Short answer: Never.
“Never” is not to be construed that skills aren’t developed, honed, and increased over time or that expertise isn’t gained to one degree or another. They are, and, depending on the person and the educational method involved, possibly to a very high degree. Even so, the individual involved errs if he or she says, “Well, there…I’m done. I don’t need to learn another thing!”
Simply, what we learn in relation to what we do for protecting our families and neighborhood/community is perishable and has a shelf life. These skills are truly, “don’t use them, you’ll lose them” capabilities. Need an example? Here’s one of the cornerstones: Fitness. If you become unable to lift your ruck, walk your distance, hold your rifle, run a good way, it doesn’t matter what you ‘know’….you’ve become nothing more than a speed bump for marauding parasites in a SHTF scenario, that is, if you don’t die from a little blood clot or something breaking off and stopping by the old aorta or something else that causes a massive heart attack while you’re attempting to put your gear on. Here’s another: Shooting skills. If you only shoot once or twice a year and don’t perform your dry fire (and don’t shoot with your gear on in field conditions), or strictly shoot on a known distance range, you are not going to get more than a couple effective (meaning ‘hits’) rounds off when you meet said marauders on your front porch. Here’s another: Networking. No man (or woman) is an island. If you don’t gain and maintain relationships with those who are doing what you do, you’re going to be very, very lonely after a short time.
Therefore, if your objective is to develop and maintain individual, group, and leadership skills to a level that you believe you have a good chance of protecting hearth and home in a SHTF scenario, there’s a personal price you must pay (and it doesn’t necessarily mean only in course fees or purchases for your supply cache):
The price by being eternally diligent in all areas concerned. No more, no less.
Make no mistake, the price is quite high, because the body, the mind, personal priorities, and even family activities become subject to achieving the overall objective. The longer we are on the planet, the more difficult some aspects will become. Aging takes its toll as our senses become less acute, our strength takes much more effort to maintain, we sometimes become arthritic to one level or another, it takes us longer to recover after a hard week of tactical training and so on. Along the way, we have the unspoken responsibility to learn to communicate that which we know to the ones who’ve only begun their journey in a manner that ensures thoroughness in skill/knowledge transmission.
To do this effectively, much study is required. Much field exercising is required whether it’s training along the lines of this article (h/t WRSA and FO Mag), learning long term storage, route planning, navigating on foot, counter-tracking, keeping an edge on a knife, making expedient shelters, field medicine, or what have you.
For the man or woman serious about mitigating any, “Failure of Civility,” training does not have an end date.
Use this graphic of a Training Cycle as a guide to develop and maintain a plan for continuous skill/knowledge advancement:
You can easily adapt this to your NPT or personal training program. List your goals first; then objectively assess your needs by comparing what you can presently do or know, and list your priorities. If looking for courses to attend either on line or in person, look at how the course is designed and conducted (managed). Evaluate the training in terms of your Training Needs Assessment and your abilities at the conclusion of the training. Then ensure the training completed is incorporated in your NPT functions often enough to ensure skill or knowledge maintenance. Lessons learned, while listed as a separate step, can be also done during your training evaluation. Was the course worth the time/money expended in terms of return on that investment measured by skill/knowledge developed?
And then, the cycle starts over, or more realistically, continues again.
Remember, though, training over the long term is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. Pacing is important, because burn out can undo everything you’ve been working toward. You’ll need to take breaks, mull things over, evaluate your progress, and sometimes, just take some time for relaxation and fun. Don’t fall into the trap of using ‘needing a break’ as an excuse for not learning, though. Keep your personal discipline level up, and get back on track.
In the end, remember that you’re working to keep your family, neighborhood, and community safe, should any SHTF scenario come about. The learning curve is impossibly steep once that occurs.