The Lost Art of Self-Sufficiency

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Mar 20, 2013 | By Bryan Black

When we're looking for our tactical gear fix, you can usually find us over at ITS Tactical, one of our favorite reads and a definitive resource for skill-set information, tactical gear reviews and DIY projects. One of ITS' core beliefs is self-sufficiency, and so we asked our buddy and ITS founder Bryan Black to share his thoughts on the skill-sets needed to become self-sufficient. For those interested in learning more about a particular skill-set, click on the hyperlinks to be taken to specific ITS posts.

When was the last time you set aside an hour for yourself to practice a new skill-set, or took that initial step to advance your self-sufficiency?

I don't mean the typical perception of self-sufficiency; wearing a tin foil hat and waiting around for the world to end. I mean a skill that will help you save time, save money or even save a life.

There are so many skill-sets that fall under this description. However, I'll provide just a few in this article and point to where you can go to find out more. What I'll mention here today are what I personally consider to be the skill-sets that have been forgotten by time, or ignored due to their social implications.

Fitness, Escaping Illegal Restraint/Lock Picking, First Aid and Knot Tying are at the top of my list. Let me explain each of these four topics and why you should pay attention to them.



Do you think you could physically save your own life? Having the physical strength to overcome adversity in any kind of situation should be at the top of your list. This applies to men and women alike.

Let’s start by defining strength. I'm not talking about the superhuman lift-up-a-car kind of strength, or being able to bench press three times your body weight. Save that cosmetic crap for the gym to impress your buddies.

What I'm talking about is functional strength. All the bench press reps in the world aren’t going to help you get over the wall that’s blocking your escape route, nor give you the means to climb a rope to reach safety.



There's nothing nefarious about learning how to escape from illegal restraint. Zip tieshandcuffs, and rope can easily be purchased on the web or at a hardware store (and obtained by criminals), so it's important to know how to escape from these devices should you ever be restrained against your will. 

Learning about these methods of escape and how locks work will truly give you a comprehensive picture of the illusion of security and will hopefully make you take another look at your home security and the locks that keep your family safe.



Having a knowledge base when it comes to treating traumatic wounds, or even knowing how to stop the bleeding, is one skill-set I truly hold dear. 

I make a point to never be without the essentials to stop traumatic bleeding. When outdoors our out on an adventure, I carry an EDC Trauma Kit in my back pocket, and I have more comprehensive kits in my vehicle and at my house.

The ability to save a life, whether it's yours or a complete stranger's, is a skill I wish everyone would learn. For those of you who carry a gun on a daily basis, shouldn't you be able to save a life, as well as take one?

Get yourself into a Red Cross First Aid class at the very least.  Join your local CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) and look into furthering your medical training. The resources are out there at your disposal, for you to learn something new and to be able to help yourself and those around you.



Knots are by far one of the most unappreciated and lost skills to date. Beyond the square knot, could you tie the right knot to secure yourself in a swift water rescue? How about to lower yourself or valuable supplies down a cliff or hillside?

On the not so extreme side, can you properly secure a load in a truck bed so that nothing flies out onto the highway and causes an accident? There are so many different applications for knots that it's impossible to list them all.

Don't neglect this lost skill-set. I'm constantly reinforcing the importance of knot tying to my son's Boy Scout Troop and I love giving back to an organization that continues to teach under appreciated skill-sets to our youth. That, however, is a topic for another article.

A huge thanks to Huckberry for allowing me to share my perspective on a few of these skill-sets that you'll hopefully look into more now. It doesn't take long to practice and reinforce new skills in your life. What are you waiting for?

Bryan Black is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of ITS Tactical, an online resource for gear reviews, skill-sets and DIY projects. His hobbies include not drinking creatine, learning something new everyday and donating his time to helping mold Boy Scouts into tomorrow's leaders.