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There are many different survival skills that could prove invaluable in a disaster scenario. Some of these skills–such as marksmanship or the ability to preserve food–receive a lot of attention, while others often fly under the radar.
Nevertheless, these skills are each incredibly valuable in their own right, and some of them may prove just as important as the more popular skills.
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Below are nine commonly overlooked survival skills that deserve a little more recognition. How many of them do you have?
1. Unarmed Combat
You may have heard the saying, “skills trump stuff every time.” This usually refers to something like knowing how to start a fire from scratch in case you don’t have a lighter, but it also applies to knowing how to defend yourself with your fists in case you don’t have a weapon.
For those of you with lots of weapons stockpiled, you might think that will never happen, but the whole point of preparedness is to be ready for as many scenarios as possible.
There could be a scenario where you’re caught off guard, your firearm malfunctions, you run out of bullets, the place where your weapons are stored is destroyed, and so forth. You just never know.
Fortunately, since more people than just preppers are interested in unarmed combat, it’s not hard to find a local class where you can practice this skill.
There are many styles of fighting you can learn–boxing, Judo, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu–but if the thing you’re preparing for is a street fight, Krav Maga is probably the best place to begin (especially since there are so many Krav Maga classes popping up around the country).
2. Lock Picking
For urban survivalists, lockpicking could prove to be an incredibly valuable skill. The ability to pick locks means you’ll be able to access certain places for shelter or to scavenge for supplies.
Now obviously, you don’t want to break into a place that’s occupied. But if a major disaster has occurred and you’re in a life-or-death scenario (from freezing temperatures, lack of food, need for medicine, etc.), I think you’re justified picking a lock.
To learn more about lock picking, check out this video.
3. Physical Fitness
Surviving a disaster requires a great deal of physical fitness, yet for many preppers, remaining in peak physical condition is something of an afterthought.
Having the stamina to keep moving or working for hours on end, the strength to move obstacles and overpower attackers, and the speed to run away from a threat are all as important as any skill a person could have.
If you’re serious about surviving whatever the world throws at you, you may want to consider hitting the gym a little more often. Here are some more thoughts on getting in shape for TEOTWAWKI.
4. People Skills
Many preppers have a lone-wolf mentality. That’s not to say they are antisocial (though some certainly are), but they like to think they can take on any challenge without outside help.
However, there’s a lot of truth to the saying that there is strength in numbers, and having good people skills will allow you to help rally others to your cause.
Having people skills may also help you judge a person’s character and intentions in order to determine if they are an ally or a threat, and these kinds of calculations may prove to be lifesaving.
Like any other skill, improving your people skills requires a combination of study and practice. Read some books or take a course, then join a meetup group or go somewhere you can practice those skills. Learn from your mistakes, rinse and repeat.
5. Carpentry / Woodworking
Note: While carpentry is more about home building and woodworking is more about furniture making, there is definitely some overlap, so I decided to lump them together.
Most disaster scenarios involve structural damage to homes and buildings–busted windows, broken doors, holes in the roof, damaged furniture, etc. And in a long-term grid-down scenario, you won’t be able to run to Walmart if you need a new table or chair.
That’s why carpentry or woodworking skills would be invaluable after the SHTF. Not only would it benefit your own family, you could build or repair things for your neighbors in exchange for supplies.
To learn this skill, you don’t necessarily need a teacher. There are a ton of books on the subject, and nowadays, you can find a Youtube video that will teach you how to build almost anything. Start watching then start practicing.
6. Primitive Toolmaking
Like carpentry, being proficient in primitive toolmaking allows you to create things you need as you go. Even if you already have a sufficient stockpile of hand tools, there is always the chance that these tools will break, be lost, or be stolen.
Having primitive toolmaking skills enables you to create tools to build other things you might need as well as weapons to defend yourself with if nothing else is available. Plus, in a post-apocalyptic world, you could trade your creations for food or supplies.
7. Tracking Game
Note: During a long enough food shortage, the wildlife surrounding a city would be picked clean very quickly, so this skill would mainly be useful to people living in the countryside.
Many people believe that if there is ever a food shortage, they will simply go out and hunt what they need. Hunting wild game, however, is no easy task, and getting good enough at it to consistently put food on the table takes a lot of practice.
Learning how to track game will enable you to hunt for food or put traps in places where small game is likely to cross. In addition to finding food, learning how to track game may also help you find sources of water by following game trails back to a river or watering hole.
Frugality involves many different things: learning to make do with less, knowing how to find great deals, making the best use of coupons, finding clever ways to lower your bills, saving and upcycling things other people would throw away, and so forth.
If you learn these things now, then you’ll fare a lot better during a new Great Depression or other long term disaster. If nothing else, you’ll save money that you can use to purcahse more emergency supplies.
Some people, like this woman, say learning to be frugal has significantly improved their lives. So the question is, why would you not want to learn frugality?
9. Knot Tying
Knot tying may seem more like a skill attributed to Boy Scouts than serious survivalists, but the truth is that knot tying is an incredibly valuable skill.
Knowing how to tie a wide variety of knots as well as knowing what those knots are well-suited for enables you to make traps, construct shelters, operate sailboats, create fishing rigs, and much more.
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