Survival Skills – Practice Makes Perfect

There are many aspects to preparing yourself to survive any disaster. The disasters we potentially face, as well as the variety of ways in which we can face them, create a huge variety of survival skills that we need to know, in order to successfully overcome those problems.

Yet many people concentrate on stockpiling necessary supplies, without taking the corresponding time to stockpile the skills to go with them. Without the skills, those supplies may not do you and good. Those who don’t want to study say, I have all the information in books.

I don’t care how many survival books you have sitting on the shelf, when the time comes, they won’t do you the least bit of good. That’s especially true if the “bookshelf” is a Kindle and the “books” are electronic ones. If you don’t have power to recharge your device, you won’t be able to read them. Even worse, if we are hit by an EMP, your device will be dead.

The only skills that count when they are needed are the ones you know. Even more than that, the ones that you know so well that you can do them in your sleep. Any disaster situation is going to leave you in bad enough emotional condition that if you can’t do it in your sleep, there’s a good chance that you won’t be able to do it at all.

That’s why training and practice are so important. It’s not enough to learn the skill if you don’t learn how to apply it. Besides, you can’t really say that you know it, until you can demonstrate your skill in doing it. Then, and only then, can you add it to your list of survival skills that you’re ready to use.

Find the Survival Skills You Need

There are lots of sources where you can go looking for the skills you need to have in order to survive. The internet is filled with information, much of which is useful to helping you survive. If it’s not knowing how to start a fire, then it’s medical training; if it’s not medical training, then it’s food preservation techniques; if it’s not food preservation, then it’s blacksmithing; if it’s not food preparation, then it’s tactical weapons training.

The thing is, you need to determine what skills you need to have. That will depend largely upon your survival plans. If you are part of a survival group, then you’ll only need to train yourself in general survival skills and your area of specialty. But if you’re going it on your own, you’ll have to train yourself in a much broader range of skills.

I’d recommend writing out an actual list of skills that you need to learn. Your list won’t be complete, but that’s okay, it’ll be a starting point. Add the skills you know now, honestly eveluating how well you know them and whether you need further knowledge or practice. As time goes on, your list will change. That’s all right. Having a list helps you keep track of where you are and where you’re going.

Develop a Training Program

Once you have your list, you can start developing a training program. No, this doesn’t have to be as formal as something done in a vocational school, but you need to plan your training to some degree, so that you can ensure that you give yourself the training and practice that you need to become proficient. This also helps you keep track of what information you need to find and materials you need to acquire, in order to learn those skills.


Training in any hands-on skill consists of pretty much the same steps:

Classroom element

For lack of a better term, we’re going to call the first element the classroom element. This is where you sit down and receive instruction on how to do it. It doesn’t matter if you’re receiving the training through a book, a YouTube video or someone explaining it to you. The idea is the same; you’re trying to absorb the information so that when you try it, you have some idea of what to do.

Practical exercise

The practical exercise is where you actually try doing whatever skill you’re learning. Ideally, this is under the eyes of an instructor who can walk you through the steps. However, you may not have a personal survival trainer available. In that case, you’ll have to walk yourself through it, with the help of the book or video you used in the classroom element. Take your time at this point, accuracy is much more important than speed.

Practice and more practice

Once you have accomplished the basic skill, you need to practice. This is where the skill gets into your muscle memory, so that you can do it, without really having to think about it. The more you practice most skills, the better you’ll get at them.


Develop some sort of realistic test for yourself, with some realistic criteria. What do I mean by “realistic?” Well, it has to at least simulate the situation you’ll find yourself in, when you’re in a survival situation. Otherwise, it’s not really much of a test. If scrounging the materials in the wild is likely to be part of practicing that skill, then make user that scrounging the materials in a realistic environment is part of your test. Evaluate yourself harshly, nature is a tough teacher.

Continuing practice

Okay, so once you have the skill down, you can forget about doing it, right? Wrong! Once you pass your test, keep on practicing. Skills that are used improve and skills that aren’t used are lost. You don’t want to lose them, so make sure that you are practicing them regularly.

One great way of practicing your survival skills is to go out in the wilderness and live for a weekend as if you were bugging out, having to use those skills. Don’t cheat and bring along extra equipment or supplies, limit yourself to what you have in your bug out bag. That will do more to sharpen a wide range of survival skills, than anything you can do at home. You’ll be in a more realistic environment, having to do things with minimal equipment and supplies. That’s realistic!

Dave Steen

About The Author: Dave is a 58 year old survivalist; father of three; with over 40 years of survival experience. He started young, learning survival the hard way, in the school of hard knocks. Now, after years of study, he's gray-haired and slightly overweight. That hasn't dimmed his interest in survival though. If anything, Dave has a greater commitment to survival than ever, so that he can protect his family. Click Here To Read More About Dave

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