Tag Archives: adventure iq

Survival Training for Building Resiliance

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We often focus on the Rule of 3’s as more of a guideline on how long you can endure withoutwater, food, contact, etc. However the often overlooked first rule is that without faith and hope you do not have a chance to survive.

Your job in a survival situation is to stay alive. As you can see, you are going to experience an assortment of thoughts and emotions. These can work for you, or they can work to your downfall. Fear, anxiety, anger, frustration, guilt, depression, and loneliness are all possible reactions to the many stresses common to survival. These reactions, when controlled in a healthy way, help to increase a survivor’s likelihood of surviving. They prompt the survivor to pay more attention in training, to fight back fear when scared, to take actions that ensure sustenance and security, to keep faith with his fellow survivors, and to strive against large odds.

When you cannot control these reactions in a healthy way, they bring you to a standstill. Instead of rallying your internal resources, you begin to focus on your internal fears. You mess with your own mind. The survivor who loses faith and hope immediately experiences psychological defeat long before you physically succumb. Survival is natural to everyone but getting unexpectedly thrust into the life and death struggle of survival is not. Don’t be afraid of your “natural reactions to this unnatural situation.” Prepare yourself to rule over these reactions so they serve your ultimate interest–staying alive.

Survival looks like an adventure on the television and for some it seems like a natural part of life. In reality it involves preparation to ensure that your reactions in a survival setting are productive, not destructive. Below are a few highlights to help prepare yourself psychologically for survival.

Know Thyself

Be honest, most of us think that because we are outdoors allot, went to a few Boy Scout camps, or are avid hikers/hunters, we “live in the woods”. While this is true for some, its not true for most.

We emphasize getting out and training in all conditions, not only to prep you for an unforseen survival event, but as a confidence builder for any situation. Cancer, job loss, death of a loved one all require resiliance.

Using our methodology of “Zone Survival” you are able to have a starting point as well as a point to retreat to when training outdoors. Through the training you do in your Comfort Zone, discover who you are on the inside. Strengthen your stronger qualities and develop the areas that you know are necessary to survive. To know more about Zone Survival, sign up for one of our classes at http://www.AdventureIQ.com

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Anticipate Fears

You will get scared. Some people have never spent the night in the woods, gone a few days without food, or traveled cross-country using only a map and compass.You will be afraid the first time you are alone in an unknown situation whether it is training or for real. Don’t pretend that you will have no fears. Begin thinking about what would frighten you the most if forced to survive alone. Train in those areas of concern to you. If you are worried that you wouldn’t be able to start a fire in rain, go out to Ft Backyard and turn on the sprinkler and figure out how you will get a fire going while water falls on you. Worried about dressing out game, get with someone who can teach you how to prepare wild game for eating. The goal is not to eliminate the fear, but to build confidence in your ability to function despite your fears.

Be Realistic

Survival situations suck at best. Don’t be afraid to make an honest appraisal of situations. See circumstances as they are, not as you want them to be. Keep your hopes and expectations within the estimate of the situation. When I was without water in the Chiuauan Desert and days from water, I sized up the situation, realized I could die, and devised a plan to get back, even if it was to only get back closer to rescue. When you go into a survival setting with unrealistic expectations, you may be laying the groundwork for bitter disappointment. Follow the adage, “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.” It is much easier to adjust to pleasant surprises about one’s unexpected good fortunes than to be upset by one’s unexpected harsh circumstances.

Adopt a Positive Attitude

During my own situation, I made up my mind that I was going to live. You can survive three days without water, but only three seconds without faith and hope. Adopt a Positive Mental Attitude (PMA). Rescue should be a sweet interruption to your survival. In other words, get so good at it that when rescue occurs it is a welcome surprise. Learn to see the potential good in everything. Looking for the good not only boosts morale, it also is excellent for exercising your imagination and creativity.

Remind Yourself What Is at Stake

Its when we realize that we are going to possibly die that we need to remind that if we don’t make it back we are going to be missed. Remember, failure to prepare yourself psychologically to cope with survival leads to reactions such as depression, carelessness, inattention, loss of confidence, poor decision-making, and giving up before the body gives in. At stake is your life and the lives of others who are depending on you to do your share.

Train

I spend hours perfecting small parts of my craft. Building bow drill fires, hunting game with a slingshot, making natural shelters, and attending classes like wild edibles are just a sample of how I keep my brain and my “can-do” spirit in shape.

Through survival training and life experiences, begin today to prepare yourself to cope with the rigors of survival. Demonstrating your skills in training will give you the confidence to call upon them should the need arise. Remember, the more realistic the training, the less overwhelming an actual survival setting will be. Training in realistic conditions when its wet, cold, you’re hungry, your injured, or a combination of any of these will prepare you when everything goes south.

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Learn Stress Management Techniques

In every real situation we have to quickly understand what we can control and what we can influence, all the other stuff we have to let it go. If you don’t learn to take it down a notch you’re likely to get into more trouble. People under stress have a potential to panic if they are not well-trained and not prepared psychologically to face whatever the circumstances may be. Many lost people run when they realize they don’t know where they are. Its an survival response inorder to get large muscles moving and create a rythmic state that calms.

While we often cannot control the survival circumstances in which we find ourselves, it is within our ability to control our response to those circumstances. Learning stress management techniques can enhance significantly your capability to remain calm and focused as you work to keep yourself and others alive. A few good techniques to develop include relaxation skills, time management skills, assertiveness skills, and cognitive restructuring skills (the ability to control how you view a situation).

Remember, “the will to survive” can also be considered to be “the refusal to give up.”

BushLab

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In late 2013 we converted our RC race track in the back yard to BushLab. I wanted someplace where:

(1) I could teach survival and bushcraft skills to small classes
(2) provide an environment to develop and master survival and bushcraft skills
(3) demonstrate that suburban landscaping could be used for creating fire, shelter, cordage, and food 
(4) a venue to gather with friends and family for special occasions.
(5) demonstrate that bushcraft and survival skills could be practiced in a suburban environment, and…
(6) a personal retreat for me

What I have found is a great personal retreat in my own safe haven. In this project I’ve been able to prove that you can to a degree and on a smaller scale bring the wild into Ft Backyard.I no longer need to drive extended distsnces to get a nature fix, work on bushcraft skills, or teach class, I can wake up on a Saturday morning and teach a survival class or a fire craft wotkshop right here in Meridian. Another reason I love living in Idaho.

 

Everything in my yard is there to support bird and squirrel habitat, make fire out of, eat, make cordage, and other paleo or survival projects. The 24′ parachute supported by lodgepole pines provides potection from the elements. Below the canopy we have a spot for teaching fire craft, workingon bush experiments, or a special place to observe wildlife.

Setting up your own sit-spot in Ft. Backyard isn’t difficult and you don’t need allot of space. Using your imagination and sweat  equity you can have your own spot.

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That’s It

that's itI have been in the process of breaking a 35-year habit. Snickers has been a staple in my diet since before I was in the military. It was my go to bar after running track. It was my recovery bar after 5k and 10k runs. It was my post PT bar as I showered in the barracks before formation. I took them hunting and hiking with me. During the three “Hotter n’ Hell 100” bike rides I did between 2002 and 2004. I used them as breakfast before pushing my mountain bike 100 miles across Texas in 100-plus degree temps. Up until last month you could find me in most meetings with a Snickers and Coke in my hand. My bad habit had grown to almost six sodas per day and one to three Snickers per day. It had also grown my LB’s to a unhealthy 204.

It was after my doctor told me I needed to cut way back on sugar and fats and increase my fiber and fruit I made a change. It wasn’t a suggestion, he in fact said that if I wanted to see my daughter graduate high school I needed to make changes right now. So I went cold turkey. I immediately cut out all sodas and candy bars. Gone were my morning doughnuts and caramel lattes. Taco Bell, Johnny’s Pizza, and Jack in the Box Tacos died a quiet death for me. But still I needed to find a snack to get me through and sitting down to watch TV with an apple or grabbing a bowl of celery just hasn’t appealed to me yet as a full time replacement.

Our cafeteria at work has recently begun to stock better options for treats. This includes fruit and nut snacks. I have fallen in love with “That’s It”  fruit bars. They remind me of when I used to make fruit roll-ups with my dehydrator for a backpacking snack 25 years ago. “Treats” is a good description since they are loaded in sugars and carbs, but also have fiber.

The bars taste great and I order mine here. The only ingredients they include are fruits. The recipe is simple, FRUIT + FRUIT = THAT’S IT. They are gluten free, each runs 100 to 110 calories, all natural with no preservatives and high in fiber, which for me means I can have the sugar as a treat.

I understand its a healthier option for me and realize I can’t eat two or three of these a day. Looking back at how I used to abuse candy bars and sodas this is an option I can live with without sacrificing simple pleasures every now and then. They come in several great flavors to keep my pallet interested. We are now carrying them in our Amazon store and when you purchase them they are a little cheaper than what I have been seeing at our cafeteria, plus you help support Adventure IQ’s free workshops, camps, and seminars.

4 Skills to Perfect in Fort Backyard

So you’ve been reading our articles, went to one of our camps, or maybe just looking for something fun to do with the family. Here are four skills you can perfect in your back yard before you have to use them for real.

Fire Craft

The single greatest skill for both confidence and usefulness is mastering fire craft. But don’t play with matches; work on two paths of mastery. The first is using a sparking device like the Light My Fire from Industrial Revolution. The second is learning a primitive technique such as the bow-drill.612

Once you begin to master- push yourselves to experiment with various tools and harder conditions. A great activity for gaining experience is to tie natural fiber rope to two stakes or rods in the ground about 18 inches high and time yourselves on how long it takes to bundle materials, get a flame, and then burn the rope down.

The ability to start a fire is key to staying alive in the wilderness. This means fire starting is a priority in the list of bushcraft skills.

Some residential zones may restrict fire to specified enclosures. If restricted then use a homemade or purchased fire-pit for containment. We built a pit using 8”x12”concreate pavers to create a pit to practice in.

Gimme’ Shelter

Many backyards don’t have ready-sized trees to practice with. Still, there are many things you can do to create shelter. You can use t-post stakes purchased from local farm and feed stores to create anchor points that simulate trees and common tent stakes to represent natural wood stakes you would normally make in the back country. Just know where water, electric, and sprinkler lines lay.

Experiment with tarps, ponchos, and even a few discarded pieces of lumber. You kids will love that you are building a fort with them.

Learn a few knots, get some decent 550- cord and get to it!

Wood Splitting- Knife Skills

608Wood splitting with a survival knife- also known as batoning can add a valuable wilderness survival skill to your toolbox. This is useful because it helps you in creating smaller- easier to ignite pieces of wood even when the wood is wet. Learn with a full blade survival knife and work your way to using a small axe or hatchet.

Bushcraft Cooking

You’re getting the hang of fire building so might as well use it to try your cooking over an open fire. You can choose to use a grate in the beginning- but move yourself into experimenting with cooking with Dutch Ovens, #10 cans, and wooden spits.

Try making a “survival stew (anything you find in the fridge) in a coffee can or pick up a Cornish hen and cook it over open coals. Be sure to follow all safe food handling protocols- and it’s okay to use a meat thermometer to help you learn.

We still use Fort Backyard to master skills, and these four will get you on a path to perfecting skills before you have to use them.

Drilling Down to Three Reasons Why People Die in the Wilderness

Just came out of a workshop today where we did a “table-top” survival scenario as part of a problem solving and communication workshop. The question was asked later in class, “what really causes people to die”. I had answers ready but decided to allow time for discussion on the issue. Since it was problem solving, we used the formula I had been facilitating through the day. We eliminated heart attacks and other similar physical ailments, and we dismissed incidents where people are killed instantly like lightning strikes, the random bear mauling, and alien abductions gone wrong.

Here is the list- and then my commentary on what barriers have to be overcome to increase you chances of coming home alive or in a body bag. Out of 9-10 items on the list (Fire, Shelter, Navigation, Signal, and Water) the team narrowed it down to three basic reasons people wind up with Mr. Murphy and the Grim Reaper as outdoor pals on what may be their last adventure.

Underestimate or Miscalculate the Risk

Just a day hike. Just a trip to the woods. Taking a drive to scout deer. We’ll talk ego and the adage of “my husbands an expert in ….(fill in the blank) in a moment. The majority of survival situations start-off routine and innocent. Nothing spells disaster quicker than a fishing trip with a buddy, a quick hike on your favorite trail, or the yearly planned elk camp/ hunting trip you have taken since you were a kid.  Chaos is an incredible factor and it only takes a few subtle events for things go terribly wrong and you are suddenly facing  a life and death scenario.

You have to plan for the unexpected no matter how remote the chance. Play the “what-if game and prepare for those contingencies before you set off on your trip.  Once you’re in the boat, on the trail, or pursuing an elusive geocache the back country it’s too late.

Gap in Knowledge- No Gaps in Ego

Boy Scouts walk with the motto, “Be Prepared”, and at one time it really meant something before the days of coddling parents and litigation. The Scouts were a path of passage into masculinity.

The sad truth today is most people who wind up in a crate  and a long black car or in best case, a medivac is because in a wilderness survival situation, have very poor at best knowledge on how to surviva and are usually totally unprepared. Equally as bad is the number of people who feel they “got all the skills”, so they think they don’t need training or get updated on the latest thoughts on survival.

Here are the 5 key things to know and practice in Fort Backyard before your next trip:

  • Create fire in all conditions (wet, windy, rainy)
  • Create shelter with minimal supplies- including water proofing
  • Find and purify water
  • Know how to signal (smoke, sound, sight)
  • Apply first aid or self aid.

For each of these you should master one method using modern techniques and master one using primitive techniques.

All Dressed Up and the Wrong Place To Go

The ability to regulate your core body temperature to 98.6 is the signal most important factor in survival.

In 2009 Abby and I section hiked the Continental Divide. We encountered snow, rain, wind, and of course some simply wonderful days of sunshine, well actually all the above weather was the cycle of each day. We would routinely run across people in shorts and flip-flops on a trail as much as 3 miles from the nearest trail head.

Abeni on the CDT with me in 2009

Abeni on the CDT with me in 2009

Its better to have and not need than need and not have, an old adage Ranger Sean Kazmire used to tell me. The basic rule is dress one layer warmer than you need and take stuff off and throw it in your backpack before you get hot. But once you leave a jacket or poncho behind there is nothing worse than being cold knowing that you left it in your rig or base camp.

Use clothing that retains warmth even after it becomes wet. I only use cotton as an outer-layer in hot dry climates that there is minimal chance of rain, and keep poly-pro or wicking under-garments in case I need to get dry in my pack.

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Demonstrating the cooling properties of the Ghotra at Scooter’s Youth Hunting Camp in Emmett, Idaho

Don’t dismiss hot climates either. Something as simple as a Ghotra or Shemagh can provide shade and when wet, act a swamp cooler to keep your body temps down.

It’s a pretty simple solution to a complex question, why people die in the wilderness. Getting trained and then being ready to use that training in preparing for circumstances increase your odds of living. Taking the right tools and knowing how to use them solves so many issues and in addition doesn’t put other’s live in jeopardy when they have to go out to the woods to find your corpse.

 

Road Trip to Nuts

Screen shot of the website for the museum in Bastogne

Screen shot of the website for the museum in Bastogne

One of the most memorable road trips was 1990. I was stationed in Germany in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The cold war was in flux, we still had Soviet tanks ready to rush the Fulda Gap, Checkpoint Charlie was the gate from the Island of Freedom known as West Berlin, and Aircraft stood on alert ready to respond to what was sure to be the end of mankind as we know it.
There were still numerous living vets from WWII who would talk about the war, mostly the moments outside of combat. Didn’t matter if it was an American, German, patriotic citizen of Luxembourg, or friendly Belgian, I could even get arrogant French vets to open up a bit. My interest had grown about the history of the war and since I had a grandfather who had fought and was wounded at the Battle of the Bulge, I really wanted to see the battle grounds in Luxembourg and Belgium.
I headed out early on a rare day off with a buddy Kent Wilkinson. Kent was a Senior NCO and I had just made NCO status. The respect was there. I have always had the ability to keep professional relationships and private life separate. He was a great leader who would later make Chief. The road trip would be the last time I would see him for several years. I did serve under his brother on a QRT (quick reaction team) in Desert Storm, but I would run into Kent many years later when I was playing drums for Narrow Road.
We cleaned off chow at the mess hall early and headed towards Luxembourg in my Suzuki Samurai. Our first stop was in the tiny museum dedicated to General George S. Patton. It was honestly one of the best collections of WWII history I have ever seen. Both Kent and I took our time and quietly walked through the museum, stopping every few moments to discuss the displays.
Out of know where in accented, but very good English a man approached us as were looking over a set of German machine guns, “You want to see the weapons?”
Not sure of his intent I politely answered back, “Yes we see them”.
“No, no, no…you want to see them? I’ll take you to see them”
Kent and I both went on alert. Both of us were having flashbacks to all those Armed Forces Network commercials about terrorism and the movies we were forced to watch in the base theater every year emphasizing the danger of militant extremist kidnapping us and then leaving us for dead in some barn in the middle of the Eifel Mountains.
“Sure” I responded, probably surprising Kent. I was in the middle of a horrible divorce and really didn’t have anything to lose. Kent was single, so he had a whole life ahead of him. I figured that balanced us out.
Over the next few hours we were given the “behind-the-scenes” tour of the whole museum. It turned out the man taking us around was the owner and curator of the museum. He knew every weapon, canteen, vehicle, etc of the place. Most of it he had collected on his own. When he found out my grandfather was a t Bastogne, the day got even better.
We spent the rest of the day going to small unknown battle fields, visiting with locals, and checking out farms that had old tanks he was still trying to buy from farmers (many had been transformed into farm equipment.)
We eventually made it to the “Nuts” Museum, where we received first class treatment and had a guided tour. The Bastogne War Museum covers the Second World War, from the fall of 1944, and then focuses on the Battle of the Bulge.I found it interesting that not only key events of the battle were covered, but also the day in the life of the men who endured the harsh conditions with death constantly knocking on the door. In addition, the museum also provides a forgotten element, how the civilians lived during the German occupation, then the battle itself, and post hostilities.
After the tour we then left to see a few more battlefields and then treated to a feast in a local gaust haus/ tavern/ pub. On tap was a local wine from the monastery and on the table was horse. Yes, horse and being the polite guest I consumed. Not sure what the big deal is about eating horse meat, it was pretty good.
Having a local guide that isn’t going to kill you, traveling with someone who has an equal level of interest in learning, and having the desire to see new things is the perfect ingredient for day trips like this. I wish I had pictures from the journey, but they have been lost or destroyed (the ex) along the way, but I still have my memories and experience of the adventure. I haven’t spoken to Kent in years, but think of this trip often.
Please check out the website for the Museum in Bastogne http://www.bastognewarmuseum.be/page,Bastogne-War-Museum-General-introduction,94.html

Teraflex Tailgate Table

094The Teraflex Tailgate Table has been on my wish list since I saw Roger Mercier of Overland Frontier fixing breakfast at the Overland Expo using a drop table like this. This is the perfect accessory for any Jeep enthusiast needing a spot to make a quick sandwich, poor a glass of wine for your “glamping” companions, or even repair an RC car on. I used mine for a cooking surface for my two-burner stove, however I’m not sure I can recommend this due to the proximity of grease, fire, gas cans, and the rest of my rig. For everything else kitchen related, it is perfect!

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Carl using a hose clamp to prevent the bit drilling too far

029 041The install took about 45 minutes. For the most part it is simply placing the pattern on the inside of the tailgate and DETAILED drilling. On my 2013 JK I had to ensure that we didn’t hit any of the spot welds and also be conscious of the degrees of metal thickness. The right side of the tailgate has more sheet metal than the left. Also our drill spot on the lower left was half thin and half double metal. This caused the drill bit to walk a bit and tried to “egg” the hole instead of a neat circle. Fortunately I had Carl helping me and being the master of machinery he is, immediately detected the problem. He finished out the last hole using a die-grinder at low-speed.

You should also be aware that if not careful- your drill bit can punch through the inside wall and leave a dent in the exterior wall. Teraflex has a highly informative video out there demonstrating how they did the install and specifically point this out. Recommend you check out their video as well. We didn’t have a tool to prevent the bit from going through- so we used a hose clamp around the bit. Worked like a charm!

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We had to pre-crimp some of the Zert nuts to get them to grab traction on the tailgate

One issue we found on the thinner part of the tailgate wall was the Zert nuts getting enough traction to mushroom out. Zert nuts are similar to a rivet, except once installed they will accept a bolt or screw to hold an item in place. We pre-crimped the nuts so they would grab traction on the thinner part of the wall. If you do this—it is a VERY MINOR crimp. Try installing per instructions first.055

Once the nuts were in, it was just a matter of bolting the table onto the four nuts, doing some minor adjustments to the cable, and then off to make a sandwich.

Teraflex does have a cutting board available and I recommend ordering your multi-purpose table with one. I’m watching every dime right now to get ready for our Oregon/Washington/Canada trip and Washington Overland Rally trip and even though they are not expensive, I opted to not to get one and use our cutting board out of the trailer. Wishing I had bought one now and after the rally will put that on my “to-buy” list.068 072

The rack will hold a stove and as mentioned above but for me,  I’m not keen on this idea. My first real meal came Sunday afternoon in the mining country of the Boise Mountains. I was making Tri-tip burritos using my two-burner stove and cast iron. My stove is a bit odd in the way it set up with portable propane bottles, and I wasn’t comfortable with the way it sat on the rack. Not the fault of the rack, I have an odd-set up is all. Tri-tip does have a moderate level of fat on the underside. While testing I had a small grease fire and even though nothing was damaged, looking back, with fire in close proximity to my Trasharoo and Rotopax gas can, I think I will move the stove to a safer location.

096In my second testing along the Snake River on Monday, the table was perfect for dicing tomatoes and cutting lettuce for my special back-country finger sandwiches and wedge salad. It also made a great platform in the evening as I was conducting a wine tasting complete with assortments of cheese. No I have not lost the rugged edge; I was simply providing my wife and sister-in-law with a weekend of back-country luxury.

The well entertained ladies in the back country– Good lunch, warm fire, and me performing survival tricks!

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The Tailgate Table allowed me to prep all kinds of snacks and meals for these ladies in the back country…including a wine tasting! Now I just need a rack and awning for some shade!

This is a well thought-out product and a must have for any Jeeper. Contact Teraflex.com or Quadratec.com to order yours!