When I was a firefighter, it used to annoy me when we would close a road because of a fire, accident, or other emergency, and people would be angry that “this is the only way to get to my house.” I would point out that I could think of four different ways to get around the closed road, but the idiots only knew one way.

Part of being prepared for anything is to know the area where you live. Know it on foot, know it in a vehicle, and if possible, know it from the air. That means doing a thorough recon of the area. That starts with knowing everything about the area within 500 yards of your door. You can use a range card, found here on the training materials page, or you can simply do a sketch. Make sure that it includes the range and bearing of landmarks like the treeline behind your house, that large elm tree down the road a bit, and other things that you can use to estimate range using the Mark I eyeball.

I know that the treeline behind my house is 98 yards away. The treeline in front of the house is 85 yards away. The house behind mine is 403 yards from my back door. I have all sorts of landmarks on my card, and that will allow me to guess the range to various things within 500 yards or so of my house.

Now that you know the physical layout, make sure you know your neighbors and identify potential allies as well as potential rats or informants. As always, practice OPSEC and remember that the person asking you to do illegal shit or showing an interest in what you have is probably an informant or a thief.

Categories: Training


Princess Cutekitten · February 24, 2024 at 6:14 am

This is a good idea, thanks!

Grumpy51 · February 24, 2024 at 7:35 am

I always wondered if those homeowners of $500K homes (in the 90s) KNEW that the MLK projects were less than a quarter mile through the woods and a large drainage ditch away……. Used to see it anytime flying over. Drones and Google earth didn’t exist back then. No excuses today.

Anonymous · February 24, 2024 at 8:39 am

I had half a dozen ways to get home. Bad part most of them were over bridges and some tunnels.

Elrod · February 24, 2024 at 10:58 am

It is also a very good idea to know different ways of leaving your house, not just getting to it. There is practicality in having different routes out, beyond just “not being too predictable” because you’re driven by habit. Taking different routes out (and different routes in) allows you to observe and learn what exists and is going on in your AO.

One point – car travel is easy and convenient, but use it as a precursor to observation by foot; walking by someplace allows more time to observe and learn, and sounds have value. It’s also useful to have a small, unobtrusive compass, like a wrist compass, to verify directions and headings if you’re one of those people who can’t tell north from south. Pace counts tell distance.

Pro Tip: Walking a dog is good camouflage. If you don’t have a dog, offer to take someone else’s for a walk now and then. Pushing a baby stroller works, too, better for women than men, though.

Sean · February 24, 2024 at 3:41 pm

A map or two will help you be able to know in an instant what there is out there. Do not carry it on you if you make notations on it.

Bear Claw · February 24, 2024 at 4:43 pm

The only time gooooble earth can be your friend. Onyx generally not current enough.

Matthew W · February 24, 2024 at 6:05 pm

When my daughter was learning to drive, I told her that she should always know at LEAST 2 ways to get where she’s going……

Brian_E · February 24, 2024 at 9:18 pm

500 yards is just the ‘area outside your door’. In a WROL situation, you need to have studied your entire AO (for those not hip to the lingo – AO is ‘Area of Operation’, that is – where you are and all the places you go with any regularity – in your day-to-day life). That area is VASTLY different for someone that works from home vs. a family w/children and one or more parents that commutes to a job. Know your area, know your approach and exit routes, know your neighbors, and get a feel for those that aren’t ‘on your street’, but are in or around your neighborhood. This is just the 30000′ view of what is called an ‘Area Study’. There are videos on YouTube that can help with this, and a company called Forward Observer (no financial interest, just a happy customer) that besides their intelligence briefings – also teach how to compile and maintain an Area Study (and yes – it’s a ‘living’ document that can get out of date remarkably quickly). They’re going to giving a video based class starting in early March. IIRC – when you’re a subscriber to their ‘Early Warning’ product, the class is ‘free’. Don’t know if they’re offering it to ‘non-subscribers’ at the moment. If there’s interest, I’ll ask them. I can either post links to it when they’re made public, and/or forward it to our gracious host.

Anonymous · February 25, 2024 at 6:18 pm


Totally off the subject of your post but …

Somewhile back BC had up a link to a set of maps (spiral notebook – highways & less notable area byways) and while I thought I had it bookmarked … alas I’m unable to find where I placed it.

Might you recall that of which I speak? I did use your search function however …


    Divemedic · February 25, 2024 at 6:25 pm

    No, but I can look

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