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Doomsday Preppers Week 16: Shooters Vs. Runners

Some folks just end up carrying disaster along with them wherever they go.

by
Bob Owens

Bio

March 23, 2013 - 2:00 pm

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: “_____  and  _____ are worried about an economic collapse.” National Geographic should simply change the name of their hit show from Doomsday Preppers to Surviving Obama and be done with it.

Where was I? Oh, I remember.

Brad and Krystal are the parents of three near Tulsa, Oklahoma, and worried about an economic collapse. They’ve been preppers for several years, and have amassed enough food stores that they are beginning to overwhelm their 2,000 sq. ft. home. Their closets and rooms are overflowing to the point that just to get into bed Krystal has to climb over Brad; her side of the bed is packed with canned food.

Moments after we are introduced to the family and shown around their warehouse/home, we shuffle off to the shooting range, where the family is intent on introducing their youngest son, six-year-old Carson, to shooting.

Putting a six year old in charge of a firearm sends up a big red flag to many people, whether they are shooters or not. In the end, it is a call that the parents and instructors have to make: is this specific child mature enough to follow instructions to the letter? Is the environment controlled, with limited distractions? Are all the basic safety rules being followed, and is that child’s exposure to the firearm tightly supervised, and restricted to the firing line? Is there a need/way to restrict the muzzle of the firearm so that it can only point downrange?

As a rifle-shooting instructor, these are some of the concerns that ran through my mind when I heard they were going to put Carson on the firing line, and it turns out those concerns were well-grounded.

The family can’t even get out of the house without serious safety violations, such as when their kids walk out the front door holding uncased firearms by the stocks, and young Carson is pointing the muzzle of his .22LR singe-shot at his sister’s ankles and their concrete driveway. Oy vey!

Here’s a ProTip™: leave your firearm in the case until you arrive at the firing line, and control the muzzle at all times. Of course, since the family didn’t case their weapons, Carson immediately muzzles his mother’s feet once they get to range, and while the camera crew didn’t catch it in their shot, their instructor noted that some of the firearms were loaded when they hit the range.

This family doesn’t have the most basic of safety rules down, and I hope that the instructor takes the time off camera to pull Brad and Krystal aside and explain that they are on the fast track to a negligent discharge that could wound or kill someone, and that it is their responsibility as parents to learn the basic safety rules and impart them to their kids. As it stands now, they’d get reamed by every line boss and range safety officer I’ve ever known, and they’d be lucky if they were allowed to ever come back.

Brad and Krystal then buy a 10′x30′ underground bunker, which they bring into their suburban backyard, swinging it over the fence and trees in broad daylight with passers-by gawking, to bury in their backyard.

Head. Desk.

The more I read about prepping, the more I realize that surviving a disaster in any urban or suburban area is as much (perhaps more) about building relationships than stockpiling supplies. There is no mention whatsoever of this family working in conjunction with their neighbors to establish relationships or a plan.

This $50,000 purchase isn’t a refuge. If the worst does happen, it’s a target, and eventually a tomb.

Despite spending $70,000 in prepping, the show’s experts from Practical Preppers gives the family four months of survival time. They’re being very generous. Unless they include their neighbors in their plans, I’d estimate their survival time in weeks.

If going it alone and failing to include your neighbors in your preps is the downfall of many preppers (and it rather obviously is), then the only way to possibly compound that error is to alienate them entirely, or move to a part of the world where you don’t share the same language or culture. Kevin Barber and his family have chosen the latter.

Worried about a pending economic collapse, the Barbers are ditching all their friends and family in Shawnee, Kansas, and moving to Costa Rica, where they don’t know the culture or speak the language. It’s an escapist fantasy turned escapist reality. Obviously, the Barbers never watched 1986′s The Mosquito Coast.

They seem to think that if there is an economic meltdown in the United States, that they will somehow avoid the global effects of such an event by living in the jungle. Tourism to that jungle is a major part of Costa Rica’s economy, and if the tourism industry collapses — which it almost certainly would in a global economic collapse — then the nation’s unemployment rate will skyrocket to more than 30%.

Kevin wants to bring all his firearms with him. He seems to be unaware that there is no Second Amendment there, that all guns must be registered, and that they can confiscate or deny entry to his AR-15 since it is a semi-automatic rifle. They also banned recreational hunting in 2012, so I’m not sure what good hunting rifles are going to do for him, either.

Don’t get me wrong; Costa Rica has a lot going for it, including a culture that is largely agrarian, self-sufficient, and “green,” with a great life expectancy (better than ours here in the U.S.) and a government that is largely hands-off. But is jumping to a radically different culture and climate really going to give your family better options in the event of an economic collapse?

And what about the food? Ah yes … the food.

Nat Geo is wildly obsessed with the food the family may need to eat in Costa Rica, and puts on a display of exotic insect cuisine ranging from mealworms, to crickets, to scorpions.

Frankly, it’s absurd.

Costa Rican cuisine is built on a foundation of rice and black beans, fresh vegetables and fruits, and, of course, various meats of two-legged and four-legged origin. Frankly, there isn’t a huge difference from other Latin American dishes. The family would have been better prepared for their dietary transition if they simply went to Mexican restaurants. The display of insect foods is nothing more than survivor porn.

Likewise, slaughtering a turkey in front of their children seemed a very unnecessary moment created for the camera, simply to capture the revulsion of the children. I found it rather shameful. Costa Rica’s central markets are in every town. They don’t have Walmart, but they aren’t out capturing and slaughtering their own foods. It’s not our kind of civilization, but it is civilization, and to treat the family like they’re “going native” under a triple-canopy jungle is duplicitous.

The experts from Practical Preppers give the Barbers nine months of survival time. They could have accomplished the same without dislocating their kids and themselves from family, friends, and their nation. If the Barbers wanted to leave the United States, they are perfectly within their rights to do so, and Costa Rica looks like a great place. Calling their relocation “prepping,” however, is pushing the definition of the term, and I don’t see where they’ve done any actual prepping in Costa Rica at all.

If anything, the Barbers remind me of people from “blue” states that have screwed up the places where they’ve lived through bad decision-making, and instead of fixing what they’ve messed up, they’ve run to “red” states without changing. They’re runners, not preppers, and they’re seeking the easy way out.

Bob Owens blogs at Bob-Owens.com.

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Top Rated Comments   
National Geographic has long since become a Leftist mouthpiece. I cancelled my subscription about 30 years ago when I was still a Leftist myself.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (11)
All Comments   (11)
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Someday future archaeologists are going to wonder about all the rusted cans in piles of rubble.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I predict the Barbers will be back to the U.S. in a few years at most. I really wouldn't want to be an North American in a South American country if things collapse - you would be target number one. He should have spent all that money on some isolated but nearby acreage and made friends with like-minded people.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
How to? SKILLS, EXPERTISE, EQUIPMENT and CONNECTIVITY in the COMMUNITY.

Something that the show is NOT showing, but everyone that ever was in a Scouting Movement (as founded by Robert Baden-Powell) as a kid, there are some specific skills that you must know, and other skills that are nice to know.

Rather than spend time and accumulating "things" (like commercially canned food) that once used are gone, spend the resources to learn to do it yourself, get the basic supplies to do it, and learn it so well you can in turn TEACH/INSTRUCT others.

Meet and greet your neighbors, socialize with them, cultivate their friendship like you would cultivate a garden. In an emergency all you have will be each other. Someone has a medical or first responder background - injuries/illness, that is your "expert." Need assistance to clear a roadway, who has the equipment (like a chainsaw for trees or a snow blower for snow) and the knowledge?

In a community, not everyone has to be an expert at everything, where as, if you are "going solo" you almost need to do. You can do this in the suburbs and in the cities too. It isn't just a rural thing.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All of your prepping articles have been very interesting, but I would tend to disagree with your assessment of anyone having problems with adapting to Costa Rican culture and language.

I have a Panamanian friend who has spent a lot of time in Costa Rica. He says the culture is very similar to Panama... basically bilingual. I.e. most everyone speaks English. There are a lot of Americans who have retired there, and you shouldn't have any problem finding fellow expatriates as well as a very American-friendly native population.

I did some online research on this with the idea of someday retiring there, and it sounds like my friend was pretty accurate. It is a very beautiful country, and if I were to choose to retire to south of the border, Costa Rica would be the place.

Of course, if a disaster really comes, who knows how any of that will change. And like you suggest, if the US economy collapses, so would the Costa Rican tourist trade and economy. So it doesn't sound like a really good alternative to escaping a doomsday scenario in the U.S.

In any case, even though I don't watch the show, I find your reviews very entertaining.

Stephen David
http://stephendavid.tumblr.com
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
My family already has a plan. We have land. We've made arrangements with friends and neighbors. We'd basically be building a small community of friends, family, and neighbors that doesn't differ too much from the rural lifestyle I grew up in anyway, except without weekly trips to Wal Mart up in Richmond, KY. Instead, we'd grow, raise and kill what we needed, mostly, until things get back in order. After all, much of what my family eats now is grown by us. My mother has a "garden" that's big enough to put most people's homes in and still have plenty of yard left over. I, my father, my brother, my stepfather, my stepbrothers, and most of our neighbors have actually had firearms training and are already hunters and fishers. "Fish fries" are already a common social gathering back home, where we simply cook what we caught. We planned for disaster, not "the end of everything", though. Nobody, myself included, believes it'll be a permanent situation.

For water? Boil it. Most diseases can't deal with extreme temperatures. And, besides, we know enough to keep ourselves or our animals from defecating in our water source.

Meat? We already have pigs and chickens. No need to invest in anything else, though it'd be nice to have some cattle. Fish is plentiful. We have a pond with catfish, but that's limited. More importantly, nearby is a river with no end of fish, especially that tasty tasty catfish. I'd even eat some bluegill if I was hungry enough.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
". . . such as when their kids walk out the front door holding uncased firearms by the stocks,. . ."

O Master Rifle Instructor, just exactly how would you hold an uncased rifle? By the trigger? Finger in the end of the barrel? Or with your nose firmly pointing up?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
actually this is quite a serious firearm violation. especially if the weapons were loaded BEFORE arriving at the range. you carry a long weapon (rifle, shotgun, etc) at PORT ARMS.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yet this can't be done without touching the stock in any safe manner...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The good thing about the Oklahoma family is that at least they are under the tutelage of a firearms instructor, who's got a lot on his hands. The bunker reminded me of the old Twilight Zone episode where all the neighbors wanted in on the one family's fallout shelter under the mistaken impression nuclear war had broken out.

If there were an economic collapse, I'd rather be in America than Costa Rica, just huddle up with family. Living off the land is not a bad strategy, it's what Snake is preparing to do, as well as the recent episode with the guy who moved to Kansas. But you don't need to move to another country where you don't speak the language. And while I've heard nice things about Costa Rica, next door neighbor Nicaragua has recently had a civil war, nearby Columbia has the FARC, El Salvador has had upheavals. Let's just say the region is more unstable than the US, especially if there's a global economic meltdown. And if the US goes down, we're back to another global depression.

Now, while I don't think that will happen, given what's been going on in Cyprus (along with Greece, et al.) I have slightly less faith in our banking system than I did last week.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Brad and Krystal should have installed a smaller bunker and called it a "Tornado Shelter". A small underground shelter provides useful protection from wind blown debris and flying bullets, but who wants to live underground for an extended period of time? Similar scale problem with all the canned goods. It's a great idea to have several weeks of extra food that you would normally eat, but their food will likely get to it's expiration date before they eat it.

I'm positive that the Barbers would be better off moving to a rural area of a Red State than moving from the Kansas City suburb of Shawnee to Costa Rica. They could have simply bought a 2nd home outside the urban area in rural Kansas and called it "a place in the country they go on the weekends".

The real tough prepper question is what do we do when money dies? I would guess there will be a lot of bartering and having both tools and practical every day useful skills would be valuable. Seems important to have friends and neighbors you can work and trade with. It good to own land where you can grow food.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
National Geographic has long since become a Leftist mouthpiece. I cancelled my subscription about 30 years ago when I was still a Leftist myself.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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