Editor’s Note: Do you want to know what it’s really like? If so, then the best place to acquire first hand information about what you’ll experience when the world as we know it collapses is from combat veterans and people who have been through the worst of what humanity has to offer.
In 2011 Selco of SHTF School shared A Survival Q & A: Living Through SHTF In the Middle of A War Zone with our readers and it opened our eyes to how difficult a situation each of us will face when law & order, as well as human decency, break down.
Selco lived it during the Balkan war, which spanned from 1992 to 1995.
In the following article, Selco delves even further, detailing real life scenarios, training tactics and other key information that will undoubtedly help save your life should the streets of America turn into a war zone. Pay attention because this no idealized collapse scenario – it’s reality.
When SHTF nobody told me how hard is gonna be and what things I will have to do to survive, there was no training or simulations, through most of the stuff I was going for the first time in my life, and I was hoping it is only temporary situation, it is not going to last for whole year.
Few events opened my eyes, and somehow make me survivor right at the beginning, and I can say I have luck to understand in very early stage how hard it is, and what it takes.
During one of the first bigger events of killing in the streets, I was out together with my friend who also was medical professional.
Fire from machine guns was on people who were standing in front of the main city bread factory, and people started to scream and run over each other.
My first impulse was to run to nearest cover but my friend got down to help some lady, so I stayed one meter next to him.
I was confused about my decision and not sure to stay with him or run. Bullets from machine gun hit him over his legs, and I saw how his knee cap exploded, it looked like some bad movie special effect.
He just looked at his legs, then at me, in silence. Even that was just seconds moments like this feel very long.
I took him by the hands and drag him some 20 or 30 meters to safety. Only there I saw that he was missing his leg under the knee. It stayed with dead lady on the street.
And only then he started to scream.
I used belt to stop bleeding, ambulance still worked in that period. He went to hospital and then evacuated from the city. He survived but never came back.
In moments of chaos always listen to your instincts and do not hesitate. Especially if you are involved in situation when someone is shooting at you with high caliber machine gun. Just accept that people will die, and you have to survive. To help others is great thing, to survive is even better, also I realized that human being is so fragile and easy to destroy.
Later I learned some things about weapons and how to use them, so I realize that more firepower does not necessary mean more dangerous and better chance to kill.
Owning a weapon is just absolutely necessary in preparing for a survival scenario, even more in urban survival. You just need to go and get as close as you can to the real stuff while you are doing the preparing and training for the SHTF, so it makes sense to go out and check your preps, to check your gear and yourself.
For example pair of boots that you bought and store for bad days will not be used for walking only, it will be use for running, squatting, jumping, in mud, junk, blood, guts maybe or just running trough a shallow river.
Everything that you have prepared and stored for SHTF will be pushed to the limits.
One thing is to go out into woods nearby and do recording of your weapon testing on some beer bottles with your friends, and after that concluding that particular gun or rifle is best for SHTF, and that you are dangerous dude because your accuracy rules. Some people gonna put that clip on you tube and go home convinced that they are ready and prepared.
In reality you do not know if you are prepared.
A lot of survival stores that sell things sell idea of buy this and you are safe. No you are not. Also you learn more about real urban survival scenario in my survival course and this helps you to mentally be better prepared but real deal when SHTF always comes as surprise.
When time comes again it gonna hit everyone like a hammer. Good news is that when you know you will get hit like that you can recover fast and use your skills, knowledge and preps to make best out of situation.
Using weapon in real life, in real survival situation is something absolutely different from shooting bear bottles, and if you could do some real training that is realistic that would be maybe going to camping with trash bag as a tent, being on camping for 10 days with 10 small cans of food, and 10 liters of water, walking every day for 10 km.
And then on 11th day run few kilometers and then shoot and see how accurate you are when your body is wasting away.
And still the most important thing is missing. While you are shooting at the beer bottles they do not shoot back at you in order to kill you.
During some of the first battles in city I was moving trough the building behind a guy, we both had rifles. He was sweeping the rooms and shooting, it was the closest urban combat as it can be. In the moment when he run out of ammo he used his rifle as something between spear and bat.
Now someone could say why he did not just switch to pistol? He did not have one, also he did not have time to look for ammo. But there I learned how it is useful to have folded stock of rifle when shooting and moving in very confined spaces.
Also I learned that rifle with pretty sharp parts at the barrel can be very handy. He stabbed guy to the cheek, ripping his face down and finishing him on ground.
One of the biggest misconception at the people who do not have fighting experience is what they need to practice.
It is all about pressure. You need to learn:
1. What your weapon can take
In terms of kicking, throwing, how often and when will it malfunction, and what the most common malfunctions are, and how to fix it, of course how to fix it in middle of fight. If you find yourself in the middle of fighting, and your weapon “jams” do not be as we called “zblesavljen” or in English is probably looking like idiot.
I have seen that: guy is shooting and in the middle of fighting his weapon jammed, and he surprisingly look at the weapon in a “what the f#ck?” state. And of course in two seconds he ends up dead.
You absolutely need to know how to manage small weapon jams without looking at the weapon, you need to look at the target while you are “repairing” weapon (clearing the bullet, switching to other magazine etc.)
Other option would be to MOVE immediately when your weapon jams, move to cover in same second, or to dropping it on ground, or on your back, and switching to your other weapon. But you need to learn to do all of above without thinking. You need to train that this becomes automatic.
Small things like how quickly you can put your rifle on your back and a switch to pistol can be difference between life and death, if you somehow “trip” yourself while you are trying to put rifle on your back in order to take pistol you can end up dead.
2. What you can take
Remember this: while you are shooting at the bad guys, those bad guys will be SHOOTING AT YOU TOO.
So shooting at the beer bottles in the woods with your buddies will not really do all the training you need. I am doing it often, but it just not covering everything.
Fighting and surviving combat means constant moving and outsmarting the guys on the other side, you gonna need to run, squat, throw yourself in the ditch, lay down in all kinds of sh!t and shoot at the same time, and probably fix your rifle from jams, or switch to another weapon.
Do some basic weapon training and learn about line of sight and how to get out off it.
Very great percentage of shooting is done without aiming, just spraying bullets.
It makes sense to do some airsoft or paintball in the woods to check how constant moving change whole game, and what kind of moving makes sense in order to survive gunfight.
For example how often you shoot from your weapon with both hands, dominant and not dominant? In urban fighting you will need switch weapon around very often (moving through the apartments, rooms, around the corners etc.). When you are shooting behind corner, and you are having rifle in your right hand and corner is on your left side it make sense to transfer weapon to left hand. otherwise it is dangerous to stick your left part of body out in order to shoot form right hand.
For all you who have some military experience this all is basic stuff, but I have seen many guys who were killed in stupid ways.
Real gunfight is dynamic thing. Adrenaline is weird thing too, so people can do tremendous things while adrenaline is pumping, but also with lack of training and common sense guy can do tremendously stupid things. I have seen man who was pointing to something and he stood up from the cover, and got shot.
3. How to train yourself
Training is the key. You can not do anything else today except to train very hard.
You can not experience real stuff today of course, but you can take it as close to real stuff as you can. Go out with your friends and think about all possible scenarios. But think about worst case scenarios. SHTF is not gonna wait for nice and sunny weather, you gonna be maybe hungry, dirty. Maybe have to give up your shelter and food storage on second day of SHTF.
Or you gonna be forced to use other weapon that you are not used to. Maybe you gonna be forced to hide for hours hidden under a pile of rubble and then you are gonna be forced to jump out and “kill” ten beer bottles. Sounds like fun? This is why resilience and mental strength is so important.
Maybe you are gonna be cold and thirsty and in the middle of the battle. One thing is sure – very rarely it goes the way that you planned. So just be ready for many options and do not panic when things go other way. Want to get some funny sounding advice?
Get good at suffering while still being able to work towards a goal.
4. What weapon, caliber, stopping power etc?
It is very hard question (that I get asked a lot). But think about fact that everything today is about mainstream and commercial. And somehow it is more about what other people say is good and not necessarily about what you need and what is good for YOU.
You and your hand kill, weapon is only tool. I have seen fight when man with knife is killing the guy with rifle. He had mastered fighting with knife and had will to kill. Other guy had a rifle only, and he ends up dead. I also seen more than once people shot with rifle bullets still fighting, running for good amount of time. Some of them were not even aware that they are wounded before someone else pointed that out to them.
What I am trying to say, do not expect miracles if you own weapon that is at the moment most popular, having great stopping power, cool reviews. It is about practicing , weapon mastering and correct bullets placement.
I said bullets for a reason, I have seen many things, but I did not see someone survive multiple shots in correct place at the body. Have weapon that is best for your case, and achieve perfection in using it. Do not expect that people will fly back if you shoot them with one bullet from some widely popular weapon and caliber (not talking about shotguns).
So I am not gonna tell you what is the best weapon because what works for me maybe does not work for you or others.
Having a weapon that is too rare, too good or too bad does not make too much sense for me. Do not find yourself in situation when you lose your weapon and pick someone else and then find out that you do not have clue about it, because your weapon was special and rare.
Just have what everyone else around you has, because of gun parts, ammo and you look like everyone else.
Your weapon is only tool to survive, be ready to lose it if you need to lose it, and pick some other from ground in the middle of fight.
I knew a guy who did some scary stuff with rusty shortened M48. He was old and poor looking dude, he played that part good, until he would take out this old gun from under his coat and rob and kill people. Simple strategy but it worked for him. So look around and think what works for you.
If you have experienced combat or heard what matters from veterans please share in comments.
About the Author: Surviving one year in a city surrounded by the enemy army and cut off from the rest of the world. I’m Selco and have been through this SHTF school I never wanted to attend during the Balkan wars 1992 – 1995.
Get actionable advice, his current supply list, his story in detail and more when you subscribe to the One Year In Hell Online Course.