Category Archives: Must-Learn Skills

Making Ammunition for Emergency Preparedness

Emergency preparedness is on a lot of people’s minds. With the state of the economy, and the days where the news makes it sound like the country is about to explode into civil unrest, it’s really no wonder.

Some people think that it’s all a lot of hoopla, with no real threat behind it, but when you consider that any sort of disruption in any of the big cities (where problems generally occur) would more than likely affect our financial system, our food chain, or our gas and oil supply. Any one of these being stopped or delayed could make life difficult very quickly, so being prepared is important.

When you’re trying to prepare your home and family for whatever comes, there is a lot that you need to consider. Having a backup water supply is one of the most important, followed by making sure you have emergency food on hand that has a long shelf life. But have you considered your ammunition stores? You probably have, but with the ammunition shortages that this country is experiencing right now there is a good chance that you aren’t satisfied with the supply that you currently have.

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If you are good at building things, and are willing to learn a new and relatively easy skill, then you can put yourself ahead of the crowd by making your own ammunition. Most people think that making ammunition would be far too expensive or complicated to make it worth it, but this is far from the truth.

While the cost of buying the raw materials for making ammunition has risen a bit due to the economy and the effect of supply and demand, you will still see huge savings over buying ammunition pre-made.

Making ammunition is definitely a skill, and so you need to be prepared for the learning curve that comes with it. You have to learn how to be precise. But that being said, there really aren’t many steps to the process.

First you need the casings – you can buy them new, obviously, but many people also reclaim all the casings they can from their target practice and reuse them. If you wash used casings and ensure they aren’t damaged, there is no reason why you can’t save even more money by repacking them.

After you place a new primer in the cartridge, you put in the right amount of gunpowder, and then the projectile – which is the bullet itself. Obviously the type of ammunition that you are making will have an effect on what materials you need, and how much gunpowder is used, but this is something that you will have to determine once you know what caliber you need.

One nice thing about making your own ammo is that once you have the method down, you can make it faster and faster. In the beginning you may only have a handful to show for an hour’s worth of work, but some people get to the point where they can make up to 300 in an hour. That’s a lot of ammo!

Also, keep in mind that the tools that you need for making your own ammunition are not terribly expensive. A few hundred dollars should set you up with everything you need, plus the raw materials.

If you’re so inclined, you can even make your own bullets, although this is a different skill and requires an entire new set of tools and supplies.

The bottom line is that making your own ammunition is a feasible and cost-effective way to prepare for an emergency. Knowing that you have what you need to protect your home or feed your family is invaluable, and something that cannot be taken away from you, no matter what comes to pass.

About The Author – Lee Flynn is a freelance writer and expert in emergency food preparedness and food storage.

New Article on Personal Liberty Digest

There is one absolute truth when it comes to traumatic injuries…all bleeding eventually stops. That also happens to be the title of my latest article on Personal Liberty Digest. If time allows, head on over and check it out.

Special Operations Forces-Tourniquet (SOF-T)

Get Skilled in 2013!

Well folks! I have decided that the time has come to determine what I am going to do with my life next year. Just to clear the air, I am not changing jobs or moving to another country, becoming a member of a dance company, or even purchasing a new car. I have joined the radical movement at 13Skills. Huh? What is this? Some sort of extremist group?

logo-0Well, I was blown away to see that such a group coming together and YES, the community is extreme. The 13Skills website is home to the 13 in 13 Challenge, a movement created and sponsored by The Survival Podcast which encourages individuals to develop new skills or improve upon existing skills in an effort revive and conserve the abilities of humans everywhere. There is not a limit to what skills can be learned and the number of skills to be worked on can be as few or as plentiful as one is willing to try to conquer. The premise behind the 13 in 13 Challenge though is to focus on thirteen skills in the year 2013.

So what makes 13Skills an extremist group? There are a number of things that I think the average person would find extreme. No one there cares about whether I am male or female. When I set up my user account I did not get asked if I was a Christian or a Muslim or what the color of my skin is. The entire site is designed to not only be family friendly but families are encouraged to improve their skills together. I am confident as you read this that the image coming together in your head is helping you to understand how extreme and outlandish such an idea is. What has the world come to that there is a place where people can be accepted for who they are and encouraged to better themselves, their family and the world around them?

I’ll tell you what this whole mess is about. Point blank, the 13 in 13 Challenge is about the fact that we all have things that we can learn or do better and now is the time to take on this challenge. We have US Olympic team uniforms this year that were made in China for crying out loud! This is the greatest country there ever was and we can keep it that way but it will have to be through intentional effort and is one of the ways that those efforts will be accomplished.

Hop on over to 13Skills and check out The Prepared Ninja member profile. The thirteen skills that I have selected to either learn or make significant improvements on in the new year include:

1. Building A Solar Oven

2. Business Management

3. Fitness

4. Marksmanship

5. Hunting

6. Writing

7. Beer Making

8. Food Storage

9. Family Fun

10. Curing/Smoking Meats

11. Container/Portable Gardening

12. Geocaching

13. Organizational Skills

Of these skills, the two that will be my primary focus will be fitness and organizational skills. This was a difficult decision for me to make because I feel that all of these skills are areas that I need to work on. The reason that I selected fitness is because I have let myself fall into a much poorer standard of health than I used to maintain. Without my health, all the skills in the world will not mean anything to me or my family. I will not have to recreate the wheel in this case but I will be making a significant effort to remained focused on continued and improved fitness throughout 2013. Organizational skills are important to integrate into my life because while I might not qualify to be on an episode of Hoarders, I can certainly stand to learn a great deal about getting organized. There are many things that I have held onto over the years that I do not need and then for future purchases I can focus on obtaining things that can serve multiple purposes. One example I can think of is instead of buying a guitar tuner that is going to cost money, take up space, and consume batteries, why not download a guitar tuning application on my iPhone that will accomplish the same purpose?

When I stop and think about these goals and what I will have to do to accomplish them, it basically equates to just less than one month to learn or improve on each skill. That is not unreasonable or difficult to accomplish at all, especially with a concentrated effort. Completing the thirteen skill goals that I have set for myself will not only make me a better prepper but will also improve my quality of life, bring my family closer together, and likely equate to a sizable financial savings over the course of my life.

One of the arguments that I have heard people make about setting a goal online is a lack of accountability built-in to the system. This group of individuals typically feel that without someone/something checking up on them to make sure that they are on track and meeting their goals, they will fail. There are a couple of ways that I could think of to make sure that accountability is maintained if you struggle to motivate yourself.

1. Start/Join A Meetup Group – There a thousands of different Meetup groups online that are in just about every community and meet for just about every different thing any person could imagine. Some of these Meetup groups are survival or preparedness focused groups. Joining or starting such a group could facilitate a way to be accountable to one another in learning new skills.

2. Get A Sponsor – No, not a 12 step program type of sponsor but the idea is kind of the same. Find a friend that is interested in the same type of skills that you are and make the commitment to tackle learning these skills together.

3. Add reminders to your online calendar, smart phone, or paper planner. – Set periodic reminders throughout the month or year to help keep you on track in meeting your goals.

4. Take A Class – Go to the local college and take a class to help you learn the skill you desire to master. Most colleges have lifelong learner programs that allow anyone to take individual classes. Besides, it is a lot easier to be accountable to learning your new skill if you are being graded on it!

5. Use The Forum – Since 13Skills is sponsored by The Survival Podcast (TSP), the forum at TSP is being utilized by members of the 13 in 13 Challenge to discuss their goals, progress, and whatever else comes to mind. This resource can not only be used to help stay accountable but also probably get some useful information in learning and perfecting the new skills that people have chosen to pursue in 2013.

The chance to become a member at 13Skills was not just about networking within the prepper community but creating a legacy. Our nation as a whole has slipped in our ability to do things for ourselves. My parents taught me how to do things like fix a sink or sew on a missing button but over the course of the last few generations in America, skills have begun to perish. The chance to learn new skills will allow me to not only pass on the skills I already know to my children but to add to the set of skills that they can pass on to their children.

Build A Barometer Workshop!

After yesterday’s post on how to predict the weather for yourself I was inspired to look at some other tools that could be useful in prognosticating future weather events if the end of meteorological forecasting AKA “weather guessing” were to occur. Something that could prove to be invaluable would be a barometer (an instrument used to measure barometric pressure). There are a couple of ways to accomplish this. The two basic methods are using air in a jar with a balloon over the top or the colored liquid in a jar with a plastic tube or straw method. I debated spelling out each method step by step, but then I got smart and found YouTube videos! In addition to showing how to make a barometer, the first video also gives some tips on how barometric pressure effects fishing.

What additions would you add to your weather prediction arsenal to ensure that you are ready to predict the weather after TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It)???

Rain Or Knee Pain? Predict The Weather!

A key driver of activity in life is weather. A baseball game, a military mission, the space shuttle launch, and school days throughout the country are all things that are impacted both negatively and positively every year by different weather factors. If there were to be a break down in communications from an EMP or some other catastrophic event that prevented weather forecasts from being disseminated to the general public, weather prediction skills will become invaluable. So what are some of the things to look for when trying to predict what the weather has in store? Clouds, geographical features, barometric pressure, animal behaviors, and folklore/traditional sayings can all be reliable guidelines to use to predict the weather in the absence of professional meteorological outlooks.


Clouds can be a good indicator of what the weather may be doing. If you can learn to identify the different types of clouds, you may be able to accurately predict specific types of weather that may be rolling your way soon. Different categories of clouds include:

AGL = Above Ground Level

Low Clouds (Under 6,500 Feet of Altitude)

Cumulus – Meaning heap in Latin, these clouds are typically the easiest to identify and are usually associated with fair weather but cumulus clouds are known to produce precipitation if they are very tall. If these clouds get bunched and large, it can result in heavy showers particularly when the weather is warm.

Stratus – The Latin word for blanket or layer, stratus clouds are low hanging clouds that are known for covering the entire sky like a blanket. Stratus clouds often produce rain and drizzle. Usually if they lift quickly in the morning it indicates that a decent day of weather is ahead.

Nimbostratus – These clouds are classified by the dark sheets that blot out the sun and are usually followed by extended precipitation (several hours) within a couple of hours.

Stratocumulus – Clouds that may produce light precipitation but usually dissipate by the end of the day and are identified by the low, rolling mass of thin, lumpy white to grey clouds that may cover the entire sky. 

Middle Clouds (6,500 to 20,000 Feet of Altitude)

Altocumulus – These clouds are patterned white to grey clouds that often appear in waves or are rippled and are larger than cirrocumulus clouds. Altocumulus are considered to be fair weather clouds and usually occur after storms.

Altostratus – Formless grey to bluish clouds, they will form a thin veil over the sun and moon. If they gradually darken and blot out the sun or moon, it is a sign that precipitation is on the way.

High Clouds (Over 20,000 Feet of Altitude)

Cirrus – Meaning curl in Latin, cirrus clouds reside high in the atmosphere in the very cold air because these clouds are made of ice crystals. Cirrus clouds are usually associated with fair weather but occasionally may also be an indicator that storms may be on their way.

Cirrocumulus – Clouds that appear in layers that look like either fish scales or rippled sand. Sometimes cirrocumulus also appear to look like rippled surface water on a pond or lake. These clouds are considered a sign of good weather and often clear out to blue sky.

Cirrostratus – These clouds are composed of ice particles and form a halo around the sun. When a sky filled with cirrus clouds darkens and the clouds turn to cirrostratus it is likely a sign of rain or snow to come depending on the temperature.

Towering Clouds (Up To 60,000 Feet of Altitude)

Swelling Cumulus – These flat-bottomed clouds with growing, cauliflower-like towers often form in the middle of the day and precede cumulonimbus clouds.

Cumulonimbus – Towering storm clouds that produce hail, thunder, strong winds, sleet, rain, lightning, and tornadoes. These clouds are characterized by a top that is often shaped like an anvil. If these clouds form early in the day it can mean that there are greater chances of severe weather.

Geographical Impact on Weather

  • Coastal regions typically have more moderate temperatures that inland regions, meaning that they generally are warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
  • The air above urban areas is often warmer than in less developed/lower population dense areas. This can sometimes result in an artificial low pressure system.
  • Hilly regions generally have temperature shifts where warm air will move uphill during the day and downhill at night.
Barometric Pressure
  • The Nose Knows – The strength of scents often increase or decrease along with changes in barometric pressure. Plants will release their waste products in a low pressure atmosphere which generates a compost-like smell, indicating upcoming precipitation. Swamp gasses (marked by their unpleasant smells) are also released just before a storm as a result of low pressure in the atmosphere. The scents of some flowers are also very strong just before a rain.
  • The air bubbles in your coffee cup will ring to the outside of your cup when a low pressure system sets in. This is an indicator that rain is on the way.
  • Smoke from the campfire indicates approximate barometric pressure. If the smoke from the campfire hangs low to the ground (an indicator of low barometric pressure) than rain is likely to fall soon. If smoke from the campfire rises high (an indicator of high barometric pressure) then good weather is in the future.
  • While there is no scientific reasoning that I could find, it has been shown through various studies that people who suffer from joint and muscle pain can sense (usually through pain) when the barometric pressure is dropping. This is a sign of precipitation.
Animal Behaviors
  • Crickets can help you determine the temperature! Count the number of cricket chirps you hear in fourteen seconds and then add 40 to get the temperature in Fahrenheit. Example: 40 Chirps + 40 = 80 Degrees F / To determine the temperature in Celsius, count the number of chirps in 25 seconds, divide by three, then add four to get the temperature.
  • Many animals ears are sensitive to low pressure systems. Wolves and dogs will become nervous before a storm and emit whines or howl-like sounds.
  • Seagulls and geese won’t often fly just prior to a storm. The thinner air associated with low pressure systems makes it harder for these birds to get airborne. Seagulls also will not fly typically fly at the coast if a storm is coming.
  • Birds flying high in the sky indicate fair weather (high pressure system).
  • Cows tend to group together when poor weather is on the way and they will typically lie down before a thunderstorm.
  • Ants will steepen the sides of their hills just before it rains.
Folklore/Traditional Sayings
  • “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky at morn, sailor’s take warn.” – A red sky at night during sunset (when looking toward the West) indicates a high pressure system with dry air that has stirred dust particles into the air which causes the sky to appear red. Typically the jet stream and prevailing front movements go from West to East meaning that the dry weather is headed toward you. A red sky in the morning (in the East with the rising sun) means that the dry air has already moved past you and a low pressure system is behind it (moving your way) bringing moisture with it.
  • “Long notice, expect it to last. Short notice, expect it to pass.” – If clouds take several days to build, extended rain is likely in the cards. If a storm system builds quickly, it is likely to dissipate quickly as well.
  • “Clear moon, frost soon.” – If the night sky is clear enough to see the moon as a result of no cloud cover, heat will be allowed to escape and the temperature could drop enough for frost to form in the morning.
Other Indicators
  • Lightning strike distance can be estimated by counting the number of seconds between the sight of the lightning and the sound of the thunder and then divide this number by five. This will give you the distance in miles that you are from the lightning strike. To determine the distance in kilometers, the process is the same except you divide the number of seconds by three instead of five.
  • Check the grass at sunrise. Dry grass at sunrise indicates clouds and/or strong breezes which can mean rain. Dew on the grass means that it probably won’t rain that day. (If it rained the night before, this method will not be reliable.)
  • Cloud cover on a Winter night translates to warmer weather because the cloud cover prevents heat radiation that would ordinarily occur and lower the temperature on a clear night.
  • The low cloud cover that is typically present right before rainfall also results in louder and more vibrant sounds as they are reflected and amplified off of the low clouds.
  • Wind Direction – Winds blowing from the East indicate an approaching storm front where winds out of the West generally indicate good weather. Strong winds from any direction indicate high pressure difference which can mean a possible storm front approaching.
  • If the sharp points on a half-moon are not clear, rain may be on the way (haze/low clouds distort images).
  • Humidity is most often felt when it is high but indicators of high humidity include frizzy hair, curled leaves on oak and maple trees, swollen wood doors, and salt in the shaker that is clumped together.
*Most of the weather prediction methods in this post are only tested/known/suspected to be effective in North America.
If there is anything that I missed or if there is something that you would like to add, please leave a comment in the comments section.
Sources for this post include: The United States Search and Rescue Task Force, The Happy Camper by Kevin Callan, Camping’s Top Secrets (2nd Ed.) by Cliff Jacobsen, and the University of Hawaii

DISCLAIMER: Nothing contained here should be taken as a replacement for professional meteorological weather prediction and should be done at your own risk. Predicting the weather for yourself is not an exact science and should be done for entertainment and the end of the world purposes only. The Prepared Ninja, its writers, staff, and affiliates strictly deny any endorsement of use of the methods outlined above.