Essential Skills for the Common Man (or Woman)

Blackbird SK-5/Ferro Rod and my Hand Drill Set
We do a lot of gear talk and gear reviews on here. I see many people get so caught up in gear (myself included), that they forget actual skills or may have never even learned any at all. I was fortunate in the fact I was trained in the vast majority of my survival skills and was paid to do it.  I could list out hundreds of different skill sets that are great to have--but I'm going to list out at the very minimum what I think is most important skill sets and why. These also should be paired with a healthy lifestyle exercise and staying fit is probably the #1 thing you can do to increase your chances of survival in any situation (but I'll do another article about that). Survival by definition is staying alive.  Whether it be surviving a mugging, surviving in the wilderness after becoming stranded hiking, or after a natural disaster. So what we are talking about is the skills that are all-purpose.

Basic Essential Skills

  • Land/Road Navigation-Navigation an often overlooked skill set. But one of the most important ones. Getting lost or not knowing where you are going is pretty frustrating and under the wrong circumstances; could cost you your life. Map reading and using a compass is critical (I will write some basic map reading articles soon). 
  • First Aid/CPR-First Aid is critical. You may have to apply medical care because first responders are too busy with triage to help you or too far away. Knowing just the basics may be enough to keep you or your loved ones alive. Most of the time these classes are free at the American Red Cross. Always keep a fully stocked first aid kit somewhere close.
  • Self Defense-You don't have to become a Ninja, but I feel everyone should know some basic self-defense techniques. 
  • Firearms Training-Kind of self explanatory (also own a handgun at the very least!). But it is very good to be familiar with different types of weapon systems. 
  • Basic Wilderness (Survival) Techniques- I don't want you to get hung up on the word survival here. I don't want you to think "I have to go take a wilderness survival course". Because many skills can be learnt from friends, family, and co-workers. Skills like hunting, fishing, camping, and firearms training. Fire starting-how to clean small game and fish-how to purify water-make primitive shelters.
  • Swimming-It would suck to die from drowning

These are the bare minimum skill sets I feel are critical. This list is short but some are umbrella categories, which encompass many things. If you do have these skills, don't stop here. Continue growing and learning. I will go over advanced skill sets in the future. 


  1. This article is spot-on! Even I overlook land navigation as a critical skill.

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