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#84763 - 02/03/07 08:04 AM Testing Yourself
sparty2005 Offline

Registered: 05/28/06
Posts: 3
Just curious how many of you test yourselves on a regular basis? I have been a survival nut now for about twenty years, read as many books and articles as I can get my hands onto, bought all the toys and gadgets etc. Of that time Iíve only had to rely on learned skills when I was caught out a couple hours after dark while hunting in some really cold, rainy conditions ( Trioxine bars are great! ). Iíve been wanting to test myself, but have hit a couple of obstaclesÖ time ( work and family ), place to do soÖ State land? Any opinions? Most of the times that I have tried to do something revolved around fire, ( which I know is very imported skill on many levels ) But there are so many other aspects of survival that need practice as well. Any drills, exercises or suggestions that you have that donít take up a great deal of time?

#84764 - 02/03/07 02:14 PM Re: Testing Yourself
OldBaldGuy Offline

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 5695
Loc: Former AFB in CA, recouping fr...
Welcome Sparty,

I fear that most (probably all) of us suffer from the same problem. Even retired I find that my current lifestyle (doing volunteer work for various state/federal parks, while living full time in a RV, traveling the country) takes so much of my time that I don't get a chance to play much (other than building a fire from time to time). When my son was in scouts (a long long time ago), I assisted in their working for the survival merit badge, but that is no more. Hopefully someone smarter than both of us will come up with something we all can use...

#84765 - 02/03/07 03:58 PM Re: Testing Yourself
Polak187 Offline

Registered: 05/23/02
Posts: 1403
Loc: Brooklyn, New York
It's hard to do a real test. Anytime I wanted to do a test of my fire making skills when kayaking or backpacking was not really real. If I didn't suceed within first 15 minutes I had 8 hungry guys breathing down my neck to get the fire going. So I would chuck the magnifing glass, coke can, bow and drill and use my zippo/windmill to light up the fire. Maybe after everyone was fed and warm I would play around. But it is different to do stuff on the full belly as opposed to when you are cold and hungry.

But it is my testing ground. Everytime I go hiking, backpacking, camping or kayaking there is always down time. There is always an hour or two of down/sleepy time and everyone just rest or vegetates and at that time I play around with stuff I read about. Is it a real testing knowing that my life doesn't depend on it? To certain extend yes. Going thru the motions and practicing the skill is the way to do it. People learn CPR hoping they never use it but when they do, all this stuff comes back because they practiced it. Did they practice on a real person in a real situation? No, but working with the dummy with multiple repetition at least gave them the advantage over person who never even heard of CPR. I think same goes for survival skills. Just thinking about it, having proper equipment, maintaining it, reading about skills, being informed and implementing the usage of skills in real life is enough of the preparadness. You trying to create a water still or build a shelter when next to you is a gallon of water and your tent will give you an advantage of knowing what would happen and what kind of snags you are expected to hit. I would build a shelter and next morning I would look at it on how it held up. If it was still standing it was a success if it fell down I wanted to know where my weak points are. That way I learned proper knot tying techniques. Actual survival is so unpredictable that no matter how long you practiced brother Murphy will never fail to pay you a visit. But at least you have a knowledge backed up up by some practical skills.

#84766 - 02/04/07 01:14 AM Re: Testing Yourself
justin2006 Offline

Registered: 12/05/06
Posts: 27
Loc: New Mexico
Today I decided to test myself by the following:
  • Drive out to favorite area to go snowshoeing.
  • Arrive at dirt road turnoff and put vehicle in 4WD.
  • Drive down dirt road with 1-to-2 feet of snow.
  • Change mind about snowshoeing in this area and play stupid by trying to turn vehicle around instead of backing-out the way I came.
  • Let vehicle tires lose traction, spin out, and dig the vehicle as deeply as possible into the snow.
  • Spend the next 1.5 hours digging out the tires and installing snow chains (not easy to do!).
  • Put vehicle in 4WD LO and turn vehicle around.
  • Change into dry clothing; put on snowshoes and gaiters and go snowshoeing for 5 miles round-trip.
  • Get back to vehicle and drive home.

<img src="/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" />


#84767 - 02/04/07 01:46 AM Re: Testing Yourself
oldsoldier Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/25/06
Posts: 742
Loc: MA
Well, I'm kinda glad this came up. I had stated previously when I first joined ETS, that I wanted to start taking my nephew out on weekends and going over some stuff, and taping some of our "exploits". So, starting next saturday, we will be going out EVERY SATURDAY, and practicing something. Lots of times, I am sure it will be more than one aspect. Next weekend, we are gonna do firemaking, to include gathering everything we need. We wont leave the woods till we get a fire going (kindling only, proof of light). Next, shelter building, etc. I am planning a 3 day excursion this spring, with minimal gear. Will keep everyone informed!
my adventures

#84768 - 02/04/07 03:00 AM Re: Testing Yourself
Chris Kavanaugh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/09/01
Posts: 3824
If you can't hone any skills hone your mind. Most of us 'drive.' I use parentheses since most people are doing anything but. Start by killing all distractions; cellphones, music, personal problems and the blond in the vintage white T Bird ( don't ask.) How many people check traffic reports? How many people are looking at traffic beyond the SUV who thinks vehicle body language ( you could tell I wanted to change lanes) is a legal turn signal? Do you see potential problems several vehicles ahead, listen for sirens or emergency lights behind you? Driving, with all it's increasing frustrations is an excellent arena for creating a mindset of awareness: One we can translate to other activities. Are you observing potential resources on a hike; the really nice rock shelter out of the wind,an old tree full of fatwood, old trashdump? The 'what if' Game can be played anytime, anywhere, one to 100 players, for 1 minute or one day.

#84769 - 02/04/07 05:58 AM Re: Testing Yourself
sparty2005 Offline

Registered: 05/28/06
Posts: 3
Good points... I will definitely continue to hone my mind... It's interesting that you mention that because it made me realize that's something I currently do when I'm out in the field. Looking at tinder sources, natural shelters, etc. when I'm out hunting, hiking, or whatever. I've also thought that there are a couple of things that can be worked on around home, figure 4 deadfalls, practicing and learning different types of knots, maybe even build a solar still in the back yard ( I'm sure my wife would love that! ).

#84770 - 02/04/07 06:43 AM Re: Testing Yourself
OldBaldGuy Offline

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 5695
Loc: Former AFB in CA, recouping fr...
"...maybe even build a solar still..."

From everything I have read and heard, they are not worth the effort to build. But nothing ventured nothing gained.

One of these days I'm going to try making a solar oven, maybe bake a cake or something...

#84771 - 02/04/07 01:59 PM Re: Testing Yourself
Biscuits Offline

Registered: 01/05/03
Posts: 114
Loc: Central Colorado
Don't know about testing myself, but I make it a point to practice what I've learned, or try something I've read about when I'm in the field. I think the point is to do things often enough so that when you do them for real, it isn't really a test. Its just doing it.


#84772 - 02/04/07 03:35 PM Re: Testing Yourself
pipedreams Offline

Registered: 07/11/04
Posts: 32
Loc: OK
It's tough to find the time, but I TRY to work on skill or bit o' kit weekly. Last weekend, I worked on fire building with my youngest daughter at our local lake.

Sometimes I just go to the back yard. Here is a back yard fire building session from a couple of months ago:

Cold today. 21 degrees. Freezing rain all last night. Sleet all morning. Perfect weather to practice fire building. I have my RAT-3, OHT with attached BSA Hot Spark and ONE PJ cotton ball.

Here's the deck. I can't get all the ice out of my fire bed (Lodge Grill).

To augment my lone PJ cotton ball, I pry a little pitch soaked bark from the pine tree.

I found a slab of maple to use as a platform to build my fire on buried in the brushpile behind my shop. It was mostly dry at the bottom of the pile. All my kindling came fron the bottom of the brushpile. Everything else is cover in ice. Here are the tools of the trade. Thet went to work splitting some matchstick and pencil sized kindling.

PJ cotton and pine pitch soaked bark ready to go.

One strike of the BSA Hot Spark on the spine of the RAT-3

Slowly feeding the fire. I almost smothered it TWICE, trying to hurry. The sleet didn't help matters, either.

Young fire and tools.

Fire pretty well established. It's taking some damp wood at this point.

This process took about 30 minutes. I was surprized it took so long. The fire needed to be fiddled with constantly to keep going. In the woods, I would have had more access to wood. Here in the yard, there are only 5 trees and the only tree that I can reach limbs on is a Willow. The brushpile was my sole source of fuel. Had fun. Good practice.

I enjoy practicing skills, so it's easier to make time. Good luck!


Every moment is an adventure. Are you equipped?

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