There are four levels of preparedness: personal preparedness, vehicle preparedness, home preparedness, and retreat or bug out preparedness.  The focus of this series is on your personal preparedness.  When we talk about personal preparedness, there are four basic aspects that fall into this category: spiritual preparation & mindset (see PART 1), physical body (see PART 2), personal skills, and gear.

When talking about being prepared for an emergency, the first thing people always think about is the gear that you need. However, one of the most neglected areas of all is mindset which was already covered in PART1.  The next area of personal preparedness that is often neglected is physical body preparedness which was covered in PART2.  Preparing yourself by developing your personal skills is the focus of this particular article.

It goes without saying that skill development is important.  Skills are things that no one can take away from you.  The set of skills you posses are the invisible tools you carry with you wherever you go.  By developing your skills, you quickly learn many of the things you do not know now.  It is important to train with your tools to become proficient in their use.  There have been estimates on what it takes for the conscious act to become something that is done at the unconscious level.  This is developing "muscle memory", meaning the ability to do things without having to consciously think about doing them.  This has been estimated by some to be between 3000 - 5000 repetitions.  An example of this to being able to efficiently draw your firearm from a concealed position and present your weapon on target.  The amount of reps needed can be debated, but the truth remains that it takes repetition in order to develop muscle memory.  The repetition equates to time and effort expenditures on your part to get there.  Don't expect that you will rise to the occasion.  Most often people will fall back to their level training.  If you trained like it didn't matter, that's how you will perform.

Developing muscle memory is not only about shooting guns.  This also encompasses self-defense tactics, survival skills like fire / shelter making, navigation, first aid, wild edible plant identification, gardening and others.  Practicing each of these skills simply makes you better at doing them.  Many of these skills also take time to learn and master. 

Skill development is important, but be careful when choosing where to learn certain skills.  Training should be realistic, efficient, and consistent.  For example, when learning self defense tactics, think about what you are being taught.  Be skeptical of all the hype.  Many martial arts schools teach things that are not practical or will never work in real life situations.  Stay away from all the flashy high flying kicks or beautiful throws.  They may look good in the movies, but rarely do they work in real life situations.  Is it realistic to think you can hit tiny pressure points it the middle of a full on brawl with the other person who is trying to smash your head in?  I think not.  Keep it simple.  Seek to be well rounded in all of the areas of self defense including unarmed combatives, ground defense, escapes, and utilizing the tools you carry with you (e.g. gun, knife, stick...).

Being able to honestly assess yourself in all of these areas is very important.  In the emergency preparedness context, you could try going without food for a day or two to simulate the lost in the woods scenario.  You could try a long hike with your work clothes and what you have with you to simulate a vehicle breakdown.  Turn off the power at your home for a certain length of time to simulate a power outage. This is done to make an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses.  It will tell you what works, what doesn't, and what changes need to be made.  

By developing your skill set, you will also be enhancing your mindset.  Knowing you have the ability to to do things, like making a fire by friction for example, is a real ego booster.  When a real life situation presents itself, you will be more able to deal with the situation at hand with a relatively calm demeanor.  It might not be a bed of roses, but preventing panic is very important. If you're in a state of panic, it is very difficult to make good decisions.

Make a list of all the skills you need to learn.  Think about the most important skills and prioritize them.  As it was stated earlier, some things take time and repetition to learn.  Turn off the TV and start the learning process!  By the way...make this an enjoyable experience, so you will stick with it.

Continued in PART4