I Took a Hardcore Wilderness Survival Course. Here’s What I Learned About the Personal Aspect of Survival

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by Fabian Ommar

Last month I took part in a wilderness survival course under the guidance of a professional ex-military specialized in forest operations. I promised Daisy that I’d start putting on paper everything worth sharing once I returned. Here’s the first installment for The Organic Prepper community. Next time I’ll talk more about the practical aspects of the course.

I met a team of real-life Rambos

For decades, this group of instructors have been in the Amazon forest and swamps, deserts, and other types of environment, training, and actual combat missions. They are very experienced in wilderness survival, a team of rough and highly skilled guys.

In all this time doing various outdoor activities, I’ve met some very capable buschcrafters and wilderness specialists, from whom I learned a lot.

But, these folks are actually capable of living in the outdoors for an extended period. They can supply their basic needs and avoid dangers that would kill an average person in a short time, depending on the circumstances. All that with just a survival knife. They were also soldiers and thus possess solid combat skills.

We talked about survival, nature, and prepping

As for our group, we were a mixed bag of adventurers (trekkers, backpackers, wild campers), a couple of executives, and a few airsoft and paintball players. Some were into prepping and survivalism, in various degrees and levels of experience.

Each night we gathered around the campfire to chat before bedtime. (Figuratively speaking, as there were no beds to sleep on). I was able to take notes and collect ideas and perspectives. I’m aware of group dynamics from my own urban survival mentoring activities. But it’s always refreshing and inspiring to participate in a different exercise in a contrasting setting. We learn a lot from these experiences.

I started the course with an open mind, absorbing everything, paying attention to the topics discussed and the entire group’s psychology. All the while trying to keep up with the practical classes and exercises in deep forest survival. Which, as expected, were challenging and demanding. (I was still recovering from an accident that broke both of my arms the month prior).

Survival has a starting point

Intuitively, this is on the mind of everyone who’s into prepping. After all, most people prepare to raise their baseline to shorten the distance between shock and reaction. It plays on all levels: the individuals and their communities and society as a whole. And each level influences the other, too – everything is connected).

Residents from different places will deal with disasters and changes in their environment (or context) differently because not everyone is at the same level of preparedness when something hits. But by that, I don’t mean preparation due to a structured discipline or training. But rather from actually living in different economic, political, and social contexts.

Different standards of living entail different levels of preparedness

That’s why variations in inflation, homelessness, joblessness and other social indicators (specifically crime and violence) have one impact in a place like Switzerland, Japan, or New Zealand, and another in Haiti or Venezuela.

On a smaller scale, we’re also constantly reminded that people living in rural or remote areas are more used to the toiling necessary for basic survival. They’re closer to the production of everything consumed (i.e., more connected to the earth). Therefore, less softened by the full spectrum of conveniences and comforts afforded by The Grid, as present in big centers.

Finally, on an even smaller scale (the local community, families, and the individual), this dynamic also occurs. This realization is important because it follows that starting from a higher level is possible (and desirable), regardless of where one lives or what kind of life one leads. That’s why prepping, training, and experiencing situations are essential.

Going beyond the theory and out of the comfort zone. When it comes to surviving a disaster or other SHTF, this could make a difference.

Confidence comes with experience

As expected, the instructors were very confident. That comes from years of training and real-life action, trial and error, thousands of minor and major lessons learned many times the hard (and painful) way. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. At the same time, they were very humble in the face of nature, and above all, very conscious and respectful of their limitations.

This combination is powerful, and I’d say it’s one of the main ingredients of survival. It applies to all scenarios, and in fact, it applies to everything in life: a job, career, relationships, any endeavor. And that’s one advantage in being a prepper: the “always learning” approach is a winner.

Absolute confidence is also calming and inspiring

That’s why people follow good leaders. Someone who had the discipline and resolution to put in the work, the time, the sweat, and the sacrifices necessary to achieve something may not have all the answers but is flexible enough to embrace the unknown, the new, and thrive.

It’s perfectly fine to feel insecure at times. No one is 100% confident all the time or about everything (that would be arrogance). Work on your skills, be aware of your limitations, but above all, keep a fresh and open approach to be able to deal with fluid and shifting situations.

Survival is about expanding, knowing our limits and respecting them

Preparations are important, but it’s one side of the equation. Equally important is knowing and respecting our limits. Our actual limits being intellectual, physical, mental, and psychological. We can (and should) test and expand our limits. But there’s a practical limit, and it’s essential to know and respect it, so we don’t put ourselves in danger inadvertently.

Life doesn’t care and will throw challenges at us regardless of how prepared we are, what we think our limits are – and we have to deal with it. 

Bravado has no place during SHTF

The instructors warned us on the dangers of playing hero, acting reckless, stupid, or unaware.

That echoes what Selco constantly mentions and the many stories of average people using smarts to overcome the odds, the improbable. If we look at the history of disaster and survival, heroes can die quickly, and cowards can survive. That is a generalization and an oversimplification of the issue, of course.

Real heroes are not only strong, brave, and fearless. And cowards are not exclusively the spineless, scared, and weak either. It’s a lot more nuanced than that.

Surviving has nothing to do with courage and bravery, and much less with bravado. It is more related to patience, observation, good sense, spirit. There’s still a lot one can do that is not dependent on high strength, agility, or youth, and this is what we have to learn about ourselves and work within our limitations. 

Survival is only possible in a community or group

Even the instructors admitted that living alone in the wilderness would be very hard in the long term. And if there’s ever been a bunch capable of actually doing that, it’s these folks. Survival, they certified, is a team endeavor, confirming the Lone Wolf Survivalist lifestyle is more of a glorious fantasy.

But what struck me was their sense of purpose in becoming a prepper. The instructors asked why we prepare, and most replies were along the lines of self-sufficiency and reliance, greater confidence and independence, having some peace of mind, and so on. Of course, being prepared for disasters and difficult situations is a prominent, logical reason.

Selco, Toby and Daisy discuss survival communities and related topics in this on-demand webinar “SELCO: Survival Communities.”

Prepping should be more communal

Later they asked why people go to school and pursue a career (those who do, of course). Again most answers followed the ideals of making a living, supporting themselves and a family, being financially independent, etc. Everyone knew where he was going with this, and the connection became obvious. 

Being from the military, their sense of duty for the good and safety of community and the nation is usually more prevalent than for the average folk. We talk about prepping as a way to lessen the burden on the system if SHTF occurs. That’s right, so it is.

But prepping should be viewed as more communal and less individual, a way to contribute to a community. 

In practice, it is. But in a more profound sense, preparing and developing survival skills is asking to become productive for extraordinary situations. It’s just a different set of collaborative skills. I always thought like that for my job, my profession: to be a useful citizen. But I took that, and now it has become another philosophy backing up my prepping (the other is Stoicism). 

At one point, thriving becomes necessary for survival

Surviving short, mid, and long term is entirely different. That may seem obvious. But what many preppers miss is that after some time (which may vary with the circumstances and the personal context), progressing becomes necessary for survival. 

The instructors illustrated this by referring to the pioneers, who could only survive by thriving, which comes naturally. After all, this is a human trait. Or it doesn’t come at all. At which point the drive to survive may cease, and the will to live abandoned. In his own words, if we don’t move forward, we go backward.  

Many real-life survival stories back this up, and my experience with the homeless do too. It shows how goal-setting, higher aspirations, and the inherently human desire to improve conditions despite circumstances are essential. The body follows the mind, and the mind must go somewhere higher. Overcoming immediate threats is vital. But reflecting and having a plan in place for mid-and-long term survival is, in fact, critical.

Pre-SHTF Anxiety

One night someone asked if we believed the s**t would hit the fan soon and what kind of SHTF it would be. I thought to myself, “more serious than a global pandemic and an economic depression?” I can’t recall every answer, of course, but the overall tone of the conversation revealed a high level of apprehension. It reminded me of the article I wrote about prepping anxiety.

I decided to dive in and probe the afflictions of the group, to try and come out with a conclusion. 

It’s not that they were waiting for a disaster. But it’s also not uncommon for preppers to fantasize about SHTF. When someone invests time, money, and sweat into something, this person will at some point look forward to putting it all to use. Sure enough, some want to say “I told you so” or “I was right.” But in reality, being right about or calling SHTF is tantamount to defeat, a Pyrrhic victory. 

Be careful what you wish for

Sometimes I take someone for mentoring, and early on, it becomes evident that the person longs for something to happen so he/she can put their skills, knowledge, and gear to the test. SHTF looks easy from the comfort of home and the safety of a computer screen. They soon change once they experience real SHTF (in this case, life in the streets and the reality of the homeless, crime, and violence). Because real SHTF is smelly, dirty, unhealthy, sad, and dangerous. (That’s not even the worse of it.)

Visualizing situations is a way to build awareness, tactical sense and to help with preparing. Using visualization to improve is beneficial. Wishing things go down the drain to prove a theory or measure oneself, not so much.

Prepping is serious. SHTF is serious. Sometimes we try to lighten up the debate, but in the end, disasters do happen, and SHTFs are ugly. Anyone who’s ever experienced SHTF can attest to that. Whether a local event (a tornado, earthquake, a coup or invasion, a landslide) or a more widespread catastrophe. In a nuclear accident, a war, or a pandemic like the one we’re living through, people get sick, die or lose everything: their homes, possessions, friends and loved ones. Survival is not a sport or a game.

We must prepare for the worse but always hope for the best – and only for the best.

Have you ever attended an in-person survival course? Did you enjoy it? What did you take away from it? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

About Fabian

Fabian Ommar is a 50-year-old middle-class worker living in São Paulo, Brazil. Far from being the super-tactical or highly trained military survivor type, he is the average joe who since his youth has been involved with self-reliance and outdoor activities and the practical side of balancing life between a big city and rural/wilderness settings. Since the 2008 world economic crisis, he has been training and helping others in his area to become better prepared for the “constant, slow-burning SHTF” of living in a 3rd world country.

Fabian’s ebook, Street Survivalism: A Practical Training Guide To Life In The City, is a practical training method for common city dwellers based on the lifestyle of the homeless (real-life survivors) to be more psychologically, mentally, and physically prepared to deal with the harsh reality of the streets during normal or difficult times. 

You can follow Fabian on Instagram @stoicsurvivor

I Took a Hardcore Wilderness Survival Course. Here\'s What I Learned About the Personal Aspect of Survival
Fabian Ommar

Fabian Ommar

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  • Great article Fabian!

    I try to make it a point to do things as if the S has HTF. It is hard work, but I know I can do it.

  • Having little time or access to high end courses I attended an introductory “wilderness and disaster survival” course that was essentially half a Saturday. It was inexpensive but worth the cost. For a suburban resident it was a chance to verify your own assumptions with an instructor and practice making some shelter and fire. There was a small lecture on mindset as well. It was a great chance to escape the suburban bubble and do something. I’d say that any survival course is better than none.

  • Mr. Ommar’s observation about modern day dependence on the power grids erasing any population’s previous ability to thrive with pre-electric era methods is spot-on. In 1880 some 80% of the US population was still very rural and gardening and hunting skills were a vital part of living. By the time of the federal reserve’s immense credit bubble-caused Great Depression of the 1930s, that 80% had dwindled to around 30%. Still, that was a lot of people who had the living skills from the pre-electric era before rural electrification. Today that population percentage has dropped into the 1-2% range as farming became more and more uneconomical for all but the largest owner/operators.

    It’s easy to put together a collection of books about the how-to of living off the wilds in the country — as it was done in the 1800s. It’s not so easy trying to apply that to 2021.

    A few years ago somebody tried to organize a local group in my town seeming about surviving in SHTF times. I learned that the string puller in the group was an ex-chopper pilot whose obsession was all about bugging out and staying on the move — but NOT about how to make a living in some new location where your skills, tools, financials and community contacts are no longer a fit. That chopper pilot’s outlook apparently came from his years of having a military check coming in and a huge support organization to make his plans possible. That mindset is not a good fit for the non-military majority. I bailed out after just one meeting’s exposure to their hopelessly unrealistic perspectives.

    A very realistic look at the kind of planned power grid shutdown events that we are seeing the beginnings of in the US is in this article that PreppersDailyNews.com recently linked to;

    https://alt-market.us/cyberpolygon-will-the-next-globalist-war-game-lead-to-another-convenient-catastrophe/

    We have already seen how politicians have used lockdowns to destroy millions of small businesses (while leaving larger corporations intact) and threaten to bankrupt small landlords with eviction moratoriums (which could force many of them to sell out on the cheap to large Wall Street investors). The millions of the newly homeless (as their jobs were destroyed) is probably representative of the kind of forced bugging out that the US is facing.

    This is in combination with the Biden administration’s trillion dollar spending plans to send prices of everything through the roof. That will hurt the lowest income people and especially the homeless the hardest … first.

    So the question is whether future articles will address these kinds of SHTF events that seem to be looming closer in our headlights.

    –Lewis

    • “an ex-chopper pilot whose obsession was all about bugging out and staying on the move … I bailed out after just one meeting’s exposure”

      should have stayed. might have learned something about how to get to someplace where you could make a living in some new location where your skills, tools, financials and community contacts are no longer a fit.

      • There is always something that can be learned in any situation, and many times it’s the little things, that we tend to overlook, that can have the biggest impact!

    • Lewis,
      Great analysis.
      I think nomadic tribes are possible, but only with a close group and everyone works well together for their overall success. Bugging out and staying on the move on foot, while some may think of it as ideal, I think most would prefer some kind of stability.
      The Mongolian horsemen on the high steps, or the Native American horsemen might be doable. Still a hard way of life.
      But take away the JIT/BAU system and things would be a bit more difficult and more work and local.

      Since the pandemic, we have seen a increase in the number of people gardening, or have increased the size of their gardens.
      Took sometime to source hogs this year, but we have them.

      We have also seen a increase in the informal economy.

      • “Native American horsemen might be doable”

        that only worked because of the buffalo. north america now lacks mass fauna resources.

        and that’s another point. low tech low agricultural tribes require vast land areas to survive, and tribal wars over who would dominate food sources were to the death. prepper/survival groups will find themselves in similar conflicts with each other.

  • “Survival is only possible in a community or group … Prepping should be more communal”

    (grin) statist!

    daisy noted in an earlier post the concept of situational bias – the idea that your situation during grid up will remain unchanged during grid down, the idea that as the rest of the world changes all around you that your own situation will remain the same – and noted that in your bunker/retreat your situation will change as well, whether due to the influx of refugees (mass migration or the importation of your own relatives or the importation of your neighbors’ relatives) or due to a shift in some other factor that the prepper has neglected to consider or has taken for granted.

    but consider the likelihood of a change in the prepper himself. many survivalists are simply loners who see themselves as superior to all the “sheep” and who can’t wait for grid down and to be rid of all of society’s unfair restrictions on their righteous self-fulfillment. what happens when law enforcement and legal consequences and cultural norms and societal standards disappear and the survivalist is now free to be all he can be? when he can take charge and declare (overtly or implicitly) that he is now the local sheriff and that he’s really gonna clean up this town? when he is free to deal with The Evil? the community you form now, the communal group you envision now, unthinkingly presuming your moral code and social practices will continue within it during grid down, may become a trap and a cage in which you are confined with this kind of person. perhaps more than one.

    • Agreed! Look at that Russian woman who survived in the wilderness all her life. Granted, in the beginning she had her family but they all died leaving her from her middle-age to her old age and she is still out there by herself.

      Lately, she has been getting outside help, however, but still proves she was a lone wolf most of her life out there.

    • Surviving in conscientious communities or groups indebts and constrains one to that community
      or group. Indebtedness and constraint fetters opportunity. As such, my choice would be to survive
      ‘lone wolf’.

      • “my choice would be to survive ‘lone wolf’”

        can you? historically only cooperative groups survive – individuals can exist only at the fringes of a larger society that 1) accedes to their rights to so exist, and 2) makes available the economic output the individual cannot generate for himself.

        • My question is how does one not be a lone wolf? Everyone I know that even remotely considers any form of prepping is too far away to make any kind of community if we were reduced to walking. Our home set up is too good to bug out just to be with other people.
          I think there may be people in the immediate area that wouldn’t be caught unawares in a shtf event but this is only going by what their yards and homestead animals tell me. But there are others that will be wanting our resources too, just like any other area.

          • “Everyone I know that even remotely considers any form of prepping is too far away to make any kind of community if we were reduced to walking”

            most “preppers/survivalists” are not preparing for THE END OF THE WORLD so much as eagerly anticipating it. they say “people are the source of problems”, not because refugees will be arriving or because people will be starving or whatever, but because for them the whole problem is Other People as such to begin with. they isolate themselves, not to seek safety, but to find peace, and they see THE END OF THE WORLD as the epitome of that peace.

            most of these will be vacuumed up one by one by predator gangs (who are forming right now and scouting their areas right now and making their plans right now) that will raid from ranch to farm to retreat, consuming the resources of each and then moving on. the ones that will be able to resist these gangs will be the larger communities that are able to lay aside their individuality and function as a team laying their lives on the line and frequently dying in defense of the community. but most preppers/survivalists simply won’t do this, as they see themselves as superior to all the “mindless sheep” and think that they alone and their long-range rifles are all that is needed to hold back the no-account zombie hordes.

            “But there are others that will be wanting our resources too, just like any other area”

            I’m impressed. this is an enormous issue that most simply refuse to consider, but you see it. yep, out in the sticks, if the grid is down and the law is gone and the cops have all gone home, then it’s just you and your guns and whoever is around and their guns, and that’s all there is. those old westerns with the handful of settlers trapped in their cabin while the indian war parties ride circles around it are not just a movie trope.

            “My question is how does one not be a lone wolf? … Our home set up is too good to bug out just to be with other people”

            can’t answer for you. there’s a time to stand alone and there’s a time to stand with a team as an individual and there’s a time to stand with a team as an expendable asset of the team, and your situation likely will change with time, so you’ll just have to figure it out as you go. ask god, he’ll tell you, one way or another.

          • Exactly, Colleen! Our situation precisely. But being a lone wolf (or lone family pack) doesn’t have to mean no contact with others after SHTF. We can carefully seek or offer trade without giving away our secrets. We can offer folks in need food in exchange for labor if they are passing through and stop to ask for help. We can set up a mutually beneficial community neighborhood watch-type program with neighbors without telling them what resources we have.

            If anyone tries to “take charge” and demand to pool resources, you can reply that you didn’t live in a communist dictatorship before SHTF and you’re not going to participate in one now. If others choose to do that, fine, but you will stay separate and not ask for any of the group’s resources nor give them any of yours. Just be prepared to defend that stance (and your home, family and property) if the entitled ones try to force you “for the common good.”

            The main problem I have is keeping my partner’s mouth shut. He feels we can trust everyone with all our information now, and brushes me off as a needless worrier when I try to explain operational security. He needs others to like him and thinks they will if he blabs anything they ask about, plus some extra for good measure! If you have children you may have the same issue. It’s good to withhold what information you can from emotionally immature people who share your household.

    • as western populations increase they are undergoing the transition from societies of independently significant individuals to collectives where people are dependent and replaceable components of larger communes. asian cultures underwent this over a thousand years ago, while western cultures are now in the transition stage. you’re in an earlier paradigm, whereas some of your classmates are more in the commune paradigm.

  • I have been looking for a such a place – New England area – where I can take my still fairly-young kids. (11 and 9).

    Any suggestions?

    Ideally, assuming things don’t blow up for a few more years, I’d like to take them to similar camps in different terrains / environments too.

    • @Nitzakhon

      I’m not aware of anything in New England area, much less specific courses so you’ll have to look that up.

      But if you’re looking for great activities for kids and the entire family in fact, I’d suggest you start with camping and backpacking. One and two-day hikes and treks in parks and other safe places are great way to start into outdoors, self-reliance and basic survival skills, stuff like that.

      If you don’t know anything about it, maybe you can hire help. Here there are guides who go outdoors with beginners (exactly like you and your kids), with experience and knowledge to provide guidance and support during the first outings.

      This can accelerate the learning process quite a bit, and also save you lots of money on equipment purchases (i.e. unnecessary or crappy gear), while providing safety and some convenience too.

      Try local REI or other outdoor groups and associations, there’s a lot of people into this nowadays, the internet is another option to find these groups. With time you’ll know a lot of people and then it becomes easier as well.

  • Courses like this can be great.
    The only problem with most Military trained individuals is that is not realistic SHTF training. In the short term they are taught to survive, until they can rejoin their unit or be rescued.
    So this is not SHTF Survival training for a long term scenario.
    It may be a good starting place of training, but has a lot of flaws.
    The military usually supplies them with most of their gear. From heavy duty clothing to canteens or Camelbacks, military grade knives, etc. They also are usually quite physically fit do to military training.
    So applying some of this training, in a civilian context may not work so well.

    As for being in a group, sure that is always better as more hands make easy work of things, but usually that means your family. After that group dynamics and personalities kick in and things can get real bad, real fast. The Military has a mind set of following the chain of command or orders. So they do not have the same problem of group dynamics, as a group of civilians do.
    There are a lot of “military mind sets”, that do not match up with “civilian mind sets” and that creates a potential problem in applying their training.
    I see this a lot in my contact with Military or prior Military individuals. That mindset has been brain washed into them so that often they see it as the only way to do things. Some of which will not work, because they don’t have the whole military apparatus behind them supporting them. Usually they can not see how that changes everything.

    Which brings us to the Lone Wolf concept. Not everyone is cut out for working in a group. But that does not lessen their survival chances but might actually increase it.
    Through out History, Hermits, Mountain men and the like, survived and thrived.

    Groups require much more in resources and are less mobile than an individual. The larger the group the more they need in local resources to survive. So they have some major drawbacks that could be devastating to them in some SHTF scenarios. The Military is used to their “groups” being supplied by the chain of command, namely the quartermaster and supply group.
    Prepper groups will not have that advantage.

    So to use an old adage: “Take the meat and throw out the bones” of any “training” or advise that you run into.

    • “There are a lot of ‘military mind sets’, that do not match up with ‘civilian mind sets'”

      not just military vs civilian. think of it in terms of “us” vs “them” and the dynamics come clear. gonna be a whole lotta conflicts between all the “us”‘s and all the “them”‘s.

      met a guy who said he had 350 guns. asked him why, he only had two hands. he just smirked. realized later he was the armorer for his synagogue. whole lotta community warfare out there just waiting to get started.

    • Mic you bring some interesting points.

      I agree the military may not be the best guidance for survival. Certainly not the only one. But for wilderness and even some urban scenarios, there’s simply no way to beat the level and combination of accumulated knowledge, experience and training of the army.

      But yes, in my experience, the homeless and street people are perhaps some of the best examples of urban (and road) survival, without support or ultra skills, just wits and a serious capacity to adapt to the urban environment and fluid situaitons.

      That’s exactly why I base my preparation and survival exercises and concepts in the lifestyle of the long-time homeless. They possess street smarts, resiliency, capacity to cope with pain and discomfort, and also other social skills needed to survive in society (a fallen society).

      There’s a lot that can be taken and adapted from other areas, such as outdoor activities, and yes, the military. I already do a lot of stuff in the wilderness, much of that alone. But you sure learn a lot of new tricks and cool stuff in such a course.

      I did it just to try something different, especially because I was still recovering from an accident and wanted to see how I’d fare having to perform “off the grid” in that condition and in such context.

      I figured it wouldn’t be too smart of me to go backpack or wild camping solo in the middle of nowhere, in pain and with limitations. In the course I had other people with me in case I f*ck up lol.

      But no matter, the military are highly skilled and some also have direct experience with SHTF in various forms. I admit, though, it’s one thing to survive with huge support/logistics to back you up. They admit that, too.

      But they do know how to survive alone and with little, in adverse conditions and various environments. It’s a great ability IMHO. They also have a great mindset for working alone or in a team. I also admire and respect that.

      • “the lifestyle of the long-time homeless. They possess street smarts, resiliency, capacity to cope with pain and discomfort, and also other social skills needed to survive in society”

        … this misunderstands their situation. they know how to survive outside a functioning society, they don’t know how to survive with NO society.

        that said, short- to mid-term we’re all much more likely to be left on the outside of the remains of a functioning society rather than suddenly be confronted with no society at all, so this “skillset” probably is worth investigating. one very nice tool to have is a sillcock key.

        • ant7

          You’re quoting me to say I’m misunderstanding exactly what I said in the first place? Sorry I don’t get it mate. It’s really hard to have a constructive conversation this way.

          Please don’t get me wrong, it’s just that the only scenario you describe and argue in all your comments and remarks is the end-of-the-world, Mad Max apocalypse.

          I’m sorry, but that specific SHTF is precisely the only one the world has never seen in history before, not once, ever, anywhere. Well, I stand corrected: the world has ended a lot of times in the Hollywood movies.

          So you see, it’s hard to debate something like that, because no matter what anyone says, one way or another – there’s always a hole in the strategy or concept or something.

          Of course there is, a lot of holes. Because no one has been there, at least not yet, so we’re discussing something only related on the surface, but entirely different in essence.

          It’s fine by me, I mean, I guess it’s OK even entertaining sometimes to speculate on the possibilities of some apocalyptic future fantasy. You’ll excuse me though for focusing more on the present reality, because that’s where I live and what I have to deal with.

          Stay well!

          • “it’s just that the only scenario you describe and argue in all your comments and remarks is the end-of-the-world, Mad Max apocalypse”

            well up until last year that was the only prepper meme I’d ever seen discussed anywhere. the means were different – emp, mass plague, total currency collapse, total bank/gas-station/supermarket shutdown, total economic collapse, zombie apocalypse – but the considered end was always the same – starvation, shooting in the streets, cities emptying out into the countryside, etc. so yeah I tend to comment in that context.

            but lately, recently, contrary to what almost every prepper/survivalist has been saying for years (decades – remember the cold war and the “aftermath”?), it looks like the collapse is going to be a slow grind into soviet-style oppression. like one guy said, “right now the only thing worse than for it all to collapse would be for it all NOT to collapse”, and it seems to be going that way. which is why at the end I said the “homeless skillset” probably is worth considering.

            “It’s really hard to have a constructive conversation this way”

            oh there’s no need to comment on anything I say, I’m not looking for affirmation or emotional support. I just tend to point out problems and overlooked issues, and this busts people’s bubbles, and they hate it and call me names like “anti-semite” and “satanic parasite” ( … kinda like that last one, really should use it for a post handle …. ), but all I’m trying to do is point out potential fail points and hoping someone says “oh, hey, yeah, didn’t think of that, I’ll have to take that into account.”

            “Stay well!”

            you too dude. good posts and good comments, keep up the good works.

            • “ oh there’s no need to comment on anything I say, I’m not looking for affirmation or emotional support.”

              I know, and I’m not here for that, just to share the little knowledge and experience I have and learn from others. That’s why I try to follow up with the comments and replies.

              “Potential fail points”? There are many, and there always will be. But if we don’t talk reality (present or past), it’s not potential but abstract, metaphysical. And hey – it’s impossible to cover everything. We do what we can. Always learning.

              As for the SHTF, it’s always a slow grind, up until some point it goes up, or down (wars, dictatorships, real widespread SHTF).

              My point is (still), the world hasn’t ended. We’re better than ever in history in fact. Every data points to that. Sure it sucks @ some places and there’s a lot of crap out there. That doesn’t change. So what.

              The question is whether the years ahead will be better, or worse than, say 2019, or the 20-30 very good years before that. Everything considered, I’d say they will be worse, because well… it’s already worse isn’t it? Every party ends and the bill comes due.

              Are they gonna be worse than, say, 1929 or 1942, or the Dark Age, or the Crusades? Don’t know, but so far I see no reason to believe they will. Didn’t live then to say how good or bad it was either. Probably like living today, just different.

              It’s gonna be like that, or worse even, until it gets better again. This is what we talk about, the rest is fantasy. You said well: we prepare to cross to the other side. So let’s keep at it.

      • There are a lot of things we can learn from the military. And I do admire and learn a lot of useful skills from them. But some of it is not compatible with a True SHTF scenario.

        The Military does not train for that. I am not even sure, for the most part, that the rank and file troops even accept it as a possibility. Some high up military planners might.
        Special forces type troops are a different breed with different training.
        I am thinking of regular soldiers and former soldiers.

        For instance, the military solution to waste disposal was to burn it, using jet, gas or deiseal fuel. But during a true SHTF, using such fuel will not be an option. Plus questions are cropping up, on the practices long term effect on a soldiers health. Beyond that, during SHTF, giving away your position with burning all kinds of waste is not going to be a good practice.

        Historically, when troops are cut off from their supplies and logistical support, they quickly surrender. On the other side of this, the tactic of cutting a group off from its support, is a military tactic to get them to surrender.
        Now in a SHTF, civilians will not have that kind of support to start with, so again the military training does not apply.

        I have talked with ex military that have little or no clue about Long Term, SHTF Logistics. They think that they can just bunker down with a few friends and all they have to worry about, is defense of that location. and its assets. Since that was their Job in the military and someone else dealt with Long term Logistics, they never learned to concern themselves with that.

        I think you are looking more at the short term, individual or small group usefulness of their knowledge and abilities. I am looking at the long term and larger picture of the usefulness of Military thinking and training.

        Other than basic survival or fighting skills, we will need a lot more than what the military training can provide.
        Even SERE, Level-B training (which is what most soldiers get) is conducted at the unit level, through the use of training-support packets containing a series of standardized lesson plans and videos.

        Only level “C” trainees get limited field training in Bush craft and survival skills.
        So one must question exactly how superior, that average (level “B”) training really, is for a SHTF scenario.

        Now if you have not done any study or had any Bush craft or survival training it might be greatly superior to what you know, but for other individuals, we might find it to be quite lacking.

        • There are a lot of things we can learn from the military. And I do admire and learn a lot of useful skills from them. But some of it is not compatible with a True SHTF scenario.
          The Military does not train for that. I am not even sure, for the most part, that the rank and file troops even accept it as a possibility. Some high up military planners might.
          Special forces type troops are a different breed with different training.
          I am thinking of regular soldiers and former soldiers.
          For instance, the military solution to waste disposal was to burn it, using jet, gas or deiseal fuel. But during a true SHTF, using such fuel will not be an option. Plus questions are cropping up, on the practices long term effect on a soldiers health. Beyond that, during SHTF, giving away your position with burning all kinds of waste is not going to be a good practice.
          You could not be more wrong. I was not a SOF, but we never were trained to “burn” our waste. That is what a E-Tool was issued and for.

          Historically, when troops are cut off from their supplies and logistical support, they quickly surrender. On the other side of this, the tactic of cutting a group off from its support, is a military tactic to get them to surrender.
          Again, you could not be more wrong. We have never been trained to surrender. Improvise! Adapt! Overcome! Is what we do. Case in point, Battle of Inchon September 1950, where 1stMARDIV, lead by Chesty Puller, the Marines were cut off behind enemy lines and the Army had written the 1st Marine Division off as being lost because they were surrounded by 22 enemy divisions. The Marines made it out inflicting the highest casualty ratio on an enemy in history and destroying 7 entire enemy divisions in the process. An enemy division is 16500+ men while a Marine division is 12500 men.
          Then there is the Last Stand of Fox Company. Great book of real military history.

          Now in a SHTF, civilians will not have that kind of support to start with, so again the military training does not apply.
          I have talked with ex military that have little or no clue about Long Term, SHTF Logistics. They think that they can just bunker down with a few friends and all they have to worry about, is defense of that location. and its assets. Since that was their Job in the military and someone else dealt with Long term Logistics, they never learned to concern themselves with that.
          Wrong again. Any military personnel whom has been a squad or platoon leader, knows and understands economics and logistics of warfare. Whomever you have been speaking too, did not have that knowledge or experience.

          I think you are looking more at the short term, individual or small group usefulness of their knowledge and abilities. I am looking at the long term and larger picture of the usefulness of Military thinking and training.
          Wrong again. Military thinking and training can be applied at the small unit level to the corps level. Basic economics and logistics are the same, just at scale. Same can be applied in a SHTF situation.

          Other than basic survival or fighting skills, we will need a lot more than what the military training can provide.
          Even SERE, Level-B training (which is what most soldiers get) is conducted at the unit level, through the use of training-support packets containing a series of standardized lesson plans and videos.
          Only level “C” trainees get limited field training in Bush craft and survival skills.
          So one must question exactly how superior, that average (level “B”) training really, is for a SHTF scenario.
          Just plain wrong. Looked that up on Google did you?

          Now if you have not done any study or had any Bush craft or survival training it might be greatly superior to what you know, but for other individuals, we might find it to be quite lacking.

          Oh, there are lots of so called survivalists out there, who’s entire training is nothing more than watching every episode of Man vs. Wild 20 times. They think they are “survivalists,” but nothing could be further from the truth. They might “survive” a long weekend in the brush. But none of them have ever spent a year or more doing exactly that.
          Take alleged survivalist and convicted Olympic Park bomber, Eric Rudolph. By his own admission, he ate a few lizards and acorns. The rest of his so-called “survival,” was by breaking into remote cabins, and stealing from others gardens. When captured by a rookie policeman, he was in considerable good health. He was apprehended dumpster diving behind a Save-A-Lot where he got most of his food. That is more likely what most “survivalist” will resort to in a post-SHTF event, stealing from others labor.
          Nevermind, after several months to a year, do not be surprised if a “survivalist” is found talking to a volly-ball.
          Or, if a small child (be it a girl . . . or boy) suddenly disappears. Get the dogs, form a CSAR and go hunting. Put that animal down.

    • The SOF groups that Fabain took his training from are trained for extended periods of time on their own without logistical support. For groups like them the worst case of no resupply indefinitely is always taken as a real possibility. That is their role as SOF.

      If you have not noticed, in most families (unless truly dysfunctional) have their own informal chain of command. Even to this day, if my mother were to raise her voice or give me “the look,” that is just as good as getting one from the drill instructor.

      You must not know very many former military types. Many of us are trained to do more with less, outside of the box thinking. There is a degree of structure, mostly in the forms of discipline, command and control, but we also have to be fluid and not too ridged in our thinking as the situation changes, we have to change. Best laid plans are only as good as first contact. After that, it is he who can see how things are going/flowing, adjust accordingly to take advantage of the situation. While this mindset is seemingly warfare related, it also applies to other aspects, e.g. banking, business, politics.

      Larger groups also have more manpower, the ability to get more work done in a shorter time frame. While a single person may take days to build a structure, a motivated group working together can do it in a day. I have seen my Amish neighbors do it on more than a few occasions.

      Lone wolf have the issues of lack of security especially medical. Something happens to them, there is no one there to help them get back on their feet. Recall that kid who died in a bus in the Alaskan wilderness after eating berries that were poison.
      Then there is that so-called lone wolf survivalist, Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph. He survived on breaking in remote cabins and stealing, or stealing from people gardens. He did eat a few lizards and acorns. He was apprehended dumpster diving behind a Save-A-Lot.

      Those of us former military types know full well in a SHTF scenario, we are on our own already. That is a given. Hence, while the power is still on, chinese carry out available, we apply our training in practical application here and now.
      Train as you would fight, fight as you have trained.

      BTW, you dont throw out the bones. You keep the bones to make bone stock. That is a military mindset. Use everything possible.

    • A lot of this rings true to me, but I work with British ex-Forces and I note mostly their mental attitude to setbacks.

      Their quick and quiet transition to improvising, adapting to and overcoming new and challenging circumstances is very impressive. They rarely flap or fuss, just moving solidly (almost boringly) into preparing new plans of action and then executing them.

      Although it is not unique to them, they drop into that behaviour much faster and assuredly than their civilian counterparts, who typically waste time mourning the loss of Plan A.

      Reminds me of a piece I read recently here (Selco?) about how smoothly an experienced operator will drop his main weapon if it jams, pull a sidearm and go to work with it immediately, going back to retrieve the main weapon later.

      The ex-Forces guys have had significant plasticity of thought and action trained into them, as a result of endless contingency planning. They are not bewildered or stupefied by unexpected events.

  • If you already are a camper, hiker, fisherman, general outdoorsmen, and more importantly a HUNTER you are more than half-way there.

    • read about some fugitives some years ago, accomplished outdoorsmen and hunters. they killed some guy then disappeared into the wilderness for 18 months. they finally were found in the middle of winter by an fbi agent, who by himself persuaded the two of them to surrender. when asked how he did that he said that when he was arguing they should come in that he emphasized the words “food” and “warm”.

  • We lost power for several days not too long ago. I consider myself to be prepared for such events. After a couple of days it became exhausting. Running generators enough to keep our food frozen or cold. Powering the well pump a couple hours a day so we could flush the toilets, wash dishes, and take a shower. I watched as the fuel supply begun to dwindle down. But I knew it was a short-term situation. What if an EMP?
    My garden this year is shaping up nicely. But this morning I discovered potato bugs on the potatoes and squash bugs beginning to invade my squash. I caught it quickly and was able to mount a defense with Seven Dust. Not the ideal, but I won’t allow insects to eat my garden without a fight. But I had access to that remedy. What if I hadn’t?
    I guess there are preparations and then there are knowledge, skills, and abilities. A true survivor is likely to be armed with the later even without the former.

    • “What if I hadn’t?”

      was reading in the novel “shogun” where blackthorn is explaining to mariko why england was going to win its war with spain. one of the reasons he gave was that england had famines only three years in ten.

  • There’s another issue that has not been addressed here. That is access to medical care. US emergency intervention capabilities are some of the best in the world, even if some long term conditions care is often crippled by a mindset of suppression of symptoms rather than seeking and applying remedies to solve the original problem.

    But putting that background aside, much of the hospital presence in today’s rural communities is being shut down as their economics are changing. Having lived in both rural and large city communities I’m somewhat sensitive to the differences. Had there been no ER available within reasonable driving distance to where I was hauled in unconscious a few years ago, I would not be here today to share my bad jokes and pontifications otherwise.

    Military survival training is based on soldiers in the cream of physical condition in a narrow band of age limits — NOT with the much wider variety of medical needs and physical capabilities of the civilian world. My thinking is that in a prolonged SHTF situation, there will likely be a lot of people with conditions beyond the typical DIY remedies usually discussed … who will not make it.

    –Lewis

    • “There’s another issue that has not been addressed here. That is access to medical care.”

      well not just here. it’s never addressed anywhere. it’s not glamorous or kinetic or excitingly righteous. gonna be preppers out there, highly trained and overflowing with stored gear, who will find themselves shut down with kidney stones, or blood in their urine or stool, or a cut tendon, or malaria, or whatever else.

      “who will not make it”

      in nineteenth century conditions a man typically went through two or three wives and a woman through two or three husbands, and half of all children died before age 5.

  • Really glad I stumbled on this site, great articles, useful information, and a community that is growing exponentially …..globally.

    Will you run when SHTF, will you have to run, should you stay put if you’re already on your homestead?

    Survival course is a really smart thing to take these days due to the speed in which things can change.

    Everyday we’re working towards weathering whats on the horizon….i see a huge push of people in the last year coming to the realization that the system we live in is quite fragile.

    Alot of the prepping stuff is becoming scarce..

    We landed on a abandoned farm way up in Northern Maine…spent the last two years putiing up livestock fence…repairing replacing..planting fruit trees, strawberries..etc.

    Went to get compost and come to find out it’s all getting bought out by bagged soil companies, so I bought 50 yards and had it delivered by a huge truck. Our soil is good, but it lacks the nutrients that the compost has..we used about 12 yards of it last year spot planting, and had a bumper harvest..this year we got 4x’s as much.

    The cats out of the bag regarding whats to come with the drought and the coming famine.

    https://blessedthistlefarmstead.com/

    Thank you Fabian for this site!

  • Most people are actually in the survival situation long before they realize it and recognize it for what it is.

      • “That is a brilliant observation”

        indeed it is.

        watch the videos of the tsunamis in malaysia. the waves didn’t crash in, they were just rapidly rising water levels. you can see the people looking around at the water level and obviously thinking “I can handle this” and then getting swept away as the water rises, and other people nearby seeing them get swept away and looking around at the water level and obviously thinking “I can handle this” and then getting swept away themselves as the water rises.

        same thing happens in nuclear power “incidents”. an instrument indicates a problem and the operators, used to years of normal readings, think “the instrument must be wrong” and initiate an incorrect action.

  • odds are IFSHTF 80% won’t make it out of the city for fear. Now 90% boast on social media, how well prepped they are and of those 90% 2% have their preps split at different safe places so not IF, but when they come for all your preps. Including your emp proof generator and auto.you know because you are the only house with lights on.
    When alls said barely 3% will make it a week in an escape and evade SHTF scenario. Specially when kids and wife are with you. If you got out with what you could pack, and make it to a deep enough location. Is your family ready to spend extended periods in the deep woods. Even the Bible says pray its not in winter. If your bugout is up north do you have enough warm clothes and blankets to not freeze.?
    Fire has to be kept just big enough to cook or boil water.
    I’ll get reply saying I’m wrong.
    Just think about SHTF not being lost in the forest. I wonder how many understand SHTF everything you seen on TV will be alright if your lost
    When SHTF 90% of us will be killed or arrested if you are caught.
    I’ve seen one article that would keep you and yours alive. He was in Egypt few years ago. He was stuck in the city. Look it up.
    2 days after SHTF YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY WIL BE AT YOUR DOOR. YA THE SAME ONES THAT CALLED US TIN FOIL HAT CONSPIRACY THEORIST. CAN YOU TELL YOUR NIECE OR NEPHEW TO LEAVEONLY .10% CAN AND WILL.
    SAY WEVE BEEN INVADED this is why above I said no fire.
    If your paying for SHTF survival courses, make sure its urban escape and evade. Then every so often practice your family getting out of the city and to a predetermined bug out location. Then How long can you ALL stay in the forest before you have a mutany and one or all turn themselves in because they can’t handle the solitude.
    This is long but REMEBER even if you are alone how long can you hide and survive ?
    Besides there is no thriving when you are being chased.

    • We get 20+ feet of snow a winter, single and negative digit temps are not uncommon.
      I have yet to hear of any of my Amish neighbors freezing to death.

      If SHTF and the snow plows are not running, no one is chasing anyone, least on cross country skis or snowshoes.

    • It’s a good point, but as said here only a largish team of people all co-operating can survive a long-term SHTF?

      And saying No gets easier when your home is already full.

      Having said that, when you say No you don’t just lose a friend – you gain an enemy.

      I plan to always barter at least – everyone has something that is worth something, even if it’s just their labour.

      • I am under no delusions that I am going to survive all on my own. I am going to need my neighbors. We are going to need the Amish for their horsepower (literally) and they are going to need us for security.

        We already have a semi-informal economy (trade and barter) going.

        • “they are going to need us for security”

          ? they’ll accept you employing force for their benefit?

  • Interesting article! I agree to be careful what we wish for, and IMO people who run their mouths on social media are idiots. Also IMO we’re already in SHTF and looking for trouble that way is foolish. There’s plenty of trouble around already. Only a fool goes looking.

    As for the lone wolf, I agree that makes things much more difficult. Unfortunately there’s not always much of a choice. I’ve tried to find a team over the last five years or so, but people seem to view a spinster as not a team player. So I must acknowledge my limitation and work with it. If my best gift to humanity is a bit of gene pool cleaning on the way out, then so be it. Since I don’t drive I have nowhere to go and no way to get there, so here I stay. Unless a better option arises, of course. Flexible thinking is best. The world is changing. I must adapt.

    • “If my best gift to humanity is a bit of gene pool cleaning on the way out, then so be it”

      oh I’m sure that when the time comes you’ll have more to offer than that. some food, a bandaged wound, some money, who knows what might come your way.

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