As if preparedness alone didn’t have enough to learn and do, along with the modern minuteman movement comes additional taskers.
I’m going to cover a handful of the common ones we see on lists when the topic comes up, but from a slightly different perspective. I’m hitting not the skill, the how-to, or the skill’s subsets to consider, but how competitive they are for our valuable time and resources.
(Which means, I’m writing it understanding that there is going to be “bah” and “but” and kickback. Kick away. Multiple perspectives benefit everyone.)
Remember, we’re answering whether it’s yes-no-maybe right now, or early, not at all.
That yes-no-maybe is also universally contingent on whether or not our preps cover 30-90 days of normal everyday life, +/- additional longevity in food storage and supplies.
Even when it’s yes, or an alternative is offered, if you have to put it on credit, hold off. Do something free until finances are fit, too. Don’t go into debt for any preps, but especially minuteman skills.
Do you need to know how to operate with a map and compass?
Maybe, maybe not.
It’s a good skill, but not universally either super-good or vital. Your location and – more than any other on this list – how far along the rest of your preps are determines how high of a priority it is.
The same skills have a lot to offer for intel as well as travel, even in urban environments, so keep that in mind as other priorities get checked off.
Are you in city or ‘burbs you’re familiar with? Can you or somebody else describe landmarks to get somewhere else? How far out do you have to go before you lose that ability and landmarks become few and far between?
Can you outlast a crisis of the level where some agency or time/wear itself takes down the street signs, rendering them unusable for navigation?
Could you leave your family to go be a soldier who’s not coming back for hours/days on end (or ever) for planning, scouting, and training, then actual engagements, whatever type they may be?
(Practically, can they function; Personally/emotionally has to be answered, too, but that’s based on a lot of situationally dependent factors and scenarios, and has less to do with how far out you’ll be operating – thus needing land nav and orienteering skills – and more whether you can risk joining up at all.)
Flip side, if you’re out where the only navigation aids are stars, streams (which may deviate in some scenarios), similar fields/pastures, and mountains, with only the odd dirt road and highway you may have to hike 1-5 miles down to find a mile marker and identifier…
Oh, yeah, that’s a much more likely case for taking the time to learn (for more than minuteman capabilities).
Even if orienteering slid to the backburner, do still develop…
– A fairly constant general awareness of what direction you’re facing/moving
– Local maps with road names (nearby hotels/tourism boards can be an excellent source)
If you do want to review or learn (or anticipate learning or having to teach it), this https://theprepared.com/survival-skills/guides/learn-compass-map/ is the best writeup I have possibly ever seen. I thought it was a quick enough read, but I could turn “See Spot Run” into “War & Peace”. Point in case, my review:
Having seen this taught in the military, SAR/CERT, and with BSA, I cannot commend that writer enough. This article easily could have sub’ed for live presentation training … and some muddy-boots training as well.
(Practice in known locations before striking out anyway.)
It covers A-Z basic compass parts and thumbnails: how to use them, orienting a map with declination accounted for at the very beginning, shooting travel bearings, way-point and “missed” landmark awareness along bearings, and developing a present location using a map and compass to create DF-type intersects (and how you know you’ve mis-ID’d one of your landmarks).
If you’re going to have any how-to in your vehicle or bag, this https://theprepared.com/survival-skills/guides/learn-compass-map/ is the one to print and e-export.
If you already know land nav, capture it as a base for future classes/training. That author nailed every aspect of teaching the gear, operation, and troubleshooting.
(Plus, it’s a REALLY well laid-out page with excellent imagery and a jump-to index.)
The only things missing are an image showing how far off track you can end up if you’re just a few degrees off over even just a mile or two, and possibly an image from boots on the ground how different …or same… that can look, and how easy it is to then slide further or end up second-guessing.
And now, having used a fifth of my word limit for the day singing praises…
Do you need to know pace count?
Even urban/’burbs and gun-control states/countries!
Whether I need you to get within 10-100 yards of one more rock or tree in a prairie or mountain, or am giving directions using roadways and landmarks to walking you in, you need to know how far you’ve gone. In some/many scenarios, you need to know it without an odometer, gps, or pedometer.
I also need you to fairly accurately pace off distances for numerous tactical applications (known-range landmarks for ambush & defense, for one).
By person and location, I may need you to accurately tell me how far or big something was based off your pace count for intel purposes.
*Pssst… There’s abundant non-minuteman applications that make a pace count valuable, too.
Learn your 100 and 1K yard/meter pace count on your most-common surfaces first, and learn it in light pack, heavy pack, and free-moving versus holding one arm still (rifle or injury). Then hit other surfaces: hardpack, meadow/pasture, scree/leaves, rough rock, ‘schwacking/woods.
Do I need battlefield tactics?
Not right now. Point in fact, irregulars and militia have learned as they go throughout history (although not always successfully).
Depending on whether you’re aiming for grunt infantry (yes) or support (not really), it’s “eventually” but extremely low on the list, and the run-n-gun tactics come after and then hand-in-hand, 1:1 with initial defensive/ambush deployment by team/squad/platoon/company sized units.
Learn defensive shooting instead – rifle, shotgun and especially wear-and-carry home- and public-handgun tactics and theory.
One, it’s much more likely to be used, everyday “normal” conflicts that continue into the End of Days or standing up as an on-call fighting force to augment the sheriff/marshall or fend off the NOW/EROL jackboots.
Two, especially at somewhat higher levels of training (or IDPA, 3-gun, and 2-gun sports), it forms a solid foundation that can be added to successively, much of which immediately crosses over to battlefield rifle and primary+sidearm shooting.
Do I need to know combat medic and wilderness trauma aid?
Maybe, maybe not.
Solely from the militiaman aspect, it depends entirely on how much medical support is waiting behind the lines.
Remember, for most of human history even relatively minor puncture wounds were maiming, laming, and killing. As soon as we figured out how to take a limb off with even 30% survival rates, it became the go-to treatment because survival was so unlikely without amputation.
If we’re operating without even the herbal and physiology skills available in the 1700s-1900s, the chances immediate aid that is designed around supporting a patient until they enter a modern medical facility is pretty poor.
That being so, in that scenario, no. It would be a waste of time (+/- money).
However, if we’re anticipating something akin to the national guard’s and sheriff’s reserves’ role in riot control, or something more similar to the resistances from World War I onward, where we can fake a hunting accident or find sympathetic support…
Heck yeah, absolutely.
(Same goes for any prepper scenario and learning as a bugout skill.)
Unless we’re also through packers and kayakers, back-country hunters, etc., though, the priority isn’t immediate.
Even before wilderness/combat medicine, learn basic hiking-injury and illness care.
Most of the injuries we face in modern combat, past history, and in a much more manual-laborer and foot-travel settings (today and yesteryear) are not gunshot and shrapnel wounds. They’re sprains, strains, and burns. Tweaked backs, hyper-extensions, and overuse/repetitive-use injuries are right there with them.
Those skills are out there to learn for free, and worth the time.
The supplies to care for them apply to any disaster, personal income reduction to widespread regional/national crisis, and many of those supplies have nearly indefinite storage life as well as naturally occurring and herb garden remedies to apply. Spend the money there first, and expand as you like.
After sprains-strains-burns, then add in breaks, dehydration/illness support, and backpackers’/foot soldiers’ foot and boot care.
In that order, ideally.
How about man-tracker & deer-stalker spore and stealth skills?
Super tough one… “Maybe, maybe not” but more “yes, even urban, but not right now, maybe.”
Exact tight-urban conditions vary, but the same skills have a lot of application even in today’s bustling cities and the ‘burbs, not just the rurals. (For non-minuteman preppers, too.)
One, the actual abilities are fantastic to have, but even bigger is the impact from learning awareness.
Two, we’re not only directly looking for and gaining intel from our immediate target, we’re learning to interpret what the surroundings and its inhabitants are telling us about what’s around and what’s happened. That has all kinds of not only semi-shadow work but also intel benefits.
Three, once we’re paying attention and looking for tells, we become aware of our own, and almost automatically start working on our “footprint”.
Four, learning anti-tracking requires a solid understanding of being the hunter (although, watch for tunnel vision based on how we do our people-animal tracking).
That list can continue for a while.
Start with defensive shooting and basic injury/illness aid anyway, and advance 1:1:1 with them and tracking/stalking.
See, it only applies to some types of minuteman activation scenarios (despite the situational awareness boost that applies universally, even now). Start with what’s most universally needed, now and “after”, for and outside guardian and war-fighter scenarios.
Modern Minuteman Skills
Skills are absolutely as or more important than things. However, they’re situationally dependent, too, and should be prioritized not only within our envisioned minuteman scenario(s), but also against our current preparation levels, location, and family situation.
All of these are good to have, but when we need them varies.
Hopefully, the structuring of when and why they become viable in my opinion can help you create your own matrix to apply, to these as well as others.