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O.W.L. Existence Training

© O.W.L. 2017 onwards

  • EXISTENCE noun 1 the fact or state of existing.  2  a way of living
  • -ORIGIN Latin existential, from exsistere ‘come into being’ 


New for 2017... O.W.L. Existence Training©

Since the release of several new concept courses in 2014, and as a result of the feedback from them, circumstances and general public research, O.W.L. is now ready to launch the next phase!


O.W.L. Existence Training© - One goal, any situation!

The motto of O.W.L. Existence Training© (O.W.L.E.T.) best states the essence of the system.  It is a reality-based program of self-development.  As an equipment-based system, all techniques are integrated with kit that ranges from the ancient, and improvised, through to the modern.  It means that you are always ready to exist regardless of the situation.  You are ready with a positive mindset, the ability to assess and to act, and the knowledge that you can rely on yourself.  You will seek out and move to somewhere that is safe from danger, and supports your existence, using the right decisions and movement.

The spectrum of existence ranges from taking yourself off for a week in the wild, fully prepared and self sufficient at your level, to disasters caused by either natural or human factors, to job related requirements.


As well as the skills, crafts and knowledge that you develop, O.W.L.E.T. has three threads of evolution that run through everything.  The strength of these three areas is that they help to develop each other, which in turn help you to develop yourself.

  • Mental- using your knowledge allows you to become better equipped at dealing with the complexities of existing in the more demanding scenarios.
  • Character- by looking at yourself and the human side of existence you can develop a sense of values, self-discipline, confidence and the capacity to make the right decision under any condition.  Learn to be responsible at all times for your individual actions and conduct.
  • Physical- this has two areas of focus: the skills and crafts and the physical conditioning of your body.  O.W.L.E.T. trains you to use skills and crafts across a spectrum of situations within a continuum of existence.  The skills and crafts consist of four elements that all have a role to play-
  1. Using items manufactured by someone else
  2. Items of opportunity- improvising and adapting items manufactured by someone else
  3. Manufacturing your own items after gathering the raw materials yourself
  4. Items of opportunity- improvising and adapting items from natural sources


With the physical conditioning it is not about going to the gym or running a marathon, it is about becoming physically more capable of carrying out the skills and crafts that are necessary to exist whilst at the same time using and developing your body in ways that are more natural and suited for it.  By simply being outside, carrying out the necessary skills and crafts, your body responds to the demands placed upon it.  You won’t need a FitBit to tell you that you’ve just been chopping wood, or walking to and fro collecting the materials for a shelter along with dealing with the local weather conditions!

It has always been, and always will be, the aim of O.W.L. to help educate and nurture those that seek out how to become more skilled and crafted.  Instruction will be bespoke to your needs and no amount of learning is either too small or too large.  If you want to know how to be successful in fire lighting that is what you will learn, if you want to know how to set up a camp that is what you will be taught and so on. 


Technology (a.k.a. Equipment)

This is always a strange and emotive issue here in the UK that makes people angry and shout a lot! 

What do you use and how much do you take with you?

Humans make things; it is part of being us!


An interesting observation about these angry people is that they will tell you they are doing bushcraft, wearing period outfits or living the natural life off-grid...then you see them using items like sewing machines, metal saws, plastic sheets, food blenders, electricity and so on to help them?!  If that’s the case, fine, but don’t contradict yourself and get cross with other people when you are clearly blending levels of technology to suit your needs.

For those of you who are worried about being frowned upon, look up Otzi and what he was carrying.  5300 years ago (before the pyramids of Egypt) he was kitted out to the max!  Evidence based on his kit suggests that he didn’t light his own fire from scratch all the time and he used the latest in tool technology that someone else made for him!  Does this mean that these people would go back in time and shout at him for having too much equipment or a tool that he did not make himself?! 

Existence is little bit like algebra; there are constants (e.g. shelter, water, food, health) and there are variables (e.g. human threat, time of year, local plants and animals, altitude, weather, season, circumstances, natural disaster). 


Rather than telling you how things should be done and then contradicting myself, by using the O.W.L.E.T. system you will focus on your skill set and what it is you can achieve.


Correct Decisions

Indecisiveness wastes time and effort in the least, and at the most risks safety or worse.  You must have a clear purpose before engaging in a course of action.



In an emergency, speed and determination give you a distinct advantage.



A calm situation can quickly become an emergency or you can be thrust into one.  Whatever the reason is, there will be a unique combination of fluid factors that cannot be controlled with precision or certainty- it is always better to be proactive.


Training tip

Try learning to live safely in the areas that you spend most of your time in.  Do a weekend in your garden with as little equipment as possible- Can it be done? Do you have a garden, if not where could you use? 


Exploiting Success

Exploit success by using every advantage that can be gained.


Setting Personal Goals

Use the table below in the following way-

  • think of a skill or craft
  • work your way through the questions to find out your current level
  • if you are happy, stay there
  • if you want a challenge, or have the desire to venture further down the table, keep working down it until you find out where you would like to be, this is now your goal!
  • the steps in between the two points provide a learning journey for you


Level of Existence

Development Path

Example skill or craft

I can only use items that are manufactured by someone else

Develop the ability to improvise and adapt

Shelter- Synthetic tent

Fire lighting- Cigarette lighter and plastic

Cordage- 550 paracord

Water- UV filter

I can improvise and adapt items that are manufactured by someone else to create items of opportunity

Introduce the use of natural materials

Shelter- Cardboard

Fire lighting- Battery and steel wool

Cordage- Braid cotton together to make stronger cordage

Water- Solar still from plastic bottles

I can blend man-made items together with natural items

Develop the ability to manufacture what you need from natural materials

Shelter- Paracord holding sticks together

Fire lighting- magnifying glass and wood shavings

Cordage- Braiding different fibres together to make the required amount

Water- Water filter using a wooden tripod and three layers of cloth with natural material on

I can manufacture what I need from natural materials

Learn how to extract natural resources

Shelter- Lean-to with uniform sticks

Fire lighting- Fire bow set

Cordage- Nettle fibres

Water- Digging a well, set back from the water, so that the ground filters out impurities.

I can extract the natural materials required

Develop the ability to improvise and adapt

Shelter- Gather tree parts

Fire lighting- Quartz and iron pyrites

Cordage- Tree roots

Water- Gathering water from inside a tree

I can improvise and adapt items that are natural to create items of opportunity

Continued development and mastery of all components of the various skills and crafts

Shelter- Cave to sleep in

Fire lighting- Collect fire caused by lighting and carry it away

Cordage- Use lengths of Ivy

Water- Locate natural source of water that can be drunk straight away


The bottom-line

Existence is hard, very hard in some cases! 

Otzi was kitted up to the eyeballs, and even carried the very latest in metal technology, but suffered from Lyme’s disease and was Lactose intolerant.  Abandon the image of the noble primitive, romantically wandering the forests, they were concerned with existing.


I tell my students-

"Just because you are outside does not mean you need to rough it.’’


Be honest with yourself, be safe and make yourself as comfortable as possible with the means you have at your disposal.