But there are more and more like-minded people out there in communities around the country: engineers, nurses, doctors, dentists, people with different skills and mindsets and ways of contributing. We’re harmonious. We offer each other support and keep ourselves to ourselves. We see prepping as a way to increase our chances of survival if something happens. And we’re all ready to get out of the way when it does.
He believes prepping is key but having the mental strength to survive is the unknown factor. “It doesn’t matter how many containers of food you have or what you have organised, if you are not mentally ready for it you probably won’t survive either,” he says. “Some people have an instinct to keep going but even preppers could turn around when it all happens and fall in a heap.”
For a time in the 1970s, the terms survivalist and retreater were used interchangeably. While the term retreater eventually fell into disuse, many who subscribed to it saw retreating as the more rational approach to conflict-avoidance and remote "invisibility". Survivalism, on the other hand, tended to take on a more media-sensationalized, combative, "shoot-it-out-with-the-looters" image.
Over the phone from the company’s headquarters in Salt Lake City, Shields attributed the spike to the onslaught of natural disasters that left thousands of Americans without food in 2017, and rattled many more. “You got the hurricane that hit Florida, you got the hurricane that hit the Houston area, you got the hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico,” he said. “Geologists are coming out and saying that California is severely overdue for a big earthquake. You got these major events that are taking place that affect mainstream America. So how do you protect your family?”