LAST WORDS

American Survival Guide - - CONTENTS - BY MIKE MC­COURT

Think of suc­cess as be­ing a stool that needs to have three legs to be able to stand. In this ex­am­ple, the three legs rep­re­sent knowl­edge, ma­te­ri­als and ex­pe­ri­ence. Miss­ing a leg or fall­ing short of what you need for any leg will se­ri­ously re­duce your chances of be­ing able to rest safely on that stool.

KNOWL­EDGE

Ben­jamin Franklin once said, “An in­vest­ment in knowl­edge al­ways pays the best in­ter­est.”

I think this is the most im­por­tant leg of our imag­i­nary stool, be­cause it gives us the aware­ness of what we need and the abil­ity to ad­dress those needs through our ex­pe­ri­ence and ma­te­ri­als.

How­ever, knowl­edge with­out the ben­e­fit of prac­tice or the right tools is not suf­fi­cient to be suc­cess­ful in any en­deavor. We all know folks who study books, mag­a­zines and other sur­vival in­for­ma­tion re­sources who have never ac­tu­ally used that knowl­edge in a prac­ti­cal set­ting or who don’t have the where­withal or de­sire to ac­quire the gear nec­es­sary to im­ple­ment their knowl­edge.

In ad­di­tion, not all peo­ple can mas­ter all tech­niques, but they won’t know that un­til they try to ap­ply them in the field. We all have a few things we know how to do, but we don’t seem to be able to achieve con­sis­tent or sat­is­fac­tory re­sults, no mat­ter how much we try.

MA­TE­RI­ALS

Let’s be hon­est: This is the as­pect of prep­ping that most of us re­ally look for­ward to. There is noth­ing like check­ing out the lat­est giz­mos and gear or go­ing through our stock­pile of stuff and feel­ing that we’re ready for any­thing ... be­cause we are loaded for bear.

It can also be the one that causes the most anx­i­ety and frus­tra­tion, be­cause so much of what we’d like to have can come at a high cost. Hunt­ing for gear teaches us some good prep­ping lessons, though, in that we of­ten find ways to ac­quire the ca­pa­bil­i­ties we need with­out spend­ing an arm and a leg. This cre­ativ­ity and adapt­abil­ity make for good prac­tice for when the SHTF and we need to get things done with er­satz ma­te­ri­als or meth­ods.

EX­PE­RI­ENCE

This leg is the one that I think pro­vides the most en­joy­ment, sat­is­fac­tion and val­i­da­tion of the three. First, it typ­i­cally re­quires get­ting out­side, which is al­ways a plus. It’s the cul­mi­na­tion of all the study­ing and con­ver­sa­tions with oth­ers, along with the op­por­tu­nity to “play” with the gear we be­lieve is go­ing to keep us safe and se­cure.

Whether it comes in the form of a day at the range, a camp­ing trip or ex­cur­sions along our es­cape routes, this is when we get to test our­selves and ev­ery­thing we’ve in­vested in and find out what works, what doesn’t and maybe even dis­cover a few tricks and tips of our own.

This is the leg that most of us see in our mind when we imag­ine hav­ing to deal with emer­gency sit­u­a­tions, so it should be the one we’re most cu­ri­ous about.

A FOURTH LEG?

If you pre­fer a stool with four legs, I’d agree that there are some other good can­di­dates:

At­ti­tude is key, but I think you al­ready have this squared away if you’re han­dling the three top­ics above. Sure, when it’s go-time, this be­comes crit­i­cal, but tak­ing care of busi­ness ahead of time should pro­vide you with a good at­ti­tude in all but the direst sit­u­a­tions.

Self-re­liance is a cru­cial as­pect to deal­ing with more-se­ri­ous emer­gen­cies and dis­rup­tions to your way of life. To be­lieve in your­self is es­sen­tial to mak­ing it through tough sit­u­a­tions. In dis­as­ter af­ter dis­as­ter, we see truly self-re­liant folks mak­ing the dif­fer­ence in their own sit­u­a­tions, as well as for those around them. In my opin­ion, the Ca­jun Navy is a great ex­am­ple of the ben­e­fit and power of true self-re­liance. In fact, it re­flects part of what our na­tion is built upon. Nev­er­the­less, self-re­liance is one of the end re­sults of in­vest­ing in knowl­edge, ma­te­ri­als and ex­pe­ri­ence.

As I’ve said be­fore, If it is to be, it is up to me. No mat­ter how you put it to­gether, build your "stool" so you have a comfy spot the next time dis­as­ter strikes.

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