Tactical Tailor

Posts Tagged ‘Canipe’

Canipe Correspondence – The Home Gym Project: Phase 1-The Garage

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

So, I like going to the gym. I like olympic lifting, rowing, circuit workouts, whatever. I particularly like the fact that my gym has about 100,000 SQ FT of gym/olympic pool/indoor track/younameit. But after a few years of spending 5-6 days a week in there, waiting to use stuff behind teenagers glued to their iPhones, old people who sit on the same piece of equipment and talk to their golfing buddies for 30 minutes, and the lack of lane availability at the pool for water aerobics 24/7, I couldn’t take it any more. I’ve wanted a garage gym for a long time, and the time has come. The garage has been cleaned out, and save for 3 dirt bikes and a workbench, it’s now earmarked to become the pinnacle of home suffer-fests. It solves a lot of problems, and I wish I could have done it a long time ago. No more gym fees, no more finding child care, no more scheduling around peak times, no travel time, not waiting in line ever again, no dress code, no screaming, grunting, or involuntary flatulence, and no stupid knee-high socks or toe shoes. I can play whatever music I want, as loud as I want, and not need head phones. It presented some challenges though, not the least of which was cleaning out a fully-stocked with junk non-car-parkable garage.

First and foremost, you can’t fit 100,000 feet of square footage into a garage. It’s a big garage, but the oly pool and track aren’t in the cards. I found that 80% of my gym workouts use the same equipment: pull-up bars, a power rack, a bench, a bar, and a bunch of bumper plates. My work had been done for me as the three popular gyms around here use the same racks from Rogue Fitness which take a lot of abuse and look no worse for wear. I just got a one-guy size rack, the RM4 Monster. It’s built like a tank, and should last me a lifetime. Not only that, their racks are like MOLLE gear for fitness freaks, and they make all kinds of torturous stuff to bolt onto them (check out the pull-up globes…). While I was there I ordered 450 pounds of bumper plates and their signature Roue bar, as well as a flat bench. The order was topped off with a Concept 2 rower in tactical black. I’ve already got rings, ropes, LMTV tires and kettlebells so that was covered. Looking at the space that takes up when arranged smartly with good weight storage, I was out about the same amount of floor space a garage freezer takes up…not too bad. There is some more equipment I want to pick up eventually as a luxury, but what I got should cover almost every gym exercise I would want to do. I learned on deployments if you’re creative you get a tremendous amount of use out of a few key pieces of equipment. Flooring was the next consideration. I was shocked how much rubber flooring costs at actual fitness equipment retailers. A quick trip to Lowe’s Hardware got me some purpose built gym flooring, 80 sq ft for $208, which is about 50% of what some retailers quoted, with no shipping involved. Add some chalk, a box fan, and an iPod dock and we’re done. I took the part of the big gym I actually like and put it in one small space.

I had set a budget of $1000 for the gym…which I tripled. Mostly out of the desire for instant gratification once I got the idea in my head. However, local Crossfit-style gyms charge from $100-150 a month for access. That includes group workouts and trainers on site, but all I want is access to the equipment so that’s not a big selling point for me. So had I gone the budget route and gotten some stuff on Craigslist over the course of a few months I probably could have gotten the same capability secondhand for $1000 or less. So in 8-10 months, a patient person could have their investment paid for and be working out for free. It’s certainly a buyer’s market on used exercise equipment, and most of it is relatively unused…or they wouldn’t be selling it. I’d look in March or so when all the frequent buffet patrons give up on their New Year’s Resolution dreams of turning into a swimsuit model, steals and deals will abound. Anyways, if you’re tired of waiting in line, or trying to schedule gym trips around the kids, or want to work out at odd hours, or just generally dislike people, look into a garage gym. I’m just as excited about Phase II…the prison gym in the back yard on a concrete slab. More on that later.

www.roguefitness.com
www.lowes.com
www.hammerheadfitness.com

Canipe Correspondence – American Exceptionalism: When Did It Die?

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

I’m writing this from a hotel in Asheville, NC. I’m on vacation, and we went and visited the Biltmore Estate. For those of you who don’t know, the Biltmore is George Vanderbilt’s 250+ room, 178, 926 sq. ft. mansion on a 125,000 acre spread. 85,000 of those acres now form a major portion on the Pisgah National Forest. I’m not sure there is a scale to measure the opulence or just pure size of the place in practical terms a guy like me can understand. I walk around the place with my jaw dropped, that one guy built this and lived here. This was some guy’s HOUSE. That’s right, George Vanderbilt was single when he built the house, though he later married. George Vanderbilt was the grandson of “Commodore” Cornelius Vanderbilt, often referred to as “The First Tycoon.” He started a shipping business with a $100 loan from his mother and turned that into a shipping and railroad juggernaut, amassing a fortune of over $100 million dollars (todays equivalent of $184 billion). Think Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook…multiplied by 7.

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Cornelius Vanderbilt shares the pages of history with names such as Carnegie, Rockefeller, Ford, Morgan, and others in a relatively small group of the uber-wealthy of America’s Gilded Age. Financier Samuel Insull, who made his many millions in the railroad and utilities business, said, “Aim for the top. There is plenty of room there. There are so few at the top that it is almost lonely there.” These men built the railroads, the steel industry, the oil and gas industry, the shipping industry. Not only that, most of these men gave immense sums of their fortunes to helping people.Their philanthropy almost matched their greed. There was a recent series on TV called “The Men Who Built America,” and that’s a pretty good name for it. America’s transition into industry was nothing short of epic. No other nation in the world could compare, due to the ingenuity, ethos, and sometimes ruthlessness of the American industrial empire. The progress made in America at that time is unmatched to his day. With the current state of our society and government, I don’t think we’re due to outdo them anytime soon.

The key was self-sufficiency in America, on a number of levels. The individual American family was responsible for it’s own well-being. People were not entitled to help from the Government without giving anything in return to society. Social programs were decentralized or non-existent. People in need were cared for by the community or Church. People who would not sustain themselves often weren’t cared for at all. You worked for yours back then, plain and simple. Or you starved. People were not dependent on the Federal Government for survival, for their basic human needs. On a larger scale we were a self-sufficient nation as well. We did comparatively very little in terms of a global economy, we met many of our needs ourselves. The political situation was a bit different too. We knew we were better than everyone else, and didn’t have to really give a shit about the rest of the world. I am fairly certain that Teddy Roosevelt and William McKinley never bowed to anyone, never gave aid and comfort to our enemies so as to not offend them, and never considered taking away the Bill of Rights from our citizens. Finally, that government stayed well out of the individual’s business in those days, at least by today’s standards of rampant micro-managing of the individual and business. Capitalism prospered as a system, and without any pseudo-socialist influence by Washington developed the United States into the most powerful and prosperous nation on Earth. That is the essence of “American Exceptionalism” as a concept. An individual with the unalienable rights of Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness, unburdened by socialism, tyranny or conscription, making a mark on history that is far greater than that of one man or company.

It’s kind of sad to see such a monument to American greatness, such a sign of the validity of our foundation as a country and our Constitution, such a symbol of the opportunity given to each and every American. I fear that our society has devolved to a point where so many people are supported by so few that it is almost not worth working hard anymore. As we have seen with our eroded base of industry and trade in the last few decades, you can’t have a capitalist economy that punishes making money. You can’t have a democratic society that rewards laziness either. I’m not sure if anyone will ever be able to ever build a house like this one again, but it sure would be nice if we got back there in some ways.

Canipe Correspondence – Perishable Skills

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

Recently, I decided to get back into shooting my long guns. They’re just sitting in the vault, I’m not gonna get rid of them, and they cost too damn much to let them sit there. When I didn’t have to keep data on three guns at a time any more, I was a little burned out on the ass-pain of long range shooting. I loved it, but to do it right was a huge commitment. Your sniper rifles are like kids, they require constant attention or they’re not gonna turn out right. I was a little rusty to say the least, I had forgotten some steps in terms of maintaining the system as well as developing firing solutions to record for future use. Just a few short years ago, all of that stuff was second nature. Not so much any more, as I’m learning. A lot has happened since I stopped being behind the gun every day, and there are a couple of things I’ve lost that aren’t an easy thing to catch back up on.

The first one is re-learning the basics. When you let a skill go unattended for too long, the foundation all your hard work was built on has crumbled. It comes back, sure enough, but I never would have though I’d have to break out the SOTIC manual to remember some of the basic firing formulas and ballistics information. When I rebuilt my guns, I had to reference the torque values for all the screws that I used to know by heart. It’s pretty annoying to have to re-learn old stuff instead of learning the new stuff (more on that later). This isn’t exclusive to long-range shooting, although that is an exceptionally technical skill set. Maintenance of those skills is something I’m really wishing I had kept up right about now, and it wouldn’t have been that hard to put a little time into retaining those skills. Fortunately factory loaded ammo is pretty good today or the big Dillon press would have to be re-assembled. At least I haven’t had to fight that fight again yet…

Secondly, I have found out how far behind I am in new technology and employment techniques. The advances in reticles, night vision systems, new optimized calibers and bullet designs, suppressors, and operating systems are keeping me pretty busy right now. So, not only had I lost the base I did have, I got left behind on all the new stuff over the last few years…and there has been a lot of it. In terms of buying new equipment I’m trying to sort through all the new stuff and I’m fortunate enough to work with a true expert on this stuff so I can call him for advice. Still, walking around the USASOC Sniper Comp vendor tent last week, I was a little intimidated by how far state-of-the-art has progressed. Apart from the equipment, the skills and techniques have made a lot of progress in the last couple of years. As I reach out to buddies who are still active snipers, I’ve lost a lot of relevance by not staying current with TTPs used in current operations. So as I am taking the time to re-learn the stuff I knew, I am also trying to play catch-up on all the stuff that’s happened since my priorities shifted. That’s what your constant attention to your skills buys you, a degree of relevance that you won’t have to play catch-up on later.

My situation is kind of specific, but I think the concept applies to everything we might need and let go for some reason. We all see the fat guy in the gym who “really let himself go”. Right now, I’m that guy, but with a sniper rifle, and I really wish I hadn’t let myself go this much. The moral of the story is, all of our skills are perishable. They take the time and effort to maintain and further develop, and they’re never as good as they used to be once you pick them back up and knock the dust off without significant effort.

Canipe Correspondence – Foot Care: Paying Up Front

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

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Anyone who spends a lot of time on their feet can tell you how important footwear selection is. Ask a Police Officer walking the streets in a big city, a professional hunting guide, climbing guides, or servicemen who conduct long dismounted movements about the consequences of cheap or ill-fitting footwear. Likewise, every attendee of SHOT show can tell you how they loiter longer in booths with double floor padding after a few miles in the convention center. I have a few things I don’t skimp on to keep my feet in good shape, and have had great results spending a few extra bucks to keep them healthy. A lot of guys dreams have been crushed by their foot conditioning. I saw a lot of mangled feet out at Camp Mackall as an instructor, and it was universally preventable. Was not passing SFAS or Ranger School worth the $50 you saved by using cotton socks or jungle mesh insoles? The answer is probably a universal “NO.”

With that in mind: wear good socks. I have a pair of Smartwool Mid Hikers I got in 2001, and wore on the invasion of Iraq. They didn’t get washed for about 9 weeks, only rotated amongst 4 other pair. They could stand up on their own, were pretty ripe, but as soon as we got laundry service established they returned to good-as-new condition. They do an excellent job at regulating temperature and removing moisture, and as mentioned before are extremely durable. For almost 12 years now I have not worn a pair of boot socks other than Smartwool. Their classic line is still available almost anywhere selling outdoor products, the the newer PhD line updates their design to a more technical sock with the same material and construction quality. They have hundreds if not thousands of heights, weights, sizes, and colors to suit every circumstance from tropical to arctic. No matter what you spend in cash or effort on boots, insoles, and foot prep, there’s no recovering from wearing an unsuitable layer next to your skin. Some people have had luck with a liner sock to move inside of their main sock to keep blisters from forming but I have found that quality socks inside of properly fitting and broken-in boots makes this a non-issue for me.

I switch out most of my boots with new insoles as well. I have some custom orthotics, Superfeet, and Sole brands, and all do well for me. The custom orthotics from a podiatrist can be costly if your insurance does not cover them, and I would recommend trying the others first to see if they work for you at a much lower cost. I have come to prefer the Sole brand, as I can use my oven to mold them to my feet and they have a ton of options for thickness and volume to fit a wide variety of shoes. I like the Superfeet products as well, and they also make an insole for every shoe and activity. They’re around $50 give or take a little for the Superfeet or Sole products, give or take a little. Well worth the money for the foot support you get, and they can be especially helpful to people with lower extremity or back pain.

Last but certainly not least in regards to your foot’s wardrobe is boots/shoes. There are dozens of companies that make great shoes. The most important thing is fit. You need to try them with the socks and insoles you intend to wear with them, and take the time to properly break them in prior to any hard use. Pay close attention to web reviews, especially those that note the reviewers foot structure and volume. For me, I like Salomon XA Pros, Salomon Quest 4D and La Sportiva Ganda Guides so I stick to those for almost everything. My favorites were actually an Italian boot made in Romania by Aku, but they have been mostly absent in the US for the last few years until now (you can get them through Morrison Industries). Check them out if you need an assault boot or approach shoes. It’s a verified scientific fact that every time a terrorist gets kicked with these a supermodel has your baby somewhere in the world. However, based on your activities, foot size and shape, and climate these might all be terrible choices for you. Do your research and buy your footwear from a professional retailer that has the equipment and staff that can help you make a good decision. Most high end outdoor retailers or speciality climbing/backpacking shops will have a staff well versed in fit and selection of boots. When in doubt, located your local sales rep for your brand of choice and ask them.

Training, foot care and preparation also plays a huge role, and could fill a book in itself. In fact it did, and it’s put together a lot better than I could ever explain it. I have found Fixing Your Feet by John Vonhof to be a constant help and resource. It’s available cheap on Amazon and tells you how to prevent or treat any and all issues your feet will encounter through use. As with all things, the combination of the right knowledge, the right preparation and the right equipment will make you a better performer. Special thanks to “bleeding in my boots as a Private” for making this article possible.

* Special thanks to Oregonoutside.net for the gnarly blister pic

Canipe Correspondence – Spartan Blades Akribis

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

I’m a gun nut, but not really a knife guy. I usually carry a Spyderco that I don’t feel too bad about breaking or losing, or whatever free folder I pull out of a box from the Army. That doesn’t mean I don’t recognize or appreciate nice knives, but generally when it’s time to drop the coin on one I go buy another gun. I took a big step last week in actually buying myself a nice folder. I have a couple of Chris Reeve Sebenzas I received as gifts, a SAR folder from some friends, a couple Horrigan fighters, and some nice Winkler fixed blades and hatchets. All of those were gifts, trades, hand-me-downs, something like that. I met the Spartan Blades guys a couple of years ago at the local machine shop, and was immediately impressed with their work. Both of the owners are retired Special Forces soldiers and do a lot of work to support the Green Beret Foundation. They bring a unique perspective on the application of their products that shows in every design they put out. Spartan Blades opened its doors in Aberdeen, NC in 2008, and they still have the sales numbers of every month in the shop on a white board. Like they said, that first year was quite an experience as they started to establish themselves. When I asked Curtis if he still had the first knife they made for Spartan, he looked around and said “Oh, never mind. We sold it, we were hurting back then.” By 2010, they had been awarded the “Collaboration of the Year” at the prestigious International Blade Show for their first project with famed knife maker Bill Harsey. In just four years, the line has grown to over 15 advertised knives with a worldwide network of distributors, military contracts, and retail partners. In addition, Spartan has collaborated with knife makers such as Bill Harsey, who I mentioned earlier, and Kim Breed, another former Special Forces soldier. If you’re known by the company you keep, Spartan Blades is doing quite well.

The Akribis is their first production folder. The name is Greek for “sharp and precise,” and the name fits. Like all Spartan Blades products since day 1, the Akribis is hand-fitted and assembled in their workshop in NC. Despite the steady and rapid increase in demand for their knives, each one gets the same treatment for production, assembly, and quality control to this day. Each 3.5” S35VN blade is cryogenically treated and rides on ceramic bushings; each titanium liner is beautifully machined to be devoid of any sharp edges or imperfections. The buyer has the option of G10 or carbon fiber for the handles and a SpartaCoat black or meteorite grey blade. Even the pocket clip shows their attention to detail, with an arrow like those of the Special Forces branch insignia cut into it. Spartan also licensed the Hinderer device from knife maker Rick Hinderer to further stabilize the locking bar. No detail skipped, no corners cut. The Akribis was designed from the floor up to be a do-everything folder. It easily accommodates the utility desired by military or law enforcement users while not looking out of place in everyday wear or even business attire. I can’t think of a feature I would add, personally. The Akribis is large enough for tough chores but is not too big for everyday carry. It also shows up sharp, as the band-aid on my finger reminds me. If it ever gets used to the point that you need it re-sharpened, Spartan Blades offers a lifetime sharpening service.

I waited almost two years from the first time I heard a rumor of the Spartan folder until I had one in hand. I can now say it was worth the wait, and the money. At a retail price of $445, the Akribis isn’t exactly inexpensive but for the work and materials that go into them it’s a reasonable price in my book. Buy once, cry once. You stop crying when you open the box, I promise. The Akribis can be found at www.spartanblades.com along with the new Spartan-Breed Fighter, also released last week. Get them while you can, they were headed out the door at a steady rate when I was at the shop to pick mine up.

Canipe Correspondence – Being Hard Enough to Be Lazy

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

Laziness is pretty much the scourge of America these days. People want all the benefits of hard work without, well, the hard work. There’s one circumstance I can think of that laziness pays dividends though, and in fact improves the gains of the hard work you just did. The rest day, which is often overlooked. I took a quote from the Gym Jones website a few years ago that stuck with me. I had been training with a partner for an upcoming multi-week event. I was in most likely the best shape I had ever been, knocking out a 1400+ UBRR score and a sub-2 hour 12 mile ruck time. Religious adherence to a great diet, never slacking on workouts. Unfortunately I fell into a trap of being overtraining and a week before the event I tore a tendon in the arch of my left foot on a Saturday morning, which pretty much sidelined me for nearly 6 months. That one stupid rest day I decided to cram a little extra work into caused career implications that haunt me to this day. One damned Saturday morning on Fort Bragg that I wasn’t smart enough to take a break. Like the song says, “If you’re gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough.” I promise you, you’re better off being smart and tough. Afterwards I found this:

Commenting on a disappointing performance at the 2010 World Championships Mark Cavendish said, “It takes balls to rest and do nothing and I didn’t have the balls.” The hard work is easy, but it takes courage to rest. In an era when everyone thinks that more and harder is better few are brave enough to step back, to tell friends, “I’m taking it easy today.” I can hear the jibes from here. But one of my maxims is, “when in doubt, rest” and I admonish with it frequently.

The T-Shirt Gym Jones sells sums it up with “don’t do the work if you don’t have the balls to rest.” Recovery is a wonderful thing, it allows you to actually take full benefit of your hard work, mentally and physically. A lot of the high-stress activities we engage in are fatiguing. The body needs time to rest, rebuild, and prepare for another round of punishment. If not, it cannot grow to accommodate your workload. We plateau. We get complacent and lazy. We lose motivation. Exercise is a common example to relate to. You need to rest to build! Your body needs to heal to get stronger! When you break yourself off every day, you’re damaging yourself to a degree. Your body builds it’s capabilities to compensate for your workload. It needs the time to do that or not only will your results slow to stop, you’ll fall prey to injuries. Nobody wants to work that hard to flush it down the toilet on a strained muscle or torn tendon. One day of rest to save 6 months of cumulative work, or one more day of work for 6 months of rest…the choice is yours.

Plan rest into your activities. If possible, I like a 3/1 ratio of work/rest days on my training schedule. I use that for shooting, workouts, and other activities requiring a lot of physical activity or concentration. I know some animals that do 2/1 and still get by better than the rest of us. Get some sleep too. If you’re the guy that hits the bar or eats bad food “cause I worked out extra hard” today, it was all for nothing. A good night’s sleep is a rest day all its own for every day you’re on the job. Not only will a lack of rest and recovery stop muscle growth, but it will decrease your energy levels, and possibly testosterone production, and convinces your body to decrease muscle and store fat to feed itself. Don’t do the work and throw away the benefits.

Rest is important, arguably as important as the work you do to need it. Be man (or woman) enough to take that rest day when you need it. Plan on it! Don’t worry about your friends calling you a pussy. You’ll get to mock their “weak genes” when they’re on crutches or at the gym twice a day every day and can’t get any stronger.

Take it easy folks.

Canipe Correspondence – The Safety Brief

Saturday, November 10th, 2012

Earlier this week, I got into a discussion with two of my buddies about a heated argument they were in over some of the nuances and semantics involved with staying safe on the job. Not long after, as most of you know from an earlier article this week, an instructor shot his assistant multiple times in a well publicized incident. There has been a surge lately of instructors who seem to take pride in being unsafe, almost wearing it as a badge of honor and taking a very in-your-face approach to showing “the real world.” “It’s dangerous, but so is combat…” is another one I hear. I never hear it from guys with a background in that “real world”, but that doesn’t surprise anyone I guess. It’s funny how a training gunshot looks a lot like a real world gunshot. Funny how the Nation’s top tiers of Special Operations units can factor safety into every aspect their training but some guys can’t make a flat range run without waving loaded guns at everyone. Ponder that for a minute. There is no doubt in my mind that an unsafe guy is an unqualified guy. They’re multiplying, and they’re everywhere. That’s another tangent for another day, but for now there are a lot of ways to mitigate risk in your training without sacrificing what can be gained.

A detailed safety plan and accountability of personnel is not nerd stuff. It’s not micromanagement. It does not have to water down training. When I plan safety measures into events I stick to what I know, and that is the military cycle for risk mitigation. We all loathe it, getting the Risk Assessment signed, re-doing it 5 times to add stuff like “inadvertent exposure to genetically enhanced assault bunny rabbits” or whatever other bizarre crap the commander asks for, making dozens copies to file with various offices of no importance, and other various ass-pain. The good news is the cycle and methods themselves are easily applicable on the fly as well as prior to conducting training. The even better news is that it works well, and the reference material is free. If you’re not familiar with it and have an interest in finding a good balance of real vs. safe, Google “FM 5-19”, save it, use it.

Here is a key passage, with an underline for emphasis:

Accept no unnecessary risk. Accept no level of risk unless the potential gain or benefit outweighs the potential loss. CRM is a decision making tool to assist the commander, leader, or individual in identifying, assessing, and controlling risks in order to make informed decisions that balance risk costs (losses) against mission benefits (potential gains)

It’s an easy process, 5 simple steps to prevent the preventable.
1. Identify Hazards
2. Assess and determine risk
3. Develop controls and make risk decisions
4. Implement controls
5. Supervise and evaluate

As an example, a hazard during a CCW class would be accidental shootings. You determine the risk to be high due to a diverse group of inexperienced or poorly trained shooters. You decide to use small relays and a 1:1 instructor to student ratio as controls. On the ground you stick to the control plan, and evaluate its efficiency and adjust as needed. Identifying the hazards and accepting the real possibility of an accident is the key step that seems to be overlooked; otherwise the next steps cannot occur.

Another key element is a medical plan in the event an accident does occur. Know where the nearest treatment facilities are, and have medical supplies as well as multiple qualified users. Have a plan to travel to those facilities, and make sure your communications work. Know your location in a format that local authorities and emergency personnel can use to find you.

You can’t remove all risk from self-defense or tactical training, as there are inherent dangers that are simply a byproduct of that environment. However, they can be controlled to a degree, and the unnecessary risks can be eliminated with a little forethought and planning. Risk is perfectly acceptable when the juice is worth the squeeze, make sure you know where that line is.

Canipe Correspondence – Broaden Your Horizons

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

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.