Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Survival Training - Where to Start?

This is a “take-off” on the earlier post in June, “getting out there”.

In our case, we have our Level 1, 2 and 3 kits, ready to go.  The kits are configured the way we’d best use them, we’ve balanced load properly, we carry our Level 1 gear everywhere we go, and our Level 2 and 3 gear usually isn’t too far away . . . Now what?


Proper instruction is definitely a pre-requisite to getting out and training.  Printed instruction is good, and a live instructor who demonstrates, trains you, and then grades you, is better.

Basic survival instruction should cover the following:  Body Temperature Regulation (Shelter and Fire), Hydration (Water Purification), First Aid, Sanitation and Food collection / preparation.

A good printed source for that kind of information:

Free: FM 21-76 US Military Survival Manual:

$15 shipped:  The USRSOG Manual: (probably the best information for the money around today).

Again, instruction given in person with demonstration is probably the best return on investment.  If you know a former military instructor who knows his or her way around the survival world, who’s willing to help you learn, that’s always a plus.

Another thing to do is search out companies in your local area that offer survival training.  For example, in Michigan, Great Lake Survival teams up with Ravenswood Enterprises to offer disaster preparedness, wilderness survival and team building training.

If you’re not in the Michigan area, there are several survival training companies that we recommend across the country.  Drop us a line and we might be able to point you in the right direction depending on where you live.


Assuming we’ve had proper instruction, we now have our Level 1, 2 and 3 kits squared away.  We’re ready to go do some Training.  The backyard is a good place to start.  Here’s how we would recommend getting one’s “feet wet” with survival training.

1.       Basic Survival Training:  Stay a night out in your local camp ground or back yard with your level 1 and 2 kit.  (obviously if you have a medical condition, this trumps whatever training you are attempting, use common sense).  Construct a shelter with your knife and paracord.  Make survival fire.  Make an insulated place to sleep in your shelter.  If available try and catch some fish with the line, hooks and insects for bait.  Filter and purify some water with in your utility pot.  If the going gets too tough, go inside and figure out what went wrong or what you could do better.  The next time, do it on a rainy day and night in the same area.  Each time you have a successful experience, record it, what went well, what you could do better.  Each time you do a new training day, make the conditions just a little more difficult.  Basic Survival Training should be just over night.  Surviving outside for a night is a skill that just about anybody with the right tools, instruction and attitude can obtain.

2.       Intermediate Survival Training:  This is where we like to turn survival training into a “weekend thing”.  One night here or there is great, but now we’re ready for a couple days in the bush.  Still it would be good to go close to home in the woods not too far away in case something goes wrong.  We have our Level’s 1, 2 and 3.  We’ve set up shelter, made a fire, have purified water (hot or tepid depending on the weather).  Maybe (if it’s legal with the proper hunting permits), want to set up a few animal snares and do some hunting with our “survival pistol”.  Maybe some wild game over the camp fire that night would be tasty.  Each time we go out we test out selves a little more, making sure not to get in over our heads.

3.       Advanced Survival Training:   The only thing different in advanced training is that we’re extending our stay in the wild, and the weather might be a bit more extreme or the location a bit more remote.  There is inherent risk in this type of training.  The individual bears the sole responsibility for his or her outcome.  If your skills aren’t up to snuff or you haven’t been properly trained, it could cost a life.

Having been trained properly, we think the inherent risk in survival training is worth the return on investment to us.  Each time we “push” ourselves to be a little better or a little less comfortable in our training, we develop the attribute of being tough.

People will ultimately have to make the decision inside their mind, whether critiquing a few episodes of “Man vs. Wild” has the same merit as getting out on a regular basis to train and re-train survival skills.  We try not to fool ourselves into thinking that it does.

There is a sense of satisfaction in retraining old skills and testing new skills, knowing that our loved ones can count on us to give them a fighting chance in bad situations. 

As always, Thanks for reading,

-          The Great Lake Survival Team