You have read the manuals, watched the videos, and have read dozens of articles online about wilderness survival, but does this mean you are ready, maybe, and then again maybe not.
There are several schools of thought when it comes to survival training. Some believe that pain equals gain. In other words, if you are not hungry and cold with an aching body during your survival training then you are not doing it right and simply will not learn anything.
This type of training course would be similar to the Naked and Afraid series where you are dropped off without even the clothes on your back. In the real world, you probably would not survive the night if put in this situation. It is unrealistic to think you are going to wake up naked in a faraway land, and then are expected to survive for days or weeks when you are starting from nothing.
The thought behind this method is that if you know what can happen if you are not well trained and prepared with the essentials for survival, then you will always be prepared. The knowledge and hands-on training will be better absorbed. Absorbed that is, if you can ignore how cold, wet and hungry you are and can ignore your aching back caused from sleeping on the cold ground.
Well, this sounds good on paper and some people do thrive in this environment, while others do not. This method is essentially sink or swim.
Another method of training is to provide a comfortable learning environment. The belief is that people do learn more when in a comfortable environment. However, any training you take should be conducted in a controlled environment where your mistakes are not deadly but instead can be used as a training tool.
Even if you decide to go it alone and learn on your own, you need a support system in place as you train. Even experts can make mistakes, and everyone needs a support system whether you believe it or not. If you do get lost, you will in many cases, have to rely on others to rescue or help you.
Do your research and know your instructor. The Internet is full of so-called survival experts with impressive sounding resumes but does this mean they can convey their knowledge to you while at the same time controlling the environment so no one in the class gets hurts.
What to Expect
Expect to learn the basics of wilderness survival. Learn how to construct an emergency shelter, make a fire under any conditions, find and purify a surface water source and learn how to forage for food. In most cases, you are taught to survive long enough to be rescued, so in most classes you will also learn how to signal rescue personnel, and learn basic land navigation techniques.
While most experts recommend that you shelter in place if you find yourself lost, you may have to self-rescue so knowing how to navigate through the woods is critical.
You should learn how to detect and provide treatment for hypothermia as well as hyperthermia, and learn how to combat dehydration when water is limited as well.
The above are the basics, which can essentially be taught over a long weekend. There are advanced courses that you can take that would delve into bushcraft versus survival techniques taught to keep you alive until rescued.
Once you have had a few days of hands-on training at a survival school, it is up to you to hone those skills, by getting back out in the woods and practicing. Gaining knowledge and skills is one thing, but applying what you have been taught in a real life situation is something entirely different. Your survival class is just the beginning. You cannot expect to attend a 3 or 5-day class and say that’s the end of it, your trained, so nothing more to see here let’s move on. Classes are just the beginning.
It takes practice, trial and error and a dedication to advancing your skills, so you build confidence, and thus, have the right reaction when the time comes. Pre-programmed responses are something that takes a tremendous amount of practice and hands-on training to perform without thought.
Primitive living techniques are taught by many schools, but you have to choose carefully, and it will be costly. Learning bushcraft on your own is difficult. You really do need the tutoring of those that came before you. Much bushcraft and primitive living skills have been passed down through the generations, and in some cases, the information is never written down, but passed on orally.