8 Skills for the Urban Survivor (Part #2)


Note from AH – Sorry about delaying Part #2 of this series. The delay was due to the SitRep for Burns Oregon.

By Kevin Reeve

In Part #1 Kevin opened the article talking about different situations were you are not home, needed to get home, and the dangers involved. Kevin also went into detail on the first three Urban Survivor Skills that are absolutely important to surviving that trek home. If you haven’t already read Part #1…you should.

< click here to read Part #1 now >


Avoiding capture is the first choice, but being able to escape handcuffs, rope, duct tape, flex cuffs and other forms of restraint will serve you well. In kidnapping and hostage situations, the ability to escape restraints gives you options you won’t otherwise have. There are basic principles that will make escape possible. The application of friction will be useful in escaping duct tape, wire, rope and flex cuffs. Handcuffs can be picked with a proper understanding of the mechanics of the cuffs. It is surprising how easy this is.


The ability to blend into the local population will allow you to move without detection. This requires monitoring the baseline and learning to blend into it. What look do the locals cultivate? Look at the speed people are moving. Note the volume of their conversations. Note social distancing and hand gestures. All of these things make up a base-line. If you can adapt your movement to the baseline, you will find movement in that environment much easier. These skills require practice.


ART OF ACQUISITIONEverything you need to survive is in the city around you. You do not have to travel great distances to get what you need. In the situations described at the beginning, you may need more equipment than you have on hand. You may also need to get through certain facilities to make your escape. Lock picking is a crucial urban survival skill. It allows you access into places to hide and it allows you to access areas and supplies that would otherwise be unavailable.

Lock picking is an easy skill to learn, and once learned is never forgotten. It does not re-quire much more than a couple of picks and a tension wrench. During a crisis, it’s astonishing how much your perspective changes once you know you have the option of access. Obviously, legal and social constraints must be kept in mind.


The need to get back to my family trumps just about everything else. During a worst case event, being able to find a suitable vehicle for acquisition is going to make that task immeasurably easier. This might be anything from a car, to a bicycle, or a canoe. Car acquisition is a skill I developed in a local wrecking yard. I’ve spent hundreds of hours practicing on junked cars, learning to defeat the door locks and ignitions. I have applied that to many situations where people have locked themselves out of their car. One situation occurred when a young mother locked her keys in the car with her baby in the back seat. Time was of the essence.The problem was I had never successfully defeated this particular type of door lock in fifteen years of trying. But when the need was great, Providence smiled upon me and after about five seconds, I had the door open. Success is where opportunity meets preparation.


There is a huge advantage in knowing your terrain. It allows you to choose escape corridors that others will not have considered. Careful planning allows you to avoid the common routes of predators and likely ambushes. Know the roads. Know the locations of needed supplies. Identify primary, secondary and tertiary routes from work to home, and practice traveling them. Know the neighborhoods where you will blend in and those where you will not blend in. Pick routes that do not require you to pass through choke points, like over bridges, through more densely populated areas, and higher crime areas. Know the terrain better than anyone else does.


Following hurricane Katrina, thousands of desperate people fled for their lives to the Superdome, in New Orleans. HurricaneSandySuperdomeThat proved to be as big a challenge as the hurricane itself. The government was not prepared to adequately shelter 30,000 people for seven days, in a structure with minimal electricity. Plumbing and toilets failed, and hundreds of freezers and refrigerators were filled with rotting food. The stench of the food and toilets was making people sick. With no air conditioning in 80 degree weather and 90% humidity, the Superdome turned into a sweltering sewer of tortured humanity. Security broke down and National Guardsmen were assaulted by gang members. Panic and chaos took over. It was too complex a system supporting too many people, with too little preparation to have succeeded. Plan your own evacuation destination before it is needed.

You must learn to take care of yourself if you intend to survive and care for your loved ones. That commitment requires a combination of will (desire to survive), skill (ability to survive), and tools (equipment to survive). If any leg of the stool is missing, then you will end up in the same refuge of last resort. I have told many students over the years, “Never go to the Superdome”. That is a euphemism, of course, but turning over responsibility for yourself to someone who can’t possibly care as much about your fate as you do doesn’t make much sense.


KevinReeve-002Kevin Reeve is the founder and Director of onPoint Tactical Tracking School (www. on-pointtactical.com). Kevin has provided train-ing to law enforcement, SAR teams and the U.S. military in the arts of tracking, survival, escape and evasion and urban operations. Kevin also worked at Apple Computer for five years doing organizational development and executive coaching, as well as platform training and curriculum development.

→ onPoint Tactical information on upcoming classes < click here >

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2 thoughts on “8 Skills for the Urban Survivor (Part #2)

  1. Pingback: Counter-Intuitive Strategies for Facing an Active Shooter | A.H. Trimble - Emergency preparedness information for disasters and grid-down

  2. Pingback: 8 Skills for the Urban Survivor (Part #2) | Rifleman III Journal

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