The real deal

By the staff of Trucks & Guns Magazine

We cannot count how many people we have come across that claim they are a survival expert and they teach a survival class. It is easy to watch a few videos on YouTube and think you are an expert. I watched a video about how to build a rocket, now I am a rocket scientist? Until you have truly put your skills to the real world test you are not an expert.

WHO HE IS

This is why we decided to check out Survival Training School of California. We will not go into a lot of detail about the founder and head trainer, Thomas Coyne, because after taking his class we decided to give him a column in Trucks & Guns Magazine. You can read about his background in his first column. We will tell you that he has been in survival training his whole life and was on the front lines of many major fires in California. He has also been trained in swift water rescue, technical ropes rescue, confined space rescue, helicopter hoist rescue, helicopter rappelling, search & rescue, HAZMAT Ops, and flood fighter training to just name a few. He has also been training the U.S. Marines on how to survive with nothing but a pocketknife for many years. These facts are the reasons we decided to take a closer look at his training however, it was not until we got there that we knew he was the real deal.

As Thomas teaches you the survival techniques, you can see how second nature everything is to him. It is in the little details, things that only someone who has done something hundreds of times would know to teach you. You can see it in the little things he does, that are not even part of his class. Things he does just because he has spent so much time out in nature. Like grabbing a few pine needles off the tree for a high vitamin C snack. He said something during his class that really hit us: “These things I am teaching you were all common knowledge less than 100 years ago.” It was great watching him teach the lessons during the class. Each lesson came with a real world scenario, and/or a true story about when he used that skill.

All of the Survival Training School of California classes focus on different skill sets. The class we sat in on was supposed to be a winter survival class, but California had such little snow this year it became a cold weather survival class. He still taught us many useful skills, such as: how to make a shelter out of sticks, making fire with a bow drill, boiling water in any container, how to use a signal mirror, how to make a dead fall trap, and the list goes on.

Do not think you can just watch some guy on YouTube, do a few survival tricks and think you know how to do it. Come out to California, and learn from someone who has put all the skills into real world applications. Also, get some hands on training, and actually build a fire with nothing but sticks and sleep in a shelter you built yourself with pine needles. Trust us, we thought we knew how to make fire with sticks, then when they showed us the proper technique, it was a night and day difference. We are talking difference of 30 minutes trying to start a fire to 5 minutes.

www.californiasurvivaltraining.com

Here are some of their available courses:
4-day Critical Survival Skills For Families (All ages family based training)
S.E.R.E. (Survival, Escape, Resistance, Evasion) /Anti-kidnapping & Escape Training For Global Adventurers
Off The Land: Identifying & Using Wild Plants For Food, Medicine, & Utility Purposes
The Ancient Apothecary: Healing With Wild Plants
7 Day Cross Climate Skills Intensive
Survival Skills Certification Courses
Wilderness First Aid Certification
Weekend “Knife Only” Field Courses
1-Day Critical Skills Intensive
Ancient Tools & Weapons- Working In Stone
Basic Map & Compass Certification Course
Alaska 10 & 14 Day Field Courses – America’s Only Alaska Field Training
2 & 3-Day Critical Skills Intensives
Instructor Certification Courses

Survival Training school of California

Students will break off into teams to build shelters. The pine needle base will help insulate you from the ground and make a comfortable place to sleep.

Survival Training school of California

The class we sat in on was a cold weather survival class. When you are stranded overnight a good shelter can greatly improve your situation. STSC teaches a derby type shelter, made out of sticks and pine needles. Believe it or not it will shed water.

Survival Training school of California

Students building shelter.

Survival Training school of California

They will also show you a few different ways to build shelter if you happen to have an emergency blanket with you.

Survival Training school of California

With the help of a stick you can wrap the emergency blanket around it and twist it through your string. This will hold it tight without having to tie a knot.

Survival Training school of California

Near completed shelter.

Survival Training school of California

Instructors will inspect each shelter to make sure it will hold up to the elements.

Survival Training school of California

As you walk through the forest, they will stop and point out edible plants and make sure everyone tries it.

Survival Training school of California

Then suddenly someone will fall and break their ankle. This is where they will show you a few medical tricks, like making a splint, how to carry someone long distance, and what are good medical supplies you should keep with you.

Survival Training school of California

Making a good deadfall trap is much harder than it looks. Each student successfully set up a deadfall trap for the instructors set off.

Survival Training school of California

The most valuable skill taught is making and using a bow drill to make fire. This is a skill that many people think they know how to do after seeing a YouTube video. It is not until you actually put that knowledge into practice that you realize how difficult it can be. There is a form and techniques to the bow drill and once mastered, getting a fire with a bow drill is simple. With the guidance of the instructors each student will make their own bow drill and get fire with it.

Survival Training school of California

It is a very surreal feeling these days when you make fire for the first time with nothing but sticks. Which is kind of sad to say because 100+ years ago this was a common skill most people had.

Survival Training school of California

Knowing how to survive is important but something that is over looked in most classes is how to get rescued. STSC will show you different way of signaling for help.

Survival Training school of California

Pointing out more edible plants.

Survival Training school of California

One-on-one attention is given to each student during the class, to make sure everyone understands the lessons being taught.

Survival Training school of California