Editors Note: Another guest post from Valknut79 to The Prepper Journal. A great way to start out the New Year is to do as he suggets and give yourself a challenge in learning a new valuable skill. Also, please remember to vote for the Round 12 winner of the Prepper Writing Contest, voting ends tomorrow!
There is so much to learn as a prepper. I’ve been doing this for four years in a serious capacity, and I know the bare bones basics of gardening, I can start a fire two different ways, shoot a gun with decent accuracy, and I’ve learned how to store and rotate food and water. I’ve got a few projects in the pipeline, including learning how to interpret Morse code, getting at least one or two more fire-starting methods, and learning how to get a little more accurate with my archery.
Learning how to do all of these things is overwhelming to many. But, as the old adage would say, I’d rather learn how to fish than rely on someone else to find my fish. So with that said, I’ve got a few good ideas on how I’m going to pick up some of these extra skills.
Step One: Make a list of Items to Learn
Your history textbooks are rife with suggestions for ways to improve the present. I read as much as I can about the World War period of American History to learn about what modern wartime and rationing might look like, and learning about prairie homesteader skills will certainly give you a good jumping off point for figuring out what skills are most important in a modern SHTF or survival situation. Build a list of skills you think you might want to learn, and prioritize that list not by what’s easy or fun, but by what you feel is most important.
Spending time early on with a prioritization of step helps you overcome one of the biggest problems that every prepper (and perhaps everyone in the world) has with regards to learning – acquisition disorder. I can’t tell you how many bits, bobs and doodads I’ve picked up over the years saying “I’ll take this home and learn how to do it today” never to have it see the light of day. That’s why I have a number of software programs to teach me new languages, a guitar in my garage that has never been strummed, and more than a few home improvement items that need to be built or installed. Had I prioritized my learning, I would have saved a few dollars for sure.
Step Two: YouTube
You can find so many free videos on YouTube that will teach you how to do almost everything, from archery to fishing to starting fires. Because it’s free, and because most of those submitting the videos have less than professional equipment, some of the videos are not great quality. That said, video quality is not the most important thing when it comes to learning, and for most of the easy, fast skills like fire starting or tying knots, there are plenty of tutorials that will teach you everything you need to know.
Step Three: Classes
As much as I’m not a fan of online learning, there are a good number of reasonably in-depth tutorials on platforms like Udemy (udemy.com), Coursera (Coursera.org), and others that can teach you more difficult material. Currently, you can easily find courses on preparedness, American History, vegetable gardening, food and water storage, shooting, camping, shelter-building and more. Many are free of charge.
In addition to online platforms, which might be better for theoretical rather than practical knowledge, you should explore classes offered by your local library, park district, or community college. Our local park district offers martial arts and archery classes for all ages, while our community college has classes in canning, gardening, soapmaking and candlemaking. At our library, we had a local prepper give a talk about food storage and preserving, and a number of courses that focused on camping skills.
For extreme beginners, your church may offer some group activities that can be beneficial as well. If you’ve never been camping before, it might not be so overwhelming to go with a group from your local church to learn as much as you can.
Step Four: Practice
Once you learn something, it is essential to practice that skill. Practice again and again. I have an ever-growing list of things I’ve learned in the field of preparedness, and I make sure that I head out to the backyard and practice once a year or more. That includes getting the tent out and setting it up qucikly and quietly, starting a fire, taking an afternoon to head to the shooting range and more. Knot-tying, and certain other skills, can be practiced on your sofa during commercial breaks if necessary.
Step Five: Expand Your Knowledge
Everyday, I spend about two hours in my car to commute to and from work, as well as time spent driving at work. I get to work an hour before my coworkers when I’m alone in the office. I spend an hour at the gym when I come home, and during all of that time, I’m learning. Listening to podcasts about some of the things I already know about, things I want to learn about, and ways to improve is certainly an easy way to start. If you have an extensive amount of time you can spend listening, then audio books are certainly a way to stay invested in survivalist and outdoorsman topics.
In addition, now is the time to return to step one, and read more books about the subject and start to find related topics. This is a new chance to reprioritize and get excited about ideas for your next learning adventure.
Step Six: Teach Someone Else
The most important and most overlooked step is to teach someone else. This is not solely for the benefit of passing on the knowledge. One famous researcher, Edgar Dale, in his “Cone of Learning” model, said that we remember only 10% of what we read, and 20% of what we hear, but we remember 70-90% of what we teach or demonstrate to others.
The act of teaching helps you to organize your thoughts. It helps you identify where others have a gap in their knowledge, and the act of plugging their gap can help you plug your own. It helps you think more thoroughly, move more slowly through the routine steps, and develop your own understanding.
Not just that, but it’s fun and it helps make someone else just a little more prepared for coming disasters. So what do you want to learn, and what do you think is the best way of making it happen?