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Practice makes Perfect

The only real way to learn something is to do it. Time and time again until it becomes second nature and you have experienced the times when things go wrong and correct it. Professional snooker players play snooker at least 8 hours a day, professional golfers play golf at least 8 hours a day, the list goes on. All those at the top of their profession practise all the time. It improves their skills and the actions become second nature to them. They prepare and are ready for everything that can happen to them in their world.

Sometimes you do not appreciate that even the simplest things go wrong and while this is not an issue usually in a survival scenario it can be the difference between life and death.

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

So, it is all well and good reading about starting a fire by rubbing two sticks together, everyone on the TV does it easily, even the dozy ones, so it must be easy. When we are in a survival situation we just find two sticks, they lay around all over the place, and we can have a nice warm fire. Well, I can tell you that I have tried to start a fire from two sticks several times and whilst it worked in summer when it was less than ideal, windy or wet, I failed every time. This is not in a survival situation either and was in my back garden with material available to me from there. I did get a bit of smoke but no fire so I was wondering how I would do it if I was shivering, cold and wet in the middle of a cold wet winter with a cold wind blowing, all the debris was wet and I was trying to start a fire with what material was available to me. Everyone on the films just happens to have lots of dry material to use, every time. Now you will be starting with your bit of tinder, cotton wool (in your kit), and using that as the base of your fire. Try it now, two sticks from outside and a bit of dry cotton wool … Done? … If you managed it then well done you are better than I am. If not then you are in the same situation as I am which is why I will be carrying matches as well as a firestarter in my toolkit.

Not to think that starting a fire is the only issue here. It is an example as are these;

  • Growing plants from seeds
  • Making a bow
  • Navigating
  • Identifying wild food
  • Etc.

These, among others are also skills that are gained from experience. I can have a book in front of me and sometime have difficulty identifying plants because the leaves don’t look exactly the same. Is it because it is just similar or is it the plant I am looking for? Mistakes can be fatal in a real situation.

You need to practise all of your survival skills while you have the chance but we all know that most of us do not have the time to practise everything we read and we all believe that we will pick the skills up if and when we need them. That is what books are for. If only it was so simple.

My advice it to try everything at least once, no matter how simple it appears. Ensure you try it in a less than ideal situation, if that could be the way you need to use it, and see how you do. If you don’t do well then have a few more goes until you do or, depending on what it is, at least make sure someone in your group can do it, watch them to ensure they can and get them to show you. You can always learn from someone in a survival situation but you must consider one thing if you decide to do that. If you need it and they are not there then you could be in trouble. They simply may not survive an event. If they don’t make it then your group better hope you can pick it up from books or memory.

It is much better for everyone to know everything but that is impractical. Even if you wanted to you only have the time to learn and practise certain things. Unless your job is wilderness survival then you have to earn money and live now whilst you learn. It cannot all be preparing for an uncertain future so we will have to prioritise, learn what we need to (e.g. starting a fire in less than ideal conditions), learn the basics on what we need to (e.g. dressing an animal) and just be aware (e.g. laying bricks) and have someone who knows a bit more about that available. It means that you need to take your share and learn about something more than the basics to ensure that all the areas are covered. It should not be considered a chore and everyone likes to be considered experienced in something and a contributor rather than a hanger on.

Practice makes perfect. It isn’t a political slogan it actually could help save you and your loved ones lives.

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