When a cook comes up with a new recipe, he practices it before serving it in a restaurant for guests. When a barrel racer attends a rodeo, she has spent hundreds of hours in the saddle. When a bow hunter goes out into the woods, his bow is tuned and he's shot many arrows into a target. With each of these skills, the tools that are used are practiced with over and over and over again, so that they can be the best Chef, Cowgirl or Hunter possible.
So, why should it be any different when it comes to survival? It shouldn't be! Every tool, gadget or accessory that we acquire should be understood, trained with, and utilized.
Here are some ideas to get the rust off your survival gear!
#1 First Aid Kits
When you buy a First Aid Kit, I hope you don't just toss it in the trunk for safe keeping. Open it up, familiarize yourself with it, inventory what is in there. Practice unpacking and repacking it. Take a Basic First Aid course as well as CPR/AED Training. Having it as a tool is useless if you don't know how to use the items inside. Have a friend give you a name of an item, and time yourself on how long it takes to find it. We don't care how you do it, but we promise you it's important!
#2 Water Filter
Whether it's a part of your emergency kit, your bug out bag, or stashed in the glovebox of your car. Owning a water filter and knowing how to use it is absolutely essential. I can tell you how awesome it is, but unless you use it and understand it, you are cutting yourself short. In addition to knowing how to use it, you need to form habits around it. Owning it is one thing, actually having it where you can use it in an emergency is another. Clip it on your backpack every time you go for a hike, put it in your pack every time you go camping, make sure its in your car before you hit the road, or have several so all your bases are covered. But most of all, don't be afraid to use!
#3 Knives and Tactical Tools
You can have all the gadgets in the world, but if you don't use them, what good do they do you? So, survival knife, multitool, tactical folding knife, or protection... practice with it! Take a self defense course. Try out cutting all sorts of different material with it, you never know what you may need it for in survival. Research the proper way to sharpen it. And make a habit of having it on you! Doesn't do you any good to shred that tinder out in the woods if its sitting on your nightstand at home.
#4 Survival Kits
Survival kits like this Paracord Survival Grenade Fishing Kit are awesome, and can come in really handy in a survival situation, but are even better equipped if you know what you're doing. If you have never started a fire with a magnesium fire rod, an eye knife and cotton tinder... do yourself a favor and practice in a controlled environment where your life is not on the line. If you've never gone fishing, or are used to fancy lures, etc, take a step back and see what you can do with a hook, line and an earth worm. Familiarize yourself with tying knots, and take your survival kit with you wherever you go, no matter how mundane, you never know when you'll need it!
#5 Bug Out and Emergency Bags
It doesn't matter how essential every item in your bag is, if you don't train carrying it at capacity, more then likely you'll be in for a rude awakening. Whether SHTF or a natural disaster occurs, your pack needs to be ready to go, easy to access, and you need to be fully prepared to go anywhere with it. Pack your bag the way you would want it in a true emergency and go see how truly far you can go with it. Hike a few miles, walk some stairs, climb over some walls, crawl around and see if its comfortable. Doesn't matter how silly you feel doing these things, if it prepares you for the time you truly need it.
All in all, get out there and use those items you put your hard earned money into so that when the time comes, you're prepared!