Practice means SURVIVAL: Why you can’t be a good prepper by sitting on the couch
07/23/2017 // JD Heyes // Views

I just read a headline on a prepper website claiming that you can learn “9 survival skills” while sitting on your couch.

I’m not even kidding.

Curious, I clicked on the article. And okay, some of the suggestions were pretty good. You can learn how to tie knots, identify edible (and poisonous) plants, learn how to pick a lock, and weave a basket. But some of the other suggestions – like reading prepper fiction and watching some survival TV – were just nonsensical.

I wouldn’t necessarily classify the piece as click bait because I’m sure the author was sincere in what he or she was writing. But in all honesty — and there’s really no "nice" way to say this – if you’re planning on learning critical survival skills from the couch, without ever getting out of your house and comfort zone, you’re going to be among the first to perish when stuff really does hit the fan.

Because I’ll tell you something, and you can believe it: Only real-world practice and experience will prepare you somewhat for that big-time emergency when all heck is breaking loose around you and the world as you know it has ended.

So yeah, you can learn how to tie several knots sitting on the couch, but until you see which knots are and are not effective in real-world training or in real-time scenarios, you won’t know which knots fit which situations the best. The same applies to any skill.

Here are some better uses of your time in preparing your mind and body for the eventuality that you may have to run – or fight – for your life at some point in the near future:


— Physical preparedness: I can’t emphasize this enough. You simply cannot make it in a real emergency situation if you’re not in shape. It’s going to be difficult enough surviving in a chaotic environment where all basic services have collapsed and hordes of people are rioting, looting, shooting, killing and causing as much mayhem as possible. Add to that the heat of summer or the cold of winter, and physical conditioning will not just have become important, it will have become life-saving. Bank on it. You can lift weights, you can run some, but honestly, something more like this is better for overall conditioning.

— Firearms practice: No one wants to think about using a gun to defend themselves, but taking the life of someone who is preparing to take your life makes that task a little easier. However, you’ve got to get out and practice, practice, practice with your weapons. And, even then, actually facing off against an armed opponent is going to be nerve-wracking and scary. The only thing that will get you through it is becoming an expert with your weapon.

— Actually camp: A big part of surviving may be getting away from the urban and suburban areas and living hard, like off the land. Get used to it by going camping, often. While you’re out there, use your survival gear – your fire starters, your water purification devices, your knots, etc. Learn how to build a fire using wet leaves and sticks; learn how to build a quick lean-to or another emergency shelter; put up a tent using just para cord and a tarp; and so forth. Eat emergency rations. Cook something. Hike with a fully-loaded backpack. See how far your portable radios will reach, and in different kinds of terrain. Test your solar gear. Go in all kinds of weather. Do these things often, even if you’re not camping. There's got to be a park or public area nearby where you can strap on your pack and take off for 3 or 4 miles. [RELATED: Beware of the summer bugout: Prepare to stay hydrated or the heat might literally kill you.]

— Navigate: One of the hardest things to do will be getting from Point A to Point B without getting lost. Learning how to navigate using topographical maps and a compass is only easy if you practice.

Surviving the real world when it has collapsed will be the hardest thing most people ever have to do. If that includes you, the only way you will give yourself a halfway decent chance at survival is if you get off the couch, out of the house, out of your comfort zone and train for it.

J.D. Heyes is a senior writer for and, as well as editor of The National Sentinel.

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