I put together this “Fast Track” training module just to give readers the option of getting their feet wet without necessarily having to go through each training module separately. I understand that some of you may not have the time to sit through 4-5 videos on various aspects of getting prepared, so I wanted to give you something to whet your appetite so to speak. If you like what you learn here, then you’ll love what you find in the individual training modules. This should not be considered a short-cut to getting yourself and your family better situated to handle things when disaster strikes, you will most assuredly need additional training.

I like to think of mental preparation as being similar to studying for a test where you know all the possible questions (unexpected disruptions) and you have to determine all of the possible answers (how you will respond). If you go skydiving for the first time, you don’t just show up, throw a parachute rig on, climb aboard the plane and jump out the door when the instructor says ‘GO!’ Even if it’s something you’ve been wanting to do and you’re super excited about finally getting to go, there’s a ton of mental preparation that comes into play. Several things could go wrong on the jump and you need to be prepared to handle those situations if/when they arise. The same can be said about life in general…shit can hit the fan and often does, will you be mentally prepared to handle it?

It goes without saying that regardless of who you ask, every prepper is going to have a different idea of what goes into a bug out bag. There are some obvious common items, such as water filtration, fire starters, tents and/or bivvys, etc. Items that go into your bug out bag should be compact, lightweight and multi-purpose. Remember, this is a bag filled with just enough gear to get you to a safer location; you are not relocating your entire house. When building your bug out bag, I recommend asking yourself this question for each item you want to add to the kit; “Will this help me survive for 5-7 days in the wilderness?” If the answer is a solid ‘YES’ then the item goes in the bag, if it’s a ‘NO’ or a ‘MAYBE,’ then it should probably be left behind. The more you add to the bag, the heavier it becomes and you are the lucky soul that gets to lug it with you everywhere you go.

In a truly dire emergency situation, the first order of business is going to be finding water. In a perfect world, the human body can last 3 minutes without oxygen, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food. Water is going to be one of the first things you want to locate. You should build shelter and construct camp in close proximity to a water source. This will reduce the energy required to retrieve it. Water sources are also a good place to find food in the form of wild animals that can be harvested for protein and nutrition. Water will also make it easier to cook food as well as maintain some sense of personal hygiene.

Now, in an emergency situation water filtration and purification take on an entirely different look. Conventional water filtration and purification methods will be replaced with more primitive approaches to making sure drinking water is safe for human consumption. This is another area that I urge people to simplify by having the right gear in your kits. A LifeStraw water filter is pretty much a prepper standard and should be included in every kit you own. For water purification, consider adding steri-pens or something similar. While it is possible to make natural water filters and even rock boil water to further purify it, those should only be used once all other available options have been exhausted.

When someone says “let’s go camping,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Tents, sleeping bags & ‘roughing it’ are what most of us envision. We see ourselves getting everything together, making it to our destination and “setting up camp.” And while those are great skills to have, they might not be enough if you’re ever stranded in the wilderness without your camping gear, or find yourself in a situation where your camping gear has been compromised. Personally, I prefer to be prepared for every eventuality.

In addition to growing your own food, we also have the ability to forage for food. Foraging for food is like gardening in that I strongly recommend finding a local guide to help you find your way in the woods. The wild edibles that are available in the lower southeastern United States may not even exist in the Pacific Northwest. Before you embark on a journey through the forest foraging for wild edibles, find someone who does it often enough to be considered an expert. Do NOT, under any circumstances, begin foraging for food without finding a local guide; several of the plants you find might look edible, might even smell and taste edible, but they are toxic. A local foraging ‘expert’ should be able to tell you what to look for as well as what to avoid.

When it comes to rifles for survival, I prefer to look to the USAF for recommendations. The USAF trains their pilots how to escape and evade enemy forces if/when shot down behind enemy lines; this is an extremely hostile environment and mobility is an immensely important factor. Pilots need a lightweight compact weapon at their disposal so they can remain as mobile as possible while trying to return to safety. This new Quick Detach barrel system on an AR-15 platform fits the bill in my book. If you get into building your own guns, you can use this concept with multiple calibers and carry what suits you best. I’m already looking into replacing the grips and barrels on my current rifles with the Quick Detach and folding options seen here.

Signaling for rescue is another often overlooked aspect of prepping. I can’t count the times I’ve met someone on the trail and through the course of discussion discovered that they’re wandering around out in the wilderness with nothing more than a smartphone. It’s almost as if they have no idea how easy it is to get lost and lose signal when off the beaten path. One of my new favorite prepper tools happen to be personal locator beacons. The technology in these little devices continues to improve each and every year and they have been heralded for saving countless thousands of lives already.

A basic first aid course will equip you with the knowledge and skills to initiate potentially life saving treatment if/when an emergency situation occurs. CPR & basic first aid are considered such an important part of the survival equation that all branches of the US military have required cadets to complete these courses prior to graduating from basic combat training, and I personally believe that anything the US military spends money on is worth considering for an emergency preparedness plan. The military is a great resource for prepper skills, they spend millions of dollars every year teaching soldier how to fight and survive under the worst imaginable conditions. When they implement something new, I pay close attention to as many details as I can find.

Regardless of which model you choose to go with for long term food storage, I urge each of you to get a plan in place and start building that stockpile. I personally believe you should never have less than a 30 day supply of surplus food. That’s the bare minimum. Most disasters are “cleaned up,” and supply levels have returned to normal within 30 days of the disaster striking. That is not always the case, but for the most part this holds true. I also strongly urge everyone to visit a local farmer outside the city to seek surplus from; if you become a regular customer, they could be an invaluable resource when disaster strikes and the store shelves are empty.

For more in depth training, check out the full training modules in the rest of the Private Members Area!