As I read various articles and blogs about survival preparation, planning, preparedness, etc. it occurs to me that each writer, including myself, holds a greater expertise in certain areas of preparedness and survival than in others. I know… “Duh!” right? What would I expect? Everyone has that which they have mastered to a greater extent and those skills that they still need to practice. It is human nature, I believe, to prefer to practice that which we are already good at and to neglect, to some extent, the things we aren’t as good at. Why? Because we naturally don’t like failure and when we practice the things we’re not as particularly skilled at, we don’t do them as well… leaving us feeling a greater sense of failure than when we efficiently and neatly accomplish another skill set we’re far better at.
Here’s the problem: We’ll never get any better at the things we NEED to practice if we always focus on the things we’re already good at. In a true survival situation, whether it’s short term or long term, our survival may indeed depend on how well-rounded our skill sets are.
I, for instance, am pretty good at primitive survivalism. When it comes to creating basic shelter, living off the land, hunting, gathering, scrounging, etc. my skill sets are decent (thanks to the U.S. Army and about three decades of education/practice). However, if we were to look at my long term skill sets such as farming (large or small gardens), electricity production/systems maintenance, home medical care, etc. my skills aren’t where they need to be.
Centuries ago our forefathers considered it part of being a successful human being to master more than one given area of study. We refer to them today as “renaissance men” because they mastered knowledge and the accompanying practical skills in an area of academics, an area of philosophy/spiritualism, and a physical undertaking (sport or discipline). I submit to you that today’s survivalist must strive to be a “renaissance survivalist.” We must strive to master the knowledge and skills that pertain to the five basic survival needs:
In each of those skill areas, we need to attempt to gain knowledge in and master the skills related to the spectrum of circumstances we might encounter. Using shelter as the example, we need to be ready to build small, quickly set up, emergency shelters for use as we travel. We also need to be ready to reinforce/fortify a more permanent residence as well as maintain it in every way. Think about it: there won’t be a plumber, HVAC mechanic or electrician to call in a true economic collapse. We can’t anticipate what the circumstances will be that we have to survive in, so we owe it to ourselves, and those we intend to survive with, to study, attain and master the necessary knowledge and skills. Further, we need, by example, to demonstrate the need for each member of our survival party to do the same.
So, read through this short list of questions and, dependent on your answers (which you don’t need to share but need to be honest about with yourself), set about improving yourself as a renaissance survivalist.
Can you create and maintain your shelter?
What is your level of knowledge and skill at electrical work?
What is your level of knowledge and skill with plumbing?
What is your level of knowledge and skill with basic carpentry?
Do you know how to hunt? With firearms? Archery equipment? How about fishing?
Do you have any skills with trapping / setting up snares?
Do you know how to safely clean what you catch/kill?
How many different ways to build a fire do you know? (and have practiced?)
Are you an accomplished gardener/farmer?
If not, do you know what plants, roots, fruit, etc. are safe to eat?
Do you know how to secure, capture, filter and purify water? Not just at home but while traveling?
How good are your defensive skills?
Do you understand the basics of perimeter security? Physical security? Operational security?
How are your weapons skills? With firearms? With knives? With archery equipment? Empty-handed?
How are your first-aid skills? Basic? Advanced? OB/GYN? Dental? Trauma?
The goal, obviously, is to identify those areas where your knowledge and skill sets need to be improved. Use that information to round out your preparedness plan to include the necessary training. Plan to acquire the requisite equipment to go with the new knowledge and skills. Don’t put “all your eggs in one basket.” Become a renaissance survivalist. Share your lessons with others as you go.
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