Monday, August 5, 2013

The ugly truth about survival that too many survivalists miss

I run more than a few free survival classes.  In fact most of my survival classes are free.  I rarely charge for them.  It keeps me and my family in practice (my kids help out with them a lot, my wife isn't as interested) and we all get to meet some pretty cool people.

Anyway, my son was over trying to coach an older man about how to build a fire using a bow drill.  After a few minutes (and seriously only a few minutes) of working the bow and the bit he throws the stuff down and says, "This is stupid! I don't need to know how to start a fire like this.  My bug out bag has three different methods for helping me to start a fire and I have tons of stuff for doing it at my BOL.  I'm done wiping myself out on this nonsense!"

So I stopped the whole class.  I started by stating there were lots of valid approaches to survival and gave my "spiel" on that.  Then I asked who agreed with the guy.  Of the class of 18 people, four others raised their hands.

So let me tell you what I told that class...


If we are working under the assumption that a major collapse of the world economies is coming and that we are all going to be needing our BOLs sooner or later ... then it is also true that sooner or later your fire starters or other fancy fire starting equipment is going to stop working because it will wear out, or run out of fuel, or whatever.

So if you are of the opinion that a long term collapse of the US is coming, then you must learn how to start a fire using primitive skills such as a bow drill (easiest) or fire plow (which requires A LOT of effort).

Better yet, learn how to start a fire both ways and be proficient in both.

In fact, starting a primitive fire using a bow drill by necessity means something else ...

That you know how to make cord and rope on your own.  In fact in my opinion there isn't ANY survival skill more valuable than learning how to make "cordage".  Without knowing how to do this, in a survival situation you are basically screwed.

Let me see if I can break this down for you.

The single most important resource (other than air) is water.  You must have plentiful drinkable water if you expect to survive.

Sooner or later, your iodine tablets will run out, your filters will have ran their useful life, and the bulb on your UV lights will burn out.

That means boiling water, and that means starting a fire.  Again, a bow drill fire is unquestionably the easiest way of starting a fire.  The "problem" with the bow drill is that it needs some kind of cord or rope.

Now because I view coradage to be so important, I have a lot of it stored in various places.

The problem is that sooner or later, rope will fray and break, nets will need repair, and so on.  That means if a bow drill is the easiest way of starting a fire (without fire starters) then you have to assume that sooner or later you're going to have to start that fire with cord you make yourself.

You need cord to make the bow, to start the fire, that boils the water (cooks the food, gives warmth, heat for cleaning/sanitation and on and on).

You see, I have what seems to be a unique view of survival.

In any survival situation, you have to think about obtaining plenty of clean water on an ongoing basis.

That has to be your first thought.  But to be honest, clean water on an ongoing basis is most easily done with fire.  So really, fire has to be the first thing you do in any survival situation.

A fire can be used to generate smoke that makes it easy to find you if you're lost or stranded or whatever.

It purifies water, generates heat, and on and on.

The minute you find yourself in a survival situation, probably your first thought needs to be to creating a fire.

Again, the easiest way of doing that is with a bow drill and that just might mean that you have to create your own cord (at least it will sooner or later)


I don't know about you, but struggling just to stay barely alive in a constant state of near starvation doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun to me :-D

If you want to "sur-thrive" instead of just survive, then you MUST know how to make cord and turn that cord into nets for fishing and trapping.

You MUST know how to weave baskets (also for trapping both fish and wild animals).

You also MUST know what natural fibers are available for clothing (beyond animal pelts) and how to convert plant fiber into some kind of cloth.

To my mind, the following are absolutely basic survival skills that any true survivalist MUST possess:

  1. How to create cord and rope
  2. How to a fire using a bow drill and a fire plow and do it safely so you don't start a friggen wildfire
  3. How to use your cord/rope to build a net for fishing/trapping
  4. How to weave baskets (fishing/trapping and of course just storing things)
  5. How to actually trap/net fish, animals, and birds
Now, different people are good at different things.  Even though I know how to weave baskets ... honestly I kind of suck at it.  My wife however is extraordinarily good at it.

That doesn't mean I just let the skill go for myself however!

The five skills listed above should be possessed by EVERY survivalist.  With them, if the person that is good with something should be incapacitated due to injury or illness (or God forbid death) the entire group doesn't perish because one of what I call "lynchpin skills" is now gone.

EVERYONE should possess those five skills.

A very close #6 skill that in my opinion everyone should possess is self defense (and as I've said multiple times, I mean close quarters hand to hand combat self defense like you learn from Krav Maga or Brazilian Jui-Jitsu).

It's from here that we can talk about hunting as probably a #7 survival skill.  However I don't see this one as something that everyone should have to do.  

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