11/05/2012 5:28pm, #1
Classes in wilderness survival and fieldcraft...worth the money?
In the past few years I've become increasingly interested in spending time out in and learning about nature. I feel that enjoying nature, gaining navigation and survival skills, and knowledge about the wilderness goes hand in hand with enjoyment and skill with firearms.
I'm considering whether or not I should spend time and money attending wilderness survival and fieldcraft classes. I've not had any prior formal training in these areas although lately I've been spending more time out in the desert, practicing land nav, and learning about fire starting, sheltering, and local plants from some knowledgable friends of mine.
Just looking on the internet, I was able to find 2 schools.
The first one is Sigma 3 Survival School down in Georgia. They're much cheaper than the other school I found, Tom Brown's Tracker School in New Jersey. Perhaps this has mostly to do with the fact that Georgia is cheaper than Joisey. Also, Tom Brown's looks like their clientele might be more hippie-like and therefore more apt to spend money.
Basically, they both offer beginner and advanced survival classes. Sigma 3 also offers a sniper fieldcraft course which looks awesome, which culminates in your having to take some shots and then exfiltrate while the instructors chase you: http://www.survivalschool.us/class-l...t-field-craft/
Tom Brown's has some kind of warrior scout stuff listed on the website but there aren't much details. The classes are like 800 bucks a pop and there's a lot of them. I'm not saying there's anything negative about the school, but somehow in my mind I wonder if that's not like a ninja dojo somewhere offering a whole bunch of expensive classes for people who buy into the mystique.
Anyway, basically I want to enhance my knowledge of survival, fieldcraft, and tracking, and I'm not totally sure if spending the money and the time in classes would be a good investment or not. I'm hoping someone has an opinion they could share.Best Vietnam War music video I've ever seen put together by a vet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDY8raKsdfg
11/05/2012 5:43pm, #2
Tom Brown has some survival books, and aside from technical info you get a little bit of insight into his personality, so maybe check one out and see if its your cup of tea.
11/05/2012 6:37pm, #3
Ray Mears. Superbly knowledgeable outdoor/woodsman expert. First featured in the BBC "Tracks" programme and subsequently got his own programme series. Terrific skills and insight. Also a Judo Shodan.
John "Lofty" Wiseman. ex-WO1 with the SAS and produced a superb book on Survival. It's been in print for many years now and is packed with information that you might find useful.
11/05/2012 7:15pm, #4
- Join Date
- May 2007
- Lafayette, IN
Nothing wrong with taking a course on survival and fieldcraft, but frankly I would suspect that you could find most of the information you need in the field manuals (FMs) of various countries' militaries. The US Army's FMs can generally be acquired free of charge in PDF form. After that just take a few trips into the woods with some like-minded buddies to try it out.
The tracking, on the other hand, is harder to learn without someone teaching you, at least at first. I'd recommend taking up hunting. Find a more senior hunter to buddy up with. After you pick up a few of his tricks and tips, you'll learn more by actually tracking your quarry than you otherwise would.
11/05/2012 8:54pm, #5
That survival course stuff is what it is, but I'll bet you'd get a lot of value from a few $20 books on wild herbalism and natural medicine.
Being able to spot and use plantain leaves (which are nearly everywhere you look) on a bleeding wound, sores, or insect stings...that's real gold.
---Medicinal Action and Properties---Refrigerant, diuretic, deobstruent and somewhat astringent. Has been used in inflammation of the skin, malignant ulcers, intermittent fever, etc., and as a vulnerary, and externally as a stimulant application to sores. Applied to a bleeding surface, the leaves are of some value in arresting haemorrhage, but they are useless in internal haemorrhage, although they were formerly used for bleeding of the lungs and stomach, consumption and dysentery. The fresh leaves are applied whole or bruised in the form of a poultice. Rubbed on parts of the body stung by insects, nettles, etc., or as an application to burns and scalds, the leaves will afford relief and will stay the bleeding of minor wounds.
Fluid extract: dose, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
In the Highlands the Plantain is still called 'Slan-lus,' or plant of healing, from a firm belief in its healing virtues. Pliny goes so far as to state, 'on high authority,' that if 'it be put into a pot where many pieces of flesh are boiling, it will sodden them together.' He also says that it will cure the madness of dogs. Erasmus, in his Colloquia, tells a story of a toad, who, being bitten by a spider, was straightway freed from any poisonous effects he may have dreaded by the prompt eating of a Plantain leaf.
Another old Herbal says: 'If a woodhound (mad dog) rend a man, take this wort, rub it fine and lay it on; then will the spot soon be whole. ' And in the United States the plant is called 'Snake Weed,' from a belief in its efficacy in cases of bites from venomous creatures; it is related that a dog was one day stung by a rattlesnake and a preparation of the juice of the Plantain and salt was applied as promptly as possible to the wound. The animal was in great agony, but quickly recovered and shook off all trace of its misadventure. Dr. Robinson (New Family Herbal) tells us that an Indian received a great reward from the Assembly of South Carolina for his discovery that the Plantain was 'the chief remedy for the cure of the rattlesnake.'
The Broad-leaved Plantain seems to have followed the migrations of our colonists to every part of the world, and in both America and New Zealand it has been called by the aborigines the 'Englishman's Foot' (or the White Man's Foot), for wherever the English have taken possession of the soil the Plantain springs up. Longfellow refers to this in 'Hiawatha.'
Our Saxon ancestors esteemed it highly and in the old Lacnunga the Weybroed is mentioned as one of nine sacred herbs. In this most ancient source of Anglo-Saxon medicine, we find this 'salve for flying venom':
'Take a handful of hammer wort and a handful of maythe (chamomile) and a handful of waybroad and roots of water dock, seek those which will float, and one eggshell full of clean honey, then take clean butter, let him who will help to work up the salve, melt it thrice: let one sing a mass over the worts, before they are put together and the salve is wrought up. Some of the recipes for ointments in which Plantain is an ingredient have lingered to the present day. Lady Northcote, in The Book of Herbs (1903), mentions an ointment made by an old woman in Exeter that up to her death about twenty years ago was in much request. It was made from Southernwood, Plantain leaves, Black Currant leaves, Elder buds, Angelica and Parsley, chopped, pounded and simmered with clarified butter and was considered most useful for burns or raw surfaces. A most excellent ointment can also be made from Pilewort (Celandine), Elder buds, Houseleek and the Broad Plantain leaf.
11/07/2012 1:31pm, #6
- Join Date
- Feb 2011
Brown has some useful items in his books, but I agree with an earlier post regarding FMs. The thing about the classes is that you get the chance to avaoid a lot of the errors that can cost you your life in the field. Another nice source of information, to include directories for schools/classes, is the Wilderness Survival forums and magazines. here is one: http://www.wildwoodsurvival.com/survival/index.html
11/07/2012 2:49pm, #7
I would consider going to one of those classes, just for the fun of going camping somewhere I haven't been before. And you can always learn something from someone.
Tomorrow I'm going squirrel hunting out in the Apilachicola swamps for 4 days. We ride a boat out to a random spot in the swamps and then camp there for 4 days. It is pretty fun and we always try to learn new skills while we are out there. Starting fires with nothing, building shelters, cooking on the fire with dutch ovens, stewing squirrels, fun stuff like that. We track hogs, deer, coons, and have a good time. I've learned a lot and had a lot of fun doing it.
I think either way, you will have a good experience.
11/07/2012 3:56pm, #8
Navigation skills using a map and compass will open up your wilderness opportunities enormously. A lot of people think that they can but can really only use their compass to point North.
11/07/2012 5:06pm, #9
- Join Date
- Feb 2009
- San Diego CA
I think the problem with some of these classes has to do with geography. I live in semi arid southern Ca. Any classes that deal with surviving in the wild out here would need to be of an entirely different sort than I would get in say Georgia.
Flora, fauna, weather, water availability and even tracking would all be completely different. For survival it would be critical to take this into account. Land nav would be more universal and shelter building could be adapted, but I would really try to find something close to your neck of the woods.
11/07/2012 6:34pm, #10
- Join Date
- Feb 2012
I would realy like to do one of these but here in Portugal there isnt realy that much wilderness to survive in (unless you count endless eucalyptus plantations as such). Maybe in Spain or Morocoo, someday, or If I get rich Canada or NE Europe...