Training Task: Urban Scouting

Bug Out: Grey Man vs Tactical Loadout • TRGRiQ
Eli was the Gray Man

Whatever your reason is for preparing, a second or third order effect is going to lead to the unavailability of gasoline. If you’re preparing for an EMP, then vehicles are already off the table. I know, everyone likes to say “But I’ve got a 1984 Chevy”. Cool story. How will you get gasoline without electricity?

I know, I’ve mentioned gas siphon pumps and the like, but the cold hard truth is that in any prolonged crisis or collapse, even the SOUND of a motor vehicle will draw unwanted attention, making the use of the 1984 truck and siphon pump risky at best. For the record, that goes for all of you “I’ll just bug in and use my generator to run my freezer” types. In the quiet world, a running generator will draw hungry people like roaches, but I digress.

The biggest skill and ability area we all need for post-WROL living is the one most of us neglect…the ability to move a great distance on foot, carrying a load, and potentially under hostile observation. The skills in TW-02, Fieldcraft will help in this area, but I want to talk about something you can do today.

Urban Scouting is something I do a couple of times a week, to develop my awareness, build on my Area Study, and improve my ability to walk distances, while also gathering important data. Yes, it’s rucking, but it’s rucking with a secondary purpose. It’s just like doing burpees (or as Marines used to call them bend and thrusts)…burpees improve cardio and body strength, while also improving your ability to get down and to get up from the ground quickly.

Before we get into how, let’s discuss the why. The Ultimate Tactical Handbook tells us why we need to scout out the city before disaster strikes:

Destructive forces are at work in the city;
    threats and lies never leave its streets.

Psalms 55:11

With this advice, it’s solid Tactical Wisdom to scout out these areas as soon as possible. This also ties in well with my tactical guidance in Fieldcraft and down below here, telling you to stay off the street whenever possible.

The first step is always proper preparation. Get a quality backpack, preferably the one you use as your Get Home Bag. The best urban color is black, because it’s very common and it blends into the urban environment. The bag should be stocked as shown in the Base Line Training Manual, but for this exercise we definitely want it to have some type of rain gear, water, some type of food, and some type of note-taking equipment. Personally, I use my BattleBoard Scout and Rite-In-The-Rain notebook.

Go to a location that you frequent. Lately, I’ve been going to retail shopping areas that I frequent, as I’ve done places along the route home from various client locations already. When I get there, I gear up and then begin walking a few miles, wearing the backpack, but it’s not just walking.

I take the back alley behind the businesses. I do this to scout out what could be useful. There are many things to learn in the back alleys, from a preparedness standpoint.

You’ll find hidden trails from residential areas into the commercial shopping area. Funny thing about trails is that they work both ways. Once I’ve found a trial, learned where it goes, and recorded it into my area study, I now have another escape route. In the future, if I find myself shopping at that location & a disorder happens, and I can’t get to my car, I now know that there is a foot path out of the area around the back and I’m on my way to safety.

On my last trip a few days ago, I found not only trails to three different neighborhoods, but I found wild grapes, blackberries, and black raspberries. I also found an abundance of rabbits that most people won’t know about about. Finding hidden sources of food is a matter of life and death.

Good tool to have for this:

Other knowledge you can chart for later emergency use is which businesses store old pallets outside (source of firewood), who has a generator behind the building (source of fuel), and where there is roof access from the rear alley (potential use as an Observation Post). Also, note the location of sillcock faucets you find, for later water access.

Look at trails also from an approach perspective. Learn where you could hide along those trails to observe the alley, before stepping into it, or to where you could observe looting, from a community safety perspective. It would be good to know when looters are leaving a commercial area and if they are then heading towards your neighborhood.

The important secondary skill we are developing here is the habit and ability to navigate in an urban area without walking along the streets.

Above, I used a screen grab from The Book of Eli, and there’s a reason. The mistake Eli made when he went to leave the village that fateful day was that he walked right down the street after leaving the shop where he got his battery charged. I know, it’s a movie, but he could have avoided the entire gun battle (and saved his scarce ammo), by going out the back door of the shop and navigating out via the alley behind the business. But then, the movie would have been boring.

I know, I’m saying that tongue-in-cheek, but it’s a serious point that I made in Fieldcraft; in a WROL situation, walking down the street is how you become a loot drop for someone else. Forget these fantasies about an honorable showdown between you and the evil leader of the biker gang; reality is that you will never even hear the sniper’s shot before you fall, and they rush out to divide up your stuff.

A word about weather: If it starts raining or snowing, or is too hot or too cold, DO IT ANYWAY. We are training for the real world and when the time comes, you won’t get to pick the weather.

I hope this helps you in your readiness and training.

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Published by JD

I am the author of the Tactical Wisdom Series. I am a personal protection specialist and a veteran of the US Marine Corps. I conduct preparedness and self-defense training.

4 thoughts on “Training Task: Urban Scouting

  1. I always enjoy your posts. Especially practical one like this. As I read it though I was trying to see how it could be adapted for my situation. I live on the outskirts of a very small town in the Mojave Desert. To get to town on foot is about three miles of walking in open desert with almost no concealment except for dropping to the ground. The only reason I would consider going to the market in town is to just see what’s going on. I’m not really sure I have a need to know. Anyway you always post up food for thought.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Good post. I worked in one city of about 18 square miles for 29 years. I knew so many back ways into places including drainage ditches, etc. That said, I didn’t know these types of things around my own neighborhood.


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