Selco: How to Truly Know Your Survival Skill Level

(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you'll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)

Author of The Dark Secrets of SHTF Survival and the online course SHTF Survival Boot Camp

After many years of teaching survival courses, I never know what kind of students I might get on course. But just like most of the people around, I also fall into the trap of feeling like, “Oh, I know how this person will perform” after reading the precourse questionnaires, or after spending that first hour or two with them.

And yes, I often make mistakes there.

While teaching people on the courses I like to learn from them too, because there is always a lesson. Sometimes it is a reminder of the mere fact that preconception about people may kill you. And sometimes there are other lessons too.

You never know

People are full of surprises on courses, and that is also how people work and act in real SHTF also. They may be full of surprises, and you never know actually who may be really dangerous or skilled or prepared, even if he (or she) does not look like they would be.

We are being conditioned from society to act in certain patterns which are accepted in that same society.

So, most of us are trying to “play the game“ because that is how modern society works.

In essence, you do not know as much as you think about people around you, because people act and look based on their roles in that society (mostly). We are forming our opinions about people based on what we see, but we often forget to remember the fact that people are blending to society.

For example, there are norms of behavior that are accepted in society and people follow this in order to live “normally“ in it.

Once when you take people out of their normal life, you will see their real faces.

You can notice that on courses, since courses are to some extent an imitation of SHTF, but the point here is that you can not take anything for granted about people once when SHTF. When “normal“ is gone, they may show a different face.

Your preparedness level

If I asked you to tell me your physical preparedness score on a scale from 1 to 10, you will think about it and you may say to me that your score is, for example, 7.

So now you and I may think that your physical preparedness is pretty good – it is 7! But, of course, it does not mean anything until you explain to me on what events and scoring system you are basing your score system

For example, you may say that you walk every day for a couple of miles, you are pretty active, you are doing some yoga classes, etc., etc., and based on how people around you are physically fit. You are number 7 in your opinion.

In someone s else case number 7 means that he or she runs 10 miles per day, does krav maga classes, and lifts weights.

A scoring system and your opinion about yourself does not mean too much before comparing it to someone or someone.

Things get complicated even more if we are talking about mental resilience levels.

The point here is that your own scoring and opinions about yourself do not mean anything until you test yourself. Usually, most of the people after testing themselves need to reset their score numbers, and usually because of the fact that they were not even aware of how many levels up (or down) existed.

The prepping world is full of “level 7” tough guys (and girls), simply because they are operating with the wrong scale.

It is not about bragging about who is better and who is not, it is about understanding correctly where you are on that scale preferably before SHTF. Not to mention knowing where the other folks are in your group – if you have one are at.

For a start, it is good to have the right scoring scale.

You need to go OUT ( in the field) to see the correct scale. (I’m still accepting students for my next course out in the field.)

[page_section template=’3′ position=’default’ shadow=’#dd9933′]

Have you taken Selco’s online courses yet?

Taking the online courses are the next best thing to getting over to Europe and studying with him personally.

  • SHTF Survival Boot Camp teaches you both urban and wilderness survival skills, primitive first aid, and lessons about the violence that you’ll never forget.
  • One Year in Hell is Selco’s original course that shares the dark truth about what it was like to live in a city under siege. He talks about the signs he missed, what happened when chaos erupted, the grim sanitation conditions, and how his life completely changed.

If you want the real deal from a legend who has lived through the SHTF, these are the online courses for you.[/page_section]

When you will learn things

Very connected to topics above is the topic of when you will learn the most – or to put it most precisely when you will get it what is important and what is not.

The answer is easy- while you are having difficult times during the learning!

Examples are numerous, but  I will use the lamest one (and simplest):

You will not learn about pressure, shooting and fighting a lot while you are at the shooting range.

You may think “OK, I will learn to shoot, and basic about shooting on shooting range” and you may be right to some extent, but think for a moment that we are mostly learning to shoot because we want to use it effectively during SHTF.

In its very core, it means that in most of the situation you will shoot while you are under tremendous pressure, both physical and mental.

You are missing that in a shooting range.

SHTF is not shooting range.

So as an example it makes more sense to go to some tactical shooting exercises after running a few miles, without eating and drinking for last 12 hrs, and while you are in a very bad mood, or under the stress.

It is an example only but you got the point.

Things are the same with a lot of other topics in survival.  For example, you are learning how to make a shelter in the wilderness but not learning when to NOT make shelter (Reasons could be because it is dangerous, or you do not have time, or you have more important things to do, etc.)

Or you are learning how to start a fire with flint but not how to make it less visible, or how to survive for days without fire because it is dangerous to start it (by having food that doesn’t need to be cooked, sleeping systems, etc.)

It is about context always.

I will paraphrase one of my very dear students to make it more clear.

After explaining what our next class exercise was gonna be she said: “Oh can we do it in the afternoon because I am not a morning person?”


It is exactly that time – in the morning – when you should do it!

Because only then you will realize where you are on that scoring scale.

About Selco:

Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution. He is currently accepting students for his next physical course here.

In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today.

He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless of what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations as Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months.

Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.

Selco: How to Truly Know Your Survival Skill Level


Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution. In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today. He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations as Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months. Read more of Selco's articles here. Buy his PDF books here. Take advantage of a deep and profound insight into his knowledge by signing up for his unrivaled online course. Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.

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  • Very perceptive about others changing after the SHTF. I know this to be true because I have an idea how I will change in those circumstances.

    Excellent point about how your own training must be realistic.

  • What’s been required of me the past 5 years has left me depleted physically — prolly at a 2-4 level. It’s been a challenge to build back up. I’ve thought long and hard about the potentials that may come my way: how my home is positioned in relation to the denser populated areas, routes “out”, the inadequacy of my supplies. Makes me feel kind of grim.

    But as you say, we don’t really know what kind of person we or others are until the SHTF. This makes me reflect on my short-comings and humbles me. In my own final analysis, perhaps it’s my stubborn pride that will actually make me stupid. Once I’ve cleared my brain of social expectations which cause the pride, my brain can be clear on how to make the wisest moves with the body I have: slowly and conservatively.

    That’s my take-away. Thank you for this lesson Selco! Loved your book. 🙂

  • Read an article that said something to the effect of most people tend to view themselves as they did in their prime.
    I can still run a 3mile, but will I ever get to my personal best of a 18:05, back when I was a young LCpl? NOPE!

    I see a lot of guys at the range, shooting off a concrete bench, with a lead sled or bags, slapping themselves on their backs of what a great shot they are. Never from the standing, sitting or prone.

    I see a lot of posts on BOBs. I have to wonder how many of them have actually strapped their BOB on, and gone out and tried to hump a few miles, over rough terrain, at a high rate of speed.

    • Yup. I’m constantly reworking my BOB. Trying to find lighter weight stuff for what I think I need. Definitely not up for more than 20# on my back. It’s bulky and cumbersome, but I’m considering an old lady shopping basket on wheels. Old ladies are the geniuses after all — think Miss Marple. 😉

      • Well said Debbers.
        Try to keep it light. Might not seem like much standing in the kitchen, but you will feel every oz after a few miles.

        And, update your BOB accordingly to the seasons.

        • Thinking that maybe a sailor’s sack made of ripstop nylon might be the lightest pack. The REI
          plastic coating is beginning to go bad on the BOB. With all the zippers and unneeded bells and whistles, the pack itself is heavier than it needs to be. Things are already sorted into kits with their own stuff sack. I just need one space to drop it all in. I think I can shave off 5# that way. I can make it to be carried two ways: with shoulder straps or with a sling. I’m thinking it may be a way to look more gray as well. Homemade not as appealing a prize to steal….

  • Curious how the group is going to be tracked. Will it be an all-out rout like your articles where one group chases another group, or tracked like in a Tom Brown or SAS book?

    Story told by someone when he was in Vietnam. His patrol group was being followed by a larger group. It went on for a day or two. There was no verbal communication. The leader of the following group was anticipating every move he made and getting closer, so he paused at a junction and thought what his wife would do. It worked.

    A story Toby might appreciate. Similar story of a smaller group being followed by a larger group. At a pass it was decided one person with some troops would stay behind and buy some time while they come back with reinforcements. They weren’t expecting anyone to be alive when they came back. An old school British gentleman handed the head of the small group a sword. The leader thanked him but said he had weapons. No, it was to be struck into the ground and the hilt leaned against since “your knees will be shaking too much” and the indigenous troops seeing you still standing behind them will fight and not bolt. The small group leader survived and when he gave back the sword asked the gentleman how he knew it would work. Because “you are Island people”.

  • I have been a survivalist since the mid 70’s. One thing I have learned is almost 90% of “survival” articles are geared toward trying to sell you something. Many “survival experts” also almost always are trying to sell you something as well.

    You can not BUY your way to surviving and many a neophyte has been taken in my these experts.

    This is a word of caution for anyone on any survival website.

    Now, if this comment is NOT approved, we all know this is a scam.
    If this IS approved, then we will know it is on the up & up.
    Why? Scammers will not tolerate anything negative being said about their scams.

    • How is this article a scam?
      He makes only one reference to the course he is offering (and Daisy can attest, Selco is on the up and up as she just took his women’s survival course) in the main body.
      I did not see any additional links to things to sell/push in the main body. I know some sites have various links to Amazon or other like sites pushing items.

      • Maybe Dave is referring to Selco’s bio?

        It is a perk I offer my writers that they can link to their books and products in the bio. It’s peculiar to me that some readers think all of us who create information products are “scammers.” We’re trying to do honest work and make an honest living just like everybody else. Using one’s knowledge to teach others is a wonderful endeavor.

        As far as “buying” survival – actually, that’s debatable. I went to Croatia, took Selco’s course, and learned so much that I would never have been aware of before. I think my chances went up dramatically because of it.

  • Dave

    Approve what?

    While the intend of the above comment may be worthy it is too generic to mean anything.

    In general, fear mongering creates anxiety and anxiety makes people buy things they don’t need or know how to use, making them useless. One reason I don’t like watching the evening ‘news’.

    I suggest visiting The emphasis is on knowledge.
    And even an experienced prepper can learn new skills.

  • This is an area that needs a lot more written about it, Context.
    There are times to bug out and times to stay put or at least to wait to bug out.
    It goes for a lot of other things also.
    To many times it is a: “you must do it this way and only this way attitude”, if you want to survive.
    There are to many variables to be that way.

    The other thing that goes with Context, is being able to “adapt and overcome”, what ever comes your way. This means a broader skill set and more knowledge is necessary.

    One thing we must consider is physical fitness, It is one thing to be generally fit, (which most people are not) but it is another to be at military fitness levels.
    The latter is great, if you have the time and ability to get there. But in doing so, one dares not skip or skimp on knowledge and skills.
    So don’t count out the people who might lack fitness, but more than make up for it in skill and knowledge. They might just surprise you.

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