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Personal Security and Safety On A Secluded Homestead: Lessons From Venezuela

Avatar for Jose Martinez Jose Martinez  |  Updated: November 24, 2020
Personal Security and Safety On A Secluded Homestead: Lessons From Venezuela

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As most of you already know, we have been forbidden in 2012 by the thugs in power to carry any kind of gun in Venezuela. The monopoly of force declared this openly, as part of the plan to subjugate 25 million people and have them controlled by fear. It is a mess.

As usual, I am writing about the naked truth. Politics apart, we have to find meanwhile the means to defend. In my case those gun “laws” forbid ANYTHING capable of throwing something. Of course, that is, if they catch someone with that device. But inside your fence, it is a totally different story. 

Why all this introduction? Because I believe more and more people are noticing that governments all over the world are NOT liking the fact that people going towards being more self-reliant and independent. They need uninformed, under-educated sheep to vote for their politicians to keep the status quo. But we know that already.

Thing is, that the status quo is already being swept out. Technology is one of the most useful tools we have. If someone wants to get rid of the banking system in their life then they can use crypto. Satellite internet access for your online income, advanced communications, and entertainment will give you a degree of freedom that the hippies of all ages never even dreamed of. For an added safety measure, HAM radio is now more affordable than ever.

Access to reliable energy supply, with the most recent advances in energy production and storage like LIPO batteries and the low priced electronics required to charge them, is rapidly changing even the market structure itself.

Solar panels are becoming more efficient than ever. And if you want to become independent, you will need as many tools to defend yourself in the times to come.

The following “weapons” are inexpensive, easy to learn how to use them, surprisingly effective and you can buy spare parts and “ammo” or manufacture yourself for almost nothing. 

Silent Self-Defense Tools

Want it or not, maybe in the future the means to keep us safe are not going to be there. I’m not going to number the reasons why. That depends on everyone’s particular location. 

What I will do is to provide my best own perspective of how we can have tools available for self-defense. Bows, hunting slingshots, crossbows, all of these have to be considered as important hunting tools, and therefore they make good defense tools. I know guns are an area where USA are knowledgable and that you can have them legally but they make noise. Trust me, if you live off-grid, and your neighbors don’t have guns, you certainly don’t want to attract the wrong kind of attention. 

This article is not for those already in the know. I am aware there are plenty of hunters out there that would give me a master class in their neck of the woods.

That’s great, by the way…wildlife in Venezuela has been greatly extinguished by illegal hunting and an inexistent state to impose law and order.

But what I learned in MY neck of the woods as a youngster, and given the potentially hazardous climate my son and I are headed to, I believe a couple of interesting lessons can be extracted from my experience. Therefore, this article is for those in the process of selecting a few useful tools for self-defense.

These three already mentioned, the hunting slingshot (this has different features than your average one) and especially one that has captivated my attention but to be honest, never tried: the atlatl or Aztecan spear thrower.

I will go into more detail about all four of these later in this article.

The idea is to provide to those that maybe can’t or simply don’t want a firearm as a means of self-defense, for personal reasons: lack of ability, affordability, don’t want to rely on ammo availability, among other. Newbies will have to know that all of these, even the hunting slingshot must be used thoroughly to achieve a decent level of proficiency to be used under stressful situations.

The bow and the atlatl need the most amount of training, while the crossbow and slingshot can be effectively used by anyone with standard common sense and with little instruction, not to mention training. However, if you can find someone to train you, great. If you’re skilled enough and want to take your survival abilities to a new level that could be useful even as a bartering product or a business, thinking on manufacturing hand-made crossbows and bows is a good idea. 

However, for home defense, a shotgun is the most effective weapon you will ever find, and has been for quite some time and should be considered our first choice.

That being said, I can tell you, one of the most impressive aspects of our collapse that people I know reported to me some time ago, is the silence.

No power and no fuel means the silence has returned in such a way that it’s even scary. Some of our neighbors had those old little radios as country people all over the world have, with national popular music…that’s gone now, most of the time at least. 

If you go out with a shotgun, say, and get a wild turkey (in South America we have our own variety, and they are extremely annoying because they use to make a lot of noise at 6 am) or even better, a wild hog (not that common in my area but they can be found) or even a deer….well, it is very likely that an undesirable visitor could trespass just to get a piece of the game.

Unless your butchering place is secured, it’s highly probable.

Even if you share the excess with your closest neighbors, some bad apple nearby will find it out and feel angry enough to make poor decisions. It’s just the way it is.

I know plenty of you share this feeling with me: come to my place offering to work for some food, and I will give it to you for free and send you on your way happily. Come to steal, and you will face serious damage.

One thing the writer of the article I mentioned is right about, is this: what keeps us safe is widespread prosperity. Those who have learned about the South African farmers and what they had to endure in the past 6 or 7 decades know what I mean. 

It is going to be hard to establish a plan to improve your security, but it can be done. My goal is to produce in our cottage everything we can consume or sell. The only commercial activity around us is small scale production of beans, some cattle, and milk.

Cheesemaking requires some supplies, a hygienic dedicated space and knowledge that not everyone is aware of. So their production is quite basic. They have no knowledge of specialized techniques like aquaponics or hydroponics. In that mountains there are no streams and therefore no fish, neither. And I am going to have at least 25 kg worth of fish in any moment in the pond or in the aquaponic system.

Onion, garlic, potatoes, spices, and all the veggies and fruits you can think of for normal consumption are going to be a huge attraction for trespassers. Strawberries (yes, I can have them in the middle of the tropics, believe it or not, I already tried it), oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, these are high consumption products and unless I build serious fences, I am expecting trespassers, indeed. 

 They won’t come in one by one but in numbers. A well-positioned 15 mm diameter steel ball at middle-chest with a powerful hunting slingshot from 30 meters away will make the group think twice.

Putting on body armor before attacking is useful. My bike helmet and jacket will have to be enough for the moment. If unarmed, they will try to fight back with whatever they have close, like stones or sticks.  

Therefore, you’re going to need silent means to defend your homestead. This following weapons can seriously harm anyone, so don’t take it lightly and handle with special precautions.  

I will start for the most difficult-to-master weapon.

The Bow 

This requires quite a bit of training to be an effective weapon. However, history has proven that it is effective, fast, efficient, and accurate in good hands. In our Amazonas, natives shoot an arrow through the woods, while lying on the ground and stretching the rope with their feet (their bows and arrows are huge), and shoot not in a straight line but to the sky. The arrow describes a parabolic trajectory and hits the deer or capybara in the back. Awesome. 

Modern bows are made with high-tech materials and alloys; this is great for performance but can make them pricey. However, as a materials engineer I must say, you are very likely to find a proper quality vs. price range and will be very happy with your purchase. Simple, take-down recurve bows can even be shot by a kiddo.

I am a particular fan of takedown everything, because of the possibility of marching straight into a roadblock or some other undesirable encounter with eager uniforms to get what they can “seize” off your gear.

Just by spreading the pieces and maybe keeping the riser away of the limbs, and all of these parts separated between them: the string around your neck with some native-looking ornament hanging, one limb inside each boot, you get the picture. This will keep the untrained eye (in my case) unaware if they don’t decide to undress you for a revision.  

Modern compound bows have a system of pulleys and use much more rope to take advantage of the design and offer a much higher arrow speed, with much less effort. Widely used in hunting, when combined with hunting slingshots are quite effective.  

If you plan to walk in thick bush, a conventional long bow can be too cumbersome to use, and a compound can be your better choice. 

The Atlatl

 This is a quite ancient throwing weapon that seems to have a pretty big fan club. 

It’s just a baton with a carved notch where a special spear fits, and this can reach great distances, with good precision depending on the expertise of the user. It’s a weapon with plenty of followers, and the mechanics, geometry and physics involved have made it quite effective. Maybe that’s the main reason why it’s not exactly cheap, but that means it’s worth it. The notch makes the arrow-like spear to gain a very important impulse and momentum thanks to the leverage effect of the atlatl itself.

I can see this would be quite useful used in large amounts, for example, being launched intermittently over trespassers by just two persons defending a home from the terrace of the 3rd floor. For someone trying to fight back throwing the spears back, they won’t have the same range without that leverage effect and without training. They will hardly will reach the 3rd floor. Add this to a few kinetic projectiles from a drone 50 meters up that could be launched automatically with just a pointer laser or a remote, for additional damage and diversion, and the effect should be good enough. And you can even get one online:

But…as far as I see it, you could build one of these without too much effort. 

The Crossbow

I love these things.

Despite the fact that the one I’ve shot in my life is a pain to cock, I felt it could take down an enemy or a decent-sized piece of game, like a capybara or a small wild hog.

I wouldn’t go at a larger male hog with one of these unless I would have tons of experience. The right tool for the right job. However, I do trust in a ghillie suit, a good location, and a good assortment of arrows to be able to scare a number of trespassers. 

There is a huge variety of these tools to choose from, even those with compound bows. For the sake of simplicity and thinking in the future, I would prefer a simpler model like this:

BARNETT Wildcat Camo Recurve Crossbow

Easy to fix, no pulleys, and combined with a good optics, a great investment. However this has to be handled with the same care than a firearm, and maybe are not so adequate for newbies. But a good team of 4 or 5 persons, ghillie suits, properly located and with intercom systems, will be able to perform an operation to make run a gang no matter how decided this might be. 

Bolts are quite easy to build at home, just download a YT tutorial and start toying around. Anything over 80 lbs. will work. Nothing less than that or you are at risk of being short in stopping power. For elders, ladies, or senior ladies, there are some advanced models even with mechanisms to ease the cocking part.

The pros, especially the accuracy and precision make it a quite appropriate tool for cottage defense and hunting. 

The Hunting Slingshot

And finally, we have the well-known and quite evolved hunting slingshot. Back in the day, I hunted that obnoxious wild turkey-like bird I mentioned that wakes you in the mountains early morning with a hand-made rubber tube thing. Of course, it was non-symmetrical and entirely imprecise. Even though, we managed to catch a few birds every now and then.

It’s all about practice. These have been around worldwide I think since the appearance of high resistance rubber bands. I have known people hunting monkeys and small rodents with fishing lead balls the size of a large marble. And I mean LARGE, like 2 cm in diameter. 

A well-positioned ball of these surely will ruin the day of any trespasser. I saw a friend of mine shoot through the canvas roof of his jeep to someone stealing his stereo back in the 90s. The balls just went through and all you could hear was the thug screaming. You could build it at home, but buying a commercial one is not a bad idea, with all the ergonomics they have invested on them.

For ammo, just go to a car workshop and ask for damaged bearings. These can be disassembled, and the spherical bearings are excellent projectiles. The hardened steel makes it possible to use it more than once if you can find them after hunting a piece with them. So no need to buy them, even though they are dirt cheap.  

For some hunting slingshot options, check out Sam’s article “Slingshots For Hunting and Defense”.

I know this can sound exaggerated, but I use at least eyewear protection when shooting any of these weapons (except the atlatl). Breaking a string, a limb, or a rubber band on the hunting slingshot can result in serious injury, and if we are far away of medical care, it can be a problem. Remember always carry your first aid pack. 

Whatever you choose, make sure you practice enough until you become proficient. Practice will get you confident under pressure, and confidence will make you accurate, accuracy will allow you to survive much longer. A 10 feet medical grade rubber band roll that should last you for a while just costs close to 40$. And with a careful design you could even shoot arrows too. 

In a country where owning a gun can take you to jail, this is a serious way to defend your place…without noise. 

Thanks for reading!


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4 Responses to “Personal Security and Safety On A Secluded Homestead: Lessons From Venezuela”

  1. Dear Alex,
    You’re absolutely right. However, it’s hard for me to explain someone coming from a Western free country how uniforms seize or plainly take off your hands an air rifle, crossbow, a good knife, and threaten to take you to jail for whatever reason they can come with…Venezuela is a failed state and abuse of “authorities” has been there for a long time. Luckily our cottage is so isolated that we could live freely at least for some time. We should be OK if we keep our weapons safe, and never go out on the open road with them at sight.
    An air rifle is definitely an essential tool, and being a fan of silent tools, the .22 caliber is exactly my choice for an airgun capable to collect some game. You’re surely right too mentioning the booby traps, and once I have come back and rigged a few, another article will be there for those who may need it. Fake cameras are an interesting deal, however I believe that in my neck of the woods they would steal them just for the resale money, without caring about them being caught on footage because they know any serious law enforcement team is going to look for them, because there is not even gasoline for they to drive. Noticing they are fake, could lead to a gang to believe there is something trying to protect valuables, and that is not good for us in our particular situation in Venezuela. Too many hungry people, too many junkies looking for their next sniff or pill, too many fake LEOs and NGs, too many people with bad intentions, sadly.
    However, it’s something we can deal with as ir’s our land and we know how to navigate it. Being here in Peru surrounded by 11 million people surely doesn’t beat that.
    Stay tuned!

  2. Hello,

    Interesting and useful read; thanks.

    I did want to add a couple of thoughts, with your indulgence.

    First, the definition of “firearm” is critical to a complete and balanced conversation. My guess is that an air-, CO2- or spring-powered weapon is NOT legally a “firearm” where you live. If that is true, then I am sure I would own one. In fact, I do own one (in the US, that is): a 22-caliber PCP (pre-charged (air) pneumatic) rifle. My regular ammunition is a JSB Diabolo 18-plus grain domed pellet (and a scope). It is relatively quiet (great for non-daylight hours especially), powerful (I’ve taken down crows, skunks, a mid-sized deer and more), and can be charged with a high-pressure hand pump (no electricity required). The ammunition is relatively inexpensive, widely available and provides consistent performance, as does the rifle. Also, the learning curve is minimal.

    (Actually, earlier today I FINALLY killed a blackbird from about, oh, 70-ish yards with that exact setup. It was a thing of beauty to hear it squawk and twirl like a skater as it hit branches on the way down.)

    Second, one might also consider the use of so-called “man traps.” Even if there is only one, if someone falls into it (especially if they are part of a group), it’s notwanyone’s guess as to where the other one(s) is.

    Third, cameras, even fake ones with a light or two, can be a deterrent. Why not set up one or more easy-to-spot cameras so that intruders will see them, disable them, and move along, presumably thinking they are in the clear? Just set up other real cameras to not only chronicle their damaging of the first camera, but the rest of their foray. After all: playing mind games with any intruder is a highly productive effort in the fight to protect both yourself and yours.

    Anyway, just adding a few thoughts to the conversation. Thanks again for the article.


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