$1000 a copy), seem to be plagued with both functioning and accuracy problems. We have found versions that
would not shoot acceptably.

Finally we got a copy from the factory which will shoot fairly well, printing groups on the order of six inches in
diameter at 200 meters. This is certainly not tack-driving but it will do. We know this rifle and we have sent it back
to the distributor for sale. We do not know about any others.

Our conclusion is that this weapon is the best answer to the need for a general-purpose rifle, assuming that you can
find one that shoots. You must determine this in advance of your purchase, however, and this may be a difficult
thing to arrange.
The Detonics Matte Stainless

Editor’s Note: Jeff forwarded to me the following report on the new Detonics, which he received from a very senior
agent on active duty in the Secret Service, who also happens to be an honor graduate of API and a highly-ranked
IPSC competitor. N. T.

I bought the Detonics Matte Stainless, fixed sights of course. As previously stated, this run is far superior to the
earlier one. The receiver, slide, and barrel have matching numbers. The machining is better and thought has gone
into improving the design. Placement of the rear sight is, of course, ludicrous, but I can’t change that.

With that exception, I think it’s a pretty nifty item. I shot my friend’s piece, same model, and I found it easier to
control in rapid fire than the alloy Commander. Recovery time compares favorably with both Commanders and the
big gun. Starting with a locked in Weaver at 5 yards, whistle start, 5 well-grouped rounds in 1.1 sec. equals the best
I could do with the big gun, and shades by .1 sec. the best with either of the Commanders.

As for reliability, the crucial point you mentioned, hardball, factory 185 gr. SWC, 4.5 gr. BE, 5.8 gr. 231, and 3.5
gr. BE, all with our favorite H&G No.68 bullet, fed without a whimper. A limited test I know, but I don’t have
unlimited resources. The throat is relieved, as well as the ramp polished. I detected one minor problem which my
friend, Lou Ciamello, Maryland Gun Works, will fix.

In case of a bad primer, immediate action applied doesn’t always successfully eject the loaded round. A few strokes
at the feeding portion of the ejection port should handle that problem. It appears Detonics has reworked the unique
recoil spring to provide reliability in balance with the shorter stroke of the lighter slide.

Weight versus size in reducing the 1911- If I resided at Gunsite or where I could wear a handgun exposed in casual
clothing, denims, levis, etc., I would agree with your view. Of course I wear business suits, the summer variety of
which come, thank God, in lightweight fabrics, hardly suited for bulk or weight.

From a concealment angle, which I live with here in the East, the Detonics is an improvement in any rig I’ve tried
except the Cooper/Hardy shoulder rig. Weather (cold) is not really a problem, but in the summer under a Guayabera
shirt or similar garment, the Detonics butt doesn’t protrude like the others.

In addition, while in my present employ, as you know, if I wish to pack it must be a revolver of Smith or Colt
manufacture in an off-duty status. Therefore, any 1911 must then be a second weapon. Rarely, do I take a second,
but in downtown DC or NYC I have. With two handguns, reduction in both bulk and size helps.
Letters from the Editor
Jeff Cooper has just published ​Quoth the Raven, Seventeen Points to Ponder,​ which is a collection of his favorite
quotes and poems together with his comments on each. As Jeff says in his introduction, “ignorance or rejection” of
the ideas presented “betides corruption”. Do yourself a favor and order a copy for yourself and several to give to

Jeff and I both think that the pithy comments in the book just might penetrate the television-fogged brains of
today’s youth, many of whom cannot bear to concentrate on the printed word for more than thirty seconds at a time.
Order from Gunsite Raven Corporation, Box 401, Paulden, AZ 86334 ($3.00 postpaid each for one to 10 copies,
$2.00 each postpaid for 10 or more).

Two of our subscribers have just printed new catalogs and I recommend that you order them. Bill Henry of Sierra
Supply (P.O. Box 1390. Durango, CO 81301, 303-259-1822) does not charge for his and offers PS Letter
subscribers a 10% discount on all orders. If you have any questions about purchasing military surplus items, he’ll
he happy to answer them.

Eric Krouse at Homesteader’s Warehouse offers items that I’ve not seen elsewhere, such as a non-electric yogurt
maker, solar AM/FM radio, solar flashlight, Stormproof, and an excellent selection of books at low prices. As one
who is a fanatic on the subject of growing your own grain, I was particularly impressed with the books and
equipment he sells for small scale harvesting. The catalog (normally $3.00) is free to PS Letter subscribers until
April, 1982 (Homesteader’s Warehouse, P.O. Box 2230, Dept. 1282, Roseburg, OR 97470).

All of the equipment mentioned in the firefighting article can be purchased from Freedom Pax, P.O. Box 729,
Grants Pass, OR 97526, and they are willing to help you organize a system to meet your specific needs. Write for
their new catalog of survival products or call them at 503-582-1222.

Candy has informed me that she has finally shipped binders to all those who have renewed through 1981. Just drop
her a postcard if you have not received yours, and please allow two weeks for delivery.
Survival Footwear
by Robert Kimball

Editor’s Note: To answer your requests for information on survival clothing, we are going to run a series
discussing both the products that offer you the most quality for the least amount of money and those that are of the
highest quality regardless of price.

For this first article on mass-produced footwear, we have asked one of our subscribers, Robert Kimball, to give us
the benefit of his expertise. After obtaining an MBA from Pepperdine University, he worked for Dunlap’s
Department Stores and for the Broadway chain as a buyer, store manager, director of training and development,
and merchandise manager. Early in his career he sold shoes to the public and later was responsible for shoe
departments. Currently Mr. Kimball is living in the Southwest with his family, working 10 hours a day building a
self-sufficient retreat. NT.

Would you pay $240 for a pair of average-quality work boots? I wouldn't. I would go to J.C. Penney or K-Mart or
some other mass merchandiser and buy a pair for under $50. What would you do, however, if all the stores were
closed due to economic collapse or nuclear war? Given the knowledge, the tools, and the materials, you could make
your own, or if you could find a bootmaker, you could have a pair made, or you could take a pair out of storage.

In England, prior to the industrial revolution, when all footwear was made by hand, an average quality pair of work
boots cost the worker a week-and-a-half’s wages. On that basis, a worker who earns $160 per week in 1982 would
have to pay $240 for a pair of handmade work boots.

The Western cowboy of the late 1800’s was willing to pay two month’s wages for a pair of custom-made cowboy
boots. A good bootmaker, working long and hard hours, could make four or five pairs of boots per week. In terms
of hours worked to earn or to make a pair of boots, boots are much more valuable in a non-industrial society.
Manufactured footwear is a real bargain by comparison.

For long-term survival, footwear is even more valuable. It is unlikely that you or anyone in your area will know
how to make boots. Even if someone does know how or learns how, the cost in time and energy will be very high. It
takes over two hundred steps to make a pair of boots by hand and a lifetime to learn how to do it well. Those with
the foresight to stock up now on survival footwear will be in a much better position to survive.

The most important criteria for buying footwear is fit. The best-made, most expensive boots are of no value if they
don’t fit. In fact, footwear that doesn’t fit can cause serious harm to your feet. The human foot is very complex and
therefore difficult to fit. It is flexible and to some degree fluid. It is fragile and easy to injure. Footwear, to fit
properly, must be able to accommodate the foot’s flexibility and fluidity, and at the same time protect the foot from
Manufactured shoe sizes are not made to fit any particular foot. Shoe sizes are a compromise between length and
width relationships of the shoe last (lasts are forms shoemakers use to form the shoe uppers). Each manufacturer
has its own set of lasts, there are no standards. Without going into all of the details of why it is true, which would
require a small book, you should know that all the sizes listed below are about the same actual width and that there
is only a small difference in the lengths.

Men’s sizes: 9EE, 9 ½E, 10D, 10 ½C, 11B, 11 ½A, 12AA. The same is true for this group of women’s sizes: 6 ½C,
7B, 7 ½A, 8AA, 8 ½AAA, 9AAAA. A 9EE and a 12AA are similar in actual width and length measurements but
very different in overall proportion. The significant differences are that as you move from a 9EE to a 12AA or from
a 6 ½C to 9AAA, the arch, the widest part of the shoe, and the instep opening all move forward.

If you are now wearing a 10D but should be wearing a 12AA, then in the 10D your arch will not be supported in the
right place, your foot will not be free to flex forward when loaded, because the wide part of the shoe will be too far
back, and the blood circulation in your foot will be restricted since the opening at the instep will be too far back,
thus cutting into the instep.

I don’t want to imply by this that everyone is wearing shoes that are too short and/or too wide, but if your shoes
cause pain in your feet, soft calluses on the balls of your feet, bulging toe joints, hammer toes, or corns then you are
probably wearing the wrong size shoes. The size range examples above should help you find a better-fitting size.

So how do you find your correct shoe size? A shoe salesman who understood all of the above would be very helpful
but such salesmen are rare. A store that stocked all sizes would also be helpful but most stores only stock medium
(D for men and B for women). But don’t give up. You can usually find one store that carries all or nearly all sizes.
My suggestion is to do your own fitting using these guidelines. Most shoe salesmen will think you are crazy. Just
ignore them.

Guidelines for Fitting Footwear

1. Before you go to the store, trace the outlines of both of your feet on a piece of paper. Cut each one out, turn one
upside down, and lay the two on top of each other. You will probably find that your right and left feet are not
exactly alike. One is probably longer and/or wider than the other.

Notice the shape of your feet. Are they long and narrow, or short and wide, or just average? If there are significant
differences between your right and your left feet, you will have to find a size that is a compromise between the two.
2. In the store, fit the arch first. Try on several different sizes and styles (all size 10D’s are not alike). Try the size
you have been wearing and several others close to it. The size that fits your arch best is probably the one you should
be wearing.

3. Next cheek the heel fit by walking in both shoes. If the heel slips, it is probably because the shoe is too wide, not
too long, as many shoe salesmen will tell you. A shorter shoe may not slip on your heel but the arch will be too far
back and your toes will be cramped.

4. Now check the length. Toes should have plenty of room to extend forward when under load.

5. Check the width. It should be snug but not tight.

6. Check for flexibility. Can you bend your feet without the shoes cutting into your feet?

7. Wear the type of socks you will wear with the footwear you are buying. For boots wear boot socks, two pair of
socks or one pair of socks and one pair of sock liners. You will wear a wider width boot than dress shoe because of
the thicker socks. Sometimes two pairs of socks can solve a fitting problem, especially if you need a narrower size
than you can find.

What you are doing in the process just outlined is finding the best compromise between the actual size of your feet
and the shoe sizes available.

Types of Footwear for Long-Term Survival

Unless you have a fully-stocked retreat that will need no maintenance, repairs, or restocking, you will be spending
most of your time on your feet, working in the garden, mucking out the barn, hunting, building, remodeling or
repairing your house, or other buildings.

For all of these tasks the best type of footwear is boots. Your feet need to be protected from the hazards of outdoor
life; sharp rocks, thorns, heat, cold, wet weather, snakes, bugs, mud, etc. If you don’t have boots, shoes are better
than sandals and sandals are better than bare feet.
There are numerous types and styles of boots available- work boots, safety boots, hiking boots, hunting boots, cold
weather boots, riding boots, engineer’s boots, etc. What you need most is boots that fit. If you can only find one
type and style that fits, you are far better off to wear that boot for everything than to spend money on specialized
boots that don’t fit. You need boots that are comfortable to work in. If you are in a cold climate, you will also need
insulated boots for winter. Once these needs are satisfied, you can consider specialized boots.

The features to look for in boots for long-term survival use are: 1. fit, 2. flexibility, 3. full-grain leather, 4. Vibram
soles (rubber lug-type), 5. full-bellows tongue to keep out the dirt and the wet, and 6. steel shank (a hidden item you
will have to ask about). Cold weather boots should be insulated, should be water repellent or waterproof, and if
made of rubber should have removable felt liners. Features to avoid are: 1. boots that don’t fit, 2. synthetic leather
(it doesn’t breathe), and 3. boots that are too heavy (will cause fatigue with every step).

Shopping Report

The branches of the chain stores I shopped are all located in the Southwest. Prices are as of November, 1981.
Selections and prices will vary somewhat from region to region and from season to season. The store I found to
have the best selection of sizes and widths in stock was Red Wing Shoe Stores, a national chain. I bought a pair of
boots I didn’t intend to because they had in stock a pair of 12A hunting boots.

The J.C. Penney catalog lists a wider range of sizes in some styles than carried in their retail stores. I order work
boots from the Penney’s catalog and receive them within one week of placing the order. The Shopping Report lists
what I term the best buys. Sears, Wards, and chain shoe stores all have comparable merchandise.

How Long Will They Last?

The variables affecting wear are: your weight, how you walk, what work you will be doing, fit, quality of footwear
materials, moisture, dirt, chemicals (e.g. lime, cement, gasoline), abrasion, and perspiration.

For almost two years we have been working 50-60 hours per week building our own house, digging ditches, mixing
concrete, and hammering nails. I am on my third pair of Penney’s work boots. Based on my experience, I need
three pairs of work boots every two years. The Red Wing boots would last longer but they cost $83, they weigh
more, and they are less flexible than the Penney work boot.

Terry, my wife, has been wearing the same pair of rough-out hiking boots with Vibram soles and they are still not
worn out. Why do her boots last so much longer? Terry weighs 110 lbs., I weigh 160 lbs. I do more of the heavy
and the dirty work. Based on our experience, a pair of work boots is going to last eight months to two years.
Features that will help boots to last longer include: Vibram soles, full grain smooth leather, and a steel shank to
keep the arch from breaking down. Usually the first things to wear out are the laces. Always buy several extra pair
for each pair of boots. The leather uppers will last longer if they are cleaned and oiled as needed.

Long-Term Storage

Leather and other materials used in footwear will last a very long time if properly stored. Footwear and clothing
found in Egyptian tombs were still in good condition. You need a cool, clean, dark place with low relative humidity
(65% or less). High temperature will cause drying and cracking; light, especially ultraviolet, will cause the leather
to break down; high humidity will cause rot, and dirt will cause wear by abrasion.

Do not store footwear in plastic because plastic attracts dirt. Clean and oil your footwear or use whatever
preparation is recommended by the manufacturer. Wrap in non-acid tissue paper. Most, if not all cardboard, is high
acid which, over time, will react with shoe materials if in direct contact with them. Use shoe or boot trees or
non-acid tissue paper to retain shape.

Boots are not much good without socks. The best boot sock I have found is a brand called Wigwam. I was able to
find them only at sporting goods stores and at Red Wing Shoe Stores. Wigwam Thermo socks are all wool except
for nylon reinforcing at the heel and toe. I find these socks comfortable all year round. They sell for $5.50 a pair.
Twelve pair will last me two years or more.

This is one of the few socks still sold in individual sizes. For very cold weather, L.L. Bean (Freeport, ME 04033,
207-865-3111) has a sock called the Klondike which sells for $6.25 a pair. If you don’t like wool or are allergic to
it, I would recommend acrylic tube socks which sell for $3.50 a pair at most department stores.

One thing you don’t want to do is wear boots 24 hours a day. You will need some kind of leisure footwear. For
warm weather, rubber thongs are good. K-Mart and other stores sell these during the summer season for about $4.
In cooler weather, some kind of slipper is good. For very cold weather, down booties or down socks are best. The
Eddie Bauer Catalog (P.O. Box 3700, Seattle, WA 98124) has both. Down booties for men and women are $37 a
pair. Down socks for men and women are $18, $16 for children.

You should consider storing a lifetime supply of survival footwear for everyone in your family. But what would
that involve? If you thought you had 20 more years to live you would need 10 to 30 pairs of boots, just for yourself.
I can’t afford to buy 30 pairs of boots, so what I do is this. I always have several new pairs on hand. I have resoled
and refurbished all old shoes and boots, including sport tennis shoes. As time goes on, I will have more and more
footwear on hand.
Today you call walk through any shopping mall in the country and see more footwear on display than you would
think people could wear in a lifetime. But shoes wear out faster than people realize, and when shoes are in short
supply or not available at all, a pair of work boots will be worth $240 or more.

Firefighting, Part II: Active Controls

By W.B. Carson, II


How much water do you need? Let’s assume a moderate fire in one cell which will probably break through to an
adjoining cell because someone left the wrong door open. Your main attack line will require at least 60 gpm and
should have 80 gpm. The two spotters in the adjoining cells will need at least 15 gpm each just to keep the barrier
cool. They should have more than that to deal with any breakthroughs without interrupting the main assault.

Your attic sprinklers will need 20 gpm. These demands total approximately 120-150 gpm at a minimum of 80 psi.
Municipal utilities cannot supply this and neither can residential wells. However, professional firefighting
equipment is designed and available for precisely this application. All rural and forest service fire departments use
small gasoline-powered pumps which are capable of pushing sufficient water for our needs. And they are
independent of municipal power supply. All they need is a reservoir, hose, and nozzles.

A complete mobile unit is truck- or trailer-mountable. Don’t mess with a too-small pump to save money; by
spending a little more you get a much better delivery system which is more reliable, longer-lived, and still portable.

An alternative to a portable unit is a power take-off (PTO) pump mounted on a reliable vehicle transmission:
pick-up, farm tractor, or 6x6. This approach cuts the cost of a system because you already have the engine to power
the pump. But you need to keep the vehicle in good repair and on site if it’s to do any good.

Another alternative is a generator-powered submersible pump in a standard irrigation well. This supplies a system
with enough water, but not at high pressure, so you must have an electric centrifugal pump -also powered by the
generator- to boost the pressure to 100 psi, which is nice working pressure. This alternative has drawbacks; if you
don’t have enough ground water it won’t work, and it’s rather expensive if you don’t need to irrigate.
I use a 12-kilowatt generator, a five-horsepower well pump, and a five-horsepower centrifugal booster pump. You
could use the generator and the booster pump alone if you have a reservoir. Generally, I consider the generator
system a poor substitute for a good fire pump. See Figure II for cost comparisons of the different systems.

For a reservoir, you can use a small clean pond, or for $1000 you can get a 9000-gallon, 27’ diameter,
above-ground swimming pool. If you already have a pool, you’re set. Also available are collapsible bag tanks,
self-supporting poly tanks, and open-top water storage tanks. Tanks range in price from two dollars a gallon for
steel to fifty cents a gallon for plastic. The above-ground pool is a bargain.

To cut friction loss, use oversize hose and lines throughout your system, except on the last section of hose, which
you will want to be light and flexible. As you can see in the chart and graphs, 5/8” garden hose is not acceptable for
firefighting, as it severely limits the volume and pressure to the nozzle. It is also not suited to heavy static and
shock loads.

Much better is 1” rubber booster line, found on light fire vehicles. For spotters in adjacent cells, this hose would be
perfect. It’s also great for grass and brush fires because it’s not too heavy to move around. It can even serve as your
main attack line, if your pump can give you enough pressure. For 100’ of 1” line, you need to pump at 200 psi to
get 100 psi at the nozzle.

One-inch line is very desirable because of its lighter weight, and especially for its flexibility in the confines of a
building. One and a half-inch line has a minimum bend radius of about 3’ before it kinks and is therefore rather
awkward inside buildings. For this reason, some fire departments are moving to 1” band lines and pressures of over
300 psi at the pump.

However, some are going the other way to l ¾” and 2” main attack lines for the greater water volume. The most
common attack is with 1½” line at 125 psi. If your pump can only manage this pressure, you must use the bulkier
system. If you can pump more than 125 psi, you can consider the lighter hose system.

When you go to the fire department, ask them to charge a 1½” line so you can feel how much muscle it takes to
handle it. Then try their 1” booster hose at 300 psi. That’s near the pressure required to match the performance of
the 1½” line. Then ask them if they would go into a flaming building with just a 1” line. The trick is to lead up to
the house with large line and step it down to 1” hose on a short (7-10’) last section.
Supply all your hose with very large line in order to reduce line loss. (See Line Loss Chart.) Get a good nozzle on
your main line; it will make a big difference. Notice the difference in reach and spray pattern between a good
nozzle and an economy nozzle. On a narrow fog setting (nozzles are adjustable) the difference is even more

When you price equipment, be ready for high prices. Like any emergency equipment, fire fighting equipment must
be built to stand up to rough handling and extreme situations. An adequate nozzle runs $300, 50’ of 1½” hose
another $75. A decent self-contained portable pump will cost $2000 plus freight. A PTO will cost $1000. Plus the
engine, if you don’t already have one to power it. A possible package of a good portable pump, 1000-gallon
reservoir, 300’ of fire hose, wye, and 3 nozzles would cost about $4000.

In strictly residential communities your needs are less, due to lack of grass, brush, and trees, and smaller quantities
of stored fuels; however, there is a greater problem of structural fires spreading due to closer construction. This is
known as an exposure problem. To protect against this threat you can use roof sprinklers, water curtains, and the
fog setting on your main nozzle.

Of course, if your neighbor’s house is on fire, you’ll be busy fighting it rather than worrying about your own house.
The best defense is a good offense. So while you’re next door, the sprinklers and water curtain better do the job of
protecting your house. And maybe you had better keep an extra length of hose ready in case you have to reach
surrounding property. Just imagine how much it would mean to your neighbor. Perhaps a few homes could share
some equipment to cut costs.

If you live in an apartment or condominium, you are at risk. You cannot control your environment- you have many
people, with many children, and many potential fire sources. Low-quality construction leads to the rapid spread of
fire and thus less time to salvage and scat. Unless it starts in your apartment, there is little hope to control the fire
with fire extinguishers, and that’s all you’re likely to have.

Managers aren’t big on gas-powered pumps and 1000-gallon reservoirs in the apartments. So what do you do? Keep
your most valuable gear ready to go and install your own battery-powered smoke alarms. And buy the biggest ABC
multi-purpose fire extinguisher you can handle.

And check the building for faulty construction and unsafe storage of flammables. I’m not kidding. Get into the attic
and check the tightness of the fire stops. If there are fire hoses in or near the building, figure out how to work them.
The local fire department will be glad to send someone out to show you how to use an occupant-type standpipe
When it comes to water systems, you have a pretty good feel for water’s effect on fire. But when I talk about
personal protection while fighting fire, you will not have any precedent on which to draw intuitive conclusions. So,
go to your local health club, turn the sauna all the way up and wait for it to heat up to about 250 degrees- a
relatively cool fire environment. Now pour some water on the rocks and see if you can breathe. You cannot. The
steam is well above boiling temperature, and will burn your mouth and lungs.

If this hot air were actually hot gasses from a fire, you would first die from oxygen deprivation, and then later die
again from acute poisoning. Next you would collapse from heat exhaustion -you have to work to fight fire- and then
die in the fire itself.

Most living firefighters would not enter a burning building without insulated fireproof clothing and breathing
apparatus (BA). You’ve seen this equipment before. Helmet, turnout coat and pants, slip-on boots, and air tank and
mask. How much of this do you need? Let’s see.

Smoke alarms are pretty amazing. Before there is flame there is smoke. That’s when your detector sounds. So you
have quite a jump on the fire compared to a firefighter who is dispatched from afar. Your smoke detector is in the
hall, but the fire is in the bedroom. The door is closed so fire progresses unnoticed for some time. You hear the
alarm, check the location, and find fire building a base.

You alert your household and attempt to smother the flames with whatever is at hand: rugs, jacket, pan of water.
But you see it’s time to get serious. Run outside to the pump, uncover it, open inlet valve, start engine, unroll hose
which is already connected and nozzled, go back to the pump, open outlet. Pull the pressure-stiffened line into the

This point in time is critical. How long has the fire been burning? At least five minutes, and maybe fifteen. What
fuel? If it’s your garage, I wouldn’t approach it without full turnouts and BA. In the home I would hope for no
carpet, light cotton drapes, and bare unpainted wood walls.

Otherwise I’d be wearing my breathing apparatus and at least a Nomex fireproof jumpsuit. (Two firefighters
responded to a stove fire; upon arrival they found a smoldering pan of beans. They decided such a tiny fire wasn’t
worthy of BA. They were found dead inside by the backup crew. They died from the fumes of the burning nonstick
coating on the pan.)

Breathing apparatus and turnouts allow you to stay inside for a long enough period to do some good. A helmet
protects the No. 1 organ in your body. You cannot effectively fight structure fires from outside. You must go inside
and blow the fire out of the house. In order to go in and do that, you must be protected from the flames, heat, fumes,
and falling debris. Firefighters aren’t stupid. They wear the equipment for good reason.
A Step Further

As for those who choose to live in the “whispering pines”, your needs are more substantial. Doubling or tripling the
equipment above is the minimum you’ll need. You must consider mounting fog nozzles up in the trees on your
perimeter and on your roof, plus water curtains at the worst exposures of your buildings.

Water curtains are nozzle-produced walls of water which can extend 30’ or more into the air to create a barrier
against heat and fire. You will need at least one 2 ½” line or two l ½” lines to reach the fire before the heat reaches
you. A small monitor (water cannon) would be appropriate for this as monitors can be operated by one person, even
remotely, while a regular 2½” line would require two or three people.

I recently toured the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier and found that the entire conning tower is completely covered
by sprinklers to wash fallout particles off of every square foot of working area. This is the approach to use with fire
control in the forest.

You must be able to turn the system on and hunker down. Everything must get wet continuously. Otherwise your
house will go the way of those pine trees which spontaneously explode from the heat of the approaching fire.

How much water do you need? One hundred and fifty gpm for each l ½”, or 250 for a single 2 ½” line. Forty gpm
for each fog nozzle and water curtain. That comes to about 460 gpm, a small amount for a fire engine pumper. Your
best approach is either a PTO-unit on your truck or a pair of Mark 75 portables. Either choice will do nicely, but the
PTO is much less expensive.

Unless the surrounding forest has been thinned or trees have been limbed to 25’ and higher, anything less than 400
gpm is suicide. Your reservoir must be proportionally larger as well. A full-size swimming pool or a serious pond is
in order. Can you cut a perimeter beyond your island of trees? Try to break up the forest with strategic meadows.
These will act as buffer zones. Make sure you have enough line to reach.

Face it, you will have your hands full with a serious fire. You may not be able to attack the seat of the fire, and at
the same time check for attic and roof fire and cell breakthrough. Granted, a good firefighter can extinguish a hot
fire in seconds by himself by spraying the seat and thus stopping the production center of the heat and gasses. But
he is experienced and has a lot of backup if he fails.

You will make mistakes and forget details that someone else might think of. You will need help, even if it’s only a
trustworthy kid looking in through open windows (open to avoid glass in the face from interior explosions),
checking for fire spread. More help will be extremely beneficial.

Developing your manpower resources is easy. As a rational survivalist, you probably have friends and neighbors
close to you who would respond to a call for help. They expect the same from you. But your phone may be burned
to a crisp, and you certainly don’t have time to run next door.

There are two possibilities: an outdoor siren or horn and portable or mobile radio. Communications between friends
is vital, regardless of the type of emergency. Audible alarms require a pre-arranged code but are more reliable.
Radios allow an infinite range of verbal information to be communicated, but both sets must be on and working. I
don’t have space here to get into it, but you must have a workable communications system.

Furthermore, your group of friends must know what to do when the time comes. That means planning, equipping,
and practicing. And not just for fires, but also for medical and security emergencies. I’ll say it again: Plan, equip,
and practice.

System Overview

Do these measures sound extreme? Perhaps, but what’s it worth to you? Work on your perimeters. Make the
alterations on your house. Build a serious water delivery system. Talk to your insurance agent and he’ll give you
40% lower premiums- if he’s honest. Study your home layout and plan different fire situations. In the next article, I
will talk about tactics. Until then, get your equipment together, working, and ready to go.

Alternative Weapons, Part I: Bows

by Bob Taylor

Alternative weapons for survival have always been a subject of interest to those with more than a passing interest in
long-term survival. These weapons are often referred to as primitive, but I find nothing primitive about a fine
compound bow or one of the modern versions of the crossbow.
While you shouldn’t invest in a bow or crossbow until you have your battery of firearms and ammunition, they do
offer certain advantages and versatility to the survivalist.

Silence, one of the more obvious and desirable attributes of these “special weapons”, gives you the advantage of
taking game in your area without advertising the fact that you will be feasting that evening.

If you live in an area where there is an abundance of trout or salmon in the rivers and streams, such as the Pacific
Northwest, either the bow or crossbow is far more efficient for stocking up on fish than a fly or spincast rod and
reel. Arrows and bolts, unlike firearms ammunition, can be reused without the drudgery of reloading- that is, of
course, if they survive being shot and can be found.

On the negative side, both bows and crossbows have a fairly limited range. Any arrow or bolt has a trajectory that
falls somewhere between that of a .45 ACP and a red brick. For most people, the maximum effective range is about
40 yards. As with any weapon, expertise can increase this range to perhaps 80 yards. Beyond 80 yards, the chances
of a good shot are extremely improbable.

The killing effect of arrows differs drastically from that of a bullet. Whereas a bullet kills by releasing a large
amount of energy into the target and destroying vital organs, an arrow, with a broadhead such as the kind used on
large game, kills by causing massive hemorrhaging which is caused by the blades (usually 1 1/8 to 1 ½ inch
diameter) passing through the body.

While this can mean almost instantaneous death, if the shot is placed in the heart, more often than not the animal
lasts from five minutes to several hours. The unfortunate result can be a lost animal which does nobody any good.

The State of Mississippi has pioneered the use of paralyzing toxins (such as Succinylcholine) for the taking of game
animals by bow and arrow with great success, and in a survival situation, I would suggest the use of these.

There are a number of ways to deliver a toxin which still allow the animal to be eaten, and we will explore these
later in another article. We will also cover Dr. C. Richards’s recommendations for readily-available
pharmaceuticals that cause an instant knockdown, but do not make the meat inedible.
Over the years there have been a number of myths and misconceptions about both the effectiveness and superiority
of the crossbow versus the bow. The first is that the crossbow is inherently more accurate than the longbow, or
compound bow. Quite the contrary is true. I too believed this, and only after my wife and I started archery lessons
together, did I find this to be inaccurate. Our instructor not only proved the superiority in terms of accuracy, but
relieved me of some Federal Reserve Notes in the process during some compound bow vs. crossbow contests.

The crossbow allows anyone who can shoot a rifle to achieve reasonable accuracy almost instantly, especially at
ranges between 30 and 50 yards. Shooting a long- or compound bow requires regular practice to maintain useable
proficiency, even at close ranges of 20 yards or so, because shot placement is so critical when using an arrow. The
chances are that a deer struck in the shoulder with even a .30-30 would be meat on the table, whereas one shot with
a non-toxified arrow would probably die an agonizing death and cost you an arrow.

The other misconception is that a crossbow is more powerful than a longbow or a compound bow. Here again, the
issue of practice comes into the picture, and can best be illustrated by a personal experience of mine.

I currently own a Bear LTD compound bow, which has an adjustable draw weight from 40-65 pounds. When I first
started shooting it, I set the draw weight at 50 pounds, and in the span of three to four weeks, I moved the weight up
to 60 pounds and shot the bow at that weight for two to three weeks before turning it up to 65 pounds.

As with almost everything else I do that requires consistent practice, I became lax practicing my shooting with the
Bear LTD, and not only was my accuracy off, but after taking just a month off from shooting, I had some trouble
with the draw weight at 65 pounds.

Any compound bow which has a draw weight of 60 pounds or more usually has the edge on most 150-pound class
crossbows for two reasons. First, the crossbow has a bolt that is from 8 to 17 inches in length, while an arrow is
from 28 to 33 inches. This is a weight difference of 200 or more grains. Secondly, a bow usually has a longer draw
or power length.

Most compound bows I have tested have a velocity around 190-200 f.p.s. using a 550 grain arrow, whereas that of
the crossbows in the 150-pound class is around 205-215 f.p.s. with a 320 grain bolt. The difference isn’t that great,
but most unpracticed archers don’t or can’t use a 65-pound or greater draw weight with either a long, recurve, or
compound bow. Most people I have let shoot my crossbows can cock the 150-pounders without too much trouble,
especially if the crossbow has a cocking stirrup.

The long or recurve bow is the oldest of all of the weapons. One of its advantages is its simplicity, and simplicity
usually means less trouble. Also, the recurve weighs less than the other bows, and an important point in today’s
depressed economy is that it costs much less than a compound or crossbow (price ranging from $50 to $100).
In a pinch, the recurve can also use cedar arrows, while a compound bow can’t. Cedar arrows are far less expensive,
but unfortunately they are not nearly as sturdy as aluminum, fiberglass, or the newer graphite arrows. However, you
will probably lose more arrows than break them.

Another advantage of the recurve is that a number of manufacturers have takedown models which break into two or
three pieces for easy storage and transport. Unlike the compound bow, you cannot shoot the recurve at adjustable
draw weights, nor is it as powerful.

The compound bow, of which there are about 20 manufacturers and hundreds of models, is only about 12 years old.
By the use of cables and pulleys, it allows you to shoot at higher draw weights. There are usually two or four
pulleys which have a “let-off” of 30% to 50% at “full draw”, which means that with a 60-pound compound bow
you are only holding 30 to 40 pounds, rather than the 60 pounds of power.

When you start to “draw” the bow back, you are pulling the full 60 pounds; the let-off takes place about half the
distance of the draw and gets progressively easier. Because you are only holding 30 pounds, you are steadier and
can hold for longer than you can with a recurve. Essentially, the compound lets you shoot at your full potential,
both in terms of accuracy and power.

Another plus for the compound is that it is inherently more powerful and more accurate than the recurve bow. The
reason for this is that the power is more gradual. When you draw the bow back, it becomes easier as you draw back
farther. The arrow receives the reverse effect of release- it gradually picks up speed and power, rather than being
slapped out, making the performance smoother.

Now for the negative points of the compound. First, the compound is a complex piece of equipment, more prone to
breakage, and it needs periodic tuning to utilize its full potential. This in itself can be a nightmare, unless you
understand your particular compound bow.

Because of the additional pulleys and cables, the compound is three to ten times heavier than the recurve bow.
Compound bows are also more particular about which arrow you feed them. As mentioned earlier, you can’t use
cedar arrows with a compound, and they are also finicky on shaft weights.

Because of the large number of manufacturers, each of whom make many different models, there is a wide range of
prices. Also, a bow is a very personal item- what I can shoot well might be a nightmare for you, and vice versa.
Because we are all different physically, a bow, whether a recurve or a compound, should be fitted to the shooter as
should a shotgun or rifle. I cannot recommend any particular manufacturer or model.
One sound suggestion, if you decide to get a bow, is that you purchase it from an archery shop where there is a pro
who will assist you in choosing the bow that fits you best. If you choose a compound how, he can tune it to you for
maximum performance. When I bought my Bear LTD, I had the draw length shortened because I have short arms,
and this improved the performance considerably. Many of the archery shops also have a range available and offer

Occasionally you will find a pro who will let you test fly a bow if he knows you are serious about buying one. But I
wouldn’t count on it. He may also offer you a good buy on a used bow in top condition. When you decide on a
bow, have the pro teach you everything he can about it. If it’s a compound, learn how to change cables and restring
the bow and even though it’s not easy, you should learn how to tune it.

If, when looking for a bow, the salesman or pro doesn’t check your draw length and tries to sell you a compound
bow without adjusting it to you, he’s not concerned with your best interest. On the other hand, a compound that is
sold over the counter, as is, may very well be set up for you the minute you handle it, usually because the pro has
looked you over when you walked in and thinks he has a bow that is set up for your draw length.

While you may pay more at an archery shop -usually about 10%-30%- remember that you are also paying for a
person’s expertise. Remember that a clerk in a discount store is usually just that -a clerk- and may know less than
you do. Naturally, if you buy your equipment at his shop, a pro will probably take a greater interest in helping you
than if you walk in with a bow purchased elsewhere.

Crossbows are less complicated to purchase than compound bows, but good ones are more difficult to find.

Personally, I own a number of crossbows, a takedown recurve, and compound bows. Because of my experience
with all of these weapons, I feel that the crossbow is probably the best overall choice, mainly because of the
practice issue. When the time comes that we are dependent upon ourselves, there will not be time to practice as you

Also, the crossbow is not tuned or set up for any one person, which will enable everyone in your family to use the
same weapon with almost equal results. I know my wife cannot shoot my compound bow very easily, even when it
is set at 40 pounds. She can, however, cock a 150-pound crossbow, which is more powerful than my compound
when it is set at 40 pounds.

There are a number of production and some custom-manufactured crossbows currently available. I have tested
many of these crossbows extensively, and next month I will review them.
An Apology to Bob Loveless
As you no doubt realized when reading PS Letter No. 26, Charles Avery’s remarks about custom knifemakers
stirred up a bit of controversy, and neither Charles nor I felt that we said enough about Bob Loveless in our

Charles mentioned that Bob was one of the makers with whom he or his friends had been unhappy, but he never
meant to imply that Bob was in any way crooked. Bob, who was a friend of Mel’s, called and asked me to set the
record straight on his behalf. “Sure, it’s true,” he said, “that people have been unhappy with the time it takes me to
deliver a knife.

Customers are now taking delivery on knives ordered six and a half years ago and promised in four.” “But,” he
emphasized, “I am delivering those knives at the prices originally agreed upon when they were first commissioned
and I pay any people who request a refund 1% per month interest for the period that I’ve kept their money.”

Incidentally, many of those people who are waiting for Loveless knives are doing so because his knives have
doubled in value once a year for the past 12 years. A Loveless that cost $45 in 1969 is now worth somewhere
between $800 and $1200. Simply put, Loveless knives have been a superb investment.

Mel considered Bob a genius. Most of today’s modern knife designs are copies or variations of Loveless patterns,
and his research in metallurgy has led to the widespread use of 154 CM steel for blades. He has been the single
most influential force in the world of modern custom knifemaking- he is to modern knifemaking what Jeff Cooper
is to modern pistolcraft. Along the way he has angered and irritated many, but then to quote one of Jeff Cooper’s
favorite sayings, “If you are not making anyone mad, you are not getting anything done.”

In Bob’s case the anything done also includes founding the Knifemakers’ Guild to foster ethical practices among
the makers and teaching his craft to any who want to learn. Among those who have studied with him are some of
the top makers in the country today. Currently, he is President of the Knifemakers’ Guild of Japan, and is working
on developing low-energy techniques for making knives.

If you own a Loveless knife, you own the work of a master. Treasure it. N.T.