I'm glad to see that I am not alone in having this mentality.
I, too, see it as extremely useful and important in terms of survival. Not only if you're out in the middle of the woods trying to make it through
the day, but also if you are sitting in your home when nothing is wrong.
One good exercise that I've discovered is writing. I am in the process of writing a story in which the main character has to rely on the survival
skills we're discussing. Being forced to think through everything while writing is a great way to understand the different aspects of stealth,
observation, and attention to detail.
Using my character as an example, imagine you've survived some unexplainable event in which, as far as you know, most people are dead. But you've
seen others (in my story it's a military helicopter sweeping the area), so you know that you're not alone, and that other survivors may not have
your best interest in mind. You're low on food, water, and other essentials. Luckily there's a supermarket less than a mile away, so the obvious
thing to do is pay it a visit.
This is where the thinking and planning comes into play. Finding cover along the way is critical to avoid being seen. Taking a route which will leave
no tracks is also key. You arrive at the store and find that it appears barren. Why not just go break through one of the glass doors and start
shopping? That's what I had my character do initially, but as I continued writing I realized it was a mistake. The chopper showed up later, and the
broken glass came to mind as evidence that someone was alive. Rather than going straight for the doors, it would be better to find a concealed
location from which to observe and wait. There could be other people around, with guns, who would just as soon unload a clip of ammo into you than let
you walk out with a pack full of food.
Once it appears the coast is clear, you get closer, hide, and wait some more. Listen, smell, see, and feel the environment. Are there tracks anywhere?
Broken glass? Anything out of place? No? Okay, head to the door. How do you get inside? Busting the glass could be bad, as I mentioned. Is there
another way? Can the door be forced open? Perhaps the latch of the locks can be moved? Thinking outside the box would be important. Let's assume you
find a way past the doors which won't attract attention, and allows you to return when necessary while maintaining that appearance.
You step inside. Find a dark spot and hide. More listening, waiting, watching. Just because you broke in doesn't mean someone else may not be there
as well. Save for the pale moonlight coming in the windows and doors, the store is dark. It's very quiet too except when the wind kicks up outside.
Good thing you wore lightweight shoes. Moving around silently on the clean tile floors will be easy. You don't notice anything odd, so you continue
to the grocery department. The smell of rotten produce and meat is strong to the point that it makes you feel sick. Better head away from there or
find a way to mask the smell. Tossing your salad would mean leaving evidence behind.
Don't take everything from one shelf. Taking all of the baked beans might tip someone off that another person stopped in and grabbed em all up. A
varied selection looks more natural and is less conspicuous.
As you shop, it can't hurt to stop and listen. Someone could have been watching you when you entered. What was that? Some sound coming from further
in the store where there's less light. It's tempting to investigate, but safer to avoid confrontation. Remember, you need to survive. Patience, no
need to hurry. You have no firearm, nor any other weapon. It's not in your nature. All you have is your fists, your mind, and your legs to get you
out of there. Okay, grab a few more things, but be silent. Good, time to move.
As you creep toward the door, crouched for better cover, the idea of finding a key comes to mind. It would sure make getting in and out a cinch. Too
bad you have no idea where to look. Maybe another time. Should have thought of that sooner.
The door is close. You're kneeling a few yards away in a small nook in one of the checkout aisles. It's a good spot to stop and observe. Running
into someone who's coming in wouldn't be good. As you're looking out at the doors you feel something isn't right. Your gut is telling you that
you're not alone. Better safe than sorry. You take off your pack, silently set it on the floor, and then sit down facing the doors while keeping
yourself, including your limbs, in the shadows. Make sure you're not going to bump anything that will make a noise. When you get up, do you have
enough clearance? If you are spotted, can you move quickly without being hampered by the aisle or something else? Everything looks good. Time to
After sitting for a while, perhaps an hour, that uneasy feeling has passed. Unfortunately you didn't see anyone, nor hear anything else. But at least
it appears that the area is clear and safe. Outside you can see the sky is showing a hint of brightening. Morning is coming and you don't want to be
out in daylight. It's time to move.
You make it out of the store and safely back home, returning on a different route than the one you took to get there and stopping once along the way
to watch for anything unusual. Time to crack open a can of beans and enjoy a few twinkies. Thank goodness for man-made preservatives.