As anyone who has learned to ride a bicycle will tell you, there’s more to learning a new skill than just mentally understanding how something is supposed to work. I can mentally learn how to ride a bicycle and that will help to some extent, but until I actually get on the bike and learn to pedal I only have a theoretical idea of how it’s suppose to work.
I may understand how to do 100 push ups, but until I practice and improve I cannot do 100 push ups. The same is true for shooting a rifle, tying a knot, and starting a fire.
Practice is important. Just reading about it in a book is not enough.
But how to we practice? You’ve probably heard the axiom “Practice makes perfect.” And you may have heard its rebuttal “No, perfect practice makes perfect.”
Good practice comes from practicing regularly. And practicing regularly is easier when it’s convenient to practice. It’s what Management guru Tom Peters calls “the bump into factor” in The Pursuit of Wow.
If practicing something takes a lot of set up and planning, you’re less likely to do it regularly. On the other hand, if you’re frequently bumping into opportunities to practice, you’re more likely to take advantage of those opportunities.
So how can you make practice a more common occurrence in your life? Just keep your eyes open.
Look for simple ways to hone your skills doing every day chores or tasks around the house.
Going to grill some steaks for dinner? Rather than dousing charcoal with light fluid and setting it ablaze with a match, try starting the fire using only the materials in your Every Day Carry kit. Collect some dry tinder. Form it into a tinder bundle and use your Ferro Rod provide the necessary spark. Then nurture it into a fire for your charcoals.
Or maybe it’s dutch oven cooking. Rather than baking a cake for dessert, why not go outside and make a peach cobbler. Rather than running to the bagel shoppe for breakfast, use the dutch oven to make a breakfast casserole.
Look for ways in your everyday life to practice your survival and prepping skills to subtly become more efficient with them. So, the next time the power is our for a week because of a natural disaster, you’ll be better prepared.
Weekend Camping Trips
Weekend camping trips can provide great opportunities for preppers and survivalist to practice their skills. Whether it’s car camping or backpacking, learning to plan for and actually live for several days with a minimal amount of supplies is great practice.
In a primitive setting, where do you go to the bathroom? How do you clean your dishes after a meal? Can you gather tinder, kindling, and fuel after a soaking rain?
Weekend camping trips are great opportunities to practice these skills in a safe environment – before you are thrust into a situation where you must do it for real.
Life inconveniences are great opportunities to practice your skills. They also provide good insight into any holes you may have in your preparations.
For example, recently Hurricane Irene hit the Atlantic Seaboard leaving thousands without power for a week or more. That impromptu survival experience afforded those who were affected by it a great glimpse into their preparedness level.
Did they suffer through the experience? Or did they live a rather comfortable life during the week without energy? Did they have enough clean water? Did they have enough food on hand? Could they cook it? Batteries and flashlights? Etc?
No one wishes to be hit by a hurricane, tornado, or other disaster. But we can put our skills to a test and learn from them.
Take A Weekend Off
For quite a while now, my family has talked about setting aside a weekend to test our preparedness. Our plans are to begin at 6:00pm Friday evening and go until 6:00pm Sunday evening. We will live off the grid, 100% off the grid. No electricity. No running water. Nothing that would not be available to us after a natural or man-made disaster.
Taking this kind of practice weekend is not necessary something that’s easy to do. It does take some planning. We’ll have to make sure that we don’t have any outside commitments, that we don’t have to be anywhere for any reason. We’ll need to make sure that we are supplied as best we can be.
Since it takes some planning and forethought, it’s not an exact replication of what it’d be like after a natural disaster. But the experience will be good. It will highlight areas of our preparedness that we need to better fortify. And hopefully at the end of it, we’ll have more confidence in our abilities to do more than just survive during a grid-down situation. Hopefully, it’ll be prepare us to thrive.
Practice Takes Time
Practice takes time. You cannot expect to become proficient in everything immediately.
Your first attempt a starting a fire with a fire bow will very likely be frustrating and exhausting. Your first attempt field dressing a squirrel for dinner may take hours and may leave little edible meat. Your first attempt at grinding wheat for a baking bread may not go as expected.
But that’s to be expected.
But it’s better to practice your skills and learn the little nuances in a safe environment before it hits the fan. So look for opportunities to practice your skills.
Question: How have you practiced your survival skills?