Planning for the Prepper Wannabes

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Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Caljack. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.

You were right! The SHTF event you have been preparing for has happened and you and your family are ready. Your bug-out bags are packed; your weapons are locked and loaded and you have trained your family for this moment, you have a plan and you’re putting it into operation.

Then it happens, the one thing that you didn’t foresee.

You are suddenly face to face with someone else, blood races through your body as the adrenaline kicks in….your family frozen in place behind you…arm straightened out in front of you, your finger on the trigger cramping up with the tension of the moment.

A lifetime flashes by in a blink of an eye.

Then the sound of the click breaks the silences as you remove your finger off the trigger and your thumb flips up the safety.

The person or people in front of you are not a danger they are just PWBs’ – Prepper wannabes

They are scared and it’s obvious they aren’t prepared for the SHTF event you are going through. It is like suddenly coming across someone in a lake, struggling in deep water, over their heads and panicking. What do you do? Let them drown? Let them die? Your wife and kids are looking to you for the answer. Perhaps there are others in your group, but you’re a take charge type of person. You made the decisions during your family’s training and now, you are suddenly facing the one thing you or your group didn’t really plan for.

Suddenly you find yourself accepting them, suddenly; it is not just about being prepared or about just having to take care of your family or your group. You’re the leader, you’re the Sergeant of your growing group. You now have a number of unknown survivors, with your group or do you? Did you plan for this? Should you have planned for this?


If your plans call for keeping all the food in a central location. Have them collect food, water and any other items from their homes and bring it to that location.

If you were to ask 1,000 different preppers, it is safe to say that you would get about that many different answers. Yet it could very well happen to you.

There are many survival articles that talk about being the gray man, keeping a low profile or the need to be prepared for the gangs or marauders that will be out and about in a SHTF situation. This is a different scenario and yet is more likely to happen as people form groups for survival and safety. This applies to either staying in place or bugging out. So let’s discuss these scenarios for a moment:

Staying in place:

In most places within the United States, homes are built close together within subdivisions. Most of us do not know our neighbors or at least not well enough to suddenly bet our life or the lives of our families on them. Yet, there is safety in numbers and there are many articles that detail the necessity of building a Prepper group within your neighborhood, so I won’t repeat that here.
However, no matter how hard you try, not everyone in your group and especially not everyone in your neighborhood, will want to be prepared, or train themselves and/or their families to the level required when SHTF is suddenly thrust upon them.

So, what is the best way to deal with this situation?

First: If your part of a group, hopefully you have discussed this issue. If your group plans on digging in and protecting your homes, you most likely have some background on the PWBs. You can still benefit from accepting them. There are things that they can do.

Planning for the Prepper Wannabes - The Prepper Journal

What training have they had? When were they last used? Do you have someone in your group or can you assign someone, to inspect the weapons? Do they need cleaning?

But remember that these PWB’s are most likely scared to death and some maybe close to panic. Some may not listen to reason. It will be your job to calm them, guide them, reassure them and even praise them to help stabilize their anxieties. If not, instead of being helpful they may become a threat that you may have to deal with later.

Security: be prepared to brief them on the current situation and what will be required of them. Team them up with one of your trained personnel guarding the access points to your neighborhood. Are there any with weapons training? Prior military or police experience. Are any doctors, nurses, day care workers?

Levels of confidence: While you will need to brief them, be sure that all your trained personnel knows to limit discussing your plans, where you keep weapons, additional supplies, bug out locations and routes with them. In short, provide them enough information for them to perform the duties assigned. Make them feel that they are part of the group, but keep your plans to yourself.

Food rationing: If your plans call for keeping all the food in a central location. Have them collect food, water and any other items from their homes and bring it to that location. Keep a record, or mark it with their names. While rationing will or may be required, seeing their names mixed in with others from the group gives them a sense of belonging.

Keep them busy: Select someone in your group to assist them in creating a bug out bag for each member of the family. Getting into their homes, building up a rapport as your team member guides them also gives you a chance to collect more information about them. That information could be vital if you have to suddenly bug out.


Weapons: Hopefully, some may have them. But, once again, what training have they had? When were they last used? Do you have someone in your group or can you assign someone, to inspect the weapons? Do they need cleaning? Do they have ammo and if so how much? Take the time to drill them on weapons safety. Create a hands on proficiency test. Be sure what you’re dealing with before you place a weapon in their hands.

Bugging out:

Suddenly having untrained personnel with you or worst collecting them along the way can quickly place you and your group in a life threatening situation. I’m sure there are many preppers out there saying that they would not collect PWBs or survivors that managed cross their path. After all, your supplies are limited and the more people in your group the more your group will stand out and perhaps become a target.

But, let’s look at the reality. Recently, up in Canada, A huge forest fire displaced thousands of residents. The majority of the residents were not prepared and escaped with just the clothes on their back. I’m sure there were some that were prepared and suddenly found themselves surrounded by a sea of escapees. Can you honestly say that you would walk past a hungry and scared child? A most likely SHTF situation that we could encounter will be due to Mother Nature, Fire, Flood, Snow Storm, Earthquake, etc. Your plans should be flexible enough to adjust to the situation that surrounds you.

So allowing for adjustments based on your location, your means of travel, the actual situation that forced you to bug out go back to the various sub topics listed under staying in place and ask yourself how they apply to this situation, how they need to be modified.
You must also know when to say no and deal with the fall out from that decision-both externally and internally.

Sergeant! What do we do with these?

What will be your answer?

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You point a gun at me please note that one day I’ll kill you. Oh I’ll be nice and cooperative but I will not forgive you offering to kill me. Why the aggression in the first place? Be sensible and don’t go all Rambo as some else may well be hyped up and in love with their guns and then you have a battle. Deadly force is a last resort not the first response. Cover the group from your hides and have them halt and then talk. First approach is either a hail of bullets or a single unarmed person.… Read more »


“In a full on shtf I’d be inclined not to accept untrained and unready people and highly skeptical of trained and ready.”
I have to agree with your point, as well as your entire response. I’m, working up an article right now about how you develop trust in a full blown SHTF situation. The bottom line is that you do it before things go sideways, not after. If you throw in with a group that you don’t know, or don’t have a rational basis of trust, that’s called foolish and maybe even desperate.


Cool. There’s a decent video on the effects of a super volcano eruption on u tubby. .? National Geographic. Shows reality well. It sucks! But the meeting of the two groups is how it would be in post shtf. Caution, fear, offering aid and info, support, friendship. You throw the spear they would throw back. You might win but you’d be risking far too much. As I said anyone points a gun at me I’m going to kill them at the first opportunity and I’ll do whatever it takes to survive until then. It’s beyond hostile to make the first… Read more »

Thomas Paine in the butt

There are support troops to every combat unit. The point I’m getting at is even if a post event addition to the group sucks at combat they can add to groups chances of success.

Your point on an over abundance of caution is valid and the risk/rewards should be evaluated on an individual basis.


Hi Thomas, I’d go further and say a reliance on only ‘combat’ people in shtf is going to make your chance of failure 100% in a long shtf. Exactly right about evaluating everyone including those who join pre shtf. In survival you always have to think ahead and will your best mate with the beer gut with the cool guns be of any use once the food stores are eaten? Maybe yes, maybe no. The idea of everyone wandering around whipping out guns immediately is valid but those types will kill each other off real quick. Assess, plan, and retreat… Read more »

Kula Farmer

Your first problem is hesitation, your already dead and your wife and daughter are eating sausage for dinner.
Screw it, that rifle comes up firing, may be the difference between life or death.


Naa sorry but PWBs as you call them are jut a liability, I will only ever assist those like us who have prepped in advance and have learned essential skills.


Any armed strangers I find here at night will be found here in the morning.


There is another, shorter term for “PWBs.” The word Leech comes to mind.

Thomas Paine in the butt

I see a lot of what I hope is mostly bravado. As much as we’d like to think we’re prepared for events there are just too many variables to cover every possible combination of things that can go wrong in a SHTF event. I’d sure hate to think that a fellow prepper would blow me away because I got caught out of town when the balloon went up. Or that a wildfire forced me and my kids to bug out and get shot for crossing into your perimeter. I’d like to think that you’d observe a potential target to determine… Read more »


Thomas, I understand your points and I largely agree with them. My interpretation of “Prepper Wannabes” is roughly translated to mean individuals that have taken no meaningful effort to organize or secure their own lives and who (1) believe that you owe them by virtue of your labor and self-funded resources – which they had no role in developing, or (2) are willing to take whatever you have, including your life. In the conditions that would follow a full-blown SHTF scenario, my family comes first and I can conceive of no reason to trust anyone that I do not already… Read more »

Kula Farmer

Best rule is avoid contact
This is a tough subject, some folks have mentioned good things to think about,
But like you, family and me comes first. I have very little faith in the bulk of society today, figure i can work it out when it comes to neighbors but strangers from out of area are on the short list

Thomas Paine in the butt

It may have helped if the author defined “prepper wannabe” better. I see it, in the age where critical theory has replaced critical thinking, as a disparaging term used to describe anyone not meeting the users expectations. It can be extended to beginners or those who preparing for the “wrong event” but is almost always used as an insult. What you described, to me, isn’t any kind of prepper at all. Nor was I trying to say that hostile intruders not be dealt with. I think the author was more referring how to handle random encounters with refugees post event… Read more »


Valid critique but in terms of the article misplaced. I’d also suggest naming names or replying to the person you have decided to respond to otherwise every responder thinks you are talking to them. Big issue with text! Causes many a flame war. Sure a local shtf is not a societal collapse and response is entirely different. Gun Preppers tend to focus on power, leader, and moral right while survivalist Preppers tend to focus on food, networking, and avoiding conflict. Both sides often disagree. Hopefully neither side will find out the truth. If you have food to gather in people… Read more »

Thomas Paine in the butt

You’re right on a flame war and that’s why I used such an over the top outrageous style and clarified at the end, just in case there was any questions on intent.

But let me ask this, how would you expect someone to react in a full on SHTF event if it was you whowith, no ill intent, unknowingly came on someone else’s property?


Good question. I’ve no idea in truth. I’d like to think I’d ask them to split but I might just avoid them if they look too much to handle. I’d base it on appearance which likely would be a huge error. Women can be savage! It also depends on my side’s numbers. If they are covered I’d have them stop and have one person approach unarmed. I think I’d basically panic but I hope I could chat and share info and supplies to both our sides benefit. Early shtf I’d not want them to stay but after the first Winter… Read more »

Thomas Paine in the butt

I’ve been thinking about that question. I think I’d have my group covered from hides and using my best command voice inform them they are covered, to lay down arms and take 5 steps back. I wouldn’t come out of cover unarmed, probably with rifle at low ready.

If they comply and make no hostile moves to that point, then we talk. I’d get as much info as possible and if they’re passing through let them go with a warning not to come back.

Damn I hope I’m never in that position and all this is just a thought experiment.


Yes but a lot of these early encounters will dissolve into a short gun battle if not handled right.
One thing I’ve read is an older female is best at the first meeting. Low threat level which is funny as I know older females that have tiger blood!
My main focus is on avoiding encounters. Never much went beyond how to avoid them or how to deal with hostiles. That was an error. I would be very cautious about Intel

Thomas Paine in the butt

Oh absolutely I’m with you confrontation is always the last resort. If the people are just cutting across the corner I’d probably do nothing more than observe. If it looked like they where going to find a cache or safe house then that’s different.

If I felt I had to confront someone on my property I’d identify myself as the owner and not a looter.


TP, I don’t see it as bravado. The mental shift from ‘Bob from accounting’ to “John Wayne defending the homestead from marauders” is a difficult one. Many have thought through the possibility of defending their families from outsiders. If ROL goes out the window, I’m not going to lose my moral compass. I still know what is right or wrong. I am going to put it in my backpocket for a while. Besides Fedex and UPS, very, very few vehicles enter my driveway. After, failure of ROL, the only vehicles that should show up are family. If someone stops at… Read more »


I can’t say I like the PWB concept. The way I see it, you have a few different types of people that would be interacted with. Preppers, Refugees, Leeches, Raiders, Gov types. Refugees would be wandering folks, bailing on their previous location, looking for a place to be. Some will want to be taken care of, while others would seek out ways to integrate. Leeches, honestly, are folks you know, family outliers, and the like that think “Joe’s got stuff. He’ll take care of us.” They think they know something about you, and think that their casual acquaintance/distant cousin status… Read more »

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