Survival has been romanticized for centuries, from Robinson Crusoe to modern movies like Cast Away. Unfortunately that means that authors and Hollywood script writers have created many myths about surviving emergencies that would probably kill a real life person. Therefore, today we’re going to take a look at the top 5 survival myths so that you’re not taken by surprise.
5. You can survive on wild game until everything blows over
How many survival shows have some little hunting party stroll out of the woods dragging a deer or a bear or a handful of berries out of the woods for days on end? In reality that sort of lifestyle was termed “hunter-gathering”, and you may notice that most societies don’t bother with it. Why? Because hunting and gathering was difficult, required a lot of energy for minimal gain, and was always feast or famine. You either got an elk or a bear or found a bush that day and ate everything before it rotted or you went hungry. Mind you, this was true even when the human population was minimal. Imagine being one of several million would-be hunters looking for a deer or a rabbit to grab that day. Wild game can be used as a supplement, but you would be much better of with stored foods and/or livestock and gardens than looking for wild edibles.
4. Everyone will be willing to take you in, give you a bowl of soup, and tuck you into bed
The wounded and hungry wandering group of protagonists stumble out into the light, and some family of helpful people drops everything to feed, clothe, wash, and guard them until they’re ready to move on with their journey. Seen it a million times, right? Put yourself in the shoes of that “helpful” family when they first see the protagonists: some band of vagabonds you know nothing about wandering around your land, possibly armed and dangerous and clearly in need of supplies. Do you rush right out and hand them one of your precious cans of beans, or let a group of people you don’t know into your shelter? Or are you more likely to keep a close eye, hide from their sight, and deal with them if they get too close for comfort?
You may well have friends who would agree beforehand to take you in and help you in a disaster, but I doubt random strangers will take kindly to you trespassing on their land during an emergency. You have to be ready to take care of yourself, and make a point of avoiding anything that looks remotely occupied or used in order to avoid being shot by the hidden guardians.
3. You will magically become a master of using a weapon over time
Rather than imagining a hypothetical scenario, allow me to present you with a real-life, modern one. During the Battle of Mogadishu (normally known by the movie and book called Black Hawk Down) U.S. Rangers and Delta Force operators spent 2 days attempting first to capture high ranking Somali lieutenants and then to escape when two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down. Despite being caught flat-footed in many ways and being terribly outnumbered, the U.S. forces lost only 18 men, while estimated Somali dead were between 500 and 3,000. The difference? Highly trained and coordinated forces on the side of the U.S., which turned the tables on the Somali militia even inside their greatest stronghold with their best equipped militiamen in the fight. Militiamen who regularly handled and used their weapons against other Somali and U.N. forces.
The point of this story is to show that even real-world practice against actual enemies cannot compare to competent training and tactics. You need training in order to maximize the value of your weapons, not just experience.
2. Gunshot? Just put a bandage on it and walk it off!
Naturally this can vary based on the location, speed and size of the round and a hundred other variables, but in general there’s more to dealing with an in-combat bullet wound than slapping a bandage on it and driving on. You may limp, you may go into shock, your fight-or-flight reactions may go into overdrive. Certain major exceptions aside, most of the calm and collected action is typically done by people who have trained to deal with a serious situation and can put many of the basics on autopilot while they think. You, on the other hand, will probably not react nearly so well to gunfire as Rambo or Jason Bourne.
1. The lone wolf survives
Even in movies where a group is the center of the drama, there is usually “that guy” who is the epitome of awesome and can take 10 men in a fight with an arm tied behind his back. That guy is the survivor who needs no help and has everything setup so that he can do it all by himself…
But in real life, even the most hardened and trained individual can be overwhelmed without help. There is a reason why when you read about Special Forces of the various nations, from the SAS to the SEALs, you almost always see them operating as a group. Even they, some of the deadliest people on the planet, recognize that their effectiveness is magnified with the addition of other people.
And those were the top 5 survival myths. Do you have any others to share? Let us know in the comments below!