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It’s dark and cold, the backpack is heavy on your back, and all you have is a map and a compass, with no real idea where you are, and everywhere around you looks the same. All you know is that you are hungry and tired, and that you have a long night ahead. You’re a part of a group of 5 people, some of which have absolutely no idea what to do, and some may think they do, but you end up walking in circles a few times until they realise they don’t. The only solution is to ignore your instincts and follow the compass toward the right direction, that just so happens to lead you through a long, steep, downhill slope, covered with thorny vegetation.
Outdoors Preparation – Special Update
In preparation for the release of our new book Outdoors Preparation (in a few months – we’ll keep you posted), we decided to brush up on our survival skills by joining the Bear Grylls Survival Academy Instructor’s Course, which took place in England last weekend.
The scene described above was the beginning of our night navigation training and the rest of the course was pretty brutal, pushing us to the limit, both personally and as a group. But the experience was ultimately magnificent – from preparing rabbit stew and fish skewered over the fire, to abseiling a 100 ft wall with nothing more than a rope and a harness.
Lighting a fire using firesteel, amidst a windy and wet British forest was a fun challenge, and the weekend culminated with a 5 mile river run, and yes, the river was freezing cold going up to our waists at times. Only then we got our only shower that weekend, and the most amazing, well earned dinner.
Please Remember What’s First (PRWF) was the first thing we learned to remind us of
Protection Rescue Water Food, which is the order of priorities to take care of in any survival situation. And above all else, your mental state must be solid, for yourself and all the people around you – “Never Give Up” was shouted out more times than we could count throughout the entire weekend.
So we built our shelter to protect us from the cold ground and very damp forest air. We received a tarp and a little piece of paracord string, created A-frame tents and positioned them perpendicular to the SW winds. We then covered their floor with bracken leaves, to insulate ourselves from the ground and get some softness (it didn’t help much… first day is always light sleeping).
Next we got our steady fire going, i.e. a fire that will continue burning while we gather more and bigger wood logs. This took about 30 minutes to prepare, from which 20 minutes were spent on gathering the resources.
Water and Food Procurement
Now it was time to brush up on water and food procurement – how to find, collect, filter and purify water, and of course a long lesson and exercise on traps and snares, since hunting is way too much energy-consuming. And yes, we ate a few worms (larvae) just to get a feel for it, and funny enough they taste just like peanuts – really not as bad as I remembered – just close your eyes, bite and swallow…
Abseiling a 100 ft Cliff
At some point, we reached a seemingly endless wall in the forest and prepared to abseil it. The wall was about 100 ft (35m) tall, but due to the rain the night before, it was all wet and slippery, so we had a very hard time grabbing onto the stone with our shoes. Using the reliable rappelling techniques that I used in the military, and a few jumps, I was down that wall in less than 1 minute, but you definitely feel the strain on your hands after that.
Night Navigation – Getting Back to Camp
Returning to our night navigation from the beginning of the post, after the initial stage we learned how to rely on the compass, look for clear landmarks, and over or under shoot our direction since we naturally tend to sway off course. And even though people got a bit stressed at times, with calm and collected leadership and the knowledge that we’re on the right path, people started to trust the map and each other, and we eventually returned to camp safe and sound.
To Sum Up:
Survival can be summed up in 3 words – “Never Give Up” – and that was the main theme of this weekend, while we each reached our personal limit, and pushed ourselves even when our brains were shouting to stop. Now very sore, and very happy, we earned our instructor badges, so we can join in and lead more people in these amazing survival courses!
With Martin Norton (Lead Instructor), and Tim Lanfear from the BGSA.
What survival skill would you like to learn more about?
We are working hard on a full book dedicated to this extremely interesting and important subject of outdoors survival, and we need your feedback!
Please reply to this mail or use one of the other ways to get in touch with us and tell us what survival skill you would like to know more about so we can make sure to cover it in our book (we will read every single one of your suggestions and make sure to include the most popular ones in the book):
In the next post we’ll talk about our Tier 3 EDC Gear or Day Gear – the gear we carry in our 12, 18 or 24 hour backpack, depending on the length of time we plan to stay outside our home. This gear is our main tools in case of an emergency, and is also our Get-Back-Home gear in case of a catastrophe.
I can’t wait to share all of this with you.
So, until then – Stay Safe!
Your friend always,