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Practice Survival: Everyday Skills That Can Save Your Life

Practice Survival: Everyday Skills That Can Save Your Life

In Police work, there goes the saying: "Train like you work". Officers use this term to emphasize the importance of familiarizing themselves with their equipment and practicing their skills in every imagined scenario. Police officers experience extremely stressful situations that require quick thought and swift action. Lives have been lost when someone doubts themselves or has to overthink. One of your best lines of defense is knowledge and experience with confidence to back it up!


Practice Builds Muscle Memory

The term “muscle memory” is a term that refers to commonly performed tasks becoming instinctual and essentially second-nature. It's said that to effectively develop "muscle memory", a person must perform at least 1,000 repetitions of a set series of movements. This may seem like a lot of effort but nothing can compare to the benefits of natural survival skills.

Muscle memory is more than just becoming familiar with something new. Our brain is known as our largest "muscle", it needs exercise and challenges like any other muscle. As an exercise, take your survival kit and lay-out each item. Gather your loved ones to discuss how you use each one and practice. Try listing at least five uses for each item and make note of the more difficult items. If there is any piece of equipment that stumps you, more practice and education is essential.


Fire as an Example

Most survival equipment, including A.S.E. items, can be used more than once. Taking your equipment out of the package and trying it in the field is essential. It shows you how the tool works, what to expect, and gives you an idea of the time and effort needed for each task.  Can you start a fire with a magnesium and steel fire-starter? Few can light a fire immediately without any practice; experience teaches you tactic and the ideal tender needed. You may not need to start thousands of fires to feel competent, but a good understanding of how it works can go miles.

Use Your Environment

Your environment often provides everything you need. You can add simple household items to your kit that will help in the long run. For fires, you can fill a small container with dryer lint for tinder whenever you needed. It may not be water-resistant but it can help as you learn. As you become more experienced, you can upgrade your kit by investing in waterproof/water-resistant tinder, such as fire tabs or tinder cubes.  Don't forget - it is never hurts have an extra of anything if you can carry it. It is always advantageous to have several solutions to common survival problems. Keep a set of all-weather Survival matches for wet conditions and a Fresnel lens for everyday carry (its thin enough to fit right in you wallet!)

Practice with Precaution

Although you will be likely practicing in a familiar environment, precaution is always important. If you're practicing alone, make sure to check in with someone and tell them your plans. This is especially true if you go to the wilderness. As you begin to experiment with your gear, keep these tips in mind to ensure your safety:

  • Start with a simple flint and steel fire starter or a spring-loaded strike firestarter
  • Make sure to always practice your skills with caution
  • Keep a first aid kit nearby, just in case
  • REMAIN AWARE of your surroundings and environment
  • PAY ATTENTION to weather and wind conditions
  • Check for burn bans in your area
  •  DO NOT attempt any fire-starting exercises where there is ANY chance of losing the control


The principles discussed above can be applied to all categories of survival equipment. Many survival items are intended for extended use and may even need some breaking in. Although it may seem like you are preserving your equipment, you do yourself a disservice by keeping those items in their packages. Practice your skills during a time when you can get it wrong, that way you know exactly what to expect when you need it. Keep secondary options for each survival item. A filtration straw can supplement water purification tablets, snare wire or fishing kit can supplement your food rations.

Most importantly, make sure to involve your kids, significant others, neighbors, and friends. If you aren't available for some reason, your loved ones will thank you for taking the time to share your skills with them. A prepared individual can only go so far without the help of a community, reach out and learn from each other!


"Fortuna favet præparaverat - Fortune Favors the Prepared!"

This entry was posted on November 25, 2012 by Patrick Carey.

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