Any person who sets out to acquire a set of survival skills must start with a brutally honest self-assessment. If you don’t make a truthful appraisal of where you are in terms of your survival skills and knowledge, you have no reliable means of getting to where you want to be.
Do an inventory. In what areas are you most skilled? Where are you definitely lacking? Are you well versed in firearms but lack knowledge about water purification? Have you amassed an impressive food pantry but have no way to protect that food should the need arise?
Do you have a stocked first aid kit but don’t know how to use it? Just as a business that fails to take regular inventory cannot succeed, neither can a survivor who doesn’t tabulate his resources. You need a starting point, and today’s assignment is to take an inventory of your essential survival skills. As you read through the following list, check off those skills you have mastered so you can focus on those skills on which you need to improve.
- Food processing. Many survival planners overlook food processing in favor of more exciting elements of preparedness. This is a mistake. Learning how to prepare basic survival foods is one of the most important elements of long-term disaster preparedness.
Bulk food storage. Without adequate quantities of stored foods, your demise is virtually guaranteed after a major catastrophe. Storing and rotating basic grains, beans, and other foodstuffs isn’t difficult; anyone can learn how to do it properly in an hour or two. You will find everything you need to know here at TheSurvivalistBlog.net.
- Emergency medical care. Every survivalist should have sufficient medical training. A good start is taking a basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid class; check with your local Red Cross for scheduling. If time and finances allow, taking EMT classes is an excellent idea. Don’t overlook herbal medicine, which may be all you will have to work with after a disaster.
- Gardening. Because of space and finances, most of us cannot cache enough food to last the rest of our lives. We’ll need to replace our stored foods with fresh supplies. Gardening is an excellent way to do this and can be easily learned with instruction and practice. It is amazing the amount of food that can be grown in a small space under proper conditions.
- Preserving food. Food preservation is an important survival skill, as most fresh foods spoil fairly quickly, resulting in a loss of quality, edibility, and nutritional value. You should learn how to can, dry, freeze, cure (salt or sugar), smoke, pickle, bury, vacuum-pack, jelly, and/or pot food.
Hunting. Contrary to popular belief, all wild game will not disappear after a collapse, natural or manmade. Most people would rather stand in a food line waiting for a handout than scour the backwoods for wild game. And let’s not forget that the extent of most people’s hunting skills doesn’t go beyond the latest hunting themed video game.
- Trapping. Trapping is more practical under survival conditions than hunting. By setting a trap, you can be other places doing other things while the trap does the hunting for you. Learn to build and set snares, deadfalls, box traps, fish traps, and steel traps. Becoming a proficient trapper is not difficult—all you need to do is get off the couch and learn by doing.
- Firearms repair. Basic firearms repair (replacement of broken parts) isn’t difficult if you have the parts needed when something breaks. You don’t need to learn how to repair every make and model of firearm in existence. You do need to have an in-depth understanding of your firearms: how they work and how to maintain and repair them.
Self-defense skills. The most effective self-defense techniques are also the easiest to master. Striking vulnerable points, biting, and eye gouging are simple and effective techniques that can be learned quickly and, when applied with aggression and precision, can bring down the most determined attacker.
Firearms proficiency. If you’re new to firearms, a basic safety course is highly recommended before learning defensive skills. Concealed-carry permit classes are held in most areas, as are hunter education programs. I suggest you participate in both. The National Rifle Association (NRA) offers a number of classes that are most helpful.
Water purification. Another simple skill often overlooked is water acquisition and purification.
Using tools. You should have a survival toolbox of basic tools, including hammers, saws, drills, screwdrivers, winches, vise grips, wire cutters, and files. Your toolbox should also include the skills needed to put these tools to good use.
- Raising small livestock. Raising livestock for food goes hand-in-hand with gardening, hunting, and trapping to ensure sustenance during hard times. I highly recommend Barnyard in Your Backyard by Gail Damerow and Secret Livestock of Survival which covers everything you need to know about making livestock part of your survival food plan.
- Home power. While it may be possible to survive with no electrical power at all, having some source of electrical current will make life much easier. My solar setup cost me under $600, including the batteries, and the price of building my homemade electrical generator amounted to just under $100.
Investing. After getting your survival necessities in order (e.g., food, water, medical supplies, shelter, defense), you need to start thinking about investing in barter goods, such as .22-caliber ammo, pocketknives, and “junk” silver coins. Just be sure not to make the mistake of going into debt while investing in these metals. And don’t overlook learning how to barter – here is a list of the ten top barter items.
Check your skills (be honest!) against the list above. If there are areas in which you are lacking (and there will be if you’re being honest), then get to work filling in the gaps. What skills do you have now? What skills do you need to learn or build upon?