An Urban Survival Course with Selco: Noise, Light, and Your Mind Playing Tricks

by | Apr 27, 2018 | Headline News | 15 comments

Do you LOVE America?


    This article was originally published by Selco at The Organic Prepper

    NOTE: If you missed the first article in the Urban Survival Course series, go here to read it. Today, we’ll continue on with Selco as he teaches us the lessons students learned in his last course in Croatia.

    Urban Survival: Keeping a Low Profile

    Hollywood industry, fiction survival books and our imagination over the many years kinda taught us to expect big things and to think in big terms when SHTF.

    As a result, a lot of preppers forgot to use common sense in preparing and thinking. Actually, they forgot to be aware and to notice little things around them. They were expecting big things so they forgot small things and techniques that are actually important. That can eventually get you in trouble or get you killed.

    To understand better how things can be hard when SHTF you need to put into perspective how noise and light work in different situations, or in other words how light and noise can be your enemy or friend depending on what situation you find yourself during SHTF.


    Often you have seen in the movies or read in a book how someone sneaks up on someone or through some building.

    In reality, students are shown that there are no ninja warriors. Remember we are talking about average folks here. If they are forced to survive in some dangerous situations they simply need to know:

    • some basic technique of walking (sneaking)
    • a lot of time and patience
    • proper clothes (not noisy definitely)
    • proper preparations before taking action (checking for things in pockets that make noise, etc.)
    • lot of practice

    But the highlight is on time; you need time to do it the safe and secure way (even if you are highly trained). So, in reality (if it is dangerous) it may take you an hour to cover 20 meters sometimes.

    Definitely, it is not like in the movies.

    You can use sounds in surroundings (or background) to cover your movement (for example in this photo, it may be the sound of waves or wind through the trees) but again, you need a lot of time, and skill.

    Now put that in perspective of real urban survival, and a situation where you need to check some building (for example to take shelter) that looks abandoned, with things on the ground that simply make too much sound. Sometimes it is impossible; sometimes it does not make sense to even try.

    Moving in a group and staying quiet is a skill that is possible to learn, through the familiarization of group members, the use of hand signals, and proper preparing (again proper equipment, footwear, clothes). That technique makes sense to be put to the test in a hard situation like dark and bad weather (rain, wind) where you can try to use that weather and night in your favor. It’s also important to see how everything can easily go against you (conversation-signals in pitch dark, loss of orientation, losing group members.)


    If you tell average students group to start a fire so they can prepare a quick meal or make coffee, most of them will make a huge fire big enough to cook a boar on. If you tell them to turn on the flashlight to find something in their backpack, a  lot of them will turn on a torch that will burn the eyes of all people around them, affecting their night vision badly.

    Strong torches and big fires make sense sometimes, but in urban survival prepping staying undetected is a big priority, and you need to adopt that kind of philosophy first.

    Planning your movement during the day, and taking that particular route during the night, even in an urban environment in SHTF settings, can be two completely different things, even if you saw (or went through) that area during the day.

    It is very easy to get disoriented in pitch dark, and known buildings are not known anymore. Distance may look completely different, and the combination of everything may be very dangerous if you are not aware of that.

    In the photo above there is a camping fire (not hidden) in an abandoned building in an area where there is no other light. It is clearly visible from 200-300 meters.

    Your Mind

    What do you see in this photo?

    The photo above is taken after midnight in an area where students did not expect people to be. (The students were driving with us in a car during one of the exercises).

    Students after the encounter described the man as a “very tall” (2 meters or 6’5″) person in a full white bodysuit, probably a man with no good intention (drug dealer? body disposal?).

    The encounter lasted a few seconds.

    Afer that they made camp in a close vicinity to where the “man in the white bodysuit” disappeared into the bush.

    And of course, their minds continued to play dark scenarios in their heads for rest of the night.

    They did not have nice night because of that.

    In reality, it was one of our “ghost” instructors. He wore full camo and a clown mask – both were very visible (much better than in photo) but in the given circumstances (very late and a strange person walking slowly in area where there is not supposed to be anybody) the students mind offered a solution of what man is there and his intention.

    Your mind WILL play tricks on you in survival situations. If you are in an uncommon situation or you are not very experienced when you are not sure what you see or hear your mind will offer you an answer. Often, that answer may be wrong, which may lead you to make some bad decisions.

    It is the reality of SHTF.

    Learn to use your skills under pressure

    A big part of the course is using your skills and techniques under PRESSURE when you are not sure what is what, and that is a topic for other articles.

    You can avoid that by training:

    • Rechecking how things work in the real world
    • What is visible from what distance
    • What can you hear from where
    • How many details can you spot and memorize
    • How good your orientation skills are

    All that can be practiced in normal times, some in nature while hiking, some while drinking coffee in town by observing the people around you.

    Again it is not about ninja warriors. It is about being aware of the world around you in different settings.

    Learn about Selco’s live courses here and his online courses here.


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      1. Im wearing my “sneakers” right now.

        • “Noise” and “shine” problems are pertinent military survival things to work on and defeat. It’s important to soldiers when they are traveling. One problem is people passing through your ‘territory’, are they friend or foe? Your life depends on it. The wrong call may bring the wrath of the neighborhood on you.

          Nine times out of ten on ‘Walking Dead’, when people are walking up, they sneak/surprise one another, and with deadly results.

          If the group you are with have people in it who could care less about this, you definitely need another group, before you get killed.

      2. I did not find this article particularly helpful.

        I bought new batteries for my camping lantern plus extras. I live in a quiet suburb away from the big city chaos. Anyone seriously concerned about survival should take steps to avoid being anywhere near a dangerous urban shithole before bad shit happens, not lay back until it’s too late to get out.

        In some ways Selco’s story is a lesson in what not to do. I’m not criticizing. I could give classes too in what not to do. For example, it’s not all that healthy to spend too much time doing sedentary activities like I’m doing right now.


        • “I did not find this article particularly helpful.”

          I suppose to a person who lacks any sort of common sense – would

          Otherwise … you are very much correct!

      3. Noise and light discipline takes practice, through training. Even when you think you’re being quiet enough, and not showing any lights, you can be giving the whole circus away. This discipline must be enforced. If you have people that can’t keep quiet or their lights down, retrain them, or let them go! Lack of discipline kills. It’s good to practice noise and light discipline even at home, when you don’t have to. A mindset of this very important light and noise discipline will serve you better that most of the gear you have.

        • Back in my Assistant Scoutmaster days, the Scoutmaster took us through some woods back to our camp from the mess hall (it was the week long summer camp) without flashlights. He showed us how to get our eyes adjusted to the dark and then how to see the trail. It was a starry night with only a small portion of the moon so not much light in the woods. We all made it back to camp (and lights) with no incidents–not even a scratch.

          We practiced this method several times that year while at that camp on different trails. It is astounding what you can see and hear. You have to remember you won’t make record time but you will reach your destination.

      4. good one, selco……tonight i’m going to go outside and see what is visible through my front windows, with all the lights on…..people have asked me many times, inside my home, “why did you tape over that window on your front door?”…..because i don’t want people able to look right into my home, you idiots…..yeesh.

      5. this article HINTS at how outrageously stupid most appocalypse type movies portray people just walking, talking to eachother without a care in the world, in broad daylight. for example in the walking dead, older episodes, they walked right down freeways, out in the open. selco gave us a LOT to think about in this one…..very provocative.

        • That was too funny!

      6. I am an old sick man with asthma – a single cough can give my position away. You can try as hard as you want – this illness is horrible. You just can’t suppress every cough. And this illness cannot be healed. The meds (aerosols) just can relieve your breathlessness to some amount. So you have to howl with the wolves and look how you can get along still alive. I just can train to be the accurate shooter I was the last 40 years. A good shooter allways checks his surroundings twice. I can’t work in a group – it would be too dangerous for them out of the reason of my illness. I must survive on my own – being the partisan I ever was.

      7. I am a old survivor. In my youth I survived Vietnam as a m60 machine gunner. I have survived hurricane’s, floods, accidents and bad people down here along the rural Sabine river swamps ever since. Selco has seen the elephant. I listen to him. Read what Selco writes closely and pick out the tips that might apply to you if your world goes to pot. Nothing ever remains the same and if the change is really bad, you are going to need all the help you can muster.

      8. Someone should write about what to do when you are approached by strangers while camping

      9. Google “London Crime” and you will see it openly admits the majority of violent crime is committed by black males. You will see a tragic listing of stories of horrific murders, rapes and assaults they have committed.

        Yet, the London mayor claims the city is one of the safest in the world. This is not true. It is a nuthouse packed with aggressive blacks, Muslims, white trash and illegal migrants.

        Horrific knifings have included the murder of American tourists who were set upon by a radical Muslim.

      10. Most people, if they survive long enough, can learn the skills they need to survive for a long time. The hard part is to survive long enough to get those skills. Infrared goggles and an infrared rifle scope come to mind but how do you hold on to them? Emergency personnel are trained to see “your preps” as resources that they are entitled to take and use to carry out their objectives. What we have put aside to survive a crisis are exactly the “resources” they are looking for to carry out their objectives (and probably care for their families). Keep them hidden;keep them safer.

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