I’m no big deal within Special Forces, but I am Special Forces. That is to say, I am SF qualified, Class 1-83, and have spent time on SF teams, active duty and reserves, and thus carry certain skills and orientations that are unique to most Americans.

I have three boys, one who is mid twenties and two who just entered their twenties. Over the years, starting when they were fairly young, I have tried to convey a few of the skills that I considered essential, or advantageous, for boys to know. My motivating logic was that situations come at you in life and I wanted them to able to handle as many of the hard and dangerous ones as possible.

Tracking was one of the first things I taught my first kid. We camped a lot and I wanted to get him ready early for hunting. I also wanted to stoke his interest in animals and to track something or someone a tracker must understand their behavior and physiology, the more the better. So, at an early age I got him a book of tracks and when in the fields or woods we looked for tracks. He was able by the sixth grade to discern a canine track from a raccoon or possum, and deer from cows, and feline from canine. I want my boys to understand that all activity leaves tracks, in both mud and in spread sheets, and that tracking works both ways, that anyone can track, or be tracked.

Gun safety and use was, of course, something that I taught all three of my boys. I am not a gun nut, but being familiar with bullet launchers is, I feel, almost a necessity. All my boys have fired pistols, rifles and shotguns, the common calibers. To of them have fired a Barrett .50 cal. Weapons have allowed me to teach broader lessons, such as cleaning, and taking care of their “stuff”. One of my mantras to them over the years has been, “Take care of your shit or your shit will not take care of you.”

Humans are hunters, at least we have been for the vast majority of human history, therefore all three of my boys had their hunter’s safety certificate as early as legally possible. Hunting is a great excuse to get into the woods and fields, to get muddy and cold, and to connect with our primal and basic roots. Before humans were healers, teachers or even soldiers, they were hunters.

SUT, or small unit tactics, was also something my boys were exposed to at early ages, especially the younger two. And I am talking fire teams, not squads. That is to say, groups of three to four. At very early ages I made games out of teaching them wedge, inverted wedge, diamond, Ranger file and on-line formations.

Once, in Memphis, my two youngest boys, when they were in high school, and their mom and I were walking through the center of Beale Street and it was crowded and things started to get a tad too energized. I said, “Wedge. Nick front. Ben left. Shelly center.” We went right into a wedge into the middle of which we shepherded Shelly and moved through the throng like that, with Nick the human tank at the tip of the wedge, and Ben and I on the flanks, where I could best watch my sector and all of them.

Knife skills were taught, how to hold and cut, to stand, starting in the kitchen, and eventually fighting. They also learned axes and hatches, also hammers and sledges. We played and talked at times about key concepts in facing an opponent with an edged weapon, literally and figuratively. Funny how knife fighting skills can come in handy in debate and arguments. Hope they retained some of that.