Written by Jay Jones from Blueridge Survival
Knowing something is one thing, practicing and being familiar with it is another. In a stressful situation, you don’t want to have to struggle your way through basic survival skills. Being familiar with the following skills will give you the confidence you need to make it through any survival scenario. You should try to practice them at least once a month and the easiest way to do it is to simply use them while camping, hiking, or hunting.
1. Woodworking & Bushcraft
Basic woodworking and bushcraft can be practiced around the house or whilst camping. You should be familiar with how to use an axe to split wood for a fire, how to build a basic shelter from branches, and how to build basic tools out of sticks and stones. You should be comfortable with all of your tools, particularly your axe/hatchet and survival knife.
2. Building Fires
Being able to provide your group with fire in a survival situation is game changing for morale. Fires provide warmth, light, and the ability to cook food. You should know at least 3 different methods for starting fires and practice them while camping. Rotate your methods so you’re not always using the same one. In particular you should practice using a fire starter and at least one primitive method such as a bow drill. Your goal is to be able to consistently start fires so that you have 100% confidence you can do so when you need to.
3. Obtaining Drinkable Water & Food
Next up, you’ll need to sustain yourself. You need to practice how to find water, whether it’s locating streams or extracting it from plants. Then you need to practice purifying it so it’s safe to drink by boiling it or using your water purifying tools.water purifying tools. Locating food is also important. You should practice foraging and getting familiar with what plants are safe to eat. And of course, you should practice hunting, fishing, and trapping to capture prey. If you can, try to practice those with primitive skills from time to time.
4. Navigating without a GPS
You need to be able to navigate your way around without Google Maps. It’s a great tool but you can’t count on having it when you need it. Practice taking a roadtrip using only street signs. Practice hiking with just a compass and topo map. Practice navigating with just a watch and the sun by day and the stars at night. All of these can be fun little challenges that are extremely rewarding when you get it right. Just be sure to have an emergency communication device whilst practicing in case you get it wrong.
5. Medical Skills
Medical skills are critical to know but difficult to practice. Your best bet here is to join a training class that teaches trauma care. You should be familiar with CPR, how to dress a wound, how to stop bleeding, and how to place a splint. You should also teach everyone in your family these skills as this will reinforce them for you and enable them to help others in need. This should go without saying but if you’re not confident in your skills do not practice them on someone in need and wait for a professional unless you have no other choice.
6. Defensive Skills
Lastly, you need to be able to defend yourself. This is another skill that you may need to take a class for. You should know how to verbally de-escalate situations, have basic hand-to-hand skills, and the ability to disarm a weapon if needed. If you own a firearm, you should practice using it at the range at least once a month to keep your skills sharp. If you carry a non-lethal weapon like pepper-spray, you need to practice using it so you don’t struggle with it when you need it. Most importantly, you should practice situational awareness at all times.
These skills will greatly increase your odds of surviving any threatening scenario. If you practice them regularly, you will have the confidence you need to make it out safely.
About the author: Jay Jones is an experienced survivalist who lives for the great outdoors. He enjoys roadtrips, camping, and fishing with his wife and dog, Major. He writes regularly on his blog, Blueridge Survival, and strives to use every opportunity he can to teach others about survival. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.