Posted in Bandora, Protection

Urban Prepping: My Every Day Carry Kit

prep-quoteI have been feeling a primal urge to prep like I never have before. I am avoiding the “tin foil hat” AKA conspiracy theory websites but just looking at mainstream media headlines is enough to make someone nervous. The urge is subconscious and it’s strong so I am trying to indulge it as my budget allows for peace of mind.

Right now I can only afford to do $5-$10 per month but it’s better than nothing. Why? Because I can’t count on the government/FEMA to take care of me in an emergency, one only has to look back to Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina to know how much people suffered because they weren’t prepared.

My gut has always been accurate in the past and I have regretted it when I haven’t listened to it so I don’t want to ignore this urge. I have been an urban prepper my whole but have been woefully unprepared since I relocated to this area. It has always bothered me that I don’t have as much food and water as I’d like, that our gear is disorganized and we have no bugout bags.

I don’t have the resources or skills to be a full fledged survivalist but any little bit I can do to make us self sufficient even for a few days is better than nothing. If the shit hits the fan and the world as we know it ends this week we are screwed but if there is temporary disruption such as a hurricane our chances are looking a little better as each month passes by.

Part of this urge is on defense and firearms preparation. Why? Because I can’t carry a cop in my pocket and by the time 911 sends someone it can be too late. Ever since I took the class in January my obsessive compulsive instincts wanted to kick in and research, research, research and practice, practice, practice. Going to the range isn’t as easy as I’d like since I don’t have a car and it gets expensive so I am doing the best I can and have been able to practice every 3 weeks.

I got my concealed carry permit last month and this month I lucked out on a great deal on my first gun, a Ruger LC9s brand new for only $5 over new rugerwholesale cost which is more impressive given that this model is in such high demand that it’s out of stock everywhere else.

Now with a weapon in the house there are the added safety precautions with children. I used the NRA’s Eddie Eagle Gun Safety curriculum with my boys and they learned it well but I still carry on my body during all waking hours and use a safe during shower and sleep time. My husband and I are in the process of selecting a code word that the kids will recognize as “get down now!” if they are with me or “stay in your room until I get you!” if they are upstairs and I am dealing with a confrontation.

I already had an EDC (Everyday Carry Kit) so the Ruger was just an addition to it. These are items that I always have on me when I leave the house, just like some people check to make sure that they have keys and wallet when they leave, I make sure I have these guys with me. If you search Pinterest and Instagram you’ll see hashtags such as #edc dedicated exclusively to this giving great ideas. Some people’s kit are more geared for survival if stranded, others are geared more for protection, others combine both.

My EDC Kit

My budget EDC kit:

  • Cellphone– this is such a versatile tool, not only to call for help but with apps I can get GPS, flashlight, camera and many other features. My cellphone is always on my body, never on a bag.
  • Pocket knife– the picture doesn’t do it justice, this is a gorgeous rainbow blade that I got for less than $10 until I can save to upgrade to a better one. But just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it isn’t good. It’s SHARP and has a partial serrated edge so I could cut a seatbelt with it or use it camping. I usually have it in a pocket or in the bag if my outfit is not conducive for it.
  • Monkey Fist– this is a keychain but I don’t have any keys of my own to put on it. It’s a steel ball wrapped in paracord and it can do a lot of damage if an attacker gets close enough to hit, just swing it and it’ll cause good pain and damage wherever it touches. If I were stranded the paracord has many uses. I usually have it in my bag but will carry in my hand if walking out alone. I got it “free for shipping” so less than $5 and it’s not hard to make your own.
  • Tactical Flashlight– This is a compact LED with a very bright beam, it also doubles as another weapon if attacked and can be used to break a car window if trapped. I also got it “free for shipping” so less than $5. It replaced my basic $1 store LED flashlight.
  • Ruger LC9s 9mm pistol– this is the new addition to my kit, I still have to take it to the range to properly break it in but so far I am happy with it.

There are other items that I sometimes add to my kit and I always have a folding “credit card knife” on my wallet but due to bulk and space these are my core items.


Do you have an EDC?  Let’s see it!

Posted in Bandora, Protection

NRA Basic Pistol Class Review

When looking at pistol class options I could have taken an “express” 1 1/2 hour class or a “regular” 3 hour class available every day to be eligible to apply for a concealed carry permit in Florida but since I had ZERO shooting experience I wanted to get the most in depth education possible, not just the bare minimum.  For only $30 more I could take an 8 hour class that was more comprehensive so that was the first use I made of the gift card that my husband gave me for Christmas. This required waiting a few weeks for the next class but it was well worth it.

NRA Guide to the Basics of Pistol Shooting
My first paper book in over a year, I kept trying to swipe the page like it was my Kindle

There is a textbook that was made available over a week before the class started and was required reading prior to the day. The book wasn’t great in my opinion; I didn’t find it engaging, the font was tiny and the editing was very dry and technical, if it hadn’t been for the pictures I would have been hopelessly lost. I hear that the book is on backorder right now as they as revising the course into a Blended Learning format so you may not have to worry about this if you decide to take this class in the future.

A big portion of the class was spent watching a DVD that summarized the book and but everything in an easy to understand format. The stuff that went over my head while reading the book was made clear easily with the video. This part took several hours as the instructor paused it many times to go more in depth on the discussion, point out parts that “should be a good idea to remember” (ie “it’s on the test”) and there was a lot of hands on practice.

Walther PPK
The Walther PPK (aka 007’s gun) became my favorite to practice with in class because the size was perfect for my hand.

While the instructor says that in many classes they use fake plastic pistols, he doesn’t believe in that and he brought an assortment from his personal collection for hands on practice that included over 6 revolvers and over 6 semi-automatic pistols of a variety of brands and calibers. It was fun to handle the model of revolver that Rick uses to kill zombies on The Walking Dead, the one that Agent 007 uses and the one from Die Hard, etc. This was great as I got to practice loading, unloading and dry firing (firing without ammunition) each type which helped me understand some of the many differences between brands and models, start to get an idea of what type to look for and helped me build confidence for the range portion to come later in the day. I don’t think that the course would have been as effective for me without this part so I am glad that my instructor did this.

The instructor also passed around and demonstrated an extensive collection of cartridges from a wide array of calibers, new, empty cases, shrapnel, misfired cartridges and more. He also did a hands on demonstration of disassembling a semi-automatic and cleaning it and the cleaning of a revolver that was a lot more in depth than the video and book and helped me feel confident in being able to clean my own pistol once I buy one saving me the expense of being overcharged by having somebody else do it.

When that was done there was a closed book written exam of 50 multiple choice and true/false questions with a minimum score of 90 to pass. There were several trick questions but the instructor gave us enough hints in advance, warning about tricky wording and told us which parts were important to remember in addition to doing a quick review before starting the test so I felt well prepared. The exam was graded on the spot (swapped among classmates to grade together) and once that part was complete it was range time for practice with live ammunition and qualification. You need to get a group of 5 shots close enough on the target to pass the course.

Our class size was large with 9 students so there was not enough time for everybody to have a turn that day so the instructor started with those that lived further away. At first I thought that I would have to come back for my qualification as the range was going to close soon but I was 3rd in line and the instructor was able to squeeze me in.

I was very nervous about this part even thought I had a perfect score in the written test because I am not known for hand eye coordination or good eyesight. Add to that the fact that the instructor says that I am “special” because I am a lefty that shoots with the right hand but my dominant eye is the left (aka cross-dominant for those of you knowledgeable about this) and he made it sound like it would be harder for me to get a hang of things and make it work. Thankfully he was wrong and I was able to shoot right handed using my left eye with no problem whatsoever requiring minimal adjustment on sighting so I started hitting bullseyes after my 3rd EVER shot.

My biggest confidence booster!

While other students, some with previous shooting experience, had to have several practice rounds before qualifying. I was shocked that I did so well on my first practice round that my second target was my qualification one. In total I only had to shoot 15 rounds before he was ready to move on to the next student and in that process I got to experience a misfire (cartridge malfunction) and had a hot case fly into my t-shirt and burn my chest, fun, fun lol. It was quite the rush and I loved every second of it.

The class was very intense as it was long with no real breaks, not even to eat lunch. We ate lunch while watching part of a video and if you had to go to the bathroom you just got up and hoped that you didn’t miss anything important. Despite it being so long and busy it was always interesting and I felt that every bit of information given was valuable. I was never bored and I am glad that I didn’t take a shortcut by taking a shorter class.

The class demographics were different than I expected, I feared that I may be the only woman in the group but instead there were only 2 men vs 7 women. I was the youngest in the class in my 30s while everybody else was mid 40s to mid 60s.

My next step is now to try to get to the range to practice at least once a month. This part is tricky since I have kids and don’t have my own car so it requires the support of my husband by having him drop me off at the range on a weekend and keep the kids entertained for an hour each time.

The next time I go to the range I will rent different pistols to try to see what I like best before purchasing. Thankfully this range allows you to rent for only $10 per caliber (not per gun) and they carry most of the models that I was looking at so it will be very affordable for me to narrow down my choices. I am wanting to get a 9mm model but I worry about ease of concealment with my existing wardrobe as I am petite and don’t have much in terms of baggy clothes and layers are not suitable to Florida’s hot and humid weather. I did fall in love with the looks of a .380 model that is smaller (but more expensive) and I haven’t tried it yet so the winner is yet to be determined although I am sure that I’ll gush about it here once that happens.

I probably won’t be able to purchase a handgun for several months until I decide on the model and then save enough cash for the pistol, a safe, a holster, a cleaning kit, ammo and extra magazines if needed. First I plan to apply for the CCL as soon as I receive the certificate since that is over a hundred dollars and it can take a long time for the state to process.

Sometime down the road I want to take more advanced courses but due to budgetary constraints it will probably be a while before that happens. Meanwhile, it looks like my husband will be following my steps and taking the course soon.

Once we are ready to bring a gun into our house I will use the NRA Eddie Eagle Gunsafe curriculum for kids.  Most of the resources including the video, workbook and activity sheets are available for free online or they can be purchased for a nominal cost.

gun meme

Posted in Bandora

Battling Wills with Yourself

I have a very bad habit of overloading my plate. It’s good to keep busy but not at the detriment to health.

My entire life I have been in the endless cycle of overworking myself, getting burnt out, getting rid of a lot of the workload to try to recover only to find new things to take their place and start the cycle all over again. Most of the time this happens through volunteer projects, stuff that I don’t have to take on but do anyway on top of everything else that I have on my plate.

struggle is realI never do New Years resolutions but this year I made one to eliminate a lot of the volunteer work and avoid taking on new projects; so far in only 14 days of the year this is proving to be just as hard as the usual “eat healthier”, “go to the gym” and “quit smoking” resolutions. I didn’t realize that I had an addiction!

I like volunteering, however I find that I subconsciously feel like I have to “earn my keep” and spearhead fund raising and outreach projects to help the cause. This is not necessary, nobody is asking me to do this. I don’t know why my subconscious feels like it has to prove anything to anybody but I really need to find a way to stop. These projects, however helpful to the cause, are a lot of stress and take up a lot of time. In the end, my mental health is suffering.

As I try to step back from all of this my brain keeps coming up with new ideas for projects or I keep having to hold back from jumping in and taking over from whoever is now running those projects. It’s such a struggle! Is there a Volunteerholics Anonymous Group?

So since I can’t really have idle hands, I am trying to instead keep busy with paid projects. If I am going to be stressed and overworked I might as well be getting paid for it. In this process I have learned, that while bookkeeping doesn’t pay as well as web design, I enjoy it a heck of a lot more. I actually like doing the stuff that most people hate. I am very tempted to build a new website to get more than the occasional client.

willpowerI just hope that I find the strength and willpower to avoid falling off the wagon.  Meanwhile, if you see me volunteering or proposing new projects, you are authorized to slap me.