Author, pilot, conservationist & international bodyguard instructor Gary Albyn tells TITAN Survival a bit about his most recent release, TEOTWAWKI SURVIVAL—BUILDING A BUG-OUT-BAG FOR THE TRANSITION.
Learning how to survive in the African bush was an important aspect of my Air Force pilot training program—and my course mates and I were fortunate enough to be taught by the best. Pete Clements was one of the founding members of the legendary Selous Scouts. Highly regarded in contemporary military circles, many of the Selous Scouts' tactics are still emulated by Special Force units around the globe.
One of the first things Clements taught us was the importance of seeking-out the finest grocery outlets in the bush: Growing predominantly in drier, tropical climates, the distinctive-looking baobab tree is capable of offering-up a veritable African smorgasbord.
Well-adapted to the dry savannah, the tree’s extensive root system allows it to draw up and store massive quantities of water. For centuries, Africa’s indigenous people have been utilizing baobabs for a multitude of purposes, including food, shelter, juices, medicine and fiber.
Tearing a few strips of spongy white pith from just beneath the bark, Clements demonstrated how the pulpy fiber is capable of surrendering its moisture when chewed. Discovering that sometimes it’s necessary to chew for your water was indeed a valuable lesson! Suitably refreshed, I tossed the chomped-up fibers to the ground. “Pick them up and put them in your pocket,” admonished Clements. “That goes for all of you,” he added, addressing the rest of my course mates. “You’ll soon discover why.”
After several days of intensive training, Clements was satisfied that we were ready to put our newfound skills to the test. Wearing nothing but a pair of shorts, and armed only with an FN FAL rifle, we were sent out individually to go and fend for ourselves in the wild African bush. Since our training was being conducted in a war zone, Clements instructed us to use our rifles only for self-defense. “If you want to eat,” he said, “go and forage for food … or build a trap.”
The author (top right) pictured with his pilot course mates after completing a grueling 10 day survival course somewhere in the Zambezi Valley
In anticipation of any fluid situation, it is vital that you always consider the worst-case scenario. If you are serious about surviving a crisis or catastrophe, you simply have to have a well equipped Bug-Out-Bag. It could easily make the difference between life and death. But in a truly serious bug-out situation, most survivalists and outdoorsmen will tell you that the greatest challenge—at least in the first 48 hours—is that of overcoming the fear and trepidation associated with your situation.
Facing your first physical challenge—whatever shape or form that may take—is not as important as embracing a complete and honest acceptance of your circumstances. Armed with the correct frame of mind, you can conquer almost anything. Denial, on the other hand, is used as a defense mechanism to block out painful or overwhelming circumstances. Getting yourself locked into a state of denial could kill you as surely as exposure, starvation or extreme dehydration.
If you’re not in possession of any specific survival skills, imagine how easy it would be to succumb to the psychological pressures associated with your newfound circumstances. Depending on your immediate needs, what ought to be your first priority? Shelter? Food? Water? Self-defense?
When thrust into an unexpected bug-out situation, most people will automatically fall into a state of shock and denial. Like a deer in the headlights, the mental anguish associated with your new reality could cause you to ‘freeze’ with indecision or panic. That’s why a good Bug-Out-Bag is essential.
Being able to handle the first few days of your ordeal is an important accomplishment: it’ll calm your initial apprehension, buoy your spirits and provide you with the fortitude to tackle the next set of challenges. If you’re equipped with a decent bug-out-bag you won’t have to burden your already challenged mental faculties with the added pressure of having to source your basic survival needs.
A pilot’s office is an extremely cramped environment; especially in a fighter plane. Despite the very real chance that an aircraft might go down in enemy territory, there simply isn’t enough space for the pilot to carry a well-equipped Bug-Out-Bag. For that reason, most Escape & Evade courses teach their pilots how to survive off very little. Our survival instructor, Pete Clements, certainly followed that maxim. And that’s where the value of our chewed-up mass of baobab fibers suddenly became apparent.
Using the palm of his hand as a roller, and an exposed upper thigh as a base, Clements taught us how the fibrous strands could be rolled into a very tough and durable twine. Armed with several yards of twisted bush cord, our instructor then showed us how to make and set traps; string a bow; tie and secure a makeshift shelter; and attach crudely-fashioned fishing hooks to the end of his handcrafted twine.
While I still consider Clements’ lessons to be invaluable, TITAN Survival’s patented SurvivorCordwill undoubtedly make the transition from comfort to cave that much easier. While any cordage is essential in an emergency situation, SurvivorCordis unique. TITAN’Spatented Military-Style 550 paracord has three potentially life-saving survival strands added to the inner core. A snare wire, fishing line, and waterproof fire tinder. No more laborious twisting of chewed-up tree pith!
The suggestions and recommendations in ‘TEOTWAWKI SURVIVAL — Building a Bug-Out-Bag for the Transition’ may help alleviate some of the anguish associated with being forced to transition from comfort to cave.