Not open for further replies.


Several other skills are often referenced as being desirable or necessary. These include proficiency with firearms, climbing and mountaineering techniques, making rope from readily available material, making rafts or boats, knot tying, knife usage, and basic toolmaking. Of these, familiarity with the use of a knife is usually paramount as the knife may be used to build shelter, process material for fire-building, create wood tools, and for defense.

[edit] Training

Survival training has many components, mental competence and physical fitness being two. Mental competence includes the skills listed in this article, as well as the ability to admit the existence of a crisis, overcome panic, and think clearly. Physical fitness includes, among other abilities, carrying loads over long distances on rough terrain. Theoretical knowledge of survival skills is useful only if it can be applied effectively in the wilderness. Almost all Survival Skills are environment specific and require training in a particular environment.

Survival training may be broken down into three types, or schools; Modern Wilderness Survival, Bushcraft, and Primitive Survival Techniques.

Modern Wilderness Survival teaches the skills needed to survive Short-Term (1 to 4 Days) and Medium-Term (4 to 40 Days) survival situations.[17]

"Bushcraft" is the combination of Modern Wilderness Survival and useful Primitive Survival Techniques. It normally splits its skill acquisition between Medium-Term Survival Techniques (4 to 40 Days) and Long-Term Survival Techniques (40 Days Plus).[18]

Primitive Survival Techniques or "Primitive Living" teaches the skills need to survive over the Long-Term (40 days plus). Many primitive technology skills require much more practice and may be more environment specific.[19]

Several organizations offer wilderness survival training. Course ranges from one day to field courses lasting as long as a month. In addition to teaching survival techniques for conditions of limited food, water, and shelter, many organizations that teach bushcraft and Primitive Survival seek to engender appreciation and understanding of the lifestyles of pre-industrialized cultures.

There are several books that teach one how to survive in dangerous situations, and schools train children what to do in the event of an earthquake or fire. Some cities also have contingency plans in case of a major disaster, such as hurricanes or tornadoes.

[edit] Mental preparedness

Commentators note that the mind and its processes are critical to survival. It is said that the will to live in a life and death situation often separates who lives and who does not. Stories of heroic feats of survival by regular people with little or no training but a strong will to live are not uncommon. Laurence Gonzales in his book, "Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies and Why" describes the story of a young teenage girl who is the victim of a plane crash in the Amazon jungle (most probably Juliane Köpcke). With no formal training and only her confirmation clothes, she walked through the jungle for several days with parasitic insects boring under her skin and no food, she reached a village and got help. She was the only one amongst the group who survived the actual crash to live. Gonzalez believes that her simple and indestructable will to live made the difference.[20]

So stressful is a true survival situation, that those who appear to have a clear understanding of the stressors, even trained experts, are said to be mentally affected by facing deadly peril.

It seems that, to the extent that stress results from testing human limits, the benefits of learning to function under stress and determining those limits may outweigh the downside of stress. After all, stress is a natural reaction to adverse circumstances, developed by evolution to assist in survival - at least, in terms of brief, perilous encounters (such as being caught in the middle of a natural disaster, or being attacked by a wild animal.) If stress lingers for a prolonged period of time, it tends to produce the opposite effect, impeding one's ability to survive. In particular, the commentators note the following adverse effects of stress: forgetfulness, inability to sleep, increased propensity to making mistakes, lessened energy, outbursts of rage, and carelessness.[21] None of these symptoms would seem to make survival easier or more likely.

E.B. Motley contends that being faced with a need to survive, there are 7 emotions that arise and must be overcome:

* Fear - Once one recognizes a survival situation, one of the initial reactions noted is fear. It is said to be a perfectly normal reaction; however, fear is pictured as the enemy - the "mind killer," that can drastically lessen ability to make clear decisions. This, in turn, is said to lessen the chances for survival. In an effort to minimize one's fears, it is suggested to train in realistic situations to condition oneself to have a "hard-wired" positive approach to setting survival priorities and getting busy meeting them. This trained reaction can instill confidence that one can overcome fear and do what must be done. As one example, individuals with a phobia of insects, the outside, the darkness, etc. will need to work to overcome these fears enough to perform survival tasks and meet their survival needs, such as gathering firewood in a wilderness setting and sleeping in such a setting.

* Anxiety – Typically, anxiety and fear appear to run hand-in-hand. Anxiety may start as an uneasy feeling in the pit of one's stomach, but by the time the fears are added into the mix, anxiety may quickly spiral out of control. Anxiety will often take over the mind and quickly make it difficult to make rational decisions. Anxiety is portrayed as a serious barrier to focusing on the tasks at hand. It is noted that, typically, once some of the critical survival needs have been met, anxiety will be easier to keep at bay.

* Panic - We are warned that if fear and anxiety are left unchecked, panic will set in. Panic will lead to impulsive actions and loss of self control and may lead to dire consequences, including death.

* Anger – One can imagine that it is, more or less, inevitable that in a survival situation there will be problems. With the endless possibilities of things that can go wrong and probably will, it is not surprising to read a prediction that tempers may flare in such a context. But anger, it is said to sap one’s energy, rationality, and will to live. Finding other ways to channel this emotion into constructive work will, whether in a long or short term survival situation, seems more useful to the commentators than losing one's temper.

* Depression – An overall sense of depression is noted as common in wilderness survival situations, especially if alone. Overwhelming depression is said to lead to the body shutting down, and not unlike anxiety, causing one to give up hope. Staying positive and staying constructively busy is suggested to combat depression. It seems that while humans are physically trying to improve their lives, by means of building a fire, making shelter, gathering water or food, there is less tendency to become depressed.

* Guilt – Often accompanying a survival situation is some loss of life. Those immediately surviving, but still in peril, may feel guilt, we are told, both due to taking responsibility for the death(s) or from a sense of guilt simply because they are alive and the other person is dead. This is called survivor's guilt. The commentator's note that such a state of mind should be combated by maintaining a positive outlook, and possibly using religion to help deal with the pain following another's death.

* Boredom and Loneliness – An often unanticipated side effect of being in a survival situation, boredom and loneliness are both said to contribute to lowering morale. The commentators suggest that it is important that the survivor keep his or her mind busy and spirits up.


[edit] Survival manuals

A survival manual is a book used as reference in situations where a human's survival is threatened - expected or unexpected. Typically it will cover both preparation and guidance for dealing with eventualities.

There are many different types of survival manuals, but most have a section of standard advice. These are sometimes republished for public distribution: for example the SAS Survival Handbook, United States Army Survival Manual (FM 21-76) and United States Air Force Survival Manual (AF 64-4).

Other manuals have been written for more specific uses, such as wilderness or maritime survival.
Not open for further replies.