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Monday, March 15, 2010

Marine of the United States Marine Corps runs ...

Guest Post: Ranger Squirrel - Two Often Overlooked Aspects of Prepping and Survival

By Ranger Squirrel - Ranger Squirrel's Ramblings

The prepper/survivalist community tends to repeat itself. We hear lots of talk about preps for food storage, fuel, water, knives, guns, wild edibles, hunting, fishing, trapping, shelter building, firemaking, water purification, bugging out, bugging in, and bugging sideways … okay I made that last one up. But there are two preps we hear mentioned only rarely.

#1 - Skills
The bottom line is that even the greatest piece of gear, the nicest rifle, coolest pack, niftiest widget or gadgetiest gadget is essentially useless without the skills to use it. Moreover, a lack of skill can destroy top-notch equipment faster than you can believe. A fine axe in the hands of an amateur for example, will quickly become a dull and chipped axe.

This concept first hit home for me several years ago when a friend and I struggled to get a fire lit for twenty minutes on our first backcountry outing. This despite having lighters, matches, and ferro rods and years of experience lighting fires in fireplaces. We lacked the skills to properly prepare tinder from wilderness materials, find dry wood, and build a fire lay. The skills you need depend on your environment, but there is a base set of skills that every prepper/survivalist should have. In the wilderness, these skills are known as Bushcraft and include things like firemaking, hunting, carving, shelter building and land navigation. In the preparedness world though, I haven’t come across a term, so I’ll just call it Prepcraft. Here are the skills that leap to mind in no particular order (feel free to add your own in the comments section) – and no, I don’t claim to have all of these.

Basic/common Plumbing Repairs
Basic Electrical Wiring
Basic Auto Repair
Basic Small Engine Repair
Basic Woodworking
Basic Welding
Cooking (over coals, fire, grill, and stove)
Sewing
Hunting/Fishing
Dehydrating
Canning (water bath and pressure)
Gardening
Food Storage Principles
Water Purification
Foraging
Marksmanship
Self-Defense
First Aid (conventional and herbal)

In addition, you should acquire and maintain a library of books filled with skills. Fiction is fun to read, but it will only rarely save your life.

#2 – Physical Fitness

When I had the opportunity to pal around with Green Deane one day last year, he was joking with me about a trip he made to a local outdoor sports store – something like Bass Pro Shop or Gander Mountain – it was the start of a big sale and he arrived before it opened. He commented about the other customers who were waiting, mostly hunters and fishermen who looked as if they hadn’t gotten up off of a couch in years. Meanwhile, Deane is a skinny, bookish looking sort of guy. The “couchdoorsmen” stood around smoking while he walked around the store and found several dozen wild edibles. They probably thought he was weird, but really, who is the true outdoorsman in this scenario?

It’s true that body fat has been referred to, correctly, as survival muscle. It’s easy for our body to burn and it gives us necessary calories in a low-food situation. It can and will keep us alive temporarily in dire circumstances. It’s also true that an excess of fat can keep you from catching food and is usually an indicator of poor health overall. Survival situations are hard on the whole body. Having all the best gear, preps, and all the skills in the world won’t help you live through a heart attack.

Being physically fit helps the body to use calories more efficiently, regulate body temperature, and stave off infection and illness. It also means you are physically able to do more.

The good news is that these two preps complement each other. If you have good skills and good physical fitness, you need less gear and can move further and faster (or get more done while staying put as the case may be). The other good news is that both of these things can be developed or acquired for free or at very low cost.

Public libraries, YouTube, and the internet can help you learn just about any skill you could ever need.

For physical fitness – forget the stupid gym. Pushups, crunches, squats, and jogging are free and good enough for this country’s soldiers, why not you?.

Ranger Squirrel

...that is all.