Colony Raising Rabbits: How To Get Started

Colony raising rabbits isn’t hard, but there are a few considerations that can make setting up a rabbit colony go more smoothly.  When I brought home our American Chinchilla breeding trio, I had researched raising meat rabbits extensively.  I knew I wanted to raise my rabbits in a colony.  I found good information on the Colony Raising Rabbits Yahoo group, and the Facebook groups Colony Raising Rabbits, and Rabbits in Colonies.  What I found most useful was examples of how other people set up their rabbit colonies.  I decided to share some pictures of what has been working for us, in hopes that it may help someone else.

Colony Raising Rabbits: The Basics

I’ll put the some of the most valuable bits I’ve learned into a list, because I like lists.  Then I’ll show some pictures of our set up, and talk a little bit more in depth about what’s been working for us.

  • Provide at least 10 square feet per adult.  More is better
  • Provide multiple levels for jumping
  • Protect your rabbits from weather and predators
  • Use baby saver wire on the bottom
  • Keep things clean with litter boxes and deep litter
  • Provide several locations for feeding to reduce competition
  • Provide lots of nesting places and materials for the does
  • Include bucks who are used to a colony for higher quality of life, but you may have unpredictable timing of litters
  • Have your grow out cage ready, because 12 weeks isn’t as long as you think it will be
  • Colony raising rabbits is fun!

Space and Safety

This is a house rabbit cage that our neighbors gave to us.  It is made up of Neat Idea Cubes and zip ties, with PVC tubes for stability.  I really like some aspects of the NIC cage, but it does have a few downfalls.  It has to be used for indoor bunnies.  The one inch squares mean rodents will walk right in, and raccoons will have no problem reaching in for a snack.  Our colony is in the garage and we thought they were safe and snug, until we realized there was a hole behind the furnace where rodents were getting in.

If you’re planning on raising backyard rabbits, please, please, please make sure they have weather appropriate housing.  The previous owner of this cage was trying to breed bunnies in the rain with only a tarp and a heat lamp for shelter.  Major fire hazard and NOT fun for the wet baby bunnies!

If you plan to do any rabbit breeding in a NIC cage make sure you add baby saver wire.  If you don’t, the baby rabbits will be able to walk right out of the cage.  Make sure it goes at least 6 inches up, or the babies will reach an stage where they are big enough to hop over and squeeze out.

How Much Space Do They Need?

Most sources on raising rabbits for meat say that 6 feet of space is adequate for a doe and her litter.  The NIC cage by itself is 18 square feet.  I was unable to find any size guidelines for colony raising rabbits when I first started researching, so I started with all three rabbits in it.  If it was too small I could move the buck out into a separate hutch.

I started to notice the rabbits fighting after we had our first litter.  The biggest indicator was tufts of fur about the cage.  I didn’t want to move the buck out though, because they were still engaging in social grooming, cuddling, and he would let the baby bunnies sit on his back.  It just felt wrong to isolate him.  Instead I added a metal baby yard with chicken wire and hardware cloth around the bottom.

I’ve since learned that the minimum amount of space for a rabbit colony would be more like 10 feet per rabbit, which is the amount of space we have currently.  It’s also very important to have multiple levels for the rabbits to jump off and down on.  Our current set up provides a lot of jumping opportunities, which is one thing it has going for it.

Since adding the attached yard we haven’t had any more indications of fighting.  After we process the first litter if I want to keep raising rabbits for food, I definitely want to expand the colony quite a bit.  A more humane rule of thumb would be 5 times the size of the rabbit.  My rabbits are 8 pound adults, so I’m looking at potentially 120 square feet as a minimum size for my current herd.

Keep it Clean

Of course an important part of rabbit care is cleaning up.  This current set up does take more effort than hanging hutches might.  My adult rabbits are all litter box trained.  In the summer I dump the box once a day and wipe down anything the babies have soiled.  Rabbits are generally cold tolerant, but when it is colder, I use do use deep litter.  Each day I add dry straw on top of any soiled spots in the cage and litter box and dump the litter box when it is full.  When it warms up, muck it out and give everything a good scrub.

The babies can be very messy, so I’ve found it works well to place a small litter box under the hay feeders.  Rabbits poop when they eat, so the bunnies get used to using the litter box, and it’s easier for me to keep up with the output.   They tend to use it as a nest box, but the falling hay keeps it dry enough for them.

You can use any waterproof container as a litter box.  For small rabbits you could even use the bottom of a five gallon bucket or other found items.  Cat litter boxes work quite well, as do plastic tubs.  If the walls are too high, you can cut a door into them with an exacto knife.  You can use any absorbent material that’s save for rabbits to eat such as wood chips, straw, hay, or paper pellets in their litter boxes or as deep litter.

Food And Water In The Rabbit Colony

Rabbits are very territorial so it’s important to have several food bowls, hay racks, and water bottles. When our second doe kindled she decided that the entire bottom was her territory.  She chased all the other rabbits up to the top!  I made sure to space out feeding stations so that everyone got their fair share until I move the first litter into the grow out pen.  The basic feeding and watering rabbits is the same regardless of their housing.

The delivery method isn’t important as long as it’s clean.  The kind of feeders that mount onto the sides tend to get spilled less, but you don’t have to start out with expensive equipment.  Our first food dishes I found on an abandoned lot (bleach is my friend).  Our first hay racks were made out of ice cream buckets.  My favorite water bottle spouts are the kind that fit onto reused 2 liter bottles.  It’s not hard to provide lots of feeding stations when you get creative.  Ikea bag holders also make nice hay racks, as long as you have plenty of more attractive things for them to chew.

Breeding and Kindling

When you’re colony raising rabbits with the buck included in the colony, the breeding takes care of itself.  I know this is not true for all rabbits, but my rabbits didn’t start breeding until they were their adult size, and have so far spaced out their litters further than the 4 weeks that is biologically possible.  Keeping the buck in the colony means that you’re never quite sure when babies are coming.  I’ve handled this by making sure there are always empty nest boxes available, and plenty of nesting materials like hay and straw.

My does build very nice nests even though they are first time mamas.  One benefit of using a deep litter method is even if they don’t build a nest, the babies will still be born on the straw.  If the kits do get cold, you may still be able to save them if you find it early enough.

Should You Separate The Weaned Rabbits?

Rabbits breeds and herds can vary as to when they reach their grow out size.   You may want to consider splitting your colony once they reach sexual maturity at 12 weeks.   I often keep mine for four to six months before sending them off to freezer camp. It’s a good idea to sex them and separate when they are around 8 weeks old.

If you keep your colony all together, it is liable to grow very quickly.  If you are growing for market, that could be a very good thing, but if you are like us and only eat a rabbit every week or so and want to select for certain traits it may be better to keep them separated.  We do not have room for several colonies, so we refurbished an old chicken coop into a grow out hutch.   If you must keep your rabbits in a hutch make sure they are rodent proof.  There should be no spaces larger than 1/4 inch, and use wood and screws to take down any wire.   You can still use a deep litter method, even over the top of a wire floor.  Just make sure there’s enough head space to accommodate the higher floor.

Go For It!

There is a lot of information available on how to raise rabbits for meat.  Not as many people are trying colony rabbit raising or sharing about it.  I hope this post answers some basic questions for those who are considering it for their own meat rabbits.

Original Article can be found here

Homemade Substitutes for Toilet Paper

Survivopedia_toilet paper

A big part of being self-reliant is learning to make the most out of every resource. When the crisis strikes, you have absolutely no way of knowing when you will get another chance to stock up on supplies, whatever those might be.

Many people focus solely on food, water and medicine. While these are, indeed, the most important supplies, there are plenty of others to consider. What would you do if you ran out of toilet paper?

This is not something that many people give a lot of consideration to. But think about it. It is a product that everyone needs all the time. In that regard, it is placed in a pretty special category with other essentials which you simply cannot go without. This means that toilet paper is a pretty important resource, but it is also a finite one.

No matter how many supplies of toilet paper you buy, it is a single use item, one which literally gets flushed down the toilet after being used. This not only represents a waste of money, but also an actual waste which you might have to deal with if your plumbing is damaged when SHTF. Therefore, it would make sense to look at homemade alternatives for toilet paper.

Using Cloth Toilet Paper

The most common alternative to regular toilet paper is cloth toilet paper which is also referred to as family cloth. Due to the sensitive nature of the product in question, some people might be reticent to change their habits and find a substitute for toilet paper. However, something to remember is that people used a lot of different other items before toilet paper even existed.

Those who accept this concept will see that family cloth does have several advantages over regular toilet paper.

  • For starters, it is completely homemade. Family cloth is simply squares of fabric which can be made from anything around the house including old clothes which you do not wear anymore.
  • The product is recyclable, a big plus when talking about maximizing our resources.
  • These cloths are simply kept in a basket in the bedroom and thrown in a bin after being used. Afterwards they are thrown in the washing machine and then left to dry.
  • They are reusable. While this might be the notion that upsets most people, it is also the one which constitutes the biggest advantage of family cloth.

Disregarding the specific product in question, whenever we are talking about two solutions, one reusable and one finite, the reusable one is always the most efficient choice.

If you are looking for a way to maximize your resources, then using family cloth is the way to go. Many people who use family cloth regularly claim that it is more comfortable. After all, it would be made from the same material as underwear so the sensation will be very familiar.

These reasons have convinced many people to switch off toilet paper in their everyday life. For them, there is also a financial motivation to consider. Reusing the same family cloth over and over again means not having to spend any more money on toilet paper.

And lastly, you need to consider that you might not have a choice. If SHTF and you become isolated from the community and you run out of toilet paper, this becomes a viable substitute whether you want to or not.

Making Your Own Toilet Paper

For many people, the best substitute for toiler paper is simply… toilet paper. It is possible to make your own as you do not need complicated tools, as you will be recycling all of your old paper which you have no use for anymore. You can use newspaper, general paper and even magazines as long as they do not have a shiny gloss. You will also want to add ingredients such as baby oil, lotions or aloe in order to keep the paper from hardening.

1. The first step would be to remove as much ink as possible from the paper, by soaking it in a tub or a bucket. Afterwards take the paper and place it in a pot with leaves and grass which will help the fibers remain together. The pot should be filled with water so that it completely covers the paper and then left to simmer. It is important not to boil the water from the beginning so that the dry materials have a chance to absorb the water.

2. After an hour of simmering comes about half an hour of boiling at high temperatures. It’s ok to add more water if necessary. You will also need to remove the foam which begins to rise to the top, as this is mostly ink, glue and other materials you don’t want.

3. Eventually, the paper turns into a pulp. At this time you will have to remove the water but without disturbing the pulp. Try to remove as much as possible and then simply wait for it to cool before removing the rest of the water. The pulp also needs to be taken out in order to remove the water, but it should not be done so that the pulp becomes completely dry. Once this is done the pulp is put back in the pot and it is mixed with the softening oils. If you have it, you can also add Witch Hazel which will act as an anti-bacterial.

4. Once this step is complete, it is time to scoop out the pulp. Do it in chunks and place them on a towel or a cloth on a flat surface. Afterwards you will use a rolling pin in order to spread out the pulp in a thin layer. Try to make it as thin as possible. A mallet can be used to gently deal with any lumps that might appear.

5. Now another towel or cloth should be placed on top of the layer as to create a sandwich. On top of this place something flat and rigid and then something heavy. You can even walk on it if you want. The goal here is to remove all the excess water.

6. If this is done you can remove the items placed on top. Be careful with the second towel as you do not want it to stick to the pulp. In order to remove the towel on the bottom, you will have to flip it all upside down. Do not try to remove the pulp off the towel.

Then you are left with a big layer of thin paper which needs to dry in the sun. Afterwards all you have to do is cut it into pieces and you’ll have your DIY toilet paper.

Shared from Source

How to Track and Avoid Dangerous Animals

how to avoid dangerous animals
By Jonathan Kilburn-April 16, 2017

One thing that puts a lot of people off from hiking is the unknown. Sometimes, that unknown becomes very commonplace. Most people, across the Continental United States, have seen a skunk, deer, moose, bear, or other animals in the wild.

In the Northeastern United States, seeing a deer on the side of the road is almost as common as the white lines themselves. When humans venture off into an animal’s territory, these commonplace sightings can become much more dangerous.

When I was a child, I would visit my grandparents in Wisconsin nearlyhand next to a grizzly bear footprint every summer. My cousins and I would go into the woods, hike, find new plants, bird watch, or even shoot guns. My grandmother used to always tell us to, ‘stay in sight of the cabin. I never understood why I needed to stay close to the cabin until I was about 12 years old. There were two girls, down the road from my grandparent’s cabin, that were attacked by a bear. Luckily, both of them survived with minor injuries, thanks to a passing motorist.

While walking through the woods, or walking down the road in a rural area, is not inherently dangerous it can become dangerous if we do not know how to read the signs of nature. Animals are great at marking their territories. While humans have marked their own territories with fences, buildings, and cut grass humans have forgotten how to recognize the subtleties of animal markings and occasionally walk into situations that they do not know how to get themselves out of.

While this guide may be helpful to some readers, we wish to express that the tools may differ from one geographical location to another. It may also differ from state to state, even if these states do border each other. The United States has such a wide range of diverse ecosystems, and the animal markings in these ecosystems may vary from location to location.

However, the same rule applies, no matter what area you find yourself. We wish to share information closely associated with what can be considered dangerous animals, such as Moose, Bear, Mountain Lions, Coyotes, Etc.

Identifying the Animal:

Droppings:

Knowing what wildlife is local may help to determine what kind of animal would readily be present. Don’t expect to find a polar bear in Arizona or an armadillo in Maine. Knowing the local wildlife is the first step necessary to avoiding them.

deer pellets on the groundOne of the best ways to track animals is not to actually follow the animal itself, but follow what they leave behind. That’s right, dung. Dung, scat, or droppings, can tell us what kind of animal has recently been in that area.

Once a dropping is located, the size is going to tell you how large of an animal it came from. As an example, deer tend to leave very small, round droppings. While they are small, they leave a lot of them. A bear will leave a fairly large dropping, similar to a human. On the opposite end, a mouse may leave a dropping roughly the size of a grain of rice.

Once we have an idea of how large the animal is noticing what it may contain also helps a tracker to understand what kind of animal left the dropping. A large dropping, containing bits of fur, would be a good indicator of a predator. Perhaps a Mountain Lion or Coyote is nearby. Bear and coyote dropping also commonly contain nuts and berries.

If an animal eats something, evidence of their diet will be in their droppings.

After size, and contents, we want to look at moisture. If a dropping is moist, wet, and looks fresh it probably is fresh. Dry, white (with some exceptions), and brittle droppings are the sign of an older dropping.

Recent weather plays a large role in determining the age of a dropping. Wet weather can make a dropping appear to be fresh, when it may be old. Additionally, as the weather starts to warm, a dropping that is thawing may also appear fresher than it may be.

The last thing we want to notice is location. Fox will leave their droppings on prominent objects to mark their territories. Deer will leave their dropping wherever they are walking. Feline species will try to cover their droppings. Dangerous animals will either leave their droppings in a very obvious place or try to hide it. Anything in the middle is relatively safe. The only

The only exception is when it looks similar to human droppings or has no real shape at all. These are generally a sign of bear droppings or a sick animal. Bear droppings hold little shape near the end of the summer to early fall, when they feed heavily on berries.

Tracks:

pocket guide to animal tracks
*source – http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/dfg/dfw/wildlife/wildlife-facts-pubs/tracks-guide.pdf

Everyone has watched some kind of movie where there is an amazing tracker that looks down at the ground and says something like, “a cat came through here 13 minutes ago” and everyone around them gasps in awe of their skills. While Hollywood has made tracking an exaggeration, the fundamentals are the same. The more practice you have, the more likely you will be to spot tracks.

Dangerous animal tracks will be easier to spot than other animals. They are generally larger, deeper, and farther apart. Feline (cat) species do not show claw marks while ursine (bear), canine (dog), lupine (wolf), and vulpine (fox) track show a clear outline of their claws. Hoofed animals will have between 2 to 4 indentations in the soil, depending on the species. In general, hoofed animals are to be avoided but not considered as dangerous as other species.

Aging tracks is a bit more difficult than aging droppings. Tracks, depending on the soil, will exhibit different aging patterns. Tracks in the soft soil will be well defined, while in the hard soil they may be difficult to spot. All animals need water to drink, so it is very common to see many well-defined tracks near a stream or pond.

As the water starts to dry up, during the end of spring, the tracks will also dry and crack. When the entire outline of a track is brittle it is generally an older track. When the majority of the outline is well defined, the track can be assumed to be fresher. Lastly, as the wind blows, anything that falls into a track may stay there. The more debris inside a track, or footprint, the easier it is to assume the track is older.

Markings:

Every animal will mark territory in its own way. Beavers obviously

black bear marking territory on a tree
*source – https://www.bear.org/website/bear-pages/black-bear/black-bear-sign/56-marking-trees-and-poles.html

need to chew wood to build their homes and will make it obvious their home is nearby. Bear and animals with antlers will also rub against trees, especially near a water source. The markings on trees may look the same, for someone unfamiliar with the different patterns between beaver, bear, moose, and deer. It is always better to be safe and avoid a questionable area altogether. If avoiding a questionable area is not an option, try to imagine an animal rubbing against a tree. A beaver poses little threat to humans and will chew a tree. A bear uses a tree as a back scratcher and may rub the bark off of a tree in one, or more, areas.

Generally, bear marks on a tree are superficial unless the tree was starting to degrade. Deer and moose rub their antlers on trees, especially during molting/shedding season. They use this as a way to put their scent on the tree and rub their antlers off. While some antlered animals don’t shed their antlers they do molt. Elk, especially, have a thin layer over their antlers that peels off. Try to imagine an antlered animal rubbing against a tree. If an animal was rubbing antlers against a tree you will notice hoof marks near the base of the tree, if not an antler itself!

Deer have a natural way of marking where they have been through their resting periods. They lay down on leaves or grass, making the ground, and anything on top of it, flat. They also will urinate nearby, killing much of the surrounding grass. Moose, elk, etc are not much different. If it looks out of place, it probably is.

It’s best to avoid these animal bed, not just because of the animal but the parasites that may be close by. If you see dry, flat, dead grass it was probably a deer, elk, or moose.

Any time an animal walks it will naturally move the soil or vegetation surrounding them. Broken sticks, scattered leaves, holes in the ground, all of these are common indicators an animal has been nearby. While a deer bed will leave the area flat when deer and moose search for food they tend to turn the soil over to find bugs to eat.

Omnivores may also disrupt vegetation when they eat by remove berries, nuts, or leaves from the plant. Most animals are opportunistic eaters. The easier a food is to obtain the more likely a dangerous animal is nearby.

Avoidance:

Now that we know what we are looking for, to spot an animal, we now know how to avoid certain areas. Common sense is at play here. If someone sees any of these signs of a dangerous animal, though droppings, rubbings, overturned ground, and tracks they know to avoid those areas. Seeing each of those once is not necessarily bad. Animals move, they come and go.

The likelihood of being in an area with a dangerous animal is very slim. They will try to avoid human contact first. If a hiker sees similar droppings more than once they should change direction for a while. If they see

If they see three different signs of a dangerous animal (eg. Droppings, tracks, disrupted vegetation) they should quickly change direction. When someone is hiking and oblivious to these signs they are much more likely to encounter a dangerous animal.

Staying alert will always help someone avoid dangerous animals. Exhaustion, in survival situations, allows out mind to not see common signs of danger.

Practicing the skill of spotting indicators of animal activity will help hikers to train themselves to notice even the smallest changes. When a hiker can spot small indicators they are more likely to notice larger indicators, even when exhausted.

Keep your eyes moving. Watch the ground as you walk, but take some time to stop and scan your environment. Just because you haven’t seen any indicators of animal activity doesn’t mean they are not there.

It’s a good practice to stop every hundred steps, or so, just to look around. Not only does this allow you to see the beauty of nature, it will give you a chance to spot marked trees, animal presence, and indicators of animal activity farther away.

When you can stop and scan the area you may notice that you find indicators of animal activity may be parallel to you.

Conclusion:

While animal attacks may be rare they do happen. Thankfully, we have been given all the tools we need to avoid some of these most dangerous animals. Recognizing, and avoiding, animals may not be a natural skill but it is a necessary one for every hiker, hunter, and survivalist.

The only way to learn these skills is to practice them. So, get out there and enjoy nature!

Original Article Here

Bowports for when the SHTF

By David James

SHTF Bowman

SHTF Bowman     I was curious recently as to what a ‘Prepper’ was. I’d no idea what SHTF meant. Now I do! A simple web search introduced me to a worldwide community of people who are have a strong sense of impending doom. Based upon recent man made and natural disasters such as the meltdown of the nuclear plant in Japan, hurricane Katrina in the U.S. and, the Indian Ocean Tsunami in southeast Asia combined with dire predictions from some of the world’s leading financial analysts, I’m beginning to believe that the community has a valid point! It seems to me though many preppers consider firearms to be their main means of procuring much needed protein in the event of national emergency. These same people might want to consider turning to the age old art of archery as a supplemental means for hunting game. I’m going to introduce you, briefly, to bows and bow sports.

The Different Type of Bows

You should first be aware that there are many different types of bows available to modern archers; the most common of which consist of the traditional American style Long Bow or Flat Bow, the Recurve Bow and, the Compound Bow. You should also be aware that there are numerous other less common types of bows such as the English Longbow, the Korean Traditional Recurve bow, the Asian Horse Bow, and the traditional Japanese Yumi but these are specialist, and a little out of scope here.

So, what is a longbow and what are its advantages and disadvantages? Well, first of all you

need to be aware that the American style Longbow differs from the English Longbow in that American style Longbow haves flat limbs whereas, the English Longbow has either round or D-shaped limbs. In addition, as the name implies, Longbows are generally much longer than recurve bows because they were originally designed for hunting. They are smoother to draw and shoot than a Recurve Bow of the same draw weight due to their greater mechanical advantage (more leverage). In addition, Longbows are generally more forgiving of minor mistakes in an archer’s form than Recurve Bows. They are often the best choice for beginning archers as well as hunters. Plus, they also pinch the archer’s fingers less than shorter recurve bows.

Recurve bows on the other hand were originally developed for use by mounted horseman as both hunting tools and weapons of war and modern Recurve Bows are generally much shorter than Longbows. However, by design, a Recurve bow imparts more energy to the arrow when fired due to the recurved design of the limbs. They curve away from the archer at the tips. This enables them to store more energy. But, at the same time, Recurve Bows are also less forgiving to shoot than Longbows and they require a higher degree of precision from the archer. Also, due to their shorter length.

Compound bows feature a radical departure from both Longbow and Recurve Bow technology in that they employ either cast or machined aluminum risers rather than wooden risers combined with limbs made entirely from fiberglass or a combination of fiberglass and carbon. They incorporate an eccentric “cam” on the end of each limb connected by a Dacron “cable” (they were originally made of metal cable) which causes them to act like pulleys. Due to their pulley-like action, a compound bow of a given draw weight is easier to draw and to hold at full draw than either a Longbow or a Recurve Bow of the same draw weight. Because the eccentric cams cause the draw weight to peak well before full draw is reached, they also have a certain degree of “let off” which commonly results in a 65 to 80 percent reduction in draw weight at full draw which, in turn, makes it far easier for the archer to hold the bow at full draw for extended periods of time. That’s ideal when hunting. But, they are also significantly heavier than either Longbows or Recurve Bows and, they are also produce far more recoil and noise.

Survival bows are a modern invention. The limbs are normally flat (like a flatbow or american longbow) and they don’t normally re-curve. A survival bow is designed to disassemble into a small package that fits inside a day-pack or bug-out bag. Designed to be quick to assemble, light, sturdy and the ideal choice for a prepper or survivalist. There are a few different models on the market today, if you think one of these bows would be ideal for your cache, then take a look at this article on the best survival bows which has a good set of data, mini reviews, comparisons and a buyer’s guide.

The Different Types of Archery

The three most common types of archery and, the ones most useful to a survival prepper, are Target Archery, Field Archery and, 3D Archery. Most archers start out practicing Target Archery because it’s very well suited for teaching new archers the basics of proper form and aiming technique. Target Archery is the most basic type of archery and it involves shooting at a flat, stationary, target at a known distance and a consistent elevation on an indoor or outdoor open range. The main advantage to this type of archery is the known distance to the target as well as the consistent elevation and ample ambient light. This enables you to learn where to hold the tip of your arrow when shooting instinctively and to concentrate on maintaining the position of your sight pin when shooting with sights.

Like Target Archery, Field Archery involves shooting at flat, stationary, targets but, is commonly practiced in the woods rather than open ranges where the targets are placed at unknown distances at varying elevations with intervening foliage and differing ambient light conditions. Although Field Archery is more difficult than Target Archery, it is also far better for simulating actual hunting conditions.

Last but not least is the sport of 3D archery. In this type of archery, the archer also shoots at targets placed at unknown distances and varying elevations along trails in the woods but, instead of shooting at flat targets, 3D archers instead shoot at life-sized, three dimensional, closed cell foam targets. These are molded and painted to appear very similar to the game animal they are meant to mimic. This type of archery is an even better choice for developing the skills needed by a bowhunter because 3D targets lack any sort of distinct aiming point and, they force the archer to know the animal’s anatomy and to choose a specific aiming point in order to hit the targets “vitals”.  3D archery is the final evolution for a bow hunter because it most closely mimics actual hunting conditions.

 

What Do I Need To Get Started?

Starting out is best accomplished with a good beginner recurve bow. You can shoot a recurve “bare bow” which means that the bow has neither an arrow rest nor sights and the arrow is shot “off of the shelf”.  Recurve Bows are often shot both with and without arrow rests and/or adjustable archery sights whereas, compound bows absolutely must be outfitted with an appropriate arrow rest. A good recurve is a bow you can use for all archery disciplines and a great choice to learn the sport and acquaint yourself with the basics.

In addition, you’d need a set of arrows which are available in one of three different types of materials: Wood, Aluminum, or Carbon. Each type has both advantages and disadvantages. Carbons are great for everything but the most expensive. You can get by with any sort of arrow, but good ones are an investment as you use them again and again. More carbon expensive arrows will be the most durable, last longer and fly further and faster. Aluminium may bend. Wood will break. Regardless of which type of arrows you choose, they will need to be the proper length for your draw. Too short and you risk shooting through your hand.

 

You will most likely want to use your fingers to draw and release the bow’s string with a recurve, so you will also need either an archer’s tab or an archer’s glove to protect and pad your fingers. A common cause of much pain for beginner archers is string slap, where the bowstring contacts your forearm on the way past. This is painful, another useful addition to a starter kit would be an arm guard.

You need to know what type of bow you prefer, what draw weight is appropriate for your intended purpose (hint lighter is better for a beginner). Your shooting handedness as some bows come in left or right handed variants. Your draw length to get the right arrows and the type of arrows and accessories you’d want. Some bows come as part of a handy beginner kit. This may seem a little daunting, but we’ve useful guides to finding out all the above information on our site and comparison tables of the best recurve bows and buyers guides.

Learning to shoot is simply a matter of learning proper shooting form and then training your body to perform the same actions over and over again consistently while also learning to properly gauge the distance to your target. This all comes with repeated practice.

I hope that you have enjoyed my introduction to bows and the different types of archery and you consider getting yourself a recurve to learn or maybe just a survival bow to add to your cache!

Check out David’s other articles at targetcrazy.com

 

Chiappa X-Caliber Review

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When the X-Caliber arrived, I was excited about something so strange and potentially the perfect survival rifle, shotgun or what ever it actually is. the X-Caliber is in a class of it’s own so there aren’t really any comparisons to anything out there.  Any time I take the X-Caliber to the range, people wanted to shoot it. It is such a novelty that people love it and dislike it all at the same time.  It just looks odd.

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The X-Caliber is marketed as a survival rifle. The “gun” can shoot both .22LR and 12 gauge. With the addition of any of the eight barrel inserts that come with the gun, it can be made to shoot the following:

  • .380
  • 9 mm
  • 40 S&W
  • .45 ACP
  • .357 Magnum/.38 Special
  • .44 Magnum
  • .410/.45 LC
  • 20 Gauge

The idea is cool. It’s possible you could keep this gun in your BOB, grab some hard cast .44 Mag for the big critters, a box of .22 for the small critters, a handful of 2-3/4″ 12 gauge for the flying critters, and the barrel inserts to shoot anything else you find along the way.

The gun is not light.  It has some weight to it and isn’t the easiest to throw around, but that can be an attractive attribute when you do finally run out of ammunition, you can of course beat zombies to death. While the X-Caliber does in fact look futuristic it isn’t the easiest to hold, but for it’s versatility it seems to work, just not as well as a rifle or shot gun that only shoots one type of ammunition, but then again that’s the real benefit to the weapon.

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When you break open the breach the inserts don’t allow for quick extraction, simply because that would be nearly impossible.  You do need to extract the rounds manually.  I would recommend keeping your pocket knife or multitool handy to extract the rounds more easily.

Ok, the real question everyone wants to know, “How does it shoot?”  Well it shoots bullets and shot shells.  Just don’t expect the rifle to give you a 1/2″ group at a hundred yards.  It is a little rough on the shoulder when shooting 12 gauge, since there really isn’t much padding, but it does shoot adequately for what it’s designed for.  The shot shells have an effective range of 25-30 yards.  Much past that you may not get much lead on target.  As for the other calibers you won’t have much better accuracy.  the 22lr, once sighted in is much better, but then again at least you have a full length barrel.  It does take some getting used to and learning the idiosyncrasies.

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I would recommend sighting in the 22lr barrel and the others should be fairly close, but when I say close, it’s a broad interpretation.  You’re not going to use this in a sniper situation. I could hit a target at 25 yards with any of the barrel inserts which would be fine for human-sized animals, but poor for small game.

 

For zombies or those pesky post apocalyptic human trash scum bags trying to take your seed storage, it could be useful. It would be useful if chiappa released a sight that could be adjusted, and locked for each caliber, but I doubt that’s in the production line. The best part about this rifle though, you can shoot whatever ammo is cheapest and most plentiful at that moment.

The rifle/shotgun has decent triggers.  Yes it has two.  The 22lr trigger is crisp and has about a 4 pound pull.  It breaks cleanly and feels really good.  the shotgun trigger has a little more pull at 5 pounds and doesn’t feel bad, but has a little more creep to the break point.

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The sights aren’t bad either.  The bright orange shows up well and easily allows you to find the target quickly.  I liked the sights a lot and adjustment are performed quickly.


Specifications: Chiappa Firearms X-Caliber 

  • Caliber(s): Many!
    • 12 gauge – 2¾” – 3”
    • 22LR
    • .380
    • 9 mm
    • 40 S&W
    • .45 ACP
    • .357 Magnum
    • .44 Magnum
    • .410/ 45 LC
    • 20 Gauge
  • Type: Over & Under combination shotgun/rimfire rifle
  • Action : Folding break open
  • Feeding : Single shot with extractors
  • Barrel : Steel
  • Trigger system : Double triggers
  • Front sight : Fixed fiber optic
  • Rear sight : M1 style adjustable elevation and windage
  • Safeties : Top tang manual
  • Finish : Matt black; steel and polypropylene foam stock
  • Price: $949 with adaptors

The design and look are utilitarian at best.  Here’s what we thought of the overall performance.  It works.  It definitely does everything a gun like this could possible do, but it just doesn’t do any of them extremely well. but then again, that’s not the purpose.  It is a gun that allows you to shoot multiple calibers,and it does.  It’s not a great shotgun, It’s not a great rifle, but it does allow you to shoot x-caliber of calibers, as the name implies.  If I was reviewing a dedicated shotgun or rifle I would give it a poor rating, but since it’s very unique, and does what it’s designed to do, I give it a good rating.  With the adaptors it’s about as accurate as a hand gun from the same distance, so I would say it’s performing as designed.  You’re not going to win a sharp shooting competition with it.

It has Picatinny rails on the top and sides which would allow you to mount all kinds of accessories, although if SHTF getting replacement batteries may become difficult.

 

Retail Store Closings and the Impending Shopping Disaster

Many retail stores have closed due to competition from online stores. People are buying an ever larger percentage of their goods from the internet. So brick-and-mortar stores, from Mom and Pops to large chains, are shutting down. And this development is setting the stage for a shopping disaster.

We have become overly-dependent on the internet for many goods and services. What would happen if there is an internet collapse, and online shopping is no longer an option?

First of all, the number of retail stores has fallen to a level too low to support all our shopping needs. Physical stores would quickly be flooded with buyers. The shelves would be stripped bare in a matter of days (or hours, if people are panic-buying). And resupply from wholesalers and manufacturers would not be able to keep up with demand, not for a number of weeks or months.

Reopening closed stores and hiring new workers might not be practical, at least in the short term. And the small number of physical stores, despite vigorous resupply, would still be over-crowded and understaffed. There would be long lines at the checkout, or even long lines waiting to enter the store.

I recall a store I worked at, many years ago, in Worcester, Mass., called Spag’s. The store was so popular, that on some high-traffic days, they had to post guards at the entrances, to keep too many persons from entering the store. Once in a while, there were literally so many persons in each aisle that it was difficult to move. I’m sure they were violating fire regulations by the over-crowding. I’m not exaggerating. So the idea of too many customers to be serviced by a brick-and-mortar store is entirely possible.

Another problem, if internet collapses, is that payment approvals via internet might not be available. Today, when you swipe a credit or debit card in a card reader, it is verified over the internet. Gone are the days when the device dialed a phone number, waited to connect, and then obtained an approval number. No internet, means no credit or debit card payments. And most persons do not have enough cash in their homes for their shopping needs.

Runs on banks will deplete the cash supply. And using checks to pay for good might not be an option, because check approvals work via the internet as well. In addition, there is literally not enough cash in the country to meet the shopping needs of the nation. The vast majority of buying transactions are non-cash today. So the existing physical stores might not be able to accept payment.

Could this internet-slash-shopping disaster really happen? Absolutely.

One way, is if a foreign nation executes a cyber attack on the U.S. internet. But it doesn’t have to be a hostile nation. Terrorist groups and anonymous hacker groups, with varying motivations, might also be capable of such an attack.

And if you think that taking down the internet would be too difficult, think again. Recently, a large number of internet sites went down because the U.S. internet has become overly dependent on the cloud services of Amazon. And at Amazon, a low-level tech worker entered a command with a small typo, which accidentally shut down the servers running those services. You don’t realize how very small events can avalanche to cause a major shit-storm when computers and networks are at issue.

Another entirely different way that a shopping disaster could occur concerns shipping companies. The vast majority of online shopping products are delivered via a few major carriers: FedEx, UPS, DHL, and the U.S. Postal Service. If some disruption in society shuts down or interferes with shipping, online shopping will be obstructed. This disruption could take the form of a strike, due to disputes over wages and benefit, or due to some stupid new government law or policy. Or it could be caused by general civil unrest, which disrupts all transportation.

Our excessive dependence on the internet for shopping is going to come back around and bite us in the ass, sooner or later. Mark my words.

A Solar Energy System That Works At Night

by Ken Jorgustin

Solar energy is power from the sun. But what about power during the night?

Here’s how it’s done:


Batteries! Solar energy is radiant energy collected from the sun. Not only can it be harnessed and converted immediately to household electricity, but it can also be harnessed and stored in special batteries to be used later (when the sun goes down).

While the technicalities of a solar energy power system may be somewhat complicated and require a certain level of “know-how” in the field of electromechanical & electronics, these systems can be professionally installed or you might even consider a specially designed portable system.

The key to a 24-hour (around the clock) solar energy system is battery storage.

Even during the day you might encounter a period of sufficient cloudiness which will reduce the energy output from the solar panels. Energy output (the converted electrical power) will be reduced or greatly reduced, even to the extent that your connected devices might switch off. The batteries however will make up the difference when solar output is reduced.

The design of a battery storage system requires its own unique technical expertise while considering the specific battery type, size, charge/discharge parameters, load expectations, configuration and interconnection, and much more.

My own personal system at home currently consists of 24 AGM deep-cycle batteries which provide enough stored energy to run the house without issue overnight and beyond, until such time that the solar panels kick-in and start charging the batteries once again when the sun is shining.
Portable Solar Energy System
For those who may be interested in procuring a portable solar energy system with sufficient power to run your essential systems (or more), or to bring along camping, the cabin, or for emergency, etc.., there is a company who offers several portable solar energy systems which may be of interest.

Their portable solar generator kits include foldable solar panels, a “Humless power system” and the connecting cables.

The system is simple. Direct the solar panels towards the sun, the system will start charging and will continue until the batteries are full. The solar panels will also power your electronics while charging the batteries.

Speaking with the owner, their batteries are uniquely designed lithium to withstand the rigors of reliable charge/discharge with built-in safety mechanisms for protection against over-charging or excessive discharge.

Because of the lithium design the overall system weight is far less than others and therefore opens the door for other uses – which make it truly portable.

Currently they offer three systems:
.64 kWh solar kit
1.3 kWh solar kit
2.0 kWh solar kit
kWh?
You might be asking, “What’s a kWh”? A kWh is a kilowatt hour. Think of it as as powering something that consumes 1,000 watts for one hour.

For example: If using 800 lumen LED bulbs (equivalent to the old 60-watt incandescent bulbs), the energy consumption of a kWh would be equivalent to powering about 125 of these LED bulbs for one hour! Or, about 12 for ten hours!

Note: A 800 lumen LED bulb consumes just 8 watts compared to it’s 60-watt incandescent counterpart of old…

LED Light Bulb Cost Savings Over Incandescent

Another example: My most recent chest freezer consumes 450 watts in a 24 hour period. That’s just 19 watts per hour on average. So, this chest freezer consumes 0.19 kW in one hour, or 0.19 kWh.

When determining the capacity requirements of a solar energy system, one thing that you might do is add up the power requirements of the things that you might be connecting.
Alternative energy sources are a great way to further your self-sufficiency and decrease your dependency on other external systems. I plan to write more articles about this in the future ?

 

Original Article

Semi-Automatic BullMaster Air Rifle

HatsanUSA Announces Semi-Automatic BullMaster Air Rifle

HatsanUSA is launching its first-ever semi-automatic air rifle.

The airgun, named the BullMaster, is a new semi-auto Pre-Charged Pneumatic (PCP) air rifle with a bullpup design. It will be available in .177 and .22 calibers.

“Our customers have been asking us to release a semi-auto bullpup for quite some time and with the BullMaster, HatsanUSA is delivering in a big way,” said Blaine Manifold, President of HatsanUSA. “For us, the key feature is that the semi-auto action is gas operated, as opposed to electrical. This delivers greater reliability and longevity.”

The BullMaster features a detachable, rotary magazine (14-shot capacity for the .177, 12-shot capacity for .22) and each rifle ships with three magazines. Carrying slots have been built into the stock for storing spare magazines. A 500cc volume air bottle is mounted to the forearm of the rifle, and two air cylinders are included. The barrel is full shrouded, precision rifled and choked for optimal shot count.

The entire package ships with an MSRP of $1,399.99.

Features include:

• Genuine bullpup design, Semi-auto action pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) air rifle
• Available in .177 (4.5 mm), .22 (5.5 mm) caliber
• Max Muzzle Velocity for .22 caliber is 970 fps
• Max Muzzle Velocity for .177 caliber is 1050 fps
• Detachable 14-shot magazine in .177 (4.5mm) and 12-shot magazine in .22 (5.5mm)
• Fully shrouded, precision rifled and choked barrel for accuracy
• 500cc volume air bottle mounted in the forearm
• Includes 3 magazines
• Includes quick-fill nozzle
• Tactical style ambidextrous stock with thumbhole
• 2 spare magazine carrying slots in the stock
• Accessory Weaver-style rail beneath the forearm
• “EasyAdjust” Elevation Comb Stock
• Ventilated rubber butt pad
• Built-in pressure gauge to monitor the cylinder pressure
• Weaver-style rail for both 11 mm and 22 mm scope mounts
• Overall blued finish, black anodized receiver
• Patented anti-knock system prevents discharge when rifle is knocked or bounced
• Manual safety
• Black metal trigger
• Fitted sling swivels

For more information, go to HatsanUSA.com.