To acquire is good, to improvise is better, and to fabricate is the best of all.
Fabrication is a survival skill you can practice each day. You can practice it with your eyes and your hands. First let’s go over a few of these primitive skills of fabrication that it would bode you good to learn.
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5 Primitive Skills for Preppers to Learn
- Cordage: Sounds simple…maybe even overly simple. It is rather intricate. Cordage is the skill of making rope or string. You can practice with braiding long stems of grass. Three pieces, set parallel to one another. Tie a knot/half-hitch in one end (Here are six survival knots you need to know). Of the three pieces, take the one on the Right end to the middle, the one on the left end to the middle, and the one right (now) to the middle…and repeat. Simple enough, na? This basic formula/method can be used with strips of leather, strips of cloth, long strips of inner bark.
- Stone tools: there are plenty of books out there on how to do this, as well as innumerable sources on the Internet. Knives, spear points, arrow heads, construction tools (hammers, punches), fish-scalers…all of these can be made out of stone. Flint is preferable, but you can practice with what you have.
- Staffs and staff-tools: these would include spears, fishing poles, bows (both hunting and fire), walking/climbing sticks, clubs, and so forth. Farther on, you can make arrows (fletched for distance, non-fletched for close-in work or fishing).
- Fishhooks: Many are the ways to make good fishhooks. You can fashion them out of wood, bone, or stone. You can also make them out of things easily converted to a fishhook, such as a safety pin. Doing this, be sure and “notch” the end of the hook, so as to make a little barb. This will prevent the fish from slipping off of it and escaping.
- Fire-starting kit: A fire-bow (with the string portion made of cordage for the optimal practice), a fire-drill, a “spindle handle” (this is what you hold onto when you’re twirling your fire drill to and fro), and a fire-block you can make in a short time. Practice starting fires with it!
Challenge Yourself with Field Training
Another challenge along these lines is to take existing stuff (such as tossed-away cans or fabric that has been thrown away) and “recycle” it into what you can use. Take an old blanket, sew up the edges, and make a “sailor’s bag”/duffel bag for yourself. Mind you: if you want to keep it, great.
This is not to make gear for yourself, unless you have no other option; this is to train yourself for a situation such as “The Road,” where (compared to that guy and his kid) you can do a whole lot more with a whole lot less.
Along with that challenge to recycle and repurpose materials is this one: an FTX (as we called it in the Army…a Field Training Exercise). Yes, now that the weather is warming up…just take yourself out in the outdoors with no supplies except you and a firearm and some backup gear in case of emergency. Pretend you don’t have the firearm or the backup gear, and keep your hands off them.
Now, have a training exercise. Live off the land. Fabricate fish hooks, fabricate fishing lines from cordage and a fishing pole from a sapling. Forage and live off the land…taking notes as you go. Don’t use any pages out of that notebook to start the fire! Use a bow and drill. Practice with the primitive. Always use the primitive, and learn the skills of making these tools and weapons.
You’ll have some challenges that will be overcome and you’ll learn to overcome them on your own. This will build your self-confidence. These are all perishable skills. I myself train in this manner frequently, regardless of the weather or the season. Learn old, forgotten skills and make them new for you…and keep yourself current on them. It’ll pay off in the end the first time you have to build a raft and you have nothing to build it with. Nothing to build it with? If you can make strong cordage and a hand-axe, you can build a raft even in a remote area with no Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shop, or Ace Hardware to be found.
Challenge yourself every day, and when the tough times come, you’ll handle them better. Don’t stop the training! How you train in peace is how you’ll fight in war! Stay in that good fight, drink a good cup of coffee, and keep up the good work! JJ out!
Learn More Primitive Skills
Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.
Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.
Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.
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