So now it's a few days after a SHTF event, you're travelling really well, got all your supplies worked out, able to replenish much of your consumables, you have tools and materials to build or do anything. What's next?
Well, have you actually thought what might transpire? Let's see - oh yes, the looters. Those people who feel that any excuse will do for just stealing and vandalising. There's a survival advantage to the vandalising, of course. If they are experienced looters and they destroy anything left over, then you won't have the left-overs. Since they're going to be better at looting, they'll outlast you.
There are ways to stop this cycle developing but that's a bit beyond the scope of my article. If you want to see more on the subject look up any military manual on dealing with use of deadly force. I won't condone this but neither will I dismiss it.
Our aim is not to become a looter target. Are you cooking up tasty aromatic meals every day? Stop! Are you keeping your environment lit with candles by night or are you revealing it with a smoky fire by day? Stop!
That much should be obvious if you're a prepared prepper. Let on that you're (comparatively speaking) sitting on Easy Street to such looters, and you may as well just hand over your stores. And maybe your life. Just stop.
As the event unfolds, there will be progressively fewer and fewer of these opportunistic arseholes around. They'll starve. Not nice, but then neither is stealing.
Law and order. The old style L&O will be out of touch, and probably be more of a problem than the situations they will try and retain control of. Best to avoid where possible. New L&O will come from good old natural justice instincts. But it'll take time to establish, so for the first few weeks consider yourself to be on your own.
So a few weeks in, mostly the people with good survival skills will remain. These are dangerous, because they didn't get that far by being weak or stupid. Unless you're very vainglorious, also best to avoid. But it will be harder now, because any signs of survivors will draw these people. Is your garden all neat and tended and watered and green in the middle of a desolate waste? Stop that.
Does what you do make noise, or scents, or visible signs? Be damn careful, or better yet, stop. Stop anything that draws attention. This situation will not last forever, eventually the banding instinct will kick in and groups will form again.
So be prepared to live very much under the radar for a while. I favour spreading my vegetables out among other plants, so the fact that I actually have a garden isn't obvious to anyone just walking past. I also know there are around one or two dozen edible species growing wild around here, so I can supplement my food with any of those.
The main thing is not to have obvious sources of food, warmth, medicine, or tools. The second thing is to fly under the radar like that until villages and communities form again. Third is to form or join such a community, and the best way to do that is to have some skills that are useful.
People that just had food stashed and lived off that and now have no redeeming skills, are going to be a drain on a community. Don't be one of these. People that can make and use tools and weapons, that can make meals and do something no one else can, will benefit a community, and you want to be one of these.
Communities are not necessary, but they are desirable. If you kept a CB radio and some batteries, this can be of help by listening across all the channels for a few minutes every day. (With headphones on of course so you don't get heard for miles around if there's static or someone else suddenly calling...)
Weapons. Whether for hunting, defence, or offence, I think this is very much your personal choice. I believe we have the right to defend ourselves in any situation, but to me guns are not the only defensive weapon, and your mind is still the best defence you can have. We have a right to hunt, but if we do, we'd better be sure to be good hunters than to leave trails of wounded animals behind us.
On the subject of defence I'll just say that bulletproof vests are generally not able to resist spears, knives, arrows and quarrels the way they resist bullets. The way they resist bullets often makes the wearer of such a vest a bit too cocksure of themselves. Guns eventually run out of reliable ammunition and then they're just clubs.
An intelligent person is generally able to avoid places where bullets are likely, and to be able to avoid being clubbed by a firearm owner who's suddenly desperate because they're out of magic bullets. So the best way to survive is not to be where the shooting is, and not to rely on a gun to protect you...
On the subject of bows and arrows. A lot of prepper blogs run articles about the survival value of archery versus gunfire, and most come to the surprising conclusion that archery is actually better because the bow and arrow are relatively silent, and as everyone knows guns will run out of ammunition eventually. What they're not considering is that arrows will run out eventually too, and no-one is a natural fletcher or even knows what to do once their bowstring breaks.
In fact, not everyone is a natural marksman with a rifle or a bow, and it's easier to sneak to within 100m of your prey than it is to sneak to within 40m. And I won't even go into the relative survival value of shooting three arrows into the air to attract a rescuer's attention versus firing three rifle shots...
For hunting, I know I'd like a rifle more than anything else. But we have strict gun control laws in Australia, and besides, there's nothing survivable about giving away your location shooting game. So really do give this matter a lot of thought.