Survival Training and Memberships, Part 4: Research

As part of becoming a survivalist, I realized there are a couple things everyone can do to train for the worst and improve their odds.  So far, I’ve uncovered four categories: Defense, Medical, Fitness, and Research.  I’ll tell you about my experiences so far, and what I have planned for the near future.  This is Part 4, Research.

The more I read in books or online, the more videos I watch, and the more I absorb survival info, the more I realize that I’ve done one of two things.  Either I was smart, and saved the best for last in this four part series, or I’m dumb for not making research the number one priority from the start.  Let’s go with saving the best for last 🙂

If I had to sort the four categories in order of importance, I’d move research to the front, and leave the rest as-is.  Knowledge is the most powerful weapon in the survivalist’s arsenal, no matter what the challenge.  What types of plants are edible?  How do you make rope in the wild?  How do you provide shelter, catch/harvest food, or coax water  from a desert?  Tools can be improvised, fitness can be replaced by know-how (within reason) and even medical skills are just a combination of tools and knowledge.  Every other category can, to an extent, be replaced by some survival knowledge and you’ll survive long enough to make up the difference.

The first book I read on this journey was Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life by Neil Strauss.  It was nothing short of amazing.  While I don’t agree with his Bush-bashing or gushing optimism for the Obama presidency, it was amazing to see the transformation that took place in the author over eight years.  I don’t want to ruin the book for anyone, but suffice to say he morphs from clueless, to scared, to prepared for escape, and finally to something better altogether.  You’ll have to read the book to find out.

The books I’ve been interested in have been surprisingly hard to find.  If you have a Half Price Books in your area, they’re a great local resource for cheap books.  Their travel section will contain any books they have by survivalists who have braved interesting locations, and their sports section will have hiking/camping sections that may have what you’re looking for.  That being said, it’s incredibly frustrating to walk into their stores with a list of half a dozen books, as I did, and not have anyone who can tell you if any of them are in stock.  It’s even more frustrating to have to find out for yourself, shelf by shelf, that they’re not.

Of course, the big box stores aren’t much better.  Both Barnes & Noble, and Borders (which both let you check inventory from the web) don’t actually have most of the more popular books in stock!  I’m willing to pay full price for these, and they don’t have them.  Luckily, I did find two items at Half Price Books that I like.

Outdoor Survival by John “Lofty” Wiseman is a version of his famous SAS Survival guides, tailored to the general public.  You have to wade through some unfamiliar british terms, but the book is geared toward beginners and non-military. It’s a reference manual, with straightforward instructions on starting fires, catching food, purifying water, etc.  This book is largely about surviving in the wild, whether the world as we know it has come crashing down, or you’re just on a weekend camping trip with the family.

I’m also reading Wright’s Complete Disaster Survival Manual by Ted Wright.  This is more of a narrative, talking about the author’s experiences, and relating them to disaster survival almost in storybook fashion.  It has great advice, and deals more with urban survival during disasters.  this book is more about doomsday preparation, although he focuses on natural disasters.

Most people think of survival preparation as something conspiracy nuts do to prepare for armageddon.  The more I learn, the more I realize this is just a very unfortunate misconception.  Everybody should have a basic level of preparation, and be able to live without modern amenities – at least for a short while.  Most modern amenities are the result of electricity, water, and possibly natural gas being piped directly into our homes.  It doesn’t take much to disrupt any of these things.

I plan to continue reading and researching, and strengthening the most important tool in my arsenal; my knowledge.

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