handgun training

On TV: Doomsday Bunkers, Episode 2

Last night I watched episode number 2 of the new Discovery Channel TV series Doomsday Bunkers. In “Pyramid Pod/Booby-Trapped Bunker,” Scott Bales, owner of Dallas, Texas-based Deep Earth Bunker, worked with two sets of clients in getting them the underground shelters they want, as well as a new project.

At the beginning of the episode, which aired last Wednesday, March 14, Scott announced:

We are starting to offer all of our clients concealed handgun license classes… With the proper training, our clients will be able to protect their food, their water, their families when they’re inside that bunker.

From the show:

But Scott’s clients believe it will take more than guns to protect them. So they’re relying on his bunkers to keep them alive when the world collapses.

Scott remarked:

They tell us in detail what they’re worried about and our job is to find a way to protect them from that.

Steve Willis

Steve Willis is a general contractor and prepper. Willis explained why he wanted an underground bunker:

My worst fear is that people come here, they rape my wife, they kill my kids. I don’t know what I would do if any harm was to befall my family. That is my main concern as a father, as a husband, as a grandfather. I need to know that those kids are going to be okay.

One of the biggest concerns I have is a solar flare eruption. The result is going to be an electromagnetic pulse and a widespread grid outage. You’re going to have chaos and mayhem in the streets. The stores in the cities will be looted in a matter of days. I don’t think it’s going to be long before people start coming into the outskirts to do anything they can to survive. And that includes robbing or hurting or even killing other people. They’ll eat each other if they have to.

Willis came to Deep Earth Bunker where he met with Scott. The engineer-by-trade told his prospective client:

Give me an idea exactly what you want so that we can get it.

Steve replied:

Well, this thing has to be an underground fortress. My biggest concerns are the electromagnetic pulse threat. You’ve got the solar flares. All that stuff is going to happen at some point.

Scott explained the premise behind an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, threat:

An electromagnetic pulse is caused by a high-altitude nuclear blast or a solar flare coming through our atmosphere. When an EMP hits, it can take out the electrical grid for an extended period of time.

Willis added:

Another concern I have is being able to see outside from inside the bunker. The element of surprise is what I’m looking for.

DEB’s owner envisioned an EMP-resistant video periscope for Steve’s bunker.

The show revealed that the Willis family has a tactical plan already in place. They have supply caches on their sprawling property that have food, water, and firearms. But Steve thinks his house is the weakest part of this plan. He admitted:

I don’t want to necessarily be in my house if this area is under attack. Anything can happen in the house. It could catch fire, someone could lob a grenade in there.

He continued:

I want to be able to confront them, I want to be able to engage in a firefight if necessary before they even know I’m there…

I’m not really planning on being in there too long. This is mainly just for sort of a tactical use. I just want to be able to get everyone in, keep them safe, come out when everything’s done.

Having a good idea of the project requirements, Scott said to Steve:

So we need to make sure that nobody on this planet can even get near this thing.

Steve responded with:

That’s exactly what I’m looking for.

Enter the Willis tactical bunker. A first for DEB.

Scott explained what made this shelter “tactical”:

What makes a bunker a tactical bunker is a bunker that can actually defend itself against predators. Keep people out, that shouldn’t be in.

From the episode:

Most of Scott’s bunkers are huge underground condos meant for long-term living. Since Steve plans on using his bunker only while his property is under attack, he doesn’t need luxuries. So they’re keeping it basic. Retractable bunk beds, storage space for food and water, 100 amp electric service, and a generator hookup for emergencies. Build time, 3 weeks. Total cost, $50,000.

At the conclusion of their meeting, Steve Willis explained:

This is the refuge that my family is going to retreat to in times of violence, mayhem, weather, anything. It’s going to be the heart of my defense system.

Scott assigned Jesse Saul, Floor Manager, and Charlie Christie, Quality Assurance/Carpenter, to the project, and asked them to come up with defensive measures, or “booby traps.” Jesse declared:

Once we’re done with this thing, nobody is going to get in here. It’s almost going to be like a tank.

While the Willis family waited for their bunker to be completed, preps continued at their residence. From the episode:

Steve plans to use his bunker for short term attacks, but until it’s ready, he’s come up for a defensive plan for his home. His second-story windows give him 360-degrees of sniping positions.

Steve pointed out:

I have four window positions. And if you have a gunshot coming at you, you’re not going to stand in the open and engage an unknown enemy. You’re going to run like hell.

Once the new bunker is in place, the Willis family will have an additional tactical position.

While their shelter was being fabricated, Scott and his engineer Kenneth designed the EMP-resistant video periscope. Why not use an old-fashioned periscope? Scott explained:

With a regular periscope, it’s very old technology. You push it up, you’re looking through a mirror. Mirror, mirror, mirror all the way to the top. They can fog, they can crack, and you can’t see at night. That’s why we’re doing a video periscope.

The show talked about how this feature was constructed to combat the EMP threat:

To protect Steve’s periscope from an EMP, Scott’s creating a Faraday Cage which deflects radiation- similar to what’s found inside a microwave oven. The wires are wrapped in metal mesh, which placed inside a steel conduit, and insulated with a combination of foam, tar, and metal shavings. All contained within a PVC pipe. With the battery’s solar panel safely inside the bunker, this periscope is EMP resistant.

In the meantime, Jesse and Charlie came up with two defensive features for the Willis bunker. One is a bed of metal spikes that swings down from the bunker roof into unsuspecting bad guys. The other is a handrail with a flamethrower built into it. Dastardly evil stuff.

The Willis family’s 141 square foot “tactical fortress” was finally completed and installed on the property. Scott Bales showed Steve Willis the two defensive features, the entry door- which is bullet-resistant up to a .50 caliber round, and the EMP-resistant video periscope. The client seemed overjoyed with his new bunker.

Jason and Tanya

According to the episode, 50 percent of Deep Earth Bunker’s business is fiberglass storm shelters. Owner Scott Bales was notified that one of these below-ground shelters, belonging to preppers Jason and Tanya, had been submerged in a hurricane. From the show:

Jason and Tanya live on the edge of the nation’s capital. And they’re preparing for environmental devastation.

Jason explained:

For crying out loud, this is the only planet in the entire universe that supports life as we know it, and we’re screwing it up.

Tanya chimed in:

One of the reasons why we invested in a storm shelter is for the environmental catastrophic events. You can look at global warming. The ocean currents are slowing, which means the northern hemisphere could freeze. There are so many things that are coming to a head at the same time. There would be earthquakes, floods, fires- all sorts of things we will have to negotiate to survive.

According to the show, prepping became a reality for Tanya when she started having premonitions in her sleep 10 years ago. She explained:

I started having dreams after my son was born. They’re so real. You know, I’ve had dreams where I’ve seen the stars falling and literally collapsing on the Earth.

As a result, the couple is preparing to live “off the grid.” Tanya added:

We’d like to be able to homestead, so that involves growing our own food from seed. It involves having farm animals, making our own soap, making our own vinegar.

The couple’s son, 12-year-old son Patrick, collects seeds to help out with the family’s preps.

And as part of their preparations, they acquired and buried a fiberglass storm shelter at a remote site which they intend to be the future location of their homestead. This was the same shelter that got flooded. Scott took a look at it and said that the contractor who did the install screwed up, and water and mud were able to seep in through the air vents.

The prepper family came out to Deep Earth Bunker in Texas to look at steel shelters. Scott showed Jason and Tanya his product line and revealed that the price of steel shelters is about 20 percent higher than fiberglass ones. The family really liked the steel bunkers and thought they might opt for one of those.

In the episode, Jason, Tanya, and Patrick are shown getting firearms instruction from Johnny Price of Big Iron Concealed Handgun Training. Remember DEB’s new concealed handgun license classes I mentioned at the beginning of this post?

Tanya shared more of her insights about prepping with viewers. She said:

I think that the people who have not thought about prepping are the people that are going to be caught up in the chaos.

Price told the family:

They’re willing to knife you, shoot you, assault you, beat you because you have something they want.

To which Tanya pointed out:

These are the people that are going to make the world a really dangerous place to live in.

Their instructor added:

I hope Jason and Tanya never have to use their gun. But if the predator or threat arises, I want them to be able to defend themselves.

Tanya admitted:

I don’t like the violent aspect of it, but I would kill someone to defend my son.

She has strong feelings when it comes to prepping. From the show:

Prepping has become a way of life for this family, and in their eyes, those who don’t are negligent.

The prepper explained:

They are harming their children. And I feel like they are not adequately taking care of them if they don’t have plans in place.

It looked as if the family’s visit to Deep Earth Bunker was a success. Scott remarked:

Now, Jason and Tanya will be able to protect their food, their water, their family when they’re inside that bunker.

Pyramid Pod

Scott Bales introduced a new project in episode 2 of Doomsday Bunkers called the “Pyramid Pod.” He’s aiming for the pyramid-shaped above-ground shelter to be extremely strong and fireproof. Bales said:

The Pyramid Pod is going to be one of the best above-ground shelters ever built. People can take themselves and their supplies inside and nothing will get them. Nothing.

The Pyramid Pod project was assigned to Scott Free, Special Projects Manager.

After constructing a cardboard mock-up of the shelter and eventually a scaled-down prototype of it fabricated in steel, the DEB crew took it out to a field for a structural strength test where a crane dropped a car on it. Scotty Free thought it would measure around 32,000 lbs. of force when it hit the top of the shelter. Scott Bales said:

Everyone knows in this day and age that a tornado is not going to pick up a car and throw it 45 feet straight up in the air. But preppers believe that that weather is right around the corner.

The Pyramid Pod prototype supposedly passed the structural strength test with flying colors.

Since this new product was meant to be fireproof as well, 4 impenetrable layers of fire defense and insulation were added to the steel structure:

1. Fire-resistant studs
2. Fire-resistant insulation between the studs
3. Fire-resistant 1/2 inch plywood sheets
4. On top of all this, concrete plywood

To see how effective the fireproofed prototype was, Scott Bales sat inside of the shelter while donning safety gear and with firefighters on-hand. The Pyramid Pod was set ablaze, and the test was almost 100 percent successful. Bales admitted:

Smoke got through the—because we don’t have a seal around the door. It came in through the door. It wouldn’t have got in on the full-sized model, but the steel never got hot.

Bales talked to wife Renee (who appeared on the show for the first time as Scott’s “boss”) and Scotty Free, and they agreed that after taking care “of a couple little things” they would mass produce the Pyramid Pod.

Overall, I thought episode number 2, “Pyramid Pod/Booby-Trapped Bunker,” was pretty good. As I said in my review of the first episode, I’m not a big fan of “reality” TV, and even though elements of that genre appeared in the show again, including:

• Tension between Scott Bales and wife Renee. “Renee has been dead set against this thing from day one. I can read her like a book. She is absolutely pissed.”
• Events leading up to the hiring of a new welder, where Alex Bales was turned into a human rubberband by Jesse Saul and Scotty Free.
• Fast turn-around times required of Deep Earth Bunker staff

It was all still palatable.

It’d be nice if production staff could keep it that way.

Some other thoughts:

• It looked like Steve Willis was using smaller caliber rifles at his home’s four sniping positions. I’m guessing this was just for “show.” If not, depending on the particular circumstances involved he might want to look at utilizing long guns chambered in .30-06 Springfield or .308 Winchester, for example, to increase range and knock-down capability.
• The Willis family needs to camouflage that bed of spikes hanging from the roof of their new bunker. From the looks of it, it should be relatively easy to do.
• They also have to prepare themselves should a bad guy ever get fried to a crisp from their bunker’s hand-rail flamethrower and possibly tumble down the stairs in front of their entry door. I’m guessing the screams and smell would be awful. But enough of that, as I’m still eating lunch as I type this.
• I wonder if preppers Jason and Tanya weren’t able to salvage that submerged underground storm shelter of theirs. I’ve seen flooded basements in worse condition. Pump out the muck, clean it out, sanitize it, dig a new hole in a more ideal location on the site, pull it out of the old hole and drop it into the new one, cover it up, and you’re done. I know- there’s probably a lot more to it. Here’s hoping it wasn’t a complete loss for the family though.
• After that car was dropped onto the Pyramid Pod prototype, Deep Earth Bunker was ecstatic and declared the structural strength test a success. However, it would have been nice for viewers to be able to see the top of the shelter right after the vehicle was dropped on it. This was never shown.
• I don’t know who does the accompanying music to Doomsday Bunkers, but I found myself rocking out a few times while reviewing the episode.

According to the Discovery Channel TV schedule, episode 3 of Doomsday Bunkers airs tomorrow, Wednesday, March 21, at 10 PM Eastern/Pacific.


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