Many preppers and survivalists that I have known reach a level of arrogance, sooner or later. They have all their preps in place, they know multiple survival skills, and have a solid foundation of knowledge from everything from trapping small game to canning venison. However, if there’s one thing I know about any crisis scenario, it’s that they are 100% unpredictable. The very event you thought you were completely prepared for can go sideways in a moment, with your best laid plans in shambles.
Maybe it’s time for a new strategy with your prepping, one that goes beyond what the prepper pundits teach. What if you purposely put yourself in situations where you might not have all the right survival gear or there are unexpected twists that require quick thinking and adaptation. Here’s what I have in mind:
Become a better prepper by making things hard for yourself. On purpose.
We all have well-equipped bug out bags and intricately detailed plans for getting out of Dodge, but what if you purposely made a bug out drill far more difficult by driving a route at night, in the rain or fog, with the recording of your screamng 2 year-old in the background?
Think that might put some hair on your chest? For sure, you would have to focus with an intensity that isn’t called for on a sunny day, with temps in the low to mid-70s, but how likely is it that you’ll have those ideal conditions when the S really does hit the fan?
How about driving that route until approaching a choke point, such as a bridge or the entrance to a tunnel, and quickly make a detour, as though that point was a roadblock? Is that a realistic scenario? Yep, so why not create the scenario for yourself now, rather than simply making a mental note that roadblocks, man-made or not, could happen on the way to your bug out location?
Any difficulty you can set up to thwart your carefully laid bug out plans will serve you well by testing your ability to think, accept, and adapt to abrupt changes in circumstances.
Your food storage stash
Challenge yourself and your family to eating only what is in your food storage for 2 days, 3 days, or longer. After all, isn’t that the exact same scenario you are planning for? What if half your food was destroyed by a house fire? Move 50% of your food out of the pantry/kitchen and that is what you’re stuck with.
Now, mix things up a bit and make the situation even more difficult by requiring food to be cooked only using a solar oven (Cloudy weather? Too bad!) or only a charcoal grill. How about a scenario that mimics the real thing by having beans and rice 3 times a day for at least 2 days? You will learn so much more about the pratical applications and realities of food storage by putting yourself through these tests than you ever will by reading a prepper forum.
Have a difficult conversation
You’ve probably given some thought about how you would like your family and closest friends to continue if something ever happens to you, but have you ever sat down with them and discussed it?
No one likes to talk about death or the possibility of a loved one being so far from home they cannot ever make it back, but now is the time to think this through. I am on the road quite a bit with my job, not terribly long distances but long enough to know that the path that leads back to home may become so dangerous and/or my health and physical strength at risk that my family would have to move on with their survival without me.
All of us do our prepping with the assumption that we’ll be there when the worst happens, but what if the worst is not coming home at all? There’s plenty I want my family to know, such as how to secure the house and who I personally trust the most as prepper allies. I may have talked about this in passing but not nearly as in-depth as I should — even if my family doesn’t want to think about a future without their husband and father.
If you’ve ever wondered what you would do in this scenario, this article has some excellent insights.
Push your shooting skills to new levels
It’s no secret that Preparedness Advice is very pro-2nd Amendment, and I have done more than my share of shooting over the years. Even if your shooting skills are far above average, make things a little more difficult the next time you go to the range by shooting strong-arm/weak-arm, using your non-dominant eye, shooting leaning against something, or shooting in a squatted or seated position. (If your range doesn’t allow for some of these, then find one that does, head out to the boonies to do your shootiong, or find a class that includes these other skills.)
Take a tactical class where you’ll be shooting while moving, at moving targets, and with live ammunition. I did that a few years ago and the level of intensity and non-stop adrenaline was something I never experienced before in previous classes. A lot of ranges offer classes in low-light shooting and one that challenges you with new tactical scenarios.
Again, make a purposeful decision to make things hard for yourself in order to ultimately improve your skills and become a better prepper.
At this moment I have a great job with really good benefits, doing something I enjoy, but an economic collapse is a scenario that is always a possibility. I could hone my own survival skills, and that of my family, by whittling down our unnecessary expenses to just a few dollars a month, or even zero. What would we do for entertainment if we cancelled our subscriptions to Netflex and Amazon Prime? If we had to worry about ever gallon of gas used, that would change our lifestyle and decisions. Our eating habits would change, the temperature of our house would change, and we would get a realistic picture how an economic collapse would affect our everyday lives.
This wouldn’t be fun and we would all hate it, but what a great opportunity to not only test our preps but also learn how to cope with few, if any, luxuries that make our lives comfortable. This is something you could set up, even if only for 48 hours.
If you’re not giving yourself challenges and taking risks conscioiusly, then you may be setting yourself up for failure in a real life survival scenario. Become a better prepper by doing something VERY different. If you’re really good at something, then change it up in a way that makes it very different, requiring different knowledge and skills you might not have.
Take risks NOW, ahead of a crisis. You’l learn a lot about yourself — how easily and how quickly you adapt (or not). These tests will also give you invaluable insights as to how your family members and even prepper group members will behave when everything hits the fan.
I’ll leave you with a true story about my wife. A few years ago we both took a concealed carry class. Although she was less experienced than I, she was determined to pass the final test to become qualified. I knew she could pass the written test and was fairly certain she’d pass the target shooting test as well.
As it turns out, she almost didn’t pass the shooting test! Why? Because in all the months and months of practice, she had never had to shoot in front of a large group of spectators. She said, “I was so rattled that I was using my non-dominant eye! I was lucky to have hit the target at all!” Fortunately, she figured out what she was doing wrong, made the correction, and passed, but this is a prime example of why and how we should put ourselves into scenarios and in circumstances that bring physical, emotional, and mental discomfort in order to grow.
How could you purposely make things more difficult in order to grow as a prepper?