SHTF blog – Modern Survival

Assimilate The Ideal SHTF Bug Out Team

You have two options when it comes to conducting a full-fledged Bug Out operation.  One is to go it alone or with the A group of survivalistsimmediate family or facilitate the creation of a SHTF Team to share the mission.  There are pros and cons to either route you take.  However, for this treatise let’s explore some of the attributes to building a sound Bug Out Team (BOT).  Hey, if you guys can create acronyms that nobody understands then why not me?


By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Positive Attributes

What one can do well, two can do better”? “There is strength in numbers”.  “There is NO ‘I’ in TEAM”.   For the many of you and readers that work in organizational leadership roles, management, or lead your own businesses, then you have likely heard such statements.  These are often remarked to motivate and encourage others.

Even if you are not in a “boss” role, you may be a member of some kind of team.  It might be shift coordinator, a production line worker, fast food employee, 2nd baseman on the company softball team, or you serve on a civic organization committee, church delegation, or some other role where tasks or responsibilities are shared with others.

Whichever role you play in life, hopefully you recognize the advantages of having co-workers, colleagues, and others to spread the burden of the effort around.  Distribution of skills performance is one of the biggest positives of working with a team.  Everybody has particular things they do best.  It might be cook, the ability to build things, fix things, guard others, garden, train members of the team to do things, or procure supplies, whatever.

A solid, effective team effort is hard to ignore.  When teams really work together much can be accomplished.  This how to build a survival teamarrangement could mean survival success when it comes to a team approach to a SHTF response.  Just the simple element of having other human contacts can go a long way to achieving a measure of survival satisfaction.  Going it alone is simply not fun.

Building a good SHTF is not easy.  There are many issues to consider beginning with trust, honesty, compatibility, balance of skills, personality types, supplies and gear brought to the table and such.  Creating an effective team is all about cooperation.  Too many chiefs and not enough Indians can destroy productivity.  Everything must be in a careful balance.

Orchestrating a SHTF team can be a full time job.  A leader is definitely needed, but they must have a benevolent heart…up to a point.  Sometimes hard decisions have to be made.   If you want a good example of such group dynamics, then watch the TV series Falling SkiesIn this program you can see how working together achieves much, just as diversity of purpose can be disruptive.  It is a very fine line.


Human nature can be a curse.   As I often say about people, “Where two or more human beings gather together, somebody is how to build a survival teamgoing to bitch about something”!  I laugh at this all the time when I hear the complaints that come into my office on a daily basis.  Most of my entire day is spent herding cats.  Somebody hurt somebody’s feelings or stepped on their toes…..all BS.  You’re adults folks so grow up.

Though it is sexist to say so, those of you men in management roles of any kind that have females employees subordinate to you, then you know what I mean.  Even the women in my organization realize most of them cannot get along for very long at a time.  Just go to an organization function or church luncheon and watch who is watching who!  Frankly I cannot recall having ever stared at the suits other men were wearing, though I admit I do check out neckties from time to time.   Now ladies no need to be offended, because you know I am right.

Now, to be honest I do see such behavior on the part of men.  It usually takes place at the gun range or hunting camp.  Even then though, we are focused on the new gun somebody has, a new hunting ATV in camp, or some new pair of boots or whatever.  I am the first to be jealous of somebody’s new SHTF weapon until I get one, too.

All that said, to say, if there is one huge downturn in the formation of a SHTF Bug Out Team it is the composite membership of that team.  Even if, and that is a big, big if, you screen or get screened, there are going to be moments when folks disagree on most everything the team is doing at one time or another.  That is the human nature part.

The trick is working through these issues to build an even stronger team.  Ideally a natural leader would emerge, otherwise the team will have to evolve until one surfaces.  Somebody has to ultimately be in charge.  There is no getting around that and unfortunately a democracy does not always work well when critical decisions need to be made.

If you cannot play well with others, then you have no business trying to initiate a SHTF Team or joining one.  It simply must be a cooperative effort with every member contributing to the cause.  And don’t go to the table with an empty plate.

Just remember the famous Benjamin Franklin quote, “If we do not hang together, we shall surely hang separately.”

Team Member Profiling

If you had to sit down to assemble job titles or individual’s skill sets for an ideal SHTF Team then what would you include. How to put together a survival group The list might look something like this:

  • Carpenter
  • Electrician
  • Plumber
  • Hunters, anglers, trappers, campers
  • Medical personnel, doctor, nurse, physician’s assistant
  • Farmer, gardener, horticulturalist
  • Military grunt
  • Teacher, child care specialist, senior care person
  • Procurement specialist  (remember Sgt. Petersen in the movie, Green Beret)
  • Mechanic, engines, generators, other equipment
  • Cook, food preparation
  • Security guard/Police officer
  • Many multi-task people, doers, givers, cleaners, set up, fetchers, general help
  • Weapons specialist
  • Seamstress
  • Judge
  • Please, no lawyers

I am sure you can think of other “personnel” types you might like to see on an ideal SHTF Team.  In many cases some of these skills might be combined within the capabilities of the same person.  Many maintenance manufacturing workers these days are cross trained in many task areas.  Medical personnel could also have wide ranging skills.

Even within certain specialties there could be multiple task people.  If somebody is a weapons guy, then ideally you would want them to be knowledgeable about rifles, assault type firearms, handguns, shotguns, and maybe archery equipment, too.  Teachers can know a lot of things about a lot of issues.  Use them appropriately to fully contribute to the team.

Sometimes you maybe cannot pick your team members.  For example, your grandfather may be living with you.  You can’t abandon him during a Bug Out.  He might need special care from a health related issue or simply because he may be elderly needing extra assistance.  There may be young children in your family or another member’s family.  So on and so on.  These situations have to be accommodated unless you are a heartless bastard.

Team Selection

So, how do you go about putting a SHTF Team together?  As formal as it may sound, you could create a team application, Doomsday Preppersestablish a screening committee, conduct formal interviews, and perhaps even have live skills demonstrations.  However, I am guessing most teams come together along some lines of common interests or contacts.

My Bug Out group is comprised of the guys and families at our hunting camp.  We have quite a few of the skills covered from the list above.  A member or two I would rather see go elsewhere, but that is the human nature part I was talking about.  None of us are perfect.  Ultimately we have to learn to work together; survive together.

If you are limited in your outside contacts and interest groups, then you have to proceed cautiously.  You may have a conversation at work, or a meeting or some other venue that might lead you to think a person would open up about prepping.  Pursue it, but globally by probing with inquiry questions.  “What do you think about the mess this country is in”? kind of stuff.

You may be inclined to defer or beg off certain types of individuals.  Maybe you see no value in somebody with a background in retail sales, real estate, an accountant, or used car salesman, etc.  Truth is though they may possess serious skills of real value to your Bug Out Team.  You just never know so don’t assume anything.

Also Read: Tooth or Tail

Ask about their hobbies. Maybe they are big time primitive campers or their whole family is fanatical about fishing.  Could be SHTFthey cut their own firewood every year and own all the equipment to do it right.  Perhaps you find out they constructed a new room onto their house all by themselves.  Maybe they participate in Habitat for Humanity projects.

Suppose they hunt and process their own meat cutting and wrapping every season.   You won’t know their backgrounds unless you ask.  You might be surprised.  Ok then, I’ll let you decide if a guy’s only hobby is golf or tennis.

Creating a Bug Out Team what works well together, really gets along, and actually enjoys each others company is not an easy process.  If you decide to go this route, or even joining a team already formed, then examine all the aspects with a critical analysis.  If things don’t work out, you can always back up and go another route.

Photos by:
Habitat for Humanity
The Kevin Chang
Chicago’s Finest
Military Health
Frank McTyre

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8 thoughts on “Assimilate The Ideal SHTF Bug Out Team

  1. What, no fireman?

    Also, you better bulk up on the social workers, psychologists, and counsellors.

    Folks won’t be very happy about things, especially the children. Telling them to suck it up and pointing guns at anyone who raises their voice will, according to our panel of expert preppers, buy you about three weeks survival time before your community implodes.

  2. I would add: engineers. they frequently work outside of their profession…
    a surveyor, to layout burial plots, and some strong guys to dig the graves.
    a few tree climbers, and lumber men: guys that can make the most out of each tree, without losing body parts in the process.
    a chef or two, to watch over the cooks, someone that can make the food palatable. hopefully some of these people can also make music…

  3. Lots of good points. I was laughing about women in the workplace. I have been coaching ladies basketball since ’99, there is a fine line between letting them work it out themselves and getting involved with coaches ‘line item veto’ power. I have found that ladies that have played competitive team sports are far better at being a ‘team’. There is a work ethic that comes with it too. Pull your weight or be replaced.

    When building a team, you have to accept some quirks in humans and let them be themselves, to a point.

  4. The problem I have encountered while talking to my friends about a bug-out location is getting an agreement on where to bug-out to. My place, no my place, no etc. most people find it hard to leave their home. Unfortunately many will find out too late that they alone aren’t capable of defending it, if we can get past that the next step might be easier (where to bug-out to). I have also looked at a neighborhood defensive network. I am somewhat rural and I don’t have too many neighbors (probably 8 families). The problem here is their all a-sleep, what I mean is they are not interested in becoming preppers. I’m sure I’m the “Nut” on the block, so no option here. However I will say that I would be the first person they will run to when TSHTF. My real option is to keep looking for a good fit for me. Any other suggestions?

    1. I would suggest one thing im not seeing in the Bugout lists of others and thats potassium iodide tablets for protection against the effects of radiation from nuclear fallout. You can get them online and will definitely want a good supply.

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