In the past our forebears used bushcraft in a way that allowed them to live very close to the land, much closer than you or I do today. These days many of us are heading to wild places equipped with a combination of bushcraft skills and modern equipment. In this way, we use our bushcraft skills as part of our modern-day outdoor life. Many of us also recognize that bushcraft skills would be very useful should a survival situation occur in a wilderness setting.
If you are serious about being able to employ your bushcraft skills efficiently in a survival situation, it’s necessary to think about your bushcraft skills in very objective and practical terms. A suitable framework for your skills in this context is the way that military survival is often taught.
According to this doctrine, in a survival situation you should address your needs, which are protection, location, acquisition, navigation and medical. This can be remembered using the acronym M-PLAN
Medical treatment, using your first-aid knowledge in combination with available materials.
Protection means protection from the environment by employing your clothing correctly, finding or building shelter, and lighting fire;
Location means being seen and being able to signal;
Acquisition means getting hold of sustenance – water and food – as well as other resources. This may mean making tools or sourcing materials to fix your equipment;
Navigation by whatever means are available;
Using M-PLAN as a checklist of skills, you can easily conclude that for an environment you are preparing to travel to or through, you should be able to do the following:
– Perform first aid, both general and for specifics of the environment;
– Understand the environmental hazards and how to dress correctly;
– Light a fire;
– Construct a shelter;
– Signal for help;
– Find and purify water;
– Find food (plant, fungi, animal);
– Make tools;
– Navigate the terrain, by natural means as well as modern;
In common with our ancestors, skill and knowledge are more important than equipment. These can be carried with you wherever you go. In a survival situation, you should treat any piece of equipment you have as a bonus. Be positive about what you have.
A positive mental attitude and an unwillingness to give up are, above all else, the most important qualities of survivors.
Some bushcraft skills can take many years to master, yet only a few hours of survival training have saved lives. Hence, you shouldn’t concentrate on one area of bushcraft to the exclusion of others. You should have a solid grounding in all the fundamental building blocks of the subject. You will no doubt find having such a rounded knowledge rewarding in itself. It also means you are less likely to have a weak link in your skill-set if you really do need to rely on your skills for survival.
Remember M-PLAN. Before heading out, get some first aid training and PLAN your skills for survival.
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