In the last few weeks, I’ve talked about shooting, methods to track performance, physical fitness, and other skills necessary to becoming a well-rounded knuckle-dragger. At the suggestion of the editor, today’s topic is a little outside of what many people today spend their time and effort to learn but is absolutely as important. We’re talking fieldcraft. Fieldcraft to me is the ability to operate efficiently and securely in your environment, and as such is a necessary task. Without it, the chances of you getting to an objective, completing a mission, and moving back to an exfil aren’t so good. It’s the ability to operate unencumbered by the enemy using skills such as camouflage, land navigation, hide sites, tactical movement, and survival skills among others. While this suits my purposes, it might not suit yours. Fieldcraft traditionally refers to “woods skills” but I think for modern purposes we can expand that a bit to fit the collective tasks used to survive today, from routine and mundane to rare and extreme.
These skills differ from job to job. The fieldcraft necessary for a Ranger to conduct an ambush patrol is going to be different than that of a SWAT cop in a large metro area, or that of a civilian who winds up stranded in the woods after their car breaks down. The only way to make sure your fieldcraft is up to par is to anticipate your needs as best as possible prior to needing them, train on them, and practice them. Many of the skills we take for granted in the conduct of our everyday lives are perishable, but we perform them so often that we stay proficient. The skills we require less often sometimes get taken for granted as well. Can you change a tire? Recover a stuck vehicle? Can you build a fire (an especially challenging task…because whenever you NEED a fire that’s when its the hardest to make them)? Build a shelter or insulated cover when stranded? Can you conduct dismounted navigation without a map and compass? These aren’t skills exclusive to a sniper, reconnaissance patrol, or downed aviator, these are skills necessary if your car breaks down out in the country a few miles in the winter, or when your neighborhood gets crushed by a hurricane in a part of the US that is unaccustomed to that type of storm.
A little prep goes a long way. Think about the social and environmental factors that can affect your everyday life, and then learn the skills necessary to mitigate them. Get a battery charger and tool kit for the car. Carry something to make a spark. Learn to determine cardinal directions and relate the ground you see with your eyes to the ground you see on a map. Hell, have a map in the first place. Buy a poncho and liner for the trunk. know where the local civil service infrastructure is located (hospitals, fire stations, police dept.) and how to get there. Carry a gun everywhere it’s legal. I see a lot of people stockpiling everything needed to live unsupported these days (and kindly telling us where it’s at on YouTube) but I wonder how many have the will and skill to ride it out like that? Shooting, fighting, flying, riding, all those skills are great to have. The skills needed to get you to that point cannot be overlooked however. A lot of them aren’t fun by the traditional definition of the word but a little suffering now will save a lot later, maybe even your life.