Practical Skills for Surviving TEOTWAWKI, by Free Rifleman

In our circle of survivalist friends we need hard skills. Just knowing that the proverbial Schumer is going to hit the fan is not enough. Depending on the severity, preparing for the worst-case scenario may involve a library of skills. Being diverse on skill sets is an advantage. My own list of skill sets are diverse, the advantage is, realizing it is never diverse enough and constantly branching out. Very few Electricians are Gunsmiths. Very few Farmers are Paramedics. Very few Chemists are Ranchers, and so on. To maintain an even balance of capabilities, I have taken the liberty to divide skills into three main categories:
Security: The number one capability is to maintain a certain level of security. Probably the most discussed area on survival-related blogs today.
Short-Term Survival: The largest number of skill-sets reside in this area; Food, Shelter, Medical, to name a few areas. Most Survivalists have concentrated their efforts in this category.
Sustenance: The ability to repeatedly sustain survival and overall survivability. These skills come from experienced practitioners in the specific field.
Breaking these categories into actual skill-sets is helpful if you want to see what areas are strong points within your circle of friends and which areas could use improvements.
Several scenarios will help classify the type of retreat and needs based on the number of families, amount of preparations, and size of real estate covered. It is my recommendation the land is as large as possible, combining several good neighbors to form a tract of teamwork, if possible.
Combining with neighbors is not done at the last minute; this should have begun years in advance. Multiple families preserving multiple properties collectively with a few trusted friends thrown into the mix is optimum. It provides a larger pool of resources.

I would like to begin by listing a few basic skills I believe will be invaluable should there be what all of us refer to as TEOTWAWKI. Dividing these skills into categories, I have developed a weight of value based on several factors. First, Security is foremost, but cannot stand as the sole preparation. Second, a Short-Term Survival plan. Third, a Sustainment phase to carry on the first two.
(No one reading this will agree on the order listed, so I will go alphabetically)
Auto Mechanic (Engine non-specific) – Vehicles break down. Not everyone knows how to fix automobiles. Having a good general knowledge and reference material on your own vehicle is a must. Next to that, having the right tools and even the right parts will be hard to come by. As an avid 4-wheeler, I like to keep spares of what breaks the most, but I still have to frequent the auto parts store from time to time. Having an agreement with a friend that has a junkyard is also an alternative, but some things will need to be stocked up. Belts, U-Joints, Filters, Spark Plugs, Fuel Injectors, Glow Plugs… They will all go bad sometime. (Medium – High Priority)
Butcher – As a kid I worked in a local meat market. I can tell you, customers know when there is a new butcher. It takes years of experience to understand the types of meat, how to cut them, and what part belongs to what is definitely needed. Having a good understanding and some experience with your livestock’s anatomy, will prevent wasted meat, and will prove useful to those around you. (High Priority)
Chemist – This may sound unusual, but knowing Chemistry makes life off the grid much easier. There are chemicals that will make the most difficult task, seem effortless. Additionally, Being able to test mixes of fuels, determine the condition of gunpowder, test water for contaminants, or treat water for drinking. A Chemist will be a valuable asset. (Medium Priority)
Cook – Specifically someone learned in cannery techniques and food preserving and storage. Most of us can cook, but can you go from a warm hide to preserved meat in a day? Jerky is useful and provides protein in small, measured amounts over the course of the day, doesn’t require a fire, and is lightweight. (Medium – High Priority)
Doctor – A Doctor has obvious value to a group of like-minded individuals. There will be injuries. People will get sick, maybe sicker. Surgery may be required. It may be an ugly operating room, but if you live, that will be all that matters. Doctors that have operated in austere conditions have commented on what items were the most needed. There is even a book available in PDF called Survival and Austere Medicine which is a good resource. Just don’t find yourself performing operations like they did in, “Spies Like Us”! (Medium Priority)
Electrician – I know, what will you need an Electrician when there is no power in a grid-down scenario, right? Well, for starters, an old junked car may be used to recharge batteries for absolutely necessary power. Maybe a surgery in progress, even. Either way, the ability to wire or rewire existing items to suit various needs vital to our technologically advanced lives, an electrician would definitely be of value. (Medium Priority)
ER Nurse or EMT / Paramedic – In the years of Army service, I found that the Army’s Combat Lifesaver Program to be genius. On the field of battle, there never seems to be enough medics, ammo, or chaplains. Well, since going through EMT Training at a local Community College is less than $100, and equipment needed is about the same, why not? Maybe even volunteer at the local Fire Department and get your goody bag filled by the county or township? My bag is filled with items deemed beyond the expiration date, but most of us know those are there for legal reasons. The only thing I wouldn’t fool around on is IV Fluid. Your group could even start your own blood bank if you were able to maintain proper temperatures with the help of our great technological advances in solar and wind power. I have a friend that specifically married his current wife, who happens to be an ER Trauma Nurse so she could treat him for gunshot wounds and sew him up. Weird, but functional. I recommend, that as many people go to the EMT Training as possible. Go to the recertification to keep yourselves up to date on techniques, too. (High Priority)
Farmer – Now this one is obvious. There are folks who claim they will never need outside resources, but they are fooling themselves. Every Farmer in your area should be the most pampered individual around. If you stock up on seed and help him, he will always have work, protection, and you will not go hungry. This is another collectivist effort that must be in the works BEFORE things go bad. Otherwise, you are another neighbor wanting something. There is no such thing as a one-way friendship, there has to be some sort of mutual benefit. It is the very basis of commerce. He may need security or transportation of much needed items, so break out the road warrior, we’re taking this milk to town… (High Priority)
Gardener / Botanist – For the folks who have limited space, or the foul weather creates so short a growing season, any gardener will be able to provide enough green thumb to get folks started. I hate to see any plant I’ve started, die. Imagine if it were next years starter crop and now dozens of people will go hungry. Yeah, it could be that bad. That pressure could cause you to kill all the plants. Reading ahead, talking with hobbyists, can actually get you enough knowledge to keep your family alive. I remember spending a bunch of money to get my daughter started, and we got an unexpected frost that killed all our labor… she was heartsick, but I was cataloging the feeling in the back of my mind… if that was to feed our family, we would be eating bark. These skills have escaped our generation, and someone will end up paying the price. (High Priority)
Gunsmith – Guns break. When you least expect it, even the most reliable firearm can fire poorly, or act uncharacteristic of what is the norm. A Gunsmith is nothing more than a mechanical problem solver. With a little training, some good common sense, and a library of resources, most firearms can be restored to original or better condition using the principles of a gunsmith. Always cut on the easiest part to replace or buy. The fact that someone can maintain what most folks will refer to their rifle as the number one tool for their safety, livelihood, and survival, makes these skills very beneficial to have. (High Priority)
Lawyer – More bizarre, I know, but someone that is knowledgeable of the law can be useful. I am referring to the laws that are based on man’s existence. Referring to a Libertarian definition, I am speaking of laws maintaining mala in se, things that are wrong in and of itself. Not things prohibited because of some crooked politician convinced people it was bad and made it into a law. In the event that our feet are still planted on this earth as things calm back down, someone that has a working knowledge of law will be there to help rebuild. During times of calamity, a lawyer can serve as a bridge between neighborly disputes or disagreements within the same faction. Even act as a judge in some cases. I do believe in order, I would just prefer to keep to myself, but there will always be disputes that a few people can go to have both sides presented and make a judgment. If someone working for you were stealing, would you kill him? Or, would you have him repay or pay restitution? These issues will become a factor as time goes on. (Low priority)
Machinist / Blacksmith – Today, there are always good jobs for anyone capable of operating machining equipment. It is a skilled labor. The ability to make parts or tools that people require to live will always be a valuable skill. The key issues will be how will this task be performed in a grid down scenario? I have seen foot operated lathes that take longer, but would be better than the alternative of not having a certain item. It may be that you would be modifying a part for a different application, or actual firearm or automotive fabrication.
Onto the blacksmith, the next mode of transportation that we know could be horseback, again. If you can shoe a horse, you will always have work. Even so, if you own horses, you should have a plan to perform this delicate operation on your own, should the urgency to move be too great. The use of horses as pack animals in mountainous regions will be a great method of supply movement as well as retrieving meat from a hunt. (Medium – High Priority)
Oil Refinery technician – This may be a weak stab, but should you live in an area that oil is available, or you have your own oil well, (I’ve seen a lot in Oklahoma and Texas) they could attempt to create their own refinery capability without all the crazies trying to take over the main oil refineries. Additionally, this individual would have the task of determining the types of fuel, octane ratings and what type burns better in what vehicle long with a mechanic. Multi-fuel engines could possibly be the way to go in a Schumer hits the fan scenario. (Low Priority)
Rancher / Ranch Hand – Nothing beats an end of the world scenario like eating steak and potatoes while the world is starving. Maintaining land and cattle would be a chore when others are hungry, which provides one of the two highest barter-able items. Food. Having a neighbor for a rancher, or even spreading fences across property lines within the group, may provide enough land for everyone to contribute to the feeding, raising, breeding, butchering, and preparation of beef. It could prove very profitable, and it is much easier to work on a half full stomach. Some land is already prepped if it was originally ranch-land, others will have to do a little work, or have them graze elsewhere with the agreement on the beef while they barter the deal. (Med-High Priority)
Reloading hobbyist – This probably sounds farfetched, but ammunition is not cap and ball anymore. If you know how to reload and have the components, have spares. Also, make sure you have a lead melting pot in case jacketed bullets become non-existent. It shouldn’t be your first loads, but it is better than throwing rocks. You can hard quench them, to give them the characteristics of a jacketed bullet. The key is to over plan on ammunition. I tell my friends that unless they have enough ammo, their newly built FAL is an expensive club. Don’t count on cases of surplus ammo just floating around, but if they are, cache them for barter later if they do not fit in your arsenal.
Reloading is enjoyable, and you can make your shots count more if you hand load properly.
(High Priority)
Small Engine / Generator Mechanic – This type of worker would be very useful in a grid-down scenario. People will need to run tractors, farm implements, and regular power consumption for Generators and the large welding machines mounted on the back of my trucks you see today. They are fairly simple to work on, but require a general knowledge and learned skill before ruining a $7,000 welder through the trial and error method. (Medium Priority)
Solar / Wind / Hydro Power technician – Interestingly enough, more people are interested in living off the grid now, more than ever. This may be an excellent business opportunity that would carry over to being advantageous to you and helping you be free of any grid-down scenarios. One note of caution, the looters of New Orleans were targeting the sound of generators to determine who may have supplies available. (Medium Priority)
Veterinarian – It is a fact that animals get sick and die. It is never advisable to eat an animal that died from a disease. Cold weather, adverse conditions, and possible outbreaks we have not seen for over a hundred years could become the destroyer of an entire herd. If an animal is sick, it may be your only source of food and there may not be anyone to help you. Much like the dead plants, the ability to nurse an animal back to health knowing a bit about the vegetarian science is a must. Most ranchers pay a vet, but some will pick up a lot on their own. If you are a beginner, pay for the vet, learn what you can, maybe go to school and learn a class or two, while gathering valuable materials for the future. If you have no plan of raising livestock, it can still be a barter-able skill.
Welder – Farm implements break all the time. Almost every Farm or Ranch has a welder. Most schools offer a welding class or two, some even offer certifications. If you have the ability to move the equipment around and can develop an old skill, I would highly recommend this art of mending things like new. It helps out as a second job and is always of valuable, just in the equipment alone. Want to convert a CONEX into a bunker / cache? Rent a Bobcat for a day and weld on a more solid way to secure the doors, and you have a poor man’s retreat. If all you can afford is to put together a job-site box, it will also serve as a poor man’s cache site. With a welder, you are only limited to your imagination. Barriers may be a future enterprise. People who want controlled access in and out of their property may want a display for outsiders that they are to be left alone. [As I saw in n a tour in Korea], the South Koreans use dragon’s teeth in areas such as rivers to slow down the north at what are called phase lines. They use rock drops on roads to turn a tight area into a kill zone. Welders may always have work. (Medium Priority) The following fall into a similar category, so I lumped them together, but they are all valuable individually and any combination of these have a place in a small group:
Retired or experienced Infantry / Combat Arms
Retired or experienced Military Intelligence
Retired or experienced Special Forces (indigenous teacher of tactics)

Under the category of Security there are a variety of skill sets that can provide all around coverage and others that are very specific. Military service by itself does not necessarily qualify someone to head a raiding party, for instance. Combat experience and Combat Arms tactics combined with extensive defensive planning is a great place to start. Anyone who has trained tactics to indigenous personnel, such as Special Forces, definitely hits a valuable dollar to train Americans trying to fend off undesirables or a tyranny, for that matter. They are the Swiss Army knife of soldiers and bring a good amount of know-how to a retreat. The ability to determine enemy courses of action based on tactics, terrain, weather, and type of equipment strengthens any defense. If a group were able to assist an attacker into using one of these courses of action through the use of fortifications and changes to the landscape, this group has now created a kill-zone, where they can inflict the maximum amount of damage based on their capabilities while preventing the attacker from inflicting damage on their own. Canalization of movement is optimum for the defender, especially when the defender is operating within a limited piece of real estate.
Anyone who has conducted physical security of bases or cities would be knowledgeable of a good defensive strategy. Like other readers have mentioned, security comes in layers and the earlier an adversary is discouraged, the better. Obvious visual signs of a defender will discourage the un-initiated, but those hell-bent on access will require more convincing from the defender. The more layers instituted, the more opportunities to send an adversary packing.
In the event this is a weak area for your retreat or several retreats spread over an area, someone with proven preparation of the battlefield skills and defensive perimeter setup. Retired Officers or NCOs from a Combat Arms, Intelligence, or even better, both, would definitely fit the bill. Planning this is only effective if there are personnel to carry it out. Rifleman can create a very long-range perimeter based on a long line of sight placement using terrain as an advantage. Determining courses of action will help in massing firepower where it is most needed.
The following is a list of skill set combinations that will make a community secure and survive. (“Trigger puller” is non-descript, on purpose):

EMT / Paramedic / Nurse / Doctor
Farmer / Rancher / Gardener
Veterinarian / Cook
Electrician / Mechanic
Welder / Generator Mechanic
Gunsmith / Reloader
Machinist / Blacksmith