Practice Makes Perfect- Part 1, by BON

We live in a time when information on virtually any subject can be found with little effort. Prior to the Internet, in order to pick up a new skill or gain new knowledge on a subject, one had to learn by trial and error or find an expert to pass along information. With the plethora of blogs, websites, forums, and videos found online, “expert” level knowledge can be found without ever leaving the comforts of home.

Knowledge Put Into Practice

While knowledge is always a good thing, the only way to truly understand any subject is to get hands on and put that knowledge into practice. Then, that practice makes perfect when practiced perfectly.

The advertising meme of “but I stayed in a particular hotel last night” may sell rooms, but it could be dangerous if applied in the real world. Would you want to have your ruptured appendix removed by someone who just went to a seminar on the procedure or by a seasoned doctor who has done the procedure a few dozen times before you were laid out before him on the operating table?

“Just Do It”

Survival, preparedness, and personal defense skills are serious business. One certainly does not want to be learning new skills in the middle of a crisis, when these skills can mean the difference between life and death. While athletic shoes may not be synonymous with these skills, perhaps the advertising meme of “Just do it” should be applied to these skills.

Mr. Murphy Will Bring Problems At Worst Possible Times

Watching a YouTube video or reading a blog post on how to grow a food garden may make it seem easy. There are surely many ways it can all go wrong, and Mr. Murphy will bring these problems to bear at the worst possible times. At the time when you grow your first garden because you need to feed your loved ones, it is the worst time to learn which plants need heavy sun exposure or what levels of watering is required, let alone how to get the water to the garden in the first place.

Practice Beats Newly Acquired Knowledge, Every Time

Real world practice beats newly acquired knowledge every time. To be truly prepared for a survival situation, one needs to have practiced practical knowledge of the various skills that are required. The only way to get good at growing food is to grow food. Besides, having a garden already in place and even going so far as having food preserved and canned prior to a crisis puts you several steps ahead during the recovery phase of said crisis. In this case, there is no need to wait a season to harvest fresh foods when your garden is up and running with crops available.

Away From Home?

Do you plan to bug out and not remain at home during a crisis, spend time away from home traveling, or even just work more than a few hours walk from home? Are you planning to bug out? How are your basic camping skills? Practice for a bug out situation by spending time camping, not RVing, but camping as close to your planned bug out configuration as possible.

Practice Setting Up Tent

The practice of just putting up your tent in the backyard for a weekend as a “try-out” will help to avoid the stressful confusion of setting up a tent “out of the box” for the first time in the wild as the sun sets, or worse in the dark. In addition to the skills picked up through practice, you can check out the functionality of your gear. Finding out a pole is missing or broken in the backyard or a leisurely camping trip sure beats finding out as you set up your “get home” site in the woods on the trip home when that tent is your only way to stay warm and dry for the next night or two.

Plan to Mitigate the Loss of Power

Live along the coast and think you are prepared for a hurricane, or have plans to “go off grid” during a crisis? Whichever way you plan to mitigate the loss of power, be it via fueled generator, solar power, or just “rough it”, have you practiced the required skills?

Unplugging for a Weekend

While heading to a cabin in the woods would obviously provide the best off-grid experience, unplugging for a weekend (or longer) will also teach some important lessons. Once again, a weekend camping trip can provide some experience in this area of living off the grid. Even staying at home while putting away all powered accessories can help put these skills into practice. Turn off the phones, Internet, televisions, or go further and switch off the main power breaker to the entire house.

Practice Power Down Skills

Practice your power down skills. Cook on a camp stove, keep cool without air conditioning, or, in the northern climates, keep warm without running the household heater.

Fire, When Life Depends On It

Plan to cook on or stay warm by the fire? Can you start a fire and keep it going with just the materials close to home or around the planned bug out location?

In Wet Conditions

Now is the time to prepare, start, and maintain a fire. If you have not started a fire in wet, or worse raining conditions, go out and practice. The worst time to find out what kindling is, where to find it, and how to gather it, is when your life depends on getting a fire started.

Eat From Stored Stock

Does your survival plan involve storing food? Why wait for a crisis? Skip the grocery store once in a while and eat from your stored stock. Find out now what foods taste best and what your family likes. We all know how finicky kids can be, and finding out they won’t eat the freeze-dried meatloaf after you buy it by the case can avoid a few unnecessary headaches. Also, keep in mind the next time you are stuck at home with the flu, that the cans of soup you have squirreled away can always be replaced after you recuperate.

Solar and Wind Power

If you do not want to go fully power free during a crisis, research solar or wind power and get a starter solar panel set or wind generator to charge cell phones or other small appliances. Try these out during cloudy, rainy, or wind-less times to see how well these work and possible mitigations for post hurricane cloud cover or rains.

Fueled Generator

Considering a fueled generator? How much fuel will you need to store? Run your gasoline powered generator for the grid-down weekend practice session and see how much fuel it burns. Consider how long you plan to run the generator solution and the fuel storage required.


Don’t forget about sanitation. If you have not thought about toilet facilities during a crisis, now is the time to consider how plastic bag-lined buckets or digging a hole and burying fits into your plans. Keeping water around to flush toilets in the absence of a water supply may work in the short term. If the crisis lasts long enough, the sewer system and even septic tanks will eventually be overwhelmed, and alternative methods will be required. Practice these alternatives during your grid down weekend. Break out some buckets, plastic bags, kitty litter, and dirt, if you are planning to bug in. Then, practice your plan.

Tomorrow, we will cover more areas that require practice for perfect preparation. Some of these include water storage, vehicle maintenance, communications, and first aid.

See Also:

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been another entry for Round 78 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by,
  7. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
  6. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from (a $240 value).

Round 78 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.


  1. I used to be able to google things and find out information. Lately, the Internet hasn’t been much help. Maybe I am having a hard time phrasing my questions in a way that can get the search engines to give me the information I need. I think that I am into stuff that is so counter cultural that the information just isn’t out there. I am doing studies on minerals and where to get them. So if my soil is mineral deficient, how do I help it to remineralize? There is so little information out there on this. Even, how to grow the minerals I need to feed to my livestock, hard to find. I am wanting to live completely off the land, and grow my veggies, fruit, and animals without outside input. Obviously, I’m wanting to be organic and use bio-density methods. I’ve tried talking to my county agent, and he’s not much help. I am slowly teaching myself, and letting my animals teach me. It’s the best method I’ve found.

    1. “I think that I am into stuff that is so counter cultural that the information just isn’t out there.”

      oh it’s out there, it’s just that the facebook/twitter/youtube better-than-you censors are altering their search engines to deprecate the information and make it harder to get to. keep looking, and try other sources, to get the info.

    2. @ Rose, check out the foxfire series of books. Other resources are along with permaculture websites that have forums for more detailed discussion. Hope this helps.

  2. Thank you. So many of my fat/ lazy friends have turned preparedness into an arm chair academic discussion. If you are not out swatting mosquitoes and learning how to deal with inclement weather now, all those lessons not learned now will come home to roost when you are faced with a real difficult situation.

  3. You’re going to have a hard time getting some of the information you’re seeking. You can’t “grow” minerals, per se. Minerals are elements (or maybe compounds, depending on what you mean when you say “minerals”). They come from the rocks and other underlying material of your soil. If you know the minerals you need, the local extension agent and/or master gardeners (for which your county/extension agent should be able to provide contact info) can probably give you some advice on ways to use “natural” methods to supplement your soil or affect its chemistry. You may just need to adjust pH with something like ashes to make some of those minerals more available to your crops, or give you other tips to help you avoid hurting your soil (like forming “hard pan” through overmineralization of your irrigation water). County agents and master gardeners are great resources.

  4. I get real tired of hearing about “the kids refusing to eat the freeze dried meatloaf” and similar statements. If the circumstances are such that freeze dried meatloaf is what’s on tonight’s dinner menu, than so be it. If we ever truly have a TEOTWAWKI event, even the freeze dried meatloaf will run out sooner rather than later.

  5. Rose, according to Bob Tanem, whose weekend gardening show airs in the SFBay area (KSFO) alfalfa (pellets, meal) applied to the soil can help to restore some of the minerals. Also, back in the “bad old days,” when people cooked, heated with wood stoves, they often scattered the wood ash in their garden plots which, together with manure, would replenish the soil.

  6. Also of note, we can only learn so much information at once. So the first time you learn a technique you will pick up some stuff. But then after practicing a while you will be in a position to learn more about it even from the same source you learned it from before.

    For example, read a book on gardening, then garden for a year then read the same book again. You will get a deeper understanding of the subject matter

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