Saturday, October 6, 2012

10 Old Fashioned Skills You Should Still Practice

Here's ten old fashioned skills you still need to know even though it is the 21st century:

  1. Yes I know that everyone and their brother uses their newfangled smartphones for communications these days but in a SHTF scenario (or even during a random EMP attack) your cell phone is going to become a very expensive paperweight.  Learn how to use a HAM radio.
  2. Wayfinding with map and compass.  I'm not one to eschew new GPS technology (except when my old GPS unit tells me to make a left and it's obvious that there is no place to make a left and that doing so would launch me off a cliff or something).  So imagine that your GPS is DOA for whatever reason and all of your markers have been washed away.  That's why you need this skill.
  3. 40 years ago if I told a kid to go out and hunt up some dinner they would grab their 22 or their fishing pole and come back with something resembling food.  These days if I said that they would probably give me a blank stare like I had lost my mind or something.  Know how to procure your own food (and not from a grocery store).
  4. Making a shelter.  When I was a kid we did this for entertainment (it was called making a fort in those days).  This meant going out in the woods (or in some out of the way pocket in an urban area) and making a small shelter that would--theoretically--keep you dry and protected for the night.  Fortunately I had a grandfather who grew up in the woods so he had no qualms about letting us sleep out in our forts all summer long.  Again, this is a lost skill that people should really practice because you never know when a Katrina-esq event will wipe away your home and leave you without shelter.  And if you don't know what I mean, seek out a homeless encampment, these folks know how to keep themselves warm and dry while living outside.
  5. How to entertain yourself sans anything electronic.  I know many people who would be hard-pressed to do anything except stare numbly at their unworking cell phone/laptop/TV should all electronics be wiped out.  Play cards, play board games, knit...basically learn how to do things that don't require electricity to keep you and the family entertained.
  6. How to cook from scratch.  What happens if every food service vendor within 50 miles suddenly shut down?  Many people would be hard-pressed to fend for themselves in this area.  So start practicing today in order to have at least marginal skills at keeping your family fed in the event of a SHTF event.
  7. Gardening is a hobby today for some people but I believe that too few people actually know how to grow even a small percentage of food that would be needed to keep their family fed in the event that they couldn't access a grocery store.  Our nation has had a history of gardening to provide much needed food--everything from kitchen gardens on every farmstead to Victory Gardens during the war--but this too is becoming a lost art.  Practice this skill and you may be surprised that not only does it lower your grocery bill but it also provides a bit of exercise and self sufficiency as well.
  8. Building your own weapons.  Of course I would take an assortment of firearms and copious amounts of ammo any day but what happens during a long-term disaster when these items run out?  Homemade weapons are certainly a thing of the past but it can be fun/useful/insightful to make and use your own slingshots and bow and arrow set.
  9. People skills are important (and often sadly lacking in this day and age).  Since most people do a majority of their communicating via electronic methods these days, some old fashioned communication skills have fallen by the wayside.  Learning how to barter, how to persuade someone to your point of view, how to be personable, how to mind your manners, how to take a leadership role, et al. are often unknown, overlooked, or just plain foreign concepts to people today.  They are still worth practicing and knowing.
  10. Good old fashioned muscle power.  Nearly everything has been brought to a point these days that muscle power is virtually unnecessary.  Nevertheless, building up your muscle power can have some significant benefits in a SHTF scenario.  Years ago you became muscular not through a gym membership but because everyday you were splitting wood, walking miles to school, hauling hay, carrying stuff up five flights of stairs sans elevator, etc. Go out of your way to use and develop your muscles/stamina/etc. not only for use in a disaster but to keep yourself out of the doctor's office as well.  


  1. Excellent list! Thanks for creating it.

    Even though I'm a ham radio operator, I'd have to respectfully disagree with the first item though. After an EMP, I wouldn't expect a ham radio to work unless it's been hardened and shielded. If it has, tho, you are not dependent on cell towers and the like. You can communicate great distances directly.

    It will come in handy during a revolution, natural disaster, etc, where cellphones and internet may be limited.



  2. I would also add knowing how to make your knife scary sharp - a dull blade is unsafe and when forced to cut, may slip and cause unneeded body damage.