Real Survival Exercises… that you can do today

Picture of Selco


I am Selco and I am from the Balkan region, and as some of you may know it was hell here from 92-95, anyway, for 1 whole year I lived and survived in a city WITHOUT: electricity, fuel, running water, food distribution, without any kind of organized law or government. The city was surrounded for 1 year and it actually was a real SHTF situation. Our allies were our enemies from one day to the next. Today I’m prepared and share my experience on this blog.

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Know your limits and push them when you prepare

We are preparing for any possible scenario, buying things that we possibly gonna need, practicing skills that we gonna need, talking and discussing about scenarios. We are doing anything in order to be more prepared and less surprised when sky falls down, when trucks stop going and it is each man for himself (and family).

Rarely we are ready to admit that we can not imagine how things are going to be. I found that part of preparing very important.

It is hard to discuss about things that we can not imagine, but it is absolutely important to prepare your mind that lot of things are not gonna unfold on the way as we imagine it now. When this happens we push our limits. You might have to do things you never do, see things you can hardly believe.

We need to prepare ourselves that we will be confused because this is what happens when you cross limits and end up at place you never been before. We need to expect that. We need to be able to feel confident while being confused and in new situations.

I mention before my friend who went trough same SHTF situation like me, and in some areas he experienced much more things than me. We talk and laugh a lot, we spend lot of time together, many years. But still he can surprise me with some of his story from that period, i guess lot of years need to pass by in order to men can talk about some traumatic events.

He was wounded couple of times, his story about one of his wounds is quite good for understanding how things are going, and how little or how great you can do in some situations.


They hold position in one of the ruined houses on far outskirts of city, more like a small settlement a bit outside of city, he was there with 12 more guys when attack came.

He says attack was so great that they fired few rounds only in response and then started to run, in very loud situation, with lot of firing and explosions they had enough time for very short discussion and plan, so they agreed that they run and retreat to a position some 2 miles from that house, if things get rougher they agree that backup position would be 1 more miles from first one.

They split in groups of 3 people and start to run trough ruined settlement.

I laughed when he said to me that after 1 mile he said to two other guys „f#ck the first place, let s go immediately to back up place“ But he said to me it was not funny at all.

One of them gets bullet in the head, and stayed there, they could not even check him if he is dead. After some time he said they were running through the woods, he asked me then „did you ever run through woods, in pitch dark, while bunch of the guys trying to shoot you?“

I did not answer anything.

On some small clearing he gets bullet in the thigh, and fell down, other guy helped him, while they keep running and he dragged himself through the woods, they start to use hand grenades in the direction where they tought attackers are coming.

Anyway they threw lot of that stuff, and after some time, everything went quiet.

They dragged themselves to back up position, he gets some more medical help there, there he realized that he lost most of his muscle on his upper leg, he said it did not hurt too much, not to mention that he managed to run over some time with that wound. Adrenaline and fear for your life does this to humans.

Little bit later 4 more guys came to that position, two of them wounded, nobody else came. Those two of them tell them that they get wounded with hand grenades that someone was throwing on them in whole confusion and dark.

They said that probably other guys from the group get killed on same area in the woods, maybe from the same grenades.

My friend and his colleague did not say anything. In that moment he started to feel pain from the wound, he says it still hurts him sometimes, even 20 years later.


The takeaway from this is if you train for SHTF put yourself in new situations. Start by running at night, when its raining on small dark paths (that you know in beginning). It takes time to get used to things like that and feel more confident when you hardly see where you go.

Survival is about advantages. If I feel comfortable in shady ruins or moving fast during pitch black forest that is a real advantage. You can imagine how to do this, but try doing this is much more important.

It feels funny to step into the darkness.

Simple things like running in the dark can be practiced and can make a big difference once things get tough.

Try this:

  • Run in the dark
  • Eat things you do not like to eat and try to appreciate them
  • Be able to get dirty without getting stressed about it
  • Walk different ways, get comfortable with unknown environments

Add your ideas in comments

Think about it this way, you are now in complete different world. Living every day like humans live. SHTF will be like moving on to a new, less civilized more brutal and unfair world. Like a fish in aquarium. When SHTF that aquarium breaks and you get flushed down toilet and have to swim in sewers. It is dirty and there are other predator fish out to get you. When the world changes you have to be ready to change too and from my experience many people could not.

If you hear this you might think, Selco has been in war so he describes very brutal situations I hopefully never experience. True, but in any crisis when people feel threatened they will turn unfair and every crisis will bring new situations. So when you practice this you will be better prepared not only for violent extreme SHTF, but for everything life can throw in your way.

If you are member of my course you will know from the interviews how unfair and wrong things can go. This helps to get better understanding of what to expect. Less surprises and hearing about successful ways to survive gives you a big advantage. But practice makes perfect so while theory is very important, a book warrior will never outrun someone who has real practice or experience.

Adjusting your life to do things not the typical human way and putting yourself in unfamiliar situations is one small change that can make you more confident when things get tough. Start doing it… better today than tomorrow. For some time now there will not be a better tomorrow.

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36 Responses

  1. Selco, Thanks for the newsletter. In today’s 6-24-12, I would disagree on one point. Your “But practice makes perfect so while theory is very important,” I was told similar early in life. I’ve learned that practice makes habit. If a person practices the wrong way about a thing, this will not make them perfect as in a given discipline. Thank you again for putting out the newsletter.

    1. “If a person practices the wrong way about a thing this will not make them perfect as in a given discipline”
      You are absolutely right with that, that is why I point to some things that need practice, our mindset too.
      We all need to expect confusion, in order to be prepared more to that.

      1. The way I say it – “Practice alone does not make perfect, but perfect practice make one perfectly proficient.” Thanks for explaining scenarios that we otherwise would not be able to understand or comprehend. It adds to our knowledge and helps us to be better equipped

      2. Perfect practice is imperative — mainly because in the field, under stress, your “perfect practice” will not be anywhere near “perfect.”
        The more stress — the more sloppy we become.
        That’s why training “perfect training” is so important.
        It helps compensate when things go bad.

        In our minds, we all like to think that we will perform like a “Hollywood Hero” in a crisis.
        Very rarely do we ever perform up to our expectations.

        Like Tyson said “Everyone has a plan – till I hit ’em.”

  2. “Adrenaline and fear for your life does this to humans.”


    Would you tell us how to practice being hid and quiet? I can do this for a little while but have problems doing it for as long as you.


    1. Try deer hunting. Sitting alone, often in freezing temperatures w wind blowing, for hours knowing if u make a sound or quick movement all ur effort will have been wasted. You start in pitch dark trying to find ur spot, then basically see how much u can take befor u cant stand the cold, or hunger, or not moving anymore and give up. Unless u get lucky and actually see a deer at sunrise!

      1. Very true but in the 50 some years of doing that I never had a deer stalk me with a weapon! Been in many places in the world where folks were after me using guns but I always had the ability to shoot back. To be in one place for hours if not days and not make a noise takes a certain ability that I do not posses. I am looking for tips on how to train my mind.

        Only people I know that can do this in the real world are Marine Force Recon Direct Action folks. There are many such units in the US fighting forces but my experience is with the US Marine folks.


        1. How to do stalking training against a formidable foe:

          1. Make a bacon covered jacket.
          2. Camp in bear country.
          3. Stay alert!

          …I’m kidding of course!

      2. You don’t necessarily have to ‘deer hunt’ or even be in woods to practice this. Try this in your backyard at night, BLINDFOLDED and try to train your ears to tell you what is creeping about or making other noises around you. Its just practice but you might be surprised what emotions that might bring.

        That is a great suggestion, I’ve climbed into a deer stand well before daylight and experienced the sounds. Use binoculars as early as possible to try and find out animal movements. Learning to move as quietly as possible crossing different terrain (i.e. tall grass, dead leaves, etc.).

  3. The after pain on wound when telling story was interesting to me. Memories and pain, or pain as a muscle memory is a theory I have for long while. New memories help with all kinds of pain, even body ones. Time best help for getting new memories.

  4. Yes, indeed. all too true. I was taught escape and evasion in a perfunctory way, in the military(as they usually do things, in the real world) but i find I learn more from things like bow hunting. Sneaking around in dark woods, hiding, camo, etc. And things like learning to sit quietly, for long periods. I reccomend it to anyone, even if you only use a camera. You learn what works, and what don’t. If the game can spot you, the “bad guys” will too.

  5. If I counted right, they lost half their group, with half of that group with wounds. That is staggering numbers, and I think this is the hardest part of survival that I can think of. If you have friends or relatives in your group, you may have to leave them behind in the effort to save the rest of the group. Mentally, that would be hard. Your first inclination is to help the severely wounded if they can’t help themselves. That act of kindness may cost you your life. Those are tough decisions.
    Thank you for putting all this into reality for us.

  6. Dear Selco,

    I have been reading your experiences for some time now. I am an American man who is a schoolteacher; I lived in the North and now I live in the South — I had to come here for a job. Anyway, I have taken your advice about things to make sure I have on hand — tools, matches and lighters, candles, lots of gravy, canned food, lots of toilet paper, etc etc. I have also taken your advice about making sure to have weapons and ammunition. I have recently acquired a good sturdy semi automatic rifle for a decent price (I don’t have a lot of money compared to many Americans, schoolteachers are not as highly paid as other professions). The rifle I got was an SKS made in Yugoslavia. Its solid and heavy and it works great, and it doesn’t have a lot of recoil…very important since I’m not exactly Rambo! In honor of you, I have named this rifle Selco. I know this may seem strange, and I hope that you are not offended in any way. I just thought that I would let you know


    1. 🙂
      No, I am not offended of course, i am flattered.
      PAP rifle had some history here in this region, and lot of people own that weapon for “just in case” events.

      1. Well thank you, I’m glad to hear that! The SKS is very popular here, and it seems way sturdier and a lot less fussy than firearms that cost upwards of five times as much. By the way, I found an item on the “Yooper John” website that tells you how to date a Yugo SKS; apparently mine was made the same year my wife was born… another happy coincidence 🙂

    2. Sam,

      Welcome to the South. If you get ouside and acclimatize yourself to the heat, and get a little exercise, you will be more Rambo-esque than many (probably most) of your fellow Southerners. Last I checked the South is the most overweight section of an overweight country.


      1. Thanks for the welcome Russell I do get outside as much as possible; I’ve always had a garden, and damn! this place has a great growing season. As for the Rambo thing, I just meant that I have no military training and never even owned guns until this past year. I still laugh thinking about my first time with a 12 gauge: indoor ranges require slugs….damn, it felt like I was firing a bazooka. Low recoil slugs helped with that though.

        Point taken about the weight factor, but I’m not surprised: this is the region that invented the deep fried snickers bar 🙂

    3. I think that is cool naming your rifle Selco. I wrote a little book on Firearms for Preparedness due to so many people asking me. Here’s what I wrote about the SKS – you might agree. “This may be the best semi-auto defensive rifle or carbine available for someone with limited funds to spend as they are still widely available and comparatively inexpensive. They are adequately accurate and imported ammunition is also widely available and comparatively inexpensive and the 7.62 x 39 ammunition it shoots has enough power to be used for hunting purposes up to deer sized game – although I would recommend American ammunition designed specifically for hunting for this purpose.”

  7. I think it would be really hard not to fidget especially with a bug biting me or something. Also my hair is always blowing around and getting in my eyes and mouth, and it comes out of any style I do to it (very fine slippery hair). I think I will start carrying a head kerchief with me.

    I just saw a photo of some Russian ladies with rifles circa WW2, and they were all wearing head kerchiefs. Good way to keep your hair long and still have it controlled for combat.

    Another thing someone who fidgets could try is to sit and not scratch any itch that pops up, for a certain number of minutes, then make that time longer and longer.

    One thing I am doing to get fit is I’m gardening about 2 to 5 hours a day, and this makes me sore all over. Then I got my bike fixed and started riding it around. Plus I got running shoes, but that was a dud. But mostly I want my exercise to be part of my daily life instead of this giant chunk of time that is good for nothing else.

    Learning to fight/run in inconvenient shoes (i.e. high heels) is a good skill. Having your heel elevated totally changes your balance. I solve that one by almost NEVER wearing high heels in the first place. Besides they really hurt my feet. But you might get caught in flip flops having to run in the woods.

    Developing muscle memory for just a few kinds of defenses to physical attack is a good thing to do. Have 2 or 3 stock things you can do without thinking, and practice them. It’s better than knowing 20 defenses but not having any in muscle memory.

    Many people who carry a weapon start thinking they can only defend from attack with that weapon. You have your whole body available.

    I also regularly eat weeds and I ate a raccoon last year just to see what it was like. (it was good). Purslane is out now and it’s good for pickling. Lambs quarter is also pretty good, you can eat the tops raw. More nutritious than spinach.

    If you save edible weed seeds, you can guerrilla garden and not many other people will recognize those weeds as food.

    I suggest also, get turnip seeds. Good source of carbs, also of greens, many people have never eaten turnips and wouldn’t recognize them, although deer might eat them. And you don’t have to worry about seed potato saving, or potato diseases, with turnips, and you can grow them twice in a year. Maybe even in window boxes, or like that, if you live in a concrete jungle.

    1. Once in the Marine Corps you are welcomed to enjoy the training facility at Parris Island SC, the land that god forgot. How we were trained not to figet. After we ate chow we stood at attention for at least a 1/2hr. after eating and sand fleas would be all over us. The Drill Instructor then told us not to move, we had our lunch, now it’s thier turn. Any recruit that moved or swated at the discomfort was severaly disaplined, i.e., 50-100 push ups, dig a grave, 6X6X6 for the flea and have a funeral service, etc., After seeing or being the one to endure this the discomfort was less a burdun then enduring the punishment.

      To train yourself to hold still try putting yourself in a “Happy Place” mentally, but still be aware of your surroundings. The “BIGGEST MOTIVATOR” remember your scratch, itch, or twicth, could give away your postion and cost you and or others YOUR LIVES! Let the critters crawl, bite, do whatever to you, THEY WON’T KILL YOU, THE PEOPLE THAT SEE YOU WILL!

    1. There were rumors that everything going to end, that truce will came. But people did not trust too much. So yes on a way it was sudden. When everything was over then we realized actually what really happened, i mean real magnitude. For lot of the folks it is not over yet, and real truth about events from that period is still questionable. It is still dangerous to ask openly some questions from that period.

  8. As a survival exercise, I’d like to add “go camping”, especially wild camping. It gets you used to living on only what you can carry on your back, and to being outside.

  9. Thank you again Selco for talking about the intangible prepping we so often overlook. I worked in a crisis homeless shelter for youth for a couple of years. Teenagers who had learned to sleep with one eye open so they wouldn’t be raped or set on fire for the next “extreme bum fights”, to eat from dumpsters, roast park caught squirrel, stay awake and on their feet for hours at a time carrying packs, walk everywhere they need to go, and constantly worry about the basic health and safety of their closet friends and sometimes blood family, all while keeping an eye out for authorities and/or other who may want to harm them, and frequently while dealing with their own mental health issues( which we all will be in a true long term emergency). For these kids the S has already HTF and even the best prepared prepper could learn from them. RESILIENCE and ADAPTABILITY are the keys to survival.

    Very small steps to start with, try doing your daily routine in new ways. I’ve started walking to and from work (about 5 miles each way) about half the time, and learning different routes. Same for the grocery store, etc. Also started going to various ethnic stores to acclimate myself to new (and frequently cheaper) foods. Having worked swing shifts, overnights, and on-call I know how much messing with your sleep can incapacitate you so I’d also recommend seeing how you handle changes in your sleep schedule and going without sleep for long periods.

  10. Practice, ‘excercise’, with your weapons, check on ammo cache (more than one location), excercise SHTF plan with handful people you trust with your life, learn different ways to exploit resources like water & food from your environment, check first aid list and training, excercise acquiring native plants and animals, stock up on batteries for flashlights (headlamps) and emergency radios that can pick up shortwave signals, good tool kit for fixing the things you need and basic wood tools, water purification capabilities, good set of knives for food processing & various applications (and means to sharpen them), perhaps solar means to recharge batteries, good set of walkie-talkies, rope/duct tape, means for sewing, great footwear, camping supplies etc. I’m not LDS but do keep an eye for folks that are in the business of being prepared and check out their info

    As others mention learn how to see your life without the routine that has become expected everyday. Think about ways you and your loved ones can ‘blend in’ during SHTF. Don’t stand out by standing in the street with assault rifle. Excercise “Grey Man Directive”

    Anyway some thoughts that come to mind about pre-SHTF

  11. Observe how people walk. What is their gait like? Do they lead with their feet, chest, chin? Do they have a limp? Practice, like an actor, walking with a different cadence or gait; it might help you to evade someone in a crowd. You change your gait and suddenly you become a different person in a crowd and you are much harder to detect.

    1. Excellent advice… Want to have some fun? Make a game out of it. Pretend to be different people and see if you can pull it off without people staring or thinking there’s something wrong with you…

      I have a weird sense of humor – when younger I’d do this in (for example) a coffee shop, then come in later with a different accent/walk/hat/etc and ask if anyone had seen my earlier incarnation…

      You could tell when they looked at you like you’d lost your mind that you’d blown it, but when I started getting good at it people would go out of their way to try to help me find my friend that I was worried about, or my sister’s boyfriend who’d run out on her, or… or… or…

      The ability to mimic can be very valuable, especially in times like those that are coming… If the bad-guys are seeking someone with a southern accent and a limp they’re not too likely to notice the healthy person with the new-york accent!

  12. Selco….I’m a single male that has been preparing myself for a SHTF scenario and realized you were talking to me when you said you can’t make it alone. I have now make arraignments with my brothers to head to their respective homes and try to survive with them. They are not preppers…but said they would put up with my fanaticism because I’m the oldest and over the years I’ve done a lot for them. Both love guns and I’ve be fen practicing making bows from pvc pipes and gardening and hope I can turn them on to prepperism slowly and by making it fun. I am a practicing survivorist and at the moment live in the desert…..kind of hard to hide here…but I go out and do the best I can. Also, I hunt small game, like rabbits and skin and eat them on my treks. I can do this……but I’m not sure until it happens if i can somehow prepare myself to fight a tank or fight my fellow Americans. These things I cannot practice or contemplate. Thank you for sharing, Selco….we feel your pain. Rusty

  13. A while back, I did just that. I went for a night hike on a nature trail that goes through urban and rural areas. Just 12 miles in the dark. I went with a ruck, intending to sleep out and hike more in the morning. Logically, I knew it was safe, but I bought a pistol anyway, just in case. I didn’t bring night vision, but I think I should have. I was freaked all damn night!
    I knew it was safe and perfectly normal by day, but at night it was one thing after another. First, there were the deer. Lots of deer. I spooked at least 11. One, I popped up over a ridge 20 feet from him and he went crazy. That was the first of at least 11 heart attacks. My mind played tricks on me the whole time. And I’m not a tender person or afraid of the dark. Every so often, a deer would explode deeper into the brush, snorting and sneezing, and scaring the heck out of me. At another point, I was surprised by two animals rutting in the bushes. I couldn’t see them well, but I turned on a small light and two pairs of red eyes were looking back at me, caught in the act. Another time, crossing a wooden bridge high up over a farmer’s pasture with a creek flowing through it, something shrieked in the creepiest, most hair-raising manner I’ve ever heard. You would have thought I was lost in Resident Evil, or something.
    Then, there were the people. This path passed through urban areas, suburban neighborhoods, and rural areas. So there were people here and there. The path is officially closed at night, but that didn’t stop me, so I figured it wouldn’t stop anyone else. Even though I tried to be invisible and alert, there were a couple times someone would pop up out of the dark not far ahead of me and I wasn’t sure who saw who first.
    Nothing happened, of course, but it was a real experience hiking through the dark that night. Sorry, I opted to drive home and sleep in a warm bed after all that. I’ll be going out and doing it again soon.

    1. That s exactly what i thought when i said to go out and check things, practice. Things are much different outside, in the dark. You noticed how every sound is loud out in the dark. Just imagine how much more intense would be if real danger is there, if someone is maybe in ambush, or if you have to check every sound while adrenaline is pumping.
      Taking pistol is good idea, no matter is it real danger there, just bring it as real as can be and check how you react. Over the time everyone can learn to recognize mistakes, to control fear and anxiety.

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