Rucksack Quality Time – Make sure you spend some ‘quality time’ with your ruck. That means walking increasingly longer distances in increasingly faster time as you increase your core strength. Make sure you don’t have any attention getting items strapped to the outside of the ruck if you’re walking in built up urban or suburban areas. Smooth is the way to go. Try to get to a 15 minute mile with your ruck on.
Dead Horse Beating for Fun and Profit – Here’s the ‘dead horse’ we’ll continue to beat: Personal strength and fitness training. You don’t need a gym membership, you don’t need much of anything but a floor space and maybe a folding chair or two to help you get in very, very good physical condtion. Your ruck can help you also (more on that in a minute…). The best exercise you can start with is strict form pushups. Just do it, but don’t over-do it. If you can only do one, fine, but do it. Walk. Without your ruck if you’re not in shape, and only to the end of your driveway and back if that’s what it takes, but do it. Here’s an exercise you can do with your loaded ruck that will work on core strength in the comfort of your own home: Strap your ruck on, complete with the kidney belt fastened, just like you would if you were going to GOOD. Now, as you extend one leg back as far as you can comfortably go (say the right leg) while bending the opposite leg at the knee, reach with your right hand (because you extended the right leg behind you) for the toe of the stationary foot (in the example it’d be the left foot). Once you come close or touch it, stand up and repeat with the opposite leg. It’s akin to exercises that skaters do when not on the ice. If touching the toe is too hard, try this modification: As you extend the right foot rearward, extend the left hand while you’re bending as if you were reaching for something. Stay there just a second, come up, and repeat with the other side. Try to get 5 reps out on each side as a start. It works your balance, your back, your abs and your legs.
Random Truth – Pistols are for surprises; if you know there’s a problem, bring your rifle.
Rifle Quality Time – Try to spend eight hours every now and then with your chosen rifle strapped to you. The time to get used to it being part of you is before an emergency.
Over-confidence – Reading, watching DVD’s, going to seminars on a particular subjectd are all superb ways to become familiar with a subject or skill. The problem is that if you don’t practice what you’ve learned, you might become over-confident and find that you can’t perform near the level you thought you might when a particular skill performance really counts. You can always practice something ‘one more time’ and you’ve never, ever ‘trained enough.’
Random Truth #2 – The man or woman who knows their weapons and equipment inside and out from spending great amounts of time with them even though the equipment is less than ‘top shelf’ will do much better than the person with all the ‘bells and whistles’ who likes to stare lovingly at his or her equipment and hates to get it dirty.
Equipment Care and Use – Buy the best you can afford. Then, after making sure it’s clean and dry, treat it with a water repellant like ‘Camp Dry’. Let it cure, and then use it. Get it dirty. Don’t treat it like it’s made of glass. Get to know it so well that you don’t need to look while you adjust it. And then, when you come back from training, let it dry, and then clean and repack it.
Weapons and ammo – How many can you carry? How much ammo? Have a plan on what you’ll do with your extras should things ‘Go South’. The truth of the matter is that you can effectively shoot only one weapon at a time, whether it be a pistol, rifle, or shotgun. If you want all three capabilities, you have to carry all three. Work that into your planning and practice doing it.
Boots – Don’t scrimp. Get the best you can afford. Go all ‘Wally World’ when you buy your boots to save a buck and your feet will pay the price later. Take care of your feet. Buy good socks. Keep four pair minimum in your ruck (DTG recommends six pair, but we sometimes over pack). Consider buying your boots a half-size larger to allow for swelling when on your feet for a long time. It’ll help keep them warm in cool or cold weather. Snow Seal is your friend.